An All-Round View

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
The protagonist is a tiny toy at the shopping centre.

Submitted: January 11, 2015

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Submitted: January 11, 2015

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AN ALL-ROUND VIEW

The commercial shopping centre was situated facing a park. The road that led up to the main entrance was one unbroken line of traffic. The drivers who were willing to drive round to the back entrance where the three-floor car park was, spent quite a time queuing. The other drivers, who refused to stay in a long line just to park inside, out of the cold and wet, parked their vehicles in the street as near to the main entrance as they were able to.

There was a large circular terrace in front of the main entrance, which was covered by an arch-shaped roof. Two sliding glass doors opened the way into the interior. That Christmas, a huge tree had been installed, covered with long strands of silvery lights and bright blue shining stars, and at the top was a golden star. On the floor surrounding the tree, a miniature Christmas scene was depicted with all kinds of decorative figures, such as gnomes, elves, fairies, and woodland people. All of these were set out on a fantasy snow, which was really cotton wool, however, it proved to be very convincing to small children that it was the real stuff. Hidden behind the tree was a completely transparent lift. The fantasy tree hid the lift from the eyes of the general public, however, those who were familiar with the centre knew that the lift was there. The surrounding shops did marvellous business, with desperate shoppers anxious to get everything they needed for the Christmas festivities over and done with. Anyone who was travelling in the lift, was able to see out, but nobody could see in. From inside the lift the shops and cafes with their customers were clearly seen, and the distribution was somewhat like an old fashioned village created with modern ideas. It was altogether an attractive centre to visit. All day long the lift transported shoppers up and down from one level to another. The mothers with small children and babies in buggies were the ones nobody wanted to travel with, as they took up so much room, and if the small passenger was screaming then it only added to what was an already stressful situation. Some of the mothers had the look on their faces as if they were on the point of breaking a blood vessel they were so het up, and were well aware of how the presence of buggies wasn’t welcome anywhere.

 

Kimberly had already walked the length and breadth of the centre. She had seen how many of the shop premises had closed since her previous visit at the end of the summer, as she was walking across the ground floor in the direction of the lift. She was tired and fed up to the hilt. Shopping at Christmas time is just one frantic burst of energy to make sure that everyone gets the present they want. A single person bears the brunt of family criticisms, as everyone thinks that those without men, women, or children in their lives, have endless leisure time for shopping and looking after themselves. Kimberly was nearing the lift when she saw a small boy sitting right where she needed to pass. She stared down at him, but the reaction he gave was one of complete unawareness. She was invisible to him. “Do you mind getting out of the way, please? I need to get to the lift,” Kimberly told him. The child paid her no attention and continued staring at the toys. Kimberly asked him again, but he refused to budge. That meant one of two things: that either she stepped over him, or she called one of the guards who patrolled the building against thieving.  One of the guards saw her plight, and walked up to the child and spoke to him. “Come on now, Son, you’re getting in the way here, and this lady and others want to get to the lift.” The guard saw the child’s obstinacy, so simply picked him up and took him to another part of the floor and left him there. “Now! Where are your parents?” The boy still said nothing, and, turning his back on the guard, walked slowly away.

 

Kimberly had lost all interest in the boy, and walked to the lift untroubled by anything but her shopping list. The crowd waiting to enter the lift was, unfortunately, made up of women with buggies who pushed themselves to the forefront of the queue as soon as the lift arrived. There was a bit of a scuffle as those exiting were also buggy-pushers, and got involved with those struggling to get into the lift. Kimberly was one of the last to get in, and had to spend the trip to the top floor hanging over a toddler in his buggy. The mother was very disgruntled, and said, “Do you have to lean over him like that? You might make him nervous, or afraid, or give him a cold.”

Kimberly, who was making an effort not to lose her patience, said in reply, “Madam, first of all I haven’t got a cold; and second, there is no other way for me to be able to stand up in this trap. So please keep quiet, and it will all be over soon.”

The mothers were standing with their backs to the glass walls with their buggies pushed out directly in front of them, leaving no possible free space for individuals without children and buggies.

As they were going up, Kimberly saw that the small boy who had impeded her way to the lift, had returned to the same site.

 

At last the stifling encounter was over, and Kimberly and the rest all stumbled out at the top floor. Kimberly went for something to eat and drink, and she noticed that the mothers went to a popular hamburger franchise. The lift was then going down to the ground floor, once again overcrowded with Christmas shoppers.

 

The little boy, who was very strange in appearance, had returned to where Kimberly had first met him. He was dressed in dark-navy clothes, and was a child who neither smiled nor spoke much. On the floor near him were two men, similarly attired as the child. They were standing on a specially carpeted area, where eventually Father Christmas would place all the presents. The two men and the child were together, and kept quite close to each other. They were surly looking types, and had dark, mysterious faces. The trio had plenty of boxes with them and, bit by bit, the contents were lying out on the carpeted area. When the big boxes had been emptied, a lot of little white boxes were on the floor, each box containing a small toy. The toy was yellow and a shade of faded violet. It was a little man with head, arms, and legs - innocuous looking enough you might think. The toy moved when touched, and then carried out what it was meant to do, and that was nothing to do with entertaining a child.

The toy was controlled in the same way as a toy car or a motor boat. Both men were in control of the toys, showing the spectators what it could do. Sales of the toy started, as parents who were eager to buy a cheap toy with which their children would be entertained, willingly snapped them up. The most important thing the pubic knew nothing of, was that the tiny machines were programmed and carried a camera that was powerful enough to see the contents of a bag or a purse. The two men who operated the toy wanted money or anything they could sell. Some of the toys had been sent out by themselves, and the small boy had been put in charge of controlling them. Being a child, he could move around more easily than his father and uncle. For the stressed-out public, he was just another small boy, and as there were so many - not important.

 

Marlene and Scarlett were two friends who often went shopping together, both being single women the better side of forty. The shopping centre was one of their favourite places to go to, in order to avoid the street shoppers, who made life insufferable by pushing and shoving their way from one street to another. By that time a few toys were walking around the galleries, unseen by the vast majority, and those who did see them smiled, and said, “How cute!”

 

The two women walked into a cosmetics shop and made slow progress round the premises, trying out just about everything available. One of the shop assistants went up to them and asked, “Would you like me to make you up. It doesn’t cost anything.”

Marlene and Scarlett opted for a free make-up session, and were led over to the far side of the shop.

 

Back at the lift it was getting busier and busier with everyone in a mad rush to buy presents, and it was overworking. During the whole day a never ending queue had been moving to and from the lift.

 

Two elderly gentlemen, called Neville and Edward, had been sent out by their wives to get all kinds of eatables. The ladies of their lives had made it clear that all the alcohol and delicatessen kind of food, were to be purchased by them. Meanwhile, the houses of the two couples would be carefully deep-cleaned and the table linen washed, starched, and ironed ready for the numerous meals that were going to be consumed over the Christmas period. Neville, who liked to show off that he was clued up to all the new ideas in technology, saw one of the toys as they were walking towards the delicatessen. He bent down and picked up one of the tiny yellow and violet toys. The sound it emitted was unheard by Neville, but one of the two men controlling it, knew that the toy was in different hands. Neville saw a small button and clicked it ‘off’. The toy was then lost to the two men, who still had to pay their purveyor for them. Neville put it in his pocket and, without saying anything to Edward, continued on their shopping trip.

 

The two men and the boy were getting rather restless. The sky that was still visible downstairs was turning a violet-navy, indicating it wouldn’t be long before night fell. Their pickings hadn’t been as fat as they had expected them to be.

 

Marlene, with her face now well made-up and looking prettier than ever, put her hand in her handbag to get her purse, only to find that it had gone. Disappeared. Fantastic! She thought.

Scarlett said to her friend, “What’s wrong. You look out of sorts?”

“I am. My purse has gone, and there was a healthy sum of money in it. Now I’ll just have to not buy anything else,” moaned Marlene.

“It doesn’t matter. I’ll pay for you. That’s what friends are for,” Scarlett said, and reached inside her coat and took out the sum of money that Marlene needed. Neither of them noticed the yellow and violet figure silently moving out of the shop.

Scarlett also decided to have a free make-up special, and while she was having her make-up, she made sure her safety wallet was hidden under the clothes she was wearing. At the same time, Marlene was having depressing thoughts about how she could have lost her purse. She came to the conclusion it was because it was Christmas, and people get out of control, what with eating and drinking too much.

 

Kimberly was happily drinking up her coffee and thinking that a taxi home would be the best way. She hadn’t taken her car, because the road away from the shopping centre would be packed jam tight with far more shoppers than it usually had to cope with. She saw one of the little toys by a wall near her and she crushed it under her foot. Why should it be there? Kimberly was of a suspicious nature and didn’t trust the toy’s presence for one minute.

So another toy bit the dust, to the astonishment of the two men in charge of them. Their pickings were certainly going to be slimmer than they had ever anticipated.

Kimberly took the escalator down to the ground floor, not wanting to try out the lift for the second time that day. She saw the little boy sitting in the first place she had seen him and wondered what on earth he could possibly be doing there.

 

Someone had switched on music for those who wished to do so, could dance.

 

Edward and Neville were wandering around the select wines and cheeses area. Neville could feel the toy in his pocket. He kept an eye open, just in case he managed to see any more like it. The two men bought several cases of different kinds of wine, and champagne, and the typical whole, expensive cheeses. They put their purchases in a trolley. At the check out they had to wait while the cashier got everything under control. They were lucky that there was an automatic check out, with a young lady to help those who didn’t quite understand how it functioned.

“Would you like a coffee, Neville?” Edward asked his friend.

“No, thanks. I’d rather get home as soon as possible. You know how cold it gets after the sun goes down,” Neville said, but the truth was, he wanted to take a look at the insides of the toy. They pushed the trolley out to the car park and packed their purchases into the boot. Edward got the money back from the trolley, and then got into the car, and they set out for home.

 

The two men who’d spent a good part of the day chasing up the toys, were fed up with their situation. How could they pay their provider with such little cash? They decided to make a run for it, so, dragging the child, who was their son and nephew, they left the remainder of the toys on the carpeted area and walked out to another of the car parks to get their car. The three pulled themselves inside, and drove out into the gathering gloom. The remaining toys were picked up by adults who still had to buy a present for a child, and even got them gift wrapped.

 

Kimberly got home and changed her street clothes for something more comfortable. Her husband, Garland, was in the kitchen cooking their evening meal. He’d do anything rather than go shopping. Kimberly told him about the number of people in the shopping centre. Garland switched on the news, and saw that there had been a high number of thefts in the shopping centre that day, with money being stolen from handbags and purses. “Did you hear anything about this? It seems a lot of money was taken from women’s bags and purses. The police think there were two men and a small boy involved. They call them ‘persons of interest’.”

Kimberly felt happy that she had squashed the horrid yellow and violet coloured little toy. She sat down and began to fall asleep. Garland said, “You can stop that, the food will be ready in ten minutes.”

 

The cleaners were in the lift. The glass required a lot of hard work to keep it smear-free and shiny. They were more than fed up with the way the general public let their children lick the glass or stick chewing gum on it. They stared out at the tree and the carpeted area beyond it. The toys that the men had abandoned were nearly all gone. Only the broken ones were still lying there. The male cleaner who operated a giant cleaning machine that gathered up anything that it encountered on its rounds, sucked up some yellow and violet toys easily as they were so small. By that time they were looking rather sorry for themselves, and nobody wants to buy anything tatty for a present. The cleaning ladies watched their workmate clean up the carpeted area, and then finished up in the lift. The last thing they did was to turn on the air freshener. The decorators who had been in charge of the snow scene, tidied it up, and then switched off the lights. The large sliding doors were closed, and the workers all made their way to the far end of the centre, to get into their cars and go home. The cleaning machine was emptied into a large bin that would be taken away by the local authorities to be sent to a sorting centre. The contents would eventually end up in a landfill. The only thing to be seen from the street was the lit-up tree, the rest was in shadow.

One after another the employees abandoned the car park. It was ten o’clock.

 

Kimberly and Garland had long since finished their supper. Garland was watching television and Kimberly was reading a new book.

 

Neville was in his workroom, where he spent a lot of time working on anything technical. He had discovered the trick of the toy, and laughed out loud at the audacity of whoever had invented it. Edward rang to ask whether Neville would like to go to the pub for a game of darts and a pint. Neville thought he’d like that. Their wives weren’t so keen on the idea, and Neville’s wife asked if she was invited too. “No you aren’t, you’ll be bored with us playing darts. Stay home and see the television that you want to see.”

 

That evening the two wives were on their mobiles and Facebook, asking the question, “Why do men like to spend so much time at the pub?”

 

Marlene and Scarlett were at a party, showing off their made-up faces. Neither of them mentioned the theft of the purse. That would have been a loss of face for Marlene. Everyone told them how lovely they looked, even the ones who thought they were over made-up.

 

The two men and the little boy were travelling to another place far in the north. They had already informed their relatives that nothing had turned out as planned, but they never gave up hope that one day their ship would come in and they would make a killing.

 

Neville spent the night wondering how he could manufacture the little toy but with no dishonest behaviours, and make some money from it.


© Copyright 2019 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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