Vibrant Night - Chapter 28

Chapter 28

With her heart pounding, Lacie stepped over jagged shards of glass and grabbed the nearest chair to shield herself.  Mona had turned back into a swarm of mostly angry birds.  As the swarm charged at Lacie she whacked two or three, one hit the ground while another hit a table and slid across it onto the floor.  There was a radical parrot in patterns of winter blue on white, perched over the sprawling, second-story balcony; the bird seemed to dance quite rhythmically to the radio, rather than fight.

"Space fight!" The muffled voice of the old man in the Pizza Plaza rang out. "Alien parrot!"

Lacie found herself losing gravity and balance.  She looked at her feet which felt as though they were standing on invisible moving platforms.

"What the.." She mumbled to herself.

Many of the birds had trouble flying and flapped their wings towards each other as if they were underwater or submerged in crumbled jello.

Lacie noticed the dancing parrot-- who now had nun-raver-rosaries with glow sticks dangling off of its wings.  The comical bird was unintentionally doing a forward barrel roll through the air, intentionally moving its wings in unison to the beat of the food-court music.

All that was left of the two hunters at the end of the food-court which Mona had near incapacitated was the woman's upper torso, arrest of her hidden as the crawling man dragged her along and away.. farther from the pizza that could have saved them.

Lacie swung the heavy chair again at birds trying to flee from her; the couple which were hit made noises in pain, but they all made their way back into a humanoid form, and gravity returned to Lacie, Mona, and the dancing parrot.

Mona snapped her fingers, and at first Lacie could notice no difference to her surroundings.  The group of laughing girls on the balcony had all changed.  They had balloons with drawn-on faces tied to their arms and wrists, and all of them were wearing wooden masks similar to the faces on the balloon sets.  They jumped off the balcony in single-file, landing like carnivorous extraterrestrials, searching for a meal in the near-abandoned food-court.

The sound of a gunshot went off and one of the evil girls' balloons popped, her hand dropping down to her side as half of her wooden mask fell off.  What showed of the young girl's human face was in surprise and conflict as she looked in the hallway leading to the arcade, where a policewoman held a clear handgun pointed at Mona.

"I think I saw her in magazine." The astronautly-dressed man in the Pizza Plaza exclaimed, it was not known to Lacie who he exactly was rambling about.

"Well this should be interesting." Herbert took a sip of his cocktail that he was now holding, some hard concoction in a snifter glass; the bottle had been on a hidden shelf in the man-sized hole his mutant form broken out of.

"Run, girl." Ecila said to Lacie with a tense voice.

The floor began flickering with intense, white light, while the walls seemed to push in at the width of a road.  The pile of painted tables behind Mona slid and blocked most of the way to the end of the food-court.  The U.V. Road turned only to the right, as if it was giving Lacie a direction.  Lacie ran down the left side of the food court away from the masked girls, all but one of the girls laughing again.  The college student ducked as she moved forward, a chair barely missing her head that one of the masked girls threw.

Still hiding under a center table, the middle-aged man in shades who had been sipping his beverage and keeping to himself, grasped the top of the table with his fingers and began walking like a crab, animating the furniture with a slow pace towards the non-glowing end of the hall outside the court.  It seemed as though the man had unbolted all fifteen bolts between the table and floor, though he could've had help, and as to where he got the tools remained unknown.

Ecila's translucent glock went off again, straight into Mona, who turned back into a flock of flyers and birds; a bird and a shoe lied dead on the floor, both with holes, no blood.

"Oh that reminds me." Herbert remembered in his half-drunken stupor of near-perfect balance.

Lacie made a run for it through the angry flock, swatting and yelling at the birds as they pecked at her.  Little could be seen of the girl's boots from the intense light shining on the floor as she made her way around the mess of tables, the moving one in the background.

"I guess I won't be able to tell her where she got those lenses from." The rabbit-man somehow puffed.  With a cigar now, instead of a cigarette, between two gloved and yellowing fingers, Herbert's empty glass looked back at him. "This is dreadful.”

In the next hall Lacie had to stop abruptly in order to run around a different cop and a Japanese shop owner in flannel bringing in a brand new ladder.  The UV Road turned into glowing escalators on the right, while the hall on the right also continued to glow.  Only the escalator gave off small rainbows, though with many the colors out of order, similar to some vending machines on the second floor.  Meanwhile, the hall to the right gave off graybows.

Going past the escalator, the right of the hall flickered back and forth at random, in and out of existence, to the glass doors at the end.  The broad hall would go completely missing as Lacie made her first step on the escalator.  It was as though this section of the first floor had been ripped from its very foundations-- jagged metal just jutting out into the night.. and then everything returning again with a stretch of stores with doors half-closed.  At the end or entrance of the hallway when it flickered into existence, were strange kids or teenagers that appeared to Lacie in blur.

On the left of the first floor hallway was a maze of walls mostly four feet high in all directions, both on the ground and on the high-up ceiling above.  An upside-down group of people were standing and talking at an entrance to the maze on the ceiling, while an old woman sat right-side-up and asleep on a bench, on the ground, near a shoe store.  Raising out from these maze's segments of clinical whites were giant puppets that resembled parading, Chinese dragons, specimens which popped in and out with the utmost rarity or uniqueness-- not shared so much in aesthetic by the nearby, and mostly upside-down shoppers.

Lacie stopped to look around in wonderment at the mall as the mechanical stairs rose her up.  But the angry storm of peckish airborne creatures were still trailing, and Lacie started running up the stairs even though they were already automated to move upward.

When the girl reached the second floor, she saw sleeker, cleaner stores, some marked in vertical English, some in horizontal Japanese.

A calm and knowledgeable voice rang out from one of the stores while smoke poured from the ragged entrance, "I've looked into it and it seemed too full of risks.  Better to stick to a malfunctioning time-machine headed for the future."

By the time Lacie got in front of the store with a smoke cloud coming out of it, she was starting to lose her breath.  Her vision changed like earlier in the night, rips and scratches like old film filled every contour of the environment around her.  The sounds of bird songs were unwelcome and near, angry.  She thought fast as though without thinking, looked for a nearby screen with a picturesque view of Null-Mart that appeared on one of the walls, with something that looked like a strange crack in her lenses appearing over top of it.  Scared, and trying to catch her breath, Lacie reached out her hand to gamble with the world again.

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