It was a little after midnight, and business had been slow. It always was when a storm was rolling in. They had just finished sweeping, and Mr. Kim sat behind the counter, mindlessly flipping through a sports magazine. Suddenly the front door burst open. Two young black men charged through. Instantly, one of them had a large pistol in his hand, pointed at Mr. Kim. He froze, not out of fear, but rather out of habit. Being next to a rougher part of town, Kim's Liquor had been robbed 15 times in the twelve years he had owned it. Only once had things escalated to violence. Usually, there was just lots of cursing and the loss of maybe a few hundred dollars and some alcohol. Insurance paid for it all, and it wasn’t worth losing his life over. As long as nobody did anything stupid, everything would be ok.
The one with the big pistol strode towards Mr. Kim, while his friend took up a position by the first aisle, looking like he was ready to bolt in an instant. "GIMME ALL THE CASH, B'FORE I BUST A CAP IN YOU, GOOK!" he screamed. Mr. Kim's hands came up next to his head in a sign of surrender. He flashed a nervous grin at the robbers, trying to not look scared. The man repeated his command a second time and thrust the gun in Mr. Kim's face. He reacted by moving to open the register.
James watched as Leroy threatened the clerk. The man had a nervous grin on his face. For some reason, even though Leroy had complete control of the situation, James felt wrong. He shook his head, trying to clear his mind; everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. Suddenly, James was jerked back into normal time. The bell that went off when the door opened had just chimed. James whipped his pistol up and drew down on the man who had just entered the store. Leroy and the clerk both stopped and turned their heads to look. The Korean stood there with his mouth agape.
In the doorway stood a white man in pajama bottoms and a torn tee-shirt. He stood there, unsteady like he was drunk; one hand holding onto the open door. He was covered from head to toe in mud; leaves caked into the mud. His hands an feet were cut open, yet there really wasn't a lot of blood. Where there was blood was around his mouth and down the front of his shirt, as though he had been feeding on something, recently. To James's surprise, what appeared to be the jagged end of a bone protruded from his upper left arm, which hung limply at his side. As horrific as that wound was, it wasn't what caught James’ attention. What transfixed James's attention were the man's eyes and face. His eyes were clouded over, and his face showed no expression. James froze as the man's dead gaze swung across the room from James, to Leroy, to the clerk.
"Holy, F***", Leroy said as he brought his gun to bear on the man. "DON"T MOVE, CRACKA, OR I"LL BUST YOU UP WORSE THAN YOU IS!" James saw the man's expression change. It went from blank to one of feral viciousness. The man stepped into the store, letting the door swing shut. He raised is good arm; his fingers making a claw. He let out a moan that sent a chill down James's spine, as he moved towards Leroy. "STOP MOTHER F******!" Leroy screamed, panic starting to cross his face. As the man stepped closer, Leroy pulled the trigger on his gun, three times in rapid succession. The three rounds slammed into the man's chest, taking him backwards. His right leg caught on the corner of a snack rack, and he toppled back. His arms flailed and drug the rack down with him, spilled chips and crackers across the floor.
NO!, screamed Mr. Kim's mind. Instinctively he ducked down behind the counter. He saw the man thrashing around on the floor; looking like he was trying to get up. The two robbers stared at man on the floor; mouths open. Through all this, no one noticed the two swinging doors at the end of the counter part. A black barrel poked slowly through the opening. Leroy swung his pistol back towards Mr. Kim. It looked like he was ready to shoot, again.
BOOM! Flame jumped out, as the No.4 12 gauge round left the barrel poking between the doors. In his nervousness, Mr. Kim’s son, Eric had aimed off his mark. The pellets spread out and caught the gunman high across his right thigh. Even so, he was knocked back into the end cap. He half sat, half fell into the display; a look of astonishment on his face. Mr. Kim's son stepped through the door and racked the slide on the shotgun. Leroy raised his pistol and fired off a round. It hit Eric Kim squarely in his left shoulder. Eric half spun under the impact of the round. One handed, he managed keep the shotgun trained on the robber. Simultaneously, Leroy and Eric Kim pulled their triggers. Leroy's round entered below Eric's right eye. As it exited, it blew the contents of Eric's skull all over the swinging doors. Eric's head rocked back, as he fell backwards. Eric's aim was better the second time. The pellets from the shotgun hit Leroy squarely in the chest. Even though they were small, the force of them all hitting Leroy from the distance of about 10 feet lifted him off the display and flopped him on the floor.
Through this all, James had stood transfixed. It was just like watching a movie. The second round of shooting snapped him back. He saw Leroy lying on the floor. The man with the shotgun lay on his back, half way through the swinging doors. He moved quickly to Leroy. As he knelt over him, he could tell that Leroy was gone. His chest was a bloody mess and blood trickled from the corner of his mouth. His eyes stared blankly at the ceiling.
The crack of the pistol sounded like a cannon going off. James felt the round pass by his head. The pistol barked again, and he felt a tug at his hoody as he stood up. James saw the clerk standing behind the counter aiming a revolver at him. "YOU BASTARDS!!" the man screamed as he pulled the trigger a third time. A jar of salsa exploded down the aisle. James raised his pistol emptied all the rounds in the magazine. Three found their mark and the Korean dropped down behind the counter. Quickly, James bent down and retrieved Leroy's .45. He moved to the counter. He looked over and saw the Korean sitting, back against the bottom of the cigarette rack. A blood spot blossomed on the front of his white button down shirt. The man looked up at James. James raised the pistol and fired one time. After looking at the man for a second he turned to leave the store; panic was setting in. As he neared the door, he felt arms wrap around his legs.
He fell to the floor, just short of the door. Rolling half over, he saw the bloodied man that Leroy had shot clawing his way up his legs. The man bit him on his thigh, sending pain shooting up his leg. James began to pummel the man's head with his hand and the pistol butt. The man's arms flailed, trying to grasp James. Suddenly, he got a hold of James's left hand. He drew it towards his mouth. In an instant, his teeth closed around the last two digits. There was a sickening crunch as he bit down. James screamed in pain and looked in terror as the man began to chew on what moments before had been his pinkie and ring finger. He brought the pistol down, almost into the man's right eye, and pulled the trigger. More blood and gore spread itself across the wrecked store. The man went limp.
Frantically, James crawled from under the man. Dropping the gun, he clutched his ruined left hand. In complete panic, all James could think of was getting away from the mad house the store had become. He slammed into the door and into the night. Through the pain, he pushed his legs forward. All he could think of was getting home.