After the Apocalypse
Chapter 37: Shopping at Meijer's
by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue
The two vehicles picked a cautious path to the ruined Meijer's. They didn't see any signs of other survivors. The trip took a little longer than they'd hoped, but with the trailer, they had to make sure the road was clear before they tried to move. Steve had been a little nervous about the whole thing, but Brian had correctly pointed out that their return trip would be much easier. They finally parked just outside the Meijer's, near the southern end of the store, which had once housed the groceries.
The plan was simple. Steve and Mark were to head to the back and try to gather some of the toiletries, first aid and other products offered in the health and beauty section. Lou and Brian were to concentrate on the meat and food they needed. Once they'd collected all they could in those sections, they'd meet in housewares and take all the sheets and blankets they could find before heading to sporting goods. All four wore hands-free radios so they could remain in contact. They still hadn't seen anyone else, so they weren't too concerned, but they took their shotguns anyway.
Steve and Mark made their way to the back pretty easily, but there was no way they could move any sort of cart down what passed for aisles. It looked like they would be making a lot of trips back and forth until Brian spotted some sleds near the toy section. They headed across the store and grabbed four hard plastic sleds. Realizing how close they were to housewares, they grabbed a few large plastic storage bins and filled them with sheets, blankets and towels. They then lashed them into the sleds using some sash cord they found in the next aisle. The sleds were hard to pull over the rubble-choked aisle, but it was much better than having to carry everything.
Lou and Brian were having much better luck with their tasks. The groceries were closer to the front and the devastation wasn't nearly as bad. They were able to carry most of the meat about fifty feet to a waiting shopping cart, which they could then push, with some effort, into the parking lot. They'd managed to acquire about 400 pounds of meat so far and had loaded it into the back of Lou's truck. The whole project was going fairly well until their fifth trip outside.
Exiting the building with two carts full of canned goods, they heard a low growl from the other side of the truck. They split up, with Lou moving to the left and Brian heading right. Both pulled their shotguns up and leveled them. Coming around the truck, they spotted three dogs; two of them were mutts, but the third one was clearly a pit bull. At the site of the two of them, the dogs got down low, their hackles raised and their teeth bared. The growling continued and it was clear the dogs meant to attack.
"Easy now, boys," said Brian, trying to calm the dogs. "We don't want to hurt you, and you don't want to die."
Lou almost burst out laughing at that, but he managed to contain himself.
"What do you think we should do?" he asked Lou, a lopsided grin on his face. "I don't want to start killing dogs just for growling."
"I think we need to..."
The rest of Lou's answer was lost as the pit bull, fangs bared, suddenly leaped towards Brian. Without thinking, Brian pulled the trigger and the dog was nearly cut in half as both barrels of the shotgun tore into him. Lou fired at the other two dogs, striking the smaller of the two; the larger one had moved faster than he expected and was on top of Brian before either of them could do anything about it. Brian curled up tightly, trying to cover his face and hands while the dog attacked.
Lou ran forward and reversed his grip on the shotgun. He struck the dog in the head with the butt of the gun, leaving it momentarily dazed. Brian was easily able to throw it off. He switched his grip again, planning to shoot the dog, but Brian got in the way. He grabbed the dog's collar, forcing him to the ground, and rolling him onto his back. The dog struggled for a moment, then gave up as Brian began scratching his stomach.
"It's okay boy, I know you're just hungry. We got plenty to share with you." He reached into his pocket, fished out a Reese's cup and gave it to the dog. The dog sniffed for a second then wolfed it down and began licking Brian's hand.
"Great," said Steve, exiting the building with another load of diapers, "another mouth to feed."
"I'm sure it'll be fine," said Brian. "Besides, he'll make a good watchdog and having a dog will make things seem more like home."
"I guess," conceded Steve, not sure if he really believed that a dog who had attacked them moments earlier could really be seen as a good pet.
"Look," said Brian, perceiving Steve's doubt, "I know killing a dog wouldn't mean much to you, but I'm still trying to live the Oath and the Law, or have you forgotten?"
"Forgotten? Nope. Still remember; 'doesn't hurt harmless things without reason'. Last time I checked, gun-toting maniacs weren't harmless, and neither are wild dogs".
"Wild? Hardly, he's got a name tag and a collar. He can't have been on his own for too long, and I'm planning to keep him."
"Fine. What's his name?"
"His name tag says it's Eureka."
"Okay Archimedes, why don't you go find some dog food and let's get out of here."
Brian turned on his heel and headed deep into the grocery section and came back carrying two cases of dog food. Lou accompanied him, bringing back a case of treats, some flea powder and a whole bag full of dog toys. Seeing the dog toys reminded Mark of all the kids back in the cabins.
"Hey, as long as we're getting dog toys, why don't we grab a few things for the kids too?" he asked.
The others agreed and they managed to fit a few toys in as they completed their shopping list. All told, their take at Meijer's was pretty good. They managed to find plenty of spare bedding for everyone, almost all of their shopping list and more diapers than they knew what to do with. After getting the toys for the kids, they realized they still had quite a bit of space on the trailer. After a few minutes of discussion, they decided the best thing to do was to try and acquire some additional clothing. Many of the visitors to the reunion had been wearing the same clothes since they'd arrived almost two weeks earlier. They weren't sure on sizes, so they grabbed an entire rack of ladies' jeans and another of sweaters and tops. They also grabbed some menswear, although the needs there weren't as critical. Almost as an afterthought, they collected about twenty pairs of assorted sizes of boots, the entire rack of gloves and mittens and a bunch of winter hats. By the time they were done with their efforts, it was after 4:00 P.M., and the shadows were getting long. They spent about ten minutes securing everything to the trailer as best they could, then they pulled slowly out of the parking lot and headed south on M-24.
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