Zombies (Part 1)

By , Western, CA
The sky hung heavy with clouds of a deep black shade as the airplane tore through the afternoon. The deepening colors gave a hardly-inconspicuous warning of a forth coming storm. Blake peered through the double-layered window with a mingle of dread and mild curiosity as the wind howled about the wings of the plane. As always, under circumstances of pressure, he cast his mind back to his house outside of Houston where his wife, Marissa, and his child, Lauren (though fondly called Laury) would be awaiting his return. It was only for them that he had made this trip to Seattle. The need and pressing drive to support them comfortably had led him into calling investors who could potentially have interest in throwing money towards opening another one of his deli’s. His father, Jake McFadden had always advised him that the only way to turn speculative interest into money was through face to face confrontations.

Rain had begun to lash against the windows as the wheels of the plane struck the ground. Water that had begun to puddle was sent up in sprays as the brakes struggled to find purchase on the wet landing strip. Lights flickered faintly in the distance marking where parts of the Seattle-Tacoma Airport stood in a grey haze. Blake disembarked and trod through the silver building to collect the remainder of his luggage, his gait marked with fatigue. Lightning sprang up once followed by a roar of thunder and rain continued its unabated torrent. The weather was about as far from that of Houston as possibly. Blake had experienced storms such as this as he grew up in his childhood house in Illinois, but long years in Houston had replaced these with a dry heat and a hard, arid ground.

An underpass provided some semblance of cover from the downpour as he waited for a taxi to ferry him to where he would be staying. A peeling suit case set on wheels stood by his side, the only other thing besides the backpack that had served as his carryon. Headlights came into sight, each beam setting fire to the individual rain drops. A white male, whose hairless head shone in the faint light of the interior dashboard, gave him a short greeting. His luggage was stowed away in the rear of the car and he set himself in the backseat, the rumble of the storm lessened as the door sealed the car. He wiped his glasses off carefully and returned them to his eyes. His hair, a muddy brown, hung limply on his forehead.

It was not a lengthy trip, made even less so by a discernible lack of traffic. The streets had taken on a film of water that made navigating the streets a challenge. Around them, tall buildings began to loom up, their lights the only way to see where the building ended and the sky began. Night had truly fallen and Blake, which he thought stupid, began to wonder if his Laury was in bed yet. It had always been him with the honor of reading her a story from the vast oak shelf of books that stood beside her bed. A bed without bars which Laury had graduated to at the age of two, four years ago. After he had finished the last sentence and closed the book, ready to set it back in its place, her quiet voice would plead him for another, or the same if it had been captivating enough. And of course he would, he would never let her down…

“That’ll be $35.” The driver had turned himself around and was gazing intently at Blake, money in his eyes.

“The meter says $30 only-” Blake began.

“It’s broken,” the driver hurriedly assured him. “It doesn’t calculate all the miles.”

With a shrug, Blake fished about in his jeans pocket for his wallet and from it pulled bills enough to satisfy the driver. In his reverie, he had not taken notice of where they were and had not even noticed the destination had been reached. The hotel he had been staying at appeared even more dingy then the pictures had led onto. His deli had been floundering, outmuscled by competitors whose names were well known, and his funds were nearing their end so he had not the money to rent a room at a high class hotel, but this was a disgrace.

The ground floor was barely heated, the air of the interior nearing the temperature of the storm-chilled air outside. There were few furnishings in the lounge. Two single couches were the only furniture for patrons and only one receptionist was seen working. The huffy and overlarge woman checked his reservation with a cursory glance and handed him the key for his room. He was left to fend for his own from then on and carried his own luggage into the only visible elevator.

His room mirrored the lounge in its Spartan-like appearance. There was a couch yellowed with age that stood facing a grainy-screened television who sat like a squat box on a rickety table. There was a bathroom which contained the usual accommodations. The main room opened up at the back to a bed and a small balcony that overlooked another brown, featureless building and an alleyway that was marked only by trash strewn about it.
Blake sighed and sat on the edge of the couch, head in hands. This was what he deserved for owning a failing deli, he supposed, and for what he was putting his family through. Foreclosure loomed over his and Marissa’s head and, after Laury had been put to sleep, any façade of happiness could disappear and they would be at each other’s throats with words wrought of hate. Once, he had seen Laury peeking through the staircase, her face painted with confusion and anguish, and this had stopped his arguments with Marissa. For a week at least. Still, he could see the woman he had married beneath the anger sometimes. She would sing to Laury when she thought the two of them were alone, and Blake would smile, memories of their wedding being recalled into thought. Marissa had smiled then; her eyes had been alight with liveliness as they stared into the future. She had smiled for him.
With heavy shoulders and feet, he made his way to the bathroom. The warm water of the shower erased the memories from his mind and the oppressive dread from his stomach. Perhaps his words, which would be stern and not pitiful, would procure support from one of those men whose pockets were undoubtedly limitless. With an expansion of his store, and of his brand as a whole, it could be possible for him to reverse his fortunes. This would in turn lead to more interest from other investors, and so on. He just needed one person to give him support right now, and he knew that he could return the favor tenfold in the future. When the shower was shut off, the temporary heat was knocked aside by more cold air and Blake hurriedly dried himself off, leaving the brown hair a tangled mess upon his head.
The television got little other than news channels and so he left one of those on and let a reporter drone on about current events as he fell asleep to thoughts of future success of his deli and of the first date he and his wife had had. She had worn a flattering dress of red and together they had dined on a mix of seafood which conversation thriving amongst the both of them.





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