1071 words / 5 minutes Zombie Mart

Part 6: Twerk It, Boys

Dusty rushed into the foyer. Gun, Octavia, and Jacques followed. Several check-out registers sat between Dusty and the entrance. As he walked past them, the sweet smell of candy bars was overwhelmed with pungent decay wafting through the entryway. He glanced at the doors on his way by, the glass was completely shattered.

He wasn’t too worried because the storefront had an old roll-down security gate. It dated back to the eighties when this had been a rough neighborhood. It had fallen into disrepair after the gentrification of the nineties. Motion sensors or security cameras were more useful these days. The cage just kept the honest people honest, the owner liked to say.

“OK, I’ll lower the gate, you guys make sure no zombies get in,” Dusty said.

“No prob, dude. Ain’t no z-boys getting past me!” Jacques said as he pushed forward. He stopped in prime skull-smashing position between both doors and widened his stance. He could see at least a dozen figures shuffling around the parking lot. They all looked pretty undead to him.

Gun and Octavia took up flanking positions behind Jacques.

“Please, never call them z-boys again.” Gun scowled. “Ugh, now I’m picturing them breakdancing in unison. Which is, actually…” He grinned. “Hilarious. I take it back. Keep calling them that.”

Jillian trailed the group. She glanced around, unsure whether it was better to stay with them or find some hidey-hole. She didn’t have a weapon, so she couldn’t fight, wouldn’t fight. These were people, after all. Maybe sick, or really-really sick. But still people. Right? She wound up in a corner with a wall at her back and a clear view of the entire foyer. Jacques glanced at her and nodded; Good choice.

Dusty grabbed the security cage’s hanging control box. “Get ready, this thing is loud.”

Gun shook his shoulders and stretched his neck. Octavia gripped her shovel with both hands.

“I’ll teach these freaks to Fear the Frog.” Jacques thumped his purple and white t-shirt.

Dusty blinked. “Sure,” he said and activated the control box.

They all flinched when the cage screeched into motion. It slid down the wall on its ancient track, like a janky garage door, slowly covering the entryway. Apparently, no one ever greased it. Gun was sure a twenty gun salute would have been more subtle than this racket. About halfway down, it squealed to a stop.

“Uh, don’t worry, it always does that,” Dusty said. He rolled it up and then back down again. It complained even louder this time. No dice. Still stuck.

“Dude, hurry up. We’re drawing a crowd.” Jacques said, gesturing with his ax to the crowd outside.

Dusty noticed the previously shuffling figures were now heading toward the entrance. The noise seemed to give them focus; They moved with purpose. One was almost jogging, in an uneven kind of way.

Gun spat a profanity. “This is almost as scary as Black Friday.”

Then the lights flickered off. Even though it was bright outside, the store only had a few scattered skylights. So it got dark. Real dark.

Somehow the grunts and moans of the creatures approaching sounded louder now, and not just because they were getting closer.

The power flickered, intermittently lighting the foyer like a strobe.

“Now is not the time for a rave,” Gun muttered.

“Would you lay off the jokes?” Jacques said.

“What, freaking out, and crying would be better?”

Jacques didn’t reply.

Each time the lights came on, the sad little electric motor that powered the security fence whirred and moved the cage slightly. The smell of burnt wiring filled the entryway.

“Just keep it going down!” Jacques said. He dropped his ax and ran forward.

“No!” Jillian screamed, but Jacques was already at the cage. He arrived at the same time as the fastest zombies.

Jacques jumped up and grabbed the fencing, hanging in-place like a rock climber. Or Spider-Man, Gun thought.

The running zombie slammed into the fence at full speed, either not seeing it, or not caring. The creature bounced off and landed on the ground with a squelch. It stopped moving.

The impact shook the cage, but Jacques held on. He shifted his center of gravity as high as he could and then dropped it. Slowly, his weight was wrenching the fence along the tracks.

“Here.” Dusty held out the control box. Octavia ran over and grabbed it. “Just keep this button pressed.”

“Got it.” She said and jammed the button.

Dusty jumped on the fence too, although not as high as Jacques did. Together they jarred the cage a few inches down the track, but it was still wasn’t enough. They both started the up and down motion, wriggling the fence down, little by little.

“It looks kinda like they’re twerking,” Gun said. The lights were still strobing. “It’s like the worst music video ever.”

“Twerk it, boys. Twerk like our lives depend on it.” Octavia shouted. She looked at Gun. “Well? Shake what your mama gave you.”

“What? Oh, right.” Gun ran to the fence and started pulling on it.

“Jump on it!”

“I can’t! I got no vertical, that’s why I gave up basketball.” Gun reached as high as he could and yanked down on the cage. “Well, 'cause of that and all the running.”

Finally, with all three of them pulling on the fence, it let out a tremendous metallic whine and slammed to the floor, bucking Jacques and Dusty off.

Jacques landed smoothly on his feet, slightly disheveling his ginger curls.

Dusty fell in a pile on the ground. He got up quickly and pulled the garden ties out of his pocket. He used several of them to secure the cage to the track. “The lock doesn’t always work, so hopefully this’ll hold.”

Octavia realized she was still pressing the button and released it. The cage stayed in place.

The horde pressed against the security cage, moaning incomprehensibly. It flexed from the weight, but it held.

One zombie looked like something out of a cheap video game. It walked into the fence, staggered back, and walked into it again. Over and over.

“I think we’re safe,” Gun said.

“Let’s not jump to conclusions…” Jillian said in a small voice.

They turned around to see dozens of zombies leering at them, hunger glinting in their putrid eyes. And they weren’t interested in the candy bars.