Some say the Constellation Mall is haunted. The smart people know that it is just some strange issues with the ventilation system.
The floorboards creaked under Jason's feet, stirring up what seemed to be decades of dust. The sunlight shining through the dirty windows showing all of the dust swirling in the air and then settling on Jason's newest project. It was a pristine new robot. Now it was already covered in a thick layer of dust, turning it's polymer "skin" from a clean white to a pale brown. It looked more like a mannequin than a robot, but that's what Jason was aiming for. He had plans to work on an advanced AI, but he figured that he should have a body to put it in first, rather than giving it his whole computer network.
For now, he controlled it using a program that he got from a robot vacuum cleaner so that it could avoid obstacles and then he made it follow him. He was outgrowing his old apartment and wanted a proper workshop. he obviously didn't have the money for it, although once he had the space to properly build his fusion reactor he would be able to make a decent bit of money.
Unfortunately, this left him in a loop of needing space to get enough money for more space. That is, until he had found this place. It was an old run down house that had been abandoned a while ago. It wasn't much bigger than his apartment, but that didn't matter. He wasn't really buying the house for the house. The house was built on the edge of some land that was owned by the Constellation Mall. The local mall had grown fairly large when it was popular, three floors of sprawling rooms and skylights. Jason had always loved the look of skylights, the gentle lighting that filled large rooms, and then surrendered to the colored glow of advertising displays at night.
After online shopping killed retail, the mall started to go under. It was the only thing that kept the people in the local town here, but now that people weren't interested in the blown up prices and the trip they moved away and the mall started to go under even faster. The final straw was when a small disaster tore up their connection to the power grid. They didn't have an internet connection all the way out here, no power, and no profits or customers. The mall died out, and unlike the many others it didn't get sold. No one wanted to pay the millions that it would cost to have power wired all the way from the next town over and the internet wired the same way.
This is why Jason found himself inside the small, dusty old house that he was about to buy for just a the cost of a house in need of renovations anywhere else. It came with the mall. Obviously, if he was going to pay for repairs, power, and an internet connection he would be paying millions, just like anyone else, but he didn't need to.
Jason met with the landlord at the entrance to the mall. The landlord wore torn clothes and was covered in dirt and dust. The landlord warned him that the mall was haunted by the people that died during the small disaster that killed the mall. He used this as an excuse to bring up the fact that the mall had no utilities or, even a connection to the world really.
Jason shook hands with the shady landlord and, after the landlord repeated for the third time that there was no utilities available, no water, no power, no internet, no phone, no anything available at all, not just not included in the price, but not an option unless you were going to pay for it to be installed, he finally gave the landlord the money he had saved from his small side projects and became the new owner of the Constellation Mall.
Over the next few weeks, Jason made a bit of money selling some of his patents. Never any important ones, either to him or to humanity itself, only side products that could be made cheap and could make a quick profit for some small company. By the end of the month, he had almost half of what he had paid for the mall. The only thing he spent it on was food and materials. He ordered countless components and tools.
While he did all of this, he set his robot to set up water collection on the roof of the mall. He had a large amount of storage capacity, and a large area for collection, so the next time it rained he would have enough water to last him for a year even with machines and other inventions using up a lot of water. He also had his robot do repairs and clean.
Every time that Jason fell asleep at his desk in the mall, he heard small voices and whispers. Jason was never one to believe pseudoscience and supernatural activity, so he quickly brushed it off as the ventilation system acting up.
The first week after that, he set up a factory of his own. He cleared out the old displays from a large clothing store and had his robot connect the water from storage to the old water system and add a water connection in this room. He made a machine that pulled the hydrogen from the water and sent the oxygen out through the ventilation system, it wouldn't be so much that it was a problem, but it would help to make up for all of the dead plants that were no longer producing oxygen all over the mall.
Then he got to work building his fusion reactor. He had all the components, although some he had to make himself. Until he had the reactor up and running, he had to power everything using a series of wind turbines that he built on the roof, suspended above the water collection system. Most of it went into a large battery that he installed in a small store nearby the clothing store that he was building the reactor in.