Malluso cut into the S.U.V. repeatedly but there was no reaction, no incentive in the creature other than to repair itself with the heaps of trash connected to it. Two kids dressed in different shades of red were walking along the sidewalk nearby-- they were redheads to boot. The younger redhead was talking to his much older accomplice, and didn't notice the marble-headed man slashing at the malicious, animated dump.
“Rocket, TO THE MOON!” The eleven-year-old redhead with natural orange follicles shouted exuberantly, pumping his fist in the air.
“You can't get on the moon, Ralphie.” The seventeen-year-old redhead said, scratching the top of his maroon hair.
Malluso tried speaking back to the S.U.V., since it had speakers. His jaw crackled open, “Who and what are you?”
The S.U.V. ignored Monsieur's words, attacking him with a swipe of one of its massive limbs. The marble-headed man dodged and swiped back, papers, containers, and spoiled food going all over the place. From the speakers in the garbage, “Act with what and who they are, I am sick of what and who they were.”
Elizabeth tried to stop the monster, “Goopy Goopy Fried Gumdrops!”
The donut girl noticed that the door to the Japanese pastry shop seemed to open on its own, but the living trash was hostile as ever.
“Its no use.” A moving Malluso replied. “You should get inside there.”
The redheads had noticed by now, and seeing her dialogue did nothing, decided to try to speak to the talking speakers of the S.U.V.
“Rocket, TO THE MOON!” The orangehead tried to no avail, as the S.U.V. attacked the marble-headed man again. Malluso got out of the way and cut off another small part of the versatile, reconstructive monster. This time the S.U.V. stuck its limb into the trash it had lost and instantly reconnected it.
The tall maroonhead was calmer, “Still different.”
The S.U.V.'s speakers shut off and it suddenly rumbled like being shook from the inside of its coreless being; the creature's face disappeared as the trash responded, scattering everywhere into a formless storm of neurotic breezes.
As the trash flew everywhere, Elizabeth entered the shop, the door shutting behind her.
One of the people who had been hit by building debris, who had been thrown and saved by Diego Caprice, stumbled by. His clothes were baggy and cut-up below a mess of blond hair. He was obsessively looking down for detail, “I'm not going to fall yet.”
“Looks like you got it, Mikey. RED SQUAD!” Ralphie cheered, giving the peace sign like there was a camera in front of him.
“Do you even know what those hand gestures mean?” Mikey asked.
Ralphie flicked Mikey off.
“Right.” Mike replied, looking away uninterested. “Not many customers down here.. I guess they're all shoppin' uptown.”
“Goopy goopy fried gumdrops,” Elizabeth was now pulling on the door handle without success, “Goopy goopy fried gumdrops..”
Malluso walked up to the front of the glass where she waited, his jaw breaking open, “Set up shop like the other place and wait. Don't worry, the donut shop closes fairly soon; you'll know when it does.. I'm sorry to have to put you through this.”
Elizabeth's eyes widened and Malluso watched with a prescience as the store twirled into the ground, replacing itself with a square of red-painted cement.
* * *
Beyond five warped bathrooms, three of which were not for humans, Lacie found the brief horizon of a twisted, crooked tunnel-- its contours cast in cold cement. The tunnel ceiling, wall, or floor was always missing, twisting along then jutting down-- almost out of sight; the large hall's rotating stretch of space shed view to a plain black and starry sky with clouds coming in further off.
The astronaut suit felt so much heavier, and at a second glance, Lacie found the entrance behind here to be metal boundaries rather than doors. For a second Lacie was afraid that maybe the exact opposite had happened upon returning to Black Stock, and that she had became extraordinarily frail.
Lacie peered down.. Her arms were normal, it was all paranoia, and the unnatural heaviness of the space suit subsided. Though her balance was off, as if the mixed stretch of painted white brick and cut grey slab was dangling on wires and rocked by neurotic wind. She wondered if this was even the same hallway, and took a deep breath before taking another step.
The girl climbed up and around a kind of corner where there seemed to be a handful of adults in different shades of red. The glow of stars had all suddenly been exchanged for dingy clouds that peered through the gaps in the twisting hallway. Frigid colors of light in ribbon-shapes covered the edge of visibility like tiny, floating debris in Lacie's mechanical eyes. At this new corridor, the lens-eyed girl found her pass through Black Stock to turn into some sort of debilitating, moving portrait, where she would sometimes have to walk on the side to keep from falling; but the exit through the frame remained forward if it existed.
“I don't know if there's glass there or not.” A woman in dark pink and sunglasses said, kicking at the sky as it appeared through the floor.
The five adults in red gave Lacie nasty looks as she traveled forward slowly, dragging the suit behind her. A man spoke from spite and Burgundy, “Are you with him? The enemy?”
Lacie looked around her and saw Midnight on her right, gawking at the spacesuit with some unopened, stout Vinaigrette dressing in his hand. Upon being seen by the college student, Midnight saw the Red Squad and backed away, disappearing in his usual convention.
“Well I guess he's gone now.” The man's tone immediately changed. “Never mind.”
The Red Squad went back to their casual conversation and Lacie passed them down the wide zig-zag of sloping hallway.
Climbing and treading around while avoiding the stretches of cloud and stars, Lacie heard a familiar old woman's voice, as if from the speakers of a distant concert, “You got.. t.. too choppy.. find me.”
Red Squad trailed behind Lacie in a nature difficult to tell whether programmed or willed.
The corner of an open entryway enticed Lacie's mechanical view. The hall had turned to a rapid zig-zag, jolting a couple feet diagonally down and left where the entry was.
But just before she got to the downwards zig, Lacie's turned black and white, and familiar disfigured figures rose from the melancholic ground and surrounded her, and the sign “Aisle 9” reappeared above.
Midnight's voice rang out. “Won't hurt they anything.. just figurines, the speeches of economists.”
So Lacie passed the figures with her shirt failing to read anything at the time; and the figures melted back into the ground, color returning to Lacie's vision, and the aisle sign disappearing. For a split second during all this, there were all these different makes of cell phones, ringing on the ground behind Lacie, and then they all disappeared into silence-- she felt fear but tried to ignore it and didn't look back.
Lacie murmured to Midnight knowing Red Squad was trailing, “I don't like you following me, its creepy. Go away.”
“Up is ahead, the mall.” Midnight whispered. “Nobody is here.”