As promised, Ray quickly tended to Natalie’s zombie wound received last time. Happily, she suffered no threat of being turned. After retrieving arrows and spent shell casings [in retcon], the party set off once more to find the store and search for food. They were able to cover the last stretch with little effort, and soon came upon a small shopping center, including their supermarket target and a collection of other stores. Opting to search the strip first, our heroes first looked into a bait shop to see what supplies might remain. Despite initially high hopes, they turned up only a smattering of fishing tackle [mechanical parts] and a single fishing rod. No knives, and only a shattered display case to taunt them with guns and ammo already looted. Taking the risky decision to split the party, Natalie and Ray moved on to investigate a nearby nail salon while Felix and Bluedog searched a Subway restaurant. The nail salon offered little in the way of salvage, and though they heard sounds coming from the back room, Ray and Natalie opted to leave well enough alone and join the others. Felix was able to salvage some useful parts from the kitchen appliances, but otherwise found only rancid mayonnaise and distressingly well preserved meat products. Still no knives.
The party next scouted the exterior of the grocery store before heading in. They found the front entrances of the store barricaded with an assortment of debris, though one of these had been opened again by some previous visitor. Around back they found a loading dock and employee entrance, both locked, and a delivery truck full of rotten produce. Entering the store over the wrecked barricade, they collected carts and baskets but soon abandoned these upon hearing something rummaging around down an aisle further in. They approached quietly (for the most part), but Ray slipped on a spill in Aisle 1 and his exclamation alerted a zombie, which soon came shambling into view. Natalie silently pierced its head with an arrow, and the party was able to surround two of its fellows and bring them down with a few well-placed axe blows and rifle jabs. The commotion summoned two more zombies from elsewhere in the store, with the party resorting to gunfire to drop them.
Finally able to begin searching the store for salvage, Felix began loading canned goods into shopping carts, while Ray investigated the remains of the pharmacy. For his part, Bluedog took the precaution of de-braining the zombies and a few other corpses found around the store. Natalie set to work restringing her bow, which had suffered a minor accident. As they searched, the party soon realized the locked storeroom housed another group of zombies. They also discovered a strange area against the far wall of the store where all the food and debris appeared to have been swept away. As the investigated this, and gained little insight, they soon became aware they were being watched. Following their observer back into the administrative offices, they encountered a teenage boy named Jack who had been hiding in the store alone for several days.
Upon questioning him, they learned that Jack had come with his family and several neighbors to find supplies a few weeks ago. Finding it only lightly picked over, the group decided to stay and try to fortify the store. The built the barricades and survived inside for a while. A few days ago, a group of raiders came and tried to seize the store. Jack was able to hide, but heard the invaders rounding up the others and locking them in the storeroom. Some time later he heard a new disturbance: gunfire, distressed yelling among the men, and a sound he described as a “whoooosh! like a tornado, but just for a second.”
Despite the trauma of recent events (and Bluedog’s intimidating presence) Felix was able to convince Jack they could take him to a safe place if he wanted to return to the Post Office with them. The party was able to quickly execute the ten zombies locked in the storeroom, which likely included the remaining members of Jack’s family. They found a large amount of food, including several pallets of canned goods, and loaded these onto the delivery truck outside – which required only minor modifications to get running and slight scrubbing to remove the rotting vegetables. Thus supplied, and in possession of good truck, they headed back onto the highway they had followed before, to bring this food to their waiting community.
Dead Letter Office will return in “On the Road Again”