As soon as I was inside the Wal-Mart, I took off towards the sports and outdoors section. I was badly in need of a few things. Grabbing a nearby shopping basket, I walked down the aisles, periodically stopping to check things out and place things in the basket. First thing to catch my eye was a beautiful hunting knife behind a sealed glass case. I didn't need it, but what I wouldn't have given for something like it until a couple of weeks ago. I ultimately decided to leave the knife and move on.
Soon, I found two boxes of 5.56 ammunition for my rifle and a single small box of .45s. I considered myself lucky that even that much was left, and it was a good find. I placed both in the basket, but soon thought better of leaving ammo in the open like that and moved the boxes into my coat pockets.
I also considered a baseball bat - aluminum, looked solid - but decided I preferred my knife and guns...and bow. Which reminded me...I really wanted a bow. Scenes like what happened out in the streets before were far too common because of the noise from my weapon. I half-walked, half-jogged with excitement to the next aisle where I could see a sign displaying a bowhunter readying his shot, and was rewarded for my anticipation with - nothing. One set of arrows, and that was it. I grabbed the box of arrows and started for the food department, on the opposite end of the store. When I arrived, I grabbed all the canned food I could fit into my pockets, then a stray cart half-packed with food and beverages. The only thing inside - among apples, canned meats and soups, several bags of chips and soda - that I didn't want was two six-packs of beer. I took them out and set them on the ground next to a freezer case, then proceeded grabbing more things. I snatched up a few more cases of pop - mostly coke and root beer - and some other items, including more chips, pretzels, crackers, cookies and cheese puffs. I also took several bags of string cheese and all the blocks of white cheddar that remained, along with a bag of bread that was still good.
At this point, my cart was quite full. I decided that would probably be enough supplies for now, so I began heading to the small pharmacy in the back. I would make this room my quarters. I took a blanket from a nearby shelf to lay down on, and prepared to go to sleep, laying my equipment beside me.
Just as I was beginning to drift off to sleep, images flashed through my head.
First there was a child's face, innocent and afraid. Then appeared the face of a monster, like some creature from a horror show, snarling, with gore on its face. Finally, I saw a woman. Her eyes were closed, as if asleep. She looked peaceful. Happy, even, as though she were having a particularly good dream. She had beautiful blonde hair that reached her shoulders and skin that was just so slightly tan. She lay there for several moments, then a scream echoed in my head as the woman's eyes snapped open. They were the color of emeralds, absolutely beautiful, and they seemed to glow with an odd sort of light. And they were absolutely devoid of emotion. That's when she screeched like some maddened beast and lunged upward from the bed she was lying in, teeth flashing hungrily. She leaned forward until her head was just out of view, and withdrew with a mouth full of flesh, blood and gore. The dream then faded to blackness.
I shot upright and my eyes flew open. I looked around me silently, not out of breath but very disturbed. Realizing that right now sleep was going to be impossible, I grabbed my pistol and holstered it, then stood up. The girl from before - Ryan, she called herself - was outside, quietly perusing the mostly-empty shelves.
I walked over to the counter and watched her for a moment before clearing my throat. She turned and looked at me, only a little bit surprised to find me awake. "Couldn't sleep either, eh?" I asked.
"No," she admitted. "By the looks of it, you weren't doing so great yourself." She was apparently referring to my restless attempt at sleep.
I shrugged and rubbed my eyes, grunting a short laugh of agreement. Ryan turned back to the shelf and soon moved on. I set to making breakfast. First, I walked to the back rooms where the generator was located and switched it on. Fortunately, it was still there and still in working condition. The lights flicked on, and I was momentarily blinded. I then hurried back to the pharmacy, stopping by the kitchen appliances section on my way, and when I got back I plugged in the toaster I had grabbed in one of the free outlets that were on the counter. I slipped four pieces of bread into the toaster and grabbed a block of cheese and some apples. I washed my knife off in a metal bowl of water and cut a few slices of cheese. I then began strolling the aisles until I found Ryan, still wandering around.
"Join me for breakfast?" I asked. She looked momentarily confused and wary before following me to the pharmacy.
As we ate our toast with apples and cheese - surprisingly tasty, really - I stopped chewing for a moment. "You know," I said to Ryan, "I was thinking - we could turn this place into a base, of sorts."
"What are you talking about?" She said.
"I'm talking about settling down. We wouldn't have to run anymore, we'd have a roof over our heads most nights, and..." I grinned. "Thanks to me, we have power. What do you think?"