I poked my cheek and sighed against the mirror, fogging it up momentarily. At least my face hadn’t been ripped off. That was a blessing I could count. That woman outside probably hadn’t woken up knowing it’d be her final day, and she most definitely hadn’t planned to spend her last moments in a gas station bathroom.
I shifted slightly and watched as my reflection was partially covered by a phone number written along with ‘for a good time, call’. But right underneath that was ‘I’m gonna die’ hastily scrawled in permanent marker. I stared at the vague message and briefly wondered if it had been the undead woman’s doing. If so, why? Was it a last, desperate attempt to stay ‘alive’ even when her body turned against itself, writing her fate on the mirror?
My hand slipped a little on the unclean sink, knocking away my thoughts on that last message. Chances were it was just some horrifically emotional teenager trying to be deep.
You’re saying teenager like you aren’t one.
“Barely, but I’m at least realistic. Also, I am not going to start talking to myself.” I sniffed and splashed some water on my face. Max was still playing sentinel outside, and I didn’t want to keep him waiting for much longer. Thankfully my stomach had settled down a little bit, so I wouldn’t waste any time in here hunched over the toilet bowl. Another blessing, especially considering the state of this bathroom.
I turned around to leave but saw a strange item in the corner. I crouched down and picked up an eight-inch Statue of Liberty figurine. She was grimy and missing her torch, though in its place was a chain attached to a silver key identical to the one on the ladle.
Well, that was one mystery solved. I stood back up with both keys--ladle and Lady Liberty--and finally exited the bathroom.
I’d forgotten how close the corpse was to the door, so I nearly tripped on her coming out. But Max, ever so diligent, grabbed my arm and steadied me. “You’re a magnet for trouble, Charlie,” he joked while leading me around the body and back towards the car.
I sneezed and grinned. “The zombie apocalypse is the perfect time for a little extra excitement, what are you talking about?” The other boy feigned an eye roll. It seemed like his anxiety over killing that zombie had faded for the time being.
Still giggling, I pointed to the gas station. “I’ve gotta go drop something off; I’ll meet you in the car.” As we separated, I felt his eyes lingering on me like he was worried another zombie would jump out and attack. But I made it to the building safely.
I locked eyes with this fucking cashier and thrust the ladle in his direction. He lazily accepted it and stared at me, waiting for anything I had to say. “There was a zombie in your bathroom,” I informed him.
No reaction. Maybe his eyebrows raised a little, but he seemed wholly unconcerned with this new knowledge. I frowned. “You should go home.” Then I turned on my heel and stormed away. On my way out the door, I shook the Lady Liberty statuette at him. “Also I’m keeping this!”
“Wait, that’s-.” He mumbled something about store policy, but I was already outside. I climbed into the waiting car--snagging the candy bar off the roof--and stuck my new possession into the cupholder. Max began driving, flicking his eyes down and smirking at the Statue of Liberty.
“God, that thing is disgusting. Why would you ever keep it?”
I patted her greasy head and recoiled, searching desperately for a bottle of hand sanitizer I’d seen earlier. Once my hands were thoroughly doused in it, I matched his smile. “It’s a souvenir from the time I nearly died. I’m gonna start a collection.”
“Yeah? What’s your souvenir from you almost getting eaten at the grocery store?”
I dangled my fob at him impishly. “My now-carless keys.”
Max threw his head back and laughed heartily at my joke. I joined in and just let myself bask in the comfortable atmosphere for a while.