Battle of the Snowflakes: Part Eight

At long last, (and after an incredibly stressful winter break) the Sue Games/Battle of the Snowflakes continues. For those of you who need a refresher, here’s the compete short story collection so far: Part(s) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. If you have no clue what’s going on, check out all the links in part 1 and then read through.

Here we go again. Full story after the cut.

Part Eight: SHOPPING!

Victorious music blares as Purity is beamed back to her section. The fact that it’s the same twelve seconds of trumpet music that played when we arrived at the Games kind of takes away some of the majesty. Purity, completely unperturbed by her insta-boyfriend’s untimely death, doesn’t seem to mind the music.

I abstain from the chorus of congratulations to Charity, as does Gamer Girl.

Unfortunately, since there’s very few of us left, this means Hope’s congratulations consist mostly of a few half-hearted grunts from The Darkness and a slow clap from the still-smoking but now conscious Natasha Satantastic.

A few seconds into the awkward silence that follows, the Voice clicks on.

“CONGRATULATIONS!” it booms. “You have all survived round one. Round two will begin momentarily, but first a slight recap of the past battle will be shown on your screens.”

As an irritatingly heroic montage of cardboard-cutout preppy girls murdering other cardboard-cutout preppy girls taints the screen, plates covered in a selection of chocolates rise from the floor in each section. I’m telling you, this event’s one saving grace is that the caterer knows what they’re doing.

CBeside my plate is a thick stack of Chengas (the universe’s cuteness currency) bound together with a purple rubber band. A quick glance around shows that all the other girls have received this extra gift as well.

The montage ends, the microphone squeals and the Voice returns.

“As a reward for doing so excellently in the last round, Mall Deorum, one of our many sponsors, has offered you all unlimited access to their facilities on Strato-9, which as you most likely know, is currently the universe record holder for largest mall in existence.”

Hope Faith Charity Love faints dead away in her section. Again. It’s starting to get annoying.

“You’ve all received a bonus with which you can purchase items from the mall,” the Voice continues. “However, this is not to be a battle and the same rules still apply. Do not engage any fellow competitors. Violation of this rule will result in severe punishment. Now for those of you following along at home, we’ll get back to the slaughter soon but for now–” the Voice sounds as if it can barely contain it’s glee, “it’s time to go SHOPPING!”

And with that, a brilliant white light completely obstructs my vision.

Deorum on Strato-9 is not simply a mall. It is THE mall to which all other malls bow and pray to once a day and offer up baskets filled with cute accessories on a yearly basis so as to not be devoured.

Above me, the floors of the mall appear to continue to go on forever and the ceiling–if there was one–is beyond even my sight. On the ground level, where I am, hallways filled with shops stretch away from me in every direction, also too extensive for me to see the ends. I take all of this in, mouth agape, for a good thirty seconds before finally realizing I’m standing knee-deep in a giant fountain.

Of luke-warm chocolate pudding.

I wish I was making this up. My dress wishes so too.

The pudding looks delicious, but I can’t eat with my knees. Slowly, I wade to the edge of the fountain and, with great difficulty, manage to extricate myself from the mess by flopping as gracefully as possible over the side of the fountain.

Once on solid ground, I examine the damage. The bottom of my once-beautiful purple mountain’s majesty battle ball gown is drenched in chocolate pudding. My shoes have been nowhere near as lucky, sucked from my feet long before I escaped the fountain. There’s no way I’m going back for them though. I settle for mourning their lost cuteness and deciding my first matter of business on this shopping trip will be to find five even cuter pairs to replace them.

The other contestants, (all of whom managed to avoid the fountain) have appeared in front of me. There are only five of us left. Flowing blond locks and a lengthy skirt tell me that the girl to my immediate left is Purity-Love-Faith, or whatever her name is. Standing behind her is the menacing form of Natasha Satantastic, (formerly known as Black Leopard Violet the Magnificent) who is already scanning the mall with her bright red eyes, probably looking for something (or someone) to disintegrate. The third girl who has no name other than “The Darkness” is hovering several feet off the ground with her legs crossed, black hood still covering her face and the last girl is so boring I won’t spend precious space describing her.

“Well,” Happiness-Joy–Frugalness says after we all size each other up. “Who wants to go shopping?”

“Whatever,” boring girl and I say at the same time, then glare at each other.

“Excellent, more conquests,” Natasha Satantastic says.

“Well, that’s settled,” Ambitiously-Wrathful-Peace says, turning with a swish of skirts. “Why don’t we try this way? It looks fun.”

As if by unspoken agreement, we all fall in behind the busty-yet-scrawny blonde and follow her down one of the endless hallways. Aside from the delicate sound of our feet on the tiles (and my pudding-squelches) the mall is eerily quiet. In fact, I haven’t seen a single person aside from our group yet. This is excellent, I’ll have even more merchandise to choose from without commoners getting their grimy paws all over it.

“Ooo, sunglasses,” Beauty-Friendly-Fanciness says.

“Lame,” boring girl says.

No one else speaks, so we continue walking.

Look, I know awkward, okay. My endearing clumsiness has directly led to my conquest of no less than five separate planets. But shopping with four other girls you’re going to be in a fight to the death with soon? It was like being in high school all over again, except this time I couldn’t magically turn them all into gerbils without consequence.

We pass fifteen more stores in the same manner: boring girl, (who I’ve dubbed “Gamer Girl” due to the words scrawled across her bland T-shirt) objects with a word or a sigh and we continue on. By the time we get to the fifth shoe-store, most of the pudding has rubbed off of my feet and I make a decision, darting into the boutique before the others can stop me.

After a moment, they follow me in, though I can hear Gamer Girl’s grumbles from the back of the store. I don’t care. Because CUTE SHOES line every wall of this store and even parts of the ceiling. I haven’t felt this at home since I was at home. I try on a pair of knee-high Uggs to wipe the rest of the pudding off of my feet and then head for the Converse aisle. I’ve just slipped on a pair of bright purple Converse when I feel the presence of someone over my shoulder.

It’s Joyful-Noise-Grace, er, Faith Hope Charity Love. She’s standing right behind me and staring.

“Um, hi?” I offer.

She says nothing and continues to stare as I slowly take off the purple shoes and try another pair on. Not even The Darkness gives off a vibe this creepy. I look around. The other girls are nowhere in sight.

“You’re not like them, are you?” Faith Hope Charity Love says finally.

I nearly fall off my chair in a moment that has little to do with my endearing clumsiness.

“You’re smarter,” she continues, “smart enough to listen to me anyway. Isn’t that right?”

Confused, I stare at her. It isn’t until she nails me with a deadly glare that I figure out what she wants and nod enthusiastically.

“Excellent.” Faith Hope Charity Love flashes a smile at me that makes my invisible arm hair curl in disgust. “Gamer Girl said you’d want to join.”

“Join what?” I ask.

“My plan of course,” she says as if it’s obvious.

“Which would be. . .?” I ask, trying to sound nonchalant as I try on another pair of shoes, this time a bright sparkly purple.

“The evil one,” Faith Hope Charity Love says in disgust. “She must be destroyed before she destroys us all.”

“You mean Nata–”

Faith Hope Charity Love dramatically clamps a rose-scented hand over my mouth. “Do not summon her.”

I carefully remove her hand. “Okay. But we can’t fight outside of the arenas–”

“Do you think that will stop her?” Faith Hope Charity Love shakes her head. “That thing cares less for rules than she does for morals. If we do not put an end to this early on, we will be dead before the end of the trip, I promise.”

Incredibly, I have nothing to say to that.

Faith Hope Charity Love’s eyes go out of focus for a moment. “I promised Gary I would put a stop to this terrible evil,” she says, looking back at me with teary eyes and a sad smile. “So you see, Coralynnne, we must kill her. We must because it is the right thing to do.”

Flixit Jane’s headless rocking horse and squeaky wagon were terrifying when I faced them in battle. Gamer Girl’s blank stare frightens me. Natasha Satantastic’s laugh sends chills down my spine.

But Faith Hope Charity Love’s conviction froze me in that moment. I barely manage a nod.

“Perfect. Wait for my signal,” she says and with a swish of skirts she disappears down the aisle.

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Posted on January 23, 2014, in Battle of the Snowflakes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Battle of the Snowflakes: Part Eight.

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