44 Chapter Forty Four - In the Footsteps of Saints and Fools

    The first visited the clothing store, a generally cheap, budget place with basics in bulk as well as an affordable fashion range.  Unsurprisingly, they were not the first to have come to raid the store.  Cole waited in the truck as both lookout for survivors and zombies, while the rest of the squad crunched the shattered glass beneath their feet as they carefully entered.  Monika and Jimmy had their guns raised, cautiously glancing around for movement, but the place was completely abandoned.  If there had been any zombies, which was unlikely as most had turned while sick in their beds, they had long since escaped thanks to whoever broke in.

    Monika claimed it must have been a group of men and from the evidence, Jonah couldn't help agree.  The apocalypse began around late March and early April, the garments available to purchase had already significantly changed from winter coats and knitwear to bikini's and shorts.  However, some things were always available, such as underwear, but the men in the squad could not find any packets of boxers and y-fronts left to steal, although Jimmy did find a few pairs of valentines boxers with lewd messages on them at the bottom of a sale bin.

    Men's socks had also been thoroughly raided, but not to such a degree; bundles of thick socks had been left behind.  They also did not take many pairs of jeans, but the shorts had all been taken, suggesting that not only did they come at the height of the summer, when the weather had been very oppressive, they also lacked foresight.  They'd focused on warm weather items and lighter products, for a great deal of the t-shirts had also been taken.  Packet shirts as well, probably because they were already neatly packed away for convenient removal.  Anything they disliked had been left behind or did not find necessary, such as a few very loud Hawaiian shirts, suit trousers and leather shoes.  Likewise, the squad had no use for leather shoes, they were too impractical now, however, the few pairs of trainers remaining were too useful to be left behind.

    The previous raiders had clearly visited the women's area as well and had chosen to take packets of thongs, Brazilian cut briefs, but left the large, full briefs.  So wherever they hailed from had women, but those women were unlikely to be impressed by the raider's choices.  They'd played around in the bikini's, but left most of them strewn about the floor, lowering even further the squad's opinion of them.  Finally, they'd taken shorts and t-shirts, much like what they had raided in the men's section.

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    "What complete idiots," Monika spat, disgusted.

    "Leave it," Jonah suggested.  "Their lack of brains only works in our favour."

    The children's section was hardly disturbed, they took a bit of everything, above a certain age group, but had hardly touched the area with the toddler things and the baby's area had been completely ignored.  That made Jonah very happy as he dithered first over the sweet dresses, cute two piece outfits and a tiny waistcoat for a boy.  In the end, he picked a few nice pieces, but went for the practicality of packets of white vests and sleep suits in bulk and in all sizes.

    Monika chose to gather what jeans and trousers she could for the women and any decent tops.  There were not many of them compared to the men in their base, they needed less things.  She did not forget to add bra's, knowing their sizes already and maternity wear for Brooke.  She did not disdain the packets of full briefs and shorts either.

    Soon there was a heap of sweatpants, jeans and shirts pushed to the corner of the van; they used Ren Zexian's interspacial bag for the smaller things.  However, they still lacked decent winter wear.  The few sweaters and hoodies from the exercise department were good, but they really needed coats.  Raincoats were alright, but too thin for if the winter turned too cold.  Jimmy and Arthur checked in the store's warehouse and although they did not find anything there, they did come back with a box of mens underwear that they had found.  That was a reason to cheer.

    They gave up on finding thick coats and woollen jumpers, although all of the girls, no matter their age, had a supply of cardigans, including a few baby ones.  Jonah reasoned that his 'son' would just have to learn to like pink.

    After that, they headed to a home improvements store and found it too had been raided at some point.  The vegetable seeds were nowhere to be found having been stolen away already and this time, the squad were not lucky enough to find any in the warehouse either.  Things like miniature and large plastic greenhouses were also gone as had many gardening tools, though a few odd ones did remain for them to claim.  The yard to the side of the store had not been left untouched; bags of fertile soil and pots had gone as well as many plants.  There were a few left, likely most had once been ornamental or flowers, but most had withered, stuck in their pots as they were and a lot had died.  One had mutated into a massive, monstrosity of twisted stems and thorns, it's purple roses producing a sickly, sweet smell.

    Jonah immediately wanted to deal with it, but Ren Zexian shook his head believing that it was not a threat, thus it was left alone.

    "This lime tree still has a few leaves, do you think it can be saved?" Arthur asked anyone who was listening, having found the dying tree off to one side.

    "Bring it back for Nathan," Ren Zexian said, as he looked at the half-metre high plant .  "He can save it."

    "You sound confident in his abilities," Jonah mentioned, lightly.  He'd not had too many interactions with the boy, but understood from others that he had autistic traits, part of why he wasn't so sociable.  Yet, he definitely had talents if he could maintain a garden of that scale, no amount of learning difficulties were holding him back from doing what he loved.

    "Nathan awakened two abilities," Ren Zexian replied.  "He can make water, as can Tyler, but he also has an affinity to plants."

    Jonah's thick eyebrows rose upward in surprise.  "No wonder his garden is so healthy!"

    Tyler snorted; "that boy eat, sleeps and breaths gardening!  No amount of special ability could change that!"  Ren Zexian did not get angry due to Tyler's sharp words, how could he, they were too accurate.  Instead he chuckled lightly as he helped pick up another badly withered tree that stated it's fruit were 'olives'.  Tyler gave their small finds some water, less they die completely on route home.

    Jimmy came running into the yard with a grin upon his face.  "Look what I found in the gift department!"  He carried with him a cream box about the length of Monika's lower arm.

    "What is it?" Jonah asked, slightly impatiently as Jimmy bounced upon the balls of his feet before him.

    "Look!" He turned the box around and the label became clear.

    "Jimmy, you beauty!" Jonah praised him as he took the box into his own arms.  Monika peered over his shoulders to see that it was a 'Grow your own mushrooms' kit, something that had gained a bit of popularity in the few months before the end.  Naturally, they claimed the five kits they found upon the shelves.  Randomly, they also found a 'grow your own tea' set as well as aromatic herbs and hot-chilli's.  While these were not necessarily the seeds they'd been seeking, they would not go to waste either.  They counted themselves fortunate that their predecessors overlooked these things.

    Thanks to their luck of discovering these, they wandered deeper into the store, seeing if there was any other small surprises that they could profit from.  Ren Zexian wandered along side Patrick and marvelled over the feats of ingenuity that these people had produced before the end; such as the 'mitre saw' used to cut through wood effortlessly and the 'lawn mower', a machine for cutting grass for ornamental purposes.  However these machines required the electricity which they could not currently produce.

    "Ah, but that mower is manual," Patrick, who had been answering his questions one by one, pointed out.  "It doesn't work on electric.  It would probably come in handy, keep the grass short and the cuttings can probably be composted."  Thus, they claimed one of these lawn mowers.

    The others found logs of wood for fireplaces and charcoal briquettes, but also grabbed a few hand tools, quick-mix plaster and glue.  After all, they would be doing their own D.I.Y from now on.  They did think about taking bricks and concrete for the wall, but decided to leave it for now.  Space was at a premium, even with Ren's 'magic' bag and they were far from finishing this raiding trip.
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