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Abigail and Liv looked around the deserted mall. “It’s like we found a future version of our mall, some time when it was abandoned, like in a post-apoc movie. Except…” Liv looked around slowly. “It doesn’t match up. There’s a fountain down there and there should be a plus intersection, not a T. And the two-stories part doesn’t go as far as our mall does.”
“Except,” Abigail pointed out, wanting to make some sense of this despite the fact that it was patently not sensible, “we haven’t actually left our mall.”
“I think we have. We entered on the first floor. This is the second floor.” Liv started walking down the hall.
“That can happen… with stores in hills…? Where are you going, Liv? Liv, slow down!”
“I’m looking for Rue 21. If we can find an entrance, maybe we can get back into the nice background mall, and from there we can hit that bookstore you wanted and then go back to find my mom. I don’t think that book lady was being… nice.”
“She wanted your blood, Liv, and you didn’t even blink! I don’t think she was being nice, either!” Abigail hurried to keep up, dropping her voice to a whisper and still trying to be heard. “Liv, think about this. We don’t know where we are, we don’t know what’s going on, we don’t know if we’re going to get in trouble, and someone already took your blood and put it in some sort of magic book!”
“Abigail, listen to yourself. There’s no such thing as magi-” Liv trailed off.
“What? What?” Abigail caught up with her friend, only to find her staring into an empty store, the gate askew and half-open, the room inside grey and dismal looking. “Liv?” She whispered it this time. “Liv, what… oh.”
She touched Liv’s arm, and it was like it turned on a switch. The rest of the mall was still dusty and grey, but in this storefront, its entrance like a gaping clown mouth, a carnival was dancing around silently. “Liv?” she whispered again.
Liv set her hand over Abigail’s on her arm, and Abigail could hear it: the carnival music, the laughter, the singing. The screams. The roller-coaster screams, her brain filled in, but something in her said no. “Liv.” She braced her feet as Liv headed towards the giant clown maw. “LIV!”
The music stopped. The carnival rides stopped. Inside, everyone was staring at them.
And then they all started laughing.
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