" Where are we going, Alex?" Sam asked as I lead him away from the bench we had sat on which was now cluttered with our empty wrappers.
"Surprise." Was my only response.
"No offense, but I think we've had enough surprises for one day."
He had a point there. "Ok, while we're here and searching for a way out, we might as well have a little fun along the way. Have you checked any of the stores exists, yet?" Sam shook his head unsure of where I was going with this. "Well usually each store has their own exit in case of an emergency. I figured that we could go browse through the HMV store, we could play some music through their speakers. HMV seem to have the loudest speaker system, and I don't know about you but I never feel quite as lonely when I'm listening to some music." There was also a new album out by my favourite heavy rock band that I wouldn't mind checking out. Sam seemed ok with my idea but still looked a little unsure.
We arrived at the store and as we had expected it was empty inside. As we approached I could already hear the distant thumping sound of the bass to whatever song was being played at the moment. Which would mean that the audio system was already up and running, I just needed to change the track to whatever we wanted to listen to.
"Ok go find a CD, any CD you want, and we'll play it through the system." Sam grinned, nodded and made his way towards the CD section.
I quickly found what I had been looking for and a few moments later the sounds of Metallica's latest album was blasting around the store. Perfect! Just what I needed. Whenever I felt really stressed nothing cured me faster than the sounds of screaming guitar solos filling out the air around me.
Sam found me a few minutes later, a huge grin plastered across his face. He gave me the thumbs up gesture. Which I thought meant he shared my taste in music. Well at least until I glanced down at the CD he held in his hand. 'Best of the 90's'. Looked like a cheesy pop compilation to me, but I'd survive.
Despite the situation, I found myself acting like a kid, well I guess I am a kid, but we were running up and down the aisles, falling over and bumping in to one and other. In complete hysterics, laughing away until my stomach ached.
I changed the CD, and put on Sam's choice. The first thing that came blasting out of the speakers was the Cotton Eyed Joe song by Rednex. Now that really did have us laughing away and acting wild. We even danced together, swinging each other around and around until we fell apart and on to the floor while laughing so much I found it hard to breathe. If my friends could only see my now. They'd tease me mercilessly.
Eventually we had exhausted ourselves out with all the dancing around, and found that I needed another pee and maybe a drink too.
Before we left the store we checked the exit and surprise surprise the doors were locked tight.
Sam followed me in to the toilets and I had to fight with myself from checking out his 'equipment'. He was only one step to the side of me pissing in the next urinal. I thought I caught him glancing in my direction. Maybe it was just wishful thinking on my part. Or he could well be just curious. I read online a while back, while I was researching about various sexualities of what teens go through, that many guys go through a curious phase but that didn't necessarily mean that they were gay.
We made our way back to the bench we had sat on earlier after a brief stop back off at the shop close by to pick up more snacks to munch on.
I guess all the messing around and the dancing away had calmed us both down somewhat and left us both in a more reflective mood.
We were no closer to finding our way out of this prison. The whole thing just made absolutely no sense. How could a couple of hundred Saturday afternoon shoppers completely vanish so suddenly without Sam or I noticing anything at all? How every exit, so it seemed, was locked from the outside and why all of the windows were blocked out so much that we wouldn't see a thing on the other side. Yet the machines in the arcade, the music system in HMV and probably most other electronic appliances seemed to be switched on and working.
Once again I caught Sam watching me with interest, only this time he didn't even try to look away. He just blushed, giggled a little, and then looked away and carried on eating his sandwich. Was it possible that he felt the same way about me as I did about him? I hoped so. I also hoped that if we did ever find our way out of this place, we could remain friends. Going to the same school after the summer ended gave me some reassurance.
"I have an idea!" Sam told me. I listened as he explained to me that there should be a security office somewhere inside the mall and hopefully some working CCTV cameras that might show us what had happened earlier.
"That's a brilliant Idea! Sam you're a genius!" I almost shouted. Sam blushed at my compliment. We began searching for a staff door entrance anything that would hopefully lead us to a security office somewhere.
"I think it will most likely be in a place central to the mall and close by the shops with the more expensive items."
"No wonder you skipped ahead a year in school dude. Come on" I said as ruffled his hair, raised my arm over his shoulders, and made our way towards the centre of the mall.
A short while later we found ourselves roughly in the centre of the mall. There was a nice car on display with all kinds of flashy signs covering it. I think it was the winning prize for a raffle ticket competition or something.
It was there I saw the giant movie screen which often played recent DVD releases on it. "Hey maybe later if we're still here we could settle down and watch a movie. Bring lots of snacks and maybe some bedding from one furniture stores too, and then settle down for the night?" I offered.
"I don't intend for one minute to give up on trying to find a way out of this place, but I'm almost exhausted to the point of falling asleep while I'm walking." The day had taken a hell of a lot out of me, and I needed a clear head before we continued our plan on finding a way to escape.
Sam seemed to think that it was a good idea and was about to confirm so when I spotted a door on my right which has a sign that read 'security'. It was small door and only partially visible behind a tall trolley covered with what looked like return items from one of the stores. "Hey Sam over here!" I shouted.
Sam had the right idea about where we would find the security office. We entered and I looked around. Two half empty coffee mugs sat cold on the side next to some filing cabinets. The monitors were switched on and apparently still running, recording the various activity around the mall. On one particular screen we could see inside HMV store, where less than an hour ago we were dancing around like lunatics to Cotton Eyed Joe. Both Sam and I noticed that at the same time, I heard him laugh a little, probably remembering our crazy antics back in there.
"How do we rewind the tapes? See if we can find the exact moment that everyone disappeared."
Sam fiddled around with the buttons on the desk in front, turning one of the knobs on the section that read 'cam 4', and the tape tuned to the monitor in front began to rewind. "Do you remember what time it happened? We can use that to match the timestamp on the monitor."
"Erm - Oh I remember trying to call my mother and then my aunt at about one-ten this afternoon, so I'd say about fifteen minutes before that. Twelve-fifty five should be good enough."
Sam found the relevant part and immediately on the screen we could see the store full of shoppers, just as it was before everything had changed. We could see mothers holding on to their young children. Young couples holding hands, wandering down the aisles aimlessly. Even small groups of teens looking like they were up to no good.
The scene carried on for another few minutes, and just as I was wondering why everything appeared so completely normal even though time on the screen was rapidly approaching the point I remembered everything changing, everyone vanished! I mean literally vanished in to thin air! Sam gasped out loud, he turned to look at me and I'll never forget the horrified look on his face. I won't because I could almost guarantee I had the same expression on my own.
I couldn't speak. I couldn't find the right words to form what I was thinking. Not that I was really thinking much of anything at all. My mind was completely frozen. What I saw on that screen was impossible, and yet there we were witnessing it for ourselves.
It was like something out of a movie. Like everyone on the screen had been mysteriously abducted by aliens or something. There were no screams, no panic, no running around. No flames or smoke. Nothing. One second they were there, right there in the shop, and the next, gone… Just gone.
When my mind had started to function properly again. I was left with a few questions. Who or what had taken them? Why hadn't they taken us? Why couldn't we leave the mall? And were they, whoever they were, planning on returning for us?
None of them could be answered, not by us anyway, but they were questions I had anway.
"What the fuck happened, Alex? This can't be real. Can it?" Sam was visibly shaking and I wasn't coping any better.
"I – I have no idea." I just- I dunno. One second they're there and –"
"This can't be happening." Sam rewound the video again, the monitor showed the exact same thing. "I just, I don't understand this. How can this be possible, Alex? Please tell me. How could this happen?"
"Look." I sighed. "I haven't a clue, Sam. I really don't know."
The walk back to the bench was a long and silent one. Both consumed in our own thoughts. Sam was the first to take a seat. I remained stood. Frozen. Not sure whether I wanted to sit down or remain standing. I guess you could say I was in shock. Not quite believing what I had just seen. The whole day had been strange to say the least, but seeing what I just seen on that monitor had left me utterly speechless.
Sam broke me out of my temporary trance. He was crying. "We're never going to get out of here are we? What if the whole world has vanished and not just those that were in here earlier?" I didn't know what to say. I knew nothing more than he did. "What if, what if that's why we can't see anything outside?" He asked.
I sat down beside him and brought him close to me, wrapping my arms around him, I sighed. What he said made some sense, but at the same time it didn't make any at all. It would explain why we couldn't see anything outside or leave through one of the exits. Though the whole world vanishing was impossible though. Wasn't it? Then again, we had just witnessed about five hundred shoppers instantly vanishing in to thin air. I wasn't sure of anything anymore.
"I'm never gonna see my mum and dad, or my little brother again, am I? And it's all my fault!"
"Sam, it's not your fault. I don't think it's anyone's fault but-"
"No, it is. It's my fault they sent me away. I could have been there, back home with them right now. Instead I'm here and it's all my fault. Maybe this is hell, and this my punishment."
I didn't tell him that I didn't believe in a god or in a hell either, or that if his theory was right then his family in New Zealand just like everyone else on Earth would have vanished as well. I didn't want to upset him even more.
"Look Sam, I'm here if you want to talk about it. I'm sure whatever happened between you and your parents wasn't your fault, mate. In the short time I've known you, it's easy to tell that you're a nice guy."
Sam let out a long sigh. "I want to tell you, I do, but you might end up hating me if I did."
"Ha-ha I couldn't hate you Sam." He didn't look so sure.
"Ok then –" I ran off a list of bad things that I could think of off of the top of my head.
"Did you kill someone?"
He shook his head 'no'.
"Seriously hurt someone?"
"Did you, erm, did you burn your house down deliberately?"
"Ha-ha, no. Nothing like that."
"Well then, I can't think of anything else."
"I was-" Sam looked down at his hands as told me, almost too quietly for me to hear his words. "I was caught doing something stupid. Something that goes against our religion. Well my parents' religion anyway. I've never been sure, but-" He cleared his throat. "I was caught having sex with my best friend."
"Is your best friend another guy or a girl?" I asked.
"A guy." He told me.
"And that's it?" I asked?
"Yeah," Sam didn't say anything else for a moment, I was surprised I guess, but not shocked. I mean I've picked up some signals, little signs, which I hadn't really put together until now. But now I know, I guess I knew all along. "My parents freaked out big style as you can imagine. I mean they're not blatantly homophobic or anything, just really religious. In fact I've never even heard them discuss homosexuals before, but they freaked out anyway. Telling me that I was dirty, sinful and that I couldn't be trusted around my little brother anymore. My grandparents agreed to take me in, fortunately they're liberal on most stuff. Besides giving me a lecture on being safe during sex whether it was with a guy or with a girl.
"Wait -" I said. "You've had sex? I mean all the way kind of sex?"
"Yeah." Sam told me, blushing, still looking rather intently at his hands.
"Cool." I said. "What was it like?" I shifted in my seat "I mean you don't have to answer that, Ha-ha."
He giggled. "So you don't hate me?"
"Hate you? Hell no! "Jealous maybe." I didn't tell him that it was his friend that I was jealous of.
We both laughed at that. "Come here." I told him. I pulled him towards me and hugged him close. I decided to be honest with him. "I don't have a problem with gay people, in fact I've been wondering if I was gay too." Though I didn't tell him why. I kissed his forehead and felt my heart rate quicken as I did. It might sound a little selfish, but some of my first thoughts were, 'does this mean I might have a chance to do some stuff with him?' 'He's gay and I'm not sure if I am, but I do know that I liked him a lot'.
But what if I'm not gay and I end up hurting him? I really didn't want that to happen either.
"You have? What do you mean?"
"Well, I've never really been in to guys or girls before. Well that was before I saw this one guy who I thought was really hot. So I'm not sure. I've never done anything with anyone before, so how do I know that if I did do something with this guy I liked, that it's what I'd want? I don't want to hurt his feelings if it doesn't work out"
Sam turned to look at me, a wry grin covering his face. "Well you could always try with me first" He giggled.
I laughed back. "Shut up you flirt". I told him, punching his arm playfully. "What if nothing happens or, I dunno…." I shrugged.
"It's only a kiss, Alex" Sam smiled. "Besides it'll be fun and I've been wanting to kiss you all day." He told me, blushing.
"Really?" I asked, quite surprised. He nodded. "Well I'm not sure, what i-" Where the last words out of my mouth before Sam dived in and kissed me.
At first I was kind of frozen, I wasn't sure what to do but I pressed my lips back against his. Sam placed one hand on the collar of my jacket to hold me close while his other hand was rubbing against the inside of my thigh. I raised my own hand and cupped back of his head stroking his hair. Then we parted. I was feeling light headed and my heart was pounding like crazy.
I leaned back in, this time taking the lead, feeling horny and eager to taste him again, but instead our noses bumped as we made contact, and we broke apart, we laughed it off and he told me that it was ok, so we tried again.
This time I kissed him back instantly, then I felt his tongue licking against my teeth, I was feeling a little nervous at first but I opened up further, allowing him inside, and it felt so good. Our tongues dancing together, teasing one and other, and I was completely lost in our kiss.
After I came to my senses, I realised we had broken apart and Sam was looking at me half in lust, half, well I guess it was adoration. I felt the same way about him. I think I was in love with him at that very moment.
"Wow." Was all I could think of to say. I was left speechless. I found that my manhood was unbelievable hard almost to the point of bursting through my jeans. I felt this indescribable feeling inside, I wanted nothing more than to kiss him again, and again.
"That was your fist kiss?" Sam looked really surprised when I nodded. "That was, wow that was hot. You're a natural!" I giggled, and I think I might have even blushed too.
"That guy -" I cleared my throat, which felt extremely tight as I tried to speak. "That hot guy I was telling you about," Sam looked at me curiously. "That was you." I laughed.
At first, Sam looked quite shocked, then he smiled, blushed and then looked away for a moment, but when he turned back towards me, he was still smiling. "You mean I'm the first person you thought was, well that you liked?" He asked.
I nodded. "Yeah. At first I was confused, and then when we met properly later I didn't know what it meant or how to react. Then as I got to know you I really started to like you a lot, but wasn't sure how you'd react. Then when you told me about what happened to you in New Zealand, I was confused again, not sure about what to do, whether you'd would like me back, and what would happen if we tried to do something and found that I didn't feel the same way. But I really do, Sam. I really like you, and that kiss was, wow, I can't describe it. It blew me away!"
I grasped his hand in mine and leaned in for another kiss. To taste him. To experience that magic once again. He complied and we kissed. Once again I found myself lost in this wonderful new feeling. It was like a drug and I was addicted to his kiss. If this was how kissing felt, I wondered how I'd feel about everything else that would come later.
We spent another half hour or so talking, well a lot of kissing, and some talking. That was until I heard Sam's tummy growl and we both laughed. "You can't still be hungry? You've eaten about ten chocolate bars, ha-ha."
"Well I'm used to eating the decent sized meals my gran cooks for us, these snacks are just quick fixes." He told me. For a little guy he can sure pack away some food.
"Well how about we head to the MacDonald's restaurant, warm up some burgers and chips?"
Sam nodded in agreement. "Ok, but how about we set everything up for the movie in front of the big screen, first? Then stop by MacDonald's once we have everything else ready?"
"Good idea." I agreed. We'll drop by the furniture store first, find some mattresses, covers and pillows etc. Then set up the film projector." We agreed on that. Found the furniture shop, gathered all the sleeping gear I was sure we'd need, and made our way towards the theatre.
While I set up the beds, Sam decided to set up the projector and pick a film for us to watch. We both finished our own tasks around the same time, as Sam made his way over to me while I was just finishing off. "Why don't we pull the mattresses together?" He asked. They were separated at that point, but not by much.
"If you're sure." He nodded as I grabbed one of the mattresses and pulled it closer towards the other. I was happy that he wanted us to sleep close together.
Once we had arrived back from MacDonald's, both of us carrying a brown paper bag full of burgers and chips, Sam wandered off again to set the movie in motion.
"Oh cool Super 8!" I yelled out once I saw the name appear on the opening credits. I'd been wanting to see this one for a while, and was happy with Sam's choice of film.
We both shifted to get more comfortable, while we ate our takeaway.
The movie was brilliant! I was really impressed by it. Soon after we'd finished eating, Sam shifted again, this time into a closer position resting his head on my chest, while I wrapped my arm over his side and rested it against the top of his thigh. One scene, where the big creature dragged away one of the military guys from the prison bus, made Sam almost jump out from our embrace. We both chuckled at that.
It wasn't long after that, that the movie finished. Sam offered to set up another film, but I could tell that he was tired and trying hard to stay awake. To be honest I was feeling pretty much the same way.
We decided to get some rest, he remained in the position he was in but turned his head to kiss me once again. The feelings I got from the kisses earlier still remained, but somehow this kiss seemed deeper, more loving and less lustful than those before. I realised that I was falling very much in love with Sam. He was the most important thing in the world to me right then. No matter what happens to us, I know we'll get through it together.
"I love you, Alex." I knew he meant every word of it.
I brought him closer, kissed his lips once again, and whispered in to his ear that I loved him too.
"Wake up, Alex we're here." The car door slammed shut, waking me from my sleep.
"Mum?" I rubbed my eyes, and shook my head from its sleepy state, trying to work out where I was. "Where are we?"
"At the mall of course, where else?"
"What the… Where's Sam?" I demanded to know, sitting up and looking around at my surroundings. "Where is he?" I asked once again.
"Sam who, Alex? If this is one of your games, I'm not in the mood. We're here now, so you might as well get used to it."
"I, I don't understand. What happened?" I asked myself. Completely confused at my surroundings. Sam was with me just a moment ago. Where was he?
It couldn't have all been just a dream could it? No it was too real. I won't allow it. I want Sam back. I loved him! Where was he?
I would have cried if my mother hadn't opened the car door insisting that I got out already, before throwing me a funny look.
It couldn't have been just a dream. It couldn't have. Could it?
I tried my hardest to hold back my tears, and when the tears weren't threatening to fall. I found myself back in a state of shock. The whole thing was so surreal. I found myself drifting through the mall, making my way through the mass crowd of shoppers surrounding me, while I was still trying make sense of what had just happened.
I started to come to the conclusion that it was indeed only a dream, a very powerful one. I just didn't want it to be the case. I wanted it to be real. It FELT real to me. If it was Just a dream that means, Sam was just another part of it. That thought alone made me almost physically sick. I wanted to break down and cry right there.
The rest of the morning dragged by and I spent the whole of it in a complete haze, trying to sort through my emotions. Coming to terms with the fact that Sam wasn't even real.
"I want to go home mum. I don't feel so good."
My mother turned to look at me. About to tell me to give it a rest already, but she seemed to change her mind before she spoke. "Actually you don't look so well, dear." She held up the back of her hand to my forehead, checking for a temperature. She looked thoughtful for a moment before suggesting that if we stopped by one more store to pick up a new uniform for me, and that if I promised, we could come back next week for the haircut and new shoes. Though I never wanted to step foot in the mall ever again after this morning, I promised her I would, and we made our way towards the store.
I was still feeling sick and my head was spinning, I just wanted to hurry up and get out of the store as quickly as possible. My mother did the usual wiggle and tuck on the waistline of my new school trousers. Some things never change. I didn't care though, I just wanted to leave. That was until I overheard a conversation taking place by the checkout.
"Yes he'll be starting his new school in September. Sam's just moved back here from New Zealand."
I saw the elderly lady who was speaking. I saw the cashier, a young slim lady with dark brown curly hair, trying to seem interested in what the older lady was telling her. I didn't see Sam though. He was nowhere to be seen.
All sorts of thoughts were rushing through my mind. Was this my Sam she was talking about? Did this mean that it was all real after all? Was Sam a real person? Sam's story and her story seemed so alike from what she had just said. But there was no Sam around to be sure. Was he here in this store? In the mall somewhere? Had he decided not to go shopping with his gran?
Then I saw him. The blonde angel I called Sam. Just as beautiful as ever. Walking over towards his gran. His hands full of the bags from his visit to the various shops around the mall.
I couldn't resist calling out to him. "Sam!" My voice mixed with the sound of astonishment and love.
He turned towards me, to seek out the person who'd just called out his name. He saw me stood there, looking confused, before the biggest grin I've ever seen appeared across his face.
School is definitely going to be a whole lot of fun this year!
Please feel free to leave any positive or constructive feedback in the coments section below, and thank you for taking the time out to read my short tale. I hope you have enjoyed it. :)