Last time, Dani caught up with Alicia and the discussed books and the status of Mary, Alicia’s mother, who is still laid up from a broken leg. This week in the Haunted MTL Original The Dead Life, Dani looks at long-term plans with Jimmy – could a garden be the next step?
This is a serialized novel of post-apocalyptic zombie survival. Learn more about the story and setting at the series hub and take advantage of a complete list of installments.
“Go ahead and check in on your mom, Alicia. Let her know I am gonna come by in a bit.”
Alicia nodded and, after a brief moment, gave Dani a small hug. Dani initially felt surprised but returned the gesture by squeezing the girl’s elbow. She was a good kid.
Alicia wandered off, gesturing with a wave as she approached her and her mother’s trailer. Dani turned her attention to the units claimed by Jimmy and Edgar.
Jimmy and Edgar had opened the four she saw, removed various boxes, and contents had been strewn about in multiple piles, the two still obviously sorting through them. The presence of an overly furry lady’s coat on a coat rack caught her eye for a moment. She had no idea what fur it was, but the fact that Jimmy or Edgar had perceived enough value to hang the coat up was pretty funny. From what she had learned about them, she expected that was a Jimmy gesture, the more reflective of the two.
She made her way down the row, which was the main row connected to the front gate. Sure enough, she saw Jimmy, the slighter of the pair, standing at the front entrance. His hair had grown a bit longer, and he had a tangle of red curls starting to form. He was in sweatpants and a t-shirt salvaged from one of the boxes. As she approached, she noticed the neon-colored graphic of a boat with “Catalina Open ‘92” in stylized letters on the back.
She presumed nobody in their sanctuary had ever been to Catalina before.
“Why is the car out of the way?” she asked as she approached.
Jimmy looked back; his hands were on his hips, intently studying the building across the street. He pointed to them.
“Edgar is scouting that building, so we’re keeping the gate free to roll open when he gets back.”
“Believe it or not, that giant is very quiet.”
Giant didn’t even begin to describe Edgar. He was a sizeable Mexican man. While only about 5’9”, by most estimations, he was thick, a seeming combination of muscle and fat. Edgar was like a wall. Dani was glad to have him.
Jimmy was different. He was skinny, and his muscles were ropey. He looked underfed, and his raid hair had not only grown longer at the top of his head, but he was beginning to develop a rat nest for a beard. Dani would need to get him something to trim it next time they were on a supply run.
He was pretty wired-looking when he first came to the U-Stor-It, but in the time since, he seemed to have mellowed out, seemingly enthused at the company and things to do. He was one of the hardest working people she had met, always up to something to make the location more livable, and the first to assist in projects.
He didn’t even bother hiding his track marks lately. Dani wondered how long ago he’d kicked his habit and if the work helped him manage.
“Any idea what he is looking for over there?”
Jimmy scratched his chin vigorously, and Dani could hear the rustle of hair. “We saw that it is a school district facility or something. I think they make food there, and there could be buses.”
Dani technically lived around the corner, right from the building. She hadn’t paid attention to it at the time. Dani did recall a colorful mural on one of the walls. She supposed she saw some buses there from time to time as well. It was shocking how disconnected she felt from the location across from her apartment of two years.
“Why are we interested in buses, Jimmy?”
“Well, if we can hotwire them, we can take a couple of them and build a wall around the parking lot in front of us.”
Dani looked at the lot; they hadn’t been able to use it due to the need to reinforce the broken gate.
“We could find a way to make another gate and have two layers of protection here,” she added.
“Yep. Maybe even park a couple of cars or a truck for supply runs.”
“It could also give us a chance to fix the gate.”
“Yeah. I feel really shitty about breaking it. I swear I’ll fix it.”
Dani took a few steps forward toward the rolling gate and shrugged. “You didn’t know anyone was here, and you’re doing what you can to help. Nobody is mad.”
Jimmy pulled a crumpled pack of cigarettes from his sweats’ pockets and a book of matches from the other. He lit up and began to puff away. Dani watched him for a moment, and soon enough, he nodded at her, plucking the cigarette from his lips and offering her a puff. She enjoyed it. She handed it back.
“Is he going to be okay by himself?”
“If it were me, you’d be right to be worried. Edgar, though, fucker is built differently. He won’t be long. Besides, I really, really want to get to the parking lot.”
“We have plenty of parking here.”
“It’s the grass. The soil. I think I can get a garden going.”
Dani’s eyes narrowed. “No shit?”
“No shit. I was 4-H in high school, and my parents shipped me off to a boy’s ranch as a kid. I picked up the knack for growing.”
Danit thought back to the day he and Edgar had crashed the gate of the storage place. Dani and Bob had found marijuana packed up in one of the units belonging to Jimmy.
“So that weed was homegrown, I assume?”
“I can grow potatoes too.”
“I’m sure you can.”
Jimmy took a couple more puffs and handed the cigarette back to Dani.
“I have some ideas, but I need the supplies.”
“Do tell,” Dani urged.
“Well, I can build some garden boxes, but I need wood, wire, liners… soil bags… seeds; it’s a lot.”
“Makes sense,” she added, “thinking of loading up one of the buses?”
Jimmy looked over at the truck still parked against the front office’s windows.
“That moving truck would have been perfect. I hope we can salvage that if we close the lot.” He took the cigarette back from Dani. “I am thinking about a lot of supplies because I have a much bigger idea.”
He paused for a moment, perhaps worried he was going to sound crazy or something.
“Dani, do you know what is next to us,” he gestured behind them as he spoke, back toward the southern part of the U-Stor-It, “that area between us at the houses?”
“A drainage ditch for one, and a dirt alley with the railroad tracks.”
Dani remembered that a railway, abandoned, had run through part of Emmett for nearly 60 years, an artifact of the day when the town was known for orange groves. She saw where he was going with this.
“You want to seal the place up and grow back there?” she asked.
“It’d give us a lot more room than some boxes and a strip of grass in front of the office.”
It was a good idea, but the project seemed like a massive pain in the ass, especially given the need to secure the area and move the goods. She understood why Jimy and Edgar were interested in the buses.
“The problem is,” Jimmy continued, “we can’t risk losing that truck in front of the office yet because we can’t reinforce the window frame. We don’t have anything else that can work to haul around the supplies I need.”
Dani thought about it for a moment. Jimmy offered her the last few puffs of the cigarette, but she politely waved it off, deep in thought. She thought back to the area around them and where they had been in the previous few weeks.
She remembered something about her flight from the apartments where she had lived before the bullshit went down. The place was around the corner and seemed so much further away when she first escaped. Now it offered a tantalizingly close solution.
“I know where we can find a moving truck.”
Jimmy’s eyebrow raised, intrigued. He dropped the cigarette butt and mashed it with the toe of his sneakers.
“Hell yes.” He beamed. “Fuck yes.”
Did you enjoy this installment of the story? How do you think the system they opt for regarding supplies will work out for them? Let us know what you think and what supplies would be your zombie apocalypse necessity.
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