Extra Pickles for the End of the World
by James Reinebold
I work a register over at Burger Brothers, the one behind the crater from the orbital bombardments three years ago. I've been working there for a while. Since before the gangs, before the fires, before the zombies, and before the bugs. I'd really like to quit, but I'm waiting for the right moment. It's best to move cautiously in the wastelands: stay low, keep behind cover, and don't make noise. Hide from drifters (they only bring trouble). Don't touch anything that glows.
The restaurant is about a mile from my apartment. Walking to work each morning isn't as dangerous as you might think. There's plenty of cover in the wastelands. Places of all sizes to hide: trenches, burned out wreckage, drainage ditches, bomb craters, abandoned gas stations, and the big cavernous bug burrows (all dormant now, thankfully).
Any day now I'm quitting. I'm just waiting for the right moment.
When the zombies swarmed the suburbs, I thought for sure that was my chance. Tim the fry cook, my shift supervisor, and I survived for a month together on top of the roof. We ate pickles and stale buns until finally the National Guard cleared the area and got us down.
A week later our manager said she was reopening the restaurant. And well, I needed some extra cash... my rent got raised. You know how it goes.
I thought about quitting during the invasions when the call for volunteer starfighters went around. Towards the end they pretty much took anybody who could wiggle a joystick. But I get queasy from turbulence. It wasn't the right time. It wasn't the sign I was looking for.