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This started off as a small half-page drabble inspired by an effort in-game to secure the G1ga-Mart. However I found that it took on a life of its own over the course of four hours of writing, rewriting and proofreading. I might revisit this if I can get past a certain programming glitch in the game that prevents you from crafting a certain very useful item.


"To Whom It May Concern,


Due to a number of circumstances beyond my control caused by an extensive outbreak of an unidentified infectious disease, I am no longer able to continue in my position as Store Manager of the G1ga-Mart in Knox County for reasons including but not limited to the following:


1. Worsening civil disorder (riots).

2. A complete lack of resupply of food and drink stock, office supplies, etc.

3. The entire disruption of all emergency services (fire, police, medical).

4. Disruption of civilian communications networks (Internet, landline and cell phones)

4. Severe employee absenteeism partly due to the above conditions as well as extreme concern for family.

5. The necessity of lethal self-defense on a daily basis to preserve life and property.


These conditions have continued with no expectation of relief for around four weeks, and unfortunately broadcasts on both television and radio do not indicate that the situation is likely to change in the near future. It has now become physically impossible to remain open to the public on a consistent basis without endangering the safety of the public and our staff, let alone meet any kind of sales goals. An attempt to deposit all remaining cash from store registers at Knox Bank failed due to the rampant civil disorder; as a result I have placed said cash in the hidden safe within my office with a completed deposit slip. The territory manager will then be able to access it with his master key if circumstances permit.


On a personal note, when I began work here as a stockboy many years ago, it was not my first choice for a job. Nevertheless I determined to be the best employee possible and I note that my hard work was duly recognized and rewarded in turn with increased pay and responsibilities. As manager of the store I have reduced theft to zero and turnover to a fraction of what it used to be, with the result that my location has won a number of company awards. My requests for time off have been sparing and always considered by the company in a prompt manner, and the benefits at G1ga Inc. have been extremely generous in a very tight economy. I wish all of my store employees, fellow managers and coworkers the very best in any future endeavors.


Very sincerely,

Zachary Taylor"


P.S. I wish to dispel any rumors about a photograph of a certain executive used as a dartboard in the breakroom. They are absolutely true. Every last one of us was tired of seeing you vote yourself a raise while opposing any increase in wages for entry-level employees. 



With an unusually fancy flourish, Zachary signed his full name on the sheet of paper and placed it in the center of his desk with his favorite glass paperweight atop it. Out of habit he stuck the fat pen behind his right ear after a quick glance. A birthday present, a pen that had cost her $100 since the case was made with some rare wood he could hardly pronounce. It was meaningful as she hated spending money, but moreso for her name and "Love Forever" in cursive letters on a tiny gold plate curved around one side. Funny how its the little things that matter most, he mused as he swept his eyes over the awards hanging on the wall. Zachary chuckled. They'd never meant much to him in the first place. And in the current situation? They weren't even useful as firewood.


"Just over twenty years," he said to nobody in particular as he turned to look out through the streaked glass windows over the dark. empty aisles. One thing he hadn't bothered to mention in his letter was that the power had been out for almost a full twenty-four hours. While their commercial freezers would stay cold a little longer than home models, it was still curtains for anything perishable. "Two decades. Just enough time to lose it all like a dumb gambler in Vegas." He mentally ticked off items like groceries on a shopping list. First it was my wife to cancer and our four kids to adulthood. Then our favorite car thanks to a drunk driver, my town and neighbors to this damn 'disease'...and now my store. He sighed again with hurricane force. My. Store. The house was an empty shell without her or the children; just old memories. But every day I could come in, hang my hat on the wall, yell at the girls to stop gossiping and start opening the registers, read that damnably silly newsletter for grocery store owners and see the same faces coming in for a loaf of bread or a pack of beer or whatever was on sale.


It had all been a strange comfort. A raft to cling to when his ship had sunk. "And every day, I'd write with her pen. Just like I promised," he half-whispered, suddenly blinking rapidly as he tried to beat back certain memories.


"You always did keep your promises, senor," came a reedy voice from behind him. 


"Manuel." Zachary said without looking. I swear he can teleport. "Been there long?" he asked, as he always did when the kid somehow appeared behind him without a sound. "Long enough." the skinny Mexican clerk replied, just as he always did. He paused, the ensuing silence seeming to last twice as long as it did. "Are we still going toward Mexico?"


A single chuckle. "South? To the school? Si - I mean yes. Tell everyone to raid the fridges one last time when the wakeup alarm goes off. Anything they don't have room for in their stomachs is a snack on the way and supper when we get there. Something tells me the power isn't coming back on and we can't grow corn on a concrete parking lot."


"They were asking...last night...if we stick to the plan?"


"I didn't magically come up with a better one overnight. One red duffelbag of supplies per person - carried, dragged, or pulled in a little damn red wagon, one bag with whatever they pick. and one weapon minimum. That crazy state trooper can take his damn thousand rounds of pistol ammo. But tell Hank if I see more than one girly magazine anywhere on his person he's going to be tied to a tree."


Manuel nodded slowly. "Si. It's a couple minutes after six now...I'm going to cuddle up with Merry. " Zachary nodded, tactfully choosing not to mention what that usually involved. "Just keep the volume down." 


He turned his attention back to the windows as Manuel slipped away with cat-like silence after a snicker at his admonition. The view hadn't improved; the shelves were still empty, the aisles dirty but mercifully clean of 'ketchup spills' thanks to their supply of bleach, and precious little light came it through the boarded-up and bedsheet-curtained windows. Yet he couldn't stop from hoping that a miracle was still in the cards, that a cure would be announced or a fleet of helicopters would evacuate them all. But just in case... Zachary forced himself to look away and walked to the trio of filing cabinets he'd long since stocked with literature. Eschewing careful thought with time in short supply he yanked out the first thing he saw - the boxed collection of Calvin and Hobbes. He decided instead of sitting down for some light reading to pack away his prize before Hank saw it and whined to be allowed that much more in girly mags.


And then it was time to go. All that remained was his beloved cherrywood desk and chair. Even the other two chairs that had sat across his had been re-purposed by his fellow survivors downstairs. 


No. Wait. There were still a couple things worth saving. Zachary quick-stepped to west wall and hastily flipped over the photos of his surprise engagement and of their wedding, slipping the glossy pictures out to stuff in-between the massive books. Meticulously he straightened the empty frames before forcing himself to walk towards the door. Six-twenty; time enough for a perimeter check with his trusty axe if he hurried. It wouldn't do to be ambushed now. He allowed himself one very last look back with his hand on the doorknob, back toward the place that had been his home and second office...


...only to see a well-dressed and groomed middle-aged man wearing a familiar purple shirt and tie sitting attentively behind the desk. Their eyes met for an instant, and the man had the look of a confident soul whose expression said "thank you, you can go now." 


Then he blinked, and again he was alone in the dim, stale-aired office. For the first time in weeks a small smile crept across Zachary's world-weary features. Eyes riveted on the empty chair, he tapped the pen behind his ear in a gesture of farewell. To a chapter of his life that had just closed. To himself. "Chapter three..." Zachary mused aloud, as he gently shut the door behind him. "In which a great and perilous journey is undertaken..." He strode confidently over the metal catwalk toward the staircase, with his prize carefully hefted under one arm.

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I smell a great adventure. You need to keep writing on this, I like where it`s going. The main character is one of those classical "Nothing else to lose but my men". I also wonder what kind of personality Hank is... You won yourself another reader, good job!

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very cool stuff didn't really know about pz fanfic/stories but this is a good idea... it adds some nice (non canon) lore and is great for background. it would be nice to hear the rest of this story however they have to die in like a really bad way. also i worked out the worse way to die in pz being surrounded by the horde but having a ton of canned food..... but no can opener and starving to death

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