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The mall was the best bet in the zombie apocalypse, Abigail had always thought.  All those supplies, all the things you always wanted but never could afford open to you and your group, just hole off the entrances and lower some security shutters and you’d have an impregnable fortress you could wait the apocalypse out in.  Maybe in retrospect, the fact those films always ended with the message that the Mall was a terrible idea never sunk in, just all of the cool things you could do in a barricaded mall.

Yeah, that was the plan.  Maybe ten years ago.  Twenty.  Unfortunately, the zombie apocalypse had been preceded by the retail apocalypse.  Jeff was constantly theorizing about what it was that made the dead walk; a curse?  Some government experiment?  Aliens?  Margo, on the other hand, was critiquing late-stage capitalism and discussing how hedge funds and a failure to adapt to the evolving marketplace and blah blah whatever the fuck there’s a lot of empty storefronts in the mall.

Abigail did not give a shit why the dead wanted to eat her face, or why an entire wing of the mall was full closed stores, one theater with horrifically sticky floors, and a Hot Topic.  There was no hardware store with ninety kinds of zombie-decapitating tool.  The Sears had died years ago.  The closest thing they had to an anchor store here was a Best Buy.

Fun fact, an electronics store in a place with fuckall power is not fun to be around. 

To pass the time, Jeff was doing one-man imporov shows.  Summarizing movies, mimicking famous lines badly, that sort of thing.  Abigail wanted to strangle him with her bare goddamn hands, but restrained the urge, and even pried Margo off of him when Jeff spoiled season whateverthefuck of Game of Thrones--not that Margo was ever going to be able to see that season, what with no HBO. Or television in general. Or electricity.  After that, Jeff decided to stop "entertaining" his compatriots.  And nobody was particularly saddened.

There was a Barnes and Noble across the street, but Abigail wasn’t going for a book run.  One of the pop-up kiosks had one-hundred-piece jigsaw puzzles of the landmarks.  Piecing together Mount Rushmore lost it’s luster after the first time.  Abigail had a dozen Rushmores all lined up in a row, while she was on a bench next to the food court, looking at the husk of a Sbarro, drumming her fingers against her knee.  A mat of calendars—kittens, beautiful beaches, beautiful ladies, sexy firefighters, she had been keeping track of the days on all of them.

At least they were not going to starve, an old Army-Navy surplus store had somehow remained open throughout financial turmoil and the undead uprising.  No guns, no armor, just fatigues, dog tags, and MREs.  A metric ton of MREs.  If Margo hadn’t freed the furry denizens of that pet store the day the group had hunkered down, letting them run free and hopefully unzombified, Abigail would have been tempted to try them instead.

Margo had said that Abigail had came across as bitter?  Well, she was, having spent way too much of her life in the damn mall.   Two years at J.C. Penney, delaing with old ladies who were upset that they changed the pricing or whatever.  And then it closed.  Got a job at the Radio Shack, and that closed.  She actually left the mall to work at the Toys ‘R Us across the street.  Then that closed.  Back to the Mall.  She was astounded that there had been a specialty Olive Oil shop?  Because if you want quality cooking ingredients, you go to the little hole in the wall that used to be a luggage store.

That didn’t last long.

The Spirit Halloween was a seasonal constant.  A few months of plastic ghouls and crepe paper pumpkins in what used to be a Macy’s.

Abigail had been at the mall a long time.  And boy, did it suck.  What was that old movie tagline?  “When there’s no more room in Hell, the Dead will Walk the Earth.”  Well, working retail was Hell.  And well, now that so much of the mall is empty…

Yeah, fuck it. 

One benefit to the whole situation was that the zombies don’t seem to bother the mall that much.  Yeah, they get the occasional shambling mass, but they dealt with them.  Club them to death, throw tracphones at them, lure them into the water fountain that was emptied out and is too deep for them to climb out of.  But they aren’t that many. It had been easy enough to survive.

Standing on the roof, you can see the Walmart.  That place was lousy with the toothy bastards.

Abigail leaned forward, marking the spot on the kitten calendar she had missed the first time around.  Margo was trying to psych herself up for a run to the B&N, and Abigail joke she should bring a thing of Starbucks with her when she comes back.  Jeff made the executive decision to go with her.  Abigail worried about what they would coming back with.  Probably the hellish mix of Ayn Rand, Noam Chomsky, and Manga.  All of the Manga. Abigail shrugged and ask, if they were taking orders, to pick up some true crime stuff, too. Maybe some "how to" books. Carpentry stuff. Survival guides. Decapitating the Undead for Dummies.

As for her?  Abigail may have hated living in this mall, spending another goddamn minute in this Mall.  But, having the choice between the dead storefronts or the walking dead, she figured that the choice is obvious. The others could run along on their book run and hope for the best. Abigail was going to hold down the fort, providing the vitally important job of watching the door to make sure no zombies stumbled in while they're out.

Besides.  Mount Rushmore was not gonna piece itself together again.