The story so far:
The explosion from the shotgun was deafening. Chris was knocked to the pavement from the unexpected recoil. He frantically scrambled to his feet, fearing that he may have missed and readied the shotgun for another blast if necessary. Blood dripped from the hood of the SUV and puddled on the ground beneath it. Chris stepped forward cautiously to survey the damage.
The blood was thicker and darker than it should have been. In fact, it was so dark that it reminded him more of molasses than blood. His eyes darted about the scene quickly, searching for the corpse of the wretched beast. There was nothing. The only sign of it was the dark, thick goo that continued to drip onto the ground. Without thinking, Chris stuck his fingertips into the dark liquid. It felt like oil. He raised his fingers to his nose and immediately recognized the smell as the putrid stench from the alley.
The sun was starting to cast long shadows as it broke over the horizon. Chris could feel the warmth of it on his skin, but his blood was running so cold that he shivered uncontrollably. He tried to make sense of the events of the past several hours. His mind raced causing his head to throb. Now, more than ever, he wished he had a drink. He thought back to the promise he had made the previous night about quitting and laughed aloud.
As the sun continued to climb in the sky, Chris became aware that there was still no kind of movement anywhere. No birds flitted about in the trees, no cars jammed up the streets, no children on their way to school. The air was once again still and the silence engulfed him. The familiar feeling of dread crept into him again. Suddenly he wanted to be anywhere but there. The parking lot now seemed like the kill zone of a highly strategized ambush. The nearest avenue of escape was a small woodline to the north of the lot. Chris broke into a sprint and did not stop until he was safely into the trees.
Chris looked around intently and realized that he was in Dogwood Park. If he continued to head north, he would come out of the trees where the baseball fields were. Northeast would take him to the playground and northwest would take him to the picnic areas. He became suddenly aware that he was absolutely famished. His stomach moaned its complaints over and over again. He knew that there was a small concession stand near the picnic areas. Beyond that was Oakland Mall and more importantly, the mall's food court. He would check the concession stand first, but he was sure he would find nothing more than snack foods and candy.
Chris polished off a fourth small bag of tortilla chips as he crossed the mall parking lot. They were tasteless like the white wafers that they give for Communion at the Catholic church, but they satiated his hunger a bit and that is all that he really cared about. The stale, bland chips felt like lead in his stomach but he still felt starved and drained.
Chris approached the main entrance and used the shotgun to smash through the glass doors. He had no fear that security would come running. As a matter of fact, he hoped that someone would hear the commotion and come to investigate. At least that way he would know for certain that he was not the last living being on Earth. The glass shattering sounded more like coins dropped on a tile floor and to his dismay, there was no echo from inside the mall. The food court was on the second floor, right at the top of the escalators just inside the main entrance.
As Chris stepped through the shattered remains of the door, he saw that the inside of the mall looked as if a bomb had gone off. Kiosks were smashed to pieces, their wares littering the floor. The jewelry from a kiosk that specialized in silver glinted slightly in the dim flourescent overheads. Small bottles of incense oils lay smashed all around the base of the escalators, yet there were no musky or flowery smells.
Chris ascended the escalator two steps at a time, hoping not only that there was edible food left at the food court, but also that the equipment he would need to quickly prepare a meal was still operable. As he reached the halfway point, the escalator, which would normally carry someone up when it was operating, started moving down. Chris felt his heart skip a beat and panic started to overtake him once again. The all too familiar stench that had engulfed him in the alley started to permeate through the mall.
Chris began sprinting up the escalator nearly losing his balance more than once. As he reached the second floor, pain surged through his right arm, causing him to drop the shotgun and clutch his right arm with his left hand. The sound of the shotgun striking the floor roared through the entire mall and sounded similar to the sonic boom of a space shuttle re-entering the Earth's atmosphere. The deafening echoes seemed to resound through the empty building for an eternity.
Chris' hand was once again missing the three fingers and blood was flowing like a mountain spring. He quickly searched around for something to bandage his mangled hand. He found a dirty apron lying under a table in the dining area of the food court. He wrapped the apron as tightly around his hand as he could and tied it in place. He made his way back to the shotgun, praying that he would make it there before the dog decided to show up. As he bent over to retrieve the weapon, he noticed that the chamber was blown wide open, as if a shell had misfired inside the gun and exploded. His heart sank as he realized that he was completely defenseless against the demonic beast when it decided to show its face again.