Safe

Glenn's ill-concieved Zombie Attack plan worked out surprisingly well

Note on the Setting: Here in Texas we have a big chain of liquor stores called Spec's. They have a good selection but what really sets them apart from similar stores is that they are freaking HUGE. Like the size of an Academy Sports Equipment or a small Wal-Mart huge. I don't know if Georgia has something similar, but for the purposes of this story, when I say Liquor Depot think massive.

AN: Thanks Doctorkaitlyn for writing Scraping, which inspired me to re-write this completely. If any of you have missed it, I suggest you bounce right over there after reading this.

Thanksgiving, 2 years pre-outbreak

"So first I'd get my dad's shotgun, obviously, and I'd load up the jeep with food and shit, and I'd drive way way out of town, like away from all the towns, and I'd find a farmhouse a million miles from everything and board up all the windows."

"That's your plan? What about the farmer?"

"I bang his hot daughter so we can continue the human race."

Drunken laughter.

"How are you going to get your jeep out of town? The traffic is going to be horrible."

"Glenn's right, that idea fucking sucks. Me, I'm gonna get a sniper rifle and a duffel bag full of snacks, and climb into the tree house my dad built when I was a kid. Zombie's are too dumb to climb! Then I wait it out in complete safety, and shoot the ones that get too close in the head."

"You would have no idea how to use a sniper rifle, let alone maintain it. And what are you planning to do when you run out of supplies? I guarantee the zombies can out wait you."

Drunken glare followed by more drunken laughter.

"I don't know why ya'll are so intent on livin' like savages. Everyone know the best part of the end of the world is the looting. First I'm going to swing by the Kitty Cat Club and pick up all the honies there that'er too scared to get away. Then I'll take 'em to that fancy mall uptown, the one with the IMAX and the huge food court, and we'll wait it out in the lap of luxury, just me and all those grateful strippers."

Raised eyebrow.

"That mall is going to be so full of zombies. Even if you managed to kill all the zombies that were in there, presumably using nothing but stiletto heels since you didn't mention any weapons, that mall has at least a dozen entrances. How are you and your harem going to secure them all in between the massive orgies?"

Confused look.

"There's a gun store in the mall. Duh."

"Everyone else is going to have the same idea. Even if by some miracle you get to the mall before it's been completely picked over, you'll spend most of your time fighting other survivors for supplies."

Three annoyed looks and one rather smug one.

"Okay fine, what's your genius plan for the Zombie Apocalypse Glenn?"

Smile.

"First off I'm going to grab two duffle bags and head over to the Liquor Depot. . ."

Summer, 3 weeks post outbreak

It was never meant to be an actual working plan. To be completely honest he was surprised that he remembered the damned thing. It was really long and specific and he had been drunk off his ass while ironing out the details, he and a few coworkers drinking beer and pretending it wasn't entirely pathetic to be eating cold pizza and discussing zombie movies on Thanksgiving. Still, Glenn had always been good at plans. He had a knack for identifying weak points and working around them.

His Grandfather was big on plans. Grampa had plans and back up plans and contingency plans for every plausible eventuality, bank robberies to house fires to car accidents. He'd always told Glenn that if you had a solid plan then nothing would take you by surprise. Glenn hadn't ever really thought he needed plans, though he had humored his grandfather by drawing them up anyway when he was a boy. When the old man died the plan making became reflexive. What do I do if I get hit by a car? What do I do if someone tries to break into my crappy apartment? What do I do if I get wrongly accused of a crime? He still had never really needed one, but there was something relaxing about making them. He wasn't afraid of anything, because no matter what happened he had a plan for it.

When it became clear that the crazy disjointed reports were actually signifying the end of the world he had started following his zombie plan automatically. It might not have been a serious plan, but it was a plan and as long as he followed it everything would be fine.

So far his half drunken logic had been right on the money. No one had bothered trying to loot a liquor store during the first few weeks while they were on the run for their lives; the massive windowless building had been almost completely deserted when he'd pulled his bike up to it two weeks ago. The safe had been emptied as had the registers, and there was a broken case on the wall he was pretty sure had once held an old Winchester Repeater, but the shelves and all their contents was intact. Steps one through six of the plan involved packing, getting to the liquor store, and blocking up the entrances. These all went off without a hitch. He saw a lot of dead people, but very few of the geeks noticed him. The store itself had only one walker inside, but she was easily dispatched with the crowbar he'd kept from his misspent, car-thieving youth. He didn't even hesitate bashing her skull it, she was obviously a zombie, her jaw hanging half off her face, and the plan clearly stated that he was to kill all zombies instantly and without remorse.

The plan was good because of its simplicity. It had flaws as all plans do, it relied a bit on luck and quite a bit on the kindness of other survivors, but it had a solid base. In the end it had been agreed by everyone that his plan was the most realistic because it didn't require him to spontaneously develop any skills like wilderness survival, sharpshooting, or Kung Fu. The plan was, in essence, to hole up and wait for rescue.

He had chosen the Liquor Depot for two reasons, it's large "Finer Foods" section and it's selection of top shelf liquors. The "finer" food was mostly non perishable because the refrigeration units had to be kept for the beer, and other than the chips and a small freezer full of ice cream bars the food section had a very small turnover rate. The Depot also prided themselves on variety, so though it would be salty, at least his food would be nutritionally diverse. Steps seven through twelve included inventorying what he had, separating it into food groups, and filling his duffles with a good mix to be stashed at the two doors. (He made a last minute change to the plan and included in each of the bags several bottles of fluid in the form of carbonated water and juices from the mixer section. Apparently his drunk self had forgotten the need to hydrate.) This took up a little more than half of the second day, leaving him the whole afternoon to get started on Stage 3 of his plan, which involved the booze.

Glenn's reasoning had been slightly complex, but he thought it made mathmatical sense. Zombies strength came in their superior numbers, so the only way to survive in the wasteland was with a group of other survivors, because the more people in you group the smaller the advantage the zombies had. He didn't, however, want to join just any large group. The larger the group the better the chance that someone would do something so stupid they got everyone else killed. A group of normal people who had simply been lucky enough to survive that was large enough to have a real chance against the horde would be so big that the chances of someone doing something astronomically stupid was pretty much assured. What he needed was people who had been surviving because they had skills that offset the relative disadvantage they had, rather than surviving on pure dumb luck. Cops, army guys, and rednecks were his best chance he decided, and those groups all struck him as having the skill and the desire to make a special supply run for whiskey and beer when the initial fervor had died down.

Glenn spent the next several hours carefully going through the store and selecting bottles to use as currency if he had to escape the store early and buy his way into a refugee group. He tried to stick to well known brands and didn't take anything with a price tag of less than a hundred dollars. His goal was to get a good sized selection of liquor that the common working man would have heard of, but probably would never imagine they would actually get to taste. He ended up carefully filling a rather large canvas tote with four bottles of Johnnie Walker Blue, two of Stagg bourbon, one thirty year old bottle of Glenfidditch, a few fancy wines just in case, and the single most expensive bottle of champagne he could find. He then spent a painstaking few hours rearranging everything so that the "manly drinks," (whiskeys, beer, rums, and tequilas) were in the center of the store surrounded on all sides by a maze of alcopops, fruity wines, and girly spirits like coconut vodka and Blue Curacao to delay any potential saviors from grabbing what they wanted and running in case they showed up while he was sleeping or taking a leak. This was done not because he assumed that only men would have the necessary acumen to make it in the wasteland, but rather because he suspected any women with the skills necessary to get to the liquor store would be too smart to risk their lives for a few bottles of Zima.

Once Glenn had carried out the plan all the way through step twenty-seven (arrange his supply of food in order of how appetizing things were so he could ration the good stuff and didn't end up with a diet made up entirely of Vienna sausage and the weird grayish glop that in no way resembled Kimchi despite what the cartoon radish on the jar said) he had been in hiding for four days and despite the relative lack of serious planning, had found his strategy to have very few holes. He fixed himself a celebration meal of cured salami and pickled okra, and sat back to wait for his survival group. This is where the plan hit a road block, because for all his planning, he didn't have a strategy for what to do to keep from going nuts when he was barricaded alone in a huge impersonal building surrounded on all side by bloodthirsty monsters.

The main issue wasn't the loneliness. He was lonely, that was certainly true, so much so that he frequently found himself having philosophical discussions in his head with the large St. Pauli Girl cutout in the imported beers section. (Unfortunately they had gotten into a bit of a tiff about the ethics of dipping into the owners very small stash of weed and she hadn't spoken to him in a few days) The loneliness was only a fringe problem though, the main hitch in his plan was that there was no one to watch his back. Glenn could handle himself better than most. If he had a purpose and a plan he had no fear. But when the plan ran out and he was left with nothing to do but sit around and wait he had way too much time to think and he was having trouble coping with the very real nightmare the world had found itself in. Combined with the lack of sleep and the constant state of barely contained fear, his paranoia was starting to climb to nearly irrational levels. No matter how quiet it was, how securely he had barricaded the doors, there was a consistent niggling feeling that he should go check them. If he posted himself just out of sight inside the main door so he could watch it, he would be constantly twitching, jerking his head around trying to check the short hallway to the back entrance. Worst of all, though he tried everything short of drinking himself into a fearless stupor, he could not get to sleep. Though he made it a point to force himself to lie down in the secured back office every night, he couldn't stand to have the lights off, or his eyes closed for more than a few minutes. Inevitably the itch would be too much and after an hour or so of staring at the ceiling he would arm himself with his crowbar and go to check the doors. He'd passed out from the exhaustion once, out in the middle of the store where any geek who bothered to squeeze past his defenses would have an easy meal. When he came to, more than a day later, he was panicky and disoriented. Not at all rested. He freaked out and rushed around checking and rechecking the doors for a good two hours before he calmed down enough to post himself by the front door and eat something.

He was so exhausted, three days after his terrifying blackout, that he almost wrote the first real, flesh an blood living humans he had seen in sixteen days off as a hallucination.

In any other situation, they would have been the kind of guys he would have a plan ready specifically to get away from. They were living stereotypes of good ole' boys, shirt sleeves cut off, scruffy and filthy. They forced their way in just as the sun dipped below the horizon. Glenn's recently developed fear of everything kept him from approaching them even though they were exactly what he had been waiting for. He tried to make himself as small as possible hiding in his nest among the shopping carts. The bigger one was loud. He strutted around with a nervous sort of energy, calling out an unending commentary liberally peppered with curses and a vast array of offensive slurs. He looked for the hard liquor for a little while but quickly settled for a case of Colt 45 double malt that Glenn hadn't bothered to move into the center of the store.

The younger one was an almost polar opposite, sitting quietly on an overturned crate as he kept an eye on the door. The only movement he made was when he languidly stretched to take a drag on the hand rolled cigarette between his fingers, the only sound an occasional grunt in response to something his older counterpart said. Watching him made Glenn calmer. He felt the ache as the tension he had been holding in his entire body started to slowly ease.

The twitchy one, whom the other had absently identified as Merle, finished off the better part of the case before dropping off to sleep sprawled out on his back across the bare floor. The other man stayed where he was, so still and contemplative that when he spoke, Glenn was startled to the point of nearly crying out.

"You plannin' on hiding over there all night?" Glenn scrambled out of the entanglement of shopping carts, the sound of the clanging metal almost deafening in the otherwise silent store. He looked nervously at Merle, but the much larger man only huffed in his sleep and scratched his chest, dead to the world. The other man watched him, stony faced and silent, as Glenn quickly made his way over and perched carefully on the edge of the crate he was using as a bench. It was far, far closer than would be considered appropriate for a casual friend, let alone a complete stranger, but the redneck didn't mention it. He took another careful puff on his cigarette before wordlessly passing it to Glenn.

Glenn inhaled a huge lungful of smoke and started instantly violently coughing. His tormentor/savior said nothing and continued to stare straight ahead, but Glenn saw a slight amused upturn in the corner of his mouth. The hint of a smile was somehow the most comforting thing Glen had ever seen. When he could breath again he passed the cigarette back carefully.

"My name is Glenn." His voice sounded reedy and hoarse. His first thought was to blame it on the smoke inhalation, but then he realized he hadn't used it in nearly a month. The redneck made no mention of it, he just grunted and said begrudgingly "Daryl."

Glenn watched for a while as Daryl smoked, occasionally offering him another chance to suck on the damned cancer stick. Glenn took it every time, taking the tiniest little puffs and being careful not to take any into his lungs before gingerly passing the thing back. After about five minutes he could no longer handle the silence. He toyed briefly with the idea of trying to engage Daryl in small talk in the hopes of developing some sort of rapport before he tried to weasel his way into the man's protection, but decided after a moment that Daryl didn't seem the type to play games and he should just go for broke.

"When you leave here, can I come with you?" Daryl glanced at him for a second, then gave him a cursory nod. Glenn glanced hesitantly over to where Merle was sleeping, but Daryl gave a chuckle that had him swiveling his head back.

"Don't worry about him, I can handle it. We'll leave first thing tomorrow."

"So where are we headed?" Glenn asked, unconcerned about the actual destination now that he had real breathing people with him. Daryl kept staring silently out the sliver of visible window until Glenn decided he wasn't going to get an answer. He settled in a little closer to Daryl, not touching yet but close enough that Glenn could feel the warmth radiating from him. Daryl grunted but didn't move.

"South." It was more of an answer than Glenn had expected but he watched hopefully anyway waiting for more. Daryl turned and gave him a long look before going on. "Been gettin' some chatter on the CB. Group of folks say they're camped just south a' town."

Daryl turned back to the window and took another long pull of his cigarette. Glenn's mind, relaxed and heavy as it hadn't been for days, was vaguely telling him he should be asking questions about this so-called survivor camp, but Glenn overruled it. He was much too comfortable to be thinking about weighty things like survival statistics. He didn't even notice his head slowly easing it's way down to Daryl's muscular shoulder as he drifted off to sleep.

AN2: I was hesitant to post here because the stuff I have read is all so good and thoughtful, and my style tends to be fairly flippant which is possibly inappropriate for such a dark subject matter as the end of the world. Please let me know what you think and how I can improve!