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21 On the Mall Rooftop

 11:33 AM - City Mall Bacoor, Rooftop

The girls sat on some monoblock chairs forming a circle nearby the ladder they just climbed before. On the other side quite a distance away, the male employee was talking with three men of varying ages wearing blue long sleeved uniforms and overalls on top of their clothes.

When they climbed the rooftop earlier, they encountered these three men. Both parties were cautious about each other but it is the employee who seemed to be acquainted with them who broke the ice. From their talk, it seemed that these three were here to clean the rooftop when the disaster broke out.

They saw the situation inside the mall through the skylight windows installed on the roof top and became afraid to go back inside the mall. When they saw some people climb up the rooftop, they thought that those savages below managed to get up here. The three were elated to know that the ones who just climbed up was people who managed to escape and approached to greet them but it somehow ended up in failure.

As the three approached to give a short greeting to the girls, the mother and her child, Ange and Paula were fine and are also elated to see other people but Mei started shivering and slowly backed away in fright. The three men became troubled with her reaction.

Paula told Ange to take Mei to rest a little further away and apologized to the men about what happened. She explained her circumstances while omitting a large amount of details basically telling the three that Mei is severely Androphobic.

The men understood and did not pursue the issue. Still, the youngest of the three can't help throw an admiring gaze at Mei. Both Ange and Paula had good looks as college girls but Mei is on a way different level.

Then, the staring man was hit on the head by the older man beside him making him avert his gaze and clutch his head in pain. The older man apologized for the inappropriate behavior of the younger man and dragged him away.

The employee found several monoblock chairs for the girls and went to talk with the three cleaners. This now led to the current situation.

The girls took out snacks and drinks from their bags as it was already nearing lunch time. The mother opened an airtight sealed sandwich and fed her daughter who was sitting on a chair beside her. Ange and Paula also opened their own sandwiches. Mei who already calmed down on the other hand is only drinking juice rather she can only consume juice at the moment because of the painful cuts on her lips.

Paula also went and offered sandwiches and drinks to the men on the other side. The employee took the offered food and drinks while the other men only took the drinks and told her that they still had their own packed lunch. The younger cleaner actually wanted to take the sandwich but he was receiving fierce stares from the older man.

Even though they are eating and feeling safe for now, the girls and the employee are visibly tensed, stressed and worried, even glancing at the ladder climbed before from time to time.

This piqued curiosity of the middle-aged cleaner.

"Why the long face? What happened?"

The employee sighed.

"The person who has helped us get this far still down there."

The employee then pointed at the floor near his feet. He then recounted a summarized version of what happened starting from the time he and his cousins found boxes of food and being chased by a zombie, the time they had been locked out of the TechZonem and to the time Mark went and lured the zombies away for them to escape safely only omitting what really happened to Mei like what Paula did.

The three cleaners were surprised and also understood the feeling of this group that managed to survive with great difficulty. As they were here at the rooftop, they saw how severe the situation is inside and outside the mall. They saw people die. They saw people get chased and eaten. Those scenes churned their stomach heavily and they became afraid to get away from the safe confines of this rooftop.

And this group managed to cheat death several times due so a certain person. Yet, while they are all here, that person is not.

The atmosphere had gotten heavy. The cleaners are also worried about their families and the story they just heard added some weight to their feelings. This group only managed to survive due to the help of the person they are waiting for. If not for him, it is likely that they would have never met this group of young people, alive or probably, they would be able to see them, as flesh eaters that is.

How about their families? Are they safe? If they are in danger, would someone help them like what happened to this group in front of them? They are getting increasingly worried.

"I wonder if my family is safe." The middle aged cleaner said.

Hearing what the man said, the same feeling also rose in the hearts of Mark's group. Now that they are free from the threats of the floors below, their near death experiences flashed in their minds. Are their families experiencing the same situation? Who knows? They stopped eating their food without noticing.

There two people on the rooftop that didn't seem to worry about their families though. Ange continued eating her sandwich with relish. She spent quite a large amount of calories in order to fight back earlier and now she is feeling really hungry. She also seemed that she is not worried about her family facing dangers. The same goes for Mei. She came from a rich business family. They had a lot of contacts and connections that can take them to safety along with their assets.

Mei is more worried about her savior who is still inside the mall. If she can, she would really rush back to look for him.

It is the that Mei felt a tugging feeling. She looked behind her and stood up. She then unsteadily walked towards the southern side of the rooftop under the confused gazes of the other girls.

Ange wanted to follow Mei but Paula stopped her from doing so. Paula understood that she just had a very traumatic experience and many people who also did would have times that they would want to be alone for a while. As long as she did not look suicidal, it should be fine.

Mei walked slowly but it was actually the fastest she could go at this moment. There was a familiar structure built by the south side of the rooftop. There are doors on the structure and she was being drawn double doors on the right side for some reason.

As she was just several meters away from the double doors, the doors swung open.

***

Mark dragged his tired body up the flights of stairs reached the last few steps with difficulty. He saw a double door at the top and was sure that it leads to the rooftop.

He pulled the doors open and stepped out before closing the door immediately. Feeling weak, he then leaned on the wall beside the door and started a coughing fits.

Now that he started to feel safe, he began to feel the pain on his legs. His lungs felt constricted and feeling pain on his right side just below the ribs.

Feeling his drained energy, he entrusted his body on the wall behind him.

He then heard faint footsteps in front making him raise his drooped head.

When he raised his head, he saw the teary eyed Mei dragging her weakened body as she walked unsteadily towards him.

He tried to smile at her but the smile did not even manage to form as he coughed several more times.

Mei is already in front of him when he raised his head again, with both arms as if she was about to hug him but she didn't and just froze like that. Mei on the other hand did the motion unconsciously and ended up frozen when she realized what she is doing.

The atmosphere became awkward.

Mark saw that the others are already noticed arrive and are running towards him. He wiped his right hand on his shirt, raised it and patted her head easing the awkward atmosphere. Mei then continued to raise her arms and held on Mark's left arm with both her hands.

It looked like a good reunion scene from a corny drama series until Mark felt light headed and fell unto his knees as he started wincing in pain.