The Ripple Effect
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January 29th, 2010 (12:42 AM).
Join Date: Nov 2008
Beta'd by bobandbill
Rays from the afternoon sun reflected off a pair of glass doors as they slowly slid open. The smell of donuts wafted into the open air, accompanied by the bustling sounds of the mall.
"...So I said 'Guess what!', and she says, 'What?' Then I said, 'Nothing!' It gets her every time. You should seriously try it." Laughing, the speaker turned to his companion and lightly punched him on the shoulder.
"You want to get something to eat, Kysa?" Both boys' brown hair ruffled in the wind as they walked through the doorway. The second teen frowned for a second.
"Not really, maybe later." Kysa thrust his hands into the pockets of his dark green hoodie and smirked. "By the way, what's this I hear about you and a certain classmate of ours? Chloe?"
Wide-eyed, his friend looked up at him sharply. "What?"
"Come on, Jake." Kysa side-stepped to avoid a wayward toddler.
Jake chuckled. "You're going to pay if you spread that one around. I mean it."
Smiling, Kysa unzipped his hoodie and stuffed his hands into his jeans pockets instead. "Relax, mate."
The two boys wove their way through the crowds of people, all walking in different directions along the same, shiny, brown floor tiles. Various shops lined both sides of the walkways, with the afternoon rush flowing through their doors.
Kysa ran a hand over his dark brown hair, smoothing it back into relative tidiness. He glanced at the simple sign hanging from the roof ahead, listing upcoming shops. "You want to look around Woolworths?" He pointed to the supermarket on their left.
"Yeah," Jake shrugged and scuffed his feet along the ground. "There isn't much else to do."
They paused as the automatic barrier swung inwards to admit them. Neither collected a basket or trolley before they wandered along the first aisle.
"Wow, tissues. How interesting." Kysa let out a mock yawn. "So, can you come see a movie this weekend?"
Jake opened his mouth to answer, but stopped. He gazed intently forward, at a man entering the aisle from the opposite end.
"What?" Kysa demanded, after not hearing a reply.
Finally, Jake looked at his friend. "Look at that guy," he hissed. "Doesn't he look a bit like you?"
Kysa looked around blankly until he spotted the man, and then started scrutinising him. He was probably in his late twenties, wore jeans, a shirt, a black baseball cap and old sneakers, but his gaze was drawn to the man's face. Jake also looked between the man before them, and his friend.
He instantly noticed the way both held their jaws, and the identical shapes of their faces. Curiously, Jake waited for Kysa to respond.
The man’s reflective sunglasses and blank expression made it hard to tell if he noticed the teenagers staring at him. He carelessly passed the pair, and they quickly averted their eyes.
After another moment of silence, Kysa snorted. "Yeah, sure. We could be twins." He tapped the lens of Jake's glasses with his finger. "I thought these were meant to help you see."
Stepping back, Jake swatted his hand away. "I'm serious. Come on, let's take another look."
"No way, I'm not becoming a stalker. Let's go do something fun." Kysa grabbed his friend's white sleeve and tried to pull him towards the exit.
Jake sighed. "Can I at least get a drink while we're here?" He resolutely strode to a cooler next to a checkout and pulled out a can.
They stood in line behind an old man clutching a bag of cat food, who fumbled in his wallet for money. Kysa studied the DVD store opposite and shuffled impatiently.
After declining a receipt, Jake nudged Kysa. "See, there he is again."
Both of them watched as the man strode through the exit, without buying anything. He walked briskly straight through the middle of the crowd and stopped outside a newsagent.
"You want something fun? I bet you ten bucks you can't get his hat." Jake glanced sideways at his slightly taller friend.
Kysa gave him a lopsided grin, “You mean you want me to steal it?”
“Well, if you can. I mean, there’s so many people here you’d probably trip before you got there. I think my money's safe.”
Kysa grinned from ear to ear, slipped out of his hoodie and handed it to Jake. "Hang on to that for me, and keep up if you can. Just to make sure I don't try to cheat you."
Then he ran.
He kept his eyes fixed on the man’s head. Thankfully the man was tall, so he had little trouble keeping track of him. Kysa zigzagged between people and jumped over a stray basket.
The man had moved on from the newsagent, walking in the direction of the food court. Kysa slowed to a fast walk to let Jake catch up.
>> >> >> >> >> >> >> >>
Gayle Brown stood with a packet of sugar in each hand, as if weighing them. After a moment of contemplation, she nodded to herself, returning one to the shelf and depositing the other in her trolley.
She adjusted the bun in her hair before resuming her progress down the shelves and glanced at a used envelope in her hand. It had a shopping list neatly written on the back, with the occasional item scrawled in a messier script.
"Just...milk left..." Gayle mumbled to herself.
Milk endured the same scrutiny as the sugar, as Gayle hummed an indistinct tune. It took her a few tries before she se
ected two blue cartons.
"Wilson!" she exclaimed. A grey-haired man approached the trolley, carrying a packet of small dried fruit. "No no dear, not home-brand. Go get another."
With a meek smile, Wilson nodded and turned back to the shelves. He straightened his tie and adjusted his collar as he walked. Carefully, he returned the packet to its prior place before picking up another smaller one, with the same price tag as the rejected brand.
Impatient, Gayle sighed and turned around. She brushed past a large, balding man picking up cheese on her way to a vacant register.
By the time Wilson left the aisle, she was already passing food to the checkout attendant. She waved her husband over, smiled apologetically at the employee and grabbed the packet. "And here are the sultanas. Could you lift the bags please, darling?"
The calico straps of the densely filled bags dug into his hands. He lifted them into the trolley silently, while Gayle extracted her purse from the pouch around her waist. "Do you have change, love?" she questioned the teenage girl at the register as she held out two yellow, fifty dollar notes.
Wilson pushed the trolley as Gayle guided it from the front. She stopped abruptly and let out a small gasp. "Oh no, we forgot about Princess! She needs more cat food."
He hesitated for a second before speaking slowly. "Well, you sit here with the shopping and I'll go back to get some."
With the trolley sticking out, Gayle sat on a metal bench to observe the other shoppers. She smiled cheerily at a baby peering out of its pram and waved. As the baby's pram rolled away, she squinted down towards the supermarket.
She looked curiously at two boys outside, as one thrust his jacket at his curly haired companion. The first started running, and a second later the other followed, slightly slower.
As she continued watching, the boy snuck up behind a tall young man, and she gasped as he ripped the hat straight from his head. He tossed it to his friend and turned around towards where she was sitting.
Slowly, the man turned around. She watched transfixed as the second boy thrust it back into his friend's hands and they started running again.
>> >> >> >> >> >> >> >>
“Hey! Get back here!” The man charged after the two teenagers.
Kysa hurtled forward as fast as he could. A smile slowly emerged on his face as he felt the adrenalin rush through him. His feet pounded out the rhythm to a silent melody that steadily rose in intensity as he ran.
After a few seconds, he turned to see Jake lagging a few metres behind, and motioned that he was going to throw the hat. Jake shook his head. Giving an apologetic grimace, he suddenly veered left around a corner.
"Thanks!” Kysa yelled bitterly over his shoulder. Turning back to look ahead, he had about a second to take in the trolley full of groceries in front of him.
Kysa knew it was too late to stop, and squeezed his eyes shut.
His knee connected with the trolley, and a split second later the rest of his body slammed into the side. The trolley and Kysa hit the floor with an almighty crash.
He rolled and lay on the floor for a moment, winded. Milk was pooled around the trolley; a collection of shattered eggs splattered the tiles of the floor. Shoppers stopped to gawk at the scene of carnage and an old woman gasped from the bench next to him.
Kysa leapt to his feet and winced, as a burning pain shot through his knee.
The man’s footsteps were still pounding behind him. His head-start from the ambush was almost gone, so despite the pain he started running again.
"Police!" bellowed a voice from behind him. Kysa almost tripped with surprise.
"Oh, great, a cop. That makes this all better," he muttered between breaths, "This is worth way more than ten bucks."
People leapt out of the way in shock as two guys raced through, running as if they were on an empty race track. Kysa's legs felt to him like they weren't even there. He resolved to murder Jake slowly, perhaps bashing him around the head with his ten dollars and the stupid hat.
Pounding around a corner, the teen almost skidded into a wall.
"Stop!" the man behind him yelled again.
Kysa smelled chicken as he darted past a family eating at a glossy square table. With barely a thought, he swooped past and grabbed a drink cup. Looking over his shoulder, he hurled it at the man's face.
It barely connected with his chin. Orange liquid erupted over his face and dripped to the floor. Kysa heard the ice hit the ground, and the curse from his pursuer.
An exit sign appeared at the end of the corridor, and Kysa felt a wave of relief wash over him. He slipped through the automatic doors just as they opened.
Bursting into the sun, Kysa saw the secluded car park and headed for it. A second or two later, the man emerged from the shopping centre. His sunglasses were gone, to reveal narrowed brown eyes.
Kysa dove behind a car. He clutched his knee as it began to throb again. The only other person in the car park was the cop, and after a quick glance from behind the car, Kysa saw that he was protecting the only exit.
He pulled the black cap over his head and bent low. Scuttling to the next car, he wondered how it was possible not to hear his heartbeat from twenty metres away.
The man quietly advanced, but Kysa could see his feet by looking under the cars. Taking a deep breath, he leapt up and vaulted over the bonnet of the car.
"Hey!" yelled the man as he resumed chase. "You can't go anywhere. Now give me my bloody hat back!"
With a burst of speed, Kysa hurled himself at the chain link fence. He grabbed the top and started to swing his legs over. The man grabbed his leg and pulled.
Kysa strained to hold on, pulling against the strong grip on him. He kicked out with his other foot, and felt it connect with something. A grunt came from below him, and the force pulling him down instantly disappeared.
He tumbled over the fence, a lot faster than he'd intended, and landed on his shoulder. Clutching it, he stood up. His prize remained triumphantly atop his head. "Sorry!" he called to the man, who was about to begin climbing the fence.
The police officer stopped as he saw the boy run off. He knew there was no way he'd find one teenager in the crowd on the street at the end of the alley. With an exasperated exhalation, he started listing details in his head.
Jeans, white t-shirt, dark shoes, and my cap...
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No comments on the last one? Ah well...
The Ripple Effect
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