A Night in the Mall

Submitted into Contest #122 in response to: Write about a character who’s stuck in a shopping mall.... view prompt


Drama Fiction Urban Fantasy

Hey, what’s this huge ad?

Westgate, a new mall in the Western suburbs.

Thousands of square meters of shopping. Whatever you need is here! Come and see for yourself. Opening day specials! Bring the kids; our clowns will entertain them while you shop! We’re open from 10 till 10 – choose your time!

Oh man, this is for me. I never shop. I am a work-at-home engineer and no clients ever call in to see me, so I don’t dress for the city, so to speak. There are times when I walk past the computer on the way to the shower wearing socks and a pair of holey underpants and stop to do a calculation. The computer doesn’t know the difference and the calculations take the same path as if I was dressed in a dinner suit with matching socks and tie. All my clothes are old, and long out of fashion. This is my chance to spend a little and update myself. I rushed into the bedroom, threw open the cupboard door and grabbed a pair of tattered jeans and a tee. I’m ready to go!

About 2 million people with cars made the same decision. The traffic crawled and I ended up parking where the mall was no longer in sight. Will there still be something left for me? There was. The mall was stacked to the roof with all the goodies I needed. I selected, tried, discarded, chose again, tried again, it fitted, went to town on the same size, jeans and tees of different colors, stopped for a burger and coke, and went home happy.

Damn, I missed out! No belt! My old belt was stretched way beyond my waist measurement. I’ll never grow into it and I had forgotten to buy a new one. No rush, they’re open till 10. I ate a light dinner and a few minutes after 9 drove back to the mall. Less traffic now. Hope there are still a few belts left…

I parked near the door this time and walked along the aisle between the rows of shops. Hello, what’s that? I stopped to examine a fixture in the ceiling outside a cake shop. Never seen anything like that. Maybe I could use it in one of my projects. I wonder what it is. Damn ceiling is too high.

The door of the cake shop opened and a hand stretched out pushing a wooden crate up to their window. I grabbed it, pulled it under the fitting I’d seen and climbed up to get a closer look at a label stuck on the side. Something to do with diffusing heat from the ovens in the shop. My curiosity satisfied, I returned the crate and continued my way to Belt and Buckle. Selected, tried, paid and left.

The shops were closing as I walked along the deserted aisles to the entrance. I passed the strange fixture in the ceiling and decided to take another look at it. Who knows, I could land a project with a bakery at any moment. I pushed the crate back and stood on it to reach. There was a small access door on the side and I opened it and put my hand in to feel around.

Lots of wires all leading to the same board.  Couple of switches. Unidentified plugs, transistors and other thingamajigs that I couldn’t identify. Bits of metal framework holding the whole thing together. Obviously a hi-tech control box a few generations ahead of me. Something cobbled together by a member of a new generation. I didn’t understand the thing and I had no desire to learn about it either. Time to climb down and wend my way home.

The problem started as I withdrew my hand from the box. My arm caught on something inside the box. I was scared to pull hard in case it was my skin and flesh that was snagged. And skin or veins don’t make a grating noise as they scrape along metal. Bone will. I twisted my arm. Scrape…. scrape. Is that warm blood I feel? I push my arm back in gently. Something ran along my forearm and dripped onto my bought-this-morning off-white Nikes. I twisted my neck without moving my arm and confirm. Blood! 

No problem, I thought. I’ll just unwind my arm slowly and carefully and I’ll be outa here. It was not so. Whatever was holding me tightened its grip and more of my arm disappeared into the box. And blood dripped at a higher rate. Now about 12 drops per something. Blood pressure moving up. I try again. My arm shortens and blood drop-rate increases. Blood pressure must be way over the speed limit. I once read that measuring is the only way to know whether you have high blood pressure. That’s not true. I must be close to bursting and I haven’t measured a drop. I’m also getting cramps in my legs from balancing on the wooden crate, my faithful step-ladder.

The first hit from cramp is in my right leg, behind the knee and at the bottom of the thigh. I cannot move, so I scream. No response. I scream louder, cramp tightens up using all the muscle it can muster. Left leg joins in sympathy. Blood is pooling on top of the crate and running down to the floor. Dark, dark, red. Must be a couple of gallons, I think but I cannot do an accurate calculation.

It is the end. I cannot hold this position any longer. I heave my entire body. My arm appears. It has been neatly cut along its length. Blood pours out. I fall off the crate into the pool of blood. It is sticky and I keep falling as I try and stand up. The aisle floor is polished marble, but it doesn’t look that great right now. It has long red streaks which I made as I crawled to an emergency telephone point. I call.

The hospital bed is comfortable. I don’t recognize or feel my arm which is swathed in white and dark red bandages. A couple of red pipes come down and enter a gadget planted into my other arm. Blood too?

“Good Grief! what happened to you?” asked someone.

“Yeah well, I decided to spend the night in that new mall,” I replied. “You get to feel the real ambiance that way,” I added. 

December 02, 2021 09:15

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Yves. ♙
08:52 Dec 06, 2021

So surreal! Thanks for sharing!


Show 0 replies
Cathryn V
01:22 Dec 06, 2021

lol, good story!


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