The Hidden Mall part IX

The door opened into sunshine.

That was at the same time the best and worst thing Abigail could think of. She dragged Liv into the sunshine, refusing to let go of her arm.

They were in an atrium, one a lot like the center of their mall – the mall they’d started out in. Sunlight poured in from the windows above. Trees grew up and over the center garden, and fountains bubbles and burbled through the trees.

Abigail looked up; the glass in the windows looked intact. She looked around; the floor was clean and she could see lights on. Those seemed like good signs.

“I don’t hear any people,” Liv whispered. “The fountains are really loud, but there’s no people.”

“One thing at a time. There’s also not nightmare clowns following us. Okay, let’s head this way…”
She was picking a direction more or less at random at this point. Maybe they’d run into a friendly shopkeeper. She hoped to everything she could think of to hope to that they didn’t run into any Beavers.

Rather than Beavers, the first thing they ran into was Vic Carter and three of her cronies. Abigail stopped dead, but Vic didn’t look at them and neither did the cronies. They walked along, down the center of the hall, not talking, not really seeming to see anything. Vic was smiling, not her normal sneer but a plastic expression.

Actually, Abigail considered, as she side-stepped to get a better look, all three of them looked plastic. Their clothes were shop-window fresh – Tammy Molner’s was even pinned a bit in the back, like they did on the mannequins – their walk was a little stiff, and their smiles were fake and silent.

“Did you-” she whispered to Liv. Liv wasn’t paying attention to her. Abigail turned to see what her friend was looking at.

Kevin. Kevin and Tommy and their friend Greg. Or, at least, that was Kevin’s distinctive Roman nose and Tommy’s short flat-top and Greg’s blue eyes. But they were wearing Tommy Hilfiger clothes, not Hot Topic and thrift-store and House of Guitars T’s. They were walking stiffly, not ambling. And they were all wearing little plastic Ken-doll smiles.

“Tommy?” Liv called out, before Abigail could even think about stopping her. “Tommy Bellaforte?”

He turned towards her. His eyes settled on her. The three of them started moving towards Abigail and Liv.

“Liv?” Abby was squeaking. She was fine with that. “Run.”



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