“I’m loving this evening. I wonder if it can get any better. Thanks for this wonderful idea. It feels so good to come for dinner at this restaurant. I love this mall, ” said Nicole to her husband.
“I know. With the kids, our jobs, and hectic schedules, it has been really taxing for both of us. I thought it’d be better to take a break. This mall is new in town. So, I thought it’d be worth a try. I’m glad you are liking it. And, I feel at peace knowing that the kids are safe at home with my parents, “said George.
Nicole and George had a nice evening with a sumptuous dinner and some romantic discussions recollecting the wonderful time before the marriage and before the kids.
George got a call from his father, “The kids are crying. They want to come to the mall, too. If your dinner is over, we thought it’d be better to drive them over. Shall we get them? They want to just drive to the mall. I think they are not used to spending time with us. May be, we should spend more time more often with them.”
After consulting Nicole, George answered in affirmative. He told his father to not come upstairs with the kids. He asked them to wait in the parking lot. He would go to the parking lot. He has two kids – a daughter aged six and son aged three. His son, Peter, is very naughty and cannot be easily controlled. He would run here and there as soon as they reach the mall if the car doors are unlocked immediately.
“May be, we can take them to new children’s theme park within the mall. I’m sure they will love it. This evening just gets better for all of us, ” said Nicole.
But, George thought that the kids would have been safer at home. Though he is confident about his father’s driving skills, he felt it would have been better for everyone if his kids and parents stayed at home.
As Thanksgiving is approaching, the mall is fully crowded. For a small city like this, it is very unusual to see so many people throng the mall during a week day.
George and Nicole decided to wait near the entrance and go towards the entrance. Just as they are about to take the escalator to go to the first floor, the fire alarms in the mall go off suddenly. They are bewildered and people start going to the lower floors to make their way out of the mall.
They do not notice any fire anywhere. George gets to overhear from someone that there is a bomb in the mall and it might explode any moment. People are running to save their lives.
George immediately took his phone and dialed his father’s mobile number. His father did not receive the call even after many attempts. George is furious that his father forgot the phone at his house, as always.
George and Nicole also decide to run towards the parking lot and stay in their car until his parents arrive with the kids.
As they rush towards the parking lot, they hear some shots fired in the parking lot. While some people start running outwards, the others who ran out in the last few minutes, try to get back into the mall saying that there are some extremists outside who are shooting people who are trying to run out of the mall. And, these people are there on all sides of the mall and people have no way to escape. People are not able to access 911 as most of the mobile networks have been jammed. The mall is hijacked.
There is a lot of chaos in the mall and it lead to a stampede within the mall. George, carefully, took away Nicole to one of the corner booths in the second floor of the mall. They thought they would stay there until things get settled or until they get a clue as to what is happening around them.
The power goes away within the mall and it is very dark. However, everybody is able to some small blocks of lights here and there as people try to illuminate their surroundings with their mobile phones.
Just then, they hear some more gun shots in the first floor of the mall. Most of the mobile phones go dark after these gun shots are fired. George is worried about the safety of his parents and children. He hoped they did not reach the mall already.
“I can hear the bomb timer ticking faster. It can go off any moment now,” shouted someone in the dark.
People started shouting random frightening things that George and Nicole could hear.
“I can hear more gun shots. I think the shooters are coming upstairs.”
“Can you smell it? The building is burning down because of the shots and a bomb blast.”
“They are silently killing people.”
“They mixed something in the air. I can smell some poisonous gases.”
People continued to vent out their fears. All of a sudden, they hear a bomb blast in one of the upper floors. They can notice some fire and debris coming down on one side.
They hear some more gun shots in the ground floor.
George and Nicole notice that people are trying to silently sneak out in the dark. They, too, follow some people who are making their way out to the ground floor. Despite the repeated sounds of gun shots, George and Nicole decide to somehow go the ground floor. They want to reach the parking lot and make sure their parents and kids are safe.
As they try to move through the fire escape route in the dark towards the ground floor, they hear more voices in the dark from others who are trying to escape.
“There are more bombs in the vicinity. Any bomb can explode any time. The cops are already waiting outside. They think there is a hostage situation inside because of the gun shots.”
“Some of the authorities are trying to communicate with the hijackers to know their demands. But, they are not able to communicate.”
George realized that fear also induces rumors as he can ignore some of the statements as rumors.
“They are hijacking most of the malls in the state of New York and New Jersey.”
“It is a conspiracy. They also planned to hijack government offices. But, due to tight security, some of the members were caught.”
“History repeats. I told my son that this country is not as safe as it used to be. I told him that we must move to some other country. But, he was not ready.”
After a few minutes, George and Nicole could make their way to the back entrance in the first floor. Just as they are about to reach the entrance, they hear some clicks. George immediately pulls down Nicole to the floor and they hear some gun shots fired in the dark. At least three of the people who were going along with them in the dark were short because they were unaware. Before any further gun shots were fired, George and Nicole crawl their way out of the mall.
They saw some cops outside the mall and ran towards them.
After a few minutes, George made Nicole sit in the car safely. He went around to check in the mall if his father’s car was there. He could not find his car. He, then, recollected the fact that his father’s car was broken and needed repair. It occurred to him that they must have taken a cab to the mall. He could not find any cabs nearby.
After some more gun shots and a couple of bomb blasts, the hostage crisis ended when some cops entered the vicinity through the back entrance and killed the shooters and identified the remaining bombs.
It took fours after George and Nicole came out to end the entire crisis and evacuate the mall completely. George was disheartened to not find his parents to his kids anywhere in the mall or outside the mall. He was devastated to see so many corpses being carried out after the hostage drama.
George and Nicole tried to reach their home phone and his father’s mobile phone. Both the phones rang and reached the answering machine. Nobody bothered to respond to the answering machine.
After the cops informed that they have to leave, George and Nicole leave the mall and decide to go to the police station and provide the details of their parents and kids.
Just as they are about to reach their home after going to the police station, they notice that his father’s car is broken in the middle of the road and his father is trying to repair it all by himself, as he always did.
George pulled over and stopped behind his father’s car. He was relieved to see his mother and kids safe inside the car.
“He forgot his phone. He would not let us leave the car and call you. He is frightened that someone would mug him. He made us sit here for the last three hours while he is trying to fix his car. Please never leave us with him,” said George’s daughter.
George’s father was frightened that George would scold him.
“Thank you Dad, ” said George and hugged his kids with tears in his eyes.
Though he felt sad for all the victims of the evening and he was terribly shaken at the events, he was glad his family was safe.