They had dinner; they slept. The mall didn’t have enough beds in the relaxation center for all of them, but it did have a Bedding and More store, and they laid out row after row of blankets and comforters and pillows and sleeping bags until the whole hallway was a giant featherbed. They showered and they changed and, when they were done, they looked more like a group of themselves than they had since Abseil and Liv had first stepped into the mall.
And then, after cleaning up all that mess and having breakfast, Abseil asked the mall: “Will you tell us how to get home?”
There was silence, all of them holding their breaths. And then, finally: “THE ANSWER IS IN THE DOORWAY WHICH HAS NO STORE TO THE LEFT OF IT. FROM THERE, YOU MAY FIND YOUR WAY HOME.” Continue reading
I finished writing Hidden Mall!!!
58,500 words (Exactly, how weird), 97 chapters – gotta finish SCHEDULING it, of course, but it’s DONE WRITING.
The first draft. The one I posted.
Then I can start working on cleaning it up to sell as an ebook!
But do you know what this means?
(other than those things above)
“… 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.” Continue reading
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?” Continue reading
Something was just a little too — a little too easy.
Abseil put her hand over the mouthpiece. “Someone – guys, get someone watching the front door. Get the mall to close the doors if you can,” she murmured quietly,. She didn’t want to lose her comfort here. She didn’t want to be left on her own, but —
But she had a responsibility.
Olly and Kevin stayed, arms tight around her, as she went back to the phone. Continue reading
Abseil turned to the nearest rack and stared at the clothes in front of her. They were men’s clothes, workout clothes. “Kevin. You’re not normally the gym type, are you? But maybe you’ve been thinking about, I dunno, getting a little more upper body strength and maybe a bit more endurance?”
“Well, uh, yeah. I mean a bit less credulity and maybe a little more self-preservation — what? I do know how to read,” he added defensively.
“Well, I’ve – okay, different world. I’ve never seen our version of you read,” she admitted.
“It’s not like, not like doing it at the lunch table or something, like you and Liv,” he admitted. “More like the sort of thing when you’re home at night and nobody else’s around.” Continue reading
They slid inside Burlington more than stepping inside, skidding through the security plinths. Abseil stumbled and fell into a pile of coats. Laughing, laughing, even though there were people with guns somewhere behind them, Abseil managed to right herself. She gathered up a LIv’s hand and looked at her face – Olly. She looked around — she didn’t remember there being that many people with them, but there were suddenly a lot more people here than she’d thought she had.
“Shop.” She gestured around. “I’ll cover it, just go look for a shirt or pants or anything you want.” She looked again. “Did we get a Kevin somehow? Hi, Kevin.”
“Hi.” He ducked his head. “She’s not all that good at – you’re not all that good at – anyway, I picked the locks.” Continue reading
“We’re all different, and some of us got the short end of the stick. Clearly, you’re one of them.” Abseil did not turn around. She didn’t dare. If she did, if she saw there were guns pointed at her, she’d run and never stop running. She lifted her chin instead. “But even you know shooting people from behind is pretty damn stupid. It makes you look bad. I mean. You’re here to shop, right? Starting a massacre in the middle of the mall is a good way to get kicked out.”
Now she tried to make her voice sound trivial, like none of this mattered. She remembered trying this with Vic one other time, and it hadn’t gone great, but on the other hand, it hadn’t gone too horribly either. Continue reading
“What if we put a bullet right in the back of your head? You’re running, what’s going to stop us? Blam, and you’re dead, all your stupid followers are dead.”
“We? Us?” She picked up her pace to a casual speed walk. “What’s this we?” she called over her shoulder. “Last I checked, Abby, you don’t have a gun. So you mean what if I tell these nice SWAT people to shoot you in the back? Don’t you?”
Talking to Evil Abby was surprisingly — or perhaps not at all surprisingly — like talking to herself in the mirror. The voice might’ve not been in her head, but it was still nasty and negative.
“Coward! Turn and face me!” Continue reading
“You’ve always been a coward.”
The voice – her own voice – chased Abby as she walked quickly down the mall hallway. She knew where she was going. She knew she had her Livs with her, and several others, some Sandies. No Kevins, no Vics. Not yet.
“If I have always been one and you know it -” Abby looked over her shoulder but kept walking; kept walking, kept walking. She could tell in her gut that it was important, but she also knew she didn’t want this other Abby to follow her. “-then it’s because you’ve been one too. We’re all the same at the root, aren’t we?”
That was so different from what she’d been telling her Livs that she expected ‘Via to yell at her. Instead, ‘Via smirked at her and, to her other side, Olly squeezed her hand.
“You’re full of bullshit! I’m nothing like you!”
“And you know nothing about me.” Continue reading