The new hallway Lacie in was smaller since it belonged to what was apparently the mall. This black and neon corridor only twisted a little compared to its larger counterpart.. while scattered screens looking into Null-Mart, lined the walls. Most projections gave show of more chaos in the store then Lacie had previously seen. One screen showed a clock on the wall, the Second Midnight clearly approaching. But the clock face shattered from a baseball, and both objects fell out of sight.
The theme in the hall seemed to drain into or pour out from a medium-sized arcade. Lacie only caught a glimpse of the arcade as she walked by. The lights around this room flickered and exploded at random intervals, though the explosions were illusory and the lights were fine. Some of the video game machines were standing on the ceiling or wall, or taped-up with busted screens, or had things trying to get out.. banging on the windows, so-to-speak.
One of the screens suddenly shattered and something got out, which triggered Lacie to move faster.
The food court had a high portion of tables knocked on their sides, or totally upturned, mostly thrown into a pile in a corner; the pile of furniture was freshly stained with green and black shades of paint. A sleek surrounding balcony overlooked closed-down restaurants, one of which once served rocks and grass. A pizza restaurant is where the old man was, who had been naked in the shadows of Black Stock, now hiding from something or someone with only his head popping out from the counter. Lacie caught sight of his face from behind the cash register.
Near the center of the expanse, a middle-aged Caucasian man sat at a bolted-down table alone. He was talking in a low voice, like the chair in front of him was occupied by someone close. His sunglasses reflected tinted fingers, sprinkling sugar in a cup of coffee to some tune with brass and guitar that droned on in a dream-state.
tries to pull you out of your body,
and you see someone down sayin',
just don't mind me,
don't mind me..
Lace heard laughing coming from a group of girls on the balcony; some of them were in dresses-- while all of them were dressed up, with buckles. At first Lacie thought they might've been laughing at her; then it appeared more likely that they were giggling at the policewoman who was shining a flashlight into a vacant store on that same second floor.
The song came to its tail end and Lacie could suddenly hear the ringing of pay phones or a pay phone in the entryway. She turned to half of an aged face behind the Pizza Plaza's counter, “Are you the old man from Black Stock?”
“..no.” The old man said.
“Wait!” The senior citizen said, seeing the space suit. “You brought me that suit?”
She lifted the space suit forcefully and pushed it over the counter.
“Hmm..” The skinny old man shifted around behind the desk talking to himself. “This suit smells abnormally sweet.”
“Hey!” The female cop said, shining her flashlight on Lacie (with poor effect). “What's going on there?”
“Nothing.” Lacie turned to the officer; and then turned again, looking on into slanting halls that must've been mostly full of closed stores.
A flatscreen peering into Null-Mart on the food-court wall, showed a man in his seventies with patterned cotton clothes from the early-Industrial age. Full of life, he had saddled a male deer, and was riding around the store on it. "Catch me breaking eggs on my boot and laughing at their windows! Two pence, half past six."
Minutes later the old man at the Pizza Plaza stood up covered head to toe, “Now I am an em-per-or.”
“I thought you were a tailor.” Lacie replied.
“Quiet alien.” The man said, and turned to the small kitchen. Talking to himself again, “At least here there's sugar and..”
The creamer near the old man floated over a mug at the corner of the Pizza Plaza's kitchen table and poured out.
The wanderer with a brass fedora from The Kingdom of Wanderers, came out of the black and neon hall with brisk pace, tiny shards of glass shining off of his hat. “Ecila!”
The blonde policewoman turned around, “What?”
“There's a fight going on in Kingdom Market.”
Lacie watched as the cop paused for a moment in thought. Then with on hand on the railing, “Hey, get back to the library.”
“I ain't a book!” He swiped most of the glass off of his hat.
“That's littering!” Ecila scorned.
“Aliens, all of them.. aliens in-- human form.” The man in the space suit murmured from the floor of the Pizza Plaza; he fanned himself with red money he had plucked out of the cash register.
A mug of coffee floated over the center table with the man in shades, and the other chair shuffled out and then in.
The history book or historian, had taken out one of his swords, spinning his brass fedora on it. “Well if you arrest me are ya gonna to take me ta jail or the library?”
Lacie shifted her scope-eyes to zoom in on the police officer, “You're.. Ecila?”
"I'm not Frank if that's what your asking." Ecila replied.
Lacie zoomed, “Someone from the past is looking for you, he says your his daughter.”
“He's confused, has a television problem.” The officer said. “His daughter is named Fry; thinks she's a bird.”
“Looks like you can find her in the automobile department in All-Mart.” Ecila pointed to a moving image near the once-laughing group of girls, now talking in whispers. “See here, this flickering screen made by.. 'Mechanical Convenience.'”
Lacie zoomed in on the screen on the wall; her lenses reflected the side of an African-N'quevnan lass masked & in her late twenties, her arms folded like chicken wings; Fry's head jerked in the stares of a bird towards a portion of some sort of advanced tank under construction.
Lacie was jolted as parts of the roof on the second floor flew off as if they had only been patches like with The Kingdom of Wanderers. She thought she might go and answer the phone, the eternal ringing that droned from what was now, the blur of a lobby. “Thank you for the information.”
The historian with a brass hat had booked it, back towards the arcade, where he hoped he couldn't be mistaken as something he found so trite.
“Its no-- where did he go!?” Ecila broke.
* * *
Lacie went towards the lobby, opening the door to find two Middle-Eastern punk rock guys who had not previously appeared from behind the glass. The black haired guy was in all one shade of red, trapped in a large rock, blocking some of the doors; some of his head, upper torso, arms, and a shoe-d foot popped out of the grey mass. His free, blond-haired acquaintance taunted him, "People aren't fixed in stone. Except for you. People can change, sometimes.. Except for you."
"What's going on here?" Lacie asked, confused that no-one had picked up the phone; it was just one phone ringing, and hard to tell which. On the right, across from the telephones, there was a shape popping out from the wall in a blotch of a person with an over-sized head.
"Leave me alone." The black haired guy wriggled in the stone. "I'm fine."
"Woah, wait a minute. Is.. that an umbrella pickaxe?" The taunter asked.
"Yes it is. Why haven't either of you picked up the phone?" Lacie asked.
The blond taunter leaned against the rock with one hand, the wide-trapped-eye of his acquaintance gawked at him as he raised his eyebrow. "Maybe its for you."
Lacie went over to the payphone.
"Ow!" Lacie was shocked, as if by static electricity.
"Wrong phone." The young man in stone said.
Even though the phone she had touched was the one that seemed to be ringing, Lacie picked up the one beside it and the ringing stopped.
"Before I get drunk, disorderly, and discursive, give blondie the pickaxe and tell him to get cracking." said Herbert's suave voice on the other end of the line.
"Herbert! How did you know I'd be here?" The lens-eyed girl asked.
"There's a camera in the corner.. Now miss, you'll have to get the ball rolling because there's not much time at all."
Lacie handed the umbrella pickaxe to the taunter, who in some redeeming state, had no reluctance to take it. He started chipping away the rock with it.
"Hey be careful!" The punk in the stone said.
"This is all insane.. and so are you." Lacie's voice dropped realizing the two others in the room were overhearing her, "I.."
“Maybe I'm immune to insanity and leaking class for the hell of it. Your not my niece or I might say that's your opposite.”
"What do I do?"
"Only you know what to do, before The Second Midnight." Offended and at the end of his words, Herbert hung up.
"What niece!?" Lacie said out loud to herself, putting the phone on the hook.
Lacie turned and zoomed in, seeing Ecila heading towards the arcade; and then the former student's vision dropped downwards, past the food court into the lighted walls and twisted halls with more resistance in her than resolve.