Tannoy

Eight teenagers wake up in the middle of a large shopping centre with no idea how they got there.
Sycamore, Joseph, Ash, Aaron, Melanie, Ramona, Max and Lacey learn quickly how to survive - do what the announcements over the tannoy say or die.

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1. Waking Up

Imagine waking up lying on a cold white floor, next to a long-dead fountain, with other bodies around you, and the only sound is gentle music and the beating of your own heart.

This is all a dream, thought Sycamore. I fell asleep and I'm going to wake up any moment now.

She sat up slowly, muscles stiff and uncooperative. She had evidently been lying there for some time. She cast her eyes around warily at the other people lying facedown on the floor. None of them looked older than eighteen. One had fluffy blonde hair, another a straight pale brown crop with spectacles lying askew.

Sycamore nudged the one lying closest to her, what looked like a girl with a high black silky ponytail. The girl didn't move. Sycamore placed two fingers gently on the girl's neck. A pulse thrummed gently under the pads of her index and middle fingers.

Still alive.

Where the hell am I?

Sycamore looked up and around, her jaw drifting slowly open.

There were two floors, and she was sitting on the ground one, the second one opening up above her. Four dead escalators, two to her right and two to her left, were sitting about thirty metres away each side. It was almost unnaturally bright in this building, like sunlight was streaming in from above - yet it couldn't be. The domed ceiling on the above floor was completely slathered over with concrete that had been painted white.

The fountain was made of dark grey stone, with a stone fish poised in the middle, looking like he had spat water, though long ago. Random potted plants dotted corners, and there were infinite shops stretching out everywhere. The signs were dark, not lit up with neon like they were supposed to. Cocoa Paradise. Vintage Garb. Master Cluck's Chicken Rotisserie & Grill.

Sycamore looked down at herself, to see what had changed. Changed from what?

For the first time, Sycamore realized that she had no memories.

Nothing.

Caput.

Finito.

Zilch.

She groped around in her mind, but it was the oddest feeling, like being in a bare white tunnel that went on forever. Just - emptiness. Hollow. The only thing she knew was that she was called Sycamore. Maybe not even that. Maybe her brain had just picked one word - sycamore - and randomly attributed it to her.

She pushed this problem to the back of her mind and examined herself. She had an okay figure, she noticed. Tall and slim, with pale skin and long slim fingers. She wore a black vest top, plain blue skinny jeans, black lace-up combat boots, and a tattered camouflage army jacket, two sizes too large. But it the jacket felt important. Almost sentimental. She clutched at the feeling, hoping for memories - a glimpse of a face, a feeling of wind or grass or sand - but nothing.

She could see her reflection in the polished fountain. Nicely-shaped lips, she noticed. Green eyes. Long, tousled straight dark brown hair, reaching her elbows.

There was soft gasp behind her, and Sycamore whipped round. The girl with the soft, fluffy golden hair was scrambling into a sitting position, watery blue eyes enormous and terrified.

"What is going on?" she screeched.

 

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