Day 16

The noise generated by the rolling door of the storage unit was enough to tighten anyone’s ass given the situation. The facility made the sound louder and more sustained, thanks to an echo, and Dani winced each time a unit was opened up. It felt like every ghoul in the area would hear each sliding door and make their way to the Family Storage.

Bob peered into the unit for a moment and then stepped inside. Dani followed suit. It was a mess. In truth, the work of documenting the contents would have been much faster with Sandy’s help, but she had volunteered to keep an eye on the front office, from the caretaker’s apartment above. It was not like she would have approved of going into each unit, however. She somehow still believed that help would arrive any day now.

Dani had no such illusions.

Her gaze drifted from box to box in the unit, looking for some indication of the contents labeled on them. Most of the boxes had no handwriting or sign of what was actually inside.

Dani noticed Bob was already deep into the contents of one box. He had assembled a hasty stack of books that continued to grow the more he had dug in. Bob had been particular about finding books all day.

It made sense. There had to be something else besides hiding from rotting walking carcasses. Reading could pass most of the daylight hours.

She turned her attention to a stack of boxes, uneven and haphazardly assembled. She grabbed the topmost box and moved it to a smaller stack. She pried it open and began to rifle through.

“Anything good?” Bob asked.

Dani held a handful of old letters in her hands.

“Not in this box unless you want some letters to read.”

“Might as well hold onto ‘em. It’s all that’s left of some folks. Might make for good reading.”

She tucked the letters back into the box and folded the flaps shut. She set herself to the second small box on top of the larger bottom box. When she opened it she saw tangled piles of extension cables and Christmas lights.

“I found some cables and lights.”

Bob walked over to her and peered inside the box. He handed her a fat black marker.

“Might as well label it and pull it out of the unit. Might be able to connect them to the generator and give us some night lights if we need them.”

“Fair enough,” Dani said.

Danni labeled the box and set it right outside the unit and turned her attention to the larger box that made up the bottom of the stack. So far most of these units had been uneventful, but she had hoped some bounty was lurking within the over 200 units. So far 20 of them had been a bit of a bust.

But there were at least some books. Thankfully.

Dani tried to shift the larger box but noticed it was very heavy. She peeled the tape that kept it sealed up and pried it open. She found herself staring at a box full of prepackaged nails and staples.

“Bob, we aren’t gonna be hurting for nails to build up the wall in the office…”

Bob stepped over and stared into the box and whistled.

“Well, let’s label it. We’ll grab it later.”

Dani scribbled “nails” onto the side of the box and on one of the opened flaps.

She peered around the unit. Bob was still engrossed in his books.

“Do you think we might stumble on more tools here? That is a lot of nails.”

“Might.” Bob shrugged.

Dani rolled her eyes. He was too far gone.

She marched toward the rear of the unit, and just past a stack of boxes was a makeshift alcove. There stood a rolling tool chest and some gallon buckets filled with various tools.

Dani looked them over.

“Whoever had this unit must have been a contractor,” Bob chimed in right behind her.

Dani just about jumped out of her skin.

About an hour later they had hit their 23rd unit. The tools were the first of the more useful finds. So far it had been clothes, books, and paperwork in unit after unit. Fortunately, however, one unit contained a bunch of automotive supplies and parts. Neither Dani or Bob knew if they’d be useful right away, but if something needed to be patched they hoped something in the collection would help. At least the two metal gas containers would be really helpful for later.

“Alright, we probably got one more unit before we should call it for the day. Gettin’ tired.”

Danni nodded. “I agree.”

Bob leaned over the lock and used his bolt cutters to cut the lock off. The now useless combination lock hit the cement with a dull thud. Dani bent down and grabbed the latch at the bottom of the rolling door, and as gingerly as she could she rolled the door up. Again, the sound made her wary. It was just too damn loud.

At first, the unit seemed oddly sparse. Just some card tables and some boxes resting on top. Dani and Bob looked at each other, shrugged, and stepped inside.

Bob leaned against the wall of the unit, a bit winded. He seemed very tired. It made sense given his age and circumstance. Dani took it on herself to check the boxes.

Her eyes grew wide.

“What? What is it?” Bob asked.

Dani pulled out a wax-paper wrapped package. The smell of marijuana wafted through the unit, overlaying the musty air.

Bob did a slow blink.

“Is that… is that dope?”

Dani smiled.

“Like, a lot of it. At least three more of these packages in this box. Who knows what is in some of these other boxes?”

“Holy shit,” Bob whistled.

Dani opened the package. Sure enough, it was weed.

The celebration was cut short, however, with the sound of the front gate rattling.

No, not rattling. Violently shaking.

The Dead Life is a Haunted MTL original series.

About the Author

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

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