Thursday, April 17, 2014


They had to wait under the beds a long time, because as soon as the mall closes the cleaning women come through. Well, some of the cleaning ladies are men, but everybody says 'cleaning women' because that's like traditional.  It was scary too. They dry mopped and vacuumed right up to the dust skirt. Sybil almost got caught. She's allergic. Lucky the cleaning 'person' had ear-buds in. You know how some people keep the volume so high it's like they're crunching cereal and can't hear anything else? A country station I think it was. Never heard her sneeze. Sophie giggled nervously. Opal farted. Never heard none of it.  They texted each other for forty five minutes when the vacuuming stopped, because whoever it was might still have been dry mopping.

Wonder if the cleaning staff knows about the zombies? Maybe the zombies just leave them alone so they don't get kicked out. Devouring a raw, dead, or almost dead body's gonna make stains and you know management would probably have a fit over that. Sybil had to pee real bad. Couldn't help it. Had to come out. She was real quiet, though, so the others never knew. They had a big, shiny resin pot in the next furniture tableau. You know. Supposed to be ceramic, only lighter and cheaper? Guy was supposed to put a silk tree in it, but he cut his finger real bad on a serrated plastic edge on the toilet paper holder in the stall. Had to sit there dripping blood all over and yelling for Charmin. Couldn't  clean himself. Couldn't stop the blood.  Floor's all white tile, so you know how that looked. New sneakers got all ruined. Then when some guy finally did come he banged the door in and bashed him on top of his head. Had to wheel him out on a gurney. Grabbed a box a Peeps from the candy counter 'cause he wanted them.... But anyway, the resin pot was empty, so Sybil peed in it. That's when Gary caught her..... What the hell you doin'?! - he goes.... Sybil almost died. Got like a butt burn on her heinie when she slid off the rim, 'cause, you know, that resin's got a tacky feel to it.  She makes him turn around. The other two peek out from under their beds. Gary goes - It's OK. It's alright. You can come out.

Ten minutes later they're wheeling the two story, metal, scaffold thing out from the storage hallway and struggling to  position it under the stain. Can't move the tables, 'cause they're bolted down. But the aisles are just wide enough for the scaffold. Wheels squeak and make noise. The thing rattles a lot. Lights are real dim to start with. You know, those little floor level security lights places have? Mall -rat girls gettin' nervous. Opal keeps whispering - Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.... Then when it's all set up and the wheels are locked in place, right where they want it, Gary-the-addle-brained- watchman goes - Shit, no. Not here. We gotta move it over a little..... The mall-rats look at him... Can't have it right under the stain. Something might be wedged up there.... So they inch it over a few feet and lock it down. .... Everybody just looks at it. Then the girls look at Gary. He whispers - What?.... Sophie goes - Ain't you gone first? Thought you'd know how to snap the ceiling tile out and all..... He goes - It ain't hard. You can do it. I gotta stay down and steady it. Not like you gonna carry nothing. Just take a picture. That's all...... The girls look at each other. He ain't gonna move. They can see that. So, Sophie says - I'll go, but I want you two right behind me. OK?... Sybil nods. Opal goes - Yeah, sure.... So they start climbing. Got a rail around the edge up there. Plus no room for standing. Can only get up on your knees. Ceiling's right there. Guess that makes it safer? Gary makes like he steadying it. Be he ain't doin' nothin', 'cept bein' scared.

Sophie uses her phone for light. Tiles look real tight. Sybil whispers - Now what? ... Sophie goes - Here, take this... Sybil grabs the phone. Almost drops it. You know,  people get afraid to move up there. Ever climb up a ten meter diving platform?... It's terrifying. Light-changing platform ain't that high, but still, high enough. ..... Gary whispers - You girls alright up there?.... Sophie says - Yeah, shut up.... He's happy too. Grabs one of the legs like he's hugging it. Not like he walks around every night. Mostly locks himself in that little room reading comic books and  glancin' at security monitors when he has to. Sometimes in June and July when it ain't dark til nine-fifteen and it gets light at five or five thirty he'll make a fast round at nine and another at dawn. Wants a get one a them Roomba robot vacuum cleaners and duct tape a camera on it. That way he don't have to walk 'round at all. It's scary being all alone in a dark, in-door city. Too many shadows. Air ducts rumbling. Manikins and all. Worse is when a pigeon or a crow gets locked in at night. Don't make a sound, just flaps around all night, like the Kah in an Egyptian tomb. 

Sophie pushes up and snaps one a them rigid, acoustical ceiling tiles out a place. Then, real slow, she slides it over and stows it on top of the next one over. She stops, freezes, listens. The others listen too. Gary whispers - W-what are you doing?...... Sophie whispers - Nothing, shut up.... Then she shines her phone into the space between the tops of the tiles and the concrete ceiling. Now a body could be wedged up there, 'cause the grid that holds the tiles is  the heavyweight, industrial kind. Screwed up into the concrete real good too. But her phone keeps going out and it barely cuts the blackness, as it is. For a second, less than a second she sees something. Not a body, but a small dark shape. At least the part toward her is dark. She freezes, afraid to move. But she snapped it. She got it. She took the picture. The phone goes black. Then it flickers on again, just as a white hand darts out of the void and snatches whatever it was. But she instinctively presses the switch and gets that too. Then she sits back down on the platform heaving and shaking.... Sybil and Opal just stare. 

Gary goes - What'd you see?What happened? Are you OK?..... And she looks down to answer, as a shadowy figure glides out of the darkness, grabs the poor, young man, spins him around, kisses him hard and rips out his tongue. 

Seconds later another being appears from the gloom to claim his share, as Gary convulses and sobs. 

But Opal screams... and the first ghoul looks up... 


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John L. Harmon said...

I will keep crunching my cereal and fondly remember Gary's violent kiss..

Billy Kravitz said...

Very much valued and appreciated. And I will look at ceiling tile stains in a whole new way... And people who see this, PLEASE follow John and his unusual goings on at