I woke up early to get a head start at looking for the butcher. There was something strange in the difference between the two days. The day we met him at the bridge with his brother, he seemed like he didn’t give a rat’s ass what we were doing, or how mad he made us. The next day however it seemed like everything was rehearsed. I hoped I was wrong, but when the butcher showed up I saw several inconspicuous cars pull around the neighborhood. I saw both men and women get out of the cars and get into spots around the area that would allow them to blend in. Problem was, I was expecting this and knew what they were up to and I had planned for it. I had paid a homeless man to sleep on the bench close to the meeting place with a recorder so I could hear what was going on there after everyone left. The homeless man didn’t stir, and acted like he was asleep during the entire conversation that happened between the butcher, and a guy in a suit and a briefcase.
The man left the butcher to stand on the corner alone, waiting for me to show up. After 15 minutes, he started talking to himself. He stomped his foot, and kept waiting for another 15 minutes. He then started yelling, and I could almost make out what he was saying. He stomped his foot again and hit himself in the leg. Another 15 minutes came by, and he started yelling again, but this time walking towards the man with the suitcase. I wanted to move closer so I could hear him, but I was fearful that it would attract unwanted attention so I waited. The man in the suitcase held up his hand as if telling the butcher to stop but the butcher kept approaching him. When he failed to stop, the man with the suitcase put his hand in his suit jacket and pulled out a taser. He fired the taser at the butcher, and he went down twitching. A few of the undercover people came over and picked the butcher up after he stopped twitching and hauled him into the nearest car. They drove off, and the man in the suit raised his cuff to his sleeve and started to speak.
I looked around for the other undercover people and saw them all cock their head to the left, listening to what he was saying. They all gradually walked to their cars, got in them and drove away. The only one left was the man in the suit and another man in shorts and a t-shirt. They spoke to one another, and turned around getting into the car. I stayed hidden for about an hour before I walked towards the sleeping man on the bench. When I stood above him, I swatted him with a newspaper, as I instructed him I would do, and he ‘awoke’ with a start. I saw him drop something between the bench slits and muttered something under his breath while winking at me, and he hobbled away drunkenly.
I sat down on the bench with my newspaper and opened it up to hide my face. I used my foot to scoot the recorder towards the road. Susan came jogging down the road with one shoe’s lace slightly loosened. As she jogged up to the bench, I put the newspaper in my lap and stood up saying “Miss, your shoe string is coming untied. I wouldn’t want to have to take you to the ER for tripping in front of a car or anything.” She jogged in place for a couple more seconds feeling her heart beat, and when satisfied, she bent over and tied her shoe. In case anyone was looking, I bent my head towards her rear as if checking out her tight yoga pants and smirked. When she raised back up, the recorder was gone and her shoe was tied. She nodded in thanks and continued to jog. I walked back to the apartment whistling a tune, striding like I did this every morning. Knowing the people that was looking for us had no idea what the normal routine is around this neighborhood, we had to play this part for a couple weeks, in case they came back.
When I got back to the apartment I walked in to see Jasmine scrubbing the floors with a brush and a bucket.
“Didn’t we rent a shampooer for this?” I said laughing at her look. “I mean, I definitely dig the domestic look on you, but the shampooer could definitely make this go faster” I continued.
“Shut up or I’ll make you do this. The smell didn’t go away when I used the shampooer, so I made my own cleaning supply that my mom always made. She swore it would take out any smell possible. It’s made up of vinegar, laundry detergent and baking soda. She used it more than anything you could buy at the store.” she said. “It takes a lot of work to get out all these stains, but I can’t stand a filthy house.”
Out of spite I said, “Good thing we’re in an apartment!”
She threw the cleaning brush at me, and I dodged laughing. She picked up the bucket and acted like she was going to throw it on me when Susan walked in.
“Whoa sorry, am I interrupting something?” she said raising an eyebrow. “I mean if you guys want a bubble fight I want in! The girls versus the boys, what do you say Jasmine?”
Jasmine laughed and put the bucket down. “If I hadn’t run out of vinegar making this, I’d be game, but I have to use this on the entire floor.” They both laughed and went to the kitchen.
“And Jacob, don’t think I didn’t see you looking at my ass when I picked up the recorder!” Susan yelled from the kitchen.
“Hey! I was just doing my part to make it look real! If they were watching, they’d have been looking at your ass too!” I said laughing, and ducked as I saw a wash rag come flying at me.
I grabbed the recorder from my sock when raising back up. “By the way, why’d you put this in my sock?” I hollered into the kitchen.
“It’d look too obvious in yoga pants, I had to make an executive decision and put it in your pants.” she said, and instantly blushed.
“I’d say something, but you’re already embarrassed by what you said.” I laughed, and Jasmine joined in with me laughing. “Emanuel would have loved this place. The location, the way we foresaw the people that are after us.” I added, sobering up.
We all looked down in silent prayer and when I glanced up I saw the other two looking at me. “We already grieved for him in our own way. We need to move on knowing he doesn’t have to face his demon anymore” Jasmine said.
I nodded, and lifted the recorder into the air. “Shall we have a listen?” The girls nodded, and I found the play button.
There was several minutes of rustling while the homeless man tested the buttons to know what he was pressing, and from the sound of it, he was making sure it didn’t make any sounds. Finally he said, “Here they come, I’m going to sleep”
You could hear footsteps on coming from the recorder, and then a man’s voice came through. “They better show up Charlie, otherwise your wife and kids are going to be mourning you by noon.”
The butcher’s voice came through next and said, “He said he’d be here, he will. He’s got nothing to lose, and they have to eat.”
Man: You could have warned them somehow, we got one of them back in Indianapolis, but from the looks of the house there was at least 2 or 3 of them, maybe more.
Butcher: Don’t worry man. They’ll come.
Footsteps were heard walking away from the homeless man.
Butcher: These guys better show up…how dare this fucker threaten me and my family like this. I mean hell; I’m only doing what any person would do to protect his family! How does that make me a zombie activist? Look at me…I’m talking to myself here.
There was just the rustling of wind for a few minutes when I decided to fast forward through to the next bit of conversation.
Butcher: He’s coming, he has to! No…No….I said no! We can wait a little longer, maybe he had to run somewhere. He and his friends just arrived in town, so they may be out sightseeing or something. Fine….just wait for a while longer, that’s all I’m asking.
I fast forwarded when I didn’t hear anything for a few seconds and pressed play when I heard someone say something again.
Butcher: He has to come! I didn’t tell him anything I swear! He’ll come, maybe he got lost or something! Okay okay, 15 more minutes. Maybe they forgot I was going to deliver it and they are waiting for me at the shop!
Butcher: You better show up you mother fuckers. My family is waiting for us to get out of town tonight. I just want to see my family get to safety.
We could hear crying and then he said, “God please help me, just let me get through this so I can see my family one last time.”
Butcher: NO….NO HE IS GOING TO COME! I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU IF YOU TOUCH ONE HAIR ON HER HEAD!
The yelling ended abruptly and the man’s voice came back through, “Someone get rid of this guy, take him to the shop and make it look like an accident.” he said.
After a few seconds of silence he spoke again, “Yes yes, the meat grinder is fine but make sure you change his clothes into his regular shop clothes, and clean up the entry points from the taser, we can’t leave any clues to make the cops thing otherwise.”
“Everyone else spread out and keep a look out. If you see anyone that looks like they may have the virus, talk to them and use your testers. If positive take them out. If they’re good, give them the story we talked about.”
Two sets of footsteps could be heard walking toward the recorder. A different voice came through saying, “You know the butcher was probably telling the truth. He probably didn’t say shit to them; they are smarter than we think they are.”
The man in the suit said, “Yeah, I think we’re going to have to think beyond the typical crazy. These guys are organized and smart. I hate to say this, but we may have better luck searching the crazies first then come back for them when they’re desperate enough to fuck up.”
The guy, who I assumed was in the shorts and t-shirt, said “I agree. Give the command if they aren’t at the shop. Get rid of the butcher’s family too, he may have said something to them. That includes his brother. That one may be a little trickier. We should probably go ahead and spike his food with the growth hormone. He hates these fuckers almost as much as I do and he doesn’t know much about them. He’ll be crazed in a couple weeks, and we can put him out then.”
“Got it” the man in the suit said. The car doors opened and shut and the car drove away.
I shut off the recorder and shook my head. “I feel bad for the butcher. He lost his family and his life because of us. We should be grateful for him, but I can’t help but feel guilty.” I said.
The other girls nodded, but only Susan was crying. I looked at Jasmine and asked her if she’s okay.
“These guys were the ones at my house.” she said angrily.
I could see she was shaking, and wondered if she would calm down if she ate. I needed to find us something, and I needed to find it fast.
“I’m going out to find us something to eat. I’ll be back before dark.” I said, and didn’t wait for a response. I walked out the door, got in the car, and went to the first place I could think of, the butcher shop. Pulling up to the shop, I seen no one was in there, but someone had just left because the closed sign was still swinging. I parked a few blocks away and took the alley opposite of the butcher shop to get to the side door.
I pulled on the door and it opened a little but stopped. I looked at the top of the door and found a padlock. They had broken the door jam and had to find a quick fix, something that would look like the butcher may have done as a quick fix. I glanced around and found a cinder block holding up one side of a dumpster.
I pushed the dumpster off of the cinder block, and lifted the block to the pad lock. I aimed it at the lock and struck it as hard as I could. The cinder block chipped away but didn’t break the lock. I struck the lock a couple more times before the lock finally broke. I walked into the shop and went straight to the freezer. When I opened it up, I knew I found what I was looking for. The aroma of the human flesh hit me and I felt the urge creeping up on me. I quickly found the meat and took several large bites of the meat. I ate until I felt completely full, and ate some more, remembering what Jasmine has said about the false fullness.
I stopped eating when my stomach was hard to the touch. I called a local hardware store and asked them to deliver the largest freezer they had to our apartment. On the way back to the apartment I stopped by the hardware store and paid for the freezer. They followed me to the apartment and hooked up the freezer.
The installers finished up around dark and we soon went to the car to gather our food. We cut up some meat for Jasmine and Susan, and put the rest in the freezer. We stored 3 full bodies in the freezer, along with the remainder of the one they were eating. When the girls finished up, we all discussed going to San Francisco to meet up with the papers guy for our new IDs.
We were all lying down to go to sleep until we heard the growling outside our door.