2018-08-19 13:22 short-story flash-fiction fiction elixir Benjamin Brood

The Last Day

The sounds of his footsteps, the dampened squelch of his sneakers, were the only human things left in the empty halls. The faint, ignorable hum of central air was ever-present. He imagined miles of conduits, venting, pipes, wires and other building guts behind the walls and floors, persistent, dedicated and slowly corroding. It must've cost a fortune.

Today was the last day for the mall. It was the last day too, for CellPoint, the store he'd worked at for almost a year. It wasn't a very good job, but it was a job, and it was easy, and the owner never hassled him as long as he sold cell phone cases. He was pretty good at it, when people came in anyway. He wondered if anybody would come in today, he doubted it.

CellPoint was the last store on the last day.

The morning sunlight warmed the windows of closed stores, the brown paper colored like milky coffee. These used to be Sears, KMart, Victoria's Secret, Spencer's, JCPenny, FiNAILly, Candylicious, dozens of others, they closed one by one. Not just the big stores, but all the little ones that fed off the overflow of people, like little fish who attached themselves to the behemoths — once they went away it was only a matter of time until the little fish died off.

The store opposite CellPoint, across the wide, beige corridor with a floor decorated with ugly, pastel triangular patterns, was there maybe six months. It sold junk from auctions and vinyl records, it was called Rainbow Junction. The guy who owned it was always stoned. He had plans and ideas, he would talk for hours at first, walking over to CellPoint on a pretense to borrow something. He'd keep saying, "Great talking to you, have to get back if there's a rush", then continue talking and talking. But customers never came in. He stopped visiting that much, probably realizing the mall was doomed and his business was a failure. The day Rainbow Junction closed, movers came to take away the inventory, and the owner seemed a foot shorter and his eyes were swimming in black circles. The mall shrinks you, he thought, a big place like this, you can't get your head around how big it used to be.

He wondered what it used to be like. It used to be a town inside a town, with identities on a shelf, a food court for flavors of some bland alien world, reliable and free of surprises. He didn't know if he would miss it. It was designed that way on purpose. Tomorrow he'd be out of work and he figured he'd just stay home like everybody else.