Inspired by "066 Rain" from the 100 fanart challenge (see 100FanArt on DA). The quote from the description is what Clarissa says in her book.
If you're familiar with Chapters 8 and 9 of Slappy's Nightmare, you'll understand why Slappy acts a certain way near the end.
Most people in town wished for a white Christmas, eagerly keeping an eye on the weather forecast for next week, hoping for a picturesque view trimmed with holly and candy canes. But Clarissa preferred the rain. Snow looked lovely, but it took too long to melt and did not have the same cleansing power of a gentle sprinkle or torrent deluge. The rain washed things away. Things the holiday merrymakers knew nothing about. The rain protected the town. Clarissa loved the rain.
Although a busted hip had certainly given her a little pause nowadays.
Clarissa sat in the dark on the bed her neighbors had helped moved to her back den. Curtis and his son had placed it by the window where she could gaze out at the woods behind their houses. The sky had been gray all day, but now the clouds had drawn tighter together, blackening the town in twilight even though it was only two o'clock. The trees bent and swayed in the increasing wind, welcoming the approaching storm.
She rubbed her sides and adjusted the hot water bottle. She wasn't that old - she had hardly a gray hair on her dark head - but a fall down her stairs had left her immobile for the past few weeks. Fortunately, after she returned from the hospital, her neighbor helped her get in touch with Meals on Wheels and other services. Volunteers dropped off hot chicken dinners and sandwiches, and if they had time, they'd sit and chat with her awhile. Clarissa had always been a fast healer, and she had that morning made it to the kitchen by herself to boil water. But she had known before the weather forecast the rain was coming from her aching bones.
Well, she'd rather have a little pain than to go without rain.
"Without the rain, what would wash the evil away?" she whispered the little mantra before bringing the edge of her travel mug to her lips.
Then through the gossamer curtains, her eye caught sight of a green hat coming around the side of her house. Clarissa jumped, almost spilling hot liquid on her red shawl. However, she relaxed, recognizing the young woman in her backyard. It was Jillian, that tall, skinny college girl with the blue streaks who delivered her Meals on Wheels on Saturdays. All the volunteers knew Clarissa wanted them to use the back door since she had been limited to that section of her house.
However, Clarissa then saw the pale expression on Jillian's face - and she remembered today was Friday just before the knocking erupted on her back door.
"It's open!" she called, clapping her hands to turn on the lights.
"Clarissa! Ms. Clarissa!" Jillian cried in her kitchen.
"In here!" Footsteps followed, and Jillian stood in the doorway, an old rectangular suitcase in her hands. "Hello, dear. Love your hair."
Jillian tore off her winter cap, barely acknowledging the compliment, and slung the suitcase on the table Clarissa used to read fortunes. "I didn't know who else to come to," she said in a rush. Her green eyes darted about, and Clarissa had to grab her cold hands.
"You're shivering! Get warm by the electric heater."
Jillian shook her head, sending her blue-streaked black hair flying. "I'm not cold - I'm in trouble. You're the only person who won't think I'm crazy," she said with a pleading look.
Clarissa patted her hand. "What's wrong?" She turned to the suitcase on her table. "What do you got there?"
Jillian squeezed her fingers as if she hung from a rope above shark-infested waters. She spoke in a hurried gasp, "Remember last Halloween when you told my fortune?"
Clarissa hesitated. She told many fortunes as a side business, and she could picture Jillian at her table two months ago, but not much else. "I remember doing it, but not what I said," she began, but Jillian jumped in to supply the rest.
"You said that in my past I'd been touched by dark magic," she said. "But I escaped it, and you thought I must be very brave - "
" - And very strong," Clarissa remembered, her black eyes widening. Now she could picture it: the streaks of shadow she saw on the poor girl's life, like stains on a white bridal gown.
Jillian nodded. "And it's true," she said in a tiny voice. She still clung to Clarissa's hand, as if afraid to lose her protection. "In the sixth grade, I met something made of evil magic." Her scared green eyes said it all. "A ventriloquist's dummy."
Clarissa frowned, creasing her brow. "I've heard about magical dolls," she said slowly. "Never met one myself, but the stories can get scary."
"My story is probably the worst of all," she moaned. "I got to get rid of him!"
Clarissa sat up, causing her water bottle to topple to the floor. "Is it the same dummy you met as a child?"
Jillian nodded. "I'd know him anywhere."
"How did he - I mean, how could he - "
"My roommate, at the college," Jillian explained. "She spent last night at her cousin's, and the family played White Elephant. Tiffany brought Slappy with her this morning, and I knew I had to get rid of him - before he could do evil." She looked away. "Or recognize me," she whispered.
"You think he'd try to kill you, my girl?"
Jillian spun away, hugging herself. "He wouldn't kill me - he'd do something a million times worse."
Clarissa wanted to ask her what she meant, but Jillian had closed off now. The girl didn't want to share more - but fortunately Clarissa had a solution. She might not have been the best at magic, but her teacher had been, and he had a sure-fire answer to this kind of problem.
The witch peered out the window at the charcoal clouds and gave herself a reassuring nod. "Once the storm starts, take the suitcase out and open it. The rain will do the rest."
When Jillian had applied for a college in a different region of her state, she had hoped for new experiences. She liked her professors, liked her roommate, had a new hairstyle, had a cafe she frequented to study, even got involved in the local community by volunteering with food deliveries once a week. With the winter break approaching, her biggest problem should have been preparing for finals and writing papers - not this.
She had rarely thought of Slappy - her psych professor would've called it repression, a coping mechanism her mind used to defend her sanity - but Halloween had opened the floodgates the afternoon she had dropped off Clarissa's meal. As a thank you, Clarissa had offered to tell her fortune, which Jillian had thought was just a holiday joke. But as Clarissa had looked over her palm, she had grown quiet.
And she had seen a great evil in her past, still touching her soul.
"I could be wrong," Clarissa had said. "Sometimes the messages get muddled from other influences. But if your soul needs healing, I'll let you have a wish."
Jillian had acted like she thought it was a funny prank, but every time she came by Clarissa's house, she thought about that spooky day - and the puppet in her past.
Slappy - such a stupid name on an ugly toy, but the word chilled her more than any arctic wind could. He had harmed her to the soul and had left it streaked - she could still feel his hate toward the world sometimes, on the edges of her own temper. Any time she had gotten significantly angry, significantly offended and contemplated retaliation against the perpetrator - she would stop herself, asking if this was something HE would do. She often second-guessed herself, trying to discern where her emotions ended and where his residual influence began. No wonder her mind fought for repression.
She had refused to take Clarissa up on that wish - she wouldn't touch magic again, not even a good-luck charm. Yet when Tiffany had brought home her so-called gag gift, saying she could use it as part of her final project for her Photography class, Jillian hadn't hesitated. Once Tiffany left to meet her boyfriend for lunch, she threw Slappy into a suitcase and floored it to Clarissa's house.
And if Clarissa said she needed to toss Slappy in the rain, she'd do it without question, even if she didn't understand it.
Jillian spun toward the suitcase, checking the fastenings. Still secure. Slappy hadn't made any noise on the drive over - she would like to believe Tiffany hadn't read those accursed words which brought him to life, but she wouldn't take any chances. He probably was plotting something horrible, even right then.
Did he recognize me? she wondered, reaching for the handle. She couldn't remember if Tiffany had called her "Jill" at all when she came into their dorm - but there were plenty of Jills with green eyes and black hair, and she hadn't seen Slappy since middle school. In a few minutes it wouldn't matter - once the rain started.
She lifted the suitcase, starting to turn for the door - and stopped. Something wasn't right. The suitcase felt like the right weight to have a dummy, but… it also felt off somehow.
She shook the case - something clattered inside, but it didn't sound like a wooden body.
The handle slipped from her fingers. "I gotta get outta here - " The words died in her throat as she whirled toward the door - and saw the three-foot monster glaring back at her.
Jillian staggered back.
"Oh, my!" Clarissa cried, clutching her bed frame.
His arms hung at his side, seemingly flimsy but possessing deadly power. He stood straight and tilted his head back to study the two women. He might have looked like a toddler from a distance, but he wore a dark-gray suit with a red bow tie and carnation. Slappy stared at Jillian coldly, and despite the red lips cut to resemble a smile, his ugly features promised violence.
"You have a messy car, slave," he rasped, advancing into the room. "Anything could be lurking in your backseat if you're not careful." He snickered once, and then he looked at Clarissa. "Grandma, what a dumb face you have," he sneered.
Jillian stepped between them. "You leave her alone, Slappy," she ordered. Despite her fear, she raised her arm protectively in front of Clarissa - who'd be trapped in her current state if Jillian didn't draw the dummy away.
Slappy shuffled forward. He couldn't move steadily with his odd legs, but he was quicker than he appeared. "You seem to know me, although I can't say I've had the same… pleasure." His blue eyes trailed up to her face, examining her with a sudden curiosity. Then they grew colder than the December chill outside. "But if you know me, then you know what happens when a stupid little slave makes me mad."
Jillian acted quickly. She sprung toward the door, intending to jump around him and lead him away from Clarissa - but as she sailed over him, his hands latched onto her ankle.
She had forgotten just how strong he was.
She slammed onto her belly. Pain shot through her, but she didn't cry out until he pulled her back toward him. She rolled to her side, trying to kick him - but then he was by her shoulders, and he yanked her spine against his torso. She tried to use her legs to propel herself into him, to knock him over. But he stayed sturdy - probably by magic.
His rigid arm wrapped around her neck, pressing threateningly against her windpipe. "Give me a reason to spare you," he taunted in her ear.
Jillian gripped his arm, straining to pull it off her, but he held firm.
Then the fingers on his other hand touched her chin, turning her face toward him. He peered into her eyes. He leaned closer. "You should know something, lady," he rasped. "Humans are some of the ugliest creatures in existence. When I call a human hideous, it's one of the few times I tell the truth."
Jillian pulled back, but he yanked her chin toward him again.
"But there was one girl worth taking home to Mother," he whispered. "When I looked at her, I got all sorts of new thoughts I never had before. Like what I'm getting right now, looking at you." His smile broadened, and the cold ice in his eyes shifted into a flame. "Nice to see you again, Jillian Zinman."
Her heart pulsed like a wounded animal trying to escape its captor. She thrashed her legs, but he put pressure on her throat and wouldn't lessen it until she stilled. "Let go of me," she coughed.
His eyes glittered. "Always hoped you'd keep your looks. You didn't disappoint." His other hand touched a colored strand of hair. "Why, you have 'something blue,' my bride."
She cringed as his fingers glided down her cheek. "I'm not marrying you."
"It's cute you think you have a say."
Suddenly, something flashed in the corner of her eye - Slappy saw it almost at the same time, but he had no chance to react.
Slappy's arms slacken, and his body skidded away her, landing on the floor. His eyes closed.
Clarissa clutched her walker. Her pale face now resembled paper. "Run, Jillian! Run!"
Jillian scrambled to her feet, rubbing her throat. "We gotta move, Clarissa! Before he gets up!"
She slung the older witch's arm around her sturdy shoulders, helping her across the floor. Her eyes darted to the motionless wooden body, lying awkwardly where he had landed. But she couldn't focus on him now. She had to get Clarissa to the kitchen. Now.
Clarissa sucked air through her teeth, clutching her side. "Oh, my hip! I can't move!" she groaned. "Save yourself. He'll be after you."
"No way!" Jillian adjusted her hold on her, trying to shift more of Clarissa's weight onto herself. "We're almost to the back door."
Adrenaline coursed through the young woman, giving her strength to help her injured companion hobble out of the back room and into the old kitchen. But they had hardly stepped over the threshold when a raspy groan cut through the air, chilling Jillian's blood.
"Faster!" she urged.
"I'm trying!" Clarissa huffed.
Jillian strained to heave the witch forward. Her hand flailed for the doorknob. She saw the thick woods through the glass. Tiny footsteps clopped in the other room, heading toward them.
She pulled the door open, maneuvering the older woman around the barrier to get into the yard. Winter chill stung her face, and the wind raged against them, as if trying to trap them with the terror on their heels.
"Rain now," Clarissa panted, pleading the shadowed heavens. "Please, rain."
Jillian lugged her off the stoop, onto the dead grass. She had to find a hiding spot in the woods.
Over the wind, that hoarse voice she dreaded called after them: "You hit me, witch. That makes me mad."
"You stay away from her!" Jillian shouted over her shoulder - she caught a glimpse of him, face darkened, blue eyes aflame, teetering on his tiny legs. And he was gaining.
Jillian dragged Clarissa now. Across the yard. Past the wooden shed. The treeline lay just within reach - too late, Jillian remembered her car parked out front.
But she had to keep moving. Had to keep Clarissa safe until she could come up with a plan.
"Please, rain!" Clarissa gasped, gripping Jillian like a life preserver.
"Ready or not!" the raspy voice cried from behind, at the door. "Here I come!" A cackle of sadistic delight.
Into the woods. Five feet. Ten feet. The leaves swallowed their ankles. Jillian struggled to keep on, wading in dead foliage.
Clarissa lurched and stumbled over a hidden root, crying out. Jillian caught her - her arms hurt from exertion.
Then the icy raindrops began to splash against her head.
Clarissa released her, laughing. "The rain! The rain!" she cried, holding a tree branch. "We're safe!"
"Clarissa, c'mon!" Jillian cried, grabbing her arm. "He's coming!"
Clarissa only hugged her, still guffawing. "Jillian, we're safe! It's magic rain!"
Jillian stopped. "Really?"
"My old teacher cast that spell years ago!" She spread out one arm, tilting her head back to catch the chilly droplets in her mouth. "This is a cleansing rain! Whenever it pours in this town, it washes away evil - haha! Look!" She pointed toward her backyard.
Slappy had reached the center of the yard - and not a step further. The little dummy writhed in pain beneath the onslaught of enchanted water. His raspy cries echoed into the woods.
Clarissa beamed broadly. "Nothing evil can stay outside when it rains within the town limits. No vampires, no werewolves, no Horrors. Not even bad ghosts!"
Jillian twisted her neck sharply. "No ghosts?" she asked, considering the implications - and the realization it brought.
"Or dummies! Look at him!"
He crawled on his belly, digging his fingers into the mud and grass and pulling his body forward, aiming himself toward the wooden shed in Clarissa's backyard. As the two women watched, he struggled with the door, his yelps more controlled, and finally his super strength prevailed. With the door finally flung open, he slunk inside and disappeared into the shadows. The door rattled, and then the wind blew it shut.
"He's trapped!" Clarissa crowed, clapping her pale hands.
Jillian swallowed the cold, moist air, calming her nerves. Then she turned back to the older woman. "When I was a kid, Slappy's body got sliced in two," she said softly. "I thought he was dead, but his evil spirit went into the nearest human body - me."
Clarissa's black eyes bulged. She pressed Jillian's arm. "Oh, you poor girl."
"His soul can't be destroyed if you hurt his body. But what would happen if he died in this rain?"
"His spirit would… be destroyed."
"Then," she said, looking up at the sky, "we have to finish him before the rain stops."
Slappy clutched his torso, gritting his sliding jaw. His suit smoked and hissed, and the shed smelled like a campfire. What's happening? he groaned to himself.
That witch must have done something. Maybe a perimeter spell on her backyard so that water stung like acid. Oh, she would suffer once he caught her. And he would catch her - Jillian Zinman was with her.
The ache from the water started to subside, and he considered his prey. Where could Jillian flee on foot? She had left her car, so once the storm let up, she would probably try to come back for it. He could hide in it and catch her - or take the car himself and cruise for her.
He smiled at the imagery - taking that old tin can for a spin, down a back road. Jillian with the witch on her shoulder, looking down the road in hope of rescue. Then she would see him - oh, her green eyes would pop in that adorable way, and her long legs would tremble. He would threaten to harm the witch if she didn't get into the car - as dark and wicked as her thoughts could get, she was too much of a goodie-goodie to let him torment somebody to save her own skin.
Then she would climb in the passenger seat, and he would use his magic to hit the accelerator. Within an hour, his bride would at last be his wife - now that was a Christmas present!
Thunder rumbled outside, and his ears grew attentive at the sound of splashing footsteps in the rain - not the hobble of the limping witch, but the gait of a spritely young woman.
He pushed himself to his feet, tweaking his bow tie. "Coming to check up on me, doll?" he called to her as he adjusted his soaked suit next. "Don't be shy. I'd enjoy your company."
She didn't reply, but he'd bet his pull string she heard him.
He shuffled to the door, grinning. He opened it as much as he could without letting the painful droplets in. Courtship was truly a dance - and his name would be the only one on her dance card tonight.
"Marry me, and I won't hurt your friend," he bargained. "Let's enjoy the rest of today as man and wife."
He heard splashing outside, behind the shed. Then the odor arose. His jaw dropped. He knew that scent.
Not quite lighter fluid, but close - magic users kept it for emergencies in case they needed a fire for their cauldrons in a pinch.
Instinctively, he flung open the door, but he howled as the rain splattered against him. He stumbled back, losing his balance.
More splashing. Now on the right wall.
"H-Hey, wait!" he cried, beating his fist against the wooden barrier. "We can talk about this! Jillian!"
More splashes. All four sides of the shed.
"Jillian!" he screamed. "Truce! Truce! Please!"
Panic swept through him. Not fire. Not fire. He hated fire. More than termites.
"Truce! Truce! Please! Truce!"
The door swung open. He tried to move forward, but rain swept in, forcing him back. Jillian raised the jug of the magical fire starter and dribbled the pungent fluid on the door, the dirt floor, making a trail to the liquid outside.
He stared at her. "...Please," he said weakly.
She returned his gaze, green eyes hard. "Your soul won't enter someone else when your body dies," she said. "The rain will destroy all the evil it touches. You lose, Slappy."
"Please," he said again. "Don't do this."
She reached into her winter coat and pulled out a lighter, the long kind used for candles. Her forefinger rubbed the switch. "Give me a reason to spare you."
His limbs shook. "Because," he whispered, "you're a better person than me."
Jillian shook her head. "No. What did you do to deserve life?"
"...I can't help being what I am," he replied with a moan. "I was built to be evil. Like you were built to breathe."
She nodded without mercy. "And that's why I have to light this shed. If you leave, you'll keep hurting people like you hurt me. I got to stop you."
He pressed his painted palms together. "Please, Jillian. I'm begging you. Don't kill me. Please."
"Too late." She raised her hand, igniting the lighter. "And, for the record, I wouldn't marry you if you were the last guy on earth."
He flinched, curling himself up. "Please," he whimpered. "I don't want to die. Please, Jillian." He covered his eyes, unable to face his doom.
But she shouldn't have.
He had tried to force her to marry him, and he had hurt her when she refused. He wanted her to slave for him, a trophy wife who did his bidding. He tried to kidnap her. When his spirit had entered her, he controlled her, made her do things to get her in trouble. And he still had not a shred of remorse. He'd do it again if he could, even as he begged for his life. If she let him go, he would try to capture her again by nightfall. Maybe even dole out revenge amidst his twisted ideas of courtship.
He didn't deserve mercy.
But her hand stayed itself.
He continued to whimper, a pathetic bully who discovered his prey fought back. A coward.
To let him live would mean more people would suffer - especially kids. She knew his mind from the time he had controlled her. He had told her of the different children who he had tried to enslave - a pair of blonde twins, the Kramer kids, the O'Dell siblings and their cousin, those girls in Nevada, that boy in Florida. If he lived, he would learn no lesson and keep terrorizing anyone he could.
But if she killed him right here… was she any better than him? What separated her from the black magic living inside him? Was she acting now from her own sense of justice? Or was this the darkness he himself had left behind in her mind?
The flame extinguished in the wind. She gripped the lighter. But she didn't try to ignite it again.
But she needed to. Before the rain stopped.
Then an idea occurred to her.
She stepped backwards, fully enveloping herself in the downpour, wetting the lighter, but she kept her eyes on Slappy. "Clarissa?" she called.
The witch poked her head out from behind the tree she had selected for surveillance. "What's wrong?"
Jillian held out her arms, walking toward her. "Clarissa, can you come over here? I want him to hear this."
Surprised, the older woman complied, and Jillian half-guided, half-carried her through the rain to the shed.
"Clarissa, can I have that wish now?" she asked, speaking loud enough for Slappy to hear.
Clarissa huffed from the pain but nodded. "Of course."
Jillian looked down at Slappy but continued speaking to the woman. "I understand that he'll always have evil thoughts. But if he ever acts on them, like if he tries to hurt somebody for fun or enslave somebody or murder or whatever, I want him transported into an evil-cleansing rain like this one. No matter where he is in the world. Every time."
"Every time?" Slappy protested.
"Every time. Until he's ready to be good. For good."
"I - I think I can pull that off." Clarissa pulled out her crystal from an unseen pocket and closed her black eyes, scrunching up her face in concentration. After a moment, she nodded. "Done."
Jillian jerked a nod of her own. She stepped back into the shed.
The dummy's blue eyes loomed up at her in reproach. "No evil ever again?" he moaned.
"This is my mercy, Slappy. You remember that." She pointed her finger at his face. "You remember that I could've killed you if I wanted it. And I really wanted it."
"Okay," he said weakly. "Whatever you say." Then, tapping his fingers together awkwardly, he asked, "What about Tiffany?"
Jillian hesitated - and sighed with exasperation. "I suppose, since she owns you, she'll want you back. But," she added, speaking through gritted teeth, "you stay in the closet while I apply for a dorm transfer. You don't talk to me. You don't look at me. Got it?"
He nodded vehemently.
She took a step back. "You stay in here until the storm lets up." She didn't wait for him to reply.
With that, she put Clarissa's arm around her again and helped her toward the house.
The older witch sighed, relieved and weary. "What a wonderful power, the rain."
A/N: If you guys were wondering why I write so many AUs where Slappy befriends kids instead, this is why - because when you write him closer to the canon, he's a jerk! He doesn't even try to be sneaky about it either. Which is why it's also fun to make him get his comeuppance and give Jillian the control she didn't get to enjoy in the book.
Maybe someday I'll get back to writing (somewhat) genuine friendships between Slappy and Jillian in AU fics, but just because I like them getting along doesn't mean I'll ignore what would realistically happen in a sequel based on their canon interactions. (Jillian hated Slappy in the book, remember?)