Tuesday, April 29, 2008

First Entry: Life Changes

June 16.

Okay, it feels like I should start out with Dear Diary or something here. Let me start again.

“Mallville, small town living for the 21st century!” was the tagline when they announced construction of this place a few years ago. I was in high school then, but the idea really appealed to me.

The idea behind Mallville was to create that “Leave it to Beaver” small-town everybody-knows-everybody kind of community in one large building. There were to be the usual shops, but also offices, a small hospital, an internal police force, apartments, schools, and even a large town park at the center of it all.

The actual structure looks sort of like the Pentagon, only a lot bigger (well to me anyway, I've never been to the Pentagon). The bottom two levels contain enough shops to rival the Mall of America (no rollercoaster though), and the four levels above that are mostly non-retail businesses, and the residential areas. There are two sublevels as well, but that is mostly resident and employee parking as well as maintenance areas. The building itself is ringed by a huge parking lot for customers and guests.

At the center of the building there is a large open park with a stocked fishing pond, a baseball diamond, an old fashioned bandstand, a playground, a biking track along the outer edge, a community pool, and lots of grass. It is quite beautiful once you get over the fact that it is surrounded on all sides by six stories of tan stone.

I wonder now if the designers intended the place to be fortress-like. I think so, since every large entrance has a sturdy metal gate that can be rolled down, the external doors are all thick metal, and the whole place is powered by geothermal energy and solar power (it’s all green, don’cha know).

Am I gushing? Probably. I loved the idea, and when construction was complete, and they started renting apartments I signed up. I was out of high school by then, and lets face it, I’m not going to college. I got a job at “Insert Coin”, a game store on the second level. That’s where I work with Sharon.

Sharon’s not my girlfriend, not really anyway. I’d like her to be, but she thinks of me as a friend… she treats me that way anyway. She’s a geek hottie, red pigtails, glasses, and she can kick my ass at Halo.

Sharon’s gone now…. Everything’s gone now. Well, not gone, but different.

A couple of months ago everything started to go sideways. There were news reports of violence at the local morgue, not the one in the mall, but in the surrounding city. Weird crap, people biting other people, and it started coming in from more and more cities. The local media was completely lost in trying to cover it, it wasn’t a high school football game after all.

That’s not to say cable news did any better. Wolf News tried to say they were just irresponsible rumors being spread by terrorists. WNN played the president saying that the situation was being investigated, and that people should not panic. The broadcast networks played their normal programming… until things got bad.

It turned out that the dead were rising for real, no jokes, and certainly not under anything one could call control. It wasn’t like the movies where they were literally rising from the grave though, it was only the freshly dead that were rising, and even then not all of them. The problems were in mostly the big cities where more people die from accidents and such.

Once the government finally admitted what was happening, although they could not explain why, they suggested people stay inside. That’s when Mallville became a fortress and a shelter. All the gates were rolled down, but people were allowed to seek refuge in the mall. A lot of people in the surrounding area became Mallville refugees, and the central park and much of the shopping area became filled with tents, sleeping bags, cots, etc. Mallville actually has a disaster plan, and had a store of these sorts of supplies on the premises.

Eventually scientists determined that the reason not all the newly dead were coming back was because some had been embalmed, it seems the chemicals involved in embalming retarded the process. They also said that autopsied corpses were not reanimating, and that this was due to the extensive damage caused to internal organs during an autopsy.

The scientists explained easy ways to tell the undead from the living:

The undead do not speak. They may make guttural moaning sounds, but not speech.

They do not have full control of their bodies. They shamble more than walk.

Not that you should let one get that close to you, but their eyes fog over, as if covered by cataracts. They seem to be able to see just fine, but their eyes are all cloudy.

In order to put down one of the creatures you merely had to destroy enough of the body to stop it from working. The things did not bleed to death, but if you bashed in their skull, they went right down. Beheading them works well too

Given how fragile these things are, it did not make sense that the undead population was growing, but the scientists had a theory about this too. . The virus or bacteria causing unlife, they were not sure which it was, could be spread by bodily fluids. If you got infected body fluids into a cut, or you were bit by one of the undead then you would eventually become one.

The problem is supposed to be really bad in the big cities, between the streets jammed with panicking people trying to evacuate, to idiots with guns shooting anything that moves, and in the long run creating more zombies than they were stopping, and the just generally confined spaces of the urban area the Zed Virus (this is what the media took to calling it in the last days) spread like wildfire.

In almost no time the broadcast networks were off the air, as well as most of the cable networks. Only the local stations remained. The internet was the same. For me, I knew things had gotten really bad when both Google and Wikipedia went down and did not come back.

I don’t know why I am writing all this down. If you are reading this, then surely you already know it all, so let me get back to me.

Obviously my life changed once the gates of Mallville rolled down. There was not much need for people to sell video games anymore, so in order to earn my keep (and keep my apartment) I had to find a new role.

I opted to be a roof guard. It’s not the most glamorous of roles, but it is important, and it’s probably the safest defense roles. I patrol a section of the roof. Each side of the building is divided into three sections, each section patrolled constantly by one person with a hunting rifle. Our job is to make the undead re-dead. There is usually only one or two a day per section.

As it turns out, I am quite good with a rifle (maybe Jack Thompson has a point about video games as training tools after all). Luckily there was a “Sportsman’s Depot” in the mall, and they had enough guns and ammo to keep us going for a while.

Now one or two undead a day may not seem like a a lot, but if we did not pick them off as soon as we realized that they were starting to trickle towards Mallville, we would be inundated by now, making scavenging runs an impossibility, or at least more risky just going out or coming back, and I have a reason to want the scavengers to be safe.

I tried to get Sharon to sign up for roof duty with me. I pointed out to her that it was safe and a little fun, all things considered. She said that it was too chickenshit of a role for her. She wanted to get out there, and do some real good for the mall on the streets; she joined the scavengers.

Ultimately, this is why I am writing all this. You see, she went out three days ago in a small three vehicle convoy (all SUVs from the garage levels), and they should have been back that night, but they weren’t. We’ve not heard from them, but they may just be out of radio range, and we stopped being able to get cell signals last month (no one left to maintain the network, I guess).

Sharon was really my only close friends; the only person in Mallville that I could really talk to, and with Livejournal gone, I have no one to talk to, so I am writing it all down. I’m worried about Sharon, and I hope she’s still out there… and I hope she comes back soon. I miss her.


Anonymous said...

Starting off strong.

kali_ma said...

Hi! I'm in love with this idea. My only concern thus far is akward sentence structure and run-ons. You're setting up a good story, but I was very distracted by punctuation issues. While I understand that it's a rough draft, let's put our best foot forward, yes? ^_^
Or are you meaning to write this "in character?"

Connor Courtney said...

I really enjoyed your post It's similar to my own blog.

Nash McGowan said...

Very cool story. I am starting my second reading and I just wanted to comment on how good this story is.