Mimsy peered into the dark chamber. One hand daintily held her skirts up off the dirty floor. The other gripped a curved, snarled, shining blade.
“Hello? Anyone in there?” Her melodious voice infiltrated every cranny and nook, dank corner and dusty crevice. At the sound of her chiming query, darkness bulged and strained against the walls. The ceiling groaned in protest. Unable to escape, the suffocating dark retreated on itself and huddled at the margins of the room.Mimsy gave a curt nod and entered. Tiny Mimsy: no more than a child, a wisp, a gumdrop. A puff of wind would carry her away like a dandelion seed, were she not weighted down by the blade.
A new light entered the room with Mimsy. It came from nowhere, but if an observer were forced to name a source for the glow, one might, with much hesitation and hemming and hawing and a protestation or two, suggest that perhaps the luminescence came from Mimsy’s gaze.
She picked her way across littered floorboards. As she walked, dust puffed up at her feet and then scattered, scuttling away from her satin-clad heels. She stood in the center of the room in a perfectly dust-free circle and rested the tip of the blade on the floor before her. “Come now,” she cooed, and her words sang through the air. The darkness trembled. The walls creaked. “No need to put this off. Come out where I can see you.”
A shuffling, a shifting, a capitulation. Something that had not been hiding in the room nonetheless slithered out of concealment and into the shimmering light that did not come from Mimsy. Its hulking mass towered to the very top of the room and stretched from wall to wall. There was no space left for anything but the fleshy mass, and yet Mimsy stood unperturbed in her glittering circle, amused.
It tried to huddle before her. Snaking tentacles with bloodshot eyeballs on their thick stalks trembled and hunched down, reaching for the distant floor. Trunk-like limbs quivered and bowed.
Mimsy giggled — bells chimed and the darkness retreated farther, abandoning its former cohort. Scimitar claws tapped against the ceiling, perhaps seeking an escape. The room was near to bursting; very few structures can withstand fleeing darkness and a cowering room-sized nightmare at the same time, let alone Mimsy, who pushed all before her.
“Have you anything to say for yourself?” Mimsy asked in a kindly tone. Motes of dark paused in their flight to listen. A thread of hope wound its way among the forest of tentacle-eyes. Time paused.
An observer might have reported that, while silence strained against the confines of the room and pushed into every surface (save an unmolested circle where Mimsy tinkled), there may have been a vocalization far beneath the room, miles below the surface of the Earth. It is possible that it rumbled among magma pools that have never seen the sun, and, burning with the heat of their shame, it might have mumbled, “I’m sorry.”
Mimsy beamed. Her glorious smile reached out to the fleeing darkness and coaxed it back, warming it into a lustrous, sliver-gray glow. The tentacle-eyes twisted and weaved around themselves nervously, and their shared body held its breath. They blinked in unison, and it was clear that they hoped, perhaps even believed, that Mimsy had been appeased.
But the shining darkness knew better. It wanted to look away, to flee once more before her, but her smile, now a tight grin that hooked up on one side, held each mote pinned to its spot. And the truth slowly dawned on the quivering creature, rippling realization across its wrinkled flesh. The tentacle-eyes learned last — they tried to run, but were alas too firmly attached.
Mimsy raised the blade high and whispered, “Apology accepted.”
Kelly Wright lives in Chicago. When she isn’t busy earning a paycheck by editing anything and everything sent her way, she splits her time between parenting, writing, music making, reading good (and not-so-good) books, and — whenever possible — lounging on a Lake Michigan beach. This is her first published work of fiction.
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