When it first appeared at the Spendthrift Mall, few people paid any attention to It. The shoppers resting on the benches were the first to notice, then the older folk just wanting to get out of the house, the young mums feeding their babes, the homeless seeking shelter from the cold, and the teens wanting to escape the chaos of home.
When they related what they saw to others, they struggled to describe It. It was definitely there but It didn’t have a shape they recognised. They couldn’t say for sure what the main colour was; some said purple, some said red, one even said green, but all said It was different colours at different times.
It made a noise, not loud, but constant and rhythmic. The noise seemed somehow familiar but unlike anything they’d heard before.
Young men trying to impress the girls approached It with cool bravado and attitude but as they moved It was suddenly behind them, making them look foolish to the girls and everyone else who’d been watching It move, seemingly randomly but with an eerie sense of intention.
Security arrived and attempted to put a safety barrier around it, as if It was a ‘Slippery When Wet’ spillage. When they finished, It was not inside the barrier but had moved to the shopfront of the shoe emporium.
When the Police arrived, they ordered all customers and staff to evacuate the mall while they evaluated the threat, or at least what they imagined might be a threat, if only they could work out what It was. TV cameramen pressed against the glass doors trying to get footage for the 6 o’clock news without any real idea of what they were trying to film. Reporters quizzed eye witnesses who described in detail what they didn’t know about what they saw.
A couple of hours later, a bevy of what the Government hoped would be experts arrived. The selection was somewhat hampered by having no idea who might be an expert in these circumstances. An advance party donned HazMat suits and, escorted by a menacing looking SWAT team, made their way cautiously past Wendy’s, McDonalds and Smokemart to the Grand Foyer leading to the supermarket.
It appeared briefly, emerging from Kool Kutz and Tattoos, before disappearing up the escalator to Homewares and Furnishings. Using hand signals, the group leader indicated a need to retreat, although no-one really knew whether they needed to be safe and, if so, from what.
The media immediately besieged the team of experts and relayed live to air their potential concerns about what It might be, while being suitably evasive about what they had or hadn’t seen, in the interests of national security. The Prime Minister called an urgent press conference to announce that whatever resources were required to deal with this emergency would be made available and hinted darkly, without naming names, that certain foreign countries hostile to our interests may be involved but he didn’t wish to speculate further.
Meanwhile, back at the mall, at a hastily established Command Centre, a heated discussion was under way between senior members of first responder organisations and the military as to what was a safe point at which to establish a perimeter and what weaponry may be needed to counter the threat, just as soon as it was established what the threat comprised.
Social media was rife with both speculation and certainty that this was, amongst other possibilities, the first sign of the Second Coming, the symbolic heralding of the triumph of the One World Government, and Bill Gates demonstrating the launch of his Windows Of The Soul mind-control software.
In a desperate attempt to show decisiveness in the face of an unknown threat to his Government, the Prime Minister ordered the evacuation of all homes within a three-mile radius and called in an airstrike to totally eliminate the mall and any adjacent buildings that may be harbouring the threat.
When the dust settled, the rebuilding of the area became a pillar of the Government’s plans to stimulate the economy and provide new jobs. At the grand opening of the new Mall, the Prime Minister preened and beamed at the sea of smiling faces in front of him, oblivious to the fact that they were all fascinated by something of indeterminate shape and colour that was hovering and humming over his head.
Panic followed as the local residents fled to pack, ahead of the next air strike.
Doug Jacquier lives in Yankalilla, Australia. He writes stories and poems. He’s lived in as many places across Australia, including regional and remote communities, as well as travelling extensively, especially in Asia and the US. He’s a former social worker and former not-for-profit CEO. His work has been included in several anthologies, including Friendly Street’s New Poets 21. He has recently published a collection of short humor, Raving and Wryting, on Amazon. He blogs at Six Crooked Highways.