« on: February 04, 2014, 03:54:11 am »
She continued staring at the mountain of fluff, mesmerized.
The girl snapped out of it, shaking her little head lightly. She looked up to me for a moment, her eyes blue and inquisitive, then back to the stuffing, and then to the high school kid assisting us.
“Now, Lucy, what were we going to ask the nice man?”
“Um,” she said. Her little brown pigtails whipped about in their bows as she repeated her previous gazing. “Um, can I put something in him?”
The high schooler smiled at her and gave me that knowing cute-kid-she-must-be-a-handful look and I gave him that you-have-no-idea-kid-run-RUN. You get that all the time with a girl like Lucy. He bent over, crouching to her level. I had to admire him getting eye to eye – Build-a-Bear had him trained well.
“Of course you can, sweetheart,” he said. “We encourage you to put something small that you love in the bear. It helps make it special.”
“I want him to be special!” She spun in her pretty black dress and she ran outside the store to the mall proper.
The young man leapt up, startled, and moved to stop her. “Hey wait,” he said, and he looked at me in a panic. I eased him back with a gesture. A moment later, Lucy came back.
She’d brought a friend. Her tiny hand was woven into a much larger one, paler, and the dreamy eyed twenty-something it was attached to. The woman wore a formless gray shirt without tags or brands, tucked into similar pants and simple, stained tennis shoes. She didn’t say anything in greeting but had a vague smile going in all directions at once. She stopped where Lucy stopped, right in front of the clerk.
“Who’s your friend,” the clerk asked.
“Oh her?” Lucy looked up at the girl as though noticing her for the first time. “She’s nobody.”
The clerk laughed. “Come on now, she can’t be nobody.” He stood back up to adult level and met a gaze that went right through him. He shrunk back down to Lucy level. She was waiting for him patiently.
“She’s an acolyte,” Lucy said. “She’s nobody,” she affirmed.
“Uhm,” the clerk said, “alright well what was it you wanted to put inside your bear?”
“Hold on,” Lucy said. She grabbed the acolyte’s hand, gripping it tightly in her left hand. In the same motion, her right hand flashed behind her back and beneath that pretty black dress. It came back with a thin and wickedly curved knife. Before the clerk could even react, the knife sliced through the acolyte’s wrist and neatly severed the hand.
“Oh God,” the clerk cried. He fell backwards onto his rear, scrambling away. “Oh God,” he repeated.
“Don’t worry,” I assured him, “I wouldn’t give a knife that sharp to a little girl.” I looked fondly down at my Lucy, “she’s just really good with it.” I patted her on her little blood spattered head. She beamed at the praise. Her acolyte was swaying on its feet, expressionless as ever.
Lucy bounced over to the fallen clerk. “I want to put this in my bear,” she held the severed hand out to him.
“Oh God,” he said. He was crying. “Oh God.”
Lucy looked up at me quizzically. “Why does he keep saying that?” Troubled, she asked the clerk, “why do you keep saying that?”
“You – you – you,” he stammered, “Oh God.”
“Young man,” I said, “if you aren’t going to help my daughter I’m going to have to find someone who will.”
I sighed. “Lucy, honey, did you bring the herbs?”
She nodded vigorously. She reached her hands into a little pouch in her dress and withdrew a handful of deadly nightshade.
“Good girl, and the candles?”
She reached down into her sock and pulled out a thin stub of black candle.
“Okay so you know what to do next, don’t you?”
“Mmm,” her mouth drew into a thin line with her tongue sticking out just a little while she thought, “I have the willing flesh, and the light from darkness, and the death from nature, and I need,” she perked up. “Innocent blood!”
She casually flicked the ceremonial knife over at the still prone clerk. He screamed.
“It’s okay,” she told him. “It’s okay,” she comforted. She took the handful of nightshade and held it under the clerk’s bleeding hand. “I don’t need much.”
“Very good, Lucy, so now what,” I prompted.
She looked around the store, to the lifeless shells of a hundred possible teddy bears. “Now I need a vessel!” She trotted around and around to find the right bear for her ritual. The big pink one with the red bow? The little white one with all that fuzzy fur? Finally, her eyes rested on the perfect one. It was a foot tall with reddish brown fur and little black eyes.
She plucked it from the shelf and placed it on the floor. She stuffed the acolyte’s hand into it and sprinkled the bloody nightshade in a circle around it.
Lucy began to chant. And the clerk screamed.