I wasn’t going to post this, ‘cause it sounded so crazy, but my Twitter feed is lighting up with other sightings. And I’m scared, full-stop. I only wrote this after duct-taping dark cloth to all the windows, praying that if I’m quiet enough they’ll go past my house.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
Okay, so the filming, right? Yeah. Last night I had to go to the corner store. It’s dark, getting colder, but if I was gonna make dinner I needed the whole milk for the béchamel. (I had a block of cheddar destined for an old-fashioned macaroni and cheese but the milk I’d bought was sour and I’d been looking forward to it all day too much to make something else.) I plugged into my Shuffle, keeping the volume low enough so that I could hear traffic coming, and headed down the same street I had yesterday towards the store. I walked briskly, ‘cause I was hungry, and soon found myself looking at the same film crew. Filming was only supposed to be for the one day there they all still were, hanging around even more tents and a few new vehicles. And still cordoned off by police officers, three now on that road, and more all around. These guys didn’t even put up a pretense of friendliness. The biggest one gruffly shouted, “Go home,” before I even got close.
Now I was pissed. Two days of this crap, being kept out of my own neighborhood? No. And besides, béchamel. I went half the way back and then turned at the intersection. I was just going to take the next street over, but decided to skip it and head down the lanes that run between houses. The gravel roads on these lanes are only wide enough for one car and usually the trees from people’s back yards crowd overtop. No one would see me coming this way.
I hustled, moon getting brighter and shadows getting darker with every song my Shuffle sang quietly in my ear. I passed the point where I’d been turned away on the street, and hurried now, not even caring that I looked suspicious. Just wanted my milk.
I exited the lane, spying a clutch of cop cars right on the main drag between Lorne and Logan, by the lights. The store is in a strip mall just ahead, and lonely for customers. Not a single car in the parking lot, even though it wasn’t all that late out. Where the hell was everyone? Did they get ring-side seats to an extra day of shooting at the neighborhood’s expense? Whatever.
The regular counter-jockey manning the cash nodded to me as I entered and returned to his Sudoku book. I snapped the pause button on my Shuffle in the middle of a Queen song. I headed to the back, praying they had whole milk, but deciding by then I’d take 2% if I had to. Now it was all about finding the best best-before date, so I started digging. The front door chimes rang out — another customer — just I found what I was looking for. I turned around to head to the cash, hoping to pay and get out just as quickly.
Two new customers, not just one. And not from around here, either. Both looked ashen under the fluorescent lights, and one looked like he’d just gotten out of a really nasty bar fight. Full of bruises and even blood, along his throat and across his jacket. He stumbled, led by the first guy, who marched right over to the counter and started shouting out on a bunch of questions: Did they have any first aid gear in the store, any at all? They’d take it all. The crew would pay for it. Where was it? Disinfectant? Pills? What do you have?
Meanwhile his buddy just groaned, sick and low, like he was going to throw up right there in the middle of the store.
I edged back towards the racks of chips on the far side of the store. Counter-jockey curled his lip, but put on the I-deal-with-drunk-customers-all-the-time face. He made eye contact with me, though, and I nodded back, knowing what that meant. I followed the edge of the shop’s walls, past the chips, then the magazines, and behind the rows of instant coffee. I could just see the guy behind the counter, voice rising with a apprehension while the guy — he must have been from the film crew — started talking so fast the words just blended into one nonsensical sound.
I snapped my Shuffle back on, and Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” blared back on to drown him out.
And his buddy?
His buddy saw me slip out the front door, trying to open it as shallowly as I could so that it wouldn’t ring any of the chimes. But it did, of course, and I froze on the threshold, 1L carton of milk still in my hand. There was more blood on him than I thought, and I wondered if it was his, ‘cause he was so pale. He curled his lips back, gums grey. This time he did vomit, though it wasn’t bile.
Then there was screaming, so loud I could hear it over Freddie Mercury singing the chorus.
I let the shop door fly open, chimes jangling behind me, and I high-tailed it back to the lane. I pulled out my phone and dialed 911, but no answer, no matter how many times I tried. I gave up, counter-jockey was on his own and god help him and I ran the rest of the way.
When I made it to the top of my street, I stopped long enough to look down and see the tiny mass of film crew and police officers, no bigger than match boxes and stick figures, massing at the intersection. Police car lights were flashing blue and red, and an ambulance squealed in as I watched for a second longer before I sprinted back to the house and locked every door behind me.
I’ve the seen the movies. I know what to do. You lock down. You hide. You wait. I’ve got no radio — who does anymore? — but I’ve got Twitter and Facebook. No guns, though I’d be a lousy shot, I’m sure. No one is answering their land lines. But I can hear them outside, could hear ’em all night. All night.
Maybe it’s just the movie, right? A big prank? Maybe? It’s not even Halloween.
Is anyone out there?
I’ve got mac & cheese.
Edited to add: Thank god! It’s not just me! There are other survivors out there!