WARNINGS: violence and multiple character deaths.
The first zombie Kurt kills is named Mark.
Kurt's at Hummel Tire and Lube after school on Friday to change out his back right tire, which picked up a nail on the way to school that day. He notices it in the parking lot as he's about to head home, and he makes a last minute change of plan to get it fixed before it goes flat on him at an inconvenient moment. It won't take long, he knows. He won't even need to bother his dad's Friday guy for help. He'll change it for a new one and hang out for a while, talking to Mark and getting his hands dirty.
It'll be fun.
He has the Navigator up on a jack and the tire off and is ready to roll over the new one when he hears a scream. He scrambles to his feet in time to see a pasty, dead-eyed Mark grab the chubby middle aged blonde woman who'd come in for a lube job and sink his teeth into her fleshy shoulder. She screams louder, more out of pain than terror this time, and as she struggles to get away, Kurt stands frozen in disbelief. His dad's employee, the man he'd come to think of as a friend of sorts, is a zombie.
But zombies aren't supposed to be real. They're supposed to be the scary things that make your heart try to jump out of your chest when you're watching a movie at night. They're fictional. They don't exist. Except – there's Mark. Eating their customer.
She screams again, and Kurt runs to his dad's desk. Strapped to the underside, he knows, is a preloaded shotgun. He'd asked about it once when he was younger, and his dad had told him that after a series of break-ins at auto repair shops in the area, he'd wanted to make sure no one stole any parts from his store. It's there to scare them off, mostly, but if it's needed, there's ammo already loaded just in case. He tears off the Velcro straps, grabs the shotgun, and rushes over.
This is Mark. Mark is a zombie. This isn't Mark anymore. A brief, cynical thought crosses his mind. He would never be more grateful to Sue Sylvester and his stint on the Cheerios for making him just ruthless enough to do this. And he'd never hate her more for it.
The woman screams hysterically, and Kurt, hands trembling, gets as close as he safely can, raises the shotgun, and pulls the trigger. The butt of the shotgun slams back into his shoulder violently, and Kurt almost drops it, gasping at the sudden pain. Mark falls to the ground like a marionette whose strings were cut, a big, messy, red hole in the side of his head. The woman falls too, screaming and screaming and screaming, blood pooling under body as she goes white with shock. He drops to his knees at her side and takes her hand, smoothing back her hair.
"It's over now," he says shakily.
She looks up at him with terror in her eyes. "Thank you," she says, her voice hoarse.
"What's your name?" he asks.
"Lou-Ann," she says. "Lou-Ann Baker."
Kurt forces a smile. "It's nice to meet you, Lou-Ann."
"I'm going to die, aren't I?" she asks.
He thinks about lying. He thinks about the blood soaking the knees of his new fern green pants. He thinks about her chattering teeth and her hand, cool and clammy in his own. "Yes," he says. "I'm so sorry."
She lets out an awful, choking sob. "I don't want to die."
"I know," he says helplessly. "I'm so sorry. I'm so, so sorry."
"Stay with me," she says, gripping his hand tightly.
"I will," Kurt says. "I promise."
He doesn't know how long he kneels there, holding her hand as she cries. She tells him between ragged sobs that her husband won't be home until seven, that she's supposed to pick up her daughter from soccer practice in an hour, that they're having her in-laws over for dinner tomorrow, that her son is going to be in the school play at his elementary school. Her words slowly taper off. Her hand goes lax in his, and her chest rises and falls and fails to rise again. "I'm so sorry," he tells her once more as he stands up.
He wants so desperately to curl up in a ball and sob like Lou-Ann did, clutching his knees to his chest and waiting for the nightmare to be over. But he needs to keep it together. If he falls apart now he's as good as dead. So on unsteady feet, he goes and fetches the largest toolbox in the shop, the big case of first aid supplies in the storage closet, and the box of shotgun shells his dad keeps locked in the bottom drawer of his desk. These go on the second row of seats on the driver's side. Next come the empty gallon containers for gasoline, five in total, which he stashes in the trunk. Then, finally, he gets his replacement tire and swaps it out for the bad one, keeping the shotgun close at hand. He can't go home to check on his family if he can't drive his car.
Dave's about to head out to hit some baseballs at the park to burn off some stress when he notices that things on his street aren't right. Like, really not right.
Three of his neighbors are shuffling down the street toward him, slack-jawed and arms outstretched. They look – shit, they look dead. And hungry. They look like –
Fucking hell. They look like zombies. He goes from 'they look like zombies' to 'zombies aren't real' to 'no, those are definitely zombies' in the space of a second, and he hefts his bat grimly. There's no fucking way he's getting eaten by a seventy-two year old cat breeder. He doesn't care how good her casseroles are. Mrs. Hadley's teeth aren't getting anywhere near him.
As soon as she's within batting reach he swings out as hard as he can, and the blow knocks her to the ground. He hears a crack and guesses it's her hip. Mr. Larsen is the next to approach. Dave hits him square across the face, and he stumbles back a few paces, jaw skewed out of alignment and lips bleeding. That's good. The harder it is for Mr. Larsen to bite him, the better. He turns his attention to Mr. Costa and bashes him on the side of his head with all the force he can muster, and Mr. Costa topples over, skull caved in.
It isn't enough to kill any of them, he knows. He's fucked if he can't destroy their brains. Totally, utterly fucked. Mrs. Hadley is already crawling across the pavement, eyes fixed on his ankles, and Mr. Costa is struggling to regain his footing.
Someone is missing. Wait. Shit. Where the fuck is Mr. Larsen?
Inhumanly strong hands grip his arm, and he has only a moment to panic, sheer terror taking the wheel as he twists in Mr. Larsen's hold. Then a shot rings out, and Dave is suddenly released as Mr. Larsen drops to the ground, an enormous hole in the back of his head. Another deafening shot fills the air, and Mr. Costa drops where he stands. Dave spins around to see who his savior is.
"Get in," Kurt Hummel snaps from behind the barrel of a shotgun as he leans out the driver's side window of his Navigator.
Dave stares. "Hummel?"
"GET IN!" Kurt yells.
Dave wastes no time, running around to the passenger side and flinging himself in. He slams the door behind him and flips the lock as fast as he can. Kurt drops the shotgun in his lap and tears down the street, running over Mrs. Hadley in the process. "What the fuck is going on?" he asks. "Zombies? Seriously?"
"That's what it looks like," Kurt says.
Dave clutches his bat. "Zombies don't exist," he says.
"You think?" Kurt says sarcastically. "And here I thought 'Dawn of the Dead' was a documentary."
"Jesus, Hummel, I was just asking," Dave says.
He sneaks a look at Kurt from the corner of his eye. His unlikely rescuer is wearing practical clothes that Dave would never have guessed he even owned. The dark jeans and brown leather jacket look wildly out of place on him. He takes a closer look and doesn't like what he sees at all. Kurt's knuckles are white where his fingers are wrapped around the steering wheel. His face is pale, his mouth a bloodless line above his chin. His eyes look haunted.
"What happened?" Dave asks.
"Don't ask me that," Kurt says. He takes a hand off the steering wheel and tosses his phone into Dave's lap. "Call your parents. See if they're alive. Go to messages and send a mass text to everyone in Glee. Your friends, too. Tell them to meet us at Poling and North Kemp in half an hour."
See if they're alive. God. His parents. He fumbles with Kurt's phone and dials his dad's number with clumsy fingers. Ring, ring, ring, ring. "This is Paul Karofsky's cell phone. Please leave a message, and I'll get back to you shortly."
"Dad?" Dave says. "Dad, it's me. If you're there – if you're okay. Just. Please call back. We're gonna be at Poling and North Kemp waiting for everyone. Just call back. Please be okay. I love you." He ends the call and dials his mom's phone.
It doesn't even ring. It doesn't even go to voicemail. "Oh god," he says blankly. He presses a trembling fist to his lips and squeezes his eyes shut.
"I know," Kurt says, and for the first time he sounds sympathetic. "I know. But you have to keep it together. Please. There will be time to freak out later. Right now, all we have are our wits. Send the text. We'll see who's still…who's made it out."
"That's cold," Dave says.
"It's what we need to do," Kurt shoots back. "Now please, if you care at all about my friends and yours, send the text."
"I care," Dave mutters, and he navigates to Kurt's messages. He fills in the first six lines with the names of Kurt's contacts and shoots off a quick message.
If ur alive then get
to poling and n. kemp
in half hour to meet
The next message goes to the other half of the Glee Club. Then he opens one more, filling in Azimio and Rashad's numbers. "Want me to text your folks?" he asks.
Kurt draws an unsteady breath. "It's not – they won't be there."
"Shit," Dave whispers. "That's. Fuck, I'm sorry." Kurt doesn't seem to even hear him. "What about Finn?"
Kurt's head makes a tiny jerk from side to side. "Send the last text," he says.
Dave presses 'send' on autopilot. "How fucked do you think we are?"
"I think that if I think about it I'm going to kill myself," Kurt says, eerily calm. "So let's just focus on getting to our meeting point and not contemplate the likelihood that this isn't just happening in Lima." He rolls down Dave's window. "My brother told me that when Puck got his license the two of them went around one night driving through neighborhoods and knocking over mailboxes. If you see any zombies, swing away."
"You bet." Dave sticks his bat out the window, hands tight around the taped grip. "If it's – you know, bad. How set are we?"
"First aid, a stocked toolbox, shotgun, ammunition, canned and dried food, a twelve pack of one liter bottles of water, five gallons of gasoline and a full tank, three changes of clothes for me, and a large quilt," Kurt says. "When I got home after I found out about the zombies I threw everything useful in the back of the car and hightailed it out of there." He pauses. "And a tire iron. We have a tire iron, too."
"So we're not gonna die," Dave sums up. He spots a zombie as they're barreling down the street, and he swings out, connecting with its head with a loud crunching noise.
"That's the plan," Kurt says.
Dave nods and then realizes Kurt can't see the motion. "I like that plan."
"So do I."
They aren't the first to arrive at the intersection. As Kurt pulls up, he spots a familiar truck parked off to the side, two figures standing by the tailgate holding a bat and a rifle, respectively. He pulls over behind them and kills the engine.
"Thank god," he says as he jumps out of his car, shotgun in hand. "I was afraid we were the only ones."
"We're hard to kill," Puck says with forced bravado, lowering the rifle.
"Damn right," Lauren says. She looks past him to Karofsky, who's followed Kurt over. "How'd you two hook up?"
Kurt half expects him to spin their encounter so that he comes out looking like a hero, but Karofsky says simply, "He saved my life."
"Didn't know you had it in you," Puck says to Kurt. "Hell, to be honest I didn't think you'd made it until I got that text."
"It goes to show that you should never underestimate me," Kurt says. Behind Puck, he can see a pre-teen girl peering out the open window on the driver's side. "Who's with you?"
"My mom and sister," Puck says. "I got 'em in the truck before things really went to hell. Lauren was over so we grabbed what we could and bailed."
"We're going to hit the next town over for more supplies," Lauren says. "We don't have enough to feed the four of us for long."
The duffel bag full of nonperishable food flashes through his mind. They could hand some over, split it, help their friends survive just that much longer. "I know what you mean," he says instead. "We'll be raiding a grocery store as soon as we get to one." His stomach churns at his ruthlessness. These are his friends. There's a girl in there who's not even in middle school.
But they need the food if they're going to have any hope at all at surviving this. And after what had happened – after what he'd had to do – there wasn't much left that he wouldn't do to have a fighting chance. "We definitely need to get water," he says, and at least that's the truth. "You'll need water more than you'll need food. Get those big ten gallon bottles if you can, and a first aid kit."
"Hit up a gun shop," Dave says. "Believe me, a bat does fuck all when there's more than one of 'em."
"Good advice," Puck says. "Thanks, dude."
A Ford Fusion races up the road toward them, and the driver pulls over across the street with a sharp jerk of the wheel. Santana bursts out of the backseat, followed at a slightly slower pace by Mike, Tina, Rachel, and a handsome black man.
"FUCK!" Santana throws herself at Puck, pounding his chest with her fists. "GOD FUCKING HELL SON OF A BITCH! FUCK!"
He passes the rifle to Lauren and grabs Santana's wrists. "What the fuck happened?" he demands.
She struggles to get loose, shirt bloody and eyes wild. "FUCK YOU LET ME GO!" she screams at him.
Tina looks at Kurt, tears streaming down her face. "They got Brittany," she says.
Karofsky swears and pulls Santana free, crushing her to his chest in a tight hug. He stoically rides out her violent rage, just holding her and rocking ever so slightly back and forth. "I'm so sorry," he murmurs. "Christ, Santana, I'm so sorry. I've got you. I'm sorry."
"Fuck you," she chokes out, but she stops hitting him and clenches the front of his jacket in her fists and buries her face in his shoulder, heavy sobs wracking her thin back.
Kurt wipes his eyes on the sleeve of his jacket. They're all in tears, even the stranger. He closes his eyes, taking a moment to center himself. Not the time. He'd grieve when it was safe. When he opens his eyes again he sees everyone but Santana looking at him expectantly, as if he held all the answers. He's momentarily startled – why would they look to him? But it makes sense after a fashion. He's the one who had the text message sent, after all, and if that makes him the de facto leader for the short time they were together, then so be it. He'd do his best not to let them down.
He looks at Mike, who seems to be the most level headed of the group. "Do you know if anyone else made it clear of the city?"
Mike shakes his head and tucks Tina under his arm, tight against his side. "I called people. It's bad. Most of them didn't even pick up. Mercedes –" His voice breaks. "Mercedes told us to run."
Mercedes. No, not Mercedes. Not his beautiful, brilliant, hilarious Mercedes. He pinches the bridge of his nose hard to keep the tears at bay. Hers was another name to add to his growing list.
"We lost Hiram," the handsome stranger says, and Rachel takes his hand like a frightened child, looking lost and bewildered. Rachel's other dad, then. Leroy.
"My parents are gone," Mike says. "Tina's too."
"I lost my dad," Lauren says. "So it's just me now." She blinks rapidly behind her thick glasses and bites her lower lip.
Puck puts his arm around her ample shoulders. "You have my family," he says.
"What about your family, Karofsky?" Tina asks from within the shelter of Mike's embrace.
"I don't know," Karofsky says. "My dad didn't pick up, and my mom – I'm pretty sure she's, um." He looks away.
"What about Finn?" Rachel asks.
Of course she'd ask that. Kurt drops his head and wishes fervently that he could just wake up from this hell, safely tucked away in his bed and ready to start a new, less torturous day. "He was bitten," he tells them all. "He stayed behind." He sticks his free hand in his jacket pocket and crosses his fingers, hoping she doesn't ask for details.
Luck is on his side. "He's always been so brave," Rachel says, her eyes welling up with a new wave of tears.
"He really has been," Kurt agrees.
"Your parents," Mike says hesitantly. "Are they…"
"I lost them as well," Kurt says. His heart is a heavy weight in his chest. "Blaine called me before I found Karofsky. He said goodbye." And 'I love you.' And 'Stay strong.' And 'Live.'
"I'm sorry," Tina says. "For all of us."
"And for everyone who didn't make it," Puck agrees quietly.
A somber silence falls over them as the enormity of the situation they've found themselves in makes itself painfully clear. Thirteen people were in Glee today. Seven made it out. Kurt had only stumbled across Karofsky by chance, bringing the number of students up to eight. One of Rachel's dads survived, which made nine. And only Puck still had his entire family.
Less than a dozen people out of thirteen students – fourteen, counting Karofsky – and their parents and siblings reached their meeting place.
"I hate this," Rachel says. "I hate it. We can't sit shiva for my dad, we can't even bury him…we're leaving our friends and families behind to rot."
Kurt hates it as much as she does. He hates it with all his heart. But there is no time for grieving. Not yet. Not now. "We don't have a choice," he says, rather than offer comfort. "If we're going to survive, we have to do what's necessary."
"How the hell are you keeping it together like this?" Puck asks. "This is just – shit, Kurt. It's not like you."
"Apparently it is," Kurt says. "We can't afford unnecessary drama or histrionics. On a sliding scale of stubbed toes to zombie outbreak, we're at zombie outbreak. I hurt as much as you do. I just can't deal with it now."
"He's right," Lauren says. "We need to look out for ourselves before we can think about all the crap that just happened."
Kurt looks around the group. "What are you planning to do?" he asks Leroy.
"We have family in Marin," he says, "And Mike has an aunt who lives in Half Moon Bay. We're going out west to see if things are better there."
"And if they aren't?" Kurt asks.
"Then we'll steal a houseboat and live on the water," Tina says. "It'll be safer than staying on land."
"We're heading north," Puck says. "I know the border won't keep 'em out, but the population's lower up in Canada. Less people mean less zombies."
Leroy looks at Puck, then at Kurt. "Can either of you take Santana?" he asks. "I'd want to have her with us, but she's, well. I think she's going to be a danger to herself and to us by extension. She's too angry to think straight right now."
Puck, looking heartbroken, shakes his head. "I can't. There isn't enough room in the truck, for one. And I have to look out for my family. I don't want her getting herself killed, but I don't want her getting my baby sister killed either."
"We'll take her," Karofsky says. Kurt turns around, and Karofsky gives him a pleading look from over Santana's head. "We don't have family to look out for. And fuck, she's got no one else if you guys are gonna leave her stranded."
Part of Kurt rebels against the idea of bringing along someone who's bound to be a loose cannon. But Karofsky's right. Of all of them, he and Kurt have no one to protect and look out for. And an angry, violent Santana could be very, very useful when it comes to killing zombies.
"Exactly," Kurt says. "Santana comes with us."
"Thank goodness," Leroy says, letting out a sigh of relief.
"Gotta take your girlfriend with you, right?" Puck says. He raises an eyebrow at Karofsky. For the first time since last Tuesday he doesn't look disgusted when he brings it up. It makes sense. There's too much to worry about to bother holding on to grudges and animosity.
Karofsky and Santana both flinch, and Santana burrows deeper into Karofsky's arms. "She's – we're –" Karofsky says, stumbling over his words. He shoots Kurt another pleading look.
"We're facing what might be the collapse of society as we know it," Kurt says. "There's really no point in lying anymore."
"Lying about what?" Rachel asks.
Karofsky looks at their ragged group warily. "I guess." He ducks his head and asks Santana, mouth by her ear, "Is it okay with you?" She makes what looks like a tight, tiny nod against his sternum, and he says, sounding extremely reluctant, "We're not actually. You know. Together. We were, uh. Bearding for each other."
For each other? That's news. It's not entirely unexpected, though.
"Wait, so you're gay?" Puck asks incredulously. "The whole self-hating closet case thing's too cliché to be real."
"Well, better late than never," Kurt says. "Moving on. We don't have time to harangue him for his utter hypocrisy, as tempting as it is."
"Mm-hm." Lauren looks up at the sky. "We should get going before it gets dark."
At her words, Rachel darts over and clings to Kurt fiercely. "I'll miss you," she says brokenly.
Kurt hugs her back just as tightly, ignoring the pain in his shoulder as she buries her face in his neck. "I'll miss you too," he says. "Stay safe."
Suddenly everyone is moving toward one another, hugging and clapping shoulders and murmuring private goodbyes. Rachel is pulled away to be replaced by Puck, who thanks him under his breath for the text. Mike and Tina hug him together, telling him to be careful, to look out for Santana, to not give up hope. Lauren's hug lifts him off the ground, and she advises him with a patently false smirk to not do anything she wouldn't do. Leroy shakes his hand and says to take care.
They're slow to separate, but they go back to their vehicles, looking over their shoulders again and again as they leave Kurt behind with Santana and Karofsky.
"Looks like it's just us now," Karofsky says. "What next?"
He's still in charge, then. As much as he'd like to toss the keys to Karofsky and tell him that it's up to him, he knows that the responsibility of keeping them together and safe is best left in his hands. Santana's too reckless, and Karofsky, while not nearly as stupid as Kurt had originally assumed, probably doesn't have it in him to make the hard decisions.
Kurt hates having to make the hard decisions.
He hates knowing that he can make them at all.
"Next we head to Wapakoneta," Kurt tells his companions. "We need more than just a shotgun and a bat, and we desperately need more water if we're going to survive this. There's bound to be a gun store, and it's sufficiently small enough that we'll be able to deal with the zombies more efficiently than we could in Lima. But first, we need to take care of something else. David, there's a plaid jacket on top of the quilt in the back seat. Get it for me, please."
"Sure," Karofsky says, and opens the door to fetch the jacket.
Kurt lays the shotgun down and turns his attention to Santana. She's slumped against the driver's side door, arms wrapped around her body as she shivers. "Santana," he says, softly but firmly. "Santana, can you let go for a moment?"
She releases her death grip on her elbows and straightens, giving him an unfocused glare.
"Good," he says. "Thank you." He steps closer and grimaces at the bright red splatter of blood covering the front of her white tank top. He wonders whose blood it is. "Santana, can you take off your shirt for me? We're getting you something clean to wear."
Her hands drift to the hem of her tank top, and when she hesitates Kurt says, "It's not like David and I are going to get any sexual titillation from seeing you in a bra. We're just going to help you get cleaned up."
"Okay," she says quietly, and pulls the top over her head, leaving her in a plain tan bra. She lets it fall to the ground, and before she wraps her arms around herself again Kurt sees that the blood from the tank top has seeped through to leave sticky red patches across her stomach.
"I'm going to need one of the water bottles, too," Kurt tells Karofsky, and Karofsky makes an indistinct sound of affirmation. "You're safe now," he says to Santana.
"The fuck I am," she says, but her voice lacks its normal bite.
"As safe as we're likely to get," he amends. "We have a car, we have a gun, we have food, and we have each other."
Karofsky joins them, water bottle in one hand and jacket in the other. "Here you go," he says to Kurt.
Kurt picks up the discarded tank and finds a clean spot on the back. "Pour a little water on this, please," he requests. Karofsky unscrews the cap and dribbles out just enough water to get the fabric wet. Kurt approaches Santana and takes hold of one of her arms. "Let's get you cleaned off," he says gently.
She shudders as he carefully wipes the wet tank top over her arms and stomach, where the blood has gone tacky as it's slowly dried on her skin. "Why did it have to be Brittany?" she asks him.
"I don't know," Kurt says. He drops the tank top and takes his jacket and guides her arms into the sleeves. "I don't know why any of this happened. But we'll look out for each other, and we'll do our best to live through this."
"And we'll kill a fucking ton of zombies," Santana says. She snaps the jacket up the front with badly shaking fingers.
"And we'll kill a fucking ton of zombies," Karofsky agrees, screwing the cap back on the bottle and tossing it in the backseat.
Kurt leads Santana around to the passenger side and settles her into the front seat. "Saddle up," he says to Karofsky. "Time to hit the road."
They roll into Wapakoneta around six-thirty, Santana leaning out the window blowing holes in every zombie they pass with Kurt's shotgun. It hadn't taken more than a few minutes into the drive for her to shut down and stop crying, and the vengeful rage in her eyes that has replaced her grief is even more disturbing than seeing her distraught. Dave sits in the back, leg bouncing uncontrollably as he grips his bat and waits for Kurt to stop in front of the gun shop. "It should be the next block," he tells Kurt. "On the right."
Kurt nods. "Thank you," he says stiffly.
"So what's the plan?" he asks. It feels sort of weird deferring to Kurt, but he seems to be the one who has it together the most, and it makes sense not to screw with that dynamic. If Kurt's okay with being the brains of the operation, then Dave's not going to question it.
"You and Santana are going to go in and find appropriate firearms," Kurt says. "Take the shotgun and the bat. I'll stay with the car and make sure no one tries to steal it while you're inside. When you get back, we'll work out who gets what and head to the corner store we passed a few streets back. There should be plenty of water there, and more nonperishable food. We'll take what we can fit in my spare bag and get out of town as quickly as we can."
And that was why Dave doesn't have a problem with Kurt being in charge. "Sounds good."
Santana pulls the trigger again, and they all wince at the loud noise filling the enclosed space. "How are you going to keep people from jacking the car if we're taking the weapons?"
Kurt pulls over in front of the gun shop and reaches across Dave to open the glove box. A long bowie knife falls into Dave's lap. "If I can't run them over, I can give myself a fighting chance with this. It's…it was my dad's."
"You'd run over people?" Dave asks. "Not zombies, but people?"
"If it means we live through the night? Absolutely," Kurt says. "Look. I know what you must think of me. But we don't have much of a choice."
Not for the first time, Dave wonders what had happened in the hour between school getting out at three and Kurt finding him at four. He doesn't know much about psychology – he knows fuck-all, really – but it had to have been bad. "No, I get it," he says. "It'll keep us alive. I know."
Kurt meets his eyes in the rearview mirror and nods fractionally. "Thank you," he says. Then, businesslike, he says, "We're here. The sooner we do this the better."
"Got it, boss," Santana says. She opens her door and jumps out. Dave's not far behind her.
They burst through the door of the gun shop, spinning around back to back almost instinctively to check for zombies. "Clear," Dave says.
"Clear," she confirms. Santana heads over to the shotguns hanging on the wall.
Dave strides across the room to the handgun display case. He's amazed that there are still guns even left in the store. But then again, they didn't see a single person who wasn't a zombie on their drive into town. The outbreak must've hit here hard. He quickly finds the case for the heavier duty handguns and scans the selection. A big silver and black one catches his eye, and he calls out to Santana, "I've always wanted a Desert Eagle." 'Action Express,' the notecard beside it reads. '.50 caliber.'
"You watch too many movies," she says as she scans the racks. She stops and looks over. "Fuck."
No more movies. Probably ever. "Yeah." He smashes the glass on the case and grabs the gun. That was him settled. Now for Kurt.
Kurt's deceptively strong, Dave knows. Anyone who dances as much as he does, or spends any significant amount of time on Sylvester's squad, has to be tough. So it shouldn't be a wimpy gun. He needs to find one that Kurt can do some damage with. "Think Kurt's a semiautomatic guy or a revolver guy?" he asks as he surveys the guns lying in the shattered glass.
"Revolver," Santana says.
"That's what I thought," Dave says. He looks them over quickly and picks up a sturdy looking revolver, pulling out its notecard along with it. 'Smith & Wesson Model 500,' it reads. "Got it," he says. "Now for bullets."
Santana points to a shelf a few feet away from where she's standing. "Found it," she says, grabbing a shotgun identical to Kurt's. "Get me a box too. Twelve guage."
Dave finds the appropriate boxes and grabs two of each. "Let's bail," he says, arms overloaded.
Santana leads the way, new shotgun tucked under her arm and the old one braced against her shoulder as she looks out over the barrel. They slip out as quickly as they came in, every sense on high alert for zombies. Thankfully, none stood between the shop door and the Navigator, and they yank open their doors and throw themselves inside.
"Success?" Kurt asks, eyeing Dave's armful of guns and bullets.
"We're set," Dave says. He dumps his cargo on the seat beside him and opens the box of fifty caliber bullets. He loads them into Kurt's new revolver and passes it up. "Enjoy."
"I'm sure I will," Kurt says humorlessly.
Dave hands Santana the box of shotgun shells and sets about figuring out how to eject the magazine. It doesn't take him long at all to stumble across a button on the grip, and it comes right out. He fills it with the big bullets he's supposed to use for it and pushes it back in. "I'm good to go," he says.
"Me too," Santana says.
"Off to the corner store," Kurt says, and he starts up the car again, pulling a U-turn in the street that's a hair too tight for comfort. He takes off up the street slowly, turning right at the third intersection and stopping neatly at the curb outside the store on the following block. "I didn't see a soul while I was waiting," he says. "I'll lock up and come in with you."
"More guns are good," Santana says. She steps down from the passenger seat and slams the door behind her, shotgun at the ready.
Kurt twists around and pulls out an empty canvas bag and a medium sized duffel bag. "We'll want these," he says, and gets out, revolver in one hand and bags in the other. Dave follows suit, and he hears a beep that he guesses means that Kurt just locked the car.
They take this one slower, the aisles making them wary. Kurt silently indicates which aisles they should take, and they spread out, peering down the rows cautiously.
"Mother of fuck!" Santana swears, and less than a second later the loud crack of a gunshot splits the air. A second shot follows it, this time coming from Kurt's aisle.
"Any others?" Kurt asks.
"All clear here," Dave says. "Santana?"
"Just the one," she says.
"Okay," Kurt says. He walks back around to the front of the store and beckons Santana over. "Raid the first aid section," he tells her, handing her the canvas bag. "Get toothbrushes and toothpaste, too." He looks at Dave. "We need water. Lots of water."
"I'm on it," Dave says. He pauses for a second and adds, "Boss."
"Shut up and get the water," Kurt says, but there's no heat behind the words. If anything, he sounds tired. "I'll sort out the food." He takes off to inspect the single foods aisle in the store.
Dave sticks his gun in the back of his waistband and goes to the back where the big cases of bottled water are stacked. He hefts two of the eighteen packs of liter bottles into his arms and goes back to the front to set them on the floor, then heads back to grab a third and fourth. He makes the trip until the eighteen packs are all stacked up at the front and wanders over to Kurt's aisle to see what he's taking.
"Peanut butter," Kurt says in response to his unasked question. "Those big cans of soup with the pop-top lids. Jerky. Energy bars. Trail mix. Plasticware. Emergen-C. Instant coffee."
"I'm willing to bet we're all regular coffee drinkers," Kurt says. "If we don't have any tomorrow, we're going to all be flat on our backs with blinding headaches by noon. We have to wean ourselves off it."
"How are you doing this?" Dave asks. "I mean, I'm holding it together way better than I thought I would, but you're like a machine with all these plans and strategies."
"If I stop thinking about what we need to do to survive just that little bit longer, I'm going to break down," Kurt says flatly. "And if I break down, I'll be completely useless. It has to wait until we're safe."
"What if we're never safe?" Dave asks.
"Then when I'm ready to give up and die I'll let it all out." Kurt drops a box of raisins into the duffel bag and tells him, "We're going to need multivitamins. Get the big bottles."
Dave nods. He'll leave it alone for now. "Sure thing."
"David." Kurt tosses him the car keys. "When you're ready, start shifting the water. Santana and I will help once we have our bags in the car."
"Can do," Dave says. He shoves them in his jacket pocket and goes to Santana's aisle to grab the vitamins.
She looks up from where she's busy dropping ace bandages and bottles of Tylenol into her tote and says, "Get me the women's multivitamin."
He picks out a big bottle of women's vitamins and another one for men and dumps them in her bag. "There we go." She acknowledges it with a tip of her head. "I'm gonna start loading up the car. "Come help when you're ready."
"Yeah," she mutters.
Dave hoists one of the packs of water under one arm and unlocks the Navigator from the doorway. He sticks the keys back in his pocket and takes out his gun, scanning the dimly lit sidewalk carefully before stepping outside and opening the trunk. He sets his burden down and shuts the trunk again, making his way back inside the store with equal caution. Twice more he does this, accompanied on his third trip by Santana and Kurt, who drop their bags next to his growing stack of water. Santana stands guard by the open trunk, shotgun in hand, as Kurt and Dave ferry out the last packs of water.
"That's it," Dave says, and Santana slams the trunk shut and goes around to the passenger seat again, once more leaving Dave with the cramped seat behind Kurt.
Kurt starts up the car and flips on the headlights, taking off down the road that would eventually lead them to County Highway 150, and hopefully a deserted enough area to sleep without fear of waking up to a horrible death.
"There's a second bag of food at your feet," he says to Dave. "Could you get out something we can eat on the road?"
"No prob," he says, and unzips the bag to find something that would fit the bill. "Clif bars okay?"
"They're perfect," Kurt says. Dave tosses Santana a peanut butter chocolate one and selects a plain peanut butter one for himself. He thinks for a moment, trying to work out what Kurt might like, and chooses the pumpkin one. He tears the wrapping on it and holds it out, waiting for Kurt to grab it rather than dropping it in his lap like he did Santana's.
"Thanks," Kurt says, sounding faintly surprised to find it already opened for him.
Dave opens his own and shrugs. "No big deal."
They eat in tense silence, eyes peeled for signs of movement outside the car. Undead, human – it doesn't matter. Dave's never felt more alone in his life than right now, riding in a car in the fading light with a girl he has a strange and unhappy rapport with and a boy he's had a crush on for almost a year. This isn't his life. This isn't how it's supposed to go. He's supposed to go shoot hoops with Rashad and a couple of his other buddies at the park tomorrow. He's supposed to hit the gym on Sunday. He's supposed to go back to school on Monday and be nice to the Glee kids and pretend to be dating Santana.
But his buddies were probably dead, or worse, just like his parents. The gym's probably trashed and full of corpses and zombies. Half the Glee kids are dead or missing.
There's nothing left but the car and the road and his unlikely companions. And if that isn't depressing, he doesn't know what is.
After about half an hour, Kurt pulls over to the side of the highway and turns off the headlights. He takes the key out of the ignition, unbuckles his seatbelt, and turns around. "We need to get the seats flat," he says to Dave. "Can you get the latches yourself or should one of us come back to help?"
"I've got it," Dave says, getting up and leaning over the back of the seat awkwardly, his head pressed against the roof of the car. He finds the latch on the first row and lifts it, pushing the seats flat, and he crawls across the newly horizontal cushions to do the same to the second row of seats.
"We're coming back," Kurt says, and he climbs over his armrest and squeezes between the front two seats to join Dave on the makeshift mattress.
Santana follows behind him, and after a cursory look around she spots the large green and white quilt neatly folded on the floor behind the passenger seat. "Bedtime?" she asks, unfolding the quilt.
"It's almost nine," Kurt says. "We'll need a full night's sleep if we're going to be alert and prepared for whatever tomorrow brings." He lies down to the right of the middle, head facing the trunk. Dave takes the left, leaving Santana the space in between.
She draws the quilt over them as she lies down, complaining, "Could you give me a little room to breathe?"
"Body heat," Dave says. "Car's probably gonna get cold. Better to get squished in than to freeze."
"Whatever," Santana says, but she shifts onto her side away from Dave and cuddles into Kurt.
The interior lights switch off, immersing them in total darkness. Dave turns to face the window and tucks his arm beneath his head as a makeshift pillow.
No one says goodnight.
The title of the story comes from the poem "Death has No Dominion" by Dylan Thomas.