The girl smiled when he walked in. That meant he couldn’t come here again. The first sign of recognition was all it took for him to change his plans. If the girl remembered his face, she might remember what he was buying. If she remembered what he was buying, she might become suspicious. Nobody had, so far, but it only needed to happen once.
Luckily today, George wasn’t doing anything telltale. His legs were behaving, and if he concentrated hard enough his limp was almost invisible. He even remembered to breathe as he did his shopping. Foundation. Blemish sticks. Isopropyl alcohol, not common in the high street chemists but available over the counter from most places that dealt with ethnic hair care. He’d head to the fancy dress shop after this, in search of spirit gum and putty.
Six months now. In many ways, George wasn’t surprised he had made it this long. After the army had taken over and restored order, most of the infected were rounded up fairly quickly, but most of the infected were fairly mindless. Only around one in ten had retained any intelligence, and George had retained a lot more than most: enough to work out a plan and find a way to survive.
Getting the house had been easy. A lot of property was left empty, and the Survivor’s Rights Act meant that as long as nobody came back to it, housing was finder’s keepers. Remaining a survivor was more complicated, and took careful planning.
Careful all over application of makeup kept his skin looking vital. Liberal use of talcum powder and body spray meant that while he wasn’t fragrant he didn’t smell of anything rotting. Spirit gum and latex covered up the missing flesh on his left hand. Conscious movement stopped him shuffling when he walked. Cow and pig brains could be easily obtained from a decent supermarket or restaurant wholesaler, and were as appetizing as any other kind.
George paid for his purchases in cash and left the shop, trying to look nondescript, as if he didn’t care if the girl was watching him as he walked away. He’d head further afield next time he needed supplies, no sense losing everything because of a nosy shop assistant. He wasn’t going to end up strapped to a table in a lab while a doctor poked at things to work out how he was still talking.
George was a dead man walking.
And he was going to stay that way as long as possible.
©2012 Ian Rennie
Ian Rennie is a writer of novels and flash fiction who currently lives in Cambridge, England. His work has previously been published by the flash fiction site 365 Tomorrows, and featured on the Voices Of Tomorrow podcast. He maintains the occasional podcast 4 Dimensional Radio. http://4dradio.podomatic.com/