Ch 19. High School Ritual: Mall Rats (SepSceneWriMo)


Four high school students encounter an evil spirit. Thoroughly cliched and hopelessly derivative.

When the bell rang, Natalie hitched up her backpack and said to Mikhail, “We need to talk about what happened last night. But not here. Not with—” looking behind her quickly “—with her around.” They decided to go to the mall after school.

They strolled around the nearly deserted mall, empty except for a few mall-walkers and weary women with strollers. The music blaring out of the record store emphasized the silence outside of it.

Mikhail said, “I don’t know how I ended up in your hallway. Usually I go to one of two places, a foggy cliff that I jump off, or this endless dead place with a river that I wind up drowning myself in.”

Natalie took her milkshake straw from her lips. “But why do you jump off the cliff or drown? Do you mean you do that on purpose?”

Mikhail walked with his head down for a moment. “I want to say I believed it was just a dream but I know it isn’t… I don’t know why I do it… Anyways, so what exactly happened to your mouse?”

“To Mr. Squeaks, you mean? I don’t know. That girl who sits behind us, Vanessa, she took him somehow. I know she did it, I can’t figure out how, but she was there, and Mr. Squeaks—flew—or something—and she took him—” Natalie choked up. “She grabbed him by his scruff and—” She couldn’t continue.

“The mall is awfully dead today,” he said, looking around. He sat down on a bench next to a plastic fern. “What time do they close?”

“I dunno.” She dropped down next to him. “I guess the guards will let us know.” She swang her feet as she drank her milkshake, but she was frowning.

A security guard in a wrinkled, oversized uniform and sunglasses strode past them, only pausing for a moment to lower his glasses to let the teens know he saw them.

“I have to do something about Mr. Squeaks. I know he’s alive, I just don’t know how I’m going to find him. I don’t understand what’s going on. Obviously this place must be real, because if we’re both there, then Vanessa must be there too, which means so is Mr. Squeaks.”

They got up and wandered some more. The skylights darkened and the fountains took on the glow of pink and blue neon lights.

“I promise I will help you find Mr. Squeaks.”

“You will? Really?” She grabbed his arm. “Then you have to promise to stop jumping or drowning. Because what if—what if it really works?”

“So in other words, you want me to wait until we find the mouse.”

She stopped. “That is not what I mean!”

“I know that.” He pointed up the escalator. “Look, there’s the mall cop with the sunglasses again.”

Natalie dug around in her bag for a penny and threw it in a fountain. She said without looking at Mikhail, “Chad seems different lately. Did you hear Mrs. Worthington say he was taking a college course?”

“So what? The guy’s a doofus.”

She faced him now. “No he’s not! He—”

Mikhail rolled his eyes. “Please don’t tell me you like that guy.”

She turned red.

He noisily sucked up some milkshake through a straw. “He’s never gonna like you. He’s with that Vanessa chick.”

“I know that.” She crossed her arms and stared at the fountain. “Hey, what’s that in the water—? Look—the water is turning red—”

“It’s just a reflection from the lights.”

“Oh—I don’t know—I—” Her face turned white. “Oh God, what is that moving in the water—is that a—”

Mikhail peered in. “I don’t see anything, maybe it’s a fly or something.”

“I think it’s a mouse, Natalie!”

Natalie whirled around in the direction of the voice. Vanessa! Wearing her black lipstick, no less. “Are you going to jump in and save him?” Vanessa asked. “Or is Mikhail?”

The guard came back. “You two have been loitering for three hours! You need to disperse right now!”

Natalie was now hopping up and down crying. “No! We can’t leave until I rescue Mr. Squeaks! He’s drowning in that water! Look how red it is!”

Vanessa leapt in and splashed around the fountain. “Look, Natalie, look how much fun I’m having in here with Mr. Squeaks!”

Mikhail leaned over the railing and said, “Natalie, there’s nothing in here—it’s fine! Let’s just go.”

“Take Mr. Squeaks out of there right now, you whore!” she ran at the fountain and tried to climb over the railing before Mikhail prevented her.

“Stupid kids high on whatever it is they ingest these days,” the guard muttered to himself before he took out his radio to call for backup.

“Never mind, we’re going!” Mikhail dragged Natalie away from the fountain as she kept screaming for Mr. Squeaks.

Vanessa held Mr. Squeaks up to her cheek and grasped his little paw, waving it at Natalie.

17 thoughts on “Ch 19. High School Ritual: Mall Rats (SepSceneWriMo)

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