They were about thirty five miles northwest of Boulder City, on the northern outskirts of Las Vegas, when Darrel said to pull over. Sam did so, pulling the car and trailer off the road beside a gas station that had been being built before everything blew up.
“I appreciate you taking me out here like this.” Darrel said. “I know this has to come as a huge shock to you, this lifestyle change.”
“Yeah, I mean watching children play together in the streets, school? I mean don’t get me wrong, I think it’s the right thing, just after what I saw, even when we were at the Bazaar, life was more about surviving still. You guys are looking to the future. I’m not sure I am ready for that yet.”
“Yeah, The mayor and I saw that look when you came in. We hoped you’d stick around long enough at least to do a few raids like this.”
“Well, it’s the least I can do now right now, as long as Evelyn is taken care of,” Sam said while thinking about the young girl he had met only a few months before. She had already saved his life once, and he was sure that whatever her situation had been before the Pennyman had shown up with her, she was in a better place with him, and was definitely now.
“She will be, and so will you if you choose to stay.”
“I know,” Sam nodded, pushing the feeling in the pit of his stomach that everything had been temporary so far, and that so was Boulder City.
“Ok, our scouts said some of those brainwashed people, Others, you called them, were walking around on the Strip. We’re a ways from there, but let’s be careful.” Darrel said, checking both of the pistols.
Sam did the same, reaching into the backseat for a shotgun that had been confiscated for the protection of the city. “Old habits,” he laughed nervously, hoping it would not be needed.
“We have a couple of people from up around here, they said there should be a grocery store down that street a mile or two.” He said, pointing beyond the unfinished gas station.
Sam eased back onto the road, driving around a dented fender that had been blown off of a Buick that rested on the other side of the road.
They found the store, a Super Target, on the right side of the road a few blocks down, passing by storefronts with broken windows and empty shelves.
“This is not looking promising,” Darrel said.
“Yeah, but we’ve come this far. They can’t have taken everything.” Sam parked the car in the fire lane right in front of the doors labeled ‘Grocery,’ They were still intact but had been pushed open, hanging at an odd angle. They exited the car, Sam hanging the keys from a belt loop and drawing a a pistol as well as a flashlight.
They entered the door, sweeping their weapons right and left, illuminating shelves of rotting fruit and meat. “At least the door was open,” Darrel said, wrinkling his nose as they got closer to the rotting produce department. Sam walked back to the front and grabbed a shopping cart, hoping to need it. They found a few bottles of freeze dried spices and threw them into the cart, trying to hold their breath until they had cleared the aisle. They startled a bird who was sleeping on the next aisle, full of rotting bread. Darrel wanted to skip it, but Sam pushed his cart down it anyways, finding a few boxes of teas that had been left behind. The next few aisles were barren, but they found even more spices in the baking aisle, in addition to a few boxes of cake mixes that they grabbed. The rest of the grocery side of the store was pretty much a bust, but the electronics department had been barely touched. They had to hunt down a rock, but busted open some of the display cases, taking video games and consoles and camera’s. Sam stopped by the music section and grabbed a handful of CD’s, things he had owned previously.
Darrel walked up behind him, throwing in a few hand tools he had found and picked up a copy of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” that Sam had added to the cart. “Good choice.”
They snaked through the clothing section of the store, taking everything that remained.
A WalMart Supercenter down the street yielded similar results, filling the trailer and the vehicles back seat without a further encounter.
“Well, I guess that’s everything.” Sam said, leaning into the back door with his shoulder to shut it.
“Yeah, but we have company.” Darrel said, pointing down the street they had come up. A group of men and women a dozen strong were walking down it’s center.
“Shit,” said Sam.
“Quick, into the store.” Darrel said, backing in through the open sliding doors. Sam followed slowly, but it was too late, the group had already seen them and was heading there way.
“By the looks of them, they’re not friends,” Darrel said, the statement punctuated as one of the glass paneled doors was shot out. “Here,” Darrel said, pulling a handful of extra bullets out of a pocket inside his coat.
Sam took them and pocketed the extra ammunition. They ran toward the deli counter, hiding behind the doughnut display case. Sam shot the first man that came through the window, and Darrel picked off the next one, but they had given away their position, and the remaining men and women cautiously came through the door, returning fire. The glass case exploded above their heads, raining shards down upon them. “Quick, this way,” Sam said, firing a quick shot over the counter and then running to the next display.
Darrel took a shot as well before joining Sam. “Is the car locked?”
“Don’t think so.”
“Well, that’s something. We can’t take them all. You think we can make it back into the bakery?”
Sam looked at the ten foot wide-open space between the next set of shelves and the opening in the counter. “Maybe,” Sam said doubtfully.
“There’ll have to be a fire exit back there.”
“Ok, cover me,” Sam said, dashing for the next display. Bullets flew in both directions but none found their mark. Darrel followed a minute later with equal success.
“Ok, when you get back there, stay low and keep running. I want to be peeling rubber as soon as my ass is in that seat.”
Sam popped his head over the counter, and was rewarded with the sound of gunshots. “You ready?”
Sam bolted across the opening, trying not to flinch every time he heard the pop of another bullet being fired. He made it and did as instructed, the deli counter exploding as bullets busted through the glass display and imbedded themselves into rotting chunks of meat. The exit was clearly marked and as soon as he had a wall in between him and his foes, he stood up, and ran full tilt toward the door, throwing it open with his shoulder. HE ducked his head down and made it to the vehicle, fumbling with the keys on his belt hook.
He slammed his foot onto the gas pedal as soon as heard the passenger door shut. They were out of the parking lot, with their attackers coming out of the store in their rear view mirror when Sam finally stole a glance at his companion.