Miranda Sutton watched the comings and goings at the little store as the late-afternoon shoppers thinned out. The only person working at The Dolly Shoppe was a man who looked like a young Pat Sajak. His nametag said "Bob," and he managed to look busy with mundane paperwork when no customers were in evidence. The display models around the store didn't move, but the one time Bob had been in the back long enough for her to dare touching one, it had been suspiciously warm to the touch.
Miranda was an investigative journalist who had picked up on a missing-persons' case. Pretty girls were disappearing all over town. Miranda had hit on the fact that the wave had started when The Dolly Shoppe had come to town. Bob closed the gate as the announcement that the mall was closing sounded over the PA. Miranda approached the gate and checked the GPS on her cell phone. She left and circled around to the back of the mall, waiting until all the cars were gone from the employee lot. Apparently, Bob had left just after closing the gate, because no one else came out. She returned to her own car, parked under one of the unbroken lights, her stun gun nonetheless at the ready. She opened the trunk and pulled out a hand-held industrial magnet. This thing, the manufacturer had bragged, would pull Voltron through a keyhole. Carrying her magnet, she checked her GPS again at each of the access doors until she came to the one that was closest to the Dolly Shoppe. She put her magnet on the door, hearing the latch move, and pulled. Just as she'd thought, the inner bar was steel with enough iron in it to be attracted by the powerful magnetic force--at least enough that she was able to get the door open. As quietly as she could, she slid the magnet off the door and carried it with her. The back room had a changing room and ten metal cyllinders, and on the other side of a partition was computer equipment. One of the monitors showed security camera data. The other merely said "SCAN" in large, capital letters. Approaching one of the in-store displays, a girl dressed as Dark Magician Girl, she held her hand close to the face. It was very faint, but she could feel the display breathing. She pulled out her cell and cycled through the pictures of missing girls stored there. None of them matched the Dark Magician Girl, but she did recognize one girl dressed as Supergirl from DC Comics, and another girl who was dressed as Storm from the Marvel side of things. She snapped pictures of them and attached them to an email to her boss with her personal inbox in the carbon-copy field. When she tried to send it, however, she got a message telling her there was no signal. She moved around the store, but there was no signal anywhere, even in the back room. Of course, if she were a kidnapper, she guessed she'd have something in the walls preventing cell phone signals from getting out too.
Bob stepped out from behind a partition and into her path. "Hello, Miss, may I help you with something?" he asked gently.
"Uh, I was just looking for a restroom." Miranda replied, backing away and hoping she could lure him away from the door and make a break for it.
"Well, maybe I can help you find something else." Bob suggested.
"Actually, I just really need to go to the bathroom." Bob moved nonchalantly, but was careful to keep himself between her and the exit. She tried going back through the store, in the hope that the gate would open, but that door was closed, and wouldn't respond to her attempts to turn the knob. She turned back and Bob was there, almost right in her face. She pressed the button for her stun gun, thrusting it at him, but he batted it out of her hand and sent it skidding away. Desperately now, she swung the magnet at him. He moved aside and struck her hand hard enough to make it tingle. The magnet attached itself to a metal support beam, in between the parallel parts so she wouldn't be able to slide it off. His grip on her as he pulled her against him was stronger than she expected. He sprayed something in her face. Miranda's vision quickly darkened. She didn't feel herself hit the floor.
.... There is more of this story ...