"You've lost a shitload of weight."

Hup recognized the voice immediately: 'Prick Rick', football player, serial cheerleader-dater, parking lot hanger-outer, casual torturer. He carefully placed the can of beans into his sack and slowly turned without reaching over his shoulder for his blade. "Yeah."

Rick was standing in the shattered half of the grocery store's now-powerless automatic sliding door. He'd always owned the four square feet of ground he'd stood on his whole life. "That's good. Can't run if you're fat."

"How do you think I lost it?"

Rick laughed. "Yeah, I figured. I gotta say, you're not somebody I ever figured still be walkin' around. But here you are." He looked around. "You clear this place out?"

"Of zombies or of food?"

Another laugh. "Zombies. I see you got the food."

Hup gestured to the shelf, which still contained several dozen cans. "We can share..."

"Don't worry about it. I'm already loaded down." Rick pulled at a backpack strap. He reminded, "Zombies?"

"Two, near the back. In front of the pharmacy counter. I took care of 'em."

"How, the sword?"


"Seems like you'd get tired..."

Hup snorted. "You have to know what you're doing. I took five years of martial arts; my mother thought it would help me not get beat up."

Rick seemed confused. "Why didn't you ever use it when... in school?"

Hup shrugged. "I didn't really want to hurt people."

Rick looked back towards the back of the store. "You search 'em?"

"The zombies? No—"

"Be right back."

Hup resumed tossing cans into his bag, faster now, while keeping a better eye on the front door. He had half a mind to leave now, to disappear between buildings and then into the woods before Rick returned. But he was running so low on food...

Stomach won out over caution. By the time he had all the cans in the sack, Rick had returned. "You hole up around here?"

Hap gestured in the wrong direction. "A little ways away. What'd you want with those zombies?"

Rick held up a pair of driver's licenses. "I collect photo IDs. Whenever I put down a zombie, I take their ID. I have a box full at my place."

Hup stared at him.

Rick explained. "If anyone ever gets all this back under control, they're gonna be looking for people, right? Family members? They'll want to know what happened."

He'd lost his mind. "I guess."

"Hey, sorry for giving you trouble in school, man," Rick said, sounding sincere. "Seems pretty stupid now."

"Yeah." Hup stared at him, not sure what else to say. He attempted: "No problem."

After a long awkward moment, Rick turned, stepped through the door-frame and disappeared.

SF Drabble #394 "Eighty Miles West Of The State Line"

"Fuck it, I'm stopping." He pulled the van into the gas station parking lot, trailing a cloud of road dust behind it, pulled it to a stop just outside the door. "Don't forget ice."

She took the cooler with her.

He turned to look into the back, where the power bench seat had become a bed. "How you doin' back there, bro?"

The alien stirred, looked around. "Hot. Your planet is hot."

"Yeah, man, it's like, ninety-seven today. Sorry. I'll turn the A/C up."

The alien lay back down, and after a moment, added: "Tell her to get some Funyuns."