Hidden in the last stall of the shopping centre toilets, I thought for a long time about the best way to execute my plan. The goal was simple: smash up the cursed photo booth, responsible for all my troubles. There was no other solution.
I had walked into the Swan Walk a bit earlier, pretty late in the evening. The shopping centre’s supermarket – a Mutant, I’m not making this up – was still open, as were a few restaurants. When the last closing call had rung out, I had slid into my hiding spot and had waited, praying that the cleaning lady would not, in a catastrophic excess of zeal, proceed to a last inspection of her toilets.
When everything seemed calm, I sneaked out and cautiously ventured into the shopping centre. It was deserted and quiet. I stopped when I reached the construction site I had noticed earlier; an urgent piping issue apparently. Workers had been busy working on it before closure, and I had noticed a heavy toolbox lying around.
As I had hoped, it was still there. I crossed the security perimeter and walked towards it.
I needed a massive, heavy object, something that could do some damage. I chose a spanner, a big one, and, even though it shouldn’t be done, I took it unscrupulously.
With my edged weapon in hand, I speedily walked along the circular gallery, now in a hurry to be done as quickly as possible. My dying slippers guaranteed me relative discretion (which was something) and I stayed in the shadows as much as possible, trying to outsmart the surveillance cameras. The cursed photo booth had to be somewhere, but where?
I eventually found it, wedged between the pharmacy and the Outer Worlds bookshop, near the southern entrance.
I often go to the Outer Worlds bookshop. It specialises in fantasy genres. Besides Stoneheart, the fantasy novel my mother had just brought back, it’s in that bookshop that I had bought Twisted: The Collected Short Stories a few weeks before. I had never noticed the photo booth. Until then, the spot had been empty. It must have been installed very recently, in the last few days.
It stood strangely in a corner, in the shadows, almost out of sight.
(Go to PART 13)