“Alex is behind this, isn’t she?” I grin. Alex, what a prankster. I knew she wouldn’t let that Christmas thing go. “Where is she?”
John is still stuck in a state of disbelief as he stares at me, dumbstruck. I must have pulled too far from the script and this actor doesn’t know how to recover. I feel bad, maybe I should have just played along from the beginning.
“She’s probably dead,” Claire mutters without turning to face me.
I open my mouth to inform her that, joke or not, that was a very rude thing to say, but John interrupts by slapping his hands on the table and standing.
“Alright,” John slides out of his seat and stands, he takes a step forward and towers over me. “You think this is a big prank? Just some TV show? How about your leg? They couldn’t cause you physical harm without expecting a massive lawsuit.”
“Eh,” I shrug. “Accidents happen. I’m sure you guys didn’t mean to hurt me. Don’t worry, I won’t sue.”
“But, unless you sign a waiver, then we can’t intentionally hurt you, right?” John persists. I nod.
“As far as I know, unless I- AHHH! FUCK!” I yell and jerk my leg back as John stomps on my injured ankle. I slam the coffee cup on the table, pull my knee to my chest and cup my throbbing join with both hands. “Shit, man! Why-? What the-?” I can’t get my words together.
“You’re lucky you only broke a fucking toe and sprained your damn ankle!” John yells, lowering himself my level and staring me in the eye. “While you’ve been living it up in your little cabin, the rest of us have been wading through blood and the bodies of our loved ones to survive this. This isn’t a fucking joke. Those people who were running after you, they were going to kill you, just like they killed Lucy. You would be dead if that man hadn’t been there.” He points at Chase. “You owe Chase your fucking life!”
“Huh?!” Chase says, suddenly snapping out of a daze. “Yeah! I’m… totally paying attention.” His words trail off into a quiet mumble.
John continues to yell in my ace but I’ve stopped listening. Details begin to come to the front of my mind that I overlooked the previous day. I barely glanced at the produce section, but come to think of it, those veggies might have been rotten. Would I know the difference between a good veggie and a rotten one? There were flies, I think. I don’t recall any stenches but it’s a big open area and my allergies killed off my sense of smell a decade ago.
Those shelves were pretty bare. I had shrugged it off, didn’t even give it a thought. I thought it was weird there were no cashiers. Is this why my gas hadn’t been delivered? They couldn’t have known when I would come into town, they couldn’t have orchestrated a town-wide evacuation on such short notice just to mess with me.
“This isn’t a joke?” I ask, quietly. My face must be appropriately expressing the shock and horror I’m feeling as I become aware of the silence. John stopped yelling more than a few seconds ago as I ran through the day in my head and has just been watching me process this. “There really are Zombies out there?”
“They’re not Zombies,” Claire corrects me.
“You- you just said there were zombies out there,” I say.
“We said there were mindless cannibals; the infected.” She says.
“I.E. Zombies,” I say.
“In order to be-” Claire begins.
“Claire,” John interjects. Claire rolls her eyes, huffs, and puts on an expression that says ‘fine, I’ll stop, but I want you all to know I am not happy about it.’
John leans against the counter of the kitchenette and looks at me. His eyes have softened.