One Eye Open

A girl finds herself in the midst of a broken world when the "Rage Virus" spreads.
WARNING: Some material may be inappropriate for Children under 13


15. The Gang

I wanted to look away, but my eyes were glued to the mirror.  That couldn't possibly be me.  But it was.  The sound of June's shoes slapping against the mall's shiny floors brought me back to my senses.  She was lugging a huge tote bag full of shiny objects.  She slowed down as she approached me and dumped the contents in front of my feet.  Ten spray paint cans—all of them different colors of the rainbow including black, white, pink, and silver.  June picked up the white spray paint and shook it before pulling the cap off.  

"What should I spray on the stairs?" she looked to me for clarification. 

"A smiley face." I said seriously.  She laughed and I snatched up the silver spray paint.  I ran across to Hot Topic and pulled the glass door shut so I could get a better view of it.  Then I stepped back and walked around the front of the store, inspecting it for marks.  Nothing at all.  I shook the spray paint and was just pulling off the cap to mark the door when I heard someone's loud footsteps nearing.  Ha!  It's too late to claim Hot Topic!  Heart racing, I quickly sprayed a huge silver 'X' across the whole door.  Someone gripped my shoulder, breathing heavily.

"You can't do that," they were gasping.  I shrugged off the hand and turned around.  It was Seth.  

"Uh, I just did." I said, and moved past him to push the door open.  He finally caught his breath and stood up straight, adjusting his shirt.  I reached for the door, but he slid past me to stand in front of it.  I snatched my hand back.

"What are you doing?" I demanded.  I had rightfully claimed this store as my own and wouldn't let anyone have it without breaking out a fight. 

"What are you doing?" he threw the question back at me.

"I asked you first." 

"I asked you second." he insisted.

This was getting stupid.  I moved to go around him, but he just stepped in front of me.  I tried going around again, yet he blocked me.  

"Seriously, what are you doing?" I tried to hold in my anger and annoyance.  He smirked and crossed his arms.  Oh I see what's going on now.  He thought this was some kind of game. 

"This store is mine, go somewhere else." he said, his smirk was gone which meant that he was dead serious.  

I was getting sick of this. I stepped up to him, staring him dead in the eye.  He wasn't a giant, probably only four or five inches taller than me.   

"I was here first.  Look at the door." I spoke and blinked slowly, something I always did when I was mad.  He didn't even bother to turn around.  

"No.  I was here before you showed up with your friend.  Ask anyone." I wasn't going to back down.  I didn't before the outbreak, and I wasn't going to after the outbreak.

"Did you mark the door?" This is where I had him and he knew it.  

"" He backed up a bit.

"Exactly." I stepped closer to the door, and he backed up again.  Then I remembered something.  Gilly and Hicks had twin beds in the dressing rooms along with drawers.   "You know what?  I'll be the nice one and let you have it.  Just after I get a couple of things first." 

"Nice?" he scoffed and let me push past him anyway.  Seth followed me in and watched.  "You are anything, but nice."  Ignoring him, I walked past the merchandise, grabbing some 'blood packets'.  They were actually just some energy drinks.  Just for the heck of it, I snatched up any shirt that looked like it fit me even though the designs were for guys.  As I walked towards the door, I grabbed a packet of vampire teeth, a wig, and colorful bouncy ball.  Seth was still standing by the door, waiting for me to leave.  He glared at me when he saw how much stuff I had taken.  I turned around and stuck my tongue out at him to which he did the same.  June had indeed went up with my idea and had sprayed a big white smiley face on the 'roof' of Gilly and Hicks. 

"How'd you do that if the roof is like two times your size?" I asked as I walked into our new home carrying the huge bundle.  

"A ladder I found in here." she replied and walked out of one of the five dressing rooms.  They were all built so that when the doors were closed, the whole room on the outside was shaped in a sort of circle that led to other rooms.  I chose the one all the way on the right, thinking that if other girls moved in, I wouldn't be in-between all of the noise. I threw the clothes on the dresser and before walking back out.  The place was a little dark and the plants didn't help.  

"June! I'm gonna throw all the fake plants in the front, okay?" I called out, not knowing where she was.

"Gotcha!" she replied back from the other end of the store. So, one by one, I lugged the plants onto the 'front porch' and set them up in a way that made it seem like a jungle.  Once I was back inside, I noticed that June was messing around with the perfumes. She accidentally sprayed some all over her face and started coughing.

"I'm gonna go have a look around."

"Okay, I'm gonna plan how we're gonna do the redecorating in here." she started wiping her face with the back of her hand and I jogged out of the store, nearly bumping into Chris. 

"Oh!" I stuck my leg out ahead of me to prevent myself from falling.

"Careful there," he grabbed my arm and steadied me.  

I looked up at him, a couple strands of hair in my face.  Suddenly, I was reminded of how awful I looked and became self-conscious of my face.  Geez, don't say anything stupid.

"So! What's up?" Nice. He let go of my arm and cleared his throat.

" just came down to get you informed about which jobs everyone has and how the rotation works, unless June already told you?"

"Nope. She didn't." I glanced back at the store and she stopped what she was doing to grin and wave at us.  Chris waved back and I took this spare second to try to fix my hair.

"Hey!  Do you want to meet everyone while I show you around?" his eyes gleamed.

"Sure." It's not like I had anything else better to do.

"Great!  Let's go!" he snatched my hand and dragged me across the entire mall all the way to Hollister. Even from the outside, I could clearly hear hip hop being played inside. There was a loud boom followed by guys cheering.  I looked at the entrance uneasily.  This wasn't a hundred percent in my comfort zone.  Across the front walls of the store was one word: SWAG.  

Chris saw my smirk and quickly said, "One of the guys did that even though all of us didn't agree with it, so we just stuck with it." 

"Uh-huh." I said, not exactly believing him.

"Come on," I followed him into the store, careful to stay right by him, but also not be too close.  Just like Gilly and Hicks, there were plants everywhere and the lighting was dark.  I made a mental note to go hunting for lightbulbs later on.  As we went deeper and deeper into the store, the music and laughter grew louder.  Pretty soon, I found myself in the heart of all of it.  There in the center of the store, the guys had somehow installed a flatscreen tv and then moved couches and a table around it just like a living room.  They were watching some old football game. One of them was laying on the couch upside-down, scarfing on some popcorn, the other two were fighting over a can of soda, and Seth was there spraying silly string all over the place.  I wanted to throw my arms up in disbelief because first of all, we had just fought over the store and second of all, he wasn't even in the store.  He turned around laughing, and sprayed silly string all over Chris who snatched the can and began spraying it all over Seth.

"Uncle!  Uncle!  I give up!" Seth laughed along with Chris.  Upside-down popcorn guy noticed me and flipped out.  Literally.  He accidentally flipped his legs forward, causing all of his popcorn to fly everywhere.  

"Hey!! Watch it!" one of the two guys yelled.  

It sounded as if he had an English accent, but I could've imagined it.  They were both on the floor now, practically beating each other up over the drink.  Popcorn guy bent over and picked up some black thick rimmed glasses—probably ones that had fallen off.  He slid them onto his nose and stepped over the twins as if this happened on a regular basis.  He brushed his hands off on his jeans before walking right up to me and offering his hand.

"Hi, I'm Procella.  Jared Procella." he said his name with an exaggerated accent and I laughed.  I shook his hand and his long, dark curly hair bobbed in the light.  

"Grayson.  Alexis Grayson."

"It is my pleasure to make the acquaintance of such a lovely lady." He replied in a gentleman-like voice.  

He turned my hand sideways and lifted it to his mouth.  I giggled when he kissed it and Seth snorted.

"The pleasure is all mine." I laughed with him and I saw that the twins had stopped fighting.  Seth was now drinking excruciatingly slowly from the soda can, almost as if he was mocking the twins sitting on a tall chair like a king.  Jared lowered my hand but didn't drop it when Chris started deliberately coughing to get everyone's attention.  The twins didn't seem to notice because now they were both throwing pillows at each other.  This was really quite amusing because they both looked like they were about sixteen or seventeen.  Someone came up behind me and sighed.

"Boys never really grow up.  They just get bigger." I could tell without turning around that the girl was smirking.  

She definitely had an English accent and was probably related to the two guys.

"Glad you're here, Miranda!" Chris exclaimed.  "Now, I can introduce most of you to Alexis!" I turned around and came face to face with a girl a couple of inches shorter than me, maybe three or four inches.  Her hair was straight and short—the same color as the twins', which was a dark ash blonde color. Her eyes were hazel, just like the twins' and she had a lip piercing.

"Alexis, Miranda.  Miranda, Alexis." Chris pointed to us as he said our names. "Hi!" I greeted her, now in a cheerful mood because of Jared. "Hi." she repeated after me and looked over my shoulder at the twins.

"I don't need to introduce you and Jared since you've already been 'acquainted'." Chris looked down at my hand.  A deep flush crept up Jared's neck and laughed before I gently tugged my hand away and he let go.  Chris tried to get the twins' attention again, but failed each and every time.

"Hey idiots!!" Miranda yelled, obviously fed up with their behavior.  

They both immediately stopped fighting and slowly stood up, embarrassed.  

"Meet Alex." She turned to me raising her eyebrow.  "Wait, do you prefer Alex, Lex, Lexi, or Alexis cause I just wanted to clarify before it gets programmed into their heads."

"Alex is just fine." she nodded and turned her attention back to her brothers.

"That's Nathan and Anthony.  I'm sure that in time, you'll learn how to tell the difference between them although some people haven't.  You look like a smart girl." 

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