When it first appeared at the Spendthrift Mall, few people paid any attention to it. Most assumed it was some sort of promotional gimmick and continued their beeline for the supermarket or the specialty shop they came to visit.
The sitters were the first to notice. The older folk just wanting to get out of the house, the young mums feeding their babes, the homeless seeking shelter from the cold, the teens wanting to escape the boredom or chaos of home.
When they related what they saw to others, they struggled to describe it. It was definitely there but it didn’t have shape they recognised. It seemed to them it had a colour but they couldn’t say for sure what that colour was and they weren’t even sure if it was different colours at different times.
It made a noise, not loud, but constant and rhythmic. The noise seemed somehow familiar but unlike anything they’d heard before.
Young men trying to impress the girls approached it with cool bravado, only to find it had moved and was now behind them, making them look foolish.
Security arrived and attempted to put a safety barrier around it as if it was a Slippery When Wet spillage. When they finished, it was not inside the barrier but had moved to the shopfront of the shoe shop.
When the Police arrived, they ordered all customers and staff to evacuate the mall while they evaluated the threat, or at least what they imagined might be a threat, if only they could work out what it was. TV cameramen pressed against the glass doors trying to get vision for the 6 o’clock news without any real idea of what they were trying to film. Reporters quizzed eye witnesses who described in detail what they didn’t know about what they saw.
A couple of hours later, a bevy of what the Government hoped would be experts arrived. The selection was somewhat hampered by having no idea who might be an expert in these circumstances. An advance party donned HazMat suits and, escorted by a menacing looking SWAT team, made their way cautiously past Wendy’s, McDonalds and Smokemart to the Grand Foyer leading to the supermarket.
It appeared briefly, emerging from Kool Kutz and Tattoos, before disappearing up the escalator to Homewares and Furnishings. Using hand signals he’d seen used in the movies, the group leader indicated a need to retreat. Those who hadn’t seen many movies had to be told it was time to leave but eventually all emerged safely into the carpark, although no-one really knew whether they needed to be safe and, if so, what from.
The media immediately besieged the team of experts and relayed live to air their potential concerns about what it might be, while being suitably evasive about what they had or hadn’t seen, in the interests of national security.
The Prime Minister called an urgent press conference to announce that whatever resources were required to deal with this emergency would be made available and hinted darkly, without naming names, that certain foreign countries hostile to our interests may be involved but he didn’t wish to speculate further.
Meanwhile, back at the mall, at a hastily established Command Centre, a heated discussion was under way between senior members of first responder organisations and the military as to what was a safe point at which to establish a perimeter and what weaponry may be need to counter the threat, just as soon as it was established what the threat comprised.
Social media was rife with both speculation and certainty that this was, amongst other possibilities, the first sign of the Second Coming, the symbolic heralding of the triumph of the One World Government, and Bill Gates demonstrating the launch of his Windows Of The Soul mind-control software.
In a desperate attempt to show decisiveness in the face of an unknown threat to his Government, the Prime Minister ordered the evacuation of all homes within a three kilometre radius and called in an airstrike to totally eliminate the mall and any adjacent buildings that may be harbouring the threat.
When the dust settled and the rebuilding of the area became a pillar of the Government’s plans to stimulate the economy and provide new jobs, the people moved onto more important concerns, including the potential colour of Megan’s next baby and who might win the football tipping competition.
A few weeks later, at the Paul Mall, a busker reported seeing a shape of indeterminate colour and composition moving at random around the shops, making a rhythmic noise. He was interviewed by Police and never seen again. There were no more reported sightings.