Day 17

The drive to Walman’s Pharmacy was quiet and uneventful. Whatever instincts motivated the ghouls to wander in and out of a given area Dani had no clue about, but she was thankful it had worked in their favor this time around. Looking down Leon avenue, past the highway that served as the main street through town, she could make out movement. Idle wanderings. As long as she and the guys kept the noise low and got in and out then there wouldn’t be a need to worry about those ghouls.

The turn into the parking lot of the pharmacy was cut off by two cars that had collided. Jimmy braked and looked it over.

“Maybe we can squeeze in beside them?”

Edgar shook his head.

“Just go over the fucking curb, man.”

“Let’s just try around the corner.”

Jimmy stepped off the brake and the car crept forward.

Dani leaned over to the middle of the space between the front seats.

“I don’t think we should love any closer to Orange than we are. I see some of those things down the road, who knows how many may be on the main street here.”

“Do you want to get out and move them?” Edgar snorted.

“No, I think we should just park on the street here. Put some distance between us and the shop if anything goes wrong.”

Jimmy parked the car.

“Good idea. We won’t be stuck in a parking lot.”

Edgar opened the passenger door and stepped out.

“Alright.”

Dani and Jimmy hopped out and grabbed some weapons from the back seat. Jimmy had found a heavy wrench in a storage unit. Edgar held an aluminum bat. Dani had grabbed an old fireplace poker and had her gun tucked into the waistband of the jeans. She didn’t want to risk calling anything over with a gun if she could help it. Dani also had her screwdriver. Jimmy had picked up a dulled army knife from one of the units.

The trio stepped away from the car and onto the grassy divider between the sidewalk and the parking lot. Already a little over two weeks without water and the lawn had rapidly dried up. Dani heard the crunching with each step.

Water was going to be something important to consider for the long-term, she thought.

Dani and Jimmy were already a few feet from the front door of the pharmacy when they noticed Edgar had not kept up. He was hard to miss, given his size.

They saw Edgar staring into a car that was parked in the lot. The window remained rolled up, but the movement inside the car seemed louder given how quiet the streets were.

“Edgar, man, what’s up?” Jimmy’s voice was a hoarse whisper.

Edgar stood near the car, watching a ghoul slap at the window from inside. The window rattled with each strike.

Edgar looked over to Jimmy and Dani.

“I think she went to my high school…” His voice has started loud but trailed off at the end of the implication.

Dani glanced over at Jimmy. His brow furrowed and he walked over to Edgar. She stood near the entrance, peering around, wary for any other motion.

The entrance consisted of three doors; the one-way entry, the one-way exit, and a doorway that was used for the shopping carts. The glass across all three doors had been shattered and well-trod shards littered the tiled entryway inside. This place had been hit before, she reasoned. 

Daylight was still bright enough that the interior was illuminated, but just barely. She saw no movement inside, but that didn’t mean the pharmacy was empty.

It’d be risky. Anything was risky anymore.

Jimmy had stepped up to Edgar and the parked car.

“You think?” he asked.

Edgar shrugged.

“I mean, it’s hard to tell because that was a few years ago and she’s dead, but… yeah. I think I fooled around with her once.”

Jimmy peered inside the car. The ghoul was at one point a blonde woman with delicate features. Now her skin was leathery and sliding off in places, discolored with rot and moisture from the inside of the car, a small hatchback.

She was held in place by a belt but her repeated motions ended up dragging the fabric deep enough into her flesh that her torso seemed to have deep grooves that bled through her worn clothes. She wore a black tank top with sparkling stones, dulled by rot and grime. A large chunk of her right arm seemed to be missing near the elbow.

Jimmy looked through the rest of the car. It wasn’t packed with supplies or any sign of an attempt at escape. There was a plastic bag in the passenger’s seat. It was unclear what was in it.

In the back, he saw a baby seat, stained brown, and a thin, discolored blanket draped over it. The seat looked like it had been pried from where it was meant to be and it had fallen to its side. A tiny, desiccated hand peeked out from under the blanket and twitched slightly.

At least what seemed to be left of a hand.

“Jesus Christ,” he whispered.

Edgar looked over at him and followed his gaze.

“Goddamn.”

The two men stood in silence. What could be done? Jimmy put a hand on Edgar’s shoulder and tilted his head toward the store. It was time to move.

“Should we… I dunno. Handle them?”

Jimmy shook his head.

“They’re… fine where they’re at. We need to get the stuff and get out of here.”

Edgar looked at his friend. he looked a little more tired than usual. He looked pained, Jimmy thought.

“But leave her like that, man? She deserves better.”

“Everyone did, Edgar. Everyone.”

Edgar trudged away from the car. Jimmy took a position just behind him.

Dani watched the men approach.

“What was it?” she asked.

Edgar shrugged. 

“Thought I knew her… in the car.”

Jimmy said nothing.

Edgar stepped up to the entrance of the pharmacy, swinging the baseball bat over his shoulder.

“It’s not us. Let’s keep that up.”

And that was that.

The Dead Life is a Haunted MTL original fiction series.

About the Author

David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

View Articles