She was, Abseil realized, asking a building what was next. She was asking a building – and nobody was answering. Nobody had said anything. Kevin and Olly were looking at her, not strangely – well, not too strangely – just waiting.
Abseil cleared her throat. “Guys?”
“You’re steering.” Olly tapped her shoulder. “You saved me.”
“Me, too,” Kevin added in.
“Nuh-unnh. The two of you saved yourselves.”
“By following you,” Kevin countered.
Abseil looked between them. “Mall?”
“Hello and welcome to Burlington Coat Factory. We have almost finished the unexpected renovations. Please enjoy your shopping for approximately three more minutes while we send out some sweepers to clean up the last of our dust–“
A series of gunshots followed the announcement, out in front.
“Liv,” Abseil looked towards the entrance. “Liv! ‘Via… shit. Shit.” She’d sent them that way. She’d sent her friends into gunfire.
She started running. Kevin and Olly paced her, Olly still clutching to her hand. It wasn’t that big of a store. It wasn’t that big. It was suddenly really, really big. It was suddenly huge.
The mall wasn’t doing this? Was the mall doing it? Keeping her away from the gunfire? Stretching out the store? There was another gunshot, another one, another one, and she still wasn’t at Liv and ‘Via. She still wasn’t –
she skidded around a clearance rack and there they were, Liv and ‘Via and two other Livs, behind another rack, calling out taunts. The security grate was closed. It shouldn’t have stopped bullets. It shouldn’t have stopped anything. But there were SWAT-like people flanking The Bad Abby and the bullets were stopped dead at the grate.
“Stop firing!” the Bad Abby shouted. “Don’t be idiots. Geez, it’s almost like you want to kill someone.” She huffed. “That’s not going to do any good if it’s not – her.”
She pointed straight at Abseil.
Abby took a breath and walked forward. “Me. You want to kill me. You want me dead. Am I the only Abby left?”
“No. I am. I’m the only Abby. You’re just a corpse that hasn’t stopped moving yet.”
“What’s that get you? What’s it matter? There’s dozens of world, hundreds. There’s more worlds than either of us have explored. So what’s the point?”
“You really don’t get it, do you? Look at them.” She gestured around. “Look at all these Livs. All these Vics. All these clones of each other. And once you have a second one, why do you need the first? There’s dozens and dozens of them, and none of them matter, because they’re like plastic dolls on a shelf. If you break one, you just pick up another one.”
Abseil stared at her – at her – at her self, and yet so not. “Are you seriously that stupid? You can’t be.” She shook her head slowly. “That – that narcissistic? No, wait, you could be that stupid, because your mother could’ve dropped you on your head, or you could have had some oxygen loss or – seriously. Seriously. You think this is a plan? You want to-“
She choked on it. Her throat closed up. She couldn’t even muster the words.
The Other Abby had no such problem. “Bitch all you want. For one, you’ll be dead soon. For another, I’ve talked to other Abbies – before they died, of course – so I know you’re full of shit. We all want to be unique. To be special. To be the only one. Not one of us didn’t, ever. And when you chalk all that up, you just have to be better at lying than some of the others, because you’re just the same as me and every other Abby.”
“Well,” Abseil pointed out, before she could stop herself, “I’m not dead.”
“Yet.” Abby narrowed her eyes. “Have no fear, I’m going to take care of that soon.”
“… to be the only Abby. How fucking lame is that?”Want more?