I pressed a hand against my mouth to keep from crying out in surprise. The way the gigantic woman crammed whole doughnuts into her gaping jaws, two or three at a time, was unbelievable. watching it made me both want to throw up, and hold out my hands to catch the crumbs for my rumbling tummy.
Wanda wiped a greasy hand across her face, leaving cake crumbs in her eyebrows, and gurgled, “STOP! WANDA WANT MILK!” The crowd of moaning shoppers halted and a pasty looking boy with a bad case of acne came trembling forward with a jug of milk on a silver platter.
“For the Green Mistress,” he said, his knees knocking together and his eyes not daring to look at the face before him. Snatching the jug with slippery fingers she tilted her head back, held the jug above her and let the milk pour out; but only about half the contests made it into her mouth. Milk was dripping all down her face and onto her soiled purple silk dress. She shook her head but it didn’t do much good. So she grabbed the boy’s shirt, with the boy still attached, and used that instead. The boy’s arms and legs flailed as his he hung from the neck and arm pits of his shirt. Wanda gave her head a couple harsh jerks from side to side as she held the thin fabric to her face, then let the boy fall. The boy hit the ground, and quickly scampered off to cry in a corner by himself.
Wanda let out a loud belch, that must have smelt twice as bad as it sounded, and said, “Wanda want to know… where runty humans are.”
The baker that had chased us earlier stepped forward, “I saw them earlier your….” he swallowed and forced the word out, “ladyship,” then continued, “but…they got away.” He flinched, and for a moment I wondered why, but then Wanda roared.
“WANDA SAY FIND RUNTY HUMANS, WANDA SAY FIND AND CRUSH THEM!!! RUNTY HUMAN CALL WANDA FAT, THAT MAKE WANDA MAD!!!! AHHHH!!” Her completion grew even more green as she jabbed a greasy finger forward, and the whole party lurched forward into a shuffling walk.
The three of as waited in absolute silence until the procession had passed, glancing at each other with wide and confused eyes. It was several more minutes before any of us dared to speak.
“What… what does this mean?” Dude asked, peering out from between the jeans on the rack, then back at us.
“This…” I said, looking him square in the eye, “means we just found our ticket out of here!”
Dude frowned, “Wait, what do you mean?”
“Look,” I said, “if Wanda has taken over the, which it sure looks like she has, then that makes her the boss. And what happens when you beat the boss?”
“Uh…” Dude stared at the top of the clothes rack, “you get fired, and possibly thrown in jail for assault?”
As I rolled my eyes, Muse smirked and whispered, “She’s using video game logic. Just roll with it.”
In the mean time I explained, “No, If she’s the boss then she’s the one keeping us here. So if we beat her, we win. And if we win we get to the next level, which means getting out of this mall. You with me?”
Both of them nodded. It was nice that they agreed to come willingly, cause I was going to drag them along regardless. And they knew it.
We caught up and followed the dreary parade surrounding green lady the from the shadows. Then found an opportunity to slip into the zombie crowd of shoppers. We tried our best to blend in, shuffling and moaning, and keeping out heads down. Muse had it the hardest, having to hide in the hood of my jacket. But even he didn’t make a remark. We were much to close to the dreaded woman for any foolishness.
I do not know how long we shuffled around the mall, nor could I lift my head to see where we were going. All I know is when we stopped, it was a great relief.
The moaning quieted. When I dared to glance up and saw some security guards sorting through the shops, I whispered to Dude, “Time we made our split.”
He nodded, “To those flowerpots right behind us. Slow and steady now.” Without drawing attention, I followed him as we slowly slunk into the shadows to watch.
Muse leaped out of the hood and landed soundlessly on the tile next to me, “Well that certainly wasn’t pleasant.”
“Hush,” I scolded him, “I hear something.” Above the soft moaning there was definitely something, a crying or weeping. It was a horrible, heart-broken sound. I peered through the plant leaves, but all I could see was the mass of zombie shoppers.
I frowned, “We need to find out where that sound is coming from.”
“But what about Wanda? Don’t we need to be confronting her or something,” Dude asked me, with one eyebrow raised.
“We’ll do that later,” I waved him off, “Besides, what if she’s torturing some poor shopkeeper? Come on, we’ll use the flowerpots.”
We made our way slowly scooting across the wall. Holding the flowerpots in front of us and setting them down whenever a guard looked out way. I was first to reach the corner leading to the next room. The wails were louder, and I was almost afraid to look.
“That sounds awful,” Dude whispered from behind me.
I nodded, “I’ll let you go first.”
“Wait, why do I have to go first,” Dude frowned.
“Because… I asked you to?” I said, attempting to bat my eyelashes in a convincing manner and giving him a big, cheesy smile.
Dude’s expression remained unmoved, “That won’t work on me you know.”
I added, “I’ll give you a chocolate bar when we get out of here.”
“Make it two,” he said.
“Fine, two chocolate bars. Now get going!” It took a few moments of shuffling around, while trying to remain noticed, then Dude began to creep around the corner.
“What to you see?” I asked, getting my pot in position to take my turn around the corner.
“It’s…. a throne room. Wanda… she’s on this huge chair and…” his voice trailed off, then he said, with no small note of surprise, “wait, she’s the one making the noise. She’s crying.”
“She’s WHAT!?” I pulled my pot around the corner, I had to see this for myself. There was indeed a throne room. A mess of empty ice cream cartons and candy wrappers carpeted the floor, fluffy stuffed animals sat at the foot of the throne, and around them was a scattered mountain of used tissues, constantly being built higher by the running nose and eyes of Wanda. The water works were followed by the ear piecing sobs the had been ringing my ears for the past five minutes.
“She… She is crying.” I said, blinking, “she looks really sad.”
We were silent for a long moment, the sound of Wanda’s wails filling our eyes as we stared blank faced at the huge, cake covered lady.
“This is so unfair, I can’t be mad at a crying girl,” Dude said in dismay.
“I know right…” I nodded, “guess we’ll just have to get her to stop crying,” and with that, I stepped away from my flowerpot.