Yeah, everyone says it to mask their shopper’s guilt, but no lie: I really hadn’t planned on going out that day. I’d always laughed at all the chumps who obsessed about shopping on Black Friday, like it was some kind of sacred new world tradition. Everyone with a lick of sense knows that the best deals are always found online, either the following Monday, or better yet the week after Christmas. And it’s not like any of it is even necessary – sure that micro-kegerator is 75% off, but do you really need it?

Cheyenne and I were gonna spend all day in the confines of the apartment and watch a Charles Bronson marathon on our day off work. We’d ditched our mutually-disfunctional families after the Big Dinner the night before, and wanted nothing more than a whole day away from society. Movies and blankets, and pizza for breakfast. It was gonna be grand.

But man, those deals at Best Buy were too good to pass up. Brand new big-screeners for cutthroat deals, and all their video games at the best prices I’d seen all year. I had to get me some of that. I’d been wanting that Black Ops game something fierce, and a new TV for the XBox had been top of my list for the last two months. Hobo and ham sandwich, I was “all up ons.”

Shit, listen to me, I’m talking about a fucking video game console, like that shit matters anymore. Like it even mattered at all – just another way to distract myself from the doldrums of life. Yes, I admit, I’m jonesing for some Halo right now, but let me tell you something: Halo didn’t do shit for preparing me for trying to stay alive in this world. Resident Evil didn’t get a single goddamn thing right. Shooting a gun at a blood-mouthed corpse that’s charging at you with the hungry eyes of your own death ain’t a skill you can ever pick up from a video game.

Maybe if we’d stayed in like we had planned, maybe if we hadn’t said “fuck it” and risked the crowds – maybe then Cheyenne’d still be with me. Maybe we’da made it to that dorm building we always joked about being so zombie-proof, and taken refuge behind its triple-locked entryways, and survived for a few weeks by raiding the pizza shop across the street and holing up in a dorm until it all blew over.

There were a lot more jokes Before. Hell, we even laughed when we saw that guy stumbling around in the video game section, all jerky and snarling. She thought he was a publicity stunt for the new Red Undead whatever game, and I just laughed cause I thought he was a retard and I’m an asshole like that. I probably even said something about him that I would maybe-sorta regret right now if I gave a shit.

When that salesman tried to offer him some assistance – and you could tell she was already crumbling beneath the stress of the retail madness – we sure as hell didn’t laugh when he lunged and took a huge bloody gouge outta her neck with his teeth. Nary a chuckle when the rent-a-cop’s taser only seemed to piss him off, and we were screaming right along with everyone else when it all went to shit.

Only seconds later, I was outside, she was gone, and the mob of now-rabid shoppers surging out of the Best Buy wasn’t giving me any time to look for her in the chaos.

Goddammit. I hadn’t planned on shopping that day, and I sure as hell hadn’t planned on running away like a yellow-bellied coward and leaving my wife behind to get ripped apart by other shoppers.

At least I won’t have to listen to anymore goddamned Christmas music ever again. Cheyenne loved Christmas music, and maybe I’ll miss it when the nostalgia kicks in.

Project Dismember is a five-week long survival horror campaign for the month of December 2010. It uses the Unknown Armies RPG system as the core conflict mechanic, with some genre-specific adjustments and houserules. There is no metaplot, there is no GM’s Big Story, there is only a group of conflicted people trying ti survive not only the zombies that now overrun their homes, but the distrustful intentions of their own fellows, as well.

Project Dismember 2010