The Diapered and The Dead Ch. 12
A fire burned in the distant horizon like a low hanging star in a sea of pitch black sky. Ron watched from the rooftop of the Babies 'R Us alone while several yards away shadowy figures milled about in the parking lot of the shopping plaza he’d led the escape from mere hours before. He focused on the fire. It was the only source of light for miles and stuck out like a sore thumb against the darkness.
He wondered if it was man-made of accidental. Perhaps some kind of monster had caused a minor explosion along the road leading to the plaza or maybe another survivor was out there somewhere alone in the dark. If the latter were correct Ron did feel sorry for the fool who was so clearly putting himself at risk. They only other survivors they’d seen were their former classmates and friends back at The Bed Bath and Beyond and that reunion had gone swimmingly…Until they were left for dead inside the Sport Authority.
The events of the past twelve hours had left Ron exhausted. The events of the past few days had left him nearly dead on his feet a dozen times over. Yet still he kept vigil in night so the others could settle in down below.
When the door of the rooftop fire escape swung open he turned to find Fran approaching him in the darkness half wrapped in a fleece baby blanket around her shoulders.
“Ron?” she called in a voice half-whisper half-yell. “You out here?”
“Yeah,” he said back to her.
Ron had the advantage while Fran’s eye adjusted to the darkness. Despite the clear sky and glowing half moon much of the world around them was cast is darkness. Illuminated by the distant glow of the stars above; Fran made her approach slowly while Ron stood in one place taking in the sight of her.
“It’s so dark out here how can you see anything?” she asked finally able to make out his figure.
“Give it a minute and your eyes will adjust.” He said holding out a hand toward her “It’d be stupid to use a lantern out here.”
“You don’t have to tell me twice,” Stated Fran. Her pale legs stuck out in the darkness with a ghost like sheen that distinctly gave away the fact that she’d taken to wearing Goodnights.
“Did Lily find everything she needed?” asked Ron
“She did actually,” answered Fran “And she gave me a few pointers as well.” She added motioning toward her new choice in apparel.
Ron said nothing. He’d know about Fran’s wetting problem since back at the RV, if she wanted to start wearing protection it was probably for the best. Being able to wash clothes was a luxury they just did not have at this point.
“You’ve got a thing for her don’t you?” asked Fran then stepping beside them to admire the fire burning off beyond the plaza. “It’s cool, I won’t tell her, she used to be pretty popular before she…” Fran let her statement die off on it’s own.
“You should get some sleep,” said Ron “it’s been a wild day that’s for sure.”
Fran actually let out a small chuckle at Ron’s words. “At least we found some safety by the end didn’t we? That guy we met on the road last night was right.”
“Yeah I guess so.”
“I wonder what’s he’s doing now…Maybe that’s his fire out there a ways.” Said Fran with a nod of her head.
“Could be…” said Ron before letting out a hard yawn.
“You’re the one who could use some sleep.” Fran began “Seriously you’ve been on overdrive this entire time….Get some shut eye.”
“I’m not tired.” Said Ron
“You’re incredible,” said Fran “You’re going to work yourself into the ground and then we’ll all be fucked.”
“Max and I agreed on taking turns tonight, he’ll be my relief, you and Lily should get some sleep.”
“I can stand guard too you know.”
“Your blanket has teddy bears on it and you’re wearing a diaper” Ron pointed out.
“It’s not a diaper,” said Fran with a huff. “It’s a…a…Arrrghhh” she dropped the argument and did her best to pull her shirt down over her waist.
“Just go get some sleep Fran, Enjoy it while you can.”
“That’s the thing…I can’t sleep, I can’t stop thinking about how useless I was today.”
“You weren’t useless.” Said Ron
“I pissed myself four times while everyone else got supplies… You got us to safety… I nearly got us all killed.”
There was a pause from both of them then. Ron tried to reassure her of her value and worth but was to tired to draw it out any longer.
“Do you think you could teach me something?” asked Fran after a time.
"Teach you? What is it you want to know?
“How to shoot, or fight or survive or whatever the hell else you know how to do that’s just so freak’n badass.”
“I’m just doing what I know.” Said Ron
“And what you know is keeping us alive. Maybe tomorrow we could do something, after we get the lay of the land a little better?”
Ron thought about it and it made sense, until they got rescued there was no telling what could happen to anyone of them.
“Alright,” he said at last relenting “But we’ll start in tomorrow after we’ve all gotten some good rest.”
“Cool,” said Fran.
She stayed with him a while longer eager for any tell that her hunch about Ron and Lily was right. When Ron proved immovable she returned to the sleeping area they’d set up upon their arrival.
Ron kept his watch in quiet after that. He stayed awake by running escape plans over in his mind again and again going over every possible scenario he could think of. They had more foes to be wary of now besides the monstrous zombie predators out there. Just across the street Corey and Claire were armed and willing to do whatever it took to survive in this terrifying new world. It was a scary thought and it kept him wide awake for some time.
Much later Lily came to see him in a similar fashion to Fran though much less pushy. She explained her discover in the diaper section and more about Fran’s decision to join her in pampered solidarity. For the most part she kept quiet though, and just stared at the stars with him for what seemed like forever.
“They’re so pretty,” was all she said “There’s just so many of them.”
“It’s a wonder what happens when the lights go out.” Replied Ron “A week ago you wouldn’t have be able to see them like this.”
“A week ago we wouldn’t be standing here like this.”
“That’s true,” said Ron
She sat on the roof for a long while, as Ron paced back and forth watching the world below. Slowly the fire in the distance faded as though the darkness of the night had engulfed it somehow and Suddenly Lily jumped up with a start.
“You alright?” asked Ron
“Yeah,” answered Lily and even in the near pitch blackness Ron was certain he could see her blushing. “I got to go change,” she said looking down at her bare feet.
“Okay,” said Ron “Why don’t you go check on Fran and Max once you’re done, It’ll be dawn soon enough. You should get some rest.”
“So should you,” said Lily doing her best to stifle a yawn.
“I will,” said Ron.
An awkward moment passed between them as Lily gathered up her blanket and waddled off toward the doorway. Something about her had struck a cord with Ron over the past few days they’d spent together, and when she turned to look back at him wrapped snugly in a soft yellow blanket it was Ron who found himself blushing for the first time.
“Goodnight Ron,” she said to him then.
"Goodnight Lily, he said back.
He passed the remainder of his watch thinking about her and everything else they’d found themselves involved in. It was a long night, and try as he might to stay awake Ron did finally nod off on the roof for a time. Of course it didn’t last long, and when he opened his eye again he made it a point to stay on his feet till dawn and Max’s arrival.
When dawn finally did break Ron looked out over the path they taken earlier from the plaza. He was able to make out more of the once human creatures that sought to hunt him and his companions down. Some fled from the arrival of daylight while others did their best to endure it as long as possible. The top of The Bed Bath and Beyond stuck out from the center of the shopping strip in plan view and he wondered who was greeting the new day on it’s rooftop as he was now.
Max was still rubbing the sleep from his eyes when he came on to the Roof to take in the sights with Ron. For a while the two boys tried to make notes on the activity across the street until Max but a stop to it.
“Ron you look like ass dude, go get some sleep huh? Next time let’s not make your shift the whole damn night huh?”
Ron was all too eager to agree. He exchanged a few more words with his friend before turning in, confident in their overall safety now that the sun was returning. He’d stayed up through the night on purpose, the truth of it was he didn’t trust any of the others to not fall asleep on their shifts.
Lily and Fran were both sprawled out fast asleep in the makeshift sleeping quarters they’d constructed out of crib bedding and blankets. With amble light now Ron could already see a few improvements that could be made, but there would be time for that later. Both girls were fast asleep leaving Goodnight clad torsos exposed in a way that both of them would have been crying over if they’d known.
Ron just kind of laughed to himself and laid down next to Lily. There was something about the sight of the two girls helplessly clothed in their “Not Diapers” bedwetting pants given their age. Fran was the real surprise he supposed but Lily was the image that stayed with him as he fell asleep.
Ron slept late into the day. He awoke refreshed and renewed for the first time since he’d taken shelter in that RV all those nights ago and now he felt better than ever. He laid staring up at the ceiling for a time certain that the others were safe nearby, though when a loud crash came from the level below he sat up right with a start to find that he was in fact quite alone.
Climbing to his feet her heard the crash again. It was coming from the first floor, and sounded as though someone was trying to break in. Ron pondered just how late it was as he strapped on his crossbow and quiver and made his way swiftly to the source of the noise. As the sun shone in bright through the large store windows he was certain it was well passed midday and cursed himself for sleeping so soundly.
He scouted the second floor for any sign of the others but found none. He dared not to call out for Lily, Fran or Max for fear attracting unwanted attention. Yet if anything had happened to anyone of them he’d never forgive himself.
The slamming sound grew louder when he got to the ground level. It was coming from the back loading bay they had entered in through the night before. He’d personally secured one of the docks after their arrival and the other had been occupied by a free standing tracker trailer locked tight into place. Again Ron scouted for any sign of the others but found none, and that’s when he started to get a very bad feeling.
He raised his loaded crossbow ready to kill at any moment as he slowly stalked passed the wall of diapers and changing supplies before heading into the back stock area. Still the sound rang out loader than ever as Ron crept from cover to cover in true stealth fighter fashion.
He took a deep breath before turning the corner one last time and nearly launched a crossbow bolt straight into the backside of Max as the other boy landed one final blow to the locked tractor trailer unit. When he saw Ron he nearly jumped out of his skin, but kept his cool when his friend lowered the weapon.
"What the hell are you doing sneaking up on me like that? Asked Max rubbing the area of his chest where his heart was as though it has stopped beating for a moment.
“What the hell are you doing making all this noise?” asked Ron coming over to him.
“Don’t you want to know what’s in here?” asked Max. “We spent most of the morning looking over the store, and mostly came up short on useful supplies…unless you’ve got a taste for baby food and powdered formula.”
“Where are Lily and Fran?” asked Ron then and Max averted his eye line.
“Help me out here, I’ve nearly got the lock on this thing open.” Said the other boy wanting to change the subject.
“Max,” said Ron then "Where are Lily and Fran, please tell somebody is at least keeping a look out on the roof.
“They went out,” said Max short and simply " I tried to hold them here till you woke up, but Fran was eager help out so she came up with an idea to go bring in the Jeep and Lily went with her."
“Are you serious?” asked Ron not waiting for answer, he turned toward the exit of the building leaving Max to go about his noisy task.
“Dude chill out,” called his friend “They’ll be back soon enough, help me get this thing open, What if there is something we can use inside?”
“And what if a hoarde of Zombie’s come pouring out at you?”
"Then I’ll need you here all the more…seriously Ron, I know they’ve been scared but the girls just want to help. Let’s get this trailer open and if they’re not back but then we’ll both go out looking for them.
Despite every instinct Ron relented to helping Max, the truth of it was he couldn’t protect everybody twenty four hours a day without putting his own health at risk, both mentally and physically. Max was right in that maybe the trailer would yield some usefully supplies, for as much as Ron was loath to admit it, waiting it out in a safe place like this, was probably their best option at this point.
It didn’t take long at all for the two of them to break the lock on the door and jimmy open the trailer. It was nearly pitch black on the inside and would have made a nice nesting place for any of the creatures seeking to get out of the light. Thankfully for Ron and Max it was empty of any undead eager to catch them off guard, however it was stocked with several unmarked cardboard boxes toward the back of the unit.
With lantern light leading the way Ron and Max made their way toward the rear of the trailer eager for whatever spoils their labors had won. Disappointment settled over them however as they opened one of the box’ only to discover several unopened boxes of Premium Adult Diapers.
“Damn it!” exclaimed Max upon their discovery. “I was really hoping we would find something I could cook on the propane stove we got yesterday. Get a good hot meal you know?”
“Seriously?” asked Ron of him then. “That’s seriously what you thought you would find in here?”
“A guy can hope can’t he?” said Max taking one of the packages out of the box to examine it.
“Maybe the girls, can get some use out of these.” Said Ron looking it over with him. “I know Lily doesn’t normally use baby diapers so maybe these will be more comfortable for her.” He added.
“Fran as well…I guess she’s taken to wearing them after she peed her pants so many times yesterday.” said Max with a shrug of his shoulders.
The package was white and bore a printed image of a rather thick looking Adult Diaper on the front of it along with the words “Maximum Absorbent Briefs,” in italics.
“We’ll have to tell them what we found, when they get back.” Said Max placing the package back in with the others. “What a waste though huh?”
Ron agreed, but quickly returned his attention to the more pressing matter of Lily and Fran’s actual survival should they not make it back soon. He lead Max back up to the roof where they could hopefully catch a glimpse of the girls on their way back and assess the best way to assist them should they be in trouble.
In the daylight they could see for miles. Ron would have given at least half of the wayward camping supplies they’d picked up yesterday for a pair of binoculars or a telescope. They could easily see the Bed Bath and Beyond out in the distance along with the major shops in the plaza across the street, however what they couldn’t see was the parking lot they’d entered in on the day before, nor was there any sign of the girls and that made Ron anxious.
“Come on,” he said to Max then, “We’re wasting time, we need to suit up and go find them.”
“They should have been back by now,” agreed the other boy, “I’m sorry Ron, they were just so stubborn about it.”
Ron understood but said little as the pair of them made their way down to the ground level and back out into the unknown world of the outside. Yet no sooner did they clear the loading area then did the Jeep come into view hobbling on its flat tire with Fran at the wheel and Lily right beside her.
Ron heard Max breath a deep sigh of relief at the sight of the two girls safe and sound and unpursued by any unfriendly entities. He didn’t say it himself but he was happy to see them safe as well. When they arrived safe and sound, he let them have it.
“What the hell did you think you were doing!?” he asked Fran and Lily sternly.
“Helping,” said Fran.
“Your lucky you didn’t get killed out there.”
“We did a little shopping and gathered more supplies, the least you could say is thanks.” Said Fran as she climbed out of the car.
“You could have spotted by some of the others” stated Ron examining the state of the vehicle.
“We weren’t.” Fran insisted, “We took our time getting out there so as not to draw anyone’s attention, we took the long way, and then looped around the opposite side of highway just to be safe.”
“Run into any Undead?” he asked then.
“No,” answered Fran exchanging a quick look toward Lily as the other girl around to their side of the vehicle. “Damn it Ron, we brought back food, water and a set of wheels, we know how to take care of ourselves alright…”
“Is that so?” asked Ron motioning with as nod of his head toward the gaping wet spot on the inner right thigh of Fran’s jeans. It was roughly the size and shape of a candy bar and gave away her confidence to the others.
“Oh God Damn it,” said Fran cupping her hands around the wet spot examining it as though she were seeing it for the first time. “Come on Lily…let’s go get changed.”
The girls left Ron and Max to unload their findings and contemplate things more thoroughly. Ron looked to his friend for support in the matter but found none, feeling a sting to his pride as Max explained his reasoning for siding with Lily and Fran.
Ron only wanted to keep everyone safe. If they were going to survive in this crazy mixed up nightmare world they would do so in numbers. All four of them should have made the supply run, even if it meant him having to miss out on some extra sleep. Mostly he just felt mad about the decision being made without his input, waking up to find his friends gone was not something he wanted to experience again.
His emotions cooled down with the smell of hot food a short while later. Max had managed to set up a make shift kitchen on the roof where the four of them could eat and take in the setting sun before having to secure themselves inside for the night. Using the propane stove he’d pinched from the Sport Authority and some of the canned goods the girls had brought back from their foray into the unknown Max was able to whip up a tasty stew that smelled like heaven after days of nothing to eat but crackers and snack foods. It wasn’t much, but they made it work.
The girls appeared shortly before it was ready and Ron was able to make amends. Lily had taken to wearing one of the newly discovered Adult Diapers he’d found in the trailer with Max earlier, it was bulky and large and barely fit under the jeans she chosen to wear but Lily didn’t seem to mind one bit. Fran on the other hand had opted on keeping with the Goodnights she’d taken to wearing, under a pair of black stretch pants ideal for working out.
“Those going to work okay for you?” Asked Ron of Lily as Fran helped Max with the meal. It was the first time they’d spoken since the night before.
“Yeah I think so,” said Lily adjusting herself a bit. “There pretty bulky and not something I’d normally want to wear, but I really don’t like those Goodnights, I’d rather actual diapers then flimsy pretend ones.”
Ron was a little taken aback by her response. Lily had never been very open about the type of underwear she preferred and Ron really didn’t know what to say. “Well, we found a whole truck load of them,” he found the words pouring out of his month uncontrollably. “If both of you are going to be needing them I guess it’s good that we’re well stalked.”
“Yeah, though Fran seems to favor Goodnights,” replied Lily motioning over to where Fran was bending over with her hands on her knees helping Max with something while unknowingly exposing her Pull-up to the both of them. “She thinks they’re more discreet.” She added with a sly laugh.
Ron couldn’t help but laugh as well. Fran’s recent conversion to a more diapered state of being was commendable but the irony of one of the school’s toughest Tomboy’s unable to hold her bladder in the face of danger was not lost on either of them.
He felt good being around Lily, he couldn’t help but marvel at her new found attitude when it came to having to wear diapers, and her run with Fran had proved a success. The truth of it was, both girls were indeed quite capable of looking after themselves even if they fell victim to the occasional accident every once and while.
Everyone seemed in better spirits as the waffed down the watery stew Max had cooked up that evening. They sat on the ledge of the roof looking out over the horizon eager for the first glimpse of the evenings monsters with a sort of perverse excitement. So long as they held the Babies R’ Us the hell that was going on outside was more spectacle than danger. Ron was the first to see the three figures appear crossing the road and heading straight for them. At first he didn’t believe what he was seeing as the other’s laughed and shared insights over the meal. It wasn’t until they got closer that Max and girls noticed them far below.
“Holy shit.” Said a startled Max “Is that who I think it is?”
There was only one way to find out, and in no time at all Ron found himself out in front of the store’s main entrance along with Max, Fran and Lily as the newcomers approached. They were three in all, Sophia appeared soaked to the bone from no doubt having had another accident, and visibly upset from having apparently been crying recently.
Ron recognized one of the other arrivals right off the bat as well. Winslow Mathesion, had been a star running back on the school’s varsity football team, he’d also been one of the boy’s who’s left them for dead back at the Sports Authority under Corey’s command. He wore a look of grim exhaustion and helplessness now.
The third was another boy from their class who went by the name of Roger Charleson. Ron knew him as a major gamer nerd back in the old days, he had always been a nice guy, and hardly registered as a threat to any of them.
“Can we help you?” asked Fran with a tone that was rather harsh and mostly directed at Sophia and Winslow.
“Please…” began Roger “We saw you driving your Jeep earlier and hoped to find you…We can’t stay at Claire’s castle anymore…”
Ron shot Fran a look and was all but seconds away from telling her he’d told her so, when Sophia burst into tears and started wetting herself in front of all of them.
“I’m sorry,” She said through her sobs," I…I…I was just so scared with everything that had happened-"
“Save it for your new friends,” said Fran cutting her off.
“It ain’t like that,” said Winslow “Claire and Corey have gone mad with power…”
“No really?” said Max with his signature sarcasm.
“Enough,” said Ron before further hostilities could be exchanged. “So are you saying you were driven out?”
“No…” answered Winslow “We escaped…Corey is telling everybody you killed Cameron.” He added meeting Ron’s gaze in a way that spoke to the truth of his words. “And Claire’s working everybody to the bone, but not putting in her fair share, the whole thing has become this twisted Dictatorship…we had to go.”
“Go where?” asked Lily then,
“Here,” said Roger. “The three of us struck out hoping to find you guys.”
“Tell 'em the truth,” said Winslow then and Roger swallowed hard.
“Let me guess, you guys want in on our sweet little space huh?” said Fran.
“It ain’t like that at all…Perhaps we could talk inside?” asked Roger.
“What’s he talking about?” asked Ron motioning toward Winslow once again.
All three of the refugees looked at each other again before Roger cleared his throat to speak once more.
“There were more of us, that escaped the bus that night before we made it here.” He began meeting each of there eye-lines in turn. “We took shelter at a farmhouse a little less than half a day’s drive from here. More of those things showed up on the second day so we had to flee…”
“It was Claire’s idea, she and Corey did the whole thing,” interjected Winslow.
“Sounds like a smart plan,” said Max.
“Only we didn’t have room for everybody and a few were to shook up to Travel, so we told them to stay behind while went for help.” Said Winslow. “I thought that’s what we were doing I swear to you.”
“Only we haven’t.” said Roger “Claire refuses to send anyone back to get them…our classmates are still waiting for us…they’re out there still in danger.”
“You’ve got to be shitting me,” said Fran.
They weren’t, and both boys continued their tale rattling of the names of those they had left behind. The thought of it sent a chill down Ron’s spine, and he heard another audible gasp from Max when Roger mentioned Melody Green among those still waiting for help.
“Those fucking bastards,” said Max suddenly staring off in the direction of the Bed Bath and Beyond. “How low can you get…?”
“Come inside,” said Ron ordering the small group into safety as twilight set in around them. “It’s getting dark and we have things to discuss.”
“You guy’s hungry?” asked Lily as they made their way in. Both Winslow and Roger lit up at the mention of food, while Sophia simply kept her head down in shame, trotting along behind everyone else.