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    All The Dead Are Here - Pete Bevan's zombie tales collection

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    WARNING: Stories on this site may contain mature language and situations, and may be inappropriate for readers under the age of 18.

    STORAGE SPACE by Dominick Muzio
    January 24, 2008  Longer stories   

         In all the years of management experience I’ve had, locking seven others and myself into the back warehouse of my furniture store was probably the hardest decision I ever had to make. I had fired drivers for damaging loads during delivery, I let my office manager go after 8 years of dedicated service when she came back from her lunch break smelling like gin one too many times. Those were easy decisions. Nobody’s life depended on it. This one was rough. I slammed the gate down and secured the huge Master padlock, and waited for a minute before turning around. I didn’t want to see the faces.

    It was just after 10:00am when I realized why it had been so quiet on the way to work this morning. Too quiet. I drove down Cleveland Avenue like I have every day for the last 10 years, but this time, traffic didn’t slow to a crawl by Fowler Boulevard like it always has. In fact, other then a few state troopers and ambulances, I didn’t see any other cars at all. That was odd, but the troopers weren’t. This section of town had gone to shit long before the first zombie raised his rotting head. I opened the doors to Kriegel’s Fine Furniture and made coffee, then went over the numbers from the night before. Janet, my office manager came in ten minuets later, and was soon followed by Jim, the warehouse supervisor. We chatted about the game the night before, with Jim crying about how he lost $200 to Brian, the sales manager on it. Janet and I turned on the computers, while Jim went over the days load sheets, preparing for a fairly light delivery day. Brian showed up a little later, smiling a shit-eating grin as he waited for Jim to pay him. Vickie and Leo showed up a little after 9:30, and began their morning routine of going over the sales they had made the day before.

    When I opened the doors at 10:00, there was a young couple waiting to be let in. Susan and Frank had just moved to the area, they explained and were looking for a living room set. I introduced myself and was about to turn them over to Brian, when I heard the shots.

    Across the street, two police officers were shooting at a small group of people (at least, I thought they were people at the time) who were shambling across the parking lot of Lee Memorial Hospital. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

    “What the hell?” I managed to say right before Susan started screaming. I looked over and saw the young, pretty blonde wild eyed and pointing. I followed the direction of her finger and saw another police officer being forced to the ground by three “patients”. They were clawing and biting him, and one of the group bit into his face and came up with a chunk of flesh that contained half of his bottom lip.

    “Holy shit!” Brian yelped. Jim, Leo and Vickie made their way to the front of the window and stared. At least 15 more of those things were visible on the streets now, and they quickly made work of the two remaining officers. One of the cops had managed to shoot a heavy set bald guy point blank in the chest. He fell back a few feet, and then proceeded to walk right back towards his target. He lunged for the cop and grabbed him by the arm and bit 3 of his fingers clear off.

    “What’s going on out there? What’s happening” Vickie was saying, pulling on her crucifix as her graying hair fell loosely over her face. Nobody else could speak. I reached out and locked the doors again. We all stood there for what seemed like hours and watched as more and more zombies made their way out of the hospital. One unlucky woman who was walking her dog near the small park area set up just outside the hospital ground was quickly pounced upon by the ghouls, including the reanimated cop with the missing lip. She was quickly torn to shreds, the majority of her breast and arms being fought over by two geriatric zombies, and her poodle consumed by three others.

    “Somebody turn on the TV!” I yelled, and Leo ran over to the set we keep in our best selling wall unit and flipped it on. The newscaster was in the middle of an interview with the Lee County Sheriff. He was sweating profusely and stammering. Leo turned up the volume just in time to catch his last statement.

    “- hospital. I’m getting reports from my officers that the only way to bring ‘em down is with a shot to the brain. Doctors there said that they are contagious, and any bite will cause the victim to succumb to the virus, I guess that’s what it is, and then after death they will come back.”

    “Sheriff Goldman, are saying the these people are already dead?” The newsman asked in what seemed like mocking disbelief.

    “That’s exactly what the fuck I’m saying! Does this look like a joke to you? I’ve lost 12 men so far! I saw a 9 year old girl bite her mothers tit off!”

    “Ok, Sheriff. I’m sorry. What should people at home do?” The newscaster lost all of his color after the sheriff’s outburst. He swallowed hard and looked off camera, probably at his producer, and started to take his microphone off. The sheriff came back on screen and removed his hat, his balding pate shining in the morning Florida sun.

    “Stay inside, lock your doors and don’t open them for anything! If you got a gun, load it and keep quiet. If one of those things come after you aim for the brain. If anyone you see has been bitten, get the hell away from them. I gotta go…”

    We all stared for what seems like hours at the screen as it went blank for a second, and then Brian finally switched it off.

    “Jesus! What the fuck?” he stammered. I looked back out the front window at the chaos on the street. At least 30 of the dead things were out now. I saw one of them reach into an open window at the Sweets For The Sweet candy store and pull a young girl out by her hair. She tried to fight it off, but two more grabbed at her and tore her throat out and began to feed on her. More police had shown up at the scene, and they were firing wildly at the horde, to little success. For every one that the dropped, 3 new ones took there place. They were pouring out of the hospital now, which I guessed was ground zero. It was a nightmare scene. Blood and body parts everywhere, and the ghouls just kept coming, then I heard Janet scream. I ran to the back office and saw her staring at the monitor of the closed circuit security camera. I looked at the screen and saw five of the zombies pulling something out of a car. My gut wrenched as I realized it was an arm, and the car belonged to Karen, my other office girl. Janet was crying, her makeup smeared down her face, and she looked even younger then her 25 years. I grabbed her and held her. I lead her out to the sales floor where the rest of my crew and the two customers were still looking out at the carnage on the street. Leo put a large, black hand on Vickie’s shoulder, and she leaned into his chest. Jim was teary eyed, and the young couple held each other. It was almost like looking at a movie, a surreal scene that you imagine is happening for real as you grab for your popcorn in a dark theater. We watched more and more of the hellish cinema for a minute, and then the gas station exploded.

    A large SUV had come swerving out of the right lane on Cleveland avenue, trying to avoid the swell of undead that had gathered in the middle of the street to feed on what remained of the cops, and slammed right into the service island at the Mobile station. The explosion was massive, shooting a fireball into the sky at least fifteen feet high. The resonant force scattered the gang of undead across the road and incinerated about a third of them. Unfortunately, it also shattered my front window.

    We all managed to escape severe injury as the glass blew in all around us. It only took a second to realize that we were now exposed to the horror that was outside. A few of the zombies took notice, and began moaning and shuffling towards us.

    “Aw shit, what do we do?” Brain said. I noticed that everyone was looking at me. I felt a sharp pain in my shoulder and looked down to see a piece of glass jutting out of it. The thick shard was about 3inches deep into my skin. I pulled my tie off, wrapped it around my right hand and grabbed the shard and pulled it free. Not much blood, but enough to make me look more appetizing to the horde I’m sure. I tried to sound calm, to no avail. I ordered everyone to the warehouse.  No one objected, and soon we were running though the aisles toward the back of the store. I stopped long enough to grab my cell phone and the keys to the storage gates. I took a look towards the front of the store just in time to see four of the monsters entering through the big hole where the window used to be. I heard Janet and Vickie screaming my name, and then another scream, but this one to the front of me. There were Susan and Frank, apparently none of my workers had told them which way to go. There were towards the right of the store, near the mattress department, in the complete opposite direction of the warehouse. Two of the undead had started in their direction, and the young couple was cornered. Frank pulled Susan behind him, and tried to get her to climb over one of the bed set ups, but she was paralyzed with fear. The ghouls were about twenty feet from them, and were blocking the only doorway to that area. We always keep the mattress department fairly secluded, since some customers feel awkward about lying down with complete strangers looking on. I looked for something, anything to help. I could here Brian screaming at me from behind. “Gary! Forget them! Get your ass in here!” Always the gentleman, that Brian. I caught a flash of red in the corner of my eye, and reached out and grabbed the fire extinguisher from the wall. It only weighed about 20 pounds, but the pain in my arm made if feel like 200. I ran towards the mattresses, and got there just as the two zombies had been joined by three others, and Frank and Susan were within grabbing distance. I screamed from behind the creeps and they stopped for a second. I raised the extinguisher and fired a full shot of white foam into their faces. Frank grabbed his wife and pulled her towards the door. The zombies blindly grabbed at the sound of them running by, and Frank sent one of them, a woman missing an arm and an eye, flying backwards into the showroom with a fullback like stiff-arm. I dropped the canister, and led the young couple towards the back of the store. Jim held the door for us and I slammed it shut. Since a break in about four years ago, I had a roll down gate affixed to the top of the doorway. I pulled that down and padlocked it. I stared at the closed door and finally turned around.

    Everyone was staring at me. Leo and Jim, looking like the ebony and ivory version of Laurel and Hardy. Vickie and Janet, a before and after picture of a woman with a hard life ahead and behind her. Brain, with his slicked hair and crisp white shirt, fumbling absent-mindedly with his gold pinkie ring. He was just staring into space when Frank’s large, ham sized fist smashed into his face. Brain crumpled like a sack of laundry, and Frank stood over him, almost spitting as he spoke.

    “Fucking leave us you piece of shit? That’s what you said to him! It was you, I could tell, you fucking asshole!” He was just about to reach for Brian when I caught his hand, the force of which sent a tear of pain down to my hand.

    “Hold it, there! You got your shot in, and Brian, you fucking deserved it. But we need to calm down now. We gotta work together or we are all dead!” Frank looked down sheepishly and went back to his wife, who had sat down on one of the small plastic chairs set up by the table we have lunch at. The warehouse was large, 20,000 square feet. In little cubes, we had furniture that was prepped for delivery. There was a second floor loft, were Jim’s office was, and to the left of the doorway was our kitchen area, equipped with a fridge full of leftovers and forgotten lunches from the weekend. There was a Coke machine, and the coffee machine I had turned on this morning. I walked over to it and poured myself a cup. Vickie and Leo soon followed suit.

    “What do we do now, boss?” Leo asked. His sad eyes peering at me. He was the old timer of the group, been with Kriegel’s for the entire 18 years of it’s existence. He was my best and hardest worker, and the kindest man I ever met. I had wanted to make him the sales manager 3 years ago when Drew Justess left the company. Mr. Kriegel, however, felt that he wasn’t forceful enough. Leo wasn’t your typical salesman. He never lied, and would never hard sell. Brian, on the other hand, was everything you would figure a salesman to be. Loud, pushy, and arrogant, just what Mr. Kriegel liked. I’m sure the fact that he was white helped as well.

    “I’m not sure Leo. I think we’ll be safe here for a little bit, at least.” Vickie was fumbling with her cell phone; trying to call her husband, I’m sure. She slammed it shut after not being able to get a signal.

    The warehouse was concrete all around. The only windows were at the second floor loft. The other entrance was the two loading bays where our trucks pulled up to for loading, but they were shut and gated. We were startled by the sound of the zombies banging on the door from the interior of the showroom, and Susan let out a yelp. Janet walked over to her and held her hand. Frank joined me and Leo in the break room.

    “Listen, Mister…”

    “Gary, please,” I replied.

    “Right, Gary. I’m sorry I lost my cool. But, thanks for saving us.”

    “Don’t mention it. I’ve been wanting to punch that son of a bitch for years,” I quipped, and Frank and Leo shared a smile at that. Frank helped himself to some coffee and looked around.

    “How long can we stay here?

    “Don’t know. I don’t think they can get in, and hopefully we can wait this out.” I tried to sound confident, but truth was I was scared shitless. We had no TV or radio, and the only link to the outside world was our cell phones. I immediately tried to call 911, and was only a little shocked when I got a busy signal. Jim came into the room and looked at me sheepishly. He looked like he had aged 20 years from this morning, but that ice blue stare in his eyes told me the wheels were working.

    “Gary, under any other circumstances, I would never show you this, but can you come to my office for a second?” I looked at Jim blankly, having no idea what he was about to tell me, but I followed him up the stairs to the loft. He had a small 8 by 10 cubical, which was littered with loading slips, an over flowing ashtray, and empty Coke cans. From the window over his desk, he can see the entire warehouse, and the small black and white TV screen on his desk showed the loading bay and lot, which was now teeming with the undead. He pulled a small joystick out of his drawer, and used it to pan the camera angle around the lot. Everywhere you looked, were zombies, at least a hundred or more by now. Jim lit a cigarette and began to talk.

    “When I was in the army, I was stationed in Guyana. This little village to the north of my base had told stories about a incident thirty years ago, where a local fisherman had gone missing. Nobody knew where he was, and they had given up hope of finding him, when one night, he came back to the village. His wife, who had been upset since he disappeared, ran to him. The villagers noticed that he was badly hurt. His leg was torn open, and the flesh was hanging in ribbons. When his wife got to him, he bit her, right on the neck. She screamed, and the other men in the village forced him to the ground. He kept trying to bite them, and they finally bashed his skull with a rock. His wife died the next morning, after running a fever all night. The women that were taking care of her body for the funeral came screaming out of her hut that she was alive. When the others saw her, she was pale and shambling. When anyone tried to get near her, she would lunge at them and try to bite them. They finally managed to subdue her, and bound her with vines. They kept her in a small cave and would check everyday, to see if she got ‘better’. After a year, they finally set fire to the cave. To this day, when one of the villagers dies, they burn the body.”

    “Did you believe that story,” I asked, though at this time, I would believe anything.

    “No. Thought it was pure bullshit. Just a way to fuck with a young kid away from home for the first time. But now…” He trailed off and put out his cigarette and immediately lit another.

    “Anyway, the real reason I asked you to come up here is this.” He reached into his bottom drawer and pulled out a .38 pistol. He opened another drawer and fished out a box of ammo. “I know this is probably a good cause for firing me, but after we got robbed that time, I wasn’t taking any chances. Shit, I’m here all by myself Friday mornings at 6:00am waiting for the trucks!

    “Jim, no need to defend yourself. Are you any good with that thing?” I asked

    “Marksman when I was in the Army. I can shoot the balls of a buck from 200 yards with a rifle. Pretty good with these things, too!”

    “Good, hold onto it, and don’t let anyone else see it. I don’t trust Brian and I don’t know much about that Frank kid. Don’t need anyone going all Rambo on us.” Jim nodded and finished his cigarette. We exited his office and headed back down the stairs. The girls, all three of them, had sat down on one of the leather couches we had set up for loading. Susan was almost catatonic, and Vickie was holding a small wet towel that she had probably grabbed out of the washroom, located in the back of the kitchen, against her neck. The men were gathered near the door, listening as the fists of the dead pounded on the other side. Brian was speaking through his fat lip, courtesy of Frank.

    “So what? We just sit here and wait to die? Is that the best thing? I say we go to the roof and see if we can flag down a helicopter or something.”

    “ And what if there is no helicopters? What if these things see us up there, and more and more show up. We need to wait,” Frank was saying, I could tell he was getting angry again.

    “More have already showed up. Jim showed me his monitor. They’re all over the lot. There is no way they could get in, so I think we need to just wait a little bit and come up with a plan. Going to the roof is only going to attract attention from them. Maybe they’ll get bored and go away,” I said, although I believed absolutely none of that statement. Brian cursed and went back into the kitchen area. Leo looked at Jim and me and sighed. He finished his coffee and placed the cup in the wastebasket. He looked at all of us and then at the door.

    “I’m too old to fight, but I ain’t giving up. I got six grandchildren I’m supposed to see this summer, and I ain’t changing my plans because some dead dudes came and fucked up my town.” I don’t know if he was trying to be funny, but it sure cracked us up. Laughing made my arm hurt, but it was worth it. We were just starting to calm down when my cell phone rang.

    I almost peed myself when it went off. Frank let out a small scream, and I saw Jim reach for his waist, where I am sure he had tucked the .38. I instinctively looked at the caller I.D. but didn’t recognize the number. I answered with my voice shaking.


    “Oh my God, Gary?” it was a woman’s voice, she was crying. It sounded familiar, but I just couldn’t recall it. The others, women included, save for Susan who remained on the sofa, gathered around me.

    “Yes! Who is this?”

    “It’s Carrie! Oh God, where are you? I need help, I didn’t know who else to call!” Carrie was the girl who worked at the convenience store right next to us. We would talk every night after I closed up and went over to pick up some milk or snacks for home. I actually didn’t really need anything most of the time, but I would find excuses to stop by just to see her. She was pretty, with dark black hair and deep, brown eyes. At 32, she was fourteen years younger then I was, and the only woman I felt comfortable talking to since Claire left me 8 years ago. Ten years of marriage, and then she decided that she still loved her college sweetheart. I had given Carrie my phone number just a week ago, under the pretense that she should call me about a sale we had coming up on dinning sets, which she had said she was in need of. A cheap trick, but I must confess I was on cloud nine when she immediately programmed it into her phone.

    “Gary, do you see what’s happening? These things are everywhere, I managed to lock the door after the gas station blew up, but they’re banging on the windows!” she was screaming.

    “Ok, calm down! Where are you right now?” I asked.

    “I’m in the back of the store, near the rear exit. Are you in the store? I was thinking about running over…”

    “NO!’ I screamed. “Don’t open the door! They’re all over the place, stay where you are! I’m locked up in our warehouse. I’ve got a few people here, just give me a second.”

    “Oh please, help me Gary! Don’t hang up, ok? I’ve been trying to call for an hour!”

    “Ok, stay on the line, just give me a sec…” I put the phone down and explained what was going on to the others. I told them we had to try to get her.

    “Oh, so saving ourselves is off limits, but you need to be a hero to some whore! You’re gonna risk getting us all killed just to get some pussy?” Brian spat.

    “Unless you want another crack in the mouth, I suggest you shut the fuck up,” Frank said, as he balled his fists. Brian stepped back, and lowered his head.

    “How are we supposed to get her?” Jim asked. “ Is it worth the risk? I hate to agree with fuckball over there, but it’s dangerous.” I knew Jim was right, but I had to do something. I couldn’t bear to think of Carrie all alone, with those things trying to get at her. Plus, we had to face another harsh reality. We could be here for days, weeks even. We had little food, little water, and there was plenty of it where she was. Getting Carrie out would just be part of the plan; we needed supplies.

    “Carrie? You still there?”

    “Yeah. They’re banging on the glass, I don’t know how long it will hold,” her voice was quivering.

    “Carrie, listen, stay on the line. I’m working on something, can you do that?”

    “I think so, but please hurry, Gary!”

    “ I will,” I put the phone down and looked at Jim. “Go upstairs and check the monitor. The back room at her store is directly across the lot. See how many of those things are there, and bring down the keys to the forklift.” Jim looked puzzled for a second, and then did as I asked. Brian came over to me and got in my face.

    “Forklift? What are you going to do? Lift those fuckers up? You’re gonna get us killed!” he spat.

    “Damn it, Brian. I gotta help her! Are we supposed to just let her die?”

    “Who gives a shit? It’s better then getting eaten alive! You open those bay doors and you’ll let them in!”

    “I’m going down the ramp. The door will be open only long enough to let me out and then back in.” The ramp was immediately to the right of the first bay, which the loaders used to wheel the incoming furniture loads into the warehouse. I wasn’t crazy about using the fork lift either, but I knew that it was faster then anyone of those things, plus you could fit two people, albeit tightly, in the cab. I knew that I could only make one trip, so it would have to accomplish two tasks: rescue Carrie and get supplies. I put the phone back to my ear.

    “Carrie, still with me?”

    “Yeah… Are you coming?” she sounded like a scared little girl, and all I wanted to do was protect her.

    “Yes, sweetie. I’m coming, but I need you to do something for me.”

    “What?” She sounded distrustful, which I hated, but I had to tell her.

    “I need you to take a cart, and load it up with all the canned food, water and medicines you can. Batteries and a radio, too!”

    “I’m not going out there! They’ll see me!”

    “Carrie, they already know you’re in there. If they could break in the glass, they would have already. Now, please can you do that for me?” I was trying to sound as calm as possible, but I felt like I was going to throw up any minute. Jim had made his way back down from his office with the keys.

    “O.k., o.k. I’ll do it,” Carrie finished.

    “Good, when you have the cart as full as you can get it, bring it back to your back door and wait there. Keep your phone on. When I’ll yell for you, open the door and bring the cart out, I’ll be right there!”

    “Ok, please Gary, hurry!” I put down the phone and looked at Jim.

    “How does it look?” I asked him.

    “There’s about fifteen of them in the lot, about midway between our bays and her door. Looks like a bunch of them got into Chin’s,” He said, grimly. Chin’s was the Chinese food buffet directly behind us. Mr. Chin gave us all our meals half price, and we furnished his entire families houses at a discount, which I caught hell for from Mr. Kriegel. He had said that if I wanted to give furniture away, I should at least have the brains not to give it to the people who probably have family in China that make it.

    “Ok, I’m gonna take the lift over to Carrie, and grab some stuff. I need you guys to open the bay to let me out. As soon as I’ve made it to the ramp close it. Jim, you watch on the monitor, when you see the fork’s wheels hit the ramp on the way back, yell down and have them let us in. Got it?” Jim nodded and handed me the gun, then ran upstairs.

    “Frank and Leo, can you man the bay doors?”

    “Sure, Boss,” Leo said, and Frank nodded. Brian looked at me with fire in his eyes.

    “I ain’t going near those doors, you’re gonna get us killed!”

    “Fine, Brian. Just stay with the girls,” I really didn’t want to argue with him, plus, I couldn’t trust him anyway. I ran over to the forklift and started it up and rolled toward the first bay. Leo and Frank grabbed the chain. I nodded to them and they pulled down on it, lifting the heavy steel door with a load groan. The light from the outside blinded me at first, but drove the fork out the door and made the hard right to the ramp.

    There were eight of the dead about 10 yards in front of me. The turned and headed towards me when they heard the sound of the fork heading down the ramp. It was only about 40 yards to the rear entrance of the convenience store. I heard the bay door slam down behind me, and I forced myself to get a quick look around. Over to my right, towards the side of the building leading to the street, there was a horde of about 30 zombies, heading in no where in particular, seemingly distracted by the fire still burning at the Mobile station. To my left, I could see Chin’s, the front windows blown out just as ours had been, there was another 50 or so ghouls cramming themselves into the restaurant, and though I wished that there was no one still alive in there, the irony that it was a buffet wasn’t lost on me.

    I was making my away across the lot, the ghouls in front of me with there arms out, as if they were waiting for a hug. I didn’t want to use the gun unless absolutely necessary, mainly because I didn’t want to attract any more attention to myself, and I had zero confidence in my ability to shoot. I raised the fork to about eye level, and headed straight for the group. I reached them seconds later, and immediately sheared the heads off of two of the ghouls. I ran another over with the front left tire, and heard his stomach explode with a sick pop. The others simply turned and followed behind. I grabbed the phone and yelled to Carrie.

    “Carrie, now! Open the door!”

    It seemed like an eternity, but only seconds later, the back door to the store flew open, and Carrie pushed the cart out. She was screaming as she moved the cart, which was absolutely packed to the gills with cans and water. I lowered the fork as I approached it; Carrie came running around to the side of the cab and climbed in.

    “Gogogogogo!” she was crying, and I kept the fork low and drove straight up to the cart. I got the blades directly underneath the carriage and lifted it just a few inches off the ground. I started to back up to turn around when Carrie screamed. The forklift hit something, hard, and it jerked our heads forward. I craned my neck back to see that I had backed up into one of the zombies, he had hit the floor and the back wheel was directly over his leg. I slowly turned the fork around, hearing the bones crunch as I did so. I had to move extra slow to make sure I didn’t lose the cart. The other ghouls were closing in, and from the corner of my eye, I could see that a few of the dead from Chin’s had started to make their way towards us. Figuring I had already blown my cover, I took the pistol and held it in my left arm, while driving the fork with my right. I headed back towards Kreigel’s, firing once at a ghoul directly to my left. The bullet hit him in the lower jaw, blasting away the bottom half of his face, and leaving his thick, black tongue hanging like a dog’s. Luckily, the lift outpaced the dead, even though the ones from Chin’s were heading right towards us. The cart stayed nice and steady on the forks blades, and we started heading up the ramp. I saw the bay door begin to rise, and then, it stopped only open about 3 feet from the floor.

    “What the fuck! Why isn’t it opening,” Carrie yelled, and all I could do was stare at her. I looked back at the bay and saw that it was shaking, but not raising.

    “Shit! It’s stuck!” I yelled. I stole a look back and saw at least ten zombies behind us, with more coming from the left. The ramp headed up towards the bay door, which was about 5 feet above the ground. We would reach the entrance in seconds and could crawl under the door, but the cart would never fit in. Even worse, however, would be the fact that if we couldn’t get it open, we probably couldn’t get it closed.

    “Carrie, when we reach the top of the ramp, get out and get under that door. Don’t look back, don’t wait for me, just get under it, you got that?” Carrie nodded her head. We reached the top seconds later and she bolted out of the cab, ran over to and ducked under the door. I got out of the cab and turned around. The zombies were making their way up the ramp. I fired a round at them, and hit one in the shoulder, which seemed to have no affect at all. I turned back and heard Leo yelling.

    “Boss, get in! It’s stuck!” I didn’t want to leave the cart. I yanked it off the blades, which sent a bolt of pain up my injured arm. I pushed it towards the door, got it to the front and tipped it over, send cans and bottles of water trough the opening. A few landed by the wayside, but I couldn’t worry about that. I started kicking the stray cans and plastic water bottles though the opening. Luckily, leaving the lift at the top of the ramp bought me some extra time. I was still kicking when Frank slithered under the opening.

    “What are you doing?” I asked him.

    “Just get inside!” the young man screamed. He then squatted under the door, as low as he could go, and began to try and lift the doors with his shoulders. The door creaked, and I could see the cords in his neck straining, making him look like a modern day Atlas, with the world on his shoulders. The first of the zombies was climbing over the forklift now, with ten more directly behind him and a bunch more heading towards the bay door from the other side. Frank grunted and I heard a snap as the door gave way, and it shot up the tracks. I looked over at Frank and realized he was no longer there.

    The force of the door flying upwards had knocked him down, and he fell to the ground below. I screamed for him, and could see by the way his leg was twisted around that he was badly hurt. I screamed for help, and Jim and Leo came over, but it was too late. The zombies were on him, and began pulling him to pieces. I heard a scream behind me and turned around just in time to see Susan darting towards the bay. I reached for her but missed as she tumbled over the sides, adding to the zombies feast. She was still screaming as they ripped into her body, chewing through muscle and bone.

    “Fuck, Gary, get in! Let’s grab the door!” Jim yelled. I almost tripped over a can of baked beans, and made my way in. Leo, Jim and myself began pulling on the thick chain to try and lower the door.

    “Brian! Help us!” Jim screamed, but there was no answer. He was cowering over in the corner, trying to hide behind a dresser that was sitting in the middle of the warehouse.      Vicky and Janet came over, as did Carrie. We all tried pulling on the chain to no avail. The first of the zombies from the ramp came into view. Jim screamed at me to give him the gun, which I was still absently holding in my hand. I handed it to him, and he fired a well-placed shot into the zombie’s left eye, exploding the top half of its head. We kept pulling at the chains, and the door still wouldn’t budge. A hand from under the floor of the bay shot up and grabbed Vickie by the ankle, pulling her down hard onto the concrete floor. Her face slammed hard onto the surface. Janet screamed and bent down and grabbed Vickie’s hand. Three more sets of hands appeared and started pulling the two women towards the edge. Vickie screamed, blood pouring from her nose and mouth, Janet crying as she pulled her by the arm. Another zombie appeared in the doorway, and Jim dispatched it with a bull’s-eye to the forehead, just as Vickie cried out. Susan, missing what looked like four inches of her midsection and her right ear and cheek had bitten into Vickie’s left ankle. Blood spurted out of the wound, and I saw Vickie’s eyes roll upwards and she went limp as the rest of the horde began pulling her down.

    “Let go of her!” Leo screamed at Janet, but she didn’t listen. She held on to Vickie’s hand, and began sliding towards the edge. Leo let go of the chain and ran to grab Janet. He wrapped his big, thick arms around her waist and yanked back. Janet finally let go, and Vickie disappeared over the side. I turned to see Jim fire another shot into an approaching zombie child, no more then 10 years old, hitting it in the head and dropping him.

    “I’m out of ammo! We gotta drop that door! Brian! Get your fucking ass over here and help!” Jim screamed. Brian finally came over. We grabbed the chains and pulled hard as another zombie appeared in the doorway. Jim kicked it in the chest and sent it over the side. We pulled at the chain and heard the door give way. It groaned and crashed hard to the floor, smashing a gallon of water that was laying in the way and showering us with its contents. We let go of the chains and sunk to the floor. Janet was in shock, sitting down and looking at the piece of Vickie’s blouse that had come off in her hand. Carrie sat down next to me and placed her head on my shoulder, and I put my injured arm around her. Leo and Jim sat next to each other, and Brian continued to stand by the door, which was shaking as the zombies outside tried to pound their way in.

    “I’m…I’m sorry,” Brian cried.

    “Too late for that you fucking coward!” Jim hissed, and Leo put a fatherly hand on the back of his neck, which seemed to calm him.

    “Well, now what, boss?” Leo asked. I had no answer. I looked at what was left of my group. Just six of us, six against how many of those things outside? I didn’t like those odds.

    We sat quietly, except for Brian and Janet’s soft sobbing, for about a half hour. I finally got up and began to organize the cans and bottles that I had spilled from the cart. Carrie and eventually everyone else, except for Janet, began to help. We sorted the food into rows, and I inventoried what we had: 6 cans of baked beans, 4 cans of tuna fish, 6 cans of carrots, 5 cans of Spam, 3 cans of tomato soup, 2 boxes of crackers, 5 gallons of water, along with 9 1liter bottles, 2 bottles of aspirin, 3 packs of double A batteries (no radio, didn’t make it in) and a flashlight. No much, but it was something, we would have to ration it well. I figured since the vending man had come two days ago, we had at least 40 cans of soda in the machine, which we would have to break open, and there was some perishable food in the refrigerator that we would have to eat first.

    I went back over to the group and told them what we had, to which no one showed any emotion. I asked if anyone had any ideas, and everyone looked at each other, as if willing someone to speak. Finally, Leo spoke up.

    “I think we should at least go up to the roof and have a look around, see if there is anything going on that might help. Maybe Brian will be right and there might be some helicopters.”

    “Alright then, let’s go. Carrie, will you stay with Janet?” She nodded yes, and the four of us men made our way up the stairs to the loft. Jim stopped by his office to grab some more bullets for his gun, and a pack of cigarettes from the carton he kept on top of his filing cabinet.

    We walked across the loft, not bothering to look out the windows, as they had been rendered useless after years of dust, smoke and neglect. We reached the ladder to the roof and climbed up. I had to force the hatch open, as we hadn’t been out to the roof in a long while.

    The hot Florida sun blasted us as we stepped outside. We had to stop for a minute to adjust our eyes. From 20 feet up we could see the entire city of Fort Myers, half of which seemed to be in flames. I saw at least three fires burning just from the north side. We walked over to the ledge and looked down.

    Everywhere you looked, the walking dead were gathered en masse. There were groups of them in the streets, in the parking lots, in the park. The Edison Mall, barley half a mile away, was teeming with them milling around the lot. We heard sirens in the distance, and cars were randomly driving by, some of them crashing into the groups of zombies, splattering them on the streets. Others crashed wildly into each other, with the inhabitants swarmed over instantly. We saw a young man pulled through the window of his car, which had just rear-ended a city bus, and watched as the dead ripped his abdomen open and feasted on his entrails.

    “Jesus, it’s the end of the fucking world,’ Jim stated. Leo looked at the scene with his sad eyes and said, “No. Jesus has nothing to do with this. This is hell, right here in our home.” I nodded in agreement, and looked around and noticed Brian was missing. I called out, but he didn’t answer.

    “Shit, where did he go?” Jim asked. We looked around the roof and saw him. He was standing on the edge at the far east corner. Leo shouted at him.

    “Son, just stay there. Don’t do anything stupid now.” We walked over to him. His feet were just barley hooked over the ledge. Down below, a crowd of zombies had taken notice of him and were reaching their hands skyward and moaning loudly, as if they could almost reach him.

    “What’s the point?” Brian asked no one in particular. “ We’re just gonna die in here any how. Why prolong it?” He was crying again, large, fat tears teeming down his tan face. Leo got up close to him.

    “Brian, come down, man. C’mon now, It’s ok.”

    “O.k.? Fucking dead people are eating live ones. That’s ok? On what fucking planet is that ok?” He was screaming now, and the dead below raised their voices as well, a series of groans that even from 20 feet was almost deafening. He placed his head in his hands and began to sob louder. Leo shot a look at Jim, and Jim nodded. He snuck behind Brain, and slowly reached out and grabbed him by the belt. Brian let out a shriek as Jim removed him from the ledge. Brain began to struggle against Jim’s hold, and the two soon landed on the roofs floor.

    “Calm, down, Brian.” Jim tried to reason with him, but Brian struggled harder. Leo went over to help and I noticed a little too late that Brian’s hand had nestled on the gun that Jim had tucked into his waist of his jeans before grabbing him. I tried to open my mouth, but any sound I might have made was drowned out by the shot that went off. Everybody froze, Jim let go of Brain, and Brian let the gun fall from his hand. Leo stared at the two of them, and then down at the crimson spot that was spreading from his midsection. He grabbed at his stomach, and the blood immediately began to flow through his fingers. I screamed, and Leo just looked at me. It had gotten so quiet all of a sudden. Brian began wailing again, and Jim sat up and looked at Leo.

    “You all right, big guy?” he asked hopefully, but you could see in his eyes he knew he wasn’t. Leo fell to one knee, and blood poured from his stomach and began to trickle out of his mouth. He looked up at the sky, as if taking in one last glimpse of home, and fell backwards, eyes to the sun. Brain screamed and Jim grabbed him by the throat.

    “You dumb sonofabitch! You fucking killed him!” Jim was screaming. I ran over to pry his hand off of Brian. He pushed me back and get at him.

    “Jim! Jim! Stop it!” I yelled.

    “I’ll fucking kill you!” Jim was almost foaming at the mouth. Brian was turning blue, and was scratching at Jim’s hands, drawing blood. I ran into Jim’s back with all my might, and sent both of them sprawling. Brian was choking, writhing on the floor, and Jim was still cursing.

    “Fuck!” I yelled at the top of my lungs. I had no idea what was happening. All at once, the world had fallen apart, and I was stuck in the middle trying to piece it back together.

    “That’s enough! We can’t do this. We got to try to stick together here. Now, let’s cut the shit and get inside,” I hadn’t yelled like that in years, and my voice was quaking as I did it. Jim shot Brian a hateful glare, and then picked himself up off the ground.

    “What do we do with Leo,” he asked. “We can’t just leave him up here.”

    “I don’t know. We can’t bring him down to the warehouse either. First off, how do we know he won’t turn into one of those things? And if he doesn’t, having a dead body around isn’t very healthy.”

    “So what? We just leave him here?”

    “Damn, Jim! I don’t know what to do! I manage a fucking furniture store for Christ’s sake! This isn’t in the training manual, alright!” Jim looked down at his feet, tears beginning to fall. Brian had fought his way back to his feet. He looked down at Leo, and then at us. I had just taken my eyes off Jim when I saw him run over to ledge and jump.

    “Shit!” I yelled. Jim and I ran to the side and looked over. He had landed right in the middle of the parking lot. The zombies below were on him instantly, and as much as I want to believe the fall killed him, I know I heard him screaming as they began to feed on him.

    Silently, Jim and I made our way downstairs. Janet had fallen asleep on one of the mattresses we had stored in the warehouse, and Carrie was drinking a Coke and smoking a cigarette, staring at the bay door that was still being pounded on by the undead outside. She started to ask where Leo and Brian where, but she immediately stopped when she saw our faces. Jim went over to kitchen area and sat down, staring blankly into space. He ran his hands through his balding hair and began to sob. I looked at Carrie and reached out and touched her face. It was soft and warm, as I had always knew it would be. I excused myself and went upstairs to Jim’s office.

    I turned his computer on, and was amazed to see the Internet was still working. All the major news agencies were reporting on the phenomena of the dead rising. At least I knew this wasn’t an isolated incident.

    The computer was directly linked to our corporate network, which had stored the email addresses of every customer that ever provided Kriegel’s with one, over 3,000. I clicked on “Compose New Email” and began typing:

    To anyone that may be reading this,

    We are a group of four survivors, two men and women, and we are trapped in the warehouse of Kriegel’s Fine Furniture, located at 5370 Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers, Florida, USA. We have a small ration of food, and for the moment seem to be safe from the dead trying to get in. We have obvious access to a computer, and at least two cell phones; however, they are probably low on batteries at this point. The numbers are (239) 555-6320 and (239) 555-1025. If anyone has access to any helpful information, or is involved with a rescue effort, please, try to contact us. We will take to the roof of the building every morning and again in the afternoon to try to signal help. May God watch over you all.


    Gary Schroeder- Gary@Kreigels.com

    I clicked “Send to All”, and then copied and pasted the message on every available message board I could find. I check it every morning, while Jim and then Carrie head to the roof. Janet hasn’t spoken since this first started 3 weeks ago, and we have to force her to eat. I take the late afternoon shift on the roof, and wait for help, which never comes. Sometimes, I find myself talking to Leo, even though I heart-wrenchingly removed his body the day after he died. I hate to think what became of it, but we couldn’t keep him up here. Like I told Jim, what if a helicopter passes and sees him and thinks everyone here his dead? I said a little prayer as I rolled him over the side, and covered up the sounds below with a small cassette playing walkman I had found in the warehouse, probably left by one of the loaders ages ago. At least those batteries came in handy. There is nothing on the radio anymore, and I don’t know how much longer I can listen to Metallica, which is the tape that was left inside. We’ve painted “Help! Survivors Inside” in large white letters on the roof with some paint we had left over from last years remodel. I haven’t seen a car or heard a siren or plane in weeks, but we keep hoping. We have a few cans of food left, and by limiting our selves to one soda a day; we haven’t touched the water yet.  After the electricity went off, I hooked up one light and this computer to the back up generator, which has enough fuel for at least a few more days. We only turn it on when we need it. Jim thinks we may have to try to make a run for it in a few days and find another place, but I’m not so sure I like that idea.

    Besides, at least we nice, comfortable furniture to sit in.


    1. This story actually had me so tense ,I broke the handle on my desk chair. I was picturing the events unfolding as if i was at the warehouse. This writer has a great ability to bring the reader inside the pages. The characters are your everyday people going to work and then being caught in a living nightmare.The main character is a man caught up in his everyday life and becomes a leader in making life and death decisions. truth be told I could be that guy . Great work from this author can’t wait to see his next story. A new fan of Mr Muzio

      Comment by John D'amico on January 24, 2008 @ 7:57 pm

    2. Thanks for your comment, John. I glad you liked the story. I hope to submit another soon.

      Comment by Dominick Muzio on January 24, 2008 @ 10:14 pm

    3. Loved the story.
      Had me on the edge of my seat.

      Comment by John Davis on January 27, 2008 @ 3:54 pm

    4. Great story — really engaging!

      Small nit — Brian misspelled as Brain sometimes.

      Comment by Last Chance Jack on January 27, 2008 @ 10:10 pm

    5. A nice complete horror story. I loved the Romero feel it had. Seemed like another view of Dawn of The Dead. Subtle similarities, very intense. A good read with a nice pace. The ending brings realness to the story from a 1st person point of view.

      Comment by Phil Carmichael on January 27, 2008 @ 11:46 pm

    6. Yeah..I noticed some spelling errors to..Damn Spell Check! Thanks for the kind words!
      Also, last line should read “At least we HAVE nice comfortable furniture to sit on.”

      Don’t know how I missed that!

      Comment by Dominick Muzio on January 28, 2008 @ 9:45 pm


      Comment by MARA on January 30, 2008 @ 2:42 pm

    8. This story was a great read. It had great suspense, and I quite liked the ending. Keep up the good work. I look forward to the next version. By the way, I do know an English major who would gladly edit for you.

      Comment by Dawn Marie on February 1, 2008 @ 10:18 pm

    9. Tense, powerful and well written, a really good read.

      Comment by Ben on February 4, 2008 @ 5:47 am

    10. This was a great story because it simply took you into the life of an everyday man and how life had FORCED him into a situation he wasn’t prepared for. Not only does he have to survive a horde of undead creatures that feed 24/7, but he has become the defacto leader of a small group of survivors.

      It really makes the reader asks, “Would I do anything different. . .could I?”

      I’m really hoping that you write a sequel to this story or at least more stories for this page.

      Comment by Satisfied Reader on February 10, 2008 @ 11:39 pm

    11. It was a good story, but you need to revise your heights. Remember that 3ft = yard, so your huge fireball is 5 yards high and your rooftop of citywide views and death plunges is not even a measly 7 yards! Other than that, good job.

      Comment by gary on February 28, 2008 @ 3:37 pm

    12. Despite the fact that the grammar and spelling were a bit off, this story was great. The intensity of your writing allowed me to picture the events as they took place. The story captivated my interest, but be sure to look your next one over a bit more thoroughly.

      I look forward to reading more.

      Comment by Mark on March 20, 2008 @ 2:08 pm

    13. Dominick, Great story. Very believable in terms of crisis behavior, loss of control over the immediate environment, and the resultant drawn out, dull terror of waiting. Well done.

      Comment by Pat Conrad on March 22, 2008 @ 8:34 pm

    14. Good story! Nice plot, good pacing. I really felt like I was there.

      I had a hard time keeping track of all the characters. You were able to really make some of them stand out (like Brian). I suspect you have to do that in a story like this one.

      I really liked that you stayed true to the “Romero” style. It can be done with great results!

      Comment by Bret on May 3, 2008 @ 11:21 pm

    15. i love the little bright note at the end, this is a really good story

      Comment by ghoststalker on June 9, 2008 @ 3:54 pm

    16. Poor Leo.

      Comment by SMEAR on July 23, 2008 @ 3:57 am

    17. Wow that was really scary. Loved it it had me on the edge of my seat. And it was refreshing that everyone didn’t die at the end. Thanks

      Comment by Zoe on July 28, 2008 @ 9:41 am

    18. felt like Hitchcock. good story

      Comment by Ed on December 21, 2008 @ 9:52 pm

    19. 1st time reading this. i cant believe Leo died. he was the only marksmen of the group. pretty screwed up in like 10 ways. suicide, murder, stupidness, etc. great story. i enjoyed the gut wrenching 30 minutes it took me to read this. i felt like i was in the warehouse. time for Gary to repopulate the world LOL.

      Comment by jake on January 5, 2009 @ 4:32 am

    20. Way cool story. I was really into it and I liked the ending unlike so many others here. I also love that email near the end. I am using the same thing in a story I am writing now. Can’t wait to post it and hear what you have to say.

      You are a terrific writer.

      Comment by Andre on January 11, 2009 @ 3:12 am

    21. Really good story …In the works of finishing my graphic novel atm I need to release sometimes and see how my fellow writers are doing… im writing a novel with 2 intros kinda weird but i feel if i hit the science and old school side i can get a good review.. I would really like to read more from you … bustillok@ddg69.navy.mil

      Comment by Keoni on May 20, 2009 @ 8:15 pm

    22. Great stuff
      As many other reviewers have said, you did a superb job portraying the common mans actions in a crisis situation.
      I did indeed find myself reflecting on the question of what I would, or could, do differently.

      Comment by Cody on July 13, 2009 @ 10:03 pm

    23. I am quite impressed…not only musically inclined, but literary too? Looking forward to reading more “edge of your seat” material from Mr.Dominick Muzio.

      Comment by SassySue on August 15, 2009 @ 11:27 pm

    24. Everything that needed to be said has been said. To say it again would just be white noise in the back round. Like everybody else it kept me gripped wondering what would happen next. I like the part with the forklift. Twisted in a kickass sort of way. Keep writing.

      Comment by Terry Schultz on September 1, 2009 @ 6:45 pm

    25. Excellent story! I started to catch on pretty quick that this was Fort Myers- referencing Fowler street (and true that area really isn’t the best part of town, haha), then Lee Memorial Hospital, then Cleveland. On my way home yesterday after I started reading this I was looking for your furniture store, but it is probably not really by that name, or not real at all. It wasn’t until near the end where you confirmed it.

      In any case, excellent writing. I felt like you introduced the main character very well, made Brian a really hate-able character, and made Jim and Leo respectable. I was sad to see Leo die.

      Anyway, I hope for more some time. Excellent work.

      Comment by kineo on December 3, 2009 @ 4:31 pm

    26. The Brian-meat was very tasty.

      Excellent character flavoring, yummm.

      Comment by Feral Undead on December 4, 2009 @ 10:11 am

    27. New stories coming real soon Thanks to all who enjoyed!

      Comment by Dominick Muzio on December 9, 2009 @ 12:35 pm

    28. Well told, kept me spellbound !!! I hope you consider a sequel !!!

      Comment by L Martin on June 18, 2010 @ 10:46 pm

    29. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an really long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
      Anyways, just wanted to say superb blog!

      Comment by pallet rack systems on November 10, 2012 @ 6:29 pm

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