November 22, 2016


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc.) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

F Trope: Abandoned Malls

Kehlanna McGee and Trayvon Dehvahn crouched in an overgrown bit of woods that had sprung up around a drainage ditch outside the four-meter-tall cyclone fence, staring at the abandoned mall beyond. She said, “Wha’d’you think they’re hiding?”

Trayvon laughed softly and said, “A shameful past of excess spending at cheesy, overpriced, trendy shops that sold mostly lingerie and salt and pepper shakers?”

Kehlanna bumped him with her shoulder, “Seriously.” She gestured. A pair of city black and white police cars sat in the lot along with another pair of silver cars emblazoned with a security logo.

“I am being serious,” he said, bumping her back.

She rolled her eyes and said, “Salt-and-pepper shakers are so 1950s...”

“Thereby retro and incredibly popular now.”

“Ah!” she exclaimed, lifting a finger, “Now I know you’re wrong.” She consulted her palmtablet and after a few finger swipes, said, “ ‘Arbor Mills Mall, was the destination of a generation of shoppers starting the year it opened in 2001 and was decommissioned,” she paused and rolled her eyes, muttering, “...makes it sound like it was an important aircraft carrier or 2024...” she paused then said, “That’s only half a generation.”

“Be that as it may, are we going in or are we just going to stand here talking about generations and malls?”

“In,” she said suddenly. “But we’re going to have to go back to the trailer and get a few things.” She paused, “And wait until it’s dark.”

Trayvon grinned, nodded and headed for where they’d parked trailer two kilometers away.


Four hours later, dressed in knee-high rubber boots and wearing black, they made their way silently through the culvert. No one had taken time to fence it, so they easily slipped under the meager security. Trayvon tapped his earpiece and subvocalized, “What are we expecting to find in here?”


He couldn’t help but snort, and Kehlanna hissed at him, sub-vocalizing, “Quiet or they’ll hear us.”

“I’m not the one hissing like a punctured whipped cream can.”

They moved as far as they could in the ravine, then climbed at a likely spot. His night goggles confirmed they were only six meters short of their goal. They scanned for the police and security cars, saw neither, so Trayvon stood up and aimed a very-illegal device at the surface between them and the abandoned mall. After a moment, he subbed, “No active pressure security spots and no evidence of landmines.”

“Landmines?” Khehlanna subbed.

“You said there’s treasure. People protect treasure with landmines and lasers and other high tech gadgets. I was checking for everything.”

She nodded in the darkness a moment later, then subbed, “Let’s go. The map I found has a maintenance door into the rear of one of the anchor stores straight ahead.” She paused, then went up the embankment and scurried across the broken asphalt. He followed three minutes later. By then, she’d cut through the locking mechanism of the door with an infrared laser. Trayvon sprayed the old hinges with a silent stream of lubricant and then door swung open a moment later as Kehlanna pulled it.

They entered the darkness and the goggles switched to a sonar image – the power had been cut to the building a decade earlier when it closed  in order to prevent fires. They avoided collapsed ceiling tiles and piles of mouldering cardboard boxes. Trayvon subbed, “If this is the ‘treasure’ we can expect to find, we might as well leave right now.”

“Nah. There has to be something in here that those people are protecting.”


They exited the back room of the store and passed through piles of stacked shelving, display cases, light fixtures, and garbage until they reached the mall proper. In front of him, Kehlanna stopped abruptly and cursed out loud rather than subbing.

Trayvon subbed, “Shut up! I can’t tell if there are audio security pickups in here...” He stopped as he pulled up alongside her. Outside the door with its corroding security gate, a group of three people, linked together by rope tie around their necks, passed by. The figure at the front of their line, holding the rope and wearing an army-style helmet that was twice as large as Trayvon had ever seen before, was a giant creature that looked for all the world, like yeti…

Names: ♀ American, Irish ; American, Greek

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