Authors: R.L. Stine
Like human bodies.
Falling dead, all in a row.
She gaped in breathless horror as the bodies clattered to the floor, landing in a stiff heap of arms and legs, their solid lifeless eyes staring up at the ceiling lights.
And then, before she could start running again, a hand grabbed Reva's shoulder and held on.
eva spun around. “Pam!”
Pam clung to Reva. She was panting, her chest heaving up and down. Her wet blond hair clung to her forehead. Her green eyes were wide with fear.
“IâI got away from them,” she choked out breathlessly. “Where is the guard?”
“There isn't one,” Reva replied, her eyes on the aisle behind Pam. “We shouldn't stay here. We have to get downstairs. Come on.”
They began creeping side by side, cutting from aisle to aisle, staying low, alert for their pursuers.
Through a dimly lit shoe department. Past a display of running suits and sportswear.
The store seems so much bigger when it's empty, Reva realized. I feel as if I've been going for miles.
Nearly to the back of the store now. She and Pam
glanced at each other as the cries rang out. “This way! Over here!” Reva recognized Pres's angry voice. “Dianeâthey're over here!”
“They see us!” Pam cried.
Reva began to run. “Keep going,” she said, her side aching, her arm throbbing.
The back wall came into view. Is this another dead end? Reva wondered.
The two employee elevators stood just beyond a narrow aisle.
Reva ran to the wall, gasping for breath. She pushed the button. Were the elevators running? Could she and Pam get on them? Could they get away beforeÂ .Â .Â . beforeâ
“No!” Reva cried. She suddenly remembered something. “Pamâthis way!”
“Huh?” Pam reacted with surprise, her face red and puffy.
The elevator on the left hummed to life. Pam stared up at the floor indicator above it as the arrow slowly began to move up from the first floor. “It's coming!” Pam whispered. “We have to take it!”
But Reva pulled Pam away. They ducked behind a wide round pillar, pressing their backs against the cool concrete.
“The employee elevatorsâthey're broken again,” Reva told Pam, struggling to catch her breath. “I remember. My dad told me they can't figure out why they keep breaking.”
Pam whispered, grasping Reva's arm again.
“Maybe we'll get lucky,” Reva whispered back,
listening to the approaching footsteps. “Maybe Pres and Diane will think we went down. Maybe they'll try to go after us. You know, jump insideâand fall to the basement.”
Pam's face revealed her doubt. “Revaâthat's impossible. We can'tâ”
“Shhhhh!” Reva clamped her hand over Pam's mouth. “Here they come. Be quietâand pray.”
Pressed against the pillar, the two girls watched as Pres and Diane ran up to the elevators, turning their heads to search the aisle. The elevator door on the left slid open.
“This way!” Pres cried, gesturing to the elevator. “They went down. Let's go!”
Reva held her breath and stared hard, afraid to move, afraid to blink.
Both Pres and Diane leapt into the dark elevator at the same timeâand dropped to their deaths.
low murmur escaped Reva's lips.
She stared into the darkness of the open elevator, afraid to move. Were they gone? Were they really gone?
Had they fallen to their deaths, splattered against the basement floor?
She listened. Silence. A heavy silence.
Then Reva gasped as Pres and Diane stepped back out into the aisle.
They didn't fall. I imagined it, she realized.
The employee elevators must have been fixed.
“Let's not panic and act stupid,” Diane scolded Pres. “The girls didn't have time to take the elevator down. We were right behind them.”
Pres pushed his black hair off his forehead with an angry toss of his head. “Then where are they?” he asked, his face bright red, his dark eyes darting nervously in all directions. “Still on this floor?”
“Yeah,” she replied.
“Heyâwhere'd you guys go?” Danny called from several aisles away.
“Over here, Danny,” Pres called back. “Keep looking. They're here somewhere.”
“Spread out,” Diane urged, hurrying back toward the toy department.
Reva kept her eyes locked on Pres. He lingered for a few seconds, his eyes searching the aisle along the back wall. The elevator door slid shut behind him. He glanced up at the floor indicator as the arrow moved back toward the first floor. Then, cursing under his breath, an angry scowl on his face, he trotted off after Diane.
Reva and Pam stepped away from their hiding place. “It didn't work,” Pam whispered glumly.
Reva chewed her bottom lip. “Who
those idiots to fix the elevator? Couldn't they leave it broken?” she fumed.
“Now what?” Pam asked, her voice trembling. She raised her hand and gently touched the purple welt on her cheek.
“IâI don't know,” Reva stammered, frozen in fright.
“They went back to the toy department,” Pam said, turning her glance down the long center aisle. “So maybe we do have time to take the elevator down.” She stepped forward and pressed the button.
“Maybe,” Reva replied tensely. She raised her eyes to the floor indicator above the two elevators. “It went all the way back to one.”
Pam jammed her finger on the button again. And again.
“That won't make it come any faster,” Reva whispered. She turned back toward the toy department. “Shh. I hear them. Oh, no! I think they're coming back!”
Pam frantically pushed the black elevator button. “Hurry. Hurry. Oh, pleaseâhurry!”
They both watched the arrow above the elevators move slowly up. TwoÂ .Â .Â .Â three Â .Â .Â .
“It's Pres and Diane!” Pam cried. “They're going to catch us!”
FourÂ .Â .Â .Â five!
The elevator door on the left started to slide open.
Reva glanced behind them. Pres and Diane were running down the center aisle toward them.
“Hurry!” Reva cried, pushing Pam toward the opening elevator door.
Pam stumbled forward. Then stopped.
“Oh!” Reva cried out as a man in the elevator stepped toward them, blocking the door, blocking their escape.
She recognized him at once. She recognized the blue sunglasses, the black trench coat.
The man who had followed her at the mall.
He raised his black-gloved hand and pointed a small dark pistol at Reva.
is eyes hidden behind the cold blue glasses, his face set in a hard frown, the man moved quickly out of the elevator.
Pam shrank back. A confused cry escaped her lips. When she saw the gun in the man's hand, her mouth dropped open in alarm.
Reva sighed loudly and prepared to surrender. He's working with Pres, Diane, and Danny, she realized. That's why he was following me Saturday afternoon.
But to her surprise, the man pushed past her.
He raised the pistol and called to Pres and Diane, who stood frozen in the aisle, several yards away, startled expressions on their faces.
“Stop right there! FBI!” the man called.
Reva and Pam cast dumbfounded looks at each other.
The FBI? Reva thought. He's
working with the kidnappers? He's an FBI agent?
How did he know where to find us?
“Get down, girls,” the FBI agent ordered, waving them down with his free hand. Then he took off after Pres and Diane.
The two kidnappers turned and ran, disappearing into the toy department. Reva heard a loud crash. Someone had collided with one of the displays.
“Stop right there!” she heard the agent shout to them. “You can't get out! I have backup downstairs!” He disappeared around a corner.
Reva heard more footsteps. Angry shouts.
“IâI can't believe it,” Pam exclaimed with a shudder of relief. “We'reâwe're going to be okay.”
“But how did he know we were up here?” Reva demanded.
“It doesn't matter,” Pam said, throwing her arms around her cousin's shoulders. “We're okay. We're okay now.” She pressed her hot face against Reva's cheek. “I'm so sorry, Reva. Really, I'm so sorry,” she said, sobbing.
“Pamâpleaseâmy arm!” Reva cried, recoiling from the pain.
“Oh. Sorry.” Pam took a step back, wiping her eyes with her fingers. “I'm just so happy it's over and we're okay.”
“What's over?” a stern voice demanded.
Reva and Pam both spun around to see Danny
standing in the aisle. His eyes burned angrily from one of them to the other. He was breathing hard, his stomach heaving up and down. His black hair was wet and matted to his forehead.
He raised the silver pistol. “You're coming with me,” he said through clenched teeth.
He jammed his finger hard on the elevator button and held it, keeping the pistol poised on Reva and Pam.
“Don't try anything,” Danny warned. “I'll use this gun. I really will.”
“Pleaseâ” Pam started.
“Shut up!” he shouted, his features tight with fury. “This wasn't my idea, you know. I just wanted a little extra spending money, that's all.”
“Pleaseâ” Pam repeated her plea.
“That's all I wanted. A little extra for Christmas,” Danny growled. “You're not going to ruin it! Just shut upâand move! You're coming with me!”
ets go,” Danny ordered. He gave Reva a hard shove toward the elevator.
Reva cried out from the paralyzing pain that bolted up from her broken arm.