Max chuckled weakly. “I was planning on riding it out at my dorm, but I can’t go back there now. Something fall through with your plan?” Quite the understatement.
“I was gonna drive up to my dad’s cabin with my mom and sister, but apparently he already picked them up. So…I need to find a ride up there…” I looked at him out of the corner of my eye and saw a smirk.
“If there’s a space open for me in that cabin, I can take you there. I’m thinking we should stop and rest for the night, though.”
“We can stay at my house. It’s boarded up pretty well already, and I should probably grab clothes.” I gave him the address and relaxed a bit. The world was going to hell in a handbasket, but not being alone made it a little better. Even though Max was a total stranger and was absolutely capable of murdering me, he was nice…and quite nice to look at.
I coughed into the crook of my arm and then shivered. My fever felt higher than it had been this morning, but I was freezing. Seriously, it was the worst time ever to be sick.
Max leaned forward a bit and turned the heat up without saying anything.
We sat in relative silence for several minutes. Despite the shit-storm going on around us, I almost drifted off to sleep a few times. It was only when the car came to a stop that I became more alert.
Instead of my house, I looked up to see a dingy little gas station. The only sign of life was a blue ‘open’ sign flickering beside the door. Max glanced over at me starting to stir and smiled wearily. “Hey. We took a little detour. A couple of roads were closed on the way, but we can fill up some gas cans while we’re here.”
Peeking at my phone, I saw that it was down to 3%. Damn it, how did I let it get that low? “Sounds good. I’m actually gonna see if they have a bathroom. I’ll be right back.” I clambered out, my muscles and bones weeping for just a little more sleep.
Max stepped out of the car and watched me shuffle towards the building, his brow furrowed. “Be careful,” he called out.
I lifted my fingers in response. I just wanted to go to the bathroom, maybe splash a bit of water on my face, and possibly throw up. And then get back on the road so I could charge my phone and call my mom to see how she and my sister were.
The door dinged as I pushed it open, and the man behind the counter looked over. “Dude, what are you still doing here?” I breathed out. It astounded me how someone could still be working in these conditions.
“Making minimum wage,” the scruffy cashier mumbled blandly. “Can I help you?”
“Yeah, do you have a bathroom?”
“Paying customers only.”
I stared at him. He just blinked. “Are you kidding me?”
I cursed and grabbed one of the candy bars right in front of me, slapping it on the counter. “There.”
While he rung up the chocolate as slow as humanly possible, I looked to my right. A few tabloids were on the racks beside me, spouting over-hyped nonsense about celebrities. I read a few of the titles to temporarily distract myself from wanting to strangle the cashier. “Samuel L. Jackson Says Zombies Can Kiss His Ass!” one announced, while the one right beside it read, “Zombie Eats Samuel L. Jackson!”.
My attention was brought back to the cashier once he passed me my change. Then he ducked under the counter, fumbling around for something. “I...don’t see the key. Someone must’ve taken it.”
I bounced from foot to foot anxiously. “Do you have a back-up, or something?”
He sighed and came back up with a big metal ladle. On the handle end was a tiny silver key. I snatched that and the candy bar and stormed out.
Max was still filling up the gas cans when I walked past. I set the candy bar on the roof of the car for safekeeping before heading around the corner of the building to the bathroom.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the bathroom door. Finally. Using the spoon key, I unlocked the door and swung it open...to reveal the undead woman that had been safely locked away in the bathroom. Before I could process her presence, she lunged at me.