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One Day at the Mall
by Ryan Edward McCall

    It was one of those times when life thrusts upon you the need to make a decision quickly. I was simply standing outside the store when it all happened.
    I had been in the mall only to go to the music store; nothing else there interested me. I was walking by one of those trendy clothing stores when I saw a sterile white bench, one of the sorts of things that tend to thrive in malls. I was tired because I had just walked two miles to get to this mall, so I decided to sit down for a moment.
    Several minutes later, sufficiently rested, I stood up. I was about to be on my way when the store window caught my eye. I looked at the mannequins wearing designer clothes and noticed just how much like the people who wear the clothes they were; plastic, fake, without a will of their own, forced to wear what someone has them wear. What a horrid existence it must be to be one of them! I could never live being a person who had to be like ‘everybody else.’ The sheer dullness of being consciously like other people because ‘it’s what’s popular’ would kill me, if I wouldn’t do it myself out of the despair of leading a meaningless, non-individual existence.
    I had been looking at this for about ten seconds when they showed up. They were dressed all in black, and carried a wooden crate, a megaphone, big backpacks, and a few large buckets. There were five of them. One set the crate down, and another stepped onto it. He was the one with the megaphone. He held it up and spoke.
    “Listen to me!”
    People walking by turned their heads to look at him.
    “I know many of you are enslaved!”
    Some people stopped to watch him.
    “You are enslaved by your own simple desire for conformity!”
    Much of the crowd was now watching him.
    “These people,” he gestured to the store, “Seek to use your subconscious need to be liked against you!”
    Now everyone was watching him. Some people started to throw garbage at him, but he went on.
    “You must free yourselves from the grip of the false consumer gods! These places have become like temples to you, and you must leave them before they destroy you!”
    The crowd began to boo and hiss. I, along with a very few others began to cheer him on. I was cheering on this nutcase on a soapbox in a mall; what’s more, I was enjoying it.
    “All gods are created by humans! The corporate gods wish to use us, and we must not let them! We must destroy what we created! We must rise up against the gods and destroy them once and for all! The gods have proven harmful to us, and they must be eliminated!”
    The others in his group all took their buckets into the store, and threw their contents onto the floor, the clothes, the employees, and whatever else there was. The store was now covered in red liquid.
    “Blood of pigs to combat the corporate pigs!”
    The crowd booed, hissed, threw things, and tried to get through the human barrier created by people who agreed with the speaker. I was among the barrier, pushing the angry hordes back, screaming, “Down with conformity!” and other slogans. The booing, throwing, pushing, sloganeering, throwing, and screaming continued for ten minutes. Store employees and patrons kept slipping on the pigs’ blood, their trendy shoes having no traction whatsoever.
    Mall security finally arrived, and tried to calm things down. They made the crowd disperse and told the rest of us to wait for the authorities to arrive. Ten seconds later, twenty men in khakis, long-sleeve t-shirts, and tech vests lowered themselves from the ceiling with hemp cords. All of them carried large guns with smiley faces painted on them.
    “Hands against the wall!” one of them screamed. The demonstrators laughed, but those of us who were just going along with them became frightened. One of the demonstrators passed out gas masks.
    “What are you doing?!” screamed the apparent leader of the troops, “Why do you not respect our power and authority?!”
    “Lo-sers.” another trooper was heard saying.
    “You’re obviously not cool. We’ll have to take you in for questioning,” said the leader of the prep squad.
    “I doubt it,” said the man with the megaphone, now wearing a gas mask. He then reached into his pocket and took out some sort of grenade. He threw it, and a great cloud of noxious smoke appeared. Nothing could be seen. I had been given a gas mask, but I was still so terrified that I had no idea what to do.
    Suddenly, someone grabbed me and carried me away. When we were away from the smoke, I saw it was the man with the megaphone. All the demonstrators and the people helping them were running. He put me down after everyone was outside the mall.
    “You did very well in there. Thank you,” he said.
    “You’re welcome, I guess.”
    “Please, join us. We could use all the help we can get, and you would do a great job.”
    “Thank you, but no thanks.”
    “Why not?”
    “Well, this was a great demonstration and all, and I certainly agree with you, but...”
    “But I prefer not to be led.”