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stuck at the galleria a novel by Tre (trespeak.wordpress.com) written in 2008 nanowrimo YWP ‘08


Stuck at the Galleria

this book is dedicated to a number of people. first, my family, for being so supportive of me when I wrote this. second, my friends. had it not been for you, Nora, Grassy, and Max would not be the way they are now. And, to you, for reading this. Anyone who volunteers to read this is awesome in my book. -T

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part one:

the crash

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chapter 1 “I’m really in a huge predicament!” I yelled to the others as I held onto the railing. If I didn’t hang on, I’d probably fall three stories down to the fountain below, and that would probably kill me, since on that night I was a lot weaker than I normally would be, which is pretty weak. Oh, wait, I didn’t know about you being here so early. I thought you’d be here later. I’m Tre, this book’s main character and narrator. I’m pretty unreliable as one, however, so be warned. (I’m not going to turn out to be the villain, if that’s what you think. It’s just my way of telling stories to people is a quite horrid way of telling stories to people.) I’m 12, and I am not very large. Not large at all. I’m a skinny dude. Although I eat like a pig sometimes, no fat gets onto the belly. (I got it from my mother.) Which is obviously a big reason why at school, I’m the dog who gets beat. And by beat, I mean picked on, bullied, and the like, blah blah blah, I’m pretty sure you should know the deal. Some people think I’m the smartest kid at Dullerman Square Middle School. Some believe I’m the nerdiest. Others think I’m just another good old misfit. And some just think I’m stupid. But to those people that believed I was a misfit and stupid must be really sad that they picked on a kid who helped 7 other kids and himself successfully escape the Galleria Mall on one fateful night.

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I never forgot it.

It was 6 pm. An early Friday in December at the Galleria. Home of 567 stores, 20 restaurants, and 4 levels. It was even more crowded than it usually was. Our family was X-mas shopping for our relatives in the Sticker Cat’s Savings Stop department in the Straight Shot department store. I was really bored with this, since everything I like is in Electronics. So I asked my mom if I could go to the Electronics department. Sure enough, she said yes. However, she didn’t know what was going to happen after I left...

I guess I was a bit kooky that day. I got onto a shopping cart and started to kick my feet on the ground so that I could get to the other side of the store faster. I had root beer that day, and I guess it was one of my crazy days. (Fact: Root beer is my favorite drink, but on certain days, it can make me go completely bananas.) I was going 32 miles per hour (which is pretty darn fast for a shopping cart) when I realized how harebrained that choice to ride a shopping cart was. I couldn’t get off because I’d fall, but the cart veered over to the right side... into the optical section. The cart crashed into the optical’s side wall, and the place became a huge wasteland of plastic frames, glasses, some contact lenses, and a little blood, but not much. My head crashed into the wall, and the impact from the crash caused me to fall out. And I seriously thought that I was dead already.

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chapter 2 But I wasn’t. It turned out that I was just KO’d from the impact of the crash, and someone must have found me laying there and taken me to a really bad place, because when I woke up, I was in a room that looked vaguely like those rooms that are in cop shows. You know, the ones with the desks in them with a lamp and all that jazz? Yeah, those. So I was in there, laid out on a couch, with a bandaged left arm. I was still in a daze, so I didn’t have any clue where I was. A voice said, “So, the buckaroo finally decides to wakey-wakey.” It was a “firm, but not mean” voice. And it was kinda creepy. I sat up to get a clearer view of the place. It was ugly, dark, and dank, and the only light was from a flickering lamp at the guard’s desk. I checked my watch. It was 10:57 p.m. The mall closed at 10. So I was out for 5 hours, and when I woke up, I turned out to be in the worst place possibly imagined for anyone under 18 years old. Mall Security Headquarters. In my mind, I screamed, “OH, MAN!”

The guard asked, in his rugged voice, “What’s your name, son?” “Tre. Why?” I asked. “Because, you, my friend, are in one big heap of trouble.” As if I didn’t already know. “I’ll have you know, Mister-”

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I read his nameplate. “Carl Ollins Weisgerber, that the whole thing was an accident-” I said “That’s what they all say.” he interrupted. “And that I did nothing wrong.” I finished. “And that I did nothing wrong.” he mocked. “Destroying merchandise without buying is considered stealing according to Code 19.53 of the Galleria Mall Security Rulebook. Not to mention that the Enforced Escort Policy was also in effect at the time, and your lifeless body was found in the Optical Section of the Straight Shot in the left wing of the mall. You’re a criminal, and you will definitely be severely punished just like all the other vandals and thieves that are out there.” In my mind, I was screaming, “STUPID RULEBOOK!” I said, “This is the worst night of my life.” He replied, “And even though you’re not asleep, I’m your worst nightmare.”

Carl Ollins Weisgerber had left the HQ to get something to eat a few minutes later, so I took that time I had to plan my escape. (Fact: If I have time to think up a plan, I can get myself out of a sticky situation. Put me in a maze with a lion and I will look through every inch of the walls until I can find a way out.) If I didn’t get out, I’d be in a heap of trouble, just like he said. I looked at the desk. The only light was from a lamp on the desk that was flickering wildly, Carl’s partner was asleep in a chair next to where he was sitting, and there were some paperclips of various sizes scattered around. I knew that Carl had probably locked the door so that I couldn’t get out of the room, but leaving paperclips on a desk with me in a locked room was pretty harebrained, almost as harebrained as my choice to get onto a

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wayward shopping cart. I had to be as quiet as a mouse (maybe even quieter) so that the fat guard behind the desk wouldn’t wake up, or else I could completely forget about trying to carry the plan through, and instead start thinking about what “severe punishment” would be. Then, I’d pick up a paperclip around the size of a key, bend it some, then run to the door and stick the makeshift key into the door. So I knew what I had to do. The only question was, could I find the guts to do it?

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chapter 3 I kept on repeating the phrase in my head as if it was a skipping CD. “Tre, if you don’t do it, you’re probably going to get into a predicament even you can’t get out of.” It was really tormenting. I had a plan. I knew how to carry it through. But I couldn’t do it! Half of me begged to carry on the plan, but the other half was highly skeptical that the plan wouldn’t work. Finally, I decided to make my begging half think more like a bully and the victim was my skeptical half.

I said that I was the dog who got beat at school, right? Well, let me explain that a bit further. There’s a band of dudes that act all “gangsta-like” and all that jazz. They like only those people who either are like them, or don’t get in their way. I’m not one of them, and I guess they believe I get in their way (presumably of being scared of them), so they decided to pick on me. They often drove me mad trying to get me to fight them or whatever, and it got to me at first. Because of this, they took it one step further on certain occasions and became violent with the whole thing, then they’d say stuff like, “Tray-ayay, don’t you wanna fight may-ay-ay?”. It got under my skin so much, but I didn’t want to do anything because then I’d become their scapegoat. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s when people use me as a

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scapegoat. I decided to do that to myself. I imagined their voices as I thought, “Trat-a-tat-tat and chicken fat! That kid’s in juvie, that’s where he’s at!” It almost immediately got me mad. And by mad, I mean “ the way a raging bull feels with all that weight on its back.”

I got up and went behind the desk. I was ready to get out of that place. So I tiptoed over to a paperclip that was the perfect size to fit into a door, then extended my arm to try to get it. I was about to pick it up when a trail of drool happened to fall from the mouth of the sleeping riverbank. It was disgusting, but I managed to keep in my feelings until later. I got the paperclip, then went back to the couch I was at before and started bending the key like mad until it looked good enough to fit into the keyhole. I ran to the door, then fit the makeshift key into the keyhole and turned the doorknob. Turns out, I’m pretty good at picking locks. I ran as fast as I could down the hallway between the HQ and the rest of the mall. It felt like it was the longest hallway to ever exist in the history of shopping malls. I knew that when I got to the end, though, that I’d be able to get out of the mall and back home with everyone else. When I got to the door, I went to the nearest exit immediately. However, I was not as lucky as I was before, because it had no keyhole, and it was locked. In my mind, I repeated, “OH, MAN!” Wanna know why?

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I was stuck at the Galleria, and it was the last place I wanted to be at at the time.

part two:

the stowaways

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chapter 4 I sat down on a bench as I tried to think of what I needed to do to get out of the mall. There was clearly a way to get the entrances/exits open, or else the mall wouldn’t be able to open up shop in the morning. However, I never figured out a plan because of a sharp pain that developed in my leg. I pulled it up, and nothing greeted me than..... a tranquilizer dart. “Oh, not again.” I mumbled. Then, for the second time that night, I fell out.

When I woke up, I heard a voice saying, “I told you the guy wasn’t dead! You guys thought that I was wrong on both occasions, but I was right! He was a kid, and the tranquilizer didn’t kill him!” I came to after that. I was in a room filled with casual furniture. It was the Pottery Shanty. Seven other kids were surrounded around my head, like they all were huddled up like in those sports movies in which the team that the crowd is rooting for gets into a huddle to figure out their game plan.

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There were three guys and four girls. “Grassy, I knew you were right already. We all did. You’re obviously the smartest of us.” the oldest girl (at least from my perspective) said. “Hi, I’m Nora. Nora Irving.” “Tre.” A girl with big ears made a wolf whistle. Nora gave her a scowl so she’d shut up. Then, she said, “As you can see, me and my friends are a pretty ragtag group. We live here, but the rent-a-cops at Mall Security want our heads. Especially the one that’s here tonight.” I mumbled, “That stupid rulebook.” “He pulled one of those codes on you, didn’t he?” a smaller looking guy with a black mullet asked. “Yep, he sure did. The one about destroying property being shoplifting.” I said. The one Nora called ‘Grassy’ said, “That’s the one he called on me!” He had a huge backpack on his back. I had no idea why. “He’s the only one we find a threat, and because of that, we have hated him ever since he got hired.” the mulleted kid said. Nora said in a voice soft enough that I could barely hear it, “Cow.” “What?” “Cow,” she repeated, louder. “Carl Ollins Weisgerber. His initials spell out the word C-O-W.” “That Cow is one evil dude. Him and his SHEEP.” I said. “What?” the girl with elephant ears asked. “SHEEP. The last letters of the word sheep spell EEP. The Enforced Escort Policy.” Nora said before I could explain it to her.

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All of us except Grassy laughed. “Uhh, guys, we might have a problem.” Grassy said, nervously. “What?” I asked. “Cow is back, and he’s going to the CS desk!” We all froze. This was not good at all.

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chapter 5 Cow looked around the place to see if anyone was there. He didn’t see anything suspicious at the time, so he sat down at the customer services stand and started to read a magazine. I saw that there was a door that let us go into the Wamcy’s through the back of the Pottery Shanty, so I told Nora that we could get out of the store that way. “Are you nuts?! We don’t have the keys to open the door!” she whispered. “Um, yeah, Nora, you’re wrong about that.” the mullet kid said. Then, he held up some keys. “Where did you get those?” Grassy asked. “The CS desk.” the kid answered. “Well, what are we waiting for? We have to get out or else Cow will figure out that we’re here!” I said. “Tre’s right, guys. Start crawling.” Nora said.

We got to the door a few minutes later. The mulleted kid got up and tried putting keys in the hole. Those keys must have been pretty loud, because Cow was getting up and saying, “Who’s there?”

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He came over to the Pottery Shanty and started to lift up the gate. In the nick of time, the kid with the mullet found the right key and kicked the door open. We all started to run in, and Cow turned the lights on in the Shanty as soon as we all got through. The elephant-eared girl was the last to get through, but she left the door open! So Cow saw that, and he went over to the door and turned the lights on in the Wamcy’s. We were on the other side of the second level, but he could still see us, so we all started running as fast as our little winged feet would take us. He said, “You all are going to be very sorry that you thought you could escape from the wrath of the Weisgerber!” We were up on the third level, but he went down to the first, so we had the benefit of being on top. “Throw them now!” Grassy yelled. Everyone started to take some water balloons out of the backpack Grassy had on. I got that I needed to do this as well, because I didn’t want my head to belong to that rent-a-cop. We all started hurling them below at Cow so that he’d be distracted while we could get out of Wamcy’s and to a different part of the mall. Nora told me to go to the checkout counter and press the button that opens the gate to the rest of the mall, because the CS desk had a control panel that opened up every store. That way, we could hide in one of the 550 stores in the mall and Cow wouldn’t be able to find us. Cow said, “Don’t you dare, kid!” I was desperate on getting out, so I went over to the counter as fast as I could so that I could open up the doors to the parking deck and get out. There was a bit of a problem with that plan though, because the control panel had a whole bunch

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of buttons that could do things that would help the cause or get us all arrested. “Which one is it?” I yelled, frantic to get out. “The blue one!” Nora answered. “Which blue one? There are like, TWELVE blue ones!” “The one that’s in a glass box!” she panted. I opened up the box that opened the gate. The gate started to open. Grassy yelled, “Run, guys! We’ve got to get out of here!”

And so we all ran to the exit of the store into the rest of the mall. We had to get to the Customer Services desk before Cow did, but there was one problem with that plan: We had to get to the nearest staircase or else Cow would get to the CS desk and we wouldn’t be able to unlock all the stores. A girl who hadn’t talked yet said, “Guys, there’s an escalator to the second level right over there!” She pointed to the right side, over towards the Bordstrom. There was an escalator that wasn’t operating at the moment, so we ran over there to get to the CS desk. Cow was coming up the lower escalator right as we got to the second floor. It was a photo finish: Grassy jumped over the counter and locked the door so no one could get in. However, that left the other 7 of us with Cow. Luckily, Grassy knew that we were going to have to get away from there, so he flipped a switch that opened up all of the gates to the stores. Then, he jumped out of the desk and happened to put his leg in the right place at the right time, because he was able to get Cow distracted with his foot by kicking him where it really hurt.

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That really must have hurt, because Cow went down as soon as he got hit. We all ran away while we could, because that man might have been in pain, but he would definitely recover soon. We ran all the way to the other side of the mall and hid inside the Game-Pop. Grassy had a look on his face that looked as if he just died and went to heaven. Guitar Villain 4, a music game in which you play the guitar (and in Guitar Villain 4, the drums, microphone and bass guitar). It’s not really a guitar, but the one that the store had on display could definitely fool an onlooker. He turned the PSW720 (aka just the 720) on and turned to where he could start up the game. Then, he pressed the green button on the guitar and the console showed a splash screen that showed various game items all getting crammed into a box. Once all of them fit in, the box closed and the camera panned over the box to reveal the PSW720 logo. The box then opened and the camera zoomed into it. I asked the members of the group, “I know Nora and Grassy, but who are the rest of you?” Two guys who looked almost exactly alike said in perfect harmony, “We never introduced ourselves, did we?” “Nope.” I answered. The mulleted kid said, “I’m Max Cromwell, the leader of us all.” The girl with elephant ears said, “You wish, Max. I’m Cari Benz, but you can call me CiCi.” The identical guys said together, “We’re Freddy and Marty Leighton-Yeval.” And the girl who pointed to the escalator said, “And I’m Piper. Piper Hougan.” Nora, Freddy, Marty, Max, CiCi, Piper, and Grassy. And the newest member of this ragtag group of kids: Me.

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Or, at least, something like that.

chapter 6 (This chapter is narrated by a basic narrator, because this part is mainly about Cow)

Carl was not very happy about those 7 kids living at the mall. Not very happy at all. And on top of that, he had another one running amok with them. The last thing he wanted was for them to turn him into a regular at the mall after hours as well. He was reminded of that incident that happened at his last job. It was so embarrassing, he refused to tell anyone about it. It was a rainy day in April. Carl was deathly afraid of cats, shoe store owners, and fast food. And some rotten old teenagers devised a plan that was so vicious, it used all three. The kids put up some stickers that said “Koko Was Here” all over the 7 worst places Carl wanted to be in: 1) McRonalds, 2) Pets R Us, 3) Burger Queen, 4) China Town USA, 5) Shoe-B-Doo, 6) High Maintenance Shoes, and 7) Peter’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers. And Carl had to take all of the stickers up. He decided to go to McRonalds first. But when he went to the place, he went into such a state of fear that he fainted right on the spot and fell right on top of a customer who had a cup of Poca-Cola! It spilled right on top of his face, which woke him up. The teenagers who staged it were in an uproar of laughter.

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As if he wasn’t humiliated enough, a teenager on the second level sent a bunch of spitballs flying below... and they landed right in his face.

This was why Carl got the EEP put into effect. He scorned and detested teenagers as much as cats scorned and detested dogs. And now, those same teenagers were in the mall, taking refuge. He would make them pay. And his asking price? Their lives. They all were supposed to be in military school, but they weren’t. They were in the lion’s den. And the lion was ravenous. He realized that if one was gone, then all of them would try to find their friend, so he made a plan so devious, so cunning, so clever and sneaky, that those 8 juvenile delinquents would never see it coming.

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part three:

a series of kidnappings in the galleria

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chapter 7 (I’m back!) We all started playing Guitar Villain with Grassy eventually, since things were getting pretty boring with Cow not chasing us at the moment. It was pretty fun, but since my family had The Rockstar Life (Guitar Villain’s rival series) and The Rockstar Life Encore at home, it was pretty different. For example, in TRL and TRLE you can save a band member if he or she fails mid-song, but in the GV games, the whole band fails if someone fails mid-song. Otherwise, it was pretty much the same game, only with different instruments. All of us were having fun, failing songs left and right, except for Piper. We all asked, “Piper, why don’t you play for once?” But nobody ever answered. We finally turned around. The glass door of the Game-Pop was open, and there was a piece of paper taped to it. Nora read it aloud, with her jaw dropped. We all knew that bad news was coming when that happened. Dear Delinquents, You all must be enjoying Guitar Villain IV. Great game, great game. However, you might not be so happy about this piece of news: One of your own is gone. The one with silver hair? Yes, she belongs to me. And she is going to be put into a juvenile detention center unless every single one of you come to the Customer Service Center before midnight. Have fun getting here!

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With sarcastic love, Carl O. Weisgerber

It shocked us all. Nora said, in a rage, “Piper never did anything to deserve this! She never did anything at all! And that COW took her! Oh, he is going to pay. He will get what he deserves!” CiCi was in tears. “She was my bestie,” she blubbered. We all were silent after that. I checked my watch. It was 11:15. We had to get to the other side of the mall in 45 minutes, or else Piper was down for the count. I knew that Cow had put up a whole bunch of things to slow us down, so we had to figure out a plan. A plan just as devious as the one he created. A plan just as cunning, as clever and as sneaky, that it would create a fear in Cow’s mind that was so dominant that he would beg for mercy at our knees. “What are Cow’s weaknesses?” I asked. “He’s relatively easy to convince at first, and he has to fill his golf cart’s gas tank on a regular basis.” Grassy answered. I thought about it for about three minutes, and then I got it. I had a plan that fit those prerequisites.

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chapter 8 The plan was for one of us to go to the CS desk as a representative for all of us as a whole, and that we had a peace treaty ready. Then, the representative would tell him that we all wanted to meet in the food court, with the peace treaty ready for him to sign, in exchange for Piper. But then, once we got Piper back, we’d run to the CS desk and find the key to escape the mall. “It’s a good idea, but will it work?” Freddy asked. “Oh, whatever. It has to work.” Marty said, rolling his eyes. “So who’s going to be our rep?” Grassy asked. “The fresh meat should go first. He’s not known to be cunning yet.” CiCi said. “Actually...” I said, nervously. “What?” they all asked at the same time. “I escaped from the Mall Security HQ at 11. He probably would be leery about it if I went.” “Well, then, Grassy should go. He’s the one that would seem the most convincing.” Marty said. “How do YOU know?” Freddy questioned. “Oh, shut it already. Piper’s got 40 minutes left and you two are sitting here arguing. It’s stupid anddare I say it- juvenile.” Nora hissed. “So, who goes?” CiCi asked in a voice similar to those of reality TV shows in which the host is about to announce that one of the contestants is going home. “I guess I can go and do it.” Grassy said. “Okay, then.” I said.

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Grassy started to go toward the other side of the mall. “Wait!” Max yelled. “What?” we all yelled back. “If one goes, he could capture him or her easily, no sweat! I say three should go.” Max said. “Wow. Max actually has a GOOD idea for once.” Nora said. “Grassy, do you still have those walkie-talkies?” Freddy asked. “Yep, sure do.” he said. Then, he pulled out 7 walkie-talkies from his bag. “What don’t you carry in there?” I asked. “Bricks.” he answered as he zipped the huge backpack up. “So who ELSE goes?” CiCi asked, in the same, reality TV host voice. “I’m willing to.” Marty said. “Okay, I guess we’ll probably need the brawns. CiCi, are you going?” “Sure. I’m sick and tired of just sitting here.” she replied. “Okay, so Max, Nora, Freddy and Tre, you guys stay here. We’ll go and carry through the first part of the plan. The only thing is-” Grassy said. “We need a peace treaty for him to look at.” Nora answered. “The Game-Pop’s computer is bound to have Microloft Remarker on it. We’ll type one through that.” Freddy said. Clearly Freddy was a lot smarter than his brother, Marty. They didn’t even seem like they’d be able to live together, or be twins for that matter. “Okay, so we all know what to do, right?” I asked. “Yep, sure do.” Grassy, CiCi and Marty said together.

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“Alright, then let’s do so. Good luck, guys.” I said. “Good luck to you guys too.” CiCi said. Then, the three left the Game-Pop and headed toward the CS desk.

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chapter 9 There was silence after they left. After a few minutes passed, I checked on them. I couldn’t take the quiet any longer and was dying to break the ice. I talked into the walkie, “Grassy, what’s up?” “We’re about halfway there, around the Willards.”, he replied. “Cool. We’re making pretty good time, too.” I said. “What time is it?” “11:25.” “Wow, that was only five minutes?” Grassy asked, sarcastically. “Oh, just tell him to shut it, T.” Nora said. “I heard that!” Grassy yelled angrily. “Whatever.” Nora said, then giggled. “Okay, Mr. T. I think we should get going again.” “Yeah, that would be good.” I said. “Alright.” he said. “I’m going to go now-” “Well, get going already!” I said. “Piper is in Cow’s hands, remember?” “Bye.” Grassy said. The silence returned after that.

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Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and called them again. “Grassy?” I asked. But nothing came from the speaker but muffled noises. “Grassy?” I repeated. “CiCi? Marty?” But a voice I didn’t expect to answer answered instead. It was that wonderful old rugged voice that I had learned to hate. “Hello, Mister Tre.” Cow said, sarcastically. “How’s yer night been?” “Perfect.” I replied, snidely. “Except for one tiny thing.” “I think I might know what that tiny thing would be. You must have found friends after you managed to escape the HQ.,” he said, with a cackle. “You didn’t.” I said. “Oh, BELIEVE me, I DID.” he said, with as much snide as I had. “You are unbelievable, Mr. Weisgerber, or should I say, C-O-W.” “Now isn’t the time for you to insult me, Mr. T. It’s 11:40. You ALL have got 20 minutes to get to the HQ, or else all 4 of them plus the 3 of you who are at that GamePop go to the click.” “You disgust me, Cow.” I finally said, then turned the walkie back off. “What news do you want first?” I asked. “The bad, or the REALLY bad?” “I guess we’ll take the really bad first.” Freddy sighed. “They’re in the HQ, and he’s saying that he’s going to put us all in the slammer if we don’t come.” “It’s like school all over again.” Max said, annoyed. “First, they take our friends, then they take us. It sucks.”

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“Almost as if you’re getting lunch detention forever.” Nora said in agreement. “And the bad?” Freddy asked. “He knows we’re at the Game-Pop.” I said. “We better enjoy the 19 minutes we’ve got, because there’s no escaping the Cow now.” Max said. “Or is there?” I asked. I thought about it a bit, then said, “Guys, I think I might have an idea on my hands.” They all perked up. And when they listened to what I wanted to do, their faces lit up with excitement. It was my best plan ever. But, at the same time it was my worst. It might have been considered impossible before, and I knew there was a 75% chance that it would fail, but I knew that we’d be able to pull it off. I am quite the optimistic type, if you didn’t already know.

chapter 10

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The plan was for the 4 of us to get caught by Cow first. Yes, we would have to get “arrested”, but while Cow found our files, I’d use the scissors I always carry in my pocket (you never know when you’ll need them) to cut the ropes and get us out with my makeshift key. We’d then split up, the 8 of us, after we got down the long hallway, and hit up as many stores as possible and wreak major havoc on the entire mall. We’d use our walkies to talk with each other, and to warn anyone if they see Cow.

“I like wreaking havoc onto things.” Max said, grinning ear to ear in a sick, yet happy (in some way) expression. “And, then, that way we’d be able to cover more ground since if we all traveled together, we’d have 8 footstep trails going in the same direction.” I said. “So, does everyone agree to the plan?” “Yep.” “Sure do.” “Freddy Leighton-Yeval, at your service.” “Awesome.” I said. “Now let’s go and save our friends!” Nora yelled, in a battle cry-like way.

The night was really weird (and believe me, it was WEIRD), and I don’t know how, but I seemed to

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find a lot of times in which Nora fit my definition of “dream girl” in the first half of the night. She was funny, pretty, a leader in her environment, strong-willed, independent, and very, very smart. I thought I might have a crush on her. I was never very good with ladies. The “gangsta” boys always “macked” the “chicks” at school, and not really all that much girls liked me at all, probably because those stupid wannabe rappers called me “disgusting” and said that I was an “idiot who likes boys”. For the record, I never did like boys LIKE THAT, and I NEVER, EVER, EVER will. It’s disgusting and revolting to me even thinking about it. Anyway, there was another girl that went to my school about two years ago. She was everything Nora was, only younger and shorter. She was my friend and always sat at the table I sat at at lunch with me. She was the only one who did that. But after a few months, she said she was running away. I still don’t know why. I borrowed her scissors that day, but I never got to give them back because I never saw her again. I’ve held on to those scissors in my pocket every day for 737 days. And after 737 days straight, and a move to middle school, I still never got to return them.

Then, I realized that there was more than just a long list of coincidences between the two girls. “Nora?” I asked. “Yes?” she replied. “I was wondering, where did you go to school two years ago, if you did even go to school?” She paused, then stammered, “Foxtons Elementary.” “What about your grade?”

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“I was in 4th.” “And who was your teacher?” “Ms. Larson. Why?” “Because, I’m Tre. The boy that you sat next to every day because nobody else did?” She thought for a second, then opened her eyes really wide. “Is that really you, Tre?” “Nora, I still have your scissors. I promised myself that I’d keep them in my pocket until I saw you again.” I pulled out the scissors. They had the name, N. Irving, written in perfect detail on one of the blades. Nora gasped. “Oh my god, Tre! You look so different, yet still the same!” She gave me a hug. “You do too, Nora.” Tears were coming down from my eyes and onto Nora’s sweater-vest. “You do, too.”

chapter 11 “We ready to go and carry out Phase One yet?” I asked the other three.

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“Yep!” they all said together. “Alright!” We ran out of the Game-Pop together, the four of us, and headed towards the HQ. I never knew exactly why I decided to do that (and not just use the hide-away method), but it was going to be one heck of a party if the plan went as intended.

By the time we got there, Cow was waiting at the doorway with some ropes. Fair enough. He walked us into that dark, musty room that I was in about 2 hours ago and tied our legs to the couch’s legs and put tape on our mouths so we couldn’t get out or scream for help. When he turned to the desk to file our records, though, Phase Two was about to kick into full gear. I gave everyone a thumbs-up to see if they were ready too. They all gave thumbs-ups back. I took Nora’s scissors out of my pocket and leaned down to the legs of the futon I was tied to. With as much grace as a swan, I silently cut a straight line through the rope. I could feel my legs again. Then, crawling across the room, I cut the other ropes and let everyone else out of their bind to their respective couch. We were all out of our ropes. We then crawled to the door. I put my key in the keyhole and started turning.

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Cow perked his head up, but found... Nothing. Absolutely nothing. We were gone in a flash of light.

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part four:

the plan

chapter 12 We all ripped the tape off of out faces at the same time, then cried in unison, “OW!” “That hurts a lot.” Piper said. “Thanks for springing us.” “Anytime.” I said. “Anytime.” “So what’s the plan?” Grassy asked. “The eight of us split up and wreak as much havoc in the mall as possible.”

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“If Cow catches us, we’re going to be Grade A dead meat.” Marty said. “Yeah, but we’ll be Grade A dead meat because we wanted to stand up for what we wanted. And, because one of us wanted to get out in the morning.” I said. “You wouldn’t want to live here?” Nora asked. “The last time I saw you, you told me that it must be pretty fun to live in a mall.” “We were 4th graders, Nora! And plus, I was kidding. Whoever wanted to put up with Cow every night must be crazy.” “Oh, he’s not here every night. Only on Fridays and Saturdays. He’s only here on EEP nights.” Max said. “The other guys are just chumps and living riverbanks.” I guess I must have figured that one out 1 1/2 hours ago.

We got to the end of the hallway. “Okay guys, I guess this will be the last time I see you for a few hours. We’ll meet up in the Food Court at 3. Got it?” “Yes, sir!” the seven of them said in unison. “Okay, we’ll be split into teams of two.” “I pick Freddy!” Marty said. “I pick Grassy.” Max sighed. “I pick Piper!” CiCi said. “Guess that means we’re a team, Nora. You up for it?”

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“Aye aye, captain.” Nora giggled. We all split up into our teams. “Alright, guys, see you in 3!” Nora said as we parted ways.

chapter 13 Me and Nora went to the Lears’s furniture department and started to do the one thing that is always considered taboo during operational hours. Jump on the couches. And the beds. And everything in the department bouncy. We went to the beds first. I felt kind of bad. They looked pretty comfy. They were Tempera-Seedic beds too.

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But it was for a good cause, so I started to jump on one. It felt so wrong, but at the same time, so RIGHT. Like when you eat a cookie out of the jar without permission. It’s wrong that you’re taking it. But it tastes so good that you can’t help yourself from taking it and indulging.

Nora jumped with me on the other side of the bed. “Pillow fight?” Nora asked as she bounced. “Oh, definitely.” I replied. I threw her a pillow and picked up another one. “You might want to be careful about me and pillow fights.” Nora said. “And why would that-” SMACK! Okay, I admit, I did kinda let her get that one since my guard was down, but believe me... “Oh, it’s ON now!” I yelled as I swung my weapon of choice. Stuffing flew all around us as we flung our pillows at each other, laughing and jumping on the furniture. It was almost as if it were a blizzard with how much there was. By the time we were finished with our little fight, it was already 1:30. “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Nora laughed. “True dat.” I replied.

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“Do you think we should check on the others?” she asked. “Sure.” I talked into the walkie. “How’s everyone doin’?” “Awesome.” CiCi said. “I got to shred all of the papers in the DedFex Office.” “And I get to destroy that stupid Buck E. Duck costume. He creeps me out.” Max said, punching something in the background. I turned my head. They were there. And I couldn’t keep my eyes off of them. “Hold on for a second, guys.” I said, still looking at them. The sunglasses. No, nix that. The sunglasses of all sunglasses. The shades of all shades. And the windows of all windows. They were the green Blindsided Shades. If you had them, you were automatically the grandmaster of cool. I walked to them in a daze, knowing that they were the best of the best. I took them off of their pedestal and tried them on. I looked in the mirror. I was not just Tre, the normal old guy who people just ignored.

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I was Tre, the cool guy that everyone wanted to be. Nora gasped. “Oh my god, you look awesome!” “Thanks.” I was going to definitely buy them if I got out of this jam. I took them off slowly and put them down. I sighed, then checked my watch. 1:45 AM. “In 9 hours and 15 minutes, you will be mine, Blindsided Shades, and that is a promise.” “What’s with him?” Grassy asked over the walkie. “Yeah, what’s up?” they all asked. “Sorry, I just saw the best sunglasses in the history of the world.” I sighed again. “Blindsided Shades?” Max inquired. “But of course.” I mumbled.

chapter 14 We played around in the entire mall like a little kid would play in the largest playground in the world. Only here, there was more stuff being destroyed. Stuffing was gushing out of pillows. Electronic mini-massagers were out of power and needed new batteries.

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DVDs and VioLet Discs had been taken out of their cases and put into VioLet players. Rubber chickens and stress toys had been squeezed to their limits. Pretzels had bites taken out of them. Bendy straws were bent (and not where they usually are bent at). Lemons had been squeezed into lemonade. We were all out of things to do when we got to the Food Court at 3. Most of us were in new clothes. “So, what do we do now?” we all asked each other simultaneously. We all thought about it for a second. “Anyone up for a MOVIE or some MOVIE-S?” I asked. The mall had a movie theater on its fourth level (aka the top level), and it was the perfect way to make some more hours pass. “Sure!” they all said together. As we went to the top level, we saw the view of everything we did. And for now, let’s just say that Cow was going to have a cow when he saw it all. Ha ha, I made another funny. He must have went to sleep trying to find us, because nobody had saw him or the living riverbank he called his “partner” since we escaped from Mall Security HQ.

The movie was a favorite of me and Nora’s that we both liked a lot.

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The Ways I Live. It’s about a guy who lives in a pretty differnt way than the people around him because of a difference in his brain called Asperger’s syndrome. I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but I have the same disorder. It’s not a disease or medical condition beyond repair or anything of that sort. We just act a bit different under certain circumstances. Sometimes other things are pretty different as well, and not just how we act. Things can be really loud for one person. And for another, sometimes we have trouble hearing at all. It’s just a matter of looking at it on a case-by-case basis. I’m into video games and that jive. Although, my friend Arden is more into trading card games. He has it too.

Anyway, the guy is wondering how he can deal with his bullying problem. He couldn’t find the courage to tell anyone because he was afraid of them doing something else. Something bad. Something VERY bad. And so he’s got to figure out a way to face his fears and do something about his problem.

At about the very end of the movie, the guy finally stood up to the bullies and was about to tell everything that happened. And then I realized that this movie was a lot more inspiring now than it was back in 4th Grade. And I also realized something else.

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I liked Nora. And I mean, LIKED her. I tried to ask her a question. “Nora?” “Yes, Tre?” “Do you have a--” “You weren’t going to just believe that I was going to give up, were you?” a rugged voice interrupted, yelling. Oh, crap. Cow had found us.

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part five:

the fall

chapter 15 I was just about ready to wave a white flag. He was going to beat us, and we were going to go to jail. It was ironic how I did all of that planning for this to happen. I hated, detested, and absolutely, positively, DEFINITELY scorned that type of irony. You don’t know how much hatred I had for that type of irony. A fire kindled into my stomach. I couldn’t let myself just give up.

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There was just way too much at stake. “You all are going to the detention center AND boot camp right after! And there’s NOTHING that you can do about it, because I’ve got you LOCKED IN HERE!” If I were a cartoon, there would be fire in my eyes right then and there. “Grassy, go and get his keys. They’re latched onto his belt.” I whispered. “You are not allowed to take the freedom from us!” CiCi yelled. “And why would that be?” “Because,” I said, “it’s Midnite, baby.” Grassy crawled under the seats. “What are you talking about?” he asked, confused. He checked his watch. “It’s 6 AM.” “Run!” CiCi yelled to Grassy as he took the keys. We all ran to the door. Cow flinched, then reached to get his keys. “You can’t get out without the--” he said. “Keys?” Grassy asked sarcastically. “You give those back right now, or so help me I will send you ALL to Shortview!” Oh lord. We could not be SEEN in the VICINITY of the Shortview Long-Term Youth Detention Center for Correction of Lifelong Errors without a whole bunch of evening news reporters and newspapers, and all

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of those major media outlets being there and reporting negatively on our part. We ran to the door and Grassy started put keys into the hole. “Find the key!” Nora yelled frantically. “I can’t! None of them are working!” he yelled back, just as frantic. As Cow got ever so closer, Grassy cried, “None of them work!” “Tre, use your key!” Max groaned. I tried to take it, but I had barely a split second to. I took it out as fast as humanly possible and put it into the hole. “TURN IT!” they all yelled, terrified. I did so. The door opened. We all ran out, with Cow running right after us. The chase was on. We ran out of the movie theater and into the mall’s eastern wing. As my shirt fluttered in the air from the speed I was getting, it got caught on the edge of the banister that separated the walls of the fourth floor with all of the other levels. And it was on top of a fountain. It made me flip over to the outer rim of the banister, and it was going to be a big problem if I fell. So this was how I was going to die. “I’m really in a huge predicament!” I yelled to the others as I held onto the railing. If I didn’t hang on, I’d probably fall three stories down to the fountain below, and that would

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probably kill me, since on that night I was a lot weaker than I normally would be, which is pretty weak. “God, you must have made a mistake.” I thought. “I wasn’t supposed to die like this.” And then the sun rose up entirely. I checked my watch. 6:10 AM. I sighed one last time, then said my wonderful little catchphrase one last time before I let go and gave up for one last time. “Oh, man.” I closed my eyes. For once, it was white when I closed them instead of their normal black. And finally... I let go of the railing.

chapter 16 As I fell, I briefly remembered my life over the years. The good parts, and the bad. And also, I imagined how my life would have been if this hadn’t happened. It was going to hopefully be a very good life, with my dream of owning a TV network being a reality. After that was over, I tanked into the cold water of the fountain. Although.....

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It didn’t kill me. I fell on a bunch of pennies, so it hurt a tiny bit, but not so much that I’d die because of it. I came back to my senses. My clothes weren’t that wet because the water was pretty shallow, but there were still some parts that were. Suddenly, out of nowhere I heard a scream. “TRE!” It was Nora’s voice. She ran to give me a hug. “You’re alive!” “I’m just as surprised as you are.” “Guys, Tre didn’t die!” “Oh, thank goodness. We need you more than we have ever needed ANYBODY.” Piper said. “Grassy, get him into the loop.” “Okay, so everyone’s trying to get Cow to get to the plaza in front of the main entrance to the mall so that he’ll be exposed right in front of his boss, because every day during the holiday hours the Chief gets here at 6:20. Got it?” “I do, and I know exactly how to.” I said. “Hey, Cow!” I yelled. “YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO CALL ME THAT!!!!!” He ran into my direction in a rage-filled sprint.

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“Run, guys!” I ran just as fast, with everyone following after me. It was a matter of who got there first. The Chief wouldn’t have it if he saw what Cow did. And so the REAL chase was on.

We all ran as fast as we could to get to the other side of the mall. It was incredibly tiring, and I was almost completely out of breath. But I ran anyway, despite my body wailing at me to not do so. There was way too much at stake. The stores went by, one by one, as I flew past them. Air Mail, Eagle America, Alerman & Fitz, Alerman, Harmister Co, and a lot more. It was amazing how so many stores could fit into one four-level building. But I could admire the mall later, because I had somewhere to be. “You know you can’t win!” Cow yelled at us, panting. “Yeah, that’s what you think, Mr. I Have To Be A Pessimist!” CiCi yelled back. “Nice comeback, Ci.” Max said, and gave CiCi a high five.

We turned the corner to get to the first part of the home stretch. I checked my watch when I put my arm up. 6:22 AM.

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The chief was probably here already. That was a pretty good sign. “Guys, we’re almost there!” I said as we got to the plaza. I could see the chief, and he was not in a very good mood. “Ready?” I asked them all. “Freddy’s ready for this!” Freddy said triumphantly. “Now.... TURN!” me and Nora yelled together. We all veered to the far left as we got to the plaza. But before Cow could get to us, he got stopped by the Chief. “Hold it right there! Were those KIDS that you were chasing after, Officer Weisgerber?” “No, sir, those were not kids.” “Then the DAMAGE done to this place must be a figment of my imagination!” “Yes, sir. The place is in perfect condition. Spic-and-span. Heh, heh.” Cow murmured nervously. “Then explain THIS!” The chief held up one of the pillows me and Nora used for our pillow fight. “There is stuffing coming out of this pillow. Why is that?” the chief asked. “Because I was playing with the merchandise?” Cow said, even more nervous than he was before. “That’s it, Mr. Weisgerber, you have done enough to get under my skin that you have to make me do something I never wanted to do to any of my guards!” “Oooh, this is going to be good.” Max said. “I should have salvaged some of the popcorn!” “Officer Weisgerber, you have officially been RELINQUISHED of your duties as Night Security Guard of this establishment, also known as the Galleria Shopping Center!”

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“And what would that mean?” Cow asked, cluelessly. “Is that bad?” “FOR YOU, IT IS! CARL, YOU’RE FIRED!!!!!” the chief yelled. He stepped on Cow’s foot and then walked away. “That really hurt!” Cow cried in pain. “You know what, Mister Weisgerber?” “What, Chief?” “I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU BEING IN PAIN!” The now out-of-a-job Cow sadly said, “Oh, man.”, sighed, and then walked out of the mall. I couldn’t believe it. We had actually won the war.

chapter 17 “Well, now what?” Grassy asked. Then, people started pouring into the mall. And not just normal old people. People from the local media. They started coming toward us, asking us questions, wondering, “How did we do it?” I was wondering that myself, and how they knew about us so lighting fast. But then I remembered that the mall was having sales every weekend out the wazoo until

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Christmas came, and that every media outlet under the hot sun in our city was doing a guide on when to go, what to get, et cetera. And that Cow got out just a few seconds before they got in. He told them. But the weird thing was, that they weren’t asking questions that seemed negative. They seemed to be a bit more positive, like “Do you think that this is going to be a good change for the mall?” “Hold on for just a second!” I yelled. A hush came over the crowd. “Thanks. So, how come you guys aren’t treating us like we’re bad people? We got that guy fired!” “Because,” a reporter for the local ABS station said, “everyone hated Carl O. Weisgerber!” “Really?” we all asked, confused. “Yeah, really.” they all said. “Oh. OK. Feel free to ask any question you want.” And so we had become local celebrities. But then things became bigger. A LOT bigger. And later that day, I was asked to appear on the national talk show that’s headquartered right here in our city, “The Third Pillar with Jacob Tilling”. That was one of the biggest talk shows in America. I accepted the offer in a heartbeat.

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chapter 17 Who knew becoming a celebrity was so easy? I didn’t until that day. When I got to the studio, they wanted me to get on right away. “And now, coming from the Capital City, our brand new overnight celebrity, Mister T himself, the one that we know as TRE!!!!!!” Jacob Tilling said over the microphone. I got fitted with one of those little microphone things that they put on your shirt and then got onto the stage.

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The crowd roared with applause, and it was all for me. “So, Tre, what did you do exactly to get that Carl Ollins Weisgerber unseated from his job?” Jacob asked me. “Well, Mister J.,” I answered, “me and my friends did a bunch of fun things in the mall and then we had to get found by Cow. Then, we ran as fast as we could to get to the...” The interview continued for about 5 more minutes, and soon, I got all of my newfound friends (who were all in the front row) to come up with me and share all of the glory of being on the stage and being hailed as heroes to all of the city. I have to admit, it was pretty awesome. But there’s one part I skipped. While me and Nora were on the stage, she asked me a question. “Tre?” “Yes, Nora?” “Do you have a girlfriend?” I froze, then sighed heavily. “No. Why?” “Because,” she said, “I don’t have a boyfriend.” “Wait a minute.” I said. “Are you saying that you--” “Yes, Tre. I am asking. It’s a simple question. And all I want is a simple answer. Yes, no, or I don’t know will be just fine.” I thought about it for a second. Was Nora the one?

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I really didn’t know what to say. But suddenly, I did. “Yes.”

chapter 18 Everything changed that fateful day. I was a celebrity. Nora was my new girlfriend. I found 6 new friends. Carl Ollins Weisgerber got the axe. I was on “The Third Pillar”.

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And all of us were being treated like royalty at the Galleria. Stores were giving us coupons, redemption passes, gift cards, gift certificates, and everything. And to me, the best offer was the one Straight Shot gave me. I could get those Blindsided Shades from there. Same ones that were at Lears, only they were at a different store. But why was this offer better? Because.... They offered to give them to me for FREE. I ran to redeem that offer right away. Yes, I got myself some Blindsided Shades. And yes, they were free. Life was good. Life was great. Life was awesome. It felt good to be a celeb.

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epilogue:

podcasts, school, happy endings, & girl scout cookies

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chapter 19 And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for... The part of the book in which I tell all the stuff that happened after the story.

Nora became my girlfriend for real. I still haven’t kissed her yet, but I might... the last time you see me. CiCi, Marty and Max started a company that sold imitation Girl Scout Cookies. Freddy told them it would fail, but they didn’t listen. The little money-grubbers. Grassy became the spokesperson for the Harmister Co.’s “South” fragrance for men, and got a bunch of money from it. Freddy got himself a PearBook with the money he had gotten, and he started to make a podcast on it called “Freddy, The Man Himself” (aka FTMH). It’s been pretty successful from what I’ve heard, and I believe that Jacob Tilling also wanted FTMH to be the official podcast of The Third Pillar. And as for me, I had just about everything I wanted, except for one thing. I finally got back home at the end of the weekend, ready for the one thing I was deprived of. I got to the stairwell and went up, wondering if I’d ever see them again. The phone started to ring. It was Nora. I picked up the phone. “Hello?” “Hi, Tre.” “Oh, hi, Nora. What’s up?” “Well, we’ve all decided to go back to school.”

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“I doubt that you guys even had a choice.” I said. Nora laughed. “Well, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow at Dullerman.” “Yeah. Hey, do you know if everyone is going there?” “Yes, they are. I asked.” “Yes!” I said. “Well, see you later.” she said. “Yeah, I will. I definitely will.” I said, then hung up the phone. Then, I went into my bedroom and laid down on my bed. I said, “Goodnight world. See you tomorrow.”. And then I went to sleep. Yes, I know that happy endings are very cliche, but whatever. Say what you want, but just know this: I really do not care at all. So, for now, I guess this is

The End. But don’t you dare think that it is the true end of my story. I mean, who wouldn’t want to make a sequel to this?

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Stuck at the Galleria  

A guy named Tre (named after me) gets stuck in the huge Galleria Mall one night after a freak accident in the optical section of the Straigh...

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