In the end, they left with 10 people who weren’t (as far as they knew) from their home dimension, including ‘Via and a very cute Sandy who wanted to travel more – after she had a home base.
“Do you wonder if our Vic and Sandy came through here?” Liv murmured to her. “I mean, you know. If they followed us, if they’re around somewhere? This can’t be everyone-“
“Well, I guess we’ll find out,” Abseil murmured. “Maybe. I mean, can you look at any of these people the same when we go back to school?”
“I mean, I’m going back to school with at least three people that look identical to me, so I don’t know. Probably not,” Liv muttered. “I mean, everyone will be looking at us differently too, though. Right?”
“Well….” Abseil looked up as if the mall would tell her something, but they had said good-bye, and that had been all the mall wanted to say. “I’m getting, uh. So I’m getting a weird feeling about this whole thing, the way the mall here said, she said that it was good that we weren’t all going to go to our home worlds. I mean – Well, there’s a lot of things that I mean.”
They were at the corner with the door that had nothing to the left of it. She looked up at the ceiling. “Good-bye for now, Mall. We’ll see you later, though.”
Suddenly, a Liv and a Vic hugged her. “Hey,” the Vic said, sounding way too much like herself. “We’ll see you again, all right? We’ll come here, or we’ll meet at one of the other Friendly Malls. I want to see that hedge maze you mentioned.”
“We can do that,” Abseil agreed, a little surprised – a lot surprised. “We can make this mall our meeting area – if you’d like that, Mall?”
“I LIKE PEOPLE. I LIKE PEOPLE SHOPPING AND TALKING AND MEETING.”
“Then we’ll do that.” Abseil nodded. “We’ll have to figure out the wheres and whyfores and such, but we’ll work it out.” She hugged them back, realizing she was hugging a Vic. She was making a shopping date with a Vic.
For some reason, that didn’t seem to matter much anymore.
She looked at the door, swallowed, and made sure everyone coming with her was holding her her hand, or her belt loop, or each other’s hands.
“All right. Here we go.”
She opened the door and walked through slowly, shuffled through, really, followed by her group of friends.
They were in a hallway with bare concrete floors. To one side, a pile of garbage bags seemed like they were waiting for someone to take them out. To the other, pipes ran down the wall. They sped up a little bit. Somewhere down here, there was going to be –
“There,” she breathed. She’d almost missed it, but there was a narrow door just beyond the pipes.
She pulled it open and pulled all of them inside, like they were running away again, like they were escaping from some bully hot on their tails.