Any red-blooded Canadian knows the best place to find three such unusual items together, not to mention a movie theatre too. You go to West Edmonton Mall, of course! The Really Big Mall is just weird enough that Immortals would fit right in....
So, without further ado, The Ghost Cat presents:
A knot of people nearly bowled him over and as they flowed past he felt someone reach into his coat. With keen reflexes, he snatched a slim—and very familiar—wrist. "Amanda? What are you doing here?" Shocked at being caught, not to mention by whom, the Lady Thief’s hand twitched open; dropping Duncan’s favourite pocket-watch. It was swiftly trampled in a sea of consumerism. Her surprised gape quickly turned into a well practised pout, "Just trying to keep in practice, dear."
Duncan half dragged her to one side, out of the flow of traffic. "Don’t you ‘dear’ me. You ruined my pocket-watch, I’ve had that watch for over a century!" he hissed. "Besides, since when do I look like a rube?"
Amanda pulled out of his grip, crinkling her pert little nose, "Since you started wearing flannel. What were you thinking?" Duncan hissed another warning; "I’m trying to fit in," he whispered, "and you’re not helping."
She actually laughed, "Fit in? You look like you just stepped out of a bad CBC show. Besides, you’re the one crazy enough to go into West Edmonton Mall on a Friday. That’s practically suicidal, even for Us." Mac gave a frustrated little snort, "And what do you know about West Edmonton Mall?" The comment only provoked a catlike grin: "Darling, Amanda knows shopping."
Despite their best efforts, the two Immortals have been swept down the mall by the crowd. Amanda dug in her heels, though, as she smelled Carney—heavily diluted, but Carney none the less. "Oh look!" she gushed, "It’s Galaxyland." Mac looked quite clueless. "Galaxyland, née Fantasyland, the World’s Largest Indoor Amusement Park? God, you really don’t get around much anymore." Now in her own element, it’s Amanda’s turn to drag poor Duncan; "Come on, we’ll cut through here. It’ll be less crowded."
Amanda’s eyes lit up as they passed the games; it was just like her circus days, only a lot cleaner. One of the attendants caught sight of her and tried to reel her in. "Hey pretty lady, you want to take home a prize?" He was no barker, but at least he was trying. "Come on Miss, maybe your boyfriend could win you a nice Stuffy?" She froze and spun on her heel, challenge in her eyes. "I don’t need anyone to win things for me." Duncan sighed aloud, following her to the booth.
She slapped several dollar coins on the counter, the Loonies shone brightly in the fluorescent light. "What’s the game?" she growled. The barker just smiled as he took the money, "Break a balloon, win a prize. The more you win, the quicker you can trade up to the Big Ones." The Light-fingered Lady returned the smile with a quick "gimme" gesture, and the gamester began laying out darts in groups of five.
Amanda’s first shot missed; she wasn’t used to throwing…darts. Duncan clucked exaggerated sympathy, earning him a withering glare. The next four balloons popped in rapid succession, and Amanda was already grabbing the next set of five before the man (boy really) finished lining up her winnings. A crowd gathered to watch, attracted by a second rapid-fire series of explosions. The barker, an underpaid student, began to sweat, knowing he was dealing with a ringer who could take his whole stock if she felt like it.
"Your pick from the Choice row," he stammered, almost tripping over himself. Amanda calmly pointed to a stuffed white tiger nearly her own size, gesturing for the gamester to give it to her ‘boyfriend’. Duncan felt like a fool as he carried the huge cat down the mall, but Amanda smiled sweetly in response to his scowl. "Now you fit in; you’re just another tourist."
Amanda was grinning like a cat; laughing like a child; "That was fun! What else can we do? I know, there’s a new movieplex that just opened up, very 90’s; they got a dragon in the foyer and everything! What time is it?"
"I wouldn’t know," Duncan snarled, wrestling the stuffed cat. "I don’t have a watch, remember?"
Amanda was undeterred; "This is the Really Big Mall, we can get you a new one on the way. Come on."
It was a fair hike down to the newest end of the mall, but the pair had barely got halfway before they were confronted by the Line. The Line was like a living thing, snaking around obstacles; seeming to pulse as individual members shifted slightly. Several groups looked like they were ready to camp out (or is that camp in?) for good; they had food, blankets, pillows; one group even had a plastic inflatable couch, sold by a nearby store. Many people were in costumes, some even carried props.
Curiosity overcame caution, Duncan had to ask. He confronted one of the less elaborately costumed members: "What are you guys waiting for?" He got a look like he’d just grown a third eye.
"What rock did you just crawl out from? It’s the Movie, dude; it’s opening this weekend. I’ve been here for three days, but it’ll be worth it just for the sword fighting. They say it’s going to be amazing!"
"Sword fighting?" Duncan mouthed silently, and that was that. They were going to see this movie. After all, what was a few hours, or even a day, to an Immortal? It didn’t take long for them to join in the culture of the Line; that curious ‘anonymous belonging’ that can only occur in SF fandom. Even the tiger was welcomed; it made a great improvised couch. As they took turns walking the Line, they felt other Immortals around, but there was such a sense of awe in the place it was like an unofficial Holy Ground. They were shocked to find Methos there, and the Eldest Immortal quietly slipped the pair into a spot closer to the front.
When they finally reached the front of the line, a rather frazzled box-office cashier took one look at the stuffed tiger and shook her head. "Anything that big is going to take up its own seat. Either you leave it out here or pay for another ticket." Suddenly the crowds of fans looked a lot less friendly; Amanda pouted expertly, and Duncan sighed as he reached deeper into his pocket.
Getting a good spot was its own form of combat, as exhausting as any Duel, but they finally found three (make that four) seats together. MacLeod, boyscout that he was, volunteered to make a snack run; returning loaded down with more food than he’d taken on some of his voyages. Amanda snatched up several items before he even had a chance to sit. "You bought black licorice?" she whined, "You know I hate black licorice, I only eat the red stuff…"
Methos glared at them with uncharacteristic malice, "Will you two just be quiet! I’ve waited over 15 years for this movie, and I’m not going to miss a moment of it."
The coming attractions were practically ignored in the excited babble of the crowd. Suddenly there was an expectant hush, the calm before the storm. The first notes of a familiar theme rolled over the crowd in full Dolby richness; the theatre erupted into a cacophony of cheers, howls and applause.
Dah, Dah. Dah-da-da Dah da. Dah-da-da-da Dah. Dah-da-da-da.
Did I get ya? Hmm, did I? Admit it, you thought it
was going to be End Game! If you did, you don’t know me very well
yet. This Ghost Cat is a real Devil heheh.
After I posted A Night at the Movies, I got some interesting responses. One reader accused me of being extra sneaky: The Ghost Cat writing a story where not only did she get to see Phantom Menace with three Immortals, but she got to be in Duncan's arms all day too. I was totally floored! I swear, I hadn't even thought about that angle when I was writing; the white tiger, in fact, was a "tribute" to the time I forced my b-f to win me a near life-sized tiger at last year's Klondike Days fair. Of course, once I got to thinking, it was a nice image...sigh.
I was somewhat disappointed when a Forumlander accused the story of wandering into Fantasy when it got to The Line. I remember the line-up at WEM for the opening weekend of Phantom Menace. I even know a couple of people who were in The Line. I assure you, it almost was that weird. I have two witnesses to the existence of the inflatable couch; and WEM really does have a theatre with a mechanical dragon in the lobby. It even breathes fire on schedule.
Back me up on this one, fellow Clansmen: the truth really is stranger
than fiction, especially in the Northlands!