Someone suggested we reach the hardware store from the rooftop. There's a ladder to reach the roof out back, by the shipping and receiving doors. It's far from the ground though, so no one can reach it that's not supposed too I guess. Someone found a stepladder that should be tall enough to get one of us high enough.
We talked about it, and two people volunteered to give it a try. A tall athletic guy named Fred, and me. I'm not sure why I volunteered -- the hero in me, or maybe it's the cute blonde who doesn't talk too much. Good to know the world's end won't stop a man from doing stupid things to impress a woman.
It was agreed we'd try this at noon, when the zombies are less active. We'd have to go out the employees’ door, run around the trailers with the stepladder, set it up under the ladder on the wall and climb -- and all that without alerting any zombies. Great plan.
When the time came, we each packed a bag with a couple water bottles, something to eat in case it took a while before we could come back and a few tools we found in the maintenance closet. Fred suggested we'd carry the stepladder together and he'd set it up for me to climb first, and then he'd follow behind me. Worked for me.
At noon our ears were stuck to the employees’ door, listening for any clue that a zombie might be on the other side. Nothing. Fred carefully opened the door, making as little noise as possible. Bright light shone through, but no movement outside. He looked at me and mouthed "ready?" I nodded and we picked up our ends of the stepladder.
I could feel time stand still as people behind us held their breath. Fred whispered slowly, "1 ... 2 ... 3 ... now!" And we took off as fast as we could and, as it turns out, Fred runs a lot faster than I do. Around the first trailer the stepladder was pulled away from my sweaty hands and fell to the ground with a loud bang. Immediately the people inside the building closed the employees’ door afraid the noise might attract zombies -- and effectively cutting off our escape route.
Fred just kept running, carrying the stepladder by himself. "Go! Go! Keep running!" My heart stopped beating, but I did as he told. We made it to our destination and Fred was setting up the stepladder when he fell back. I froze. A zombie had gotten him from behind! Where had it come from? I saw another one come out from under the trailer -- they were hiding in the shade.
Fred's screams had turned to whimpers before I got to the top of the stepladder and onto the ladder. I dared not look back when I heard the stepladder fall to the ground. By the time I reached the roof, Fred was silent. I could barely make out the moans coming from the zombies. I didn't look down. What good would it have made? I knew this was bound to happen -- that some people around me would die at the hands of the zombies -- but it was still a lot of emotion to deal with. I tried to hold back the tears as I made my way to the rooftop above the hardware store.
For some reason, I got lucky. There was a trap that led from the roof to the hardware store. There was no latch from my side, but thanks to years of inadequate maintenance, lots of hammering and some help with a crowbar, I managed to get it open. Ten seconds later I was inside the hardware store, and I wasn't alone.