„Stay close to me, Hel“ Loki pressed her little sister to her side and held the machete ready. Slowly she shuffled to the edge of the shelf, which was raided empty, only a few empty bags of potato chips left. Swiftly she glanced around the edge.
It stood by the freezer. Just one. It caught a glimpse of her too though.
“Shit.” Loki hissed.
“Help me… help me…” it stammered as it dragged its feet over.
Loki held the machete with both hands, ready to swing. She knew this trick.
“Help me…” on the last meter it lunged forward, arms stretched out. Loki sliced the blade right through its right arm and managed to evade its grasp. The one-armed fell to the ground and Loki quickly stabbed into its spine. It stopped moving.
Black goo stuck to the machete like syrup. Loki wiped it off on the edge of the shelf and the creature’s clothing. Then allowed herself to exhale.
“I could go for a drink, how about you, Hel?”
Hel nodded silently, staring at the dead creature. Loki approached the flickering freezer. Whoever raided this supermarket before had left it alone. Maybe they had known whoever now lay dead next to their own arm and weren’t able to kill them.
“Apple juice? Iced tea? Oh, hey, they even got Pixies! Wanna know how their ads went? The fairy Albright, a pretty cute sight, she did what was right and created that night, the sweetest delight, that everyone liked.” Loki sung, “I forgot the first part, apparently everyone was unhappy because their water was so boring so this fairy girl made this Pixie juice. When it came out I begged mama to-“
Loki froze for a second. Then took the apple juice and gave it to Hel. She took the iced tea for herself. Together they sat down on a thrown over freezer next to the now empty one. The bigger glass shards from its front window must’ve been taken and used for weapons.
Hel stabbed the straw into the little white circle at the top of the box and began sucking out its contents. Loki watched her, doing a worse job at pretending to be alive than the Monids themselves. She snapped out of it and unscrewed the lid off the bottle and choked on the first gulp. She left herself more time on the second try.
“…I’m pretty sure this supermarket also has a toy section. How about we take a look at that after finding us some safe shelter in here?”
Hel didn’t respond.
“…What do you say?”
“Okay.” Hel mumbled.
“Okay!” Loki stuffed the half empty iced tea into her backpack and stood up. The personnel room usually provided a good hideout for a night. The doors were easily blocked and it had a direct exit outside, so they wouldn’t be trapped in the building should things heat up. Loki offered Hel her hand when her little sister asked: “What did you beg of mama?”
“Oh. Are you sure you wanna hear?”
“Hm. The commercial made it look so delicious and magical, so I really wanted to try it, even though it was really expensive. She told me to get it with my pocket money, so I told her she has to buy it for me or else I’ll die of thirst and I shouldn’t have to pay for my own survival. After three weeks she gave up and got me one.”
“Did it taste good?”
“Yeah. I grew tired of it after half a year though. Papa kept drinking it for years though. He even finished that sticker book they had at some point.”
“What’s a sticker book?”
Loki’s heart got cold for a moment. It was disheartening to see how little of the old world Hel remembered.
“It’s a book in which you have to put stickers in you got with the bottles. Stickers of the fairy girl, the ugly raccoon guy, the nerdy frog girl…”
“What happened when you put all the stickers in?”
“Then you had ‘em all.”
“Did you win food?”
“No, you were just done. You managed to finish the book and could be proud of yourself.”
“Yeah, but that’s what we did for fun…”
They found the personnel room. Small, a little kitchen at the right end inside and a table in the middle, not much else. As usual it had a back door outside, to the parking lot. Cold coffee stood on the table, half eaten cake decaying next to it. The marked day on the calendar had balloons drawn on it with the name ‘Maria’ in the middle. Loki cleared the table and looked into the fridge. Pretty much all the food you’d find in there was years past the expiration date but if it was still sealed it usually won’t kill you. At least so far it didn’t. Not that there was much else to eat. Wildlife did not move this far into the city ruins and even if, Loki wouldn’t catch anything with just a rusty machete.
“I think this fish is still good… good enough. Means we won’t have to worry about dinner. Let’s make everything ready to secure this room, then we can look around the store a bit, okay?”
Hel went through the drawers and found a big knife in one, bigger than the one she had now.
“Remember, it’s not the size that matters. Pick one that’s easy to handle, you need to be quick with it.”
Hel nodded and took a smaller knife that fit better into her hand. Loki shoved the fridge next to the personnel only door so they could easily block it for the night. She’ll leave it open and see if she could fortify the rest of the store. They might leave the next day, but other survivors might find this store and be grateful it’s been made a little safer. The parking lot exit conveniently only opened from their side, so no there was need to block it. If Monids can’t simply open doors, they tend to just give up on them, unless they know someone’s behind it. None saw them get in here though. It helped that Monids also had terrible eyesight and mostly operated on hearing.
After a few minutes they had checked the entire store and secured all entrances. The light of the freezer stopped flickering as it was now unplugged. Hel took out the Pixie bottle and opened it with care.
“And papa loved this stuff?”
Hel poured a third of the bottle down her throat.
“It tastes like rainwater and stars.” She found.
“That’s not how I remember it.”
Hel gave her the bottle and Loki took a sip too.
“A bit stale but it tastes like it used to.” Loki investigated the bottle further. “Hey, this one’s still got a sticker! You got Lizzy the frog!” Hel took back the bottle. Indeed there was a sticker depicting a frog with big red cheeks and a purple dress. She wore glasses and had messy curly hair.
“She looks like you with glasses.” Hel said.
“Lizzy was a big science nerd. Her mom was a lizard so she thought she was a reptile too. Dad always compared me to her too.”
Hel drank up and gave the bottle to Loki. “You can have her. You could stick her on the little plastic window on your backpack.”
“I think I’ll do that. Thanks, Hel.”
Loki looked at the smiling frog girl. She looked so happy. Loki couldn’t help but imitate the smile.
“Let’s… let’s see if we can find something nice for you in the toy section.”