Claire motions for me to follow her. We move down the aisle and turn into the center lane, sidling up to the corner so we can peek around at the front of the store. I lean over Claire’s shoulder and look out as well. Some dude in a bathrobe casually strolls up to the front door. Claire’s cart is sitting by the front door – she must have seen him pull up.
The guy in the robe walks in and grabs a cart; no sound check, not even a decent visual check. He just strolls in like it’s nineteen-ninety-nine.
Dude must be a survival badass.
“I saw him pull up,” Claire tells me. “I came straight for you.”
“What do we do? Is he armed?”
“I don’t know,” Claire says, a bit exasperated. She shrugs her shoulders at me. “I don’t have x-ray vision. He could have a shotgun under the robe, or something.”
We duck away as the man takes his cart and moves further inside. I hear the cart move off into the distant end of the store and I peek back out toward the front door.
“Run for it?”
“No,” she says quickly. “It’s too far to run from here to the RV, across an empty parking lot. If he sees us, if he is armed, we’re sitting ducks.
She’s right, of course. She’s always right. The parking lot is pretty big. There’s almost a full block from us to the corner where the RV sits, and there is no cover between here and there. Besides, there’s no knowing if he’s the only one here. He might have friends outside.
“So… avoid him? Hope he doesn’t see us and shoot him if he does?”
Claire nods. She signals me to follow again and I do so. I can hear the cart across the store, hear the man whistling a tune as he yanks open doors in the freezer section and lets them slam shut.
Idiot. Dude’s just begging to be attacked.
Claire leads me around behind the deli counter. She very slowly, very quietly, pushes open the swinging door leading to the back room. I follow her in and close the door as quietly as I can.
“He’s being super casual,” Claire says, once the door is closed. She presses her back to the wall below the deli window. “Maybe – maybe this town is safe and he knows it. He came in whistling and went right where he needed to go. He must be familiar the area.”
“Wanna kidnap him?”
Claire frowns at me, giving me a look to let me know she thinks I’m an idiot. I bite my lip and offer her a grin. “Kidding,” I say. I wasn’t, but she just rolls her eyes and accepts it.
“No,” Claire shakes her head and continues with her thought. “But, if we get to John, we can tell him someone’s here. We can corner him, ask him questions, see what he knows. He knows something – no one is that carefree these days, walking through a town.”
“Hello?!” The man in the robe yells. Claire and I quickly duck away from the window and press against the wall. We sit there in silence for a moment.
“Did he hear us?” I mouth at Claire. She shrugs at me, her wide eyes darting between the window above her head and the door off to the side. I can feel my heart beating like it’s trying to abandon me and escape the situation.
Several minutes pass before I lean up to peek out the window. I can see the man with his cart heading for the front door. If he heard us, he didn’t care enough to search for us. The front door slides open, then closes behind him, and Claire grabs my shirt and yanks me toward the deli room’s door. She keeps low and leads me toward the back of the store. We move in a hurry, but we keep low and follow the outer walls to a set of doors leading into the back warehouse.
“The Police station is a block behind the Store,” Claire says.
“How do you know?”
“The map… John showed us the map of the town before we split up. You didn’t look?”
“I, uh -” I glance at her chest, then down quickly before she notices. “I was distracted.”
“Whatever. I wasn’t. I know it’s there. We can sneak out the back door and go get him. Quickly, before the guy leaves.”
We find the door at the back of the warehouse and exit.