“You know I think I am crippled without internet mapping.” Katie said while trying to read the sign on the corner through her rifle scope.
Randy was still with her, he hadn’t left her since the incident at the house. “Well, is that it?”
“No, it’s fucking not. Why don’t the names go in ascending order or something sensible like that? This is bullshit trying to find an address like this.”
“We just need a map. Walk back to that Wal Mart and find an atlas or better yet a map of Florida.”
“I suppose you’re right. I’m just afraid it will be full of zombies.”
“Not like you can’t take care of them.” Randy said.
“Sure I can, pop, pop, pop! Then I’ll have three hundred of the mother fuckers rain down on me. No, I have to be quieter than that if I am going to crack skulls.”
“Let’s go and get this done.”
“See, Randy? This is why we worked well together, you always took care of the maps and knowing where we were and shit. I’m not that good at this sort of thing.”
“True, you are lost without me.”
“Ha-ha. Very funny ghost boy.”
The two of them walked through the morning gloom, keeping to the yards instead of the street and ready to duck into cover if they saw any sign of movement. It took them half an hour to get back to the big box store. Once there Katie insisted that they watch for another half an hour for movement, and then they approached the building from the side, slithering up to the broken front doors cautiously. Once they were inside the foyer, they looked around the store for signs of unlife.
“I think it is empty.” Randy said.
“Looks that way. It’s darker than I thought it would be too.”
“You still got a light don’t you?”
“Sure.” said Katie taking out the small Maglite she had found in the Jeep. She turned it on and pointed it around the store, it barely illuminated the gloom.
“You stay here and I will go scout for maps, give me the light.”
Katie handed it over and it tumbled to the ground, passing through Randy’s hand.
“Asshole.” she said as she picked it up.
“That never gets old.” Randy said with a laugh. Katie could feel him when she touched him, but Randy couldn’t pick things up or move things on his own. This was the second time he had convinced Katie to hand him something.
“Well it better get old, ‘cause I am tired of it.”
“What are you going to do? Beat me? Ooh I am so scared!” Randy taunted quietly.
“Fuck you, ghost boy. Let’s just find a map and blow this joint.”
“Alright, alright. Where do you think they would be? Automotive or books?”
“Shit, I was hoping we’d find one next to the cash registers. You know, for lost tourists and stuff.”
“Oh, yeah, that would make sense.”
A loud crash sounded from the back of the store, causing both of them to jump. Kate smiled and asked in a low voice, “What the hell are you jumping for? Nothing can hurt you!”
“Instinct? Force of habit, maybe. Let’s check the cashiers and get the hell out of dodge.”
They quickly and quietly scrambled through the debris on the floor and made a beeline for the closest register. The fast check-out lanes sporting signs of “20 or less items” didn’t have anything in the way of impulse goods at all, but in the first lane designed to handle a full grocery cart Katie found a whole section devoted to maps. She stood there playing the light over them, while another crash resounded from the back of the store.
“Is now really the time to be a discriminating shopper? Just take one of each and we can sort them out later.” Randy said.
“Fine.” Katie grabbed one of every map available and a package of pens and jogged towards the front door.
Once they were out into the sunlight Katie made a beeline back the way they had come. Randy jogged silently along beside her until she entered a bright yellow house across the street.
Katie did a quick check of the house, but found nothing. The front door had been bashed in and the glass had been broken out of the patio doors leading into the back yard. Katie finished looking around and then pulled up a stool and sat down at the kitchen island.
“You know, Randy, it’s funny that I always end up in these nicer houses.”
“Why is that?”
“Well I never lived in a house with an island in the kitchen. All the houses I grew up in had that crappy galley style kitchen you could barely turn around in. The best one I lived in had a hole you could pass plates out through to the small assed dining room. Now look at these places? They’re huge.”
“Designs have changed to more open floor plans, people seem to prefer them.” answered Randy.
Katie stared at him for a moment and burst out laughing. “Whatever. All I know is when we settle down it’s going to be in a large house with a kitchen that has an island. Hmm, you know an island wouldn’t be bad, would it? Aren’t there islands around here with houses on them? We could just row a boat out and pick a house.”
“Probably that idea has been thought of already.”
“First things, first I supposed, let’s see where we are and where this address is.” Katie pulled the check out of her pocket that she had retrieved from the safe and looked at the address. It had both a street address and a post office box number on it. Sorting through all the maps she unfolded two of them and circled the area where she thought the clinic should be on both.
“Why are you doing it twice?”
“I want to see which map is easier to read, I think it’s going to be this one.” Katie held up a map that boasted ‘Best Local Street Map’ on it along with the line ‘Published locally!’ “I think the advertisement is actually true, sorry Rand McNally.”
Using her pen she highlighted the route to the street they were currently on, the generic map of northern Florida, put out by the larger publishing company didn’t look as detailed, so Katie shoved it away from her into the pile of other maps near the edge of the island.
“How many blocks in a mile?” Katie asked.
“Eight or nine, I think.”
“Okay, then we are not that far, a couple miles. This time Randy I am going to do things a little better, I’m going to case the joint first and set up a better getaway plan.”
“The jeep isn’t that far away.” The two had discussed the benefit of driving it and decided that walking would be more discrete, so they had parked it above the high tide mark on the beach, not too far from where they were now.
“Definitely the jeep, that thing is awesome. I wish I had owned one before all this went down. I’ll solidify my plans when we see what we are up against, but I think we will head south from here.” Katie trailed her finger down route 1 along the coast. “We’ll just stick to the coast until we see an island with a house on it, then find a boat and go over.”
“Sounds so easy. Maybe they will have their own nuclear plant to provide us with unlimited power and a good boat for fishing so we won’t starve.” Randy was smiling when he started talking, but his face quickly turned to puzzlement.
“I…I, just thought of something disturbing.”
“Yeah? Like French kissing your sister?”
“No! Something I hadn’t realized before. Now all the pieces are fitting into place. Katie…I figured it out…I” Randy faded from view, winking out entirely in a few seconds.
“Randy! Don’t you leave me! Godamn it! What good is an imaginary friend if they keep popping in an out all the damned time? Fuck.” Frustrated Katie gathered up her equipment, which consisted of the duffel bag, her rifle and the map and started for the front door.
The sound of a car coming alerted her as she got close to the busted down door. “Shit!” Katie knew the zombies could see heat or life force and the best way to avoid their gaze was to get under ground or get a lot of walls, trees, or other vegetation between you and them. Backtracking, she ran out the back door into the back yard. The yard was well groomed with sloping mounds and two very tall willow trees. Katie ran to the highest of the mounds and put it between her and the street by lying down in the tall grass. The steady sound of a vehicle chugging on the street outside let her know when the car had passed. Once it seemed to be beyond her location Katie got up and ran towards the fence to see if she could catch a glimpse of it.
It turned out to be two vehicles, not one; a large cargo van and a pickup truck, both white, but appearing drab in the overcast light. Both vehicles turned the corner a few blocks further down and Katie nodded, “Yeah, that fucking figures.”
She silently counted out the street posts between where she was and where the vehicles made the turn and then consulted her map before swearing again. “Looks like our boy is still active.” The count of where the vehicles had turned was equal to the number of streets Katie had to walk down before turning, meaning the vans were going the same place she was. Probably.