Writing Prompt 10: Dystopian Mall


(Credit: ©Seph Lawless)

I’m working from the Hudson Valley Mall in Kingston, NY today. I’m sitting outside Dick’s Sporting Goods (free WiFi!) in one of those massaging chairs that make you look ridiculous when you’re sitting in them because they vibrate you from head to toe. There’s also a disconcerting seat probe that pokes you in the nether regions during the massage. I’ve already paid my dollars to get shaken and poked, but I wanted to do a writing prompt before I continue into the depths of the mall.

Malls are dying. Radio Shack is in Chapter 11. There were a few flashlights and a lot of empty shelves at the one here. Several restaurants are boarded up. A clothing store has big yellow signs that read, “Everything must GO!” There are some lonely looking baby t-s hanging limply from some hangers. When I stumbled across this article on Huffington Post, Abandoned Mall Filled With Snow is an Ice Age Dystopia, I thought, “What a great writing prompt!”

I’m a fan of dystopian fiction. One of my favorites that I read last year was The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker. It’s a story about a group of misfits including Edgar Hill, an overweight slob of a father and under-performing husband who has to race against time and overcome his own short-comings, not to mention 100 mile canyons and a very strange council estate, to find the people he loves before he loses them forever. It’s a great read and the characters and situations keep you interested right up to the end (of the world). I really enjoyed it and hope you will check it out.

For the writing prompt, there are a few questions we can ask:

How did the mall become abandoned in the first place? Zombie hoards? Aliens? End of the world meteor?

Who lives in the mall now?

Why are our story characters there? Do they need to find the recipe to Auntie Anne’s pretzels? (Why are those pretzels so damn good?)

The photographer, Seph Lawless, is also a great jumping off point and a good model for a lead character. He’s a photographer and political activist who uses a pseudonym because he fights against “injustice and oppression by any medium necessary…a pen, a lens, a brush, a voice …even your body.”

He’s also a published author. His book, Autopsy of America, was written in 2013. According to his website, “The book captures the plight of Americans and the devastating effects that globalization has had on American cities. The book chronicles his journey across the United States with an emphasis on the most abandoned and economic deprived areas of America.” I couldn’t find a link to the book, but I will post it if I find it.

Please send me any links to any stories you create based on this prompt, I’d love to read them!

Have a great writing day. I’m going to go look for an Auntie Anne’s pretzel before they go bankrupt and the zombie hoards take over.

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