Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Part Two of Three

Thank you everyone for the rave reviews on part one of three! I really didn't expect such crazed feedback, so without further delay here is part two of three of my real-life apocalyptic writing prompt response:

We arrived at the lone Shell gas station in our little town we called home off the interstate. I personally would've expected many people looting the fuel at the gas station but, as quiet as our little town was I'm sure many knew what were going on or were at work in a nearby larger town. Obviously the workers there had closed up shop, no employee cars were seen, the lights inside were off and there were temporary chain and pole gates across both drives.

I eased to a stop behind Brandon as he pulled up to the chain. I watched him intently as he grabbed something out of the back of his truck. I couldn't see what he was doing from my angle, but I knew instantly when I saw the big chain go limp. He tossed the bolt cutters back into his truck and pulled forward until he was rounded to the next driveway. Brandon signaled me to pull up to a pump, where he met me there on foot.

“Okay, as you know these pumps have to be manually authorized from inside, event when activated with a credit card. I'm going to break us in and while I'm getting the fuel tank down the road I need you to figure out how to authorize the pumps,” said Brandon.

I nodded and stood back as he swung a crowbar into the glass door, surprisingly no alarms sounded, he reached in and unlocked the door. I jumped the counter and began looking at the machines and computer screen before me. I looked above the counter headway and saw a key, one that I figured went into the pump machine. As I put my hand on the counter top to pull myself up, I felt paper brush my fingers. I quickly knelt down and shined my phone light under the counter. BINGO! Directions on authorizing the pumps manually were written on paper and taped under the counter, which I'm sure were meant for new employees, not thieves.

I heard footsteps across the broken glass and peaked up to see it was Brandon, “Here take this” he said as he set a 1911 .40 on the counter. This made my heart race even though I knew there wasn't much need to worry. I nodded and cocked back the gun and stuck it in the back band of my jeans. I saw that Brandon was carrying a pistol himself, as he half-turned and said,” I'll be back, don't worry.”

I stood and watched him cut the other chain and pull out of the gas station. When I couldn't see him any farther I busied myself again, this time following the instructions under the counter until all the pump lights were illuminating green. I ran outside and fueled up my truck and the two gas cans I found in the back. I also grabbed a few of the unused shopping bags and went inside the gas station and began filling them with all the bottles of water, juice and various food items and things like batteries, I even grabbed a dozen or so cigarette packs for Brandon. I knew that if this situation really got difficult, he'd eventually have to quit but it'd be best if he did it slowly during such a stressful time.

It felt like forever that Brandon had been gone, I tried sending a text message, “U okay?” but it wouldn't go through despite having full service.

Minutes after loading the bags into my truck, I saw Brandon coming down the road. I ran back inside the gas station and reauthorized a pump. He had a large farm fuel tank on the back of the trailer. My question of “how in the world did he get that on there” was answered as I saw the come-along still wenched to the front of the trailer. I went back outside and met Brandon with a hug and kiss.

“I'm glad you came back, any longer and I would've began to worry. Cell service is sketchy. I couldn't get a text to go through.”

“I know I tried texting to see if you were still alright.”

“Me too.”

“Let's get this baby filled up.”

I grabbed the nozzle from pump four as Brandon climbed atop the trailer and the tank and unscrewed the lid. I handed him the nozzle and we watched as it slowly began to fill up.

“What about if I authorize pump three and we use two at the same time.”

“Good idea honey, check to see if it will reach.”

I grabbed the nozzle from pump three and handed it to Brandon, in which it did in fact reach to the tank hole. I ran inside the gas station, jumping back over the counter and authorized pump three. I gave him the thumbs up and checked the computer as pump three's count-up began. I stopped for a moment and stared at the register. It was shut but it had a key hole for a manual unlock. I felt terrible for thinking what I was thinking, and I knew we had plenty off money to get by on, but if certain things like internet and phone lines go down what good are ATM cards?

I looked through the counter window at the ATM, it wasn't lit up green like normal. What if the internet in places was already down, I knew it was on the east coast.

I looked at the door behind the counter. It was a heavy door with a silver deadbolt holding it shut. I tried the handle but it was locked. Without really thinking and losing all sense of morality I began running my fingers along every ledge, looking for a key, there had to be a spare somewhere for the manager. I opened the file cabinet but it was empty except for a few blank employment applications. I pulled open the one drawer under the counter.

“Ha!” I said aloud. This was a small town and break-ins were unheard of. The large, heavy key was laying there just waiting for someone to find it, for us to find it, for thieves. My conscience rolled inside me but I fought back down what I was feeling.

“Better us than someone else” I reasoned with myself out loud. I pushed the key into the lock and turned it with a satisfying “clank”. I turned the door handle and pushed open the door. The room was small with another door leading outside with EXIT written above it. There was a card table with chairs, a microwave and some cleaning supplies on the shelf, but what I was after was the safe set into the far wall of the room. It had a keyed entry and a keypad, I knew from mine at home that either would work, both were not required to open it.

I rushed back through to the counter and shined my phone light back underneath the counter where I found 0601 scratched into the wood. I ran back to the safe and dialed in 0601 ENTER. The safe made a beep as the light turned green and with a click, it popped open. Inside were a couple stacks of cash and two different keys. I grabbed it all, shoving the cash in a trash bag I grabbed from the supply shelf. Shutting the big door behind me I tried first one key on the register with no success. I then tried the second key and it turned with ease as I pulled open the register drawer.
Inside wasn't much a couple hundreds, twenties,tens, fives and ones. No coins were inside except for 3 pennies. I grabbed the cash and added it to my stash in the bag. As I turned to crawl back over the counter, I remembered something from watching cashiers at the store. I lifted up the cash drawer, no money was under it but there was a small gold key. Not knowing what else it could possibly belong to, I took it anyways.

I climbed over the counter and walked to the ATM, I tried the first silver key that didn't work on the register. I heard something click, but nothing opened. I pulled on the front of the ATM where the keyhole was and it popped off. Inside was two large stacks of twenty and ten dollar bills. I pushed on the latch and the black plastic grid cover popped open. I emptied the money into my trash bag. M conscience complained at me but I kept ignoring it.

I grabbed some newspapers off the rack beside the ATM and shoved them into the trash bag. If we ran into trouble they'd assume at a glance it was an actual bag of trash. Enjoying my own creativity I grabbed a soda from one of the coolers, chugged it and tossed it in the trash bag. I grabbed a Three Musketeers bar and opened it as I strolled to the back of the gas station towards the restrooms. Its crazy how easy it was to throw away one's humanity. But I had done it, more so than Brandon putting a couple hundred dollars worth of fuel into a tank, I had actually adopted a mindset of a criminal as I had let myself into anything I could find in the gas station. I'm sure if it was this easy for me, it was even easier for actual criminals.

I walked into the ladies restroom. I took all the keys out of my front pocket and put them in the toilet tank. I kept the gold key and put the toilet tank lid back on. I half-laughed at myself, why on earth did I put the keys in the tank? Was I reaching a new form of crazy. No, simply put, it was a way to cope with my conscience, one I cannot explain. I used the restroom and even washed my hands. We weren't that hard spent yet, I could still enjoy running water and clean hands couldn't I?

I left the restroom and noticed at the far end of the hallway was a large first aid kit. It had a key hole with a lock that kept it anchored to the wall. I smiled. I fished out the gold key from my pocket and reached on my tiptoes as I unlocked the kit from the wall. I put the kit into my trash bag.

Making my way out of the gas station I stopped at the coolers, grabbed a bottle of water, opened it and put the gold key inside. I put the lid of the water back on and put the water back inside the front of the cooler.

Weaving around the various isles to exit the place I noticed Brandon wasn't on top of the fuel tank anymore. He must have finally filled it up. As soon as I went to step carefully through the broken glass, I noticed a beat up truck parked outside.

Panic welled inside me. That wasn't there before and it wasn't one I recognized from around town. I crept through the glass and shifted the trash bag to my left hand as I grabbed the pistol from my pants with my right. I inched up beside my truck as I heard a voice.

“Give me the keys man, I don't want to hurt you or your girl inside, I just want what you have.”

“You're not going to hurt anyone, fill up your truck and leave.”

“No, I'm taking yours, look I don't want to shoot you man.”

My heart was pounding in my ears. I quietly slid the trash under my truck behind the wheel and put both hands on my pistol. I peeked around the right side of my truck and saw nothing. The wind had picked up and it had become hard to hear what the man was saying. I looked over to the truck and saw that there was no one else with him. I moved back to the middle and laid down flat to look under neath. There were two sets of feet, one pair was Brandon's in his boots, the other were dirty khakis with blackened white tennis shoes.

While I couldn't distinguish the words of their conversation I could tell the man in the khakis was becoming more aggressive by the moment as he raised his voice with each threat. I crept around the left hand side of the front of my truck. Brandon was facing me, I knew he saw me pop up, but he never showed it in his eyes.

“I'll kill her first! Give me the damn keys!” I felt my heart throb in my ears again, I wasn't sure if he had seen me or heard me.

“She has the keys, she's using the bathroom inside.”

“Oh yea, well what's taking her so long then?”

“She's nine months pregnant.” Brandon was lying for obvious reasons but I wasn't sure of his intent.

“Well then lets go pay her a visit.” I saw the man push the gun to Brandon's neck to walk him past my truck. I quietly scuttled back and underneath my truck on my belly. I scooted to the right as they walked past. I scooted out on the other side of my truck where they had been standing. I stood up and peeked over the hood as I watched them walk towards the gas station. I noticed the man was rough and looked like he had been working cleaning chimneys. I also took note he had Brandon's pistol... That's odd, now how on earth did he disarm him?

I didn't have time for questions though, so I knelt down, took a deep breath and kicked myself in gear. I stood up and took every single footstep with careful stride as I neared behind them. If the man had any sense of his whereabouts he would've noticed my reflection in the large glass windows of the gas station. Brandon saw me and pointed his finger straight down. I knew he was going to kneel or duck and then would be my chance.

I was a former fighter in MMA, small town league never anything big, I was good, I left undefeated but it had been a long time since I trained and I wasn't sure I had the strength to contain the man, but if I could hold him long enough for Brandon to assist me we'd be in business.

As they neared the door, the man said,” Alright sweetheart, come on out, I've got your man here with a gun to his head, I just want the truck keys.” In that moment I saw Brandon's outstretched finger ball up into a fist and I knew it was my time to strike.

Brandon ducked out of the man's hold as I tackled him from behind putting him into a headlock, causing him to drop his pistol. My strength failed me as I knew it would and despite my arms locked around the man's head he turned the pistol back around his face pointing it directly towards my face.

“There she is, that doesn't much feel like a nine month belly on me-”

WHAM! Brandon punched the side of the man's head making him squeeze the trigger. My pistol fired and I felt my body falling, the world went black as I felt the concrete make contact with the back of my head.

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