Here we have a flash fiction story for your entertainment.
A Nothing Kind of Saturday
Aeri stood at the rail, looking down on three floors of mall shoppers. The ones who weren’t hiding in the shops. All those people, happily thinking that all they needed on this Saturday to make them happy was a new pair of shoes, or a cute new outfit. Oh, they didn’t know what was coming.
“Is it all set?” Cory came up to lean against the rail, too.
“Yeah.” Aeri turned her back to the rail. “It wasn’t hard.”
Cory shook her head. “The best plans never are.”
“You’re sure it’s going to work?”
Cory laughed. “Have any of my plans failed yet?”
Aeri shook her head. They hadn’t failed. What Cory said would happen, always happened. That’s not the same thing as working though. Last year, during the homecoming pep rally, Cory’s plan to have a flight of birds swoop in and perform aerial acrobatics went great. It also stopped the pep rally right in the middle of the cheerleaders’ routine. The janitors also had a lot to say about that one.
“I’m just worried that there will be unintended consequences.” Aeri admitted.
Now wasn’t the time to be backing out.
“Of course there will be consequences.” Cory pushed off from the rail and started strolling along the hall. “It’s just a matter of controlling the variables so you know what to expect.”
Aeri took a couple quick steps to catch up, then settled into Cory’s pace. The shops up on the third floor were all boring stuff like mattresses and the power company’s payment office.
“You can’t control for all the variables.” Aeri insisted. “What if someone’s allergic or panics or… I don’t know.”
“You worry too much.” Cory laughed. “No one is allergic to robots, even robot snakes. And when it’s all said and done, they’ll all have a great story to tell rather than a boring Saturday they won’t remember by lunch on Monday.” She checked her watch. “We’ve got about ten minutes to get down into the thick of it.”
Aeri would have preferred to go home and watch it all on the news. Barring that, they should probably separate so they wouldn’t get caught together, but she didn’t want to say anything for fear that Cory would agree.
“Why today?” Aeri asked as they stepped onto the down escalator.
“No seriously, why are you doing this today? It’s a nothing kind of day.”
“Because it’s a nothing kind of day.” Cory jumped off the end of the escalator and smiled at a kid who would probably get in trouble for doing the same thing. “I mean, what better time to pull of something as epic as ‘Snakes at a Mall’?” She laughed again.
Aeri couldn’t quite believe that, but it sounded about right.
“You sure there isn’t something else going on?”
They had to be more careful in the lower levels: there were more people. More chances for someone to hear what they were talking about. Not that Cory cared.
“You’re still on about the janitors, aren’t you?”
“It was rather convenient that they all got significant overtime cleaning up after the birds, just after you found out that Mr. Harrison needed the money to get his kid that bike.”
“All kids should have a decent Christmas.” Cory grinned.
“I think you just admitted it.”
“Four minutes.” Cory’s pace quickened a bit and she looked more like she had someplace to be.
Aeri struggled to keep up through the crowd as they neared the food court. This could get ugly. Now Aeri understood the timing. On Saturdays, the lunch crowd hit closer to 1:30. Every table in the food court was filled. Aeri counted no less than thirty kids from school and Mika was there, with all the girls who usually hung around him.
“Really, Cory, why are you…?”
Cory wasn’t there. Less than a minute to chaos and she was standing alone in the food court watching Mika flirt with everyone except her.
Screams echoed all around the open space. It was hard to tell where they were coming from. It sounded like they were coming from everywhere. They were coming from everywhere as hundreds of mechanical snakes slithered about the floor.
The chaos was everything Cory had predicted. People, mostly girls being altogether too taken with the stereotypes, climbed on tables or ran away. Little kids tried to catch the snakes before their mothers snatched them away. Those who weren’t climbing on tables were fleeing with their bags flying behind them.
It wasn’t a nothing kind of Saturday any more.
Aeri had to smile at that. When the panic subsided and everyone was convinced of the non-biologic nature of the snakes, they’d remember this day.
One of the snakes bumped into Aeri’s shoe. She reached down and picked it up. Too bad it wasn’t a real snake. It still tried to coil around her arm until she hit the off switch.
“Mechanical snakes?” Mika had one still squirming in his hand. “Cool.”
“Thanks.” OMG Mika’s actually talking to me. She pointed to the off switch in case he wanted it to stop twisting.
“Cory?” He asked. She nodded. Together they started catching the snakes, turning them off and talking about how cool real snakes would have been. She never would have guessed he was a member of the Herpetological Society. Nor did she expect him to invite her to their next meeting.
“You don’t have to own a snake to be a member.” He blushed at that.
By the time Cory reappeared, the news vans were gone and most of the snakes had been confiscated. Aeri managed to keep one.
“Did you have fun?” Cory asked
“I’ll remember today.” Aeri said. “Did you know about Mika?”
“What, that he loves snakes? Yeah. He’s also into robotics.”
“You’re a manipulative bastard.”
“I prefer to think of myself as an outcome engineer.”
Aeri laughed. “A date with Mika is a pretty good outcome.”
“You can’t blame me for that.”
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