Brenda Ellis

     The sharpened wooden broomstick plunged into Diane's face with a sickening squish. Brenda waited until she was sure her former assistant manager was dead before turning and puking onto the cleaning product aisle's floor.
     "Cleanup in aisle nine," Brenda said to herself to keep from passing out at the horror she'd witnessed firsthand. She'd just killed someone. "She was already dead, girl," she murmured in her thick Texan accent. "Can't kill someone's already a goner, now can ya?"
"I'm not cleaning that up," her third key Bruce said and shook his head.
"I'm not asking you to do it," she said with irritation. "We have other things to worry about." Brenda turned her back and went to the store shelf, pulling a roll of paper towels down. The cheap brand. You never used the expensive stuff for store-use.
Before Bruce could say anything she turned back to him and waved the roll. "We ran out last night. Will you add this to the store-use list?"
"What's the point?"
Brenda closed her eyes and sighed. "Because, when this all blows over, we'll need to have a list so we can take this out of the inventory."
Bruce opened his mouth to speak but waved at her instead. "I'll go write it down." He stepped over Diane's body. "I'm not cleaning that up, either."
"I might need your help."
He didn't bother answering, disappearing around an end-cap toward the front of the store.
Brenda and Bruce were now the last two left. She'd warned Diane not to sneak out the backdoor and see if any of the other stores in the strip-mall were open or if anyone had any news. Instead, she got bitten by the jerk next door at the packing store, a big chunk of her arm.
Despite what the news was saying - before the radio went silent - Brenda didn't believe in people dying and coming back to life. That was fiction, and good ol' Texas gals didn't believe in what they couldn't see. Except, of course, the Almighty God Above.
She'd read a story once about zombies she didn't care for, but it was written by a friend and former store manager. He'd gone on to writing a few of those horrible books as well as making a movie out of one of them. She wondered what he was doing now, and supposed he might be starring in films. He was definitely good-looking and had the charisma.
"We can put her in the freezer units," Bruce said as he returned.
"They're not working." Nothing was working but luckily they had plenty of candles for sale. She'd store-used several each day, since they nailed wooden shelves over the doors and the windows above the front of the store.
"Well, I'm not going outside and tossing her in the dumpster. I heard things out there again, smacking against the walls."
Brenda heard scratching last night while they slept huddled behind the front counter. She wondered if it was twenty or twenty-one days since they'd locked the doors for good and boarded them up. It probably didn't matter at this point.
"Fine. Grab her and we'll put her in with the rotten meat and melted ice cream."
Bruce pushed past Brenda. "I'm getting her feet. I'm not going anywhere near her head."
"Of course not. Some gentleman you are."
Bruce laughed harshly. "I never said I was. And since I haven't gotten a paycheck in weeks, I'm assuming I've been fired and I'm technically a looter. I'm done marking off food that I took from the shelf."
"We have to keep order," she said. "When we get rescued…"
Another laugh escaped his mouth. "We might be the only people alive, like that Charlton Heston movie."
"I'm sure the military is doing sweeps but haven't gotten to us yet. My daughter, Krystle, is stationed overseas, but she was scheduled to return soon."
"You think she'll burst in and rescue her mommy?" he said snidely.
They placed Diane in the freezer, moving the once-frozen pizza and Hot Pockets and bending her legs to get her in and close the door. Brenda stared at her through the glass. Diane had been her assistant manager for three years, and in that time they'd been close. They knew one another's secrets, their peaks and valleys in life. When you work with someone day in and day out, and rely on them to keep the store rolling, you get comfortable.
Now Brenda had technically buried her and their friendship. All that was left was her memories. And Bruce.
"Hungry? I'm going to eat some Lucky Charms. I guess I can toss my diet in the garbage, since we'll probably be dead in a day or two."
"That's not funny," Brenda said, not taking her eyes from her friend.
"Not meant to be funny, but it's true. Once the monsters realize we're in here they’ll crack this baby like a sardine can and suck us out."
"I'm ignoring you."
"That's not something a boss should say to an employee. I might tell Human Resources on you." Bruce grabbed a box of cereal off the shelf. "I guess that makes me the new assistant manager, right?" 

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Armand Rosamilia is a New Jersey boy currently living in sunny Florida, where he writes when he's not watching zombie movies, the Boston Red Sox and listening to Heavy Metal music...

"Highway To Hell" and "Dying Days" extreme zombie novellas are part of the growing Extreme Undead series of books/stories created by Armand...

He is also an editor for Rymfire Books, helping with several horror anthologies, including "Vermin" and the "State of Horror" series, as well as the creator and energy behind Carnifex Metal Books, putting out the "Metal Queens Monthly" series of non-fiction books about females into Metal...

You can find him at

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