The Hidden Mall 36: Further up and further in


They went through the door, into a cement hallway.  No, that wasn’t right. Abby glared – oh. Oh, there was a second door, on her left.  She ignored the one on the right and, while Vic was swearing and complaining – at least, that was the general feel of her stream of French – pulled the left-hand door open.  “In!” she commanded.

And in they went, the Livs dragging Vic-French along.

The sounds of carousel music almost made Abby go back through the door.  The images of that gaping clown mouth, the silently-dancing carnival, all of that haunted her.

But this one wasn’t grey and bloody, this one was bright.  And Vic was staring in awe.

Vic turned around, and one of the Livs released her.  She turned around again and demanded something about a port that probably meant where did the door go?  Because, of course, it was gone.  Vanished like it had never been there.

Abby braced herself for Liv-1 to want to go on the carousel, but no, neither Liv – they were getting harder and harder to tell apart – seemed interested.  They were looking past the merry-go-round, looking at –

“Hunh.”  Abby shifted so she could see what was catching their interest better: a cargo net swinging down into the mall area.  It went outside.  It was a massive climbing net, at at the top you were outside, in some sort of adventure park.

This mall, she had to admit, was way better than theirs back home.

“All right.”  She nodded at one Liv, then at Vic, who was gaping.  “You explain? As we go.”

They headed for the nets while one of the Livs explained to Vic  – who kept responding in what sounded like increasing disbelief – something that probably was about Vic being one of the special few who could go through doors.

Abby still had a few dollars in her pocket, retrieved from the dirtier clothes in her bag, but she wasn’t sure if they would work here.  Lucky (perhaps) for them, the cargo nets appeared to be free; you just had to go with a buddy and take their turn.

She and the not-explaining Liv went up first.  The net was everything she remembered as being both fun and frustrating thing from carnivals and that one time at the Renaissance Festival – at least she wasn’t doing it in a corset and full skirts this time!

The explaining Liv was close behind them, managing to coax Vic-French up with some sort of explanation. Abby didn’t follow it.  She didn’t want to follow it, either. She knew it had been her plan.  She knew it was her idea.  She still thought that a), more Livs would be better than a Vic, no matter how much some of them weren’t jerks, and b), they had pretty much just kidnapped someone and had no idea how to return them to their own world – or if they even could.

Well, they were almost to the outside.  She could feel the breeze on her face. She could see sunlight, proper sunlight. She reached up, grabbed the rope of the net, and lifted her foot, pulling herself into the outside.

The ropes under her suddenly gave way.

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