The Hidden Mall part X: Plastic Bullies


It turned out that plastic versions of their high school crushes did not run all that fast. That was quite a relief, because the real Greg was on the track team and the real Kevin was on swim team.

The problem, however, was that there were other people in the mall – other plastic people, smiling and fake and too-well-dressed – and they didn’t seem to like the idea of a disturbance.

Say, the sort of disturbance caused by two mussed-up, not-plastic girls running through the mall.

Soon they were being chased by fifteen of the things – Abigail refused to think of them as people – their feet moving almost-silently and none of them making a sound. Nobody grunted or panted or, well, anything.
“Did we land in the Stepford Mall?” she couldn’t help but ask.

“Less talking more running – here!” Liv dragged Abigail towards the escalators.

“This is no time for being lazy, Liv!”

“No, I have an idea. Remember that time when the mall was almost empty? Here, run. Faster.”
Liv aimed them at the down escalator, and up they ran, skipping steps. Behind them, the plastic people lined up to take the up escalator, like good plastic citizens of the mall.

“Brilliant, Liv.” There would be more people up above, probably, but maybe they could act sufficiently plastic to pass muster.

They stiffened up at the top of the escalator and put on blank, plastic smiles. Abigail thought of her most critical great-uncle and the smile she gave him when he wouldn’t shut up. Together, they made it past three groups of plastic people.

Then, suddenly, someone was grabbing at Abigail’s wrist and at her shirt. She stiffened. It was – oh, no, it was Rick Fancy, the biggest, most obnoxious jock in school.

His stiff smile moved, just a little. “Help…” The word was a wheeze, like he could barely talk. “”

Abigail stared at him. Next to her, Liv was tugging on her arm.

“How?” Abigail asked softly. There was another set of plastics coming down the hallway.

He fumbled at his neck, but couldn’t seem to reach whatever it was he was going for. Some sort of controller? Then the other plastics were up to them.

Abigail managed the biggest, fakest laugh she had ever pulled up and patted Rick on the arm. “That’s funny. Funny Rick.”

None of the other plastics had talked, but it was so … well, Barbie-like that it seemed to be close enough. The plastics turned and walked away stiffly.

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