Johnny America


Ful­ci’s Bakery


Louise ducked in­to the bak­ery, see­ing its bro­ken glass door as an en­try the zom­bies, with their stiff gait, would not eas­i­ly af­fect. She bent dou­ble and crawled through the hole, care­ful not to cut her­self on the edges. She’d learned that lesson.

Their grunts got clos­er, and soon their dumb faces pressed against the door like in­quis­i­tive chil­dren at a can­dy shop. Louise tried not to look at them as she grabbed for ob­jects to bar­ri­cade the door. Al­ready they had fig­ured out that she’d gone through the bro­ken bot­tom half. She heaved a heavy met­al ta­ble on­to its side and shoved it against the door jamb, push­ing back the half-rot­ted arms that were reach­ing through.

Safe for the mo­ment, Louise de­scend­ed on the bak­ery’s re­main­ing wares. The muffins and in­tri­cate­ly frost­ed cup­cakes were in­fest­ed with mold, and the cook­ies had hard­ened be­yond an in­cisor’s abil­i­ty to pen­e­trate. Still, she sal­vaged some of the bread. The brick-oven style loaves had thick pro­tec­tive crusts, which she tore through with her fingers.

She had­n’t eat­en in a day. Or slept. There was no place safe enough to rest, but Louise per­ceived that the fa­tigue she felt was go­ing to take her down soon. In the con­test of mind over body, body al­ways wins.

She ate as much bread as she could han­dle, filled her knap­sack with the rest, then went to in­spect the back room of the bak­ery. She could still hear the grat­ing of the met­al ta­ble against the linoleum as the zom­bies tried to push it in, but she’d braced it against the glass dis­play case and they would­n’t have enough lee­way to squeeze through. She hoped.

In the back were mas­sive ovens, mix­ers big enough for a per­son to climb in­to, and a few more of the met­al prep ta­bles. There was a walk-in freez­er —a safe place, maybe. She opened it up. The smell of rot­ting food was al­most enough to cov­er the om­nipresent zom­bie stench that lin­gered over the city.

She could sleep in there; lodge some­thing in the han­dle and be safe. But there would be no way out, if they got in­side the bak­ery. Bet­ter not. But still…

If she stayed in­side long enough, maybe they’d lose her scent and wan­der off (did they op­er­ate by scent? Louise had no idea). And she was so tired.

She should make sure they had­n’t bro­ken down the door. She crept along the floor to the front of the bak­ery, stay­ing low be­hind the glass dis­play case and its molder­ing pies. They were still out there, press­ing re­lent­less­ly against the door, but there seemed, maybe, to be few­er of them. Louise glanced up and saw, on the un­der­side of the counter top, a red but­ton. Marked in sil­ver let­ters above it was the word “PANIC!”.

No help would be forth­com­ing, she knew, but Louise reached up and pressed the red but­ton over and over again.

Filed under Fiction & Zombies, of or Relating to on July 15th, 2006

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Reader Comments

Christopher Howard wrote:

This is fan­tas­tic. A full nov­el is in order.

Jum wrote:

In­deed. Deft­ly writ­ten. Riveting.

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