He never understood why everyone else left. The mall still had power from its solar panels, the air conditioning worked, and the shops were all stocked. People left so fast that no one had looted it. The back storage of many a shop, many a restaurant, had lots of useful things. Once he figured out how to reset the music in the public announcement system, the loneliness was almost bareable. Staying away from the windows was the important thing during the day, but the night was different. At night it got cool enough he could venture out into the sunbaked death. He just didn’t want too anymore.
At first my face hurt. Around me it was dark and damp. Water dripped near by with an unsteady rhythm. If I hadn’t broken my nose in the fall I am sure I would have noticed a horrendous odor too. It felt like I was knee deep in runny mud. It was sewage and I was covered head to toe in it. I managed to pull out my phone and turn on the flashlight app. Above me, way above me, there was the hole from the sidewalk I fell through. Just a blacker spot in the dark. No one was up there, at least no one I wanted noticing me down here. I surveyed my more immediate area and found a narrow walkway next to the river of sludge I had landed in. I climbed onto the ledge and sat.
My phone was getting no signal down there but that also meant that I was no longer being tracked either. A second small bonus, if you count a broken nose stopping the sewer smell as number one. There was lots of battery life and only two directions to choose. This way or that way. I picked ‘that’ way, guessing it where I wanted, and went.
I ignored several ladders that led up to the street over the next hour and when straight at every intersection I could. If this sewage line was following a specific street than I figured I should be heading away from where my phone’s location dropped dead on them. I wasn’t supposed to turn off my phone, that was against the rules. Well, I hadn’t and I also didn’t fall through the sidewalk on purpose either. The timer that was started at the beginning of our little game will show the phone stayed on the whole time.
Upon reaching a grating blocking the way forward I backtracked the the last ladder and went up. There was no one near by the mouth the alley as I dragged myself out. There was however a campus park with operational fountain across the street. That gave me a quick place to clean up a little before running the rest of the way to the Quad without being caught. Victory was mine, even if at a price.