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.
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