Patrick took a long drink from his canteen and noted how light it felt. His backpack was resting easily on his shoulders now that he put the rolled-up blanket across where the straps had been rubbing his back and shoulders raw. That was two days ago and his skin was healing nicely now. It didn’t hurt that they had found some antibiotic ointment at the same place as the blanket. He was wearing a faded black Boston Bruins playoff shirt with the sleeves cut off, tan cargo pants and sturdy hiking boots. He and his small group had raided a sporting goods store that was surprisingly not picked over a week ago. There was a shotgun slung across his back and a .45 on each hip in its own belt lined with clips. He had a total of thirty 15-round clips in each belt and two bandoliers of shotgun shells crisscrossed over his chest. His tanned and well-toned arms were covered with sunscreen as was his face, despite his large had that was shielded him from the sun. The last thing he needed was to be slowed down by heatstroke or a bad sunburn. He also had a black machete attached to his gun belt on his left hip and a hunting knife on the gun belt in his right hip. As he was fond of reminding the other members of his small group, “Blades don’t run out of ammo.”
He finished his canteen, reattached it to his backpack with a carabiner and looked over at Tom. Tom was a twenty year old kid with a Mohawk, cargo pants and a tight shirt that showed off his lean frame. He had a rifle slung over his back, his pockets full of ammo and a pair of running shoes. Tom was engaged in a conversation with Mike, who was once again talking about his girlfriend Andrea (pronounced Ahndray-yuh) with a tone of depression. Tom was trying to convince him that they would find her, even though he himself did not believe it. Mike could get easily upset. Mike, like the others had cargo pants (as they were the most practical for the extra pockets) and sturdy work boots. He was a mechanic and therefore a vital part of the group.
“I just can’t shake this feeling that I’m never going to see her again. It sucks,” Mike was saying. He was sitting against the wall of the convenience store they had just broken into to get supplies. It was surprisingly well-stocked.
“C’mon man, we’ll find her,” Tom said altogether unconvincingly. Truth be told he was more than a little tired of Mike’s depressing attitude. As if they didn’t have enough to worry about without having to constantly reassure Mike that he would indeed see Andrea again.
The other members of the group were milling about chatting amongst themselves because they too were tired of listening to Mike and it was starting to bring down the morale of the group, which was already shaky after watching Eric get ripped apart a few hours earlier. Fortunately the rest of them were able to escape unharmed and relatively unscathed.
“How much longer are we supposed to deal with that shit?” Greg asked. Greg was 38 and a smoker. He blew the smoke from a Marlboro away from Patrick’s face but was clearly agitated. “You need to do something about him or I will.”
“Greg relax. I know you’re getting irritated. But you were the same way a week ago. Once we finally find a place we can rest for a few days without worrying about being attacked I think he’ll be fine. Until then you’ll deal with it like everyone else.”
“I’m just saying it’s getting old. And he’s bringing everyone else down. Someone is going to snap. I would’ve thought it would be Eric, but he’s being digested about now. But hey, no loss there. Guy was a royal douche.”
Greg went back inside the store to search for any missed cigarettes. Patrick had casually mentioned that while he may have a preferred brand it might make send for him to stock up while he had the chance. He had tried explaining to Greg that it would make even more sense to quit entirely but Greg stubbornly refused. He wanted to keep his life as close to normal as he could. And in a world where the dead rose to feast upon the warm, blood-nourished flesh of the living, that was important.