The Fall of Humanity
There had been no warnings. No vague and confusing Slayer Dreams, no visions of impending doom, no premonitions of what was to come. Nothing. Just a gut feeling that told her something bad was coming and that she needed to be in Atlanta when it did. Then she had read about the first encounter with what appeared to be a zombie on the internet forum. The day after there had been another five sightings, and then everything went downhill fast.
It was the 32nd day after the apocalypse had started, and Buffy and Rime were still in Atlanta. In the month or so since the world had ended they had saved several dozen people, only for them to insist on getting out of the city right away. The friendlier ones had gotten a tin can each with some kind of food and a bottle of water or some other kind of liquid to bring with them on their journey. Not that they blamed any of them for wanting to get away from the increasingly large herds inside the city, but Buffy still had this feeling that she had to stay. At least for now.
Rime, who didn’t have to be anywhere in particular, had chosen to stay with her friend despite the increasing danger. Somewhere out there she had a grown son, but without knowing where he had been when the outbreak began she had no chance of finding him. When it had been clear that the walking dead were going to take over control of the world as is, she had attempted to contact him but had been unable to establish contact. In the end all she had been able to do was leave a message on his voicemail, in addition to sending a text message with her whereabouts at the time, and hoping he would get at least one of them. Before moving on she had given a short prayer to the goddess, praying for his safety and well-being.
Today they were raiding a pharmacy a few blocks away from their base, and as far as they knew it was more or less untouched as it was located on a side street. Rime had seen it on one of their earlier runs, and it had been marked down on their list of places they needed to visit and ransack for anything helpful. That, however, did not mean they had any intention of going in blind. Chances were that there would be walkers shambling around nearby hoping for a snack, and most likely at least a couple of starving ones inside.
Buffy shot her companion a quick look; Rime was dressed in a pair of faded blue jeans, a semi-clean blue-grey tank top, and solid, black army boots. Her long, naturally snow white hair was in a practical braid which reached halfway down her backside. Before she had usually braided it into some kind of fancy and intricate hairstyle, a long time habit from her childhood inside the Norwegian mountains with her father’s people, but the new world order had forced her to become more pragmatic. She’d kept it that way since the panic first broke out so it wouldn’t get stuck on anything, and so it would be more difficult for humans or walkers to grab it.
Buffy herself was dressed in black leather pants, a light pink tank top with My Little Pony on the front, and the same kind of solid, black army boots. Her own blonde locks hung loose around her shoulders. Both of them had a brown leather backpack on their back.
As they approached the building Rime used her superior height, 6’2” without shoes, to look over a wall separating a small parking space from the one next to it. A quick, silent nod and they were over the wall and walking quickly towards a side door. Another few glances around their immediate area to make sure neither the living nor the dead were around or paying attention to them, and Buffy used her Slayer strength to break the lock on the door and push it inwards.
Once inside Buffy promptly gave the rectangular room a quick overview ensuring there were no immediate dangers of any kind, before she gave a second more thorough look making sure she hadn’t missed anything the first time. Thankfully there were no walkers inside the room, no lurkers hiding behind the shelves nor were there any crawlers hiding below eye-level.
During her survey she also noted another two doors; the main entrance consisting of two sliding glass doors showing a parking space and a road beyond that, and there was what appeared to be a blue door beside one of the shelves along the back wall. The latter door most likely led to the offices, changing rooms, the break room, and so on.
When her body language relaxed slightly Rime whispered “Left” behind her.
“Right. Meet you in the middle, by the counter.”
While Rime began her ‘shopping’ on their current side of the store, Buffy crossed the room to the opposite side and started working her way towards the middle from there. With her magically expanded backpack slung over her left wrist for easy access and an unsheathed machete on a strap around her right wrist in case of any surprises, she began collecting whatever she thought might become beneficial.
Before they left the furniture store Rime had drummed the names of various especially needed things into her head, making sure she understood they were a priority. However those were for a little later, the things out in the public area were of the over the counter variety and were more easily accessible. The good stuff was all locked in the back.
All the while she kept a wary eye on on both the door they had entered through and the second door that clearly lead towards the back. The main entrance was kept in her peripheral view as much as possible, just in case someone outside noticed movement and decided to investigate. A human with something heavy or a large enough herd could easily break through it if they were determined.
Buffy found vitamins, band-aids (regular and children’s), bandages of various shapes and sizes, first aid kits - also in several different sizes, antibiotic ointment, prenatal vitamins, pregnancy tests, sunscreen, aloe vera, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and a number of other things which might or might not come in useful. She couldn’t get pregnant, or get STD’s for that matter, and even if she could she hadn’t had a lover in over a year so those were not for her. It was more of a safety precaution; sooner or later they would meet up with and join a group, and as sex was one of the most natural things in existence someone was bound to end up pregnant at some point.
As she walked along the rows and picked bottles and boxes off the shelves, she was listening intently to everything around her. On interchangeable turns she looked down along the floor checking for crawlers and around her in all directions in case there were lurkers or something else unfortunate. Buffy always knew where Rime was, she kept an ear out for any sounds out of the ordinary, and the tell-tale sounds of shuffling feet and the accompanying groaning was always there now. It had become the new world order's version of background noise, only much, much more dangerous. There was at least one walker behind the second, blue door. Probably two.
In what felt like no time the two women met up by the counter, and in what had become the norm in the post-apocalyptic world, they gave each other a quick visual check for bites, scratches, or other injuries.
“I found antibiotics, painkillers, bandages, and most of the other things I was hoping for, but we still need to go through the back room.”
Buffy simply nodded. They had a well filled storage of necessities both back at the furniture store and inside their incredibly practical backpacks, but they would always need more of everything. And everything had suddenly gotten in very limited supply. A month of scavenging for anything and everything had gotten them a lot more than they had expected, but they were not the only survivors in the city and the other groups had more mouths to feed. Regardless of how they looked at it the two of them had still gotten less than they would need in the long run.
“There’s one, likely two walkers behind the back door.” She turned towards the blue door before she turned her head towards the other woman. “Stay here while I clear the way.”
It wasn’t that Rime couldn’t fight or that Buffy thought her weak, but her Slayer instincts had always told her to protect people and those instincts had kicked into high gear after most of humanity went from being prey who needed to be protected to a mass of mindless predators. The older woman had actually taught her some long-forgotten tricks to sword fighting which had come in very handy.
A silent nod and she picked up her pace until she stood before the normal looking blue door. The sound of shuffling feet were a little louder back here. A quick twist of the handle and she was inside, Faith’s knife in one hand and a sharp wooden stake in the other. The sound of the door being forcefully opened alerted the walkers inside and they greeted her with loud groans as they began moving towards her as fast as they could. Which wasn’t all that fast as they appeared to have been stuck inside for most of the last month.
A swift look around the room revealed two adult walkers; a middle aged man with salt and pepper hair, and a fit physique, and a twenty-something woman with waist-long copper red hair. A quick strike with the knife to number one’s forehead, and he was permanently down. The second one got a stake between the eyes, before she was surprised by a third one. A child. A small black girl of about six years, with thin braids all over her head, and a face that would’ve promised beauty had she lived long enough.
Buffy bit her teeth together and plunged the knife into the girl’s head before she could convince herself not to. She hated seeing dead children, and with her currently being in a big city it meant she had on occasion come across herds consisting of mostly children or teenagers. Logically they had probably come from nearby schools or kindergartens, but it was a thought she kept trying not to think of. In between her experiences as the Slayer and her imagination there were too many ways for her to imagine how they were killed, and there were way too many child and teenage walkers in Atlanta for her peace of mind.
After moving the three corpses out of the way she called her friend inside and they went through the back storage before they left as quickly as they had arrived. Making their way back to their base while the sun was out.
The walkers didn’t care if it was light or dark, all that mattered to them was their insatiable hunger and the humans who could temporarily feed it, but Buffy had spent nearly two decades knowing that the most dangerous things usually came out to play after dark. And that habit was hard to break, so that meant supply runs usually happened during daylight hours. Unless she went out on her own.
Buffy was the Slayer, or rather a Slayer. It meant her life was a violent one, full of blood and dust and nightmares becoming all too real. Seeking out danger was almost as instinctive as breathing. For some reason she could not explain the vampires had turned into some kind of hybrid vampire/walker creature. They’d had all the weaknesses and strengths of a vampire, just a lot dumber and their speed was that of a average living human. Luckily they had still gone poof when she had staked or beheaded them, but after the first week she had neither seen, nor heard, or even sensed a single vampire or demon. It kinda freaked her out. Where had they all gone? Did they die or get dusted somehow? Did they take a magical portal somewhere?
All the demons and part-humans couldn’t be gone or she and Rime would’ve been gone as well, but so far they had not run into anyone else despite the crowds. It was something to think about for another day.
Back at the furniture store they tallied their loot. They had gotten a lot of the much-needed medicine they had been looking for, and in addition they had gotten six sealed bottles of water, three sealed bottles of soda, some boxes of spice, and four cans of hermetic soup. Neither had any idea why there was soup at a pharmacy, but they didn’t care. It was food and like everything else they needed more of it.
All in all their supply run into the more walkers infested areas had been successful.