He wasn’t quite sure how he had gotten there, but somehow Ewen had managed to make his way to the Willowbrook Mall. He made his way past the stores and the many kiosks along the way with bizarre wonder. He had seen these stores and this very mall so many times before. It was the only form of shopping escapism that a small town like Mountain Valley had. If you hadn’t been to the mall in this town, then you probably hadn’t been to this town—or at least had stayed within the confines of your home your entire life.

Another thing seemed slightly odd to him. The mall itself was almost empty. Sure, there were people shopping but they were sporadic at best. This place was usually filled with hurried consumers at any given point during the day. Suddenly, it occurred to him that no one seemed in much of a hurry either. Not that it should be so strange to him that folks would take their time, but something was wrong here. It was almost as if everyone was moving in slow motion.

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