They all stared off into space for a moment, thinking – or at least Abby was – about being betrayed by one of their own, by someone who looked just like their best friend, the boy they liked – or themselves. Abby broke the silence, unable to stand contemplating that any longer.
“So what about the pendant -” She meant to scoop one of them out of her neckline, but both of them tangled together. “The woman at the first booth, the one Liv sold a regret to, she gave me this.”
“Sold a regret – oh, *that* bitch! Yeah, I know her. She was willing to buy all sorts of creepy things, but the thing is, everything she was selling was trash. I mean, just absolute junk. You could find better at a flea market and not have your head screwed with in the bargain.” Vic shook her head. “She gave you one of those ‘first one’s always free’ things?”
“It’s supposed to be – what she say?” It seemed like a lifetime ago. Abby supposed that, in some ways, it had been. “A key and a shield, a sword and a lock.”
“Yeah. Yeah, she always says that. At least, every time I’ve heard. The thing is, I have no idea what that means. Has it done anything for you?”
“That’s what I was asking.” Abby bit into a protein bar instead of biting Vic’s head off. “You haven’t heard anything?”
“I don’t have one. Neither did my Liv. We both turned it down. So you don’t need it to get from mall to mall. Maybe it’s some sort of tracking device?”
“If it is, it didn’t help the dead Abby I took the other one off of.”
“Abby!” Liv glared at her. “You can’t just-”
“I can, okay? It’s that or I sit down and start crying and don’t ever bother getting up again.” She took another bite of the gummy, fake-tasting bar. “So there is something out here. And it is killing Abbies, and it’s not just killing Abbies. It’s killing anyone with an Abby. And I would say ‘then I should just go alone,’ except we all know that I can’t.” She stood up. “Livs, can you explain it to Vi-French?”
“I’ve got it, the skinnier Vic answered, tiredly. “I can speak French at least as well as these two and, besides, she’s more likely to like it coming from me. We don’t exactly like you, you might have noticed.”
“No,” Abby answered with more tiredness than sarcasm, “I’d never noticed. “So just to sum up before we leave, you don’t know what the pendant do, they don’t help with the doorways, and Up and Left gives us more control but also takes us deeper into the malls. That’s good?”
“It’s right, at least. Nothing about this place is good.”
“Then I wish you luck on your travels. Vic – I’m sorry.” She packed up a third of the food supplies, splitting it between her pack and both Livs’, and tossed three of the weird fruits at Vic. “For some variety.”
And then, before she could change her mind, they were back out and back heading Up and Left. If she ever got out of here, she thought that Up and Left might haunt her dreams forever.Want more?