After surviving the spread of an infectious plague a young man sets out to search the wasteland for Valentine's Day gifts for his girlfriend.
“Remember, no hospitals, schools, malls, military bases, police stations, or supermarkets,” Marcus said.
Flash forward a couple of months and I find myself stuck inside of a mall with a giant heart shaped balloon, a box of expired chocolates, and an oversized white and red teddy bear. It feels more like a Valentine’s Day gift set. I am hiding in the security office, figure it’s a safe a place as any to put the goodies until I’m ready to leave. All three items are for Melissa, my lovely lady. A Sunday back I asked her what she would like for her birthday had the outbreak never happened and she replied, “A huge red heart shaped balloon, a large box of dark chocolates with caramel filling, and a big ass teddy bear!” So like the romantic jackass I thought myself to be, I set out to track these things down. I reasoned that a one stop shopping was in order, and what better place for this than the mall? The answer is many.
Clearly I’m a genius which is why I searched specifically where Marcus told us to never venture. “Us” being the group of survivors I spend most of my time with. Marcus is a sort of mayor or sheriff to our settlement. He makes the rules and gives the orders, which we all obey because they consistently keep us alive. My current lapse of judgement is due to the amber colored eyes attached to Melissa’s face. Seeing them wide with joy is one of the few things I have left to look forward to after the outbreak.
Now I’m trapped in a room with about hundred infected aware of my exact location, storming my way as I frantically scramble, searching through the security desk, flinging paperwork, pens and junk food out of the drawers in search of ammo for my 9mm and some clue as to how the hell to escape with the goods before they reach me. I find nothing, zip, zilch, nada. I’ve been in some pretty bad situations over the course of the last year, but this is ranking up to be the clear worst. If I don’t act fast in the next minute and a half I’m going to have to call it quits and make peace with the fact that this security room will be my grave after I’ve finished starving to death. I don’t like the sound of plan B which lands me back at plan A, but I haven’t thought of one, yet. Solution? I grab all the crap, lunge out of the room in front of three runners and the rest of the walkers, and run as fast as I can to a more open area.
The runners are right on my ass. Although I have enough rounds to take all three of them out, it isn’t going to be possible with them this close. I have to find a corner to run around, drop everything to take aim and not miss a single shot when they come back into my line of sight. It doesn’t turn out to be that easy. I turn the corner, drop the goods, take aim, and catch only the first two with headshots as soon as they come around, but I miss the third. On my fourth shot I catch it in an arm before it topples over and brings me down with it.
By now everything is reflex. I learned whenever one of these zombified freaks managed to catch you on the ground, the first thing to do is always to hold its neck back to keep its head from snapping forward and taking a chunk off of your face. Marcus taught me defensive techniques to take control of a fight during close quarter combat, grapples included. I press my right knee against the right hip bone of the infectee and force its body to the side where I then flip us both over, landing me on top. My hand still tightly wrapped around its neck, I reach for the gun with my left and shoot twice into its left eye. It goes still, stiff, and I proceed to relax for a moment before grabbing the bear, the balloon, and the chocolates, again, and getting out of there before the pack of walkers reach me. The gunshot is sure to have told everything in the mall where a raw bag of human uninfected meat is hanging out.
The remaining issue is finding a way out of the mall that doesn’t involve becoming a zombie first. See, most of the entrances were overrun with infectees trying to make their way to the outside world, but they haven’t yet figured out how to use doors. To make things worse, I’m not familiar with the mall’s layout, so I’m left unaware of where to head next.
TO BE CONTINUED…