This is chapter 1 of the story Deadlands
my name is Jay Hendrix and for the past two years I 've been working in a small pizzeria in Little Italy, Lower New York. I usually deliver the pizzas but I also help prepare them. It's a crappy job with low payment, but I can't find anything better at the moment, so I make due with what I 've got.
Today is a quiet Friday night. The rain is soft, and hardly visible through the dark window. People come and go, their hands either filled with shopping bags or holding an umbrella.
"Jay", a voice interrupted my thoughts. "Get over here, I need some help with the pizzas". This is Alberto Nigro, my boss and owner of the place. He may not pay me well, but he is a kind man who cares about others.Mr Alberto, as we call him, is of italian origin. He inherited this place from his grandfather, who opened it several decades ago. In this area, once known as Little Italy, it is one of the few traditional stores left.
"Coming", I said as I headed inside the kitchen. I quickly picked up a cartboard box and started setting it. The tv broke the silence as we worked silently. Not that I minded the silence. I was never a man of words anyway. At least since I moved in New York, two years ago.
"Look what they tell us. Do you believe this crap?", Mr Alberto suddenly asked.
"Believe what?", I asked, as I didn't pay any attention to what the news said.
"They 're talking about fucking zombies man", Mr Alberto said surprised.
"Oh that", I replied coldly. This was old news to me. Perhaps these rumors just made it to the tv, but the internet was full of them since about a week ago. Of course Mr Alberto couldn't have known about it, a man in his age may not even have a computer.
"It is all over the internet", I added. "Rumors started about a week ago. Since then lots of people have reported similar cases. I guess it's some kind of new fashion".
"That's crap", Mr Alberto interrupted. "People just want to get famous if you ask me", he said.
"Yeah, just like always", I laughed back.
Except for Mr Alberto, there were three employees in the pizzeria. Me, Dorian and Ricardo. Dorian is a guy around my age and we occasionally hang out together. Ricardo is much younger, 17 years old, but Mr Alberto has him working here due to him being friends with his late father. Ricardo has a younger sister and an unemployed mother, so he works in order to contribute to his family. He also said once that if anything was to happen to him, only Ricardo would know how to retain the classical style of the pizzeria. Despite Ricardo being young, he is good to hang around, and we have gone out with him a couple of times. Dorian and I even taught him how to hit on chicks, so I guess he likes our company as well.
Despite the rain and the hard work, due to Ricardo being sick, time passed quickly. Before leaving, Mr Alberto paid us just like every day and Dorian and I headed outside.
"Hey man, wanna go for a beer?", Dorian asked.
"Not today man", I answered. "I 'll just go to sleep. Been a long day"
"Oh come on, don't be lame. There will be women", he tried to convince me.
"Too bad Ricardo is sick. He 'd like to come", I said ironically.
"Fine, I 'll call somebody else", he finally gave up. "But you are always so distant. One day I 'll drag you along whether you like it or not".
"OK, another time", I promised. "Now I gotta go to sleep", I said and put on my helmet.
"Take care", Dorian said as I drove off.
When I reached home, I took out a pizza from the fridge and sat in front of the computer. The internet was once more full with the zombie bullshit. There were even videos now. One video showed a aple limp man running towards a group. Fucking make up. It can do anyhting these days. On another page, I read a bunch of students brutally killed a classmate of theirs to see if he would rise. They smashed his head with a rock. Fucking psychos. About half an hour later, I finished eating and went to bed. It was already 4 a.m and I was very tired.
The next morning I woke up at half past eleven. It was a beautiful saturday morning, all shiny with no trace of clouds in the sky, no indication that it rained the night before. Just like every morning I had breakfast and worked out a little, followed by a shower. When I finished bathing, it was already quarter to two, so I had to go to the pizzeria, just like every saturday noon.
On the way to work, I saw the same crowd of people wandering the streets. They always looked the same to me. Today, however, something was amiss. Like they were more in a hurry. Like the people were on edge. I let it go and continued my way to the pizzeria. When I reached it, the sign outside was turned to "closed". Surprised by it I tried the handle, but the main door was locked. Then I took out my cell phone and tried to call Mr Alberto, but unsuccessfully. After calling a couple of times, I was startled by the door unlocking. It was Mr Alberto.
"Jay what are you doing here?", he asked surprised. "I texted you not to come today"
"Didn't get any messages. Don't have a signal. What's going on?", I asked surprised as I entered.
"Didn't you hear?", Mr Alberto asked, even more surprised than me. "A few hours ago the president confirmed that dead people indeed come back to life. He gave direct orders that everyone should stay inside and lock all doors. Go home and be safe. Unless you need anything from here".
"Why aren't you at your home?", I asked curiously.
"Ha", Mr Alberto let out. "I won't leave this place undefended. If someone should come to steal, I 'll be waiting", he said and discreetly showed the shotgun he had under the bar.
"If you need anything, I'll be ten minutes away", I said.
"What could you do?", the old man laughed.
"I know a thing or two about guns and melee combat", I turned and blinked at him.
"Where from?", he asked, clearly intrigued since I had never mentioned anything from the time I was in the army.
"That's another story", I answered. "I couldn't tell him my whole story. Not yet".
- It is the only chapter that takes place pre-apocalypse