Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fifth Entry: Remember

July 4

Happy 4th of July!

Okay, so it’s not so happy. I don’t think a lot of people in the mall even know what day it is, especially the people living in tents in the park, or on cots in the shopping areas. I guess days of the calendar don’t matter so much when you don’t know if you’re going to survive to see tomorrow.

Okay, so that was melodramatic, but that is how I’m feeling today. I have today off, and there’s nothing for me to do. I could walk around the park, but it looks like a refugee camp out there… which I guess it is now. I wonder what we’re going to do with those people when winter comes? It doesn’t snow here or anything, but it still gets cold and rainy.

I could also go wander around the shopping areas, but that’s just as depressing since the only stores that are “open” are the ones handing out supplies. Being a scavenger now, I don’t need to stand in those lines anymore since I’m allowed to take my share directly from our hauls (the theory is that since we’re risking our lives top get the stuff, we should be allowed first dibs at it).

I could go hang out at the store with Bud Nelson, my old boss. I think the council still believes that this will all blow over at some point and the mall will reopen, so they have not really done much as far as taking over stores and residences. I guess they don’t want to piss off the people who pay rent. I’m not complaining, since it means I get to keep my apartment, but I have to wonder if there will still be an Insert Coin home office left if this all ends.
Bud has been living in the store since everything started. He didn’t have a place in Mallville, but a lot of outsiders who were employees in various stores have been living in them, I guess it’s better than a tent in the park. Bud occasionally comes up to use my shower, but he’s a very different guy now. He had a family out there; they were away on a family trip when this started. He’s not heard from the since then.

I don’t really like days off anymore. With the internet gone (as far as I know anyway, the Mallville server was shut down a while back), no new games, books, or comics coming out, no tv or radio, there’s little to do but sit and think. I cannot even listen to any modern music now, because it starts me wondering if they are still alive out there somewhere. I’ve been listening to a lot of classical… at least I know those guys are dead.

So, with nothing else to occupy me, and no desire to think about the present, I have been thinking of better times. I’ve been thinking of Sharon… I guess I am coming to accept that she might be dead by now. Why wouldn’t she come back if she could?

I keep looking at the picture of her and I from the anime convention. She’s dressed as Integra Hellsing, and I’m dressed as Mr. Kimura. She’s got a cigarette in her mouth, and is looking all serious, while I have my head at a weird angle with my mouth hanging wide open. I’m frankly too fat to be Mr. Kimura, but Sharon thought it was good, especially the father hat, she said that totally made the costume.

I’ve asked the pictured Sharon, the her from before the world went to hell, to tell me where she is, but it persists in not answering. The only thing it is telling me is memories.

I remember hanging out at Insert Coin with her when we were supposed to be working. We’d talk, play with the collectible toys, play games on the demo kiosks, flirt ( in our own sort of way). Our conversations would cover everything from politics to just general geekery.

The last time we just hung out and wasted company time before all this shit went down seems like yesterday, but it also seems like a whole different life. I was sitting on the counter idly making a Master Chief action figure fight a Trashman action figure while Sharon was playing a used copy of Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii kiosk.

“Why don’t you come play with me?” she asked.

“Because the store is open, and people might see.” I replied, making Trashman hit Master Chief upside the head with his shovel.

She didn’t even look away from the screen, she just said, ”The game, loser.”

“Exactly. You’ll just kick my ass.”

“ I’ll play as Peach, she sucks.”

“And you’ll still win, making it all the more humiliating.”

She made a sort of “pssh” sound, and then said,”Coward.”

Seeking to change the subject, I said, “So who do you think would win in a fight, the Baskin Robbins spoon or Mr. Peanut?”

“Yeah, a few years back they did an ad campaign with a talking pink spoon.”

“Okay, I remember that. Mr. Peanut would win.”


“Well, first off, he has arms and legs, and the spoon doesn’t. Second, the spoon is dead, which is why you don’t see it in commercials anymore; I don’t think Mr. Peanut would have much of a fight with a dead spoon.

“Okay, but back then, before the spoon died.”

The screen of the Wii display flashed brightly as she performed a final smash in the game,” Well, see point one, and point three. Three, Mr. Peanut has a sword concealed in his cane.”

“No he doesn’t.”

“It’s true…. Why are we having this conversation?” she asked, finally looking away from the screen, as the game declared her the winner.

“You pick a topic.”

“Okay, ummmm…. What’s your favourite RPG?”

“Console or PC?”


“Umm, Legend of Zelda. The one of Super Nintendo, A Link to The Past.”

She put down the wiimote, turned to look at me, and pushed her glasses up to rest higher on her nose,” Seriously?”

“Yeah, what’s wrong with that?”

“Well, it’s not a role playing game first of all.”

I put the action figures down, and dropped off the counter onto my feet,” Sure it is. You level up, you save a princess.”

“You gain powers in Mega Man, and save a princess is Mario, but those are not RPGs. I could have accepted Earthbound, but not Zelda.”

“Alright then, what is your favorite RPG?”

“Hmmm… Persona 3.”

“Even over Morrowind, or Final Fantasy?”

“You know I hate Final Fantasy. Yes, even over Morrowind.”

“What about Persona 4?”

“It had a totally different feel, didn’t it? I liked P3”

“Regular, or FES?”

“FES as a standalone or the American release with both FES and the director’s cut of P3?”

“Director’s cut”

“Definitely FES then.”

“You just liked that emo looking kid.”

She gasped, grabbed the nearest item to her (luckily it was just a plush Weighted Companion Cube), and threw it at me. “Whatever! You had the hots for Mitsuru.”

“Actually I liked Chihiro best… you know I have a thing for glasses.”

That stopped her. Whenever I would make any implication that I liked her, she would clam up. I don’t know if it was because she doesn’t like me I that way, or if it just embarrassed her. In the couple of years I’ve known her, she never once mentioned dating. I don’t know if she even likes guys really.

Liked guys would be more appropriate, I guess. I’ve been thinking like this since that run to Tyranno Mart. I’ve been out twice more since then, both times to T Mart, but neither eventful (Maria took out a couple zeds on the way out last time, but Wally made her stop before we all lost our hearing). Seeing what is out there beyond the view of Mallville’s roof has made it all more real to me.

It’s not like it’s a sea of the undead like they always show in the movies (it may be like that in the big cities, but not here thankfully), but I feel different about it all… more empty. It’s hard to accept that I may never have another Big Mac or Slurpee. That no there are no more jars of Beefy Cheese coming on trucks to refill the display at Tyranno Mart once we empty it.

It’s hard to accept that I’ll never have another stupid pointless conversation with Sharon. We’ll never debate again whether or not Spike Speigel can kick Vash the Stampede’s ass, or if Jimmy Kudo could have caught Kira without getting killed.

I am in a mall surrounded by a couple thousand people, and I am alone, and the world is dead, but it just doesn’t know it.

Sharon is gone, the only person I feel any connection to, the only person that really matters to me when I get down to it. The only person that makes me tear up to just think of them being gone forever.

Oh God, no.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fourth Entry: Shop 'Til You Drop

June 29

I went on my first scavenging run this morning. We left at sunrise in a three vehicle convoy, a white pick-up, a black SUV, and a Black van. I was in the SUV at the front of the convoy. Wally was driving, and Maria Perez was riding in back, Maria kept giving me dirty looks, and neither of them would let me handle the radio (the walkie talkie radio, not the car radio, that just gets static). I guess they thought I was going to start yelling for Sharon, or something.

It was weird being outside of Mallville for the first time since before the end of the world (as we know it, and I feel fine. Lol). I don’t really know what I expected… some sort of post-apocalyptic landscape or something, but it’s not like that at all. It looked like everyone just left in a hurry. The streets are pretty clear of cars, there’s the odd abandoned wreck here and there, but the streets are not clogged by any means.

The city is pretty unnerving to be in really. It’s just a ghost town. There are some bodies around, but whether those are where people battled zombies, or where they battled each other, I do not know. Some shops have been looted, and I would suspect that was our crews, but I have been told that we try not to attract attention, and it seems like smashing out a storefront window would sort of be an attention-getter.

As we drove through the city, I must have looked like some sort of freaking tourist, staring out the window at everything. Wally didn’t say anything, but Maria snapped at me a couple of times to keep an eye out for zeds, not for sales.

The thing that probably surprised me the most was the smell. Now I acknowledge that it stinks around Mallville too, that smell like the entire world is decomposing, but in the city it is so much worse, I guess because at the mall we regularly dispose of the dead undead, but out here they just sit and bake in the sun. The smell is just nauseating. You know how you get used to a constant smell, and it sort of goes away as you adjust to it? Yeah, that did not happen.

Our target was the same Tyranno Mart that Sharon was going to. We pulled into the parking lot, and found everything to be quiet. There were a half-dozen cars in the parking lot, but there were no signs of life (or unlife) around the store. We could see through the front window that the store was dark, and the security gate was lowered so no one could break in through the front doors. It didn’t look like anyone had tried either, all the windows and doors were un-broken.

We circled the whole store, and did not see any signs that anyone had been there before us. We parked in back by the loading docks so that we would be out of sight if anyone, say a pack of bikers, went past on the street.

We gathered around the loading dock. There were 8 of us including me. We were all wearing gun belts with handguns, and Maria, me, Terry Kietzmann, and Josh Sterling were also carrying Mossberg rifles.

“What do we do if people are in there?” I asked.

“We leave. We’re not here to take anything by force”, Wally replied.

“But what if they don’t know that? What if they shoot at us? Tyranno Mart sells guns, you know?”

“Shut up, Noob”, replied Maria in a South American sounding accent.

“I don’t think there’s anybody here anyway, so don’t worry about it”, said Grant Carr.

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

“No guards. We have people guarding the doors and the roof. If there were people here, they would likely do the same. Plus there’s no trash out here. I doubt they would have kept three months worth of trash inside with them.”

“It could be on the roof.” I said.

“True. We’ll see in a minute,” said Grant, motioning to a white metal door set into the back wall of the building next to the large roll-up door where trucks used to be unloaded. Set into the door was a peephole, and on the door was a large sign which read:


Below the sign was the smiling green face of Rex, the Tyranno Mart dinosaur mascot.

Gerry McElroy, a pudgy guy with a voice that belongs in a cartoon, climbed somewhat clumsily up onto the loading dock, and walked to the door, “Should I ring it?”

“We’re not exactly delivering anything,” said Maria, being much friendlier to Gerry than she was to me.

“True, but we must keep some semblance of manners, you know?”

Gerry pressed the small white button next to the door. Nothing happened. He then tried to look through the peephole.

“Anything?” asked Wally.

“Well, I’m really on the wrong side to see much, but it is rather dark..”

“Power’s out. Everybody light up,” said Wally.

Maria distributed headband flashlight from a box in the back of the SUV to everyone. Once we were all fitted with them, we sort of resembled the dwarves from Snow White. I’m sure if asked, Maria would label me “Dopey”.

“Are you going to open the door, or are we just going to wait for some shambler to come find us?” asked Mitch Malloy.

“Alright, alright. Won’t be but a minute,” commented Gerry with a dismissive wave. From a pouch on his gun belt he pulled a black case. He opened it up revealing it to be a lock pick set, and began working on the door’s lock, humming softly as he did.

In a couple of minutes Gerry had urged the door open, revealing a pitch black stock area. We all switched on our lights, and did a quick sweep of the room, finding nothing but stacks of boxes, full pallets, and a pile of flattened boxes.

We should have realized at this point that something was not right. It smelled just as bad in the store as out, and with the place having been sealed up for who knows how long, the smell of decomp should have at least been less strong, don’t you think?

We split up to make a sweep of the store to make sure it was safe before we started our shopping. I got paired up with Maria, but I’m not sure if this was meant to be some sort of punishment for me or for her, as she seemed just as unhappy with it as I was. We were to check out the back area while the rest of them checked out the storefront.

Maria and I headed down a darkened hallway, our lights sweeping back and forth across the walls and floor. The right side of the hallway was lined with doors and windows. The first window had blinds covering it, but I could see through the second window that these were offices. At the end of the hall was an open doorway with a sign over it reading “Team Lounge”

“I’m gonna go check out the break room. You check the offices.” Said Maria, and she walked down the hall, leaving me alone.

So there I was in front of the door to that first office, the one with the closed blinds. If there’s anything that freaks me out, it’s closed doors; weird I know. I just hate not knowing what is on the other side. The sign to the left of the door said

Tom Wingates
Assistant Store Manager

Presumably what would be inside was Tom’s desk, chair, maybe a picture of his wife… or boyfriend, whatever. Nothing I couldn’t handle, right?

I tried the knob, and found the door to be unlocked. Gripping my rifle tightly, I slowly pushed open the door with the gun barrel. I was immediately assaulted by the smell of rotting flesh so strongly, that I staggered back a step.

My options were to cover my nose and mouth, or keep both hands on my gun. I kept my gun pointed in front of me, and made a mental note to hit the hardware aisle for a face mask. The office looked small, I could deal with the smell for the few seconds it would take to find out what was causing the smell.

I entered the office, and found it a mess. The contents of Tom’s desk, a framed picture, a name plate, a computer monitor, a keyboard, some sticky notes, and pens, were scattered over the floor along with an overturned chair, presumably for guests in his office to sit in.

As my light shown on the floor, I could see what looked like dried blood. Moving closer revealed the source of both the dried blood and the smell. A headless body (Tom, I would assume) lay face down… er, belly down on the floor. His once white long sleeved shirt was almost brown from the dried blood.

As I thought about confirming that it was in fact Tom, and not about the fact that he didn’t remove his own head, I heard a gunshot. It came from somewhere in the store. I turned to seek the source of it, and was greeted by a sight I will never forget.

A man probably in his early thirties was standing there in the doorway. He had dark hair, and was wearing a short sleeved button down shirt with a name badge on it. The badge featured the face of Rex trying to look his most helpful, and read:

Need Help?
Ask me, I Care!
Bob Valentine
Electronics Supervisor

I could see that between the words “me” and “care” he had written in, almost too small to see, the word “if”. His shirt was stained with that same almost brown color of dried blood as the floor, his skin was a sickly grey color, and his eyes had gone all milky.

If I’m going to have a sense of humor about it all, then I would say that Bob looked extremely happy to see me. He lunged forward as if to hug me. I very courageously flinched back, and fell over Tom’s desk onto his rotting corpse, causing extremely foul smelling liquid to erupt from it.

Bob staggered into the desk, causing it to scrape on the linoleum floor as it slid a couple of inches. He leaned over me, as if he was planning to just topple over the desk on top of me, and he probably would have too, if I hadn’t gotten my rifle pointed in the right general direction, and fired it.

The shot caught him in the upper chest/lower throat area. It was not enough to drop him, but he did stagger back away from the desk. I rolled/slid off of Tom, got up on my knees, and fired again.

This shot caught Bob right in the face, and painted the ceiling in the style of Jackson Pollock, if Pollock had ever painted with rotten zombie brains, which I kind of doubt. Bob staggered back through the door, across the wall, and into the wall opposite Tom’s door. He bounced off the wall, and fell forward onto the floor with a sickening splat.

Maria ran up just as I was getting to my feet. She approached Bob cautiously, making sure he was really dead this time, “Did you do that?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I replied.

She looked at me differently then, not in any sort of adoring way, but also not like she I was a piece of crap that she had stepped in anyway. I don’t know if that meant I’m not a noob anymore or not, but clearly I have gained some level of acceptance from her.

Before we could say anything else, there were two more gunshots from somewhere in the storefront. We looked at each other, and bolted down the hall.

We found the source of the shooting in the toy section where Gerry and Mitchell standing over a dead body that was lying face down on a dump bin of stuffed animals. The back of his blue a green vest with the words ”Always Great Values” was stained with gore.

“That’s two up here” Gerry said.

“We found one in back, our new boy took care of him though,” said Maria.

We finished checking the store for the undead, and found only one more in house wares. I would speculate that the original intent of these people was that they were hiding out here like we are in Mallville, but seeing as they were still wearing name tags and vests, they must have gotten infected early, and just been trapped in the store the whole time. Who knows how they got infected after they sealed the store up.

We filled up the truck, SUV, and van up with supplies, food and ammo mostly. We also found the keys to the store in Tom’s office, and were able to lock the store back up when we left so the place looks, from the outside anyway, totally undisturbed.

One last thing before I go to bed. It was decided that I had to ride in the back of the truck on the way back. Not for being a newbie or anything, but because a good portion of Tom juice had soaked into my clothes, and I stank… and frankly even after two showers I still stink. I hope this stuff wears off.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Third Entry: Chickenshit

June 21

I found Wally in the food court later on. He was eating by himself, which is unusual since getting a table alone is unheard of now. I don’t think it was his choice though; I had been hearing rumors during the afternoon that Sara had been bit, and that the others may be infected too. I know this was a load of crap, since I had seen them return and all, but that’s just how rumors work.

“Can I sit here?” I asked Wally.

“Are you sure you want to? I might try to eat you.” So he had heard the rumors too.

“I’ll take my chances.” I said.

“I’m sorry about Sharon.” He said, staring into his bowl of canned chili.

A terrible pain stabbed in my chest at that, “So she’s….” I couldn’t finish. I couldn’t say the words. I cannot even write them.

“I really don’t know. We were going to check out the Tyranno Mart over on Utopia, but before we got there we ran into trouble.” He took a sip of coffee from his cup.

“Zeds?” I asked.

“No, bikers, of all things. They didn’t even threaten us, they just started shooting. We split up in an attempt to lose them. Mitch and Sara climbed into the back and started shooting at them. I saw a couple go down in the mirror, but that’s when Sara got shot.”

“You lost them though, right?”

“Yeah, and we ended up hiding out in a self storage locker for two days. We kept hearing their bikes go past. I don’t know if they were actively looking for us, or what. We decided to make a go for it this morning because Sara needed help. If we didn’t get her help today, then she would have been beyond our help.”

Wally went on to explain to me how they were too afraid that the bikers might be listening to try and radio to the other cars to find out if they were still around. They did keep the radio turned on until the batteries died though, and never heard anything.

I decided then that Sharon had been right about one thing. Guarding the roof was a bit chickenshit. If I really wanted to make a difference, and if I really wanted to findn out what happened to Sharon I had only had two choices. I could leave Mallville, which would be suicide as I see it, or I could join the scavengers.

So this afternoon I went to see about signing up with the scavengers. I didn't dare go talk to Hashmir, I talked to Alex Sigler instead. Alex is bat-shit crazy, but he's not the android that Hashmir is. He's also directly in charge of the scavengers.

Alex had some doubts about letting me go out on runs. He made me promise that I wasn't only doing it because of Sharon. I lied to him, and told him that I wanted to make more of a difference, and honor Sharon's memory.

If I believed that Sharon is really dead, I would not have been lying, but I know she's still out there. I don't believe she could possibly die so easily.

Alex relented, and said that I could go out on the next run if I really wanted to. He would talk to Mike, my boss as a roof guard, and get it all finalized. Mike shouldn't mind, there's always people who want to be roof guards, especially people on the disposal crew.

I don't plan to do anything stupid, mind you, but I need to know what happened. Sharon's out there somewhere.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Second Entry: One of Three

June 20

It’s been a full week now since Sharon’s group left. We still hadn’t heard back from them until this morning.

I was on morning shift on the roof; the center section of the front side right over the main entrance’s fancy archway. I generally like doing morning shifts, it’s not too hot which means the smell that covers the city like a freaking blanket isn’t too bad yet, and I don’t have to use any night vision like at night (we keep the parking lot’s lights off, it’s not like we want to actually attract zeds).

It was pretty quiet, I’d not seen any targets all morning, and conversation had kind of dropped to silence with the guards on either side of me, as I’ve not been a very good conversationalist since Sharon went missing. It’s not like anyone thinks Sharon and I are an item, but most of the other roof guards know that we’re close, and that I’m worried about her.

In the distance I spotted a shape walking down the center of the street, towards the parking lot. It seemed to be staggering a bit, but it stepped over the accumulation of bodies out there rather too nimbly for a zed (there was quite a collection growing out there, as it had been a week since the last time the disposal crew had been out).

I looked through my rifle’s scope to get a better look at the person. It was a man, dirty and covered in dried gore, but many survivors come in like that. His dirty black hair was covering his eyes. I couldn’t tell for sure if it was one of the undead, or just a survivor who had a particularly bad time of it out there, so even though I flipped of the safety, I kept watching through the scope without firing.

As he got closer, he looked up. I don’t know if the sun reflecting off my scope got his attention, or if it was the movement of other roof guards, or if he could just smell us even from that distance. When he looked up though, I was able to get a good lookat his eyes… all milky white, no visible pupils from that distance, not even with a scope.

It opened its mouth and leaned back as if to yell as I fired. The movement of his head put him out of the position that I was aiming at, and the bullet caught him in the throat. This would still have been a kill shot on any living person, but it only made him stagger. I cursed myself for missing, Marty would mock me for sure.

I aimed and fired again, this time the bullet tore through the zombie’s left eye, and sprayed the blackened goo that had once been his brains and blood backwards in a small burst of gore. He staggered a couple of times, tripped over the corpse of a woman who had once been a nurse, and fell face first on the street.

“You know, we don’t have enough ammo that you can just waste it firing wildly like that,” commented Marty Williams with a laugh.

“He moved.” I replied, flipping Marty the bird.

“They do tend to do that. If they didn’t get up and move around, I’d still be an accountant, and you’d still be stocking shelves and running a cash register.”

Before I could reply, movement caught my eye again. This was no zombie this time. It was a black SUV, one of the three from the missing scavenging run. It was alone, and looking through my scope at it did not make me feel any better.

The car was seriously beat the shit. The windshield had a bullet hole in it, and the passenger side had more. All three passenger side windows were gone. It looked like Wally Miller and Sara Seder were in the front seat, and I could see someone in the back, but not well enough to tell who it was.

I turned to Marty, but before I could say anything, he cut me off, “That’s part of Sharon’s group, isn’t it?”


“Go, I can cover your section too, it’s only another hour anyway.”

He didn’t have to tell me twice. I bolted for the stairs, stowed my rifle, and bolted down to the garage just in time to see the heavy door roll back down behind the bullet-riddled mess that was once an SUV. It looked even worse close up. I could now see that the driver side windows and the rear window were also gone.

To my dismay, I could also see that the person in back wasn’t Sharon, but Mitchell Malloy. Mitchell and Wally were helping Sara out of the car as I arrived. Sara was covered in blood, and I felt my heart chill.

“Is she bit? Are any of you bit?” barked Hashmir Kaur, head of Mallville security, in his thick accent.

“She’s been shot,” explained a dirty and fatigued Wally.

“But is she bit? Are any of you infected?” Hashmir insisted.

“No, but if we don’t get her to the hospital soon, it won’t matter.” Growled Mitchell.

Hashmir waved the other guards who had assembled in the garage to meet the returning scavengers, and they led Mitchell, Wally and Sara away. He told other guards to inventory any supplies the group had returned with, and to remove the car. At this point he noticed me standing there.

I must have looked horrified, I certainly felt heartbroken. Hashmir is not one to let emotion get in the way though, even when he was just in charge of making sure no one made too much noise after 10pm, and that people were not shoplifting, he was still a horse’s ass, “What are you doing here? You should be on roof duty,” he yelled, “Get out of here, and if I ever see you deserting your post again, you’ll be on disposal duty!”

I left quickly.

It’s not as if Hashmir doesn’t know about my worried about Sharon; he’s not stupid, and he has a good eye for detail, which makes him really good at his job. It’s just that he doesn’t care. Like I said, he’s not big on emotion, it’s like he thinks it interferes with getting things done. I’d be afraid to see what would happen if the council was not around to keep him in check.

I’m going to try and talk to Mitchell or Wally tomorrow. I need to know what happened to Sharon, if she’s still out there somewhere or not. I know I should be worried about the other missing scavengers too, and I am, but Sharon is my main concern.