Chapter 2: How about them cops?
Mandy examined the dead man on the floor. He had seemed crazed, like a rabid opossum. A mindless, hungry, angry mess of a creature. Any knowledge the man had once had was far gone. He hadn’t known how to open a door or that glass was breakable. He’d had to learn that all over again. Some sort of reverse evolution, perhaps? She couldn’t figure it out. The whole scenario was driving her bonkers and she could hardly believe anyone would believe her version of the events.
“It’s just a busy signal, every time,” Maggie said to her in a frustrated tone. She had been trying over and over to reach the police and report what had happened. But it was a busy signal with each new attempt. “What do you think that means?”
“I think it means they’re busy, Mags,” Mandy said.
“Do you think Lucas got through?” Maggie asked. Mandy could hear the desperation in her voice.
“I don’t know,” Mandy said. “I don’t know anything.” She heard the defeat in her own voice, but she said nothing brave to make up for it.
Maggie walked over and pulled Mandy to a nearby booth. She was still clutching onto the shovel, prepared to take new blows if necessary. Maggie wrapped her arms around her, and the warmth sent chills down her spine. She was a killer now. She had taken someone’s life. Self-defense or not, that was a fact about her she could not shake. She didn’t know if she ever could.
“I’m a killer,” she said out loud by mistake.
“No you’re not, Mandy,” Maggie tried to reassure her. “You’re a hero.” She pointed to the dead man on the floor with a nod of the head. “There’s the real killer.”
Mandy shook loose from Maggie and got up from the booth. She looked outside the restaurant through the broken door. A strange feeling crept up in her gut. A feeling that the worst was still to come. Thunder struck across the now black sky and she saw people in the parking lot across the street. It looked as though they were just slowly moving about. She stepped just outside the entrance, careful not to cut herself on the broken glass on the ground. She could see the silhouettes of the people moving about aimlessly in the parking lot. She began to realize something was different, something was... off. It was the lights. There were no street lights on, and the Aldi’s across the street was pitch-black.
“That’s odd,” Maggie said as she stepped outside with her, “Where are all the lights?”
Mandy could hear growling and hissing coming from the people in the dark. She had a feeling these were just like the man she had killed. She looked up and saw that their sign was still lit. She turned and saw the neon light in the window which read OPEN. Inside the lobby and kitchen were all lit up. They were a target with all those lights on. They were attracting insects like a porch light.
“We gotta turn all the lights off now.” Mandy grabbed Maggie by the arm and led her inside. “Go to the back and shut off the sign and kitchen lights. I’ll take care of the lobby.”
Maggie didn’t stop to ask, she just took off and ran around the counter into the kitchen.
Mandy jumped back into the booth they had just been sitting in, and slid to the back of it. Reaching underneath the table, she found the cord to the neon sign and tugged. It turned off immediately. She ran behind the counter and opened a little closet door. Inside was a little box with the light switch for the lobby. She shut it off at the same time Maggie had switched off the kitchen lights. She could hear Dudley freaking out and yelling at Maggie for an explanation.
Mandy looked back into the dark kitchen and could see them lit by a shred of light illuminating from the window on the office door. “Tell Lucas to turn his light off! And everyone pipe down!”
She ran around to the front of the counter, the shovel still in her hands. She was careful not to hit anything with it or scrape the floor. She could see that the people were in their parking lot now, and she crouched behind a booth just before a woman stepped inside. Her feet were bare and Mandy could hear the flesh cutting as the broken glass tore into them. The woman didn’t register pain and just kept inching across the broken glass, cutting up her feet until it affected her ability to stand upright; she collapsed. The woman looked confused by what had happened, unaware of the hell she was unleashing on herself. She crawled on all fours across the glass, tearing deeper and more into her limbs as she did so. With desperation, she pulled herself closer and closer to the dead man on the floor. She climbed on top of him and shoved her nose deep into his neck. She deeply inhaled, sniffing his body, but she seemed irritated. She lifted his shirt and rubbed her nose across his hairy chest. She grunted in anger and pounded his chest. More people began to enter behind her and they followed suit: hurrying to the man on the floor, and pushing her aside. She relented, didn’t even fight back. She just pulled herself over to the booth Mandy and Maggie had just been sitting in. The others threw themselves onto the man and began to eat at him like a dog getting her meal. They chewed and gnawed at the disfigured and mutilated face. After a few moments, they began to spit the remains from their mouths and growled and hissed. They all sat motionless, just breathing and occasionally moaning or hissing at each other.
Maggie slid around the edge of the counter, crouched down next to it. She looked at Mandy and made a face of pure fright. She held her hands up and started to sign, something the two of them had been teaching themselves over the past year just as another means to communicate with each other. They thought it was cool.
What is going on? Maggie signed.
I don’t know, Mandy signed back.
Who are these people? Maggie asked.
The woman by the booth, Mandy started and pointed to her, I see her at Aldi sometimes.
Maggie peaked around the counter for a moment to see the woman in question. She pulled back. What the hell? she signed back to Mandy. Has everyone lost their minds?
A disease? Mandy signed.
I guess, Maggie replied, What do we do?
We wait and hope they don’t see us, Mandy signed.
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