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Hidden Mall 57: It’s Dead, Jim

“‘Via?  Olly?” Abby moved to the other side of Olly.  “What’s – “

In the grey shadows of the mall, three translucent figures were staring back at them.  Two of them were definitely her. The third she didn’t recognize at first, a taller man with a gaunt face and protruding bones.

“Abby?” Olly whispered.  “Abby, is that you?”

Abby hoped not.  One of the two grey women was missing a good third of her throat.  The other one had an axe settled in the middle of her chest. It looked—

It looked horrible. Continue reading

Hidden Mall 56: Out of the Brier Patch

‘Via’s stuff turned out to be in a record shop a few rooms down.  She had her own nest there, but it looked more like a hovel or a hut than a comfortable place to stay.  She muttered something that sounded almost like an apology, but Abby really wasn’t listening. She had caught sight of the people on one of the record sleeves.  ‘Via was right. She didn’t want to know what the rabbit-them looked like.

Continue reading

Hidden Mall 55: Olly olly oxen free

“No shooting Abby!”  Liv-home put herself between Liv-Angry and Abby.  “None of that! She’s going to get you out of here.  You heard!”

“I – what?  Yeah, I’ll believe that when I see it but I wasn’t going to shoot Abby.”  Liv-angry was now more like Liv-befuddled. “No, you idiots. I wasn’t going to shoot her.  But think about being left here for weeks, months, all by yourself, in a place that appears to have been abandoned by giant rabbit-people!”

“You mean, like you were going to do to us?” Liv’s voice was dangerous, quiet.  “Yeah. I can imagine it all right. You’re not the only Liv whose Abby left her, you know.  Hell, last mall, we met a Vic whose Abby left her. Look, we’re not shooting ourselves or Abby or anyone else.” Continue reading

Hidden Mall 54: A Prayer to AU Gods

Abby looked between her friends — and this other Liv — weakly.  She finally let her gaze settle on her Liv.

She could remember, remember that day.  They’d prayed, they’d gone to church together in the middle of a snowstorm and they had held hands and prayed.

“All right.”  Abby had to make decisions, didn’t she?  That was supposed to be what she did, make decisions, help Liv out, steer things.

“We…”  She took Liv-Angry’s hand and then reached out for Liv-Skinny’s hand. “We’re going to pray.” Continue reading

Hidden Mall 53: Death

None of them were quick enough for the way the abandoned Liv moved.  She dove at Abby, a glint of metal in her right hand and murder shining out of her eyes, tackling Abby to the ground.  Abby grabbed her arm just in time, holding the metal thing – a box cutter, what a shitty way to die – away from her chest by only an inch.

She got a foot into the mix and pressed it against Liv’s stomach, remembering, entirely ridiculously, this time when she and Liv, both much younger, had gotten into a wrestling match over a Barbie doll.  The doll had lost its head and an arm by the time they calmed down – that was the sort of fight that the two of them’d had, back when they were younger and they could solve things by throwing things and breaking dolls.  

It was suddenly too much.  Her grip on Liv’s arm went limp, and it was only the other two Livs that saved her from a really unpleasant end. She pushed away and curled up on herself, laughing or crying or possibly, probably, both. Continue reading

Hidden Mall 52: People

“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

Hidden Mall 51: Apart

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

Hidden Mall 50: Took My Hand

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

Hidden Mall 49: Safety is Restlessness

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