We needed to stop for supplies. Everything that we used was getting low and we badly needed something to occupy the kids with. After doing a little research on the internet, it looked like the best place in Alberta for us to head to get supplies was the Rocky Mountain House Co-op in Rocky Mountain House. It would take us a little more south than we wanted to travel but at least we wouldn’t have to go into the urban sprawl around Edmonton or Calgary.
Traversing the Rocky Mountains, I wondered if perhaps we could find refuge among them. Maybe a cabin or home built high enough up the side of the mountain would be a possibility. In the end, I discarded the idea, knowing that it was only a matter of time before the Undead would follow the road to us. Our only hope was to get completely off the beaten track and remain off their radar as best we could.
Liam and Lily were steadily returning to the rambunctious toddlers they had once been and the news of another stop had them giddy with delight. I think it was mainly just the whisper of some real toys that was making them so happy. Just something other than the makeshift toys made of water bottles would likely turn their worlds upside down. What I wouldn’t give to be a kid again. To feel the joy of anticipation at a new toy!
Driving into the parking lot at the Rocky Mountain House Co-op, we could see that there were a fair number of cars left abandoned in the parking lot. There did not appear to be any Undead milling about but one can never be too careful. We’d learned that the hard way. The doors to the store were closed which was potentially a good sign but they were the automatic kind where you step up to them and they open.
We decided not to attract any unwanted attention to ourselves in the parking lot by honking the horn. Instead, Max, Bob, and I were going to head inside while Ben stayed with the twins in the Escalade. We all got out and were making our way to the door with our guns handy, when the automatic doors opened unexpectedly.
Immediately, our guns came up. Our hearts thumping furiously in our chests. I remember thinking, please don’t let it be any of the Undead.
Into the brisk sunshine walked 3 other survivors loaded with supplies, all as surprised to see us as we were to see them. Warily, we all exchanged curt pleasantries, not knowing who we could trust. Given our last encounters with groups of survivors, we weren’t going to trust anyone too easily now. It wasn’t until the young pregnant woman spoke up and said that there was enough for everyone that I realized they were just as nervous of us stealing from them as we were of them stealing from us. I laughed and told them that we were the least of their worries at this point; with the Undead walking around, we shouldn’t be working against each other.
A silent truce formed, we were told that the store was clear of the Undead and that while most of the fresh food had been cleared out already but that quite a lot of canned goods were still available. We thanked them for the information and made our way inside, still somewhat cautious of what we might discover.
Our plan was to hit all of the areas together in order to get what we needed and then get out quickly. We headed off to gather clothing first. Having memorized the sizes of all of the men I picked out lightweight pants and new (and clean) underwear for them quickly. Max and Bob were in charge of the shoes, boots and socks for everyone including the twins; hopefully they didn’t screw it up… Next I got shirts and t-shirts for the men and moved on to the clothing for the kids. Once I was finished outfitting the children with everything I thought they might need, I got myself some lightweight pants, new underwear and a three pack of sports bras, t-shirts as well as a few shirts. Upon consideration, I grabbed enough cold weather gear for each of us in the event that we needed it. In the future, these items might not be as readily accessible. Seeing coats and accessories I grabbed those as well, making sure to get bigger sizes for the twins in case they grew. Thank goodness they had these items in stock.
Once I’d put everything into the cart, off I went to the toy section to grab a few things for the twins. Max and Bob joined me a few moments later with a full cart of footwear and some ammunition they had found in the adjoining sporting goods section. With the toys and games taken care of, off we went to find some canned foods that were easy to eat and didn’t require heating. Thankfully, there were lots of choices and many still in full cases. Forks, spoons and a requisite can opener were next. Max grabbed a few cases of water and some juice and soy milk tetra packs for the twins while Bob loaded up on boxed goods like crackers and cookies and dry cereals. I found a supply of protein bars and transferred the remaining stock to my overflowing cart.
The next stop was the bath and body/pharmacy section. We had decided that over the counter medications could be useful at some point. We had planned to stock up on anything we could get our hands on; allergy medications, cold medications, pain relievers, sunscreen, bandages, peroxide. We had hoped to find stronger pharmaceuticals as well: we wanted to have antibiotics on hand if we ended up needing them as well as a supply of heavier pain medications. It was much better to be safe than sorry if you needed these items in a pinch and the closest source happened to be deep behind enemy lines.
Having gathered all the supplies that we needed, we headed back out to the SUV with three carts, not knowing if all of what we had gotten would fit in the back.
On the way out, Bob spied a public washroom and the urge to use it hit him. He waved us forward, telling us that he would join us in a moment. Max and I left the store, pushing our carts and dragging Bob’s, intent on getting to the Escalade and loading it as quickly as we could. To our amazement, everything fit in the back of the SUV with room to spare; you have to love the spaciousness of luxury automobiles these days…
Returning our carts to the side of the building, we got into the car to wait for Bob. Minutes went by. Long minutes. Thinking the worst, Max and I got out of the car to go back into to the store to see what was keeping him, hoping that he hadn’t walked in on one of the Undead in the washroom. Just as we were about to activate the automatic doors, they opened and Bob walked out. He was doing up the buttons to a long-sleeved shirt and gave the excuse that once he had gotten a look at himself in the mirror he couldn’t stand to wear his favourite shirt that said ‘You’re a great friend but if Zombies are chasing us, I might trip you’. We laughed and then didn’t want to hazard a guess at what we looked like as we got into the car and drove away.
Thinking back now, we should have asked those other survivors where they were headed or if they had a safe place to stay. Hindsight is always 20/20…