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Theoretically Impossible
My eyes snapped open, the ringing in my ears deafening. Lights danced in my eyes and my entire body felt like each bone was a ton of bricks. Moving was out of the question for now. I could do nothing but lie there and stare at either a blurry sky or my eyelids while I waited for the horrid sensations to stop. Eventually, everything died down enough for me to make some sort of sound or movement. I groaned as my voice slowly returned to me, sounding alien to myself. Blinking a few more times, I slowly sat upwards, the ringing in my ears dying as my sight cleared of the swimming lights, ringing being drowned out by deafening silence. Everything felt… off. I looked around me and slowly felt my stomach sink into my legs. Everything around me seemed so… dead.

The sky was a dull grey, covered in a slowly shifting blanket of clouds and seemingly frozen in that weird point in dusk, where the light seems so hollow. All around me, besides my front, was a vast open plane filled with seemingly dead grass. Stunted trees stood like weary sentinels every ten-odd meters. There wasn’t any wind, no birds chirping, no chittering of cicadas, nothing. It was like I was the only thing alive. I sat in a car park, of all places, with the one road out stretching endlessly into the distance. Every single spot in the lot was empty. The lamps hadn’t turned on yet, either. The only thing of any substantial structure was dead ahead. A looming shopping mall looking structure, with big red neon lettering that read ‘We sell what you need!’. I got to my feet, not saying a word and walked towards it. With every step I took, I could feel a gnawing in my stomach growing. When I finally reached the mall, I was met by a single pair of double glass doors, almost hilariously small compared to the scale of the wall they were stuck on. They were too grimy to see anything through…

Pushing on them, I found that they were unlocked. I walked through in, half expecting to be jumped by some horrible creature and murdered. But, when nothing came from the shadows, I let out a sigh of relief. It was then I took in the sights around me. I stood in an atrium, a second tier of floor above my head and connected by a series of de-commissioned escalators. The ground floor held the basic structure of a food court, with all of the walls and lighting in place, but none of the stalls had anything to them. They were just flat cut-outs, a shell. Chairs stood packed up on tables, some of them either laying discarded or smashed on the ground. The sight of it all made my stomach turn. Down every way I looked, it was all the same. Empty shops, lights on, but nothing going on. Like everything that held any significance was up and taken.

The second floor was worse, in my opinion. Mostly because of a single store. It was the biggest one there, a department store whenever it had been in use. Aisles stretched from one of the room to the other, small islands of check-out desks missing registers, flat carpeted areas with imprints of furniture. The shelves were all empty, so empty I could see from one end of the store to the other through them. I left as soon as I could. Nothing good could possibly come from in there. My stomach lurched and curved with each new discovery of the sheer emptiness that purveyed the entire building.

That was, until I found the one active booth. It was on the second floor, down on the right from the department store, glowing like a beacon. I walked up to it, reading the lettering above the door, ‘Harmless Incorporated.’ Inside the shop was something substantial, which made my heart soar. I pushed open the glass door, looking around with a smile. All the worries I had faded away oh-so quickly. There was a table on the far end of the room, with a computer set up so that when I sat, I could see the hall out front. I immediately sat in the comfortable chair and felt good. Like I could stay here forever. I looked up at the computer, and began to read the words on screen. Before I knew it, I was typing words into boxes, filling sheets and working hard. I had to fill the quota. I couldn’t go back out into the store. I had to keep working. I had things to do. There was work to be done.

I am much happier here.
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