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Kaya woke first, with a start, and quickly checked the fortifications. The camera feed showed the shop was safe, and the break room inside the smoke shop was still quiet, the screaming, growling, sounds from the zombies outside dulled by the thick brick and concrete walls, the same thick, brick and concrete walls that kept the phone signal from being overly reliable.
Kaya checked her phone, having asked Sam to send her any text reports she could, as the signal was so spotty, and seeing none, wondered if she could sleep longer. Kaya had slept in small increments for days, never allowing herself to sleep deeply, and this past night had been no exception, so she considered going back to sleep, but first, she checked on Jeff, who she worried may have a low fever.
“Low fever is probably normal with the probable broken ankle though…” Kaya held her phone up, searching for signal, to try and get her data to work, enough to load a web page about first aid on a broken ankle.
Kaya knew she would need to do more for Jeff’s injuries, but had wanted to let him sleep. Kaya wondered if she should wake Jeff herself, when he attempted to turn over and woke himself up.
“Kaya!” He yelped as he felt for her in the bed, scared when he couldn’t find her.
“Shhh!” Kaya said rushing forward, “I’m here. Shhh.” Kaya sat on the edge of the fold out bed. “It’s good you woke up, I should check your ankle and rewrap it.” Kaya said, looking through one of the bags of supplies to find something that could work as a splint. Kaya grabbed some ice packs from the freezer and put them all around Jeff’s ankle.
“Well, it’s going to.” Kaya said grimly, and what I am about to do will hurt too, but it will help you heal. Then, you can rest.”
“We need stronger pain pills.” Jeff said as Kaya handed him the bottle and grabbed a thing of soda.
“Don’t we have any water?” Asked Jeff.
Kaya shrugged. “I rarely drink the stuff. One second.” Kaya grabbed a bottle of water from Jeff’s bag and handed it to him. He drank it, swallowing down some pain relievers.
Kaya worked quickly, unwrapping the ankle and checking the swelling, which had gone down a little from where it had been at its worse the night before, but still wasn’t looking great. Kaya followed the instructions she had been able to read and wrapped the ankle and foot firmly, before covering it in ice packs again to numb it a bit and lower the swelling.
“It’s going to be slow going. Which works out well, because Sam needs time to figure out how to get the area around the station clear for us to get to the door.”
“She still wants us?”
“Why wouldn’t she?” Asked Kaya. “Because you are injured?” Kaya laughed. “Nah. She’s lonely and needs help with all that equipment. As long as you are willing to help out, she’ll be glad to have us.”
Jeff nodded. “Can’t hear the zombies at all, can you?”
Kaya shook her head. “Nope, not even a little. It’s nice. You can almost pretend it isn’t happening. But then you wonder why the fuck you are chilling in a smoke shop break room.
Jeff laughed. “Yeah. You think it’s safe to sleep some more?” Asked Jeff, the pain making him miss his stiff sleep.
“Yeah, sleep.” Kaya urged Jeff, knowing rest would be wise.
After Kaya helped him to the door of the restroom, and back to the bed, Jeff was tired out. Kaya gave him a few pulls of liquor and leaned him back to sleep.
Kaya double checked the cameras and barricades once more, and laid back down on the fold out bed, grateful for her sleeping bag and the padding it offered. “Sleep will do us both good.” Kaya said outlaid as her head swirled with first aid and survival tips.
“Sleep will do us both good.”
The day passed seemingly without incident, with neither Jeff nor Kaya doing much other than resting up, and Sam worriedly pacing between radio broadcasts, fueled by incremental sleep and large amounts of coffee.
The zombies were plenty active across town, but for the most part, in the part of town where Kaya, Jeff, and Sam found themselves, the activity had died down.
Of course, that didn’t stop problems from arising for Kaya and Jeff, hours later when Kaya woke.
While they had slept, Jeff had gained a fever, and when Kaya woke up, found him in a highly feverish state. Quickly, Kaya sent a text to both Sam asking if she had or knew of any medical professionals alive, and then began trying to google medical stuff. Jeff, was not okay.
Waking him up, Kaya was able to get him to take a fever reducing pain reliever, but he wasn’t doing well. Kaya put a cold rag on his head and checked his ankle, which didn’t seem to be the most pressing problem. Somehow, Jeff just seemed sick.
“Please don’t let him have gotten bit.” Kaya said, worried about her having spent time sleeping next to him.
But Kaya searched his feverish body, and found no bites, not even a scratch, so she continued searching for any medical information she could while holding her phone into the top corner of the break room, the one spot she seemed able to get any signal.
“I need a fucking computer.” Kaya said, getting annoyed with her efforts to load web pages long enough to take screen shots of information to try and figure out what was wrong with her companion.
Sam said she would be putting out requests for any medical people to reach out to Sam to get Kaya’s information to try and help treat Jeff, but that would take hours, if not longer, to get any contact and any information for what could be wrong with Jeff.
“and I don’t know anything about his body chemistry either.” Kaya said, realizing that she didn’t even know if he had any health conditions that could lead to this situation.
Kaya finally got annoyed with her phone and began to shove the vending machine out of the way, after checking the camera feeds to ensure that there had been no break ins while they rested.
Cautiously, Kaya left the break room and searched for a computer, finding nothing but an old school register in the front, versus a computerized system. Kaya knew this old school mind set was what was keeping the building so secure, but she was still annoyed that she couldn’t find a faster computer in the store.
Kaya returned to the break room to find Jeff covered in sweat and not feeling well, but awake and asking for water. Kaya offered him the water, and got him to take a few hits from her vape pen, hoping the medical properties of cannabis may help take the edge off, and asked him if he had any medical history she should know of.
“Nope. Nothing that I know of. I don’t have diabetes, or any weird diseases, no missed medicine. I could use a drink, but this isn’t a detox fever. I don’t feel well, and I better try to get to the bathroom, I think I may throw up soon.”
Jeff tried to get up, but Kaya leapt into action, urging him to rest, and crossing to the employee bathroom. The trash can was a plastic bin, and had been lined with a plastic bag. Kaya took the trash out and gave the bin a quick rinse in the sink, before bringing it to Jeff.
Jeff asked for a cigarette, and Kaya ignored her hatred of how they could smell up a place, knowing there was a time and a place to worry about it, and grabbed them for him. Jeff smoked weakly, and only smoked half before putting it out, drinking some more water, and falling asleep again.
Kaya continued to search medical things on her phone, taking screen shots on her phone every time she found a useful page. Everything Kaya found told her that if it got worse, if it lasted longer, to take him to the hospital. By all reports, all hospitals were now completely out of the question, positively crawling with zombies.
“Broth. Soup. Fluids.” Kaya thought about all the ways she could treat a fever, without medicine.
“People go without insurance all the time.” Kaya said, digging into her bag and finding a few cans of soup she had scavenged, leaning into her knowledge of treating every illness without the aid of a doctor. Jeffs bag was near her, but she didn’t know if she should go through his bag or not, so she left it for later. Knowing she had a few cans of soup, and several packs of tea, and that was all without exploring the small kitchenette that was in the break room, Kaya hoped she could treat this the old fashioned way.
Kaya made herself some canned pasta on the heating plate by the sink. They didn’t have a stove, but they had one of those micro kitchens with plug in single burners, so Kaya tested it and enjoyed a meal of canned pasta washed down with a soda, before turning her attention back to Jeff, who had fallen into a deep sleep.
Kaya remembered an old episode of a medical based sitcom, where the main character had explained that with medicine, frequently it was the most likely thing, and to look there first.
Kaya knew Jeff was feverish, and had heaved a few times, and he seemed achey and sore. Separate from the injury, he could just be sick, with something like a a flu.
“The weather is changing, and many people don’t do well when that happens. Jeff seems like the type who doesn’t handle being sick well…So yeah…maybe it’s a nasty flu.”
Kaya searched her bags and around the break room, and was overjoyed when she found what had to be one of the best stocked employee first aid kits yet.
Kaya, of course, had never really worked at any retail shop, so she had no idea how any first aid kit was kept, but she was glad to find it none the less.
Cough drops, day time medicine, decongestant, several varieties of stomach medicine, and in a bag stashed under a cabinet, Kaya found some night time medicines, a bottle of liquor, a stash of vapor rub, some medicated over the counter teas, crackers, and a pack of metal straws. Kaya, grateful for the bag, but curious for who had left a bag of sick supplies, took the supplies and took some of the Gatorade she had found and stuck it into the fridge, where she found lots of drink options, including the Gatorade she had grabbed, so she grabbed a cold one, put the room temperature ones in the fridge, and returned to Jeff, who was hot and breathing heavily in his sleep.
Kaya nudged Jeff awake and urged him to drink. Jeff was dozing in and out, so finally Kaya began trying to find something on the TV to keep his attention, finally finding an adult cartoon station that seemed to amuse him, and got him to stay awake long enough to drink some of the fluids Kaya urged him to drink.
Kaya was able to get him to drink some water, and had more luck with the Gatorade, finally getting him to drink noticeable amounts of fluids.
“I feel like I may throw up, I don’t want to waste the drinks.” Jeff mumbled as Kaya urged him to drink.
“You may be sick. You are very likely sick. We need to do whatever it takes to get the sick out of you, and that means fluids. If you throw up, good, better out than in. If not, this will still help get the sick out, so drink up. We have tons of supplies anyways,” Kaya said assuredly.
They didn’t have enough to eat well, not for long, but for several days they would be able to eat well, much longer if they rationed.
Kaya knew she would end up going out for supplies, but she hoped it would be when Jeff wasn’t doing unwell, because otherwise, how would anyone watch the shop, and make sure no one broke in and took over? How could she keep Jeff safe if a zombie broke in to the shop, while she was out, and couldn’t barricade the door?
Kaya’s head began to spin, the full weight of the situation stressing her out, before she grabbed her torch lighter and took a dab, then another, before beginning to calm down. Kaya reloaded her vape pen after cleaning off the mouth piece from when Jeff hit it, and took several hits before then rolling a couple of spliffs and lighting one to calm down. Jeff, having dosed off, woke up at the smell of the tobacco, and asked for one, and Kaya obliged him a spliff, hoping the anti nausea benefits of cannabis would keep Jeff from puking up the precious fluids Jeff had thus far kept down.
Jeff took the spliff thankfully, and Kaya filled him in on the TV reporter who had apparently shown up, who was horribly behind on all of his information and seemed to have never heard of zombies before.
“Typical T.V. reporting.” Kaya laughed.
“I hate to agree, considering I never thought radio was that important, but they do seem to be dropping more information, and faster.”
“Well, that’s Sam for you, but she was more clued in than the T.V. station…which is kind of weird, right?”
“What do you mean?” Asked Jeff as he inhaled on the spliff.
“Well,I mean, Sam was mad at her station manager, because he called her in, but like…no one called the T.V. station. It has secure parts, just like the radio station, so why weren’t they able to get safe and broadcast, the way Sam did?”
“Well, the radio has that telescope, so maybe they called the radio first?”
“But then why was Sam the only one in town. It is almost like it was orchestrated.”
Jeff looked at Kaya. “I mean, would it surprise you? We have fucking zombies outside.” Jeff coughed.
Kaya nodded. “Fair point.” Kaya pointed to a couple cans of soup. “It would do you well to get some soup in you. You hungry?”
“I’ll try after this, but I don’t want the food to go to waste.” Jeff said.
“I can reheat it later, and anything you eat is good. Kaya explained kindly.
Jeff didn’t know if he agreed with Kaya, but figured he would do best to listen to her, knowing he couldn’t be in the right state of mind. Jeff kept seeing apparitions of people walking in and out of the room as if the walls weren’t there, crossing the room like some sort of busy crosswalk, so he doubted his judgment.
While Kaya and Jeff had been smoking, in fact, Jeff had seen people cross right through Kaya, as if she weren’t there, and even though he could see them plain as day, she didn’t seem to notice them walking right through her.
“Maybe Kaya is magic, and they can’t hurt her.” Jeff thought. “Maybe I’m magic too, since I can see them. But I don’t know what them are…” Jeff inhaled the smoke, grateful Kaya had said yes to it, because it was calming him down from all the people walking around. Some seemed to fly, as if they didn’t have the time to walk. They flew, bursting from one wall before disappearing behind another wall.
Nothing evil seemed to happen though, and the people all seemed nice. Kaya seemed to glow, this strong pure energy glowed around her, warming Jeff. Jeff was warmed by the glow, which helped with the impossible cold he kept feeling. He was hot, cold, then hot, then cold, it was making him tired how quickly he went between the two.
Kaya set about making soup she wanted him to eat, and Jeff forced his eyes to stay awake as the people flew around him, and the fever made him more and more exhausted. Hot. Cold. Hot, cold, hot, cold, hot, cold.
Kaya made soup while a funny cartoon Jeff normally loved played. Jeff tried to focus on the jokes, on any one part of the cartoon, but nothing stuck. In the end, Jeff couldn’t focus on anything, unsure if the cartoon dog he was watching was white and drinking alcohol or yellow and going on adventures with his brother.
When Kaya returned with the soup, Jeff tried to feed himself, getting several bites in before Kaya took over. A wet shirt told Jeff that maybe he hadn’t been doing as well as he thought he was, so he took Kaya’s help, admiring how well she was able to focus when the entire room was spinning so much.
“You really are special, Kaya. Is that why weed is magical? If you use it, you become magic?” Jeff asked.
Kaya eyed Jeff curiously, a small smile on her face. “Sure thing.” Kaya held the spoon up to his mouth. “This soup is magic too, so eat as much as you can.” Kaya said to Jeff, who continued to eat the warm soup.
Kaya was sure to give him as many sips of Gatorade as she could between bites, and made sure to give Jeff some nausea medicine from the first aid kit. Jeff wasn’t okay, of that much she was sure, but she was hoping if she fed him, medicated him, got plenty of fluids in him, she could get him back to healthy soon.
Assuming it was a nasty flu, like Kaya was hoping.
At the radio station, and across town, various people got different kinds of sick, and some, like Kaya, did not at all.
Sam, got reports for much of the night, so she played some peaceful zen wall paper stye music a creator she liked made, and turned in, knowing that this would be her best chance to rest.
This was a wise choice, as it turned out, because the few people who were able to listen, were all busy either tending to people who weren’t well, or trying to rest.
Or, for a few people who knew what was going on, it was spent curiously going over scan results, or, worriedly singing songs to themselves, pretending everything was okay.
So Kaya watched over a sick Jeff, and Sam cuddled down into her sleeping area, finally allowing herself to sleep for longer than an hour.
It had been a long night, the quiet the people of Flake City had enjoyed the night before was long gone. The zombies, normally quiet at night, as if used to resting at night, were more active, screaming, howling, growling. Anyone foolish enough to have been out on the streets was ready and quickly eaten alive, but, mostly, the infected weren’t trying to eat, they seemed, terrifyingly, to be trying to communicate, and maybe, just maybe, scare anyone who could hear them.
Kaya, who was sleeping the lightest of Sam, Jeff and herself, woke, and listened to the sounds, and was even brave enough to peek out a very small window in the shop, to see what was going on, and all she could see was a few zombies screaming, growling, yelling, some beat at their chests and screamed in a way that made them look challenging. Snow had begun to fall, again, the major snow storm trying to tumble in from the mountains it was stalled out in.
There was a small and high window in the break room, the kind of thick hospital glass that has the little wires running through it, and the space too small for a leg, much less a body, but still, Kaya had put some tarp over the window, and was keeping everything quiet and lights turned low.
As the zombies growled, something moved in the streets. Kaya looked out, on one of her peaks out, and was horrified to see something walk, with much more purpose than the zombies had moved with, calmly, amount the zombies. They seemed to part for this person, walking the streets. A terrified feeling crept over Kaya. The figure stopped, just ahead of the small window Kaya watched from.
“Hide” came a voice near Kaya, but Kaya couldn’t hear it, having said it to herself, and quickly ducked down, closing the tarp over the window as she did so.
Kaya was scared, and was glad she didn’t have to go out into the streets for supplies, but knew if they stayed this angry from whatever was happening, she would be in trouble when she did have to go out. Not to mention whatever was roaming the streets with such terrifying ease.
Kaya had drank some of the purple liquid Roxy had left her with, prompted by an alarm on her phone telling her to do so that she didn’t remember setting, and pondered what to do. The headache she had been struggling with had faded while she sipped the liquid, and while the zombies were screaming, and making no small amount of noise, she seemed fairly safe.
“But I have no idea what is going on.” Kaya said as she loaded a bong. It was loud outside, but Kaya didn’t want to make much noise or draw attention in any way, inside, for fear of alerting the zombies, or anything else, of their position. They were much safer with zombies not even attempting to break down the door, than they would be if zombies were trying to get in, antagonized by noises.
Thankfully for both Jeff and Kaya, low light was common for both of them. Kaya enjoyed her bong and flipped through the channels, trying to find something worthwhile to watch, before finally settling on a zombie movie rerun.
“Night of the Living- may give me some survival tips.” Kaya chuckled to herself at her own joke and turned the captions on. Kaya had the radio next to her, but she had switched it off for the time being, knowing that Sam had decided to get some sleep while the city was down.
“The city is dark.” Kaya said as she sat up. The entire city seemed to be plagued with various illness or ailments, with much of the city suffering from a major headache.
“And at the same time the zombies get all angry.” Came the same voice that had advised her to wakeup and get ready to move, saving her life when the zombies broke into her apartment.
Kaya saw no one, and wasn’t high enough to be hallucinating. Kaya shook this off and considered what the voice was saying. It was true, the zombies had been quiet for the first hour or so of people reporting they weren’t feeling well, but, as time wore on, the zombies began to howl, despite the darkness that they were usually quiet for.
Kaya also recalled zombies taking shelter at night, but now, they seemed to have taken to the streets.
“Maybe they are being affected too then…but affected by what?” Kaya wondered. Whatever was going on, it was making people sick and was riling up the zombies.
Kaya texted Sam, knowing she was asleep, but wanting to muse these ideas out loud, and attempted to send a message to Roxy as well, asking what was in the purple liquid, and hoping the answer gave her insight as to how it got rid of her headache. Maybe it would help with whatever had Jeff feeling so poorly.
Jeff had only gotten worse as the time wore on, and all Kaya could do was change out the cold rags she had made. Kaya had folded up several paper towels, forming a couple cold compress rag type pieces, and was rotating several wet rags in the freezer to keep Jeff cool, placing them on his wrists, neck, and head.
Kaya was worried about Jeff, and wondered how much worse the rest of the town had it. Sam had told her that everyone she was in communication with was reporting everyone affected, with only a few, seemed to be not affected, and these people were standing guard while the others were incapacitated with mostly horribly headaches, and others with intense pains in their bodies and fever.
Kaya wondered if Roxy had somehow given this purple liquid to everyone, but a text from Roxy cryptically told her that the purple liquid she had given Kaya wasn’t for healing anything.
Roxy, as per usual, didn’t offer any extra information.
Kaya wondered how Roxy had known whats she had known thus far, but hadn’t gotten a response when she asked.
Jeff was sleeping deeply, and Kaya was pretty hungry, so while the zombie movie played, she made a giant portion of ramen noodles, having found a healthy supply in a pantry in the shop, and wanting to feel a bit normal again.
While the noodles cooked, Kaya did a few of the small exercises she used to do in her more active days to keep up the strength. With the zombies out, she didn’t know when she my need to climb another building, so she needed to get herself back into shape by working those muscles out again.
Kaya finished a quick spurt of these little exercises, doing some mountain climbers she hadn’t done in a while, something she knew would work the muscles she needed to be strong, the quickest, and rewarded herself with some bland ramen, hot out of the pan.
Kaya wished she had spices or seasonings, but apparently the people who worked at the smoke shop didn’t keep spices on hand in their decently stocked break room.
Jeff moaned in his sleep, and Kaya changed his rag again before returning to her noodles, and that is how she spent much of the rest of the night and following day. She would change the rags every ten minutes, checked the window, every thirty minutes or so, or when she heard anything, and ate when she got hungry, occasionally doing a quick spurt of work out activity to keep her blood pumping.
Jeff woke up, briefly, the following evening, and asked for water, a cigarette, and soup.
Kaya lit her spliff and handed Jeff a cigarette. Crossing the small room, Kaya put some soup on the hot plate, and grabbed more medicine from the stash, having set out the next round for Jeff.
Once Jeff finished smoking, Kaya insisted he eat some soup and drink some more Gatorade, having puked a couple of times in his fever sleep.
Jeff ate and drank what he could, but ultimately, couldn’t keep much down, so Kaya opted to give him the broth and Gatorade in small amounts, and urged him to try and take the medicine.
“I’m trying…” Jeff moaned. “I feel horrible. I feel like I may puke again.” Jeff heaved into the bucket once more, and Kaya fought back her own heaves. When Jeff finished, Kaya took a large dab while he sipped on Gatorade.
“We’ll stick to Gatorade for now, until you feel stronger.” Kaya said as she exhaled the smoke. “No point in you puking it up. The Gatorade seems to be staying down, right?”
“Yeah. If I take small sips.” Jeff said setting the drink down and reaching for another smoke.
“You have many of those stashed away?” Asked Kaya, worried he may go through his supply.
“Oh yeah, plenty in my bag. Go through it if you want, we have lots of supplies. if I die, take anything you want. Just use a bullet in the gun to make sure I don’t turn.” Jeff said, lighting the cigarette. “You have taken care of me, so if I do die, I want you to have anything I have that may help you survive.”
“Hush.” Kaya said, prepping another dab, having much more wax than weed. “You aren’t going to die. We are going to keep us both alive.”
“Still. Go through it if you need, I have tons of useful stuff in there.” Jeff urged her. “And if something happens, do take it.”
Kaya nodded, and took her dab, before changing out the rags for Jeff once more, to try and bring down his fever.
Jeff soon dozed back off to sleep after finishing his cigarettes and a few more sips of his drink, and Kaya continued her quiet evening. The zombies had finally calmed down as the evening approached again, and there had been no sign of the terrifying figure who walked with such purpose through the zombies.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you have enjoyed! Feel free to use the links at the top of this post to catch up on past chapters. If you like what you are reading, feel free to subscribe or follow the blog, or follow me on any of the social media’s I am on, including Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube. If you want to support my creative pursuits, this blog has monthly subscription plays you can opt into, or you can send donations to my cashapp- $abbigrasso – Times are hard in the pandemic so every little bit counts.
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