“You know,” the voice came from under the blankets where Liv – where Abby’s Liv – had been sleeping. “I could say ‘you can’t be that bitchy, you’re me. But you’re all about how we’re all different, isn’t that what you were saying? So hey, you’re different, you’re smart, go you. Problem is, this Liv isn’t stupid either. So what’s the problem?”
“Oh, come on, are you all that ridiculously brainwashed or what?”
“Being rude isn’t going to make things any better,” Liv-Skinny pointed out. “And it’s really not going to help get Abby to do anything for you. Have you ever found that being rude to Abby – yours, mine, any of them – does any good?”
“There’s two problems.” Abby’d had time to think while the Livs argued. She cleared her throat now, because she wasn’t sure that this had anything to do with her. “There’s the problem that Liv here, uhm, Liv-Bitchy, wants a way out of this mall. I don’t know where she wants to end up, but she wants out of here and she was willing to sacrifice both of the other two of you to do it.
“The other problem is – well, something she said. That her Abby was willing to kill other Abbies to get what she wanted. The One True Abby. Liv, is your Abby the one that’s been killing Abbies? Is it – is it not the mall? Is it one of me?” Continue reading
Abby stared at Liv. She could hear the other two stirring. She flinched, despite herself; she couldn’t play nasty with one Liv and expect the other two not to take it personally – since it was personal, wasn’t it?
“I haven’t even met another Abby.” That was probably the wrong thing to say. “I’ve seen one dead-”
That was definitely the wrong thing to say. “Well, of course you have! Since you want them all dead – tell me, do you even know why? So you can be the One True Abby? It never made any sense to me. But I did figure out that I didn’t mean anything to you. Nothing.” She sneered. Even though this was a strange Liv, Abby could tell that she was hurting. “I figured that much out before you ditched me here.”
“She’s not your Abby.” The voice came from somewhere behind this angry Liv. “You have to remember that. She’s not my Abby, either. So she’s not dead, and she didn’t ditch you anywhere. Yet,” she added tiredly. “She does have this habit of going into situations that can get her killed – but we’re in the Mall. Anything can get her killed.” Continue reading
Abby stared at Liv. She let her eyes rake over the girl, trying to figure out if this was her friend or was the stranger she’d picked up along the way. She couldn’t tell. The faces were the same. The eyes were the same.
“Alone?” she managed.
“Oh, come on, we’ve always been loners, all of us. It’s not like we really like hanging out with people for any length of time. You’re the same way. It’s just that this place forces a sort of closeness that makes us all uncomfortable. So why not let her stay here in this beaver den? Let her relax until someone else comes along. It’ll be good for her.”
Abby’s eyes were on the lump in the blankets that was Liv. The other Liv Something about the way Liv was talking was catching her attention. She stared at the girl.
“I don’t know how they do things in your world,” she managed through a voice that wanted to rise up into a shout, “but we don’t *do* that where I come from. Not to anyone.”
She stretched languidly and raised her eyebrows. “We’re all the same. All of us. Livs, Abbies, Vics. Come on, you have to realized that by now.”
There were *two* long lumps under the blankets. “Where…” Abby asked slowly, “did you come from?” Continue reading
Abby woke the next morning feeling very well-rested and a little confused. For a moment, looking up at the ceiling of brambles very close to her, she couldn’t remember where she was or how she’d ended up here. Her bed was cozy and warm, and there was Liv next to her – and Liv, which was a little strange, but-
Everything came rushing back as she sat up. She huffed tiredly – her body might not be tired, but her mind was. They were – they were in a rabbit warren of some sort, that was right. And they’d settled down for the night. She looked at the Livs. They were sleeping very nicely, cuddled up next to each other. She wanted to let them sleep. Continue reading
They scrambled on hands and knees through the doorway, one of the Livs making squeaking noises of distress until they were well through, until the other one took a machete to the last hand grasping for them and all three of them swung the door shut.
This likely saved them some headaches, as when Abby looked up above her head, she realized that they had come in just under a mass of briers and as they settled in, the briers closed behind them.
Abby swallowed nervously -but there was a path opening in front of them.
And the floor, which might have been uncomfortable to crawl on if it had been an ordinary mall floor, was instead something soft and just a little bit squishy, like cork.
“Onward,” Abby decided. “Come on, maybe we can find a rabbit.”
There was no “up” to choose, but after a little while, there were a couple left and right turns. Abby took the left the first time but at the second one, one of the Livs made a noise of complaint.
“Tired,” she pointed out. Abby had to agree with her. Continue reading
The pathways got narrower the next level up – not that the stairway itself, individual treads held up by nearly-invisible cables, wasn’t a nightmare in and of itself – and shakier, and then they had one more stairway to go up, the ceiling looking like a pincushion of cables above them.
The last stairway was right next to a series of bodies, hung by the neck and looking like halloween decorations more than people. One of them was wearing Abby’s favorite shirt, but it wasn’t her. Couldn’t be her. She was right here. She held a Liv’s hand and swallowed around bile.
The body closest to the stairs moved. Not the Abby, a stranger, a hand reaching out towards Liv.
Liv darted away, retching. “It was dead,” she whispered to herself. “It’s dead.”
They all stared off into space for a moment, thinking – or at least Abby was – about being betrayed by one of their own, by someone who looked just like their best friend, the boy they liked – or themselves. Abby broke the silence, unable to stand contemplating that any longer.
“So what about the pendant -” She meant to scoop one of them out of her neckline, but both of them tangled together. “The woman at the first booth, the one Liv sold a regret to, she gave me this.” Continue reading
Abby swallowed against the intensity of Vic’s voice and forced herself to be strong. “Is it you, then? Because the only thing that wanted to hurt me before I came in here was you.”
Vic gave her a level, cold look. “I don’t know how it was in your reality, but in mine, that is complete BS. Sure, I gave you shit. But who gave you the black eye in eighth grade?”
Abby shuddered. “Alec Harden.”
“I thought so. And that rumor about you and Tem Brenner, that wasn’t me. That wasn’t even Tem, which I could almost see. No matter how lame you are, you’re still a step up for that piece of trash.”
Abby snorted. “You said the same thing. I mean, in my world.” Continue reading
They made it into the health-food store with nothing breaking under them and nobody insulting anyone else. The way the day had been going, Abby was going to take that as a victory.
The store had clearly been picked over, but there were still a few sports drinks and chewy meal-replacement bars on the shelves, as well as some smaller containers of protein powder. While they ate – first making sure Vic-starving got something into her stomach – Vic tried to explain things. Continue reading
They looked at the map for a minute. Well, Liv and Abby looked at the map, while Liv tried to explain Vic-French and Vic to each other, leading to Vic (Abby was mentally labelling her Vic-bitchy, but she’d probably be bitchy if she was left hanging to die from a freaking air mall, too) snapping, “Yes, there are many of us, I get that. The question is, why is she here? We don’t even like you.”
“Because-” something in the tone suggested that the Liv answering questions was probably Skinny-Liv, but Abby barely checked anymore, “-we need as many of us as possibly. We want to take on whatever’s killing Abbies.” Continue reading