Last night, we lost another store.
And naturally, it happened on my shift. Balls.
Y'see, when my security shift extends past regular mall hours, I change from Santa Claus into my other other (other) identity: Gud "Whiskers" Florpzu, prematurely-grizzled mall custodian. That means I just wear a backwards baseball cap; steel-toed work boots; suggestively-unzipped coveralls with no shirt or underpants; and a rolled-up copy of "Barely Legal Clones" magazine in my back pocket. And I drag around a sonic mop and a hover-bucket, and occasionally I pause and pretend to clean the floor. If I hear a suspicious noise, I'll turn myself into one of those little folding plastic signs that say "CAUTION: FRICTIONLESS SURFACE".
So! It was nearing 2 AM, and I was on the lowest level, doin' my thing, when a terrible groan reverberated through the mall. It sounded like metal beams getting wrenched apart. Scanning the darkened complex with my multi-spectrum I-noculars (an officially licensed Eyeful Ethel tie-in product), I saw a massive cloud of sawdust billowing out of and quickly obscuring the Lumbak Liquidators discount flooring outlet. Lumbak's is -- or was! -- all the way at the opposite end of the shopping complex, two levels up, by the way. Eschewing the mall's slow-ass levitator platforms, I bounded up the stairs, four at a time. As I bounded towards the dust cloud, I encountered the mall's real custodian, working the riding hover-vac. Since my adrenaline was in the red zone -- and for the sake of DRAMA! -- I kickboxed him off of it* and commandeered the thing. I shifted it into high gear (a surprising 140 kilometers-per-hour!) and hurtled into the roiling cloud. I air-skidded to a halt when I suddenly found myself outside. Above me should have been Lumbak's ceiling. Instead, I was looking at Lallor's fallout-ridden sky, dotted by a few malfunctioning spy satellites; plus a private blimp that flashed the message, "THE END IS NEAR." And instead of Lumbak's floor, I could see the rafters of the Old Space Navy on the lower level. Thank the Luck Lords, I was driving something that floated!
Before I could back up, a blinding light exploded into my eyes. The next second, I was airborne.
At first, I thought I was floating. Then, I realized that my keen Amadan brain had merely altered my perception of time (as it often does in times of stress) and I was actually perceiving the world in slow-motion. I traveled in a graceful arc over a primer-gray, rusted-out (29)'72 Parakat GT rocket-car. As I neared the tail-end of the vehicle, I grabbed onto one of the fins. Time sped up again, and I winced as my arm was nearly torn from its socket. Avoiding the blast of the rocket engine, I clambered over the car until I was standing on its hood. The windows were tinted black, so I couldn't see who was inside. I screamed at the driver to stop, and when that didn't work, I dug my security badge from my pocket and slammed it against the windshield. The driver kept swerving, trying to throw me off of the rocket-car. That really pissed me off. With a powerful leap, I did a back-flip off of the hood. As I landed in front of the car, I changed into a steel wall. Only I didn't land quite right, because the fucker just ran over my sorry ass like I was a fucking ramp. And of course I hadn't finished changing yet -- my face is always the last to go -- so now I have a black eye. I changed back and fired my forcefield bracers at the car. It was too far away by then. Damn it.
I trudged back to the mall and set about collecting evidence. I could tell exactly where the rocket-car had come from, by the scorch marks in the adjacent parking tower. There was a thin trail of white granules leading up to it. (Drugs? Plastic explosive?) I scooped some into an envelope. The agency is still waiting on the results from the crime lab. We've already learned that the rocket-car was reported stolen yesterday morning, although the owner claims she had never tinted the windows. Huh.
As I'm writing this, I have another hour to go before I have to put on my Santa Claus get-up. So I'm still dressed as "Gud", and I can hob-knob with the rest of the mall staff. Like this dude named "Flev", who's in charge of the mall's seasonal props and window displays. Flev brought me a mug of space-java about ten minutes ago. We joked and bullshitted a little, while we watched his staff erect another giant tent to hide the spot where this latest vanished store used to be. Flev says he wants to set me up with a friend of his: some artist guy whom he describes as having "friendly muttonchops and an even friendlier mouth." Sounds like fun to me!
And I sure as hell could use some fun right now.
*And if I accidentally hurt you when I did that, I sincerely apologize, Duplicate Boy.