Saturday, 13 February 2016

The Promise l 16 - Lion's Den

They didn't head straight to the mansion Cherry had staked out earlier in the week.

"Huh?" She craned to see out the window. Cherry had been afforded a place of high honour in Evelyn's battered car - the front passenger seat - but that was a position that came without elevation. Dawn and Lucas could see the outside world fine from their ridiculous car seats in the back, but Cherry was struggling. Where had Evie taken them? All she could confirm was that, somehow, there were flowers involved. Her line of sight allowed her to see as much the personified daisy motif on the store window. "Where are we?"

"Flowerworks," Evie answered. It was the first word she'd said to 'Tyra' since they left daycare - she'd been too busy fawning over Dawn to spare a thought for her guest. The giantess glanced the little's way and favoured her with a small smile. "Do you know what a florist is, Tyra?" 

Do you know I'm not actually three? "No, Ms Goldsworthy," Cherry answered with a sigh. Whether she liked it or not, for all intents and purposes she was three for the foreseeable future.

Evie made a point of ignoring the audible exasperation in Cherry's voice. "It's a place or person that sells flowers, dear. The man who owns this place is a close friend of mine." She looked over her shoulder and dazzling Dawn with an array of pearly whites, apparently having fulfilled her quota of small talk for the time being. "Stay put for just a minute, okay? Mama will be right back."

"Yes Mama." Dawn looked too comfortable in her safety seat to care to run anyway. "I'll be good." 

Evie smiled, and then she was gone. Cherry watched her disappear through Flowerworks' front door with something akin to wonder. For someone that was an alleged psychopath, Evie was remarkably...well, normal. No worse than Sylvia, at least. For all the build-up throughout the week, she'd expected something straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon, and here she was shopping for flowers with an old woman that called her 'dear.' Cherry shook her head, bemused. 

She turned to her company. "Well isn't this cozy?" She glanced into the backseat via the rearview mirror. "Thanks for the warm welcome before, guys. I appreciate it."

"I'm sorry." Lucas mumbled. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "I panicked. I was sure she was going to recognise you."

"Panicked? Panicking was when you ditched me this morning. What you did just then is typically referred to as grovelling, Lucas. Grovelling." She still hadn't forgiven him for not bothering to send word during nap-time, even if he hadn't been planning on helping. "I think you scarred poor Raymond for life. Did you see the way he was looking at you?"

"I'm sorry," he repeated abashedly. He was blushing as he looked up, but he tried a smile on for size all the same. "I was wrong though, wasn't I? After all that. She doesn't know your face, so as long as we don't mess this up, we'll be fine." 

"That's what I've been telling you from the start." 

He shrugged. "Well I know that now. I'm your man. Again."

"We're all going to die," Dawn sighed. She glared at her sister through the mirror in a manner that was distinctly not reminiscent of a good girl. "That was some stunt you pulled there, Tyra."

"Well, pumpkin, someone had to pull it." Cherry gave as good as she got. "And for the record, you helped, so don't get smart with me. If you didn't speak up when, panicked, we'd have been screwed."

"Well what was I meant to do? Keep my mouth shut and let Mama think about it a bit longer?" Dawn was furious. Her face was reddening as she said, "Lucas warned me you might try something like that as we were on the way out, but I wasn't prepared for you to throw us off the deep end so quickly. If I didn't step in when I did, who knows what might have happened. We might have died there instead of later tonight. Did you not take in anything I said earlier?"

Cherry's thoughts turned to her poor bottom. Like hell she hadn't taken in anything before. "We're not going to die," she said through pursed lips. "We're going to find the keys to your tracking things, and then we're going to escape.” She looked her sister dead in the eye. “I promised.”

"Yeah, well." Dawn looked away. "I'm a good girl. You two can risk ruining your lives all you want. Just keep me out of it."

"That's my sister!" Lucas favoured Dawn with a sardonic grin as he settled into his seat. "As spineless as she is boobless. Just the way Mama dearest likes it."

Dawn's face went from red to black. “Says you, grovelling in the dirt like a worm.”

He ignored her. “You know, I think this is the first time we’ve ever had an actual conversation that didn’t involve one of us babbling like an idiot. You’re actually capable of holding a conversation. Who knew?” Lucas’ grin was painful to observe. “Man, I did not see today coming.”

Dawn snorted. “Don’t get used to it.”

The exchange was almost comical when viewed from the front seat. “You two have been together way too long,” Cherry remarked dryly. She shrugged as they both looked her way. “You even bicker like brother and sister.”

Neither little knew how to answer that. They gave each other one last sour look and then opted to instead stare out their respective windows, pouting in their harnesses like the children Evelyn had shaped them to be.

Evie returned shortly afterwards with a bouquet of white roses, which she promptly passed to Cherry. "Be a dear and hold these for me while I drive, would you?" The older woman carefully climbed behind the wheel, and then they were off. "We're just around the corner from home, we won't be long."

The roses smelt much nicer than Evie's perfume. "Who are these for?" Cherry inquired, holding them close to her face and inhaling the fragrance. They provided some much-needed relief from the stench Evie had chosen to cloak herself in. In the confines of the car, it was unescapable. She looked up at her enemy. "Do you have a boyfriend, Ms Goldsworthy?"

The change to Evie's face was as instant as it was profound. "They're for someone very dear to me," she said coldly. She tore her gaze from the road to study the little beside her. "Good girls don't pry into things that don't concern them, Tyra. Didn’t your daddy ever teach you that?"

And good people don't mutilate other good people. "Sorry, ma'am," Cherry said quietly. She turned her attention back to the roses. If you want to avoid a red bottom, you need to get yourself a red bottom.  

Not a word more was said as they wound their way through suburbia, and before Cherry could figure out what had sparked that outburst they were cruising down the street she'd had camped out on Monday afternoon. The infamous Victorian-esque manor with its towering walls and feral flora came into sight moments later, and as Cherry watched it grow bigger and bigger in the windshield she found herself forgetting her chagrin. Her heart drooped at the sight before her. They had a plan, sure, and there was no reason it shouldn't work...but this place was incredible. It was as intimidating as it had been last time. Each individual brick in that wall was almost as tall as she was herself, and through the gate she could see the overgrown greenery choking the very life out of the property. It looked like a set off of Jurassic Park. How could they possibly break into somewhere like this?

They parked in almost the exact same place Cherry had stopped with Raymond and Sylvia earlier in the week. "I'm sorry I snapped at you, Tyra," Evie unexpectedly spoke up as she put the car into neutral. She favoured the little with an apologetic smile as she popped open the console between them. Cherry spied a bottle of pills and a wallet before the giantess emerged with a small remote. "You were just curious. I shouldn't have snapped at you."

Huh? "Ms Goldsworthy?"

"You're a sweet one. Just...mind your business, okay?" Evie's smile was strained, and she turned away from her guest to hide that fact. She punched a button on her remote, and the enormous gates opposite them began to swing open. Cherry could hear the hinges groaning jagged protests as they worked to admit them into the lion’s den. "And I want to apologise in advance for the state of my house, too. It's seen better days." She laughed self-consciously, and Cherry didn't miss the way her eyes flickered meaningfully to Dawn in the mirror. She wondered about that.

Evie started the car up again, and then they were through the titanic portal. Unshaven hedges smothered the weed-choked driveway and left only enough room for their car to pass - barely - and enormous trees on either side of the road kissed overhead. The canopy admitted only a token amount of sunlight, and what did make it through rained upon the undergrowth like shards of broken glass. Cherry strained against her seatbelt to press her face against the window, looking on with wonder. She had been able to see more of the yard from the street than she had from the inside. Here, her vision was limited to whatever imposing shrubbery was in her line of sight, and more often than not, it was a gargantuan specimen that blocked the view of anything beyond it. Her disquiet deepened.

They rumbled along the cobblestones at walking pace, side-stepping the dolphin fountain and coming to a halt in front of a garage. It appeared suddenly out of the gloom, bursting out of the shadows like a Jack-in-a-Box. Evie pressed another button on her remote, and then that was rising too. The banshee wail it elicited reverberated around the yard like the dying moans of some prehistoric behemoth.

"Here we are. Home sweet home!" Evie announced with a cheer that was distinctly out of place amidst the premature twilight. She carefully navigated the car into the far right of the garage, and it was there they came to their final resting place. She turned to Cherry, a smile dancing on her face. "Just hold on a moment, dear. I'll come help you out."

How can anyone live in a place like this, Cherry thought to herself incredulously. She waited patiently for Evie to make her way around the front of the car and wordlessly allowed the giantess to unbuckle her seatbelt when the time came. She slipped onto the ground and looked out the open garage door where the world seemed to end in every shade of green known to man. I feel claustrophobic just looking at it.

She cast an appraising eye around the garage as Evie turned her attention to the kids in the backseat. It was relatively bare, although the exceptions to that were curious. The left half of the floor was hidden beneath an array of gas bottles, all identical right down to the shiny red tap on top. There must have been a good thirty in total, arranged in four neat, orderly rows. Behind them was a workbench, laden with tools and heavy machinery and choked under a build-up of dust that must have accumulated over years and years. It seemed to be at odds with the spotless iron boasted by the gas canisters.

"What are you looking at?" Evie's voice had found its edge again.

Cherry flinched and spun around. The giantess had finished unbuckling her children; she had Dawn balanced on her hip and Lucas was once again on the floor. All three of them were watching her. "I don't know," she said honestly enough. What was she looking, at exactly? Who on Earth needed this much gas? "I...I was just looking."

Evie's face was suspicious. "If you say so," she said at last. She held out her free hand, and after a moment’s hesitation Cherry juggled the bouquet around so she could take it. She regretted doing so instantly. Evie’s hands were powdered and had the unpleasant texture of paper. "Come on dear, no point standing around out here."

She led them back out the garage and into the wilderness, leading her entourage down a small, weed-choked path that Cherry had missed completely on the way in. It hugged the side of the ivy-clad house and led directly to the front door, and they stopped on the front porch as they waited for Evie to find her keys. Cherry looked back the way they’d come to watch Lucas crawl through the foliage. The inbetweener-turned-little was carefully working his way down the path, occasionally re-navigating so as to veer around unpleasant looking patches in his way.

Cherry felt her heart go out to the boy. She really didn’t understand this arrangement. Why wasn’t Evie bothering to help him? She was the one that had taken away Lucas' ability to walk; the least she could do was be his legs for him. Did she really care that little for his wellbeing?

Because she’s bat shit crazy. What other reason do you need?

Maybe. She suspected there was more to it than that, considering her conversation with Lucas that morning. Cherry shook her head, baffled. She'd have to quiz her accomplice when she got the opportunity. 

“Hurry up, boy,” Evie barked from over Cherry’s shoulder. She had the door open, and she impatiently tapped her foot as she waited for Lucas to catch up. “I have better things to do than wait for you to get your act together.”

There was murder in Lucas’ eyes and a furnace in his cheeks, but he said nothing. He hit the overdrive and shuffled his way across the threshold on his hands and knees as fast as he could.

“Men,” Evie huffed to herself, shaking her head. She glanced down at Cherry. “They’re good for nothing, Tyra, you can trust that. Nothing. You’ll learn that one day when you’re older.”

Um. What? “Ms Goldsworthy?” Cherry said uncertainly, opting to ignore the breakdown of logic concerning her age. 

Evie smiled. It was a surprisingly cruel expression. “Nevermind,” the giantess remarked. “Let’s just say you won the genetic lottery, Tyra. You can trust that.”

And then they were inside the home of Evelyn Goldsworthy.  

While the grounds were a monstrous, tangled nightmare, the interior was immaculate. The entrance hall was cavernous, open to three connecting rooms and a landing accessed by a stairway on the far wall. A chandelier hung suspended in the middle of the room, an intricate masterpiece of bronze and crystal that was undoubtedly worth enough to single-handledly pay off the entirety of Cherry's student loans. The carpet was lush and spongey; the walls were lined with photos in expensive, detailed frames. Had she not seen it for herself, Cherry would have been hard pressed to believe that such decadence could exist in tandem with the jungle outside. It was like walking into another world. The Jeckyll to outside's Hyde.

Evie chuckled at the surprise on Cherry's face. "Not what you were expecting?" she prompted. "I guess the outside is a bit misleading." 

"Just a little," Cherry heard herself say. Everywhere she turned, she found something new to marvel over. The walls were made from slabs of oak the colour of chocolate. The architraves were carved to resemble a lion's head where they came to a point. The stairway's pillars were made of marble shot through with veins of gold, and the railing topping them was the same oak of the walls. " have a nice place, Ms Goldsworthy."  

Her host's smile faded. "I do, don't I?" Evie said with a sigh. She looked around the entrance hall herself, as if searching for something beyond human vision. "You're a sweet one, dear. You're a sweet one." 

"Mama," Dawn spoke up from Evie's hip. She hadn't since a word since her rant outside Flowerworks, and at some point on the way home she'd devolved into the obedient little girl once more. "I hafta potty." 

"Oh?" Suddenly, Evelyn was in full mothering mode. Her face was fraught with concern as she said, "Well, we'll get you to the potty in just a moment. Are you going to make it, pumpkin?" 

Dawn nodded bravely. "I think so, Mama." 

Cherry cringed, but her host was beaming. "Of course you will, you're a big girl." She hurriedly placed her daughter on her feet, who in turn thrust her hands between her legs in a most un-ladylike manner. "Why don't you run along to the bathroom and wait for me by the potty. I'll be up in just a moment." 

She didn't have to tell Dawn twice. Cherry's big sister promptly flew away up the stairs as fast as her awkward, waddling gait could carry her. If she'd moved any faster, she'd have left an imprint of her image in the air behind her. Cherry forced her face to remain neutral at the sight. If there'd ever been any doubt, Dawn had just disapproved it. She was well and truly in the madhouse. 

"What about you, boy? Do you need a change?" Evie crouched down and worked the crotch snappers on Lucas' onesie open. They audibly popped free, and then she was probing the front of his diaper. She wasn't pleased with what she found. "You're wet," she announced crossly. She shook her head. "Why didn't you say something? How long have you been sitting in this?" 

Lucas deliberately avoided looking at Cherry. "Since before nap-time," he said in a small voice. "Ms Bell forgot to check." 

"You've been sitting in a wet diaper since one o'clock?"

"She was busy," Lucas said miserably, and now he did glance at Cherry. 

"She was busy, huh?" Evelyn tisked dramatically. "Well, I think I'll be having a word with the bucket of bolts tomorrow, then. I shouldn't have to put up with you whining about a rash." 

Lucas' eyes bugged out. "But I wasn't - "   

"But you will be. You've been sitting in that for almost three hours." Evie's face was resigned as she at last collected her son into her arms. "Let's go get you changed. Maybe we can avoid the worst of your crying if we get onto it, hmm?" She turned to Cherry. "Do you need to potty, dear? I told your mummy I'd get you there on time, and if there's one thing I'm not, it's a liar. You can trust that." 

Cherry had been so absorbed in watching the morbid toilet drama unfold that when the spotlight swung to her, it took her a long, startled moment to formulate an answer. If she was being honest, yeah, she probably did need to go. Quite a bit, actually. Her potty time earlier had been rudely interrupted by the spanking of a lifetime, and she hadn't been given the chance to go after that. She hadn't taken a leak since she left the motel that morning. 

Then go. 

She really didn't want to do it with such a huge audience, though. 

"I'm...I'm fine," she stammered.

Evelyn raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure? If you have an accident, I don't want it on my head." 

Cherry nodded. "I'll tell you if I...if I need to potty," she managed to force out. 

"Well...if you say so, dear." Evie gestured to the room on the left. "How about you go watch the telly while I take care of your friends? We won't be long. You can watch Dora while you wait." She smiled. "Are you a fan of Dora? Dawn can't get enough of that girl, you know. She lives for it." 

The thought of her sister bouncing in front of the television and answering Dora's inane questions was a depressing one. Cherry managed a weak smile. She could have done without that image. "Dora sounds good." 

"Dora it is then. I'll be right back." 

And then she was alone. 

For a long moment, Cherry simply stood there, shell-shocked. A week ago, this would have been ridiculous...and yet here she was being sent to watch Dora the Explorer while her playmate had his diaper changed. She cast a disbelieving eye around her surroundings once more. Sure, she'd had some notion of what she'd find here thanks to Dawn's letter, but the reality far exceeded the expectations she'd had on that red-eye Monday morning flight. This place was incredible.

Cherry forced her jaw closed. She was collecting flies.

You know, her inner voice spoke up suddenly. You're going to have a few minutes to yourself. Why don't you get started on the treasure hunt while Evie's upstairs? You might as well make the most of it. 

It was true. By a stroke of luck, it seemed as if she'd been presented with a fantastic opportunity to get to work straight off the bat. Why not get started?

Why not indeed?

Cherry carefully laid the bouquet by the front door and hurried across the hall. 

The living area was as cluttered as the entrance hall was spacious. The walls were lined with bookshelves, and the floor was littered with an array of toys only a toddler could appreciate. An enormous widescreen TV perched atop a DVD player, which in turn rested above a drawer-studded cabinet directly opposite a sprawling, leather couch and its accompanying footrest. The cabinet-top was cluttered with an untidy sprawl of DVDs, seemingly thrown about without sense or order.

Cherry sized up the task before her. The bookshelves struck her as a poor place to begin her search; there were too many to get through in the little time she had, and she was too short to rummage through anything beyond the bottom two shelves anyway. That left the TV cabinet, at least in this particular room. Her prospects of success didn't seem all that promising, and Cherry bit her lip as she abruptly realised that she'd screwed up. She'd unconsciously ran with Evie's suggestion that she waited in the living room...and would Evie really leave something as important as her children's keys in such a high-traffic area? 

Probably not, no.

Cherry winced and glanced back over her shoulder. Should she retrace her steps and try somewhere else? It wasn't too late...

Yes, it is, actually. The clock's ticking. Look, you're already here; you might as well have a look around. It's not like you know that they're not here. You might get lucky. 

Well. She supposed that was true.

Cherry sighed and got to work. 

Despite it coming up to her chin, the footrest was thankfully light, and Cherry had no trouble dragging it through the toys and across the room. She hauled herself up and began her inspection of the TV cabinet. The mess she'd spied from the floor consisted entirely of Disney movies and children's cartoons, and she began to dig around on the off chance there happened to be buried treasure beneath. A stray brush of the hand sent Cinderella flying to the floor; Ariel and Sleeping Beauty followed soon after.  

No keys, though.

"Fuck," Cherry muttered to herself, jumping back to the floor and kicking the footrest out of the way. The drawers beneath, then. Maybe, maybe...

...but she had as much luck down there as she did up top. Drawer after drawer came up empty, or if not empty, boasting nothing of note besides more DVDs. She could feel her heart sinking as she made her way down the length of the cabinet, searching each compartment with growing impatience and frustration. She hadn't thought this through well at all. How could she have wasted such a perfect chance to - 

Cherry ripped open the last drawer, and something caught her eye.  

Alone in the compartment was a DVD in an opaque case with a sticky note attached to the front. After searching through elaborate packaging showcasing Disney princesses and cartoon characters, this specimen seemed distinctly out of place. Cherry took it in her hands, curious. There was a message written on the note in a neat, formal font.

"Evie," the little read to herself aloud. "This should work a treat on your boy. It's what I used to fix Debbie, and we both know how that turned out! Love, Iris."


Cherry cracked the case open. Inside was an unmarked disc. 

Well the boy has to be Lucas, she mused to herself with a grimace. She was starting to get fed up with the constant influx of new messages to decrypt. The little shut the case again and re-read the note, wondering at the implications of it. Who were Debbie and Iris? It worked a treat?

It took her a moment longer to puzzle out.

This must be how Evie learnt to hypnotise people. The realisation struck with the clarity of lightning, and Cherry felt the blood drain from her face. She couldn't just inherently know how to do that, right? She had to learn from somewhere. This must be her instruction manual. 

"What I used to fix Debbie," Cherry repeated to herself. Yeah, she could see how that fit. It made sense. "Oh, man." 

If I try and get up and walk, I fall down on my ass, but otherwise my legs work the way they should. Lucas' words swam up out of the recesses of the little's memory. It's not a real disability, although some stupid part of my brain thinks it is. 

Yeah. The part programmed by this disc. She dropped the case like it was red hot and slammed the compartment shut after it. The thud of wood on wood was only barely loud enough to drown out the sound of her heart. That DVD was the kryptonite of every little ever, and she felt soiled just having touched it. Some things weren't meant to exist outside of horror films, and that disc was very near the top of that list. 

And it's not permanent, thankfully. It can be undone.

She was turning to leave when she remembered the last part of Lucas' explanation. 

It can be undone. 

Her eyes slid back to the drawer she'd just slammed shut as an idea occurred to her. 

If that DVD taught Evie how to hypnotise Lucas...can it teach me how to un-hypnotise him?

Cherry stroked her chin, suddenly thoughtful. She surely didn't have time to search another room for keys, but she probably had time to sneak a glimpse of this, if she was quick. At the end of the day, knowing how to fix Lucas was going to be just as important as freeing him, anyway. He couldn't exactly spend the rest of his life on his hands and knees. Was it worth a shot?

She thought it might be. Cherry opened the drawer again, suppressed a shudder as she retrieved the disc, and slotted it into the DVD player. 

The screen that popped up left little to the imagination regarding the DVD's legality. The 'menu' was nothing more than six blue boxes imposed over a black background, and Cherry had to smile in spite of her situation. She'd grown up in the pre-internet, pre-streaming era, and her parents had bought their daughter her favourite cartoons and movies from a guy down the street. He'd specialised in selling home-made VHS tapes out of his garage, and although his stuff had been cheaper than the store-bought alternative, it had never been as good. Fancy menus were a thing for big companies with big production teams; when you bought cheap, you got cheap. Black backgrounds and blue boxes just about summed up Cherry's childhood. 

The guy - she couldn't remember his name, all these years on - had always had a soft spot for the little down the road. He'd always been ready with a sweet for his favourite client, and he'd always play up the fact that he was being naughty by making illegal films just to get a giggle out of her. She remembered how he'd edited his template menu to add a box to the top of the ones he burnt especially for her. "For Little Ms Cherry Blossom," they'd read. Undoubtedly, her mother had had something to do with the inclusion of that, but it had been a nice touch all the same. 

There was no "For Little Ms Cherry Blossom" on this menu, and the comparison saddened her slightly. Here, the least offensive was "Play All Chapters" in the top-most box, and the ones after that made Cherry wish for the days of her VHS tapes. 

"Chapter One," Cherry read out loud. "Potty Training? Are you kidding me?" 

The rest were labelled similarly. Chapter Two concerned Fixations, whatever that meant, and Chapters Three and Four tackled Motor Control and Speech. After that, it took a turn for the abstract. Chapter Four was Identity & Belonging, and Chapter Five was referred to as Emotional Conduct.

Well, it looked like she'd been dead on the money. Cherry stared at the screen before her with wonder, scarcely unable to believe that such a thing could exist. It was wrong – evil, even. She was literally looking at a How to Brainwash Littles for Dummies guide. Her hands balled into fists. She should eject the disc and break it over her knee, right there and then. This shouldn't exist. No one should ever have to be subjected to such a thing.

And then you wouldn't be able to help Lucas, would you? Calm down. How about we see if we can find the How to Undo Messed Up Psychological Suggestions In Three Easy Steps guide first, huh? 

Sure, but...where? 

The start seemed as good a place as any. Cherry clicked "Play All Chapters" and hurried to the couch.  

The image that greeted her eyes was a two-dimensional conglomerate of primary colours, basic shapes and simple numbers. Two cartoon Amazons stood in the foreground, drawn in a blocky, unsophisticated hand, and as Cherry watched they smiled and waved at the camera. "Hi there, boys and girls!" The first giant announced. She was wearing overalls not unlike Dawn's, and her voice had enough syrup in it to bankrupt even the most successful honey company. "My name's Naomi!" 

The guy beside her was dressed similarly, complete with a voice equally grating to anyone above the age of three. "And I'm Oliver!" 

They combined to squeal as one. "And we're going to have so much fun together!" 

This is...cute? 

Cherry raised an eyebrow. This was very clearly a kid's show. Had she jumped the gun, presuming the worst? Where were the creepy hypnotism guides? 

But...the chapter titles. What are they -

Then the theme music started playing, and everything changed. 

The sensation that engulfed Cherry was not unlike the high she'd experienced that one time Raymond had dared her to scull a bottle of pure Vodka. She was abruptly swamped by waves of light-headedness, and when the xylophone kicked in with its cutesy nursery rhyme melody, her state devolved to outright drunkenness. Her vision blurred, and she swayed uncertainly on the couch; had she not thrown out a hand to steady herself, she'd have likely broken her nose on the floor. Startled, she struggled to pull herself together. Where the hell had that come from? She tried to look around for help, suddenly concerned she was having a major medical issue...

...but found she couldn't tear her eyes from the TV. The room around the screen seemed to fade away, and her world became a kaleidoscope of swirling colour, growing vivider and vivider by the second. 

Something was very, very wrong. Turn it off, Cherry thought to herself, suddenly petrified. She began to stumble to her feet on limbs made of stone. You shouldn't be playing with this. Turn it off.

The screen was throbbing.

She didn't make it to the TV. Cherry's eyelids suddenly felt as if they were weighed down with led. She felt her concern deepen into outright fear, and she felt a curious warmth between her legs...and then she didn't feel anything at all for a little while.

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant! This is an absolutely amazing story. The fact that Cherry made such a subtle but obviously wrong assumption is so adorable. And with a well fleshed out backstory, I'm actually invested in this character. Great writing, as always, Xylophone! Look forward to the next chapter! -BabyNiki