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Notice Me

“Sir, sir you need to calm down!” 

“You don’t understand what’s happening! They must be stopped!” 

“Who?” 

“Not who…what.” 

The day has been quite unremarkable in its entirety so far. The stale air from the A/C rustles the clothes on the clothing racks just loud enough to muffle the dry tones of Party in the USA blasting obnoxiously through the mall’s speakers. A child flailing their limbs as their red face screeched angrily at their creators, who were making cooing noises and frantically looking around at the other patrons. Sales employees, with too wide smiles and a manic desperation in their eyes, were scattered about, overlooking the figure in the black and white hoodie with bracelets falling out of the hole in his pocket, in favor of hunting their next commission. The fluorescent lighting reflected off the bald manager's head as he yelled at an employee who was currently blotting up the latest stain on the gray carpet. Unknowing that the carpet used to be white, or that this was the third manager that has overseen this store in the past year. Who is quickly on his way out the door as well; if he continues to forget to zip his pants up after “supervising” the changing rooms. 

I found a red jacket with sequins along the hem. It was a smaller size than the pantsuit from last week and clashed horrendously with the butterfly skirt from the week prior to that, but it called out, so now it’s mine. Thieving larger items is much riskier for most lifters, like Hoodie over there, but not me. 

Sally the perfume supervisor was talking to Charles in footwear. Apparently, the higher-ups are getting upset over the number of thefts that have occurred and have requested a security officer for assistance. There’s also set to be a new shipment of neckties. What fun! I wonder if there are any with polka dots? 

 

Incident report #1: Due to increased theft in the Zanders location of the shopping center, I have been assigned to investigate the store for signs of theft activity. I’m hoping for a quick nail on the head here to prove my worth as a valuable member of the mall’s security force. 

 

Days are less interesting now. All thanks to the Guard Chris, the regulars have all but vanished from the store. It seems like this guard is very enthusiastic in his job. Hoodie guy was arrested in the first week of the guard’s post. He must have been dropped on his head as a child to think that he could get away with stealing gold-encrusted watches ten feet from Guard Chris. That’s not all he’s done though, Baldy the manager, as well as Sally from perfumes, were escorted out for unethical behavior in the workplace. It was really only a matter of time, with those changing rooms being an ideal place for theft, before Chris discovered their tryst.  

One day while circling the perimeter, he knocked me to the ground, and then apologized while making sure I was on my feet again. Nice guy, if only he didn’t take away all the interesting people; I’d say we would get along just as well as a coat on a rack. 

˜˜˜

 

A month has crawled by with little change. The new hire who blotted down the stains on the carpet was thrust into the management position. Hopefully, seventeen-year-old Patty is up to the task. Also, Tony from linens became the new perfume salesman. He’s hoping to meet the girl of his dreams there. Since he’s already got four ladies' numbers, including old Mrs. Jennings for “extracurricular activities,” I’d say he’s off to a great start. Chris has taken to patrolling the store at random intervals. He’s very careful not to bump into me now, how sweet. 

The latest shipments coming in are dull in comparison to past seasons. Or perhaps I’ve been here too long. I think it’s time for a change in scenery. Something fresh with different styles or clientele that will invigorate my passion once more. Goodbye Charles, so long Patty, good luck Tony, and farewell guard Chris.  

Moving is such a cumbersome task, but I wanted to see what life was like on another floor. So, I finagled my way down an escalator. The first trip, I fell over a lot. I discovered it's much easier to balance along the railing and slide to the bottom floor than to trip over the moving stairway. The jackets and dresses were easy to maneuver, and the jewelry and ties I carried along my arms with no problem. Those blasted shoes felt like such a good idea when I stole them, but on the third trip down, the seven-inch silver heels with rose-tinted rhinestones fell into the fountain with the naked cherub. I deemed them a necessary loss and left them there to sink. The purple combat boots with miniature blades on the toes, however, made it just fine.  

To broaden my horizons, I set up close to the food court. There are several kiosks worth my attention there, as well as plenty of people to observe. Whilst I don’t believe I will have any regulars, there is a certain spontaneity in meeting strangers and never hearing from them again. The atmosphere is vastly different from my last home. It certainly took a week or so to find an ideal spot to perch to avoid rambunctious people shoving their way through the insane amount of sticky blue tables adorned by various brown stains and chipped paint. I don’t understand yet why so many are needed. The people who frequent this place never sit close to one another, with at least one empty table between parties. It is baffling considering that humans are supposedly social creatures. The first spot I chose was by a stall labeled Dippin' Dots. I guess it’s a form of cold dessert; it’s hard to tell since it hasn’t been open once the whole time I’ve stood by it. I chose to move shortly after due to the lack of people to listen in on. My final stop was stationed near Race Car 83 and the fun bus. Children enjoyed playing on these loud plastic vehicles or at least they seemed to. Many children have been pulled away from them involving blood-curdling shrieks, puffy red eyes, and flailing limbs. 

Evenings after closure are the opportune time to browse the kiosks of the mall. Not that the tellers are super perceptive when they do attend their wares. Most spend their days either glued to their mobile devices or slouched in their neon stools while staring blankly into the distance. There is a vast variety of items to procure such as jewelry, mobile devices, puzzles, calendars, and even corpses of stuffed animals that children can manually refill. A difference in life now is that I must be cautious of roaming janitors in grey uniforms during the night. They also bring me a sense of joy. They don’t have anyone to talk to and mainly listen to music, so I don’t know their names...I’ll just call them all Steve. 

Sounds of sizzling grills and overlapping chatter of patrons swim about the air daily. It’s strange how people need such varieties to satisfy one's need for sustenance fulfillment. The main attractions are Cinnabon and Starbucks, as they have lines that extend past their sections. The people are drawn to the stores by the aromatic exhausts being pumped into the halls instead of outside. Probably a marketing tactic; but hey, if it works, it works. 

A family sitting with their Asian takeaway of noodles and eggrolls with plum sauce were sent into a frenzy as two boys with skateboards zoomed by them and grabbed their shopping bags as they went. They veered off down the food court popping wheelies, and no one even tried to stop them. The family started yelling at the employees behind the counter of a pretzel place about how horrible their security is. Hmm, I wonder if I’ll get to see Chris again. 

 

Incident report #2: Due to increased security, I am finding the thefts have slowed. Though only a few perpetrators have been apprehended as of yet, I am sure the mall of Purloining is more secure than ever. I shall submit my request for updated tag sensors to promote further stability at the exits. The current ones go off randomly when there is no one around to set them off. My next assignment is at the kiosks by the food courts, as thefts seem to have escalated in that quadrant. 

 

He came back! I was starting to miss that disheveled beard. It's nice to see a familiar face in these parts besides the Steves. A child approached Chris asking where the lemon drop dispenser was. He did not know what the child meant at first till he saw there was a missing candy machine in the child area of the food court. He would have found it easily if he had been here a week ago. Steve with red hair almost caught me one night. Thinking he heard something; he turned too fast and banged his floor buffer into the candy machine. He cleaned up the glass and candy easily enough, but the canaster itself was too bulky to smuggle out. So, I know if Chris were to look in the vase of the fake fern on the left side of the inoperable elevator, he could answer the child’s question. Alas, it is not meant to be. 

 

Incident Report #3: I am starting to assume this may be an inside job in the mall plaza, as thefts seemingly occur whilst the mall is closed. Will possibly start correspondence with the local police department to establish connections and timelines of employees after hours. 

 

In hindsight, the food court might not be the best place for me. While there are an extraordinary number of events unfolding in front of me, like the group of scientists who set off a makeshift rocket in the elevator causing it to malfunction; I cannot help but feel exposed. Chris does his job too well. He convinced the manager to lock up all kiosk items after closing to prevent “misplacement.” The court just is not big enough for the both of us, so I will simply hunt for a new home again. 

The new store is smaller than the places I’ve previously frequented. It’s more sparkly too, as jewelry shops often are. Staffing is a problem though. Trish and Stacy are the only two that occupy the store and never at the same time. Purple dominates the senses. There are lilac floors, beige walls with plum trim, violet cardboard jewelry holders, and the air just feels purple. I am sure that if I could smell, purple would dominate my nasal airway. This store, tacky as it is, does cater to an interesting clientele that makes the days go by. 

Young women come in droves, clogging the passageways through the stands of cheap piercings, animal-striped scrunchies, and fake nail beds with rhinestones or flowers painted on them. This one lady must have been the leader of the troop. Her curled brunette head was adorned by a plastic crown with fake diamonds reflecting the light from the overhead lamps. She wore a white kimono whilst the rest of her posse wore purple kimonos with pink and white flowers embellishing them. Gushing about the bride’s upcoming ceremony and the party for the night before. We get many groups like that here. One bride met her groom-to-be at a bar. Another was marrying her high school sweetheart. My favorite was the woman who met her significant other in prison, solely because of the looks on Trish’s and Stacy’s faces. 

“Beauty is pain;” an expression I’m becoming more familiar with after witnessing people using guns to stab needles into their ears ’cause they're “cute.” The kids will cry that they want the butterfly earrings so bad that they would do anything, then continue to thrash in the chair as Trish tries to pierce their ears. Sometimes, the moms will hang their purses on my arm while they go to quell the tears of their daughters. I don’t like giving them back though, they were given to me, so now they are mine. The women are always stronger than me so even if I try to hold on to them, they get their stuff back at the end. 

 

Incident Report #4: I overheard the cashiers of the court saying that there is a rumor going around that I have been making up thefts and manufacturing false evidence ever since I reported a stash of stolen merchandise from a boutique that I found in a maintenance closet. I have been sent to a smaller store to check that their security systems are working. The boss feels it might be best to give me “smaller” tasks on which I cannot embellish. 

 

Chris has followed me everywhere I go. It’s kind of flattering to be honest, like he appreciates what I do. That’s so sweet of him. I guess I’m doing him a favor by keeping him employed by continuing my trends. As long as I keep going, he will keep chasing, like Tom chases Jerry, forever. 

Trish is a nuisance. She’s on her phone most of her shifts, and when she’s not slacking with that, she is needlessly rearranging things. I have had to move several times over the course of this week since she moved the gumball machine to obstruct my view. She does this on purpose. How can she not when it knowingly blocks my view of him, of Chris? Trish says she feels as if she’s being watched constantly and asks him to walk her to her car. Of course, he says yes, as she flips her silky straight golden hair off her shoulder and bats her baby-blue eyes, lined perfectly with mascara, at him as if he’s a five-course meal. She’s distracting him from his duties to... to me. Yes, his duty is to stop me, to catch me. And she is in the way. 

Trish has to go. I have to get rid of her. For him. For us. 

 

Incident Report #5: I think it best to stay at this store for a while. The locks on the cases are sound, but I worry about the employees. Trish is a nice gal but is kind of a klutz. Just yesterday, one of her necklaces got caught on a coatrack and she could not get loose. She was starting to turn blue before I broke it off her neck. She was so grateful she asked me to dinner, and how could I refuse? 

 

Incident report #6: She thought she was so sneaky. She thought cozying up to me would cover her tracks, but all it did was reveal her lies. When we went out to dinner, and she opened her purse, it was filled to the brim with her store's merchandise. No receipt. She tried to deny how it got there, but it fell on deaf ears, ears that only listen to justice. 

 

I thought it best to move on to another location. A fresh start for us would do some good. Our last home was tainted by the memory of that woman. I could tell from Chris’s eyes that he still thought of her while scanning the perimeter of dangly earrings and Hello Kitty merchandise. We deserve better. 

 

Chris saw me stealing! I didn’t expect him to be here this late! He’s taking me to the security office and locking me in there until morning. He told his superior that I was to blame for the thefts around the mall. That I was sentient and had been following him around messing with his mind. HOW DARE HE! After everything we’ve been through, he betrays me like this? I stay still, and Chris’s boss reprimands him saying that he needs to get his head together or find a new job. At this, Chis storms out of the room, leaving just me and the big man.  

I didn’t mean to lose my temper. But he was so rude to my love, how could I not stick up for him? So, my Chris made a mistake, it’s fine. He’s only human after all.  

 

˜˜˜

Chris 

After a few hours of cooling my head, I go back to my boss's office. I may have sounded like a nutcase earlier, but the fact remains that that thing is dangerous, and something must be done. I enter the door and my stomach starts to roll as I see my superior on the floor surrounded by blood and brain matter. Next to him lay the wooden coatrack, with blood staining its grooves. I barely hear the scream behind me, nor when the officers, who come in and wrench my bloody hands behind my back started reading me my rights. Only once the cuffs click do I come back to my senses and start thrashing. “You don’t know what’s going on! We have to stop them! You have to listen to me!” 

“Stop who?” asks the officer behind me. 

I tremble as I realize how crazy I sound. What will happen to me once they discover my fingerprints on the object that killed my boss who hours ago threatened to fire me? These thoughts flood through my mind as I reply, “Not who…What!” 

This was my first attempt at slipstream fiction with the intention of making my readers think “what did I just read?” I’d like to thank Professor Schmidt for the inspiration of this piece as he once said, "No one writes stories about coat racks," and I wished to change that. 

  • Alexis Rasmussen is in her senior year working towards her bachelor's degree in English and minoring in Creative Writing. She enjoys reading fantasy books, playing various video games in her free time, and all things Disney. She plans on pursuing a career in publication once she completes school. 

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