Yet the three corpses barred her path. Any one of those things could come alive instantly and go right for her jugular.
But her stomach growled its discontent. She clenched the frying pan, and opened the door into the brisk morning air.
She stepped onto the pavement and stole her way toward the store. She slinked past the gas pump, coming upon the first body. It was a middle-aged woman with light blue eyes that stared lifelessly upward. Her matted blonde hair was streaked with blood and dirt. A rotten smell issued from deep teeth marks on her neck. Regina winced, and raised the skillet. She slammed it down, hard, on the head. The skull cracked under the cast iron. Blood splattered on the surrounding pavement, sending cold, congealed flecks onto Regina's face. An even more disagreeable smell assaulted her nostrils. When she brought the skillet back up, the face was unrecognizable.
"That seemed to do the trick."
She looked at the other two bodies lying next to the store's entrance. She stepped away from the first body and walked toward the door. Both bodies lay there - one of an old man with overalls and a red plaid shirt, who looked pale, ghostly, and emaciated. The other was a boy of about fifteen. Regina looked a moment into his vacant eyes, wondering who he was - what his hopes had been, whether he had liked any girls at his school, of all the joys of life he never would get to experience.
Don't think like that, Regina said. He's the enemy.
She raised her skillet, ready to bring it down on the boy's head. But something stopped her. She didn't know what it was for a moment, but then it came to her in a burst of realization.
The boy reminded her of her little brother.
He was about the same age, and just thinking of him forced a tear to come to Regina's eye. She couldn't bring herself to smash his face in.
She shook off the thought. Her brother was one thousand miles away in Nebraska. That was a long way from East Texas. With her cell phone left back in the apartment, forever out of reach, Regina had no way of being sure if her family was safe.
She lowered the skillet, unable to make herself to what had to be done. Maybe she could get in and out fast enough.
She stepped into the store, her converses crunching over some broken glass. The store looked to have been ransacked. Blood smeared the floor. This had been a site of an undead skirmish during the night.
The store's interior was dark, and she walked carefully over to the food section, making as little noise as possible. She reached for a box of granola bars, ripping it open and tearing the wrapper and plunging the food into her mouth. She ate ravaneously - a whole meal's worth within a minute, before going to the fridge and grabbing some water. She guzzled the whole bottle down.
She looked around the store for a moment for something to carry food in, but there seemed to be nothing in reach, and she didn't want to risk the time to look. She instead grabbed some food and water, as much as she could carry in her arms, and walked toward the door.
But she stopped dead when she became aware of a disturbing sound - the smacking and ripping of flesh off bone was undeniable. Slowly, Regina turned to look. A door leading into a back room of the convenience store was slightly ajar, revealing nothing but a sliver of darkness.
Something welled inside her heart, a great fear of knowing where the monster was, but not being able to see it. It spread out from her chest and reached every part of her, to her shoulder, to her arm, to her hand, then to her fingers, paralyzing them with fright. The muscles in her hand slackened, and the skillet slipped from her hand and clanged onto the floor.
There was a moment of silence that seemed to last for infinity, stretching time and space. She felt her head dim, her vision darken, and felt every pound of her heart against her chest just in slow motion exactly three times, felt the life of her blood with each pump surge through her veins, felt a suffocating constriction seize her lungs. She suppressed the urge to throw up.
The zombie's gorging on flesh ceased. A low, foreboding moan emanated from the back of the store, making Regina'a skin crawl.
Then, like an explosion, life resumed its furious pace and Regina kicked into overdrive. She grabbed her skillet and food and ran toward the front door.
But the zombies outside were now standing, shambling toward her, having responded to the sound of the beast within the store. She was trapped, and once again, she found she had to make a terrible decision.
She could either take on the two zombies now blocking the doorway, even the one looking like her brother, or brave the one zombie in the back room that was out of her worse nightmares.
And she only had a fraction of a second to decide.
What should Regina do?
Go out the front (against two zombies)
Go out the back (against one zombie)?
Place your vote in the comments section, and return soon for the next chilling episode of Regina the Zombie Slayer.