Stanzi had no idea why he had to open every fridge he found. Hunger, perhaps, even though he knew all he’d find would be rotting and putrid.

Thirteen months since any electricity had flowed through the grid.

Thirteen months since the plague—or whatever someone wanted to label it—had devastated civilization.

“Stanzi!’ Elway yelled, “Walkers.”

Sure enough, eight… no… ten at least… walkers were stumbling towards them, thrashing their way through the inadequate defenses the home’s previous occupants had erected.  Elway took his new-found spring-loaded nail gun and fired it at the monsters. The nails stuck into the flesh, but failed to penetrate the cranium.

“Well, there goes that bright idea…” Elway took out his old trusty—the baseball bat he’d sharpened into a giant spike—and started swinging away.

Stanzi took a moment to size up the current batch. All women, which was rare.

Live women were even rarer.

Still, after all he’d been through, that was a good thing. Elway was only a half decent side-kick, and that was when there were no females around. Well…live ones. Add a bitch to the mix and Elway would be no more use than a nail gun against a walker.

Stanzi wielded the pruning shears like an expert, and soon the threat was vanquished. They moved through the house, not finding much that was helpful.

The back yard was huge. There was a sound coming from the garage.

Something mechanical.

The garage was built against a retaining wall about six feet high. At the top of the retaining wall were spikes protruding out and downwards, likely good enough to keep walkers down. The doors to the garage were steel. They were banged up, but still in good condition.

The garage roof was lined with solar panels.

“You think anyone’s—”

Elway’s sentence was cut off by a voice coming over an intercom. “I’d stay away from the door if I were you.”

Of course, the first thing Elway did was to tap the door with his bat. “Yee owach!” he yelled, followed by a string of profanity that wasn’t impressing anybody. “They’ve electrified the damn door!”

Stanzi backed up until he could see up the hillside. Now that he was looking for it, he could see what he’d missed before. An elaborate tree fort, high in the huge evergreens on the steep slope. The perfect defensible position.

“You got something to trade?” the voice asked.

Stanzi did a mental inventory of everything they’d found that was worth anything. Jewelry might be valuable again someday, but not yet. But they had found an untouched vending machine just two days before.

“I’ve got some Cheetos, life savers… the kind you get from a vending machine…”

There was a moment of silence that made Stanzi think the voice was consulting with someone else.

“You got any chocolate?”

Stanzi had eaten half the candy bars they found, but there were still at least a dozen in his pack.

“I got peanut butter cups, Hershey bars…”

There was a click and the electrical hum ceased. “Come on up. But keep your hands where we can see them.”

Elway prodded the door again. When he didn’t get shocked he opened it. He had to push hard, as there was a spring obviously designed to make sure the door was always closed. Straight in front of them was a staircase, and another door.

At the top, a dirt path led to the base of the tree with the fort. Stanzi scanned above. If whomever it was wanted to kill them, they could easily do so at any time. There was a knotted rope hanging down.

“Climb?” asked Elway. Stanzi nodded.

“At this point, we don’t have much to lose. Even if all they have is clean water, it’s worth all the junk food we found.”

Elway went first, much to his credit, and Stanzi followed him up to a platform about fifteen feet up, with no railing and no visible way of going any farther.

“Well, show us what you’ve got,” said the voice, this time without an intercom. A middle aged man was leaning over the railing of another platform above them.

Elway reached into his coat and the platform they were standing on jolted.

“Oh, and just in case you have any funny ideas, the platform is rigged to dump your assess right down the hill again.”

Stanzi glanced behind him. Sure enough, below them was nothing but a steep hillside and then the retaining wall. They might survive the fall, but it would be almost impossible to get up again, and they’d be sitting ducks if the fort-owner decided to fire on them.

After a lengthy discussion, a ladder was lowered and they were allowed to come up.

That’s when Stanzi knew they had found their own doom in the embrace of salvation.

The tree-house was sparse, but it had the necessities. There was a sink with a large jug of water next to it. If they could waste water on simple things like hand washing, they must have a source. Jerkey and other things Stanzi assumed were food were stored in Mason jars.

Two teenage boys stood at opposite windows, hunting rifles in hand. Stanzi talked with the Dad while the Mom just grinned, a chocolate bar in her hand.

And their doom, Stanzi was sure of it, sat next to her mother, eating her own chocolate bar. The boys had a big sister.

And the sister had eyes for Elway.

This post was written for a surprise prompt from Write on Edge. The video was the prompt, and we had no word limit but a time limit of 24 hours. I discovered the prompt halfway through that!

This isn’t related to any other story I’ve written. The video immediately made me think of the television show The Walking Dead, and the story is fanfic (These aren’t characters from the show.)