Ahem. This posted yesterday. Really.
The mall’s words echoed in Abseil’s head.
She made sure she had ‘her’ Livs next to her, checked again, and then asked, trying to keep her voice low but not trying to be sneaky, a line she had never been all that good at walking, “all right. It’s time; we can go home. What do you want to do?”
“Go home,” Liv answered promptly, and then, a moment later, “she said we could come back, yeah? I’m pretty sure that’s what she said. The mall,” she added,” gesturing upwards.
Abseil had been thinking of the mall as “it”, but, upon consideration, found that she liked “she.” “That’s the impression I got, too.”
“Then I want to go home. Back to — back to normalcy. I mean, as much as it can be.”
“I — can I still come with you? I mean, I mean, I don’t know how we sort out everything with there being two of us, two of you, but—” she shrugged. “Your world sounds nice, and you’re my friends.”
“Yeah.” ‘Via shrugged violently. “I mean. I mean, your world sounds really nice. I, uh.” She gestured out vaguely. “I don’t want to go home and I don’t want to stay here. But there might be someone out here who wants the same thing? And maybe, uh. Maybe I can visit? It would be nice to have a place to visit.”
“You can come home with me, Olly,” Liv told her without hesitation. “And ‘Via, if you, uh. If you came home with us first, you and someone? Then you could go back and you’d know where ‘home’ was after that, right? Then you could find us.”
‘Via shifted, looking left and right and definitely not at Liv. “I, uh. I…”
“You could stay with me, at my place,” Abseil offered. “It wouldn’t be quite the same as seeing Liv’s parents…?”
‘Via released a breath. “…Yeah. Yeah, thanks. I can do that.”
“Then —” She looked up to see Kevin, a Kevin, probably the one that had been around her a lot, two Sandies, three Vics, a handful of others, and two other Livs. “Hi.”
“So uh. Some of us came from ruined places.’ One of the Sandies shifted a little. “Or just bad places. And some of us don’t want to explain where like, half our friends went, when the answer is ‘the mall killed them.’”
“I’ve been in therapy,” a Vic cut in. “I do NOT want to go back.”
“And some of us, we just, uh. We don’t want to be alone. You know? And you, uh. You lived for a reason, yeah?”
“Mostly because of Liv and Olly and ‘Via,” Abseil countered.
“That’s a reason. And you, uh. You got us, you stopped the other Abby and the Vic, and that’s, that’s really important.” She bit her lip. “We just got sucked into the whole thing and went along with it, and you didn’t, and you, ah. Saved a lot of us, I’m pretty sure.”
A Vic put in, “I’m pretty sure once she was the only Abby, she wouldn’t have stopped there. It seemed like a reasonable sort of thing, the way she said it -I don’t know, she didn’t talk about killing people when we started following her-“
“You know,” Abseil commented quietly, “It’s kind of scary that someone who is almost me could have done that. I mean, I don’t think of myself as the charismatic, terrifying leader sort-“
Kevin – no, three Kevins – snorted, and a couple Livs just started laughing.
“You’ll figure it out eventually,” ‘Via assured her. “But first, you have to figure out what you’re going to tell your parents and Liv’s here.”
“That,” Abby admitted, “is a very good question. Lucky for me, I have the walk back to the parking lot to figure it out.”