After dinner, four drinks, and comparing jobs, kids, babysitters, marriages, mortgages, political affiliations, and the last two week vacations, Kimberly finally felt comfortable asking the real question: "Travis," she said, "Be honest. Do you still keep zombie contingency plans?"
Travis and his wife, Mol, both laughed. Gray, Kimberly's husband, chuckled and gave her, "Are you serious, look?" and then a pointed glance at her whiskey sour.
"How did I know you were going to ask that? How did I know?" Travis said.
"Because, you always used to go on and on about it," Kimberly said. "So, come on. Do you have one?"
"For right here?"
"If a zombie horde appeared outside that window, do you have a way to get us out?" Kimberly asked.
Mol looked around the gigantic restaurant with its rustic-gaudy woodwork and tables covered in behemoth platters of food. "I don't know," she said. "It's pretty crowded in here. If there is a zombie invasion, I think we're all screwed."
"What about a terrorist attack?" Grey asked. Kimberly watched out of the corner of her eye as Travis ran his finger along the rim of his wine glass. "Or a tornado?"
"Well?" Kimberly asked Travis, leaning forward.
Travis shrugged. "Haven't thought about it here. But we're only, what, ten miles from my cousin's farm. That was the old go-to. The guy is a redneck and so is prepared for the day when he'll be able to exercise his second amendment rights fully and overthrow the government militia-style."
"He's still alive?" Grey asked, in his I'm-humoring-you-voice that Kiberly hated. She looked at the foggy window next to her and drew and X. Buried treasure.
"Barely," Travis admitted. He turned to Mol. "At least we have Mol. She still practices archery. We'll be good for hunting."
"I can kill zombies with a bow and arrow," Mol protested. "I'm a goddamn good archer."
And Kimberly was a master in Kendo, but no one bragged about that. She could take a zombie or a dozen. If she had her swords, which she'd purchased in Japan, but they were back at the apartment with the kids.
"That still doesn't solve the immediate problem of getting out the restaurant," Grey said.
"Grey can only think in the immediate," Kimberly said and elbowed him. "He can't think about serious problems like the apocalypse of the undead."
Grey waved to the waiter.
"The kitchen," Travis said, pausing dramatically while he pointed to the door a few feet away. "Is right there. Everyone else will run for the exits. We pick up some knives on the way for protection and make for the car which is, conveniently, parked across the street, behind the building."
"Did you think of that?" Grey asked. He didn't wait for the answer and spoke quietly with the waiter. Kimberly knew this meant he was going to take the check and abruptly end the evening as soon as the tip was settled.
"I might have."
"Well, I'll probably survive, at least. I still am coherent, unlike the three of you," Mol said.
Mol was a teetotaler and used this when others were at their most vulnerable to win arguments. Kimberly never let her win, though. When they were drunk in college, Kimberly would always challenge her to races, scrimmages, Rochambeau, or board games and invariably win because she was more resourceful when drunk. She cheated more easily. After they both had kids, Kimberly had to settle for petty battles of wit for lack of time and resources.
"I can still manage obstacles," Mol said, and gave Kimberly what she thought might be a challenging look.
After the waiter walked away, Grey said, "We're in a crowded restaurant. We're all meat."
"So, what, you'd just surrender?" Kimberly said, watching Grey stiffen almost imperceptibly. He'd been laughing earlier that evening, but his humor failed with the meandering conversation. "Try to negotiate with the zombies?"
"I've talked to worse," Grey said. "My coworkers are pretty much dead already."
"You used to have a plan."
"It's not worth the effort."
"I had a friend," Mol said, "who said that his plan for the zombie apocalypse was to put on body armor, attach razor blades to his hands, and file his teeth and then go out and get bitten so that he could be a super-zombie."
"Charming," Grey said.
"Let's not go, yet," Kimberly said, grabbing Grey's arm as he reached for his coat. He shook her off. "Come on. We're having fun."
Grey turned around and threw his hands up in the air. "Can we please stop fucking each other? Can we please? I mean, Christ, or at least could we talk about it and lay out ground rules? Like that I'd like to sleep with my wife more often than you two?"
No one spoke. Kimberly placed her finger on the rim of her empty glass and pushed gradually until it fell over. Lucky it was empty. He had to ruin things again.
"We were having fun," Mol said. "You ruined the evening, Grey."
"You're such an asshole," Travis said. "And selfish. I mean-"
"Pogs? Who still has their Pogs?" Kimberly asked.
Someone screamed in the kitchen. All four stood up and stared at the white, swinging doors. Blood splashed on the circular window and a limp hand fell through between the crack. An awful, rotting stench hit them. Someone else screamed and then another and another.
"Come on," Kimberly, Travis, Grey, and Mol said together.
They picked up the table in unison and threw it through the window.