Break your mind scaling… the steps of misery!

Now, I’m not a man who owns a ruler, and I haven’t the faintest idea what that perfectly easy, universally agreed upon step height is, but I know my own body, and the body don’t lie. These steps surely must have been created as part of a campaign of mental warfare against unknowing shoppers. Each step is woefully smaller than its more developed colleagues, and as you climb it, your body can do naught but scream at you for subjecting it to this rare, unusual displeasure. Taking them one at a time is too little of a step, and two at a time is an over commitment that cannot be maintained the whole way up. All you can do is desperately flounder forward and hope for the best, cursing the devil’s architect under each pained breath.


Going down these forsaken steps is just as horrifying an experience. Each step down is a plunge into the abyss. Your foot anticipates the next step way too early, and every time it gets denied its salvation it goes straight into panic mode as you desperately try to calm it down enough to do its damn job.

However, I maintain that if you have any amount of money that you’re worried about flippantly spending at the mall, climbing these stairs is a great way to sap you of any and all enthusiasm for the shopping experience, and you’ll probably just glumly take the escalator home.

Enter through… the danger entrance!

I used to be convinced that this was actually the entrance to some sort of secret ratman undermall, but upon launching an expedition into its dark maw, it turned out to simply be the seediest possible entrance to the mall’s underground car-park. However, if you somehow find yourself heading to the mall with a tidy sum of money burning a hole in your pocket, this entrance surely represents the most time efficient method of parting that money from yourself, without the hassle of a long, laborious shopping experience buying things you don’t need. Simply walk in, get robbed, and go home. Easy.

UPDATE: Since deciding to write this article, the powers that be decided to seal away our city’s wicked heart, and forever entomb wayward shoppers and entrepreneurial lowlifes alike in what can surely now be considered the Westfield catacombs. That or it’s a new nuclear dump site.

Try your luck at… petty gambling!

What, I hear you ask, is petty gambling? And how is that picture of a stunted vending machine possibly related? Well, in my first and poorest year of university, I discovered that by feeding this squat little snack dispenser a steady stream of silver coins, and then smacking that coin return button, it would occasionally give an extra lil bonus coin, as if to reward my perseverance and desperation.

However, don’t go running for the mall to find this supposed infinite money machine just yet as, in keeping with a balanced universe, it also harbours the very real chance of simply eating one of your coins instead. As such, I present to you, quite possibly the lowest stake gambling machine to have ever been accidentally invented. Please gamble responsibly.

Be befuddled by… the body image rate-o-tron!

What actually is this ominous box? I got in it once and it told me to get naked. On the side, it maintains that it deals in 3D body measurement, and urges you to try it now for free. Never a more suspicious machine have I ever laid eyes on.

Now, nothing is truly free and I have a couple of theories related to the actual agenda of this machine. The first is that it’s a covert method of generating cheap 3D models for animated movies and videogames. Do not be surprised if after taking the rate-o-tron for a whirl, you then see yourself getting hit by a car in a new Grand Theft Auto game. Please, use the machine at your own risk as once they own your image, you better believe they’ll do what they like with it. You’d be lucky if they don’t then sue you for copyright infringement.

My second theory is that an eccentric billionaire has set up these machines across the country in order to find their perfect partner through a systematic appearance rating of the populace. If this is indeed the case, and you’re looking for a comfortable new existence, you may as well try your luck.

My final theory, and for my money the most likely option, is that the machine scans you, clones you, disintegrates the original, and then spits out a new version of yourself none-the-wiser, but considerably more disposed to wanton shopping.

Whatever the case, I’m glad I didn’t let the machine take its photos of my vulnerable form. Even if I survived disintegration, I definitely wouldn’t be writing this article if the mall owned compromising photos of me.

Validate the spookiest experience of my life… by finding Thomas

Pictured: Not Thomas

Above you can see a typical example of a children’s movey machine, but strike it from your mind, for it is no great spectacle worthy of your time. No, there is only one particular machine worthy of investigation, and that machine is Thomas. Thomas the Tank Engine.

As much as I would love to show you a picture of him existing at that place and in that time, and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he wasn’t simply a manifestation of my feverish mind, Thomas has gone missing. Replaced from his previous Coles location by the innocuous Wiggle-brand kid wiggler you see above.

I put this out as an entreaty to the viewing public: please find that accursed tank engine and put my tormented mind to rest. I have known little peace since Thomas and I crossed paths in the summer of 2016, and if any of you know where he has got to, or can validate what I saw on that day, please, I beg of you, you must relay that information to me.

It was for the most part, a summer like any other, save for one moment forever burnt into my memory. Waiting for a friend to finish shopping at Coles, I sat nearby Thomas, and casually ran my eyes over his form, reliving fond childhood memories of train-based tomfoolery, when his static grinning face… blinked. As sure as anything, his eyes blinked. I recoiled in shock. It was a weird mechanical function to build into a ride and legitimately creepy. My friend came out and we watched Thomas together. They believed me at first. I’m sure they did. But the minutes ticked on. The day grew longer, children loitered nearby, possibly seeking a go on the ride, and my friend grew restless. But Thomas didn’t blink. He simply sat there. He sat there and grinned.

Quietly, I went back later, closer to closing time, and I watched him. Boy, did I dedicate some time to watching him. But he didn’t blink. Was he mocking me? Trying to drive me mad? Did he simply blink when I blinked?

No one would believe me, and then one day, he was gone. Was he moved to torment another mall? Did someone else prove he was possessed and they scrapped him? Or did he simply blink his way out of existence, satisfied with the irreparable damage he has wrought to my psyche?

While he may be gone, he still haunts me. Did I really imagine it? Did I create this obsession in my own mind, or is Thomas still out there, subtly driving people to insanity? If you know where he is. Please, you must tell me.

I will never know rest until that day arrives.

Photos by Alyssia Tennant.