But it could never be that simple. We needed our own bus tickets, since they were apparently user-specific. It wasn’t too big of a hassle, and the ticket was good for the entire bus system, making it a worthy investment in my opinion. It wasn’t too expensive, only 110 shillings, and then we were set to go! James said the bus came in on the other side of the bridge, thank God. Riding a horse over that bridge was bad enough! But we didn’t want to leave the horses in the heat with nothing to eat or drink, so back to the stables they went. Evening snorted and grumbled, I don’t think he liked me going so far from him.
“I’ll be fine,” I told him. “And you won’t fit on the bus, so you can’t come along.”
I got the feeling from him that he thought if he couldn’t take me somewhere, I had no business going. I rolled my eyes and gave his nose one last pat. “I’ll be fine,” I repeated. Savvy was ready to leave, so I hurried along after her to the bus stop. We didn’t have too long to wait. The buses came every three minutes, which was convenient. We claimed seats towards the back, since everyone else seemed pretty content to crowd the middle or the front. I looked out the window, trying to tune out the loud music in case it set off my bad feelings again. The bus lurched into motion, and I was curious about what the rest of Jorvik would look like outside of the little area we had been exploring.
Savvy took a deep breath, and I turned to look at her, curious. “Do you ever sense Evening’s emotions?” she asked.
She quickly rushed on, describing feelings so similar to what I’d felt around horses, and about Heart seeming so smart, Star a little less, but still. I bit my lower lip and shook my head. “I could feel what the loaner horse I rode at school felt,” I admitted. “Evening is stronger, though, and you’re right, they are too smart, their personalities are so much stronger…” Even Bright’s. Horses had thoughts and feelings and moods, but…not like ours seemed to. We compared further notes, finding more things in common with how we reacted to horses. It was so strange… Could this all be a coincidence?
The bus pulled up right to the mall, so we didn’t have to wander around the city to find it. I hate the spinning-style doors, but these were thankfully normal ones that we just had to pull back in. I had barely finished wiping my feet on the carpet before stepping on the tile floor when there was someone yelling at us! I squeaked, but Savvy thankfully got between me and him. It was the janitor, who was quite protective of his floors. Savvy told him about our favor from James, and he didn’t look happy about it a bit. Apparently James was too cheap to buy his own ticket, and kept sending other people instead! But he wasn’t going to help this time, not a bit.
Poor fellow seemed like he was being taken advantage of, without a bit of gratitude. I thought maybe if I asked politely, he would change his mind. And sure enough, all he needed was to be treated with a bit of respect and kindness, and he turned right around.
…Well, sort of. He wanted a bit of help first before he gave us his. First, we had to set out signs to indicate the floor was wet. Savvy and I used it as a chance to see what the mall had available. The first floor was a café and two shops, both for horse gear and clothing. There was also some sort of stage set up for a rapper who was there, selling his latest single. Both Savvy and I received free t-shirts for it, and Savvy actually got close enough to the stage to deal with the rapper. His music just hurt my ears, so I stuck to the back, waiting for her to finish. Upstairs, there was an event space, a wall of lockers that I assumed were used as buyer storage, and then a decorations store that I knew better than to investigate. Evening did not do ribbons or flowers.
I wasn’t much of a mall person, but this was about the right size for me. Any bigger, and I’d be completely overwhelmed. Savvy insisted on investigating the third floor, despite it being closed off. I stayed downstairs and fretted. At last, she came back and we went back to the janitor. And he accused of us of being lazy! How rude! And little princesses? I seethed, and had to bite my tongue from telling him what I thought of his manners. Savvy thankfully stood up for us, but now we had to prove it. Now we were picking up the trash. Ew, ew, ew! I at least got to giggle a little as Savvy pointed out that his plan to keep others out of the mall would mean he wouldn’t have a job. Otherwise, I might have just pitched a fit.
At last he seemed willing to help us. I thought he had been a bit cruel to James, but it certainly explained why he’d asked us to fetch his order. I wouldn’t want to come back either after that bullying! Well, the orders were split between the clothes store and Gordon, and Alyx at the gear shop. I offered to take Gordon if Savvy would take Alyx, and she agreed easily enough. We wanted time to actually look at the shops for ourselves!
Well, Gordon immediately spotted me when I walked into the store. (Curse my hair, it makes me impossible to miss.) He started to herd me towards the dressing rooms, and I had to quickly protest that I was there for James’s order first. He deflated a little, making me feel bad. I wasn’t sure I wanted to buy anything in the shop (first things I saw on the rack were velvet dresses, which just didn’t seem practical), but I promised him I’d be back once I took care of James’s order first. That seemed to cheer him up a bit.
He had to think, but remembered that James’s order was in the stock room. He locked it every evening, and just needed to get his key from his backpack (which he kept since he was a bit absent-minded). As proven when he discovered he’d lost his backpack! That wasn’t good, not at all. He asked me if I would mind looking around the mall for it. Of course I had to do it, heaven forbid… Sorry, my temper is getting the better of me. I said I would, and went searching. I passed by Savvy carrying a tub and looking around for something too, so at least I wasn’t alone. We shared looks, both of us obviously in disbelief that on our holiday, we were still running all over the mall on errands.
I found the silly thing on the second floor of all places and brought it back down to him. He then admitted that he had actually forgotten to lock the store room door, so he hadn’t needed his backpack at all. I crossed my arms and gave him a look that showed how not amused I was. He quickly fetched James’s order, several heavy boxes of clothes, and gave me a handful of shillings for my trouble. I took them with a sniff, but only because I wasn’t going to say no when I had two horses to keep fed.
I brought the heavy boxes back to the janitor with a bit of difficulty. Savvy was already waiting, having gotten the equipment already. I gladly gave my boxes over to his care, and we were free at last.