Forcing a casual air, Jessie continued her stroll along the small promenade of the equally small shopping center. The next place in line was the Tattoo Parlor. The place was named “Radioactive Spider Venom.” She contemplated it for a moment wondering if that was some sort of comic book reference or just a really over the top attempt at the intimidating names a lot of tattoo places seemed to favor. Nothing in the store really let her know one way or the other. Its interior mostly looked like a salon. At least it had salon chairs and cabinets and mirrors installed along all the walls. The posters on the walls featured tattoos rather than hair, and the implements sitting out on the counter-tops were different, but there weren’t any references to superheroes.
It was also empty and didn’t have any obvious exits. There was a door marked “employees only” set in the back wall. There might have been a stairwell beyond that, but there might also be employees. Jessie decided to continue.
The clothing shop was next. It looked small from the outside, but Jessie realized it was larger than she had thought once she stepped into it. It was just crammed full of clothes. There were so many racks on the floor that the isles in-between them had grown narrow. She had to walk a bit sideways to make her way between them. On top of that, each rack had so many cloths they were more like solid walls of fabric than free hanging merchandise. All the fabric seemed to muffle sound, and what little background noise there had been vanished once Jessie stepped into the shop.
It also seemed a little darker. That probably couldn’t be blamed on the clothes. It probably could be blamed on the proprietor cheaping out on light bulbs. Used clothes were probably another low margin operation. Jessie was beginning to think the rent in the building must be really low. Some of the selection was OK, though. She might have to try a few things on if she couldn’t find an exit.
However, she looked for the exit first. A quick sweep of the main room revealed that it was just like the coffee shop, there was an exit, but it had an alarm on it. She was just about to give up when she came to a door, tucked away in the corner, labeled “Costumes”.
Going through that, she found herself in a small room. It was oddly shaped; two of its “sides” were actually a single sweep of rounded wall, and its ceiling was vaulted and half again as high as the ceilings in the other parts of the building. It was packed full of costumes. Much like the clothes they’d been shoved onto the racks so thickly that it was hard to sort through them, and much like the clothes they were an eclectic selection. There were a fair number of the cheap and nearly disposable outfits that got sold around Halloween, most still in their original plastic wrappers. Then there were more expensive masks and wigs and the like alongside a few pieces of clothing that probably hadn’t started life as costumes at all.
It was a nice find, if you liked dressing up for Halloween, and Jessie did. She was sufficiently distracted by the merchandise that it took her a couple of minute to realize this room was brighter than the rest of the store and to further realize that the light was coming from a window high on the room’s curved wall.
Jessie let energy flow into her combat spell. That, at least, was pretty easy. All she had to do was relax the nearly subconscious effort of will that kept it flowing to her space twisting spell, and take a few quick breaths concentrating on the gnawing feeling of unease she’d been experiencing ever since Kyle left and the Children decided to box her up in the coffee shop.
Power flooded her limbs and new instincts settled into her mind. She shot a quick glance around the room to assure herself there wasn’t anyone in it. She was about to leave her back vulnerable for a moment and she wanted to be certain no one could use the time to attack. Fortunately, she was still alone.
She hopped from the floor to the top of the rack of costumes that sat under the window. Now the fact that the rack was overloaded, and thus holding hundreds if not over a thousand pounds of weight, worked in her favor, it didn’t shift when she landed on it.
From there she jumped again and caught the bottom of the windowsill with ease. It wasn’t the best place to grip but it was wide enough to lay her entire palm on and that was enough surface for her to hang from while she pulled herself up with one arm until her face was even with the window.
The window had a latch!