Added: Lacole Bogert - Date: 09.10.2021 21:48 - Views: 23511 - Clicks: 7332
Smartly dressed lady with a clipboard equals survey scam. Every mall has them. The woman fell back, a shark circling for easier prey. Ray shook off the lingering guilt he always felt at disappointing anyone and stepped onto the escalator. Going up in the world. The weak one-liners bubbled up even without a date to scare off. The first floor welcomed him with chrome and glass. A candy store, muzak and bin upon bin of garish sugar laced with E-s. Ray glanced left then right, too quickly to really register any more names.
He wished he knew what to look for. Presents for little girls. A vast Toys R Us held down the far end of the mall occupying all three levels. Ray made for it. On the floor below, fountains ran and dripped, water cascaded in lazy waves over stainless steel water features. A metal rail above plate glass kept errant second floor children from becoming dead first floor children.
Ray stayed away from the drop. Rabbits and headlights. Moths and flames. Sorry, I nearly walked into you there. He shook his head.
You look like death. Hanton … Ray remembered the story. Underground coal fires. Made the place a ghost town. Tinny but loud. Ray took a few paces, struggling to fish his cell phone out and failing. He admitted defeat, stopped and hooked it out. Needles ran through him, like tooth-ache down every vein. And it was gone, before he could even gasp. Something strange about Locked in a dress stories voice. Ray turned. The man watched him, mouth half open, hand half raised.
Behind him two women stopped in their tracks. Another woman further back stopped too, the baby howling in her stroller went silent, like it had an off-switch. It seemed like everyone else wanted to hear what he had to say too. The silence rippled out, voices shutting down with that same low drawl. Everywhere the people just stopped walking. On the first floor Ray could see the effect spreading through the crowd. In the distance the people at the main doors halted in mid-stride. Seconds later an SUV plowed gently into the bike stands outside. He could hear the in-store muzak now, leaking from the shops, fountains tinkling, the sound of air-conditioners, the thump of his heart, a weird grinding noise from the escalators where bodies were starting to pile up on each other, fallen in stiff unnatural poses.
He bumped something and spun around with a shriek. The woman fell as he reached for her, toppling like a tree. Her head hit the faux marble with a dull smacking sound, arms at her side even as she rocked on the ground and her summer dress settled around her. Ray hauled the woman onto her back, releasing her quickly, revulsed by the tension in her limbs.
Blood oozed from her forehead, shockingly crimson, sticking wisps of blonde hair in place. She stared past him at the filtered sunlight. Her perfume reminded him of lilacs. He backed away. One step, two steps, turned and ran. Past the two women, dived left past the mom and stroller, sliced between the old couple. Coach Robbins would have been proud, three years of football training and benchwarming paid off in full.
A red smear ran down the grooved metal center of each step. At the bottom of that stiff awkward pile of bodies somebody was being eaten, nibble by nibble. A glimmer somewhere near the bottom of the heap, the metal clasp of a clipboard. A man near the top had his arm outstretched, the hand that had gripped the escalator rail, open and reaching for Ray.
For a moment, a minute? Ray watched, as frozen as everyone else. He reached for the hand. Fingertips almost met. The man pulling on him as he tried to tug him free. The man hauling him into the pile, drawing him down into what ever sickness held them.
A crash from the sweet shop behind him. Glass shattering. Sherbert lemons skittering out onto the walkway in their hundreds. Ray ran. He ran without caution, smashing into shoppers, ricocheting and running on, leaving them rocking in his wake, some falling.
He pounded down the stairs, threw himself at the fire doors and staggered into the parking lot gasping for breath in the hot June sun. Frozen people dotted the lot. Ray gave them a wide berth as he made for his Corolla. Not until he held his key in shaking hands did the thought strike him. The emergency stop button.
The red punch button had been right in front of him. He could have stopped the escalator in a heartbeat.
The car seat seared his arms as he slid in. He closed the door, locked it, started the engine, the AC, the radio. He punched the button looking for news.
For an instant he saw the red stop button. He switched again. Some woman on NPR talking about a book she read…. All of them. The AC made him shiver. Sweat ran cold down his neck. He approached at a crawl, wondering if he could thread a way around the wreckage.
As he drew level with the Nissan a lick of red flame escaped the hood, running up over the windscreen. The woman behind the wheel stared at the sky, tilted back and to the side in her seatbelt by the force of the impact.
Fire filled the car as if a giant match had been struck under her. The flames rushed up from around her legs. No explosion, no sound, just an orange hell.Locked in a dress stories
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