“… to be the only Abby. How fucking lame is that?”
Abseil rolled her eyes at the Evil!Abby in front of her. “You can’t figure out how to be unique enough, you have to be the only one remotely like you. That’s – wow. I mean, okay, I’ve done some ridiculous things in my life. There was that time that I cut half my hair off because Suzanne Talbot was getting too much attention–“
“You didn’t do that.” Abby narrowed her eyes at her. “That’s ridiculous. I didn’t do that.”
“Nope.” She popped her p. “Because even being the same person, biologically, originally, we’re different people. We came from different universes. We made different choices. And you, you’re the absolute idiot who went around killing the results of every choice you didn’t make. I mean, seriously. You had the ultimate resource to learn exactly how other choices could have gone and you… turned into a murder spree?”
Abseil turned her back on the girl. “I’m ashamed to be related to you.”
“Are you – are you leaving? I have you trapped in here. You’re going to die, you know. You can’t leave.”
“The thing is-” Abseil didn’t have to say anything, because the Livs on either side of her stood up. “You’ve got that wrong. I’m pretty sure you’re a lot more trapped than we are, and I’m pretty sure that you haven’t paid your rent.”
“So look,” the other one picked up, “we came to the mall to do some shopping, and I could really use some new shoes. Sorry it didn’t work out, but I hope someone finds a way to try you for murder of your dopplegangers.”
“And ours,” the other one put in. “And the Vics and the Sandies and all the Kevins and everyone else you killed. It’s not like you only killed yourself, you know.”
There was a sound behind Abseil like a whole bunch of people turning to face someone. She kept walking.
“Shoes, you said?” she offered to Liv and Olly.
There was no sound of gunfire behind them, and for that she was grateful. There was barely any sound at all. Not turning around was still the hardest thing she’d ever done, and that was saying something after the time spent in the mall.
She squeezed her friends’ hands. She reached out for ‘Via, too, and for this new Kevin, and they went into the shoe department and, as if it was a ritual – if they ever made it home, Abseil was pretty sure she would never look at shopping the same way again- they tried on shoes and shirts and pants until they each had a new bag of clothes.
When the mall announced it was safe to leave, they headed out slowly, stopping to buy a ridiculous fuzzy-topped pen on the way out, and found what Abseil thought was probably a third of Evil-Abby’s army waiting for them. One SWAT member took off her helmet – Sandy. “We – we’re sorry.” Her voice was barely a whisper. “We all are. Do you think you can get us back home?”
Abseil swallowed. “Dinner first. Sleep. I bet we can find a place for all of us to clean up and rest. And then – then we’ll work on getting everyone home, okay? I make no promises – I’m just, just a kid, like you guys are. I am you guys,” she added ruefully. Even if she really was one of two Abbies – or maybe the only one – left in the multiverse. “And I’m going to suggest you all do some serious shopping on my dime after dinner. New clothes, for one.” She raked her eyes over the SWAT uniform. “Unless that’s de rigeuor where you came from. And also – the thing I’ve learned is that malls like being shopped in. I think they also like just being appreciated – like the way this mall has such pretty fountains, I almost don’t want to shower in the showers, but oh my god someone decided a mall should have a nap center, and is that not the best idea in the world?”
She smiled brightly at the gathered SWAT and others, and slowly, they began to smile back. Abseil felt tension leave her shoulders.
“Dinner,” she repeated, “and then shopping, and then sleep. Then we’ll work on getting home.”
For the first time in a long while, she believed it could really happen.