49)   Super Sunday, 2/19:  2:30 – 3:00 AM  Fat-ass Fat-cats in their Fat-Rat, Fast-Ass Offices…!”


The pickup truck, dangling chains and parts of the auto showroom chain fence, rattled back up the central corridor and detoured into the Food Court, past the bellowing head of Ghede lying sideways on the floor, and out towards the Fuzzy Planet Greengrocery where a crew of hungry zombies waited to affix its chains to another chainlink fence; this separating the looters from the curly purple cabbages, jars of sun-dried tomatoes, organic grass-fed kangaroo steaks and raw leeks behind the glass.  (And the expensive wines.)  This fence was less secure than that around the luxury autos – it came away whole and, after smashing windows, the looters surged in… only to stare, confounded, at unfamiliar edibles like goat cheese, radicchio and balsamic vinegar.  A thirsty ruffian cracked the neck on a bottle of the latter, mistaking it for wine, spilled and, then, spat the spicy astringent across the floor, shook his head, and exclaimed…

“Fuckin’ rich people…”

          By now, the One World Mall was, mostly, in shambles – the lucky plunderers having recovered their spirits (literally… one of the two liquor stores had been breached) as those who’d been carrying off their prizes to the parking lot (and its waiting cutthroats) were replaced by new arrivals, drawn by insomnia, greed and the overnight live TV coverage before the celltowers failed.  There was not a cop in sight… not even within miles!… as fortunate shoppers made off with paintings of landscapes and Tuscan villages from the Starving Artists’ Gallery (“Your portrait or photograph rendered in Three Days, $19.95!”), lingerie from Femmes Fatales and rolled-up rugs from Carpet Island.  Grown men playfully spritzed each other from bottles in the Parfumeríe L’etoúx while, at a Food Court table, an elderly gentleman in a gray suit and maroon necktie shared a plate of cold French fries and pertinent conversation with an escaped monkey.  Half a dozen burly high school students… apparently members of an athletic team… tried on XXL prom tuxedos and cummerbunds in Bow Tie Formal Wear, casting nervously admiring glances at an enormous bus mechanic, Rafe, who’d set down the 1.5 liter bottle of Monkey Bay wine he’d liberated from Giga-Mart, and was squeezing his hairy torso into a lacy wedding gown.  Next door, a dozen zombies had penetrated Henri’s Chocolatíer, stuffing their mouths and pockets with what truffles, creams and sugarplums were left over from Valentine’s Day…

“Wife loves this stuff… anybody see a box, lyin’ ‘round?” one asked, juggling loose candy with an armful of cheap DVDs from Giga-Mart… failed epics and direct-to-cable knockoffs that Big Sonny consigned to the ravished discount emporium across the Mall.

          Another, apparently an off-duty bellhop from the motor hotel up the pike, still in uniform, kicked open a door.  “Maybe in the back here… hey! check this out…”

          More zombies irrupted into Henri’s.  “Is a cash register back there?” one asked…

“A safe… probably with real money inside…”

          Finally, the bellhop gained a clear view over the head of the rest.  “Wow!” he exclaimed, with near-religious fervor…

          The center of the back room at Henri’s was taken up by a giant cardboard tank… eight feet square, six feet high, filled almost to the brim with liquid chocolate used in fashioning novelties.  The first, greedy zombie with the greedy wife threw his cassettes of animated AVP and deeply discounted Rob Lowe DVDs aside, stood on tiptoe, and plunged his hand into the bubbling confection…

          Oww!  Oww!  It’s hot!  I’m burning…”

          He jerked his hand out, but the mutilated flesh was already covered with a thick layer of cooling and congealing chocolate; one of the zombies who’d expressed disappointment at not finding money couldn’t help wisecracking…

          “Bet you’ll have the wife eatinouta the palm of that hand…”

          Closing his eyes, clenching his teeth with abject terror, Uncle Raoul peeked outside of the interior door to Lester’s Likenesses, seeing most of the crowd now wholly focused on personal enrichment and began slinking along the promenade (now full of broken glass, blood, dropped prizes, small animals and broken human beings… some lying still, some twitching and moaning) towards Giga-Mart, muttering “Earline?  Yo, Earline?”

          And, in the auto showroom, someone had finally discovered the little red button that raised the interior chainlink fence, and someone else… ransacking the office… had discovered the keys!  In short order, the interior windowglass was punched out by a gleaming Rolls Royce, followed by the most intrepid of the privateers in a restored ’57 El Dorado convertible, a snarling Audi and a hummering Hummer… each followed by an entourage of eager scalawags shouting out their desires as they ran, brushing glass from their hair and blood from their eyes, keeping pace with the cars…

          “The bank,” one suggested.  “Ram the gates on that bank ‘n we’ll be rich!”

          “First, the gunshop,” said an elderly man to the driver in the Audi.  “Go for the gunshop, Shane!  Gotta have protection…”

          “Fuck that!” roared a younger fellow, following behind.  “I came for a TV set… I stood in fuckin’ line three hours an’ they tell me go home… I want a fuckin’ Dom…”

          The gunshop-pointing man reflected on this.  “Might not be able to haul off a ninety-two inch television.  One of them plasmas would do… sixty, seventy-inch, two-kay pixels.  But, first, a Glock.  And one of them sweet Jewish machineguns…

          “There’s a jewelry store way over on the other end, between the unlicensed dentist and fightin’ dogs…” suggested a zombie with teardrop tattoos and three fingers on his left hand.

          “How ‘bout my bank?”

          “That dentist…” gunshop-pointing man asked Three-Fingered guy, “he use any gold?”

          “He got any drugs?” was the answer…

When the vehicles turned left onto the promenade beween Giga-Mart and Giga-Plex, only the Audi continued out through the gates.   The driver, Shane… after gunning his engine, knocking several looters aside, crunching a few corpses and sending many more scattering… roared out into the parking lot and off into the night, raising aggrieved cries from its pedestrian entourage, none louder than the man who’d been urging Shane to pull down the gates to the gunshop


                             “Hey!  Hey!”

                             “Come back!” another echoed…

                             “Come back, Shane…”


The Rolls, however, rammed the full metal gate of the Third-Fifth Bank, the El Dorado sacrificed its detailing smashing against the gunshop and the Hummer began ramming the sheetmetal gate cloaking the approximate Entrance to Giga-Plex

          Inside, the besieged heard the ominous WHUMP!  WHUMP!  of the crazed Hummer and began to know fear.  And then Effie Lou looked up from Bennie’s corpse… face up, a knife-edge copy of “War of the Worlds” (the Tom Cruise version, heavily marked-down to $3.99) protruding from his skull, focused on the gathering predators above, pointing…


Three more zombies had found the courage to test the maze of catwalks eighty feet above Giga-Plex.  One stumbled and plummeted almost immediately into Cyberia, landing atop a rack of toner cartridges and sending a great cloud of black dust billowing upwards.  A dirty blond dirtbag in a dirty T-shirt made it only as far as Appliantology… a drunken misstep sending him careening down, too, landing on the Moondreams smart bed.  This impact propelled the smart bed into overload - activating all its flashing lights, vibration functions, coffeemaker, musical selections and medical sensors... bending and crushing interior levers and apps, rendering the device beyond control.  An electronic voice bleated “Malfunction!  Malfunction!”  The unlucky aerialist flopped to the floor… still alive, but with a broken back and pelvis, leaving him sprawled, facing Cameraland, screaming with pain and rage until he used the smart bed as a crutch to pull himself up before collapsing across Moondreams, the damaged percolator spraying his neck with scalding hot coffee...

          “My sensors indicate you may have medical problems.  Shall I contact a physician?”

          “My back!  Sweet Jesus, a talking bed!  Kill me, please…” the zombie sobbed.  “Kill me!”

          And Captain Lester Capps manifested at the foot of Moondreams, drawing his service revolver, standing over the wretch (who looked down his paralyzed limbs at the Screaming Eagle and murmured “No… no, I didn’t mean it!”) and planting a bullet between his eyes.  The force of the shot thrust the brokeback zombie back across the bed, eliciting a frenzied new round of medical advice.

          “Blood pressure ninety-four over thirty-six, pulse one fourteen,” Moondreams intoned.  “Do you request medical attention?  Blood pressure sixty-one, pulse falling… emergency!  Emergency!  Contingency override initializing.  Dialing nine eleven…”

          Captain Capps watched, defiantly, as the looter bled out and brained out - his twitching hands finally ceasing their grasping for whatever collateral might be respected in that place where he was going.  “He’s better off, that way, bed…” Lester advised Moondreams, whose attempts to reach the police had achieved the central command bureau’s recording…

          “You have reached nine eleven, the number for police, fire and emergency services.  All of our operators are busy; please hang up and dial again or wait for the next available operator.  Your estimated wait time… two hours, thirty-seven minutes.  You have reached nine-eleven, the number…”

          The other intruder, Quimper, passed overhead while all eyes were on the fallen felon, and… with the attention of the hostages beneath focused on the drama behind and beneath him… had almost achieved his objective, the rotating statue of Big Sonny adjacent to one of the many pillars holding up the building, when Westy Soames, still tethered to the Tech and Credit Tent, dragged himself erect, shook his head - pointed and shouted…

          “That one - he’s coming down…”

          Big Sonny didn’t have a weapon, but he did have the force of his outrage.  “You’re trespassing!” he called up to Quimper.  “Don’t you dare!  Don’t you dare put your feet on me

          Capps kicked the dead looter’s shins dangling off Moondreams; then looked up, calling out: “Arms!”

Three of the Screaming Eagles trained their pistols on the trespasser, who, seemingly unconcerned, climbed over the rail of the catwalk, intent only on sliding down the column and vaulting to the head of the Lester’s Likeness of L. B. Sonnenschien… who, in the flesh, had resorted to screaming incomprehensible invectives at Vern Cooth.  As Quimper straddled the alabaster ten-gallon hat, raising a flashlight like a bullwhip, Capps waddled up.

          “Fire!” he ordered.

          The looter, caught in a fusillade, slumped over the face of the entrepreneur, and slid down the statue, leaving wide trails of bright, arterial blood that caused Big Sonny to throw down his hat.     

          “Look what you did!” he turned from Vern to his security chief.  “You let that jug-eared cretin make me… dirty!”

          Sensing that the pressure was off him, for the moment, the FCC Manager wheedled “It’s gonna be alright, now, LB…”

          “Alright?  It’s a disaster, Cooth, that’s just what it is.  And it’s all your fault,” Big Sonny took off his hat, pointed it out towards Vern, then threw it to the floor and stomped on it while zombies, backing away nearer the doors to corridors now that deadly force had been employed, watched the progress of his tantrum like so many crows by the side of a roadkill road, “…yours and those so-called police and armies, coddling criminals, and the fat-ass NATITRAP fat-cats sitting in their fat-rat ass-offices, with hired experts,” he turned on David Lee and Kristi, “who never mentioned security…”

          Before David could make mention of the fact that this very scenario had been outlined in numerous reports – all ignored, probably destroyed – Vern, enraged himself, shrieked:  “Don’t call it NATITRAP!”

          Cooth threw a wild, roundhouse punch that caught Big Sonny flush, breaking his nose and sending a spray of blood across his Western shirt and light-coloured suit.  Two Screaming Eagles restrained him while Fred Faubourg shook his head at the insanity of it all, mumbling to nobody in particular, actin’ like a pack of goddam Antifa!” Effie Lou led the bloody Sonnenschein away. 

          Wild whoops of joy emanated from Kravjak’s Department Store, across the Promenade, its full metal gate, only half as thick as that surrounding Giga-Plex, finally fallen to the onslaught of two proud, but battered Beemers.  The noise awakened Reverend Godwin from his paperback nest.  Blinking and vomiting, he reached for a beer, coaxed a few drops from the empty can, then looked around.  The bookstore was empty save for the tall, bearded fellow in a stringy sweater the colour of dried blood who had moved on from Death’s denial to declaiming aloud from a paperback copy of “Day of the Locust” held upside-down…

          “They realize that they’ve been tricked, and burn with resentment…”

          “Who’s burning?” Godwin asked.  “What day is it?”

          “Why, it is the Day of the Locust, my friend.  Did you know that Homer Simpson was originally Mister West’s causal agent in the burning of Los Angeles?  Tonight, however, it is all America that shall burn, and then the world.  No living creature, no church, no philosophy shall escape the flames… they have been cheated and betrayed.  They have slaved and saved for nothing…’

“Mister Westy said that?  Where is Soames?” asked the befuddled clergyman.

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          Westy, in fact, was hollering at Tom Eppert’s brother-in-law Stretch, as he stood in the doorway to the maze of catwalks that linked Giga-Plex to the rest of the One World Mall… biding his time, not willing to step out and give the armed, excitable Screaming Eagles a clear shot.  Stretch waved and brayed…

          “Looks like they got you where they want you, bro’…”

One of the mercenaries raised a rifle.  “Keep the bastard talking, sonny, let me get a shot…”

          He fired, but missed as Stretch slipped back through the door, then popped out again – pointing downwards to his brother-in-law, studiously searching every corner of store for his missing TV…

          “They’re shootin’ at me, Tom!  Shooting!  At me!  But they are going to pay… I’m not goin’ back home without what I’m owed…”

          Tom looked up.  “Stretch?  What are you doing up there?”

          “The question, bro’, is what are you doing, down there…”



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