“Attention mall Shoppers! Our Sidewalk Sale starts at the Burlington Coat Factory wing and continues down to the Sears wing. Hurry over to get the best sales!” The intercom continued to cheerfully advertise a sale to its “shoppers.”
A few of the people behind Abby-and-Vic jumped or shifted uncomfortably. One of the ones with a gun aimed it at the intercom but didn’t fire.
“You heard the – mall.” Abby found she was grinning. Why was she grinning? This was mad. It was insane. “There’s a sale going on. Come on, ladies.” She turned and headed for the Burlington Coat Factory wing.
“What, you’re going to shop?” Abby-with-Vic seemed torn between disdain and incredulity.
“Well, yeah.” Abby laughed. “We’re in a mall. That’s what you do. Coming, Liv?” She looked pointedly at the Livs with the other Abby’s army. “Sandy?” She moved her gaze. “I’ve got a platnum card and carte blanche to use it as long as shopping happens, you know you need a new pair of shoes.”
There were still guns aimed at her. Abby did her best to ignore them, as if pretending they weren’t there might make them just go away. “Liv?” she repeated.
One of the new Livs moved. The Abby-with-Vic glared at her and she shifted like she was going to stay.
The intercom repeated its announcement. This time, three Livs and two Sandies shifted closer to Abby and her Liv-Olly-‘Via collective. The Other Abby glared. But Abby started walking again and her new collection of Livs and Sandies followed.
“Hi,” she greeted them, when they were a couple dozen feet away from the army. “I’m — well, I’ve been going by Abby but maybe…”
“Abseil,” Olly offered. “I like that.”
“Abseil. Okay, I’m Abseil. This is Olly, this is Liv – the Liv that came in with me, specifically – and this is ‘Via. I’m running out of Olivia nicknames; we might have to go with some of those elementary school names.”
“I’ll be Cass,” one of the Sandies offered.
“Are you – are you serious?” It seemed like the Other Abby had taken a moment to get ahold of herself – or for someone else to get ahold of her – but now that she had a grip on herself, she was incredulous. “Do you not see the guns?”
“Any of you guys Livs?” Abby turned to the gun-wielding people. “Come on, let’s go shopping.”
Without pausing, she turned back and started walking. If she paused, she was going to wet herself. She was going to run screaming, because there were people pointing guns at her.
She focused on her breathing and, then, a moment later, on Olly’s voice. “You managed a mall that was on fire,” her friend murmured. “And you handled the ghosts of the dead. The place with the hung versions of ourselves. You’ve looked your own body in the face.”
“You got through the place with the creepy clowns,” Liv added. “And don’t forget the one with the plastic people you rescued.”
“We rescued,” Abby murmured.
“And the demon. Can’t forget the demon. Look, you’ve got this,” ‘Via added.
“Thanks – thanks guys.” She squeezed the first two hands, then looked at the one on her left. “Hi, New Liv.”
“Nollie? Noll. I’ll be Noll.” Now-Noll squeezed her hand. “Thanks.”
“Don’t look now,” Cass muttered, “but we’re being followed.”
“I’m not following you.”
Abby didn’t look, but she recognized the voice — of course she did. It was another Liv. “Are you with us?”
“They’re thinking about following you. But I’m with you. I’ve always been with you, come on.”
“You can’t just walk away!” If Abby knew her own voice – and she did – the Other Abby sounded panicked.
“Attention Shoppers. Please make your way towards one of our fine stores. Again, please make your way into one of our fine stores. Thank you, shoppers. Thank you.”
Abby-now-Abseil picked up the pace. She had a feeling that was going to be important soon.Want more?