Before and After

In the middle of the third floor, an explosion went off.  Once the smoke cleared, 4 bodies covered from head to toe in black moved into the room from the entrance made by the explosion.  Quickly, they opened up their duffel bags, shoved stacks and stacks of cash in them, as well as rare jewelry.  They were out as quickly as they were in, repelling down the opposite side of the building on the second floor.  Once they reached the ground, they sprinted down an alleyway, jumping over old fences, crawling underneath old barbed wire.

The further they got into the maze of the alleyways, the more they lost their way.  The turn they should have made was 3 blocks that way and two blocks this way.  They stopped and huddled up, pulling off their ski masks.

“Y’all, I ain’t here naan cop car, though,” one of them said, dropping their duffel onto the ground.

“Right?  Something ain’t right,” another said, scratching the back of their neck.

The one closest to the street peeked around the corner. There were no cars on this street, most of the buildings boarded up and dark.

“Where the fuck are we?” they whispered to their self.

“Maybe we should back up?  Retrace our steps, you know?” The fourth one said, looking down the alleyway.  The one closest to the street came back to the group.

“We need to get the fuck outta here.  There is not ONE car out there.”

They all shuddered when a soft groan that sounded louder than any police siren echoed through the alleyway.  They slowly turned their heads toward the entrance to the street.  A slowly moving woman stumbled in their direction, her head low, her knees scraped, her shins bloodied, her left arm from the elbow down missing.

The four bank robbers couldn’t breath.  The woman made their way towards them, 3 more people just like her, bloodied, broke and missing body parts, following behind her.

“RUN!” one of them screamed, grabbing their duffel bag and taking off back the way they came.  The other three followed, grabbing their own bags.  They climbed back over fences, letting out screams as more of those people sprung out from the street, the buildings, that lined the alleys.

They came out on the street they were supposed to, the van within view.  Their legs moved as quickly as their hearts, the sprint to the van feeling like a 5K marathon.  They opened the back doors of the van.  They jumped back when one of those people screeched and lunged out at them, falling on the concrete.  One of the four kicked it in its face to stop the noise it emitted.  Two slowly went towards the front, each opening the door on each side.  The driver was good and dead, his neck missing a large chunk of flesh.

There was a loud hissed, followed by several groans.  The bank robbers, pushed the driver’s body out the car, not sure if they would decide to get back up again.  They closed and locked each and every door.  The van starting up, made the tens of undead surrounding them hiss and growl and pick up speed.  The slow shuffle turned into a clumsy jog.

The van drove off, the four stared at the road, at nothing.  They drove for miles and miles, now catching up to where the epidemic had moved to.  Real, living people were running towards cars, buses, carrying their own duffel bags, but only whatever part of their lives that mattered.

How the four missed the warnings the day of their heist 5 years ago, no one knows.

Their van turned into horses after they made it to the Flatlands, which was nothing but cornfields.  They managed to group up with a small band of old farmers who offered room and board for protection.  For 5 years, the four ran around on horseback, carrying shotguns on their backs, keeping those pasty, pale people away from the old people.  IN those 5 years, more people would show up, only to leave when they saw it was just old people here.

One would stay behind when the other three on patrol would radio ahead about a convoy or band of travelers.  The one would stay in the barn with a homemade sniper rifle, scoping out the people who would come up the drive.

“4-5 people, young adults, no older than 25,” they said into their radio.

“East Coast is on the way back.”

“North Side is on the way, too.”

South Side was listening, eyes on the many mile of cornfield blowing in the breeze.  This wasn’t supposed to happen.  $10 million dollars, just sitting in that old van in the barn, was useless now.  They were supposed to be planning another bank heist, but instead–

“HELP, PLEASE!”

The tall, untamed cornfield started to move against the wind in one area.

“East Coast and North Side, found a straggler.  Keep toward the farm.  West Coast, run interference, keep their voices within range.  I’m still jumpy after that bandit group tried it.”

“Heard.”

South Side watched as a white woman fell out on the road a few yards down.  They pulled out their shotgun, slowly moving the horse toward her.  Three undead who looked just like her followed out behind her, groaning.  The woman let out a shrill scream when one of the dead’s heads came apart from the shotgun spray.  The other two turned toward South Side, their slow jog picking up speed.  South Sides shot one in the face, reloaded, and shot the other one right in the dome as it tried to reach out to grab their leg.

The white woman sobbed and slowly got up, walking over to them.

“Oh my god… Oh my god, thank you so–”

The barrel of the shotgun moved toward her face.

“Walk in front of me,” South Side said.  The woman stared at South Side but did as she was told.

West Coast made sure they came off as farm hand help and not actual protection of these old people.  They nodded to the group of white people who showed up on the property.

Ms. Jenkins, the last elder from the original 3 that were here when the former bank robbers arrived, was talking to them, relaxing a bit when West Coast walked up.

“Now, I’m sorry, but we ain’t see naan little girl here.”

“But if we could just check and look around this area!  It’ll give us a chance to rest and–”

The leader of the group hesitated when North Side and East Coast rode up in their horses, their eyes a different cold and calculated from their bank robbing days.

Miss Jenkins snapped her fingers at the leader.

“Rest and what?”  Ain’t none of them ugly things around here.  You can get to gettin’ and rest right down the road, now!”  she fussed.

“Please, she’s my daughter!” one of them said, bursting into tears.  Miss Jenkins looked up at her three saviors.

“You can wait right here,” West Coast said, smiling.

“Sure.  What does your daughter look like?” North Side asked.

The group hesitated too long.  Miss Jenkins didn’t notice.

“S-She’s blonde and has–”

“Green eyes!” the one who was sobbing before now dry-eyed.

South Side looked at the woman in front of him.  Brunette.  Eye color didn’t matter at this point.

“Hold them there,” South Side said.  “Get Miss Jenkins inside.”

“Miss Jenkins, why don’t you go ahead and start on lunch?  Ain’t you say you was gonna make us lunch today?” West Coast asked, gently squeezing her hand, staring at her with urgency.

Miss Jenkins smiled and squeezed back.

“Of course, baby.  C’mon inside when y’all are done.”  She shuffled her way back into the house.  West Coast, East Coast and North Side smiled at the group of 5, beckoning them to follow them to the barn.

“It’s a lot warmer inside.  You know how these Northern springs can be, right?  Anyway, if your little girl comes this way, it’ll be easier to spot her from the barn.  Higher up and it’s a two-story, verses a ranch home, ya know?”

North Side and East Coast followed them on horseback, grinning when one of them would look back nervously.  As West Coast opened the barn doors, North Side and East Coast got off their horses.  West Coast let the group in, looking up to see South Side walking down the road with the decoy in front.

“Beautiful,” West Coast sighed, closing the door.

North Side and East Coast drew their shotguns on the group.

“W-W-WAIT!” The leader said.

W-W-WAAAAAIIIIT,” East Coast mocked.  “Shut your bitch ass up!” They yelled, hitting them in the stomach with the butt of the shotgun.  The one with the crocodile tears started to cry again, North Side coming up to her and headbutting her.  She yelled out and fell to her knees, holding her head.

“Hand over your pistols,” West Coast said, crossing their arms.  One of the 5 went around, grabbing three guns and handing to them West Coast, who proceeded to pistol whip them in face.

“Why are y’all here?”

The group was silent.  West Coast sighed once more.

“Look, y’all, today isn’t the day for this.”

“We are looking for our friend!” crocodile tears cried out.

“Oh, I thought it was y’all’s daughter.  Okay,” North Side said, nodding.

The group hung their heads down in shame.

“Y’all got about 30 seconds to tell me what’s going on, or I’m gonna start shootin’ y’all,” West Coast said, looking at the group with boredom.   The group looked at each other and then at the barn door when it opened.  The brunette stepped in followed by South Side.  The group didn’t move with any type of urgency.

“Oh,” South Side said, before shooting the brunette in the back.  The group screamed in horror as the brunette’s body was practically in half, twitching on the barn floor.

“So y’all really not gonna call out a name for this girl?  Y’all just let her die like that?”

“THAT WASN’T 30 SECONDS!”

East Coast took one of the pistols from West Coast and popped the one screaming at them about the time in the shoulder.

“If that person meant ANYTHING to you, y’all would have spoken the fuck up.  And that was 30 seconds.  Next time one of them asks that question and you don’t answer, I’m popping you again.”

“Why are y’all here?” West Coast asked once more.  The group stammered.

“Jesus fuckin’–” East Coast groaned, letting off a round in the head of the one they shot in the shoulder.

“WE WERE TOLD TO GET SUPPLIES FROM THIS PLACE.  RAMONA SAID THIS PLACE WAS FULL OF FOOD.  WE WERE TO SCOUT AND GET SUPPLIES.”  The one in the back piped up.

“Who is that?”

“Ramona’s compound is 50 miles to the east in the high school.  She said this place would be good for her people.”

The four former bank robbers looked at each other.

“You can go,” South Side said, opening the barn door to a smidgen.

They stumbled, quickly getting up and running out the door.

The other two were about to get up as well, but quickly sat back down when East and West Coast pointed guns at them.

“Tell us more about Ramona or you’ll die, too.”

The one who was granted freedom didn’t look back when two shots rang out.  Didn’t look back when they got in their car.  Didn’t go back to Ramona’s compound.  They drove for miles in other direction, away from the bloodshed about to happen.

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