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Landing Page: The Hidden Mall

Abby and Liv were just trying to get away from their least favorite bully, Vic Carter, when they ducked into the back hall of their local mall.

Now they’re more lost than they’ve ever been, and they may need Vic’s help to get home.


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Consumer Worldbuilding 

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The Hidden Mall 34: Ordinaire 😐

First: The Hidden Mall – a beginning of something
Previous: Copies

All three Livs were staring at Abby.  Abby was feeling rather like, if she could, she would stare at herself.

“Are you talking about – collecting?”  Liv-Old looked a little horrified. “Do you know how obvious you would be?”

“Do you know how obvious we are anyway?  We’re alive, we’re not plastic, we’re not robots; we stick out pretty much every place we go.  Having five or six or an army of us, well. It wouldn’t be Aslan, but it might give us a chance.” Continue reading

The Hidden Mall 33: Copies 👭👭👭

First: The Hidden Mall – a beginning of something
Previous: Advice

They got ready to take the door that Liv-Old suggested, because it would be silly not to trust her now, their robotic whites changed out for sporting clothes, their packs re-balanced with new supplies.  “You won’t need protection from the rain or other elements much,” Liv-Old had commented, “but you might need protection from cold floors or rampaging monsters.”

It had seemed like good advice, but Abby had noted Liv-2 grabbing an umbrella and had grabbed one of her own, which had gotten Liv-1 to grab one, and then they were taking the door.

“Remember,” Liv-Old warned them.  

“I remember,” Abby assured her.  She reached out and touched the woman’s cheek.  It was still her friend. Just… her friend like three times her age.  “Take care of yourself, okay?”

She turned away politely so she and Liv-Old could pretend she hadn’t seen tears in the older woman’s eyes.  “All right. Livs?”

Liv-1 hesitated.  “We could stay here, you know.”  She gulped. “I mean. We wouldn’t get home that way. I know.  But we could stay here, and… never see any beavers, but I can’t remember why that was important.  And maybe we would just, I don’t know. Collect more people?”

“The thing is,” Liv-2 answered very slowly, “that something is eating Abbies.  But nothing is eating Abbies here. We could stay here.” Her hand tightened on Abby’s.  “Stay here with Liv-Mom and be safe.”

“We could,” Abby answered.  They could. She looked between the Livs.  Her Livs both looked hopeful. They looked worried.  They looked… tired. “But the thing is… something is eating Abbies, right?  And the problem is, if we stay here, nobody is going to stop that thing from eating other Abbies.  Which, well. I don’t like something eating me – people that are a lot like me.  People that look and think like me. I don’t like something eating anyone,” she added, feeling a little selfish.  “And we can’t stop it if we stay here, tucked away and safe.”

“But, well, the thing is,” started Liv-2, “how do we know that we can stop it?  We don’t even know how to find whatever’s eating the things. We’ve gotten bitten by sharks and chased by plastic people – and by robots! – and then there were the vines that were literally eating people.  There aren’t a lot of safe things out there.  But if, uh, if older-me is right and there’s something in this multiverse-mall targeting you, how are we supposed to find it, much less stop it?”

“It’s fine to think about what the Pevensies would do,” Liv-1 put in, “but they had Aslan and the Beavers and a whole host of other people.  All we have is ourselves.”

“Then… I guess we need more of ourselves.”

Want more?

 

The Hidden Mall 32: Advice 📝

First: The Hidden Mall – a beginning of something
Previous: Stay Alive

Abby woke to find Old Liv staring at her from the entryway of the tent.  “Trouble?” she mouthed. To either side of her, there was a Liv, sound asleep.

Liv-Old shook her head.  “Just… It always surprises me,” she murmurs, “how young you are. But you’re younger than most of them, I think.  You haven’t been in here long at all, have you?”

“No.”  Abby didn’t want to wake up her Livs.  She considered the way they were all laying and, after a moment, sat up slowly, and moved to the front of the tent, finding that she could sit cross-legged and keep one knee touching each of her Livs. “It’s still weird, sleeping in the mall, for me.  But at least, uh. The robot people gave us a bath?”

Liv-Old snorted.  “Yeah. I went about a month without a bath during my first year or two because I was being squeamish.  Same with food. After a while-” Continue reading

The Hidden Mall 31: Stay Alive 🏹

First: The Hidden Mall – a beginning of something
Previous: Aberrant!

“What do you mean?”  Liv-1 stared at her. “Wait.”

“No.  No…” Liv-2 sounded horrified.  Nauseous. “That means all the moving around, all of the trying to find a door home.  It was useless?”

“Not useless.” Liv-old put a hand on each young Liv’s back and pushed gently. “Look.  All that running around means sometimes you can move more than you think you can. The younger ones, they can’t do it without a partner.  But it’s good. The more you move around the more you know this place.”

“But you’re… how do we get out?  How do we get home?” Continue reading

The Hidden Mall: Aberrant! 🤖

First: The Hidden Mall – a beginning of something
Previous: Say What?

“No, no, “ Abby started, but she had a feeling the ‘bot wasn’t going to listen to her.  “no, not aberrant. Just hungry. We just want something to-”

“ABERRANT.  DESTROY THE ABERRANT BEFORE IT INFECTS ALL.”

“Guys?” Abby squeaked.

“Run.”  Liv grabbed her hand.  Liv grabbed her other hand.  They ran.

Behind them, there were bots grating away about them being aberrant.  Well, about Abby being aberrant.  In front of them, the flow was flawing bright white, almost too bright to see.

Their feet were pounding soundlessly on the floor.  She was sweating in both hands, grips slipping. She was not going to lose Liv.  She was not- Continue reading

The Hidden Mall 29: Say What?💬

First: The Hidden Mall – a beginning of something
Previous: Clean

“Excuse me?”  Abby took a step backwards, reaching for her friends.  “Packaging? I don’t want to be wrapped up any further than I already am, thank you.”

“You will need face masks.  Packaging will now commence.”

A whirr and a soft creaking noise came from the bin where their bags had been.  A few more sounds commenced – ripping, some shaking, and something that sounded like sucking air through a straw.

Then three identical white bags popped out.  They looked clean, they looked like they had everything in them, and they looked more comfortable than the back packs they’d had.

Each of them took one.  The bot, now a sphere again, whirred at them one more time.  “Please take one face mask each and install on face.  Please take one face mask each…”

A tray popped out of the sphere’s side.  They took one face mask each and, after a moment, figured out how to put them on.  They were surprisingly comfortable, and now the three of them were nearly anonymous.

“This is weird.”  Liv-probably-1’s voice came out clearer than it ought to have, but also somehow anonymized.  “Like, we got all our individuality pulled away.”

“On the plus side,” the other Liv pointed out, “we’re clean.  Now if only we’d been fed.”

“The food depot is out this door and to the left.  Please follow the blue line.” The bot was far too helpful.  “You have been cleaned.  You may now pursue food.”

“Do we have to chase it?” Liv-probably-2 muttered.  “Because I’m not all that hungry, but I might still run something down.”

“Please follow the blue line towards food,” the bot repeated.  

“Following,” Abby agreed.  She took both Liv’s hands. If she lost them here, she was never going to be able to pick them out of a crowd.

One of the Lizs glanced sidelong at her. “This is getting to be a habit.” Continue reading

The Hidden Mall 28: Clean✨

First: The Hidden Mall – a beginning of something
Previous: Reunion

It was too awkward, talking to all these people with the faces of people she knew.  Abby rushed through a meal of ridiculous fruit and meat she didn’t want to ask too much about, Chinese-restaurant sauces and a few spices that the person in batik swore up and down would do nothing more than make mystery meat taste more palatable.

It would feel nice to sleep here, but something about the way Vic looked at them, the way Kevin looked at her when he thought she wasn’t looking, the way Greg sometimes looked at Tommy, it made her feel like they shouldn’t be here.  Like it was like looking at ghosts for them. Continue reading

The Hidden Mall: Reunions

First: The Hidden Mall – a beginning of something
Previous: Back the Way They Came

Abby glanced at both her Livs, to find one of them as shocked as she was and the other completely not surprised.

She cleared her throat. “Food?” she asked.  “We can trade some ridiculous fruit.”

“Fruit?”  Kevin leaned forward.  “I haven’t had fruit in-”

“It’s been a while.”  Vic squeezed his shoulder.  “Okay. You have the question-face on.  So. Short version: This is this world’s Kevin.  I’m not this world’s Vic – she couldn’t make it through the doors.  I’m a traveler, but I lost my Sandy, and without her it’s almost impossible to go anywhere, and, besides, this one might be kind of grubby, but nothing here is actively trying to kill anyone.  Um. Usually.” She coughed and looked away. Continue reading

The Hidden Mall ⏳ Rip Van Winkle

First: The Hidden Mall – a beginning of something
Previous: Back the Way They Came

The Hidden Mall has a landing page here: http://www.lynthornealder.com/verses/the-hidden-mall/

Abby stared at the door.  “Hold on?” she asked the Livs.  It won’t go where it did.  Well, nothing had yet.  We can’t go home.  What did Abby want more than anything?  Home?

She wanted to feel safe, and to have a warm place to sleep and a real meal.  She wanted to see sunlight and feel it on her face.

She opened the door. Continue reading

The Hidden Mall: Back the Way They Came ↩️

First: The Hidden Mall – a beginning of something
Previous: Circles

The Hidden Mall has a landing page here: http://www.lynthornealder.com/verses/the-hidden-mall/

They turned back, retracing their steps.  Past the Tome Home, past the little shop where Liv had traded in a regret for a necklace.  Back towards the hallway, where it had first looked all bright and colorful and shiny, where it now looked covered in cobwebs, grey, and awful.  Back through the narrow door and into a cold concrete hallway, covered in pipes.

They were all holding their breath.  They were moving slowly, as if they were afraid what they would see.  She was holding on to both Liv’s hands tightly.  She didn’t want to lose either of them.  She didn’t want to know what happened if they got split up here, here where it had all began. Continue reading