Plugs

Some theories

Vaccinations? CDC Clinic in the mall carpark on Day 0.

Danny from Rico’s went for a shot before the outbreak, did not return.

Emergency personnel not responding. Perhaps they were amongst the first to go under?

Habit is everything…broken routines lead to extreme pack violence.

Crazy metabolism? The infected need to eat every hour or so. Some cannibalism observed.

Power and water intermittent, but still connected.

Burger-in-a-Bag

The teenaged staff performed quite well with no sleep. Things turned ugly when the sliced pickles ran out on day 3. The infected were not convinced that these cheeseburgers were authentic, and swarmed the shop en masse. Gustav had a revolver stashed behind the slushie machine and took out three eaters before they tore him apart

The shop was completely destroyed, and the mob nearly got through the rear entrance before we jammed it shut with a pallet of cooking oil. This was nearly a complete disaster, and we agreed that the rear walkway needs to remain barricaded at all times.

Rico’s

Lasted until day 5. Rico hid several razor blades and broken glass in his baked potatoes, but as his customers typically wandered away to eat their meals he remained undetected. An old man ate his food right at the counter, and his screams of pain coupled with the blood streaming down his chin brought the mob running. Rico vaulted the counter and tried to run for it, but he was brought down outside of Bannon’s Sportsware.

The shop was spared, and with the lights off we were able to carefully remove fresh ingredients. These were divided evenly between the remaining stalls.

Pasta Prince

Apart from running out of fresh cream for his fettucini carbonara, Lou did remarkably well. He stirred a fatal dose of rat poison into all of his dishes, and put more spices into the sauce to disguise the taste. Ironically this was his undoing, as an infected woman accused him of adding too much salt. He managed to kill her with a skillet but this attracted the attention of the other eaters.

We weren’t able to remove the barricade in time, and we heard them beating him to death against the back door. Shop completely destroyed on day 6.

East-N-Eatery

Mei attempted to inflict severe food poisoning on the infected. She dropped the temperature on all her food-warmers, and switched off the refrigerator on day 2. By day 4 all of her meat had started to turn, and some of the eaters were later observed with intestinal distress, several defecating openly in the atrium.
She came under attack by an infected with the wits to recall where he’d got the food from. He leapt over the counter, naked and covered in his own filth. Mei wriggled through the rear entrance and triggered the barricade (several heavy sacks of rice).

Mei has been helping as a runner, and she is light enough to travel through the air-ducts. We hope that she can help us to search for weapons, food, or an escape route. As the mall seems to be an epicentre for this outbreak, escape is highly unlikely.

Joseph Fuller,

Proprietor of Sandwich Kings,

Day 9.

Anya looked anxiously down at the crystal ball, but instead of the tiny fragments and swirling mists she usually saw, the images rose to clarity for moments at a time, difficult to interpret but strong and well-defined. She’d been beginning to think she couldn’t make it as a fortune teller after all, but maybe she was starting to get the hang of it.

“You will meet someone soon–very soon!” she said breathlessly. “A pale man with a pale mark … you will be very excited when you meet him, but–oh, there is danger. Great danger! You must beware–”

She looked up into her client’s face–a pale face, with a fat white scar down one cheek like the trail of an acid tear. She glanced down at the crystal ball again, and realized–stupid, stupid!–she had it oriented incorrectly, with the wrong side facing west. She hadn’t been reading her client’s fortune at all. It had been–

“Talented,” muttered the pale man. He stood up, but not to leave.

She lost her name on Stiltskin 9, another casualty when the reputation economy crashed. She made it offworld with a few credit cubes and a broken-down matter fabricator.

From the first, though, her new planet turned out to be just wrong. The fabricator’s nanotech assembly was stuck, would only convert straw to gold. And she couldn’t find any straw, just caldera of a steaming, congealed, or lukewarm porridge. The last of her cubes bought her way into a domed city, but it was nearly hibernation season, and the super-intelligent bears shunned her, in spite of her fur coat and matching gloves.

The bears favored semi-communal open-plan architecture, so wandering the city felt to her like wandering a single immense home. Soon enough, she was completely alone, the bears having all retreated to the privacy of their winter dens. She made herself at home, helping herself to the leftovers in the bears’ kitchens, snoozing warily in their summer beds, and whiling away hours in their virtual reality entertainment chairs–at least, whenever she could find one with a neural helmet neither too large nor too small.

One day, she met an insomniac. His was the only brightly-lit living area. Where she’d heard white noise forest-sound lullabies coming from the dens of other bears, he had a frantic electro-fiddle hoedown screeching from his speakers. He was sitting at a bark-covered kitchen table with a mug of coffee as big as her head.

“I get nightmares,” he grumbled.

She hadn’t asked.

“Humans in my house while I sleep. Touching my stuff.”

She folded her hands in her lap.

“Never seen a human.” He shuddered. “I hear they’re mostly hairless.”

She’d noticed the VR entertainments were redacted so that all other sentient species appeared as bears.

She tugged her fur-lined hood forward. “I can’t sleep either. Just moved from the other hemisphere. Biological clock still off.” The quick-spun tale surprised her. “I could keep a lookout for you. Let you rest.”

There was gratitude in the bear’s bloodshot eyes. “I couldn’t pay you, except in trade.” He motioned toward stacks of crates. “I’m import. High-end porridge bowls.”

She shrugged, “Sure.” It was safer than serial housebreaking.

“Didn’t catch your name,” said the bear.

She saw an open crate, a bit of packing material spilled out. Straw.

“Call me Goldy,” she said. The fabricator was a restless weight in her pocket. “I’m in export.”

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