To Whom It May Concern:
Karen sprained her left ankle and injured a finger today when she fell outside the back entrance to her friend Eva's 100th birthday party. She should therefore be excused from writing this week's installment of Mall of Mâvarin.
No? Hey, my ankle and finger really do hurt, but I suppose that doesn't let me off the hook in my self-imposed obligation. It's another short one, though.
See Part Seven for the summaries of parts One through Six.
Part Seven: Cathy and her friends meet Joshua Wander, an interdimensional traveler who followed his mysteriously shrunken castle from Mâvarin to Shoppingtown. He claims to have no knowledge of the others' predicament, although a policeman who remembers being the Captain of Cathma's Palace Guard is dubious about this. Josh's castle has arrived looking a quarter its normal size, and his magical abilities are severely reduced. As the stranded mage looks through a spell book for answers, Fabian asks if he can look at the spell that brought Josh to Dewitt. Although the spell is written in an unknown language that resists translation, Josh reluctantly hands over the book--and Fabian discovers that he can read it anyway.
Part Eight: Fabian announces that the spell is written in Lopartin, the ancient, magical language used on Mâton. Although the spell's footnotes mention the dangers of two much traffic between worlds, it offers no help for the current problem. Based on a vision, Fabian correctly identifies Josh Wander as a former student of nearly Syracuse University. Josh is astonished (and not especially pleased) to learn that he's "home." Fabian speculates about whether this fact contributed to the leakage between realities, and everyone wonders what to do next. Randy advises everyone to simply "wait."
Part Nine: Randy predicts that something is about to happen that determines what they will do next. He's right. The mall starts to bend and fold itself, and yet there's no apparent damage. Everyone starts running toward Joshua Wander's castle. Josh points out that, having been miniaturized, it's too small to hold much of anyone. Fabian dashes inside it anyway. He reappears in the doorway a moment later, looking a quarter his normal size. He urges everyone to run into the castle.
Part Ten: A Wrinkle in Time (or something)
Cathy hesitated. Scary as the mall had suddenly become, the interior of the scaled-down castle was equally alarming.
“Come on!” Fabian called out. “It’s perfectly safe in here, which is more than I can say for the mall out there!”
“But Fabian!” Cathy protested. "Look at you! You're tiny!"
“Only relative to this mall, and that won’t be true for long,” Fabian said. “But if you’d rather be folded, spindled and mutilated by a collapsing bubble in space-time, by all means, stay out there!”
Cathy and Carl looked at each other. “Fayubi’s never steered us wrong,” Carl said.
“Neither has Fabian,” Randy added.
“All right, all right!” Cathy said. After one last glance at what was left of the mall (the storefronts were now all as flat as cardboard, and so were some of the screaming people), she ran toward the little blue castle. By the time she got inside, it wasn’t little any more. Or maybe she herself was smaller. Well, no time to worry about that now. The uncollapsed portion of the mall, which strangely enough did not look huge from her new vantage point, was clearly shrinking by the second. Those people who had not been already caught in the event horizon (or whatever) were rushing toward her, shouting and crying and screaming. Cathy got out of their way, stepping carefully to one side in the castle’s darkened front hall. From what little she could see, it looked cavernous. Fabian stood beside Cathy in silent support as the others followed her lead.
The first person after Cathy to reach the castle interior was her brother Carl, followed by Randy, Jamie, Sheila and Josh. Wil Masan’s policeman counterpart stood in the doorway, ushering in people single file, calmly calling out instructions to avert a stampede or a panic. The shrinking box of three dimensional space lasted just long enough for the last straggler to make it into the castle. The policemen jumped inside and pulled the door shut, just as the mall disappeared in a flash of refracted light. For a moment Cathy saw a spectrum of colors so strange that some of them didn’t even have names. Then there was only darkness.
The pitch-black castle started to move.
Welcome to Mâvarin (info on the books and characters)
Past installments of this and other past fiction are on the sidebar.