By Faith W.(a.k.a. The Maine Coon Cat)
Vendetta's house was hardly a charming place. Large and looming; painted a dark, mossy green and abundant with fiendish decor, it was more like something out of a B-rated horror flick. Of course, it had not always been this way. Back when her parents had been of a somewhat taller stature and in control over their own lives, the house had been a lovely place to look at. Tourists had regularly stopped to take pictures of it when they drove by.
....No one would bother to take pictures of it anymore, though; much less dare to come within ten yards of it.
In the kitchen of said house, which was also slathered in vile green paint, Vendetta stood cackling over a simmering pot of viscous liquid. Her face glowing in the eerie light that emanated from the roiling ooze, she could easily have been confused with any traditional witch. "Yes! Yes! It is ready!"
Grudge, who had been stirring the slime for no less than half an hour, sighed in relief– his arm was starting to feel distinctly cramped. Setting the spoon on the table, he waited for the usual explosion or metamorphoses that took place when a fiend was created. However, after watching the pot remain motionless for several seconds, he furrowed his brow in concern. If it was so ready, why was nothing happening?
Puzzled, he glanced up to see his master glowering malevolently at him.
"Hamster!" She yelled, "Pour it out!"
Grudge's eyes widened, a confused grunt escaping him. Her order was uttered in such a way that he realized she thought he should have known what to do all along. If he could have talked back, he might have pointed out that he hadn't had any idea– because she hadn't informed him. However, though he had secretly questioned his master's directions more than once, he had yet to openly defy her. Still, the idea of pouring the molten mixture all over the floor less than enthused him. He hesitated briefly, earning himself a terrible glare, and with a wince proceeded to tip the pot.
Contrary to what he had expected, the liquid did not melt through the floorboards– nor did it even reach them. In an instant, the glowing ooze hardened and burst into an array of neon-bright butterflies. Butterflies...with inch-long fangs.
"Quickly, Hamster!" The green girl shoved an oversized canister into his face, "Capture them!"
In a panic, he waved the box, dancing about the room as though he had gone rabid. No way, no how did he want to get bitten by one of Vendetta's creations. Especially not a creation meant for Charlotte, of all people. After a few mindless moment of scurrying about, he had successfully trapped them all. With a cry, Vendetta sprang forwards, slamming the lid on top.
"Done." She sighed and allowed herself a small, self-satisfied smile. With a nod, she directed her gaze to him, "Good work."
Despite the fright he had experienced not seconds before, Grudge found himself timidly smiling along with her. Vendetta rarely complemented him on anything he did, but it was moments like these that made it all worthwhile. "Good work" beat "Stupid Hamster" any day. Carefully placing the container on the table, he gave her an inquiring grunt.
...Which she instantly interpreted, "'What will it do?' Heh-heh-heh." With a wave of her hand, she beckoned him to step closer; then pointed at the box, "You saw their fangs, yes? One bite from those fangs will instantly reverse anyone's personality!" A fevered excitement lit her eyes, "Even Charlotte's!"
Grudge took a second to process this. "Hmm?"
Vendetta groaned, "What do you think, you stupid Hamster?! What is Charlotte like now?"
When he didn't answer, she suddenly rose on her tiptoes, a goofy grin splitting her face. He backed away in horror, only to hear her spout, in a high-pitched voice, "Oh, I am Charlotte! I am the happiest stupid little girl in the world!" This was punctuated with many twirls and some prancing, "Wee! I like to touch Vendetta's hair even though her hair is not to be touched! I want to be her friiiieeennnnd! GAH!"
Vendetta shuddered, as if just pretending to be her enemy was too much for her constitution to bear. Grudge knew it was certainly too much for his. "She is like that! And what is the opposite of that?"
When he didn't reply, she slammed her fist on the table, momentarily upsetting the canister full of fiends. "SAD. Sad, for all of time! So sad that she will never sing or dance or braid my hair AGAIN!" More cackling. "But, come.... Let us go back to school. I am sure that Charlotte will be waiting for us. And for her butterflies."
Everyone in Mr. Milk's class felt the black cloud of trepidation looming over them. Everyone, of course, except Charlotte. The girl was many things– cute, cheerful, obnoxious as sin– but sadly, smart was not one of her qualities. She was still singing to herself, still waiting for her "best friend" to return with the pretty butterflies she had so generously promised to make.
Meanwhile, Mr. Milk was attempting to make the most out of a Vendetta-free class. "And, um, the-then the caterpillar builds a c-cocoon and– "
The poor man gasped, leaping away and shielding himself as though a bomb had just detonated. In the doorway, his "favorite pupil" leered at him, raising an amused eyebrow at his terror. "Oh-! He-hello, Vendetta.... I was, um, I was– "
But the girl promptly ignored him, more important matters obviously on her mind, "Hamster!"
Mr. Milk shuddered aloud and coward behind his desk as the enormous hamster entered the room. It was not the sight of said hamster that frightened him, however (he had kind of grown pretty used to that), but the large, translucent box it was carrying. In it, the teacher could make out bright, flitting things, colored in various shades of green, red, and yellow. "Um...wh-wha– "
"Charlotte." Vendetta cooed. Mr. Milk's stomach turned. Anytime Vendetta's voice had that sickly sweet tone, something terrible was about to happen. "I brought you your butterflies."
"Oh, YAY!" The blue girl squealed.
Vendetta grinned, "Hamster, open the box!"
The moment Grudge's hand neared the lid, every child in the classroom (minus Charlotte) bolted, shrieking. Mr. Milk was right behind them. At the door, he paused, casting a guilty last look over his shoulder at Charlotte– trapped in there with a monster like Vendetta and her awful fiends. If he were more of a man, perhaps he would be able to run back in and save her, but as it was, he merely joined the other children in peering through the doorway.
With a dull pop, the lid was opened, and the butterfly fiends were released. Charlotte gasped with joy as they took to the air while Vendetta backed away, not wanted to get bitten herself. After all, it wouldn't do to have her wonderful personality altered.
"Oh, thank you, Vendetta!" Charlotte leapt to her feet, twirling amidst all of the bright creatures. Clasping her hands, she turned shining eyes on her supposed best friend, "You're the best!"
The green girl merely chuckled, rubbing her hands together. "Heh-heh-heh...you are welcome!"
"Butterflies, butterflies, flying all across the skies! Pretty wings, pretty things, make me want to dance and sing!" Charlotte pranced out of the classroom, closely followed by the demonic little beasts. Vendetta, too, followed, her grin growing wider. As soon as they cleared the playground, Mr. Milk and the rest of the children ran back inside, slamming the door behind them. No one wanted to get caught in between the two girls...or among all those fiends.
Charlotte continued to skip along obliviously, but still the creatures did not bite. Vendetta's smile faltered a bit; she was growing impatient. "What are you waiting for?!" she snarled at the nearest fiend, "Bite her! Do it NOW!"
The singing girl had barely passed the Discount Clams Emporium, her song on its second stanza, "Butterflies, butterflies, I looked at them with my eyes! Pretty green and red and blue, over my head they flew!" She failed to see a particularly vivid red creature closing in on her left hand, "Come on, Vendetta! Sing alooonnnggg!"
With a sickening crunch, the creature sunk its teeth into the child.
"OW!" Charlotte halted so fast that she nearly tripped over her own feet. The "butterfly", having accomplished its one purpose in life, dissolved into a puff of red smoke. Almost immediately, its venom took effect, and the girl's eyes began to glaze, "Oh, I...feel funny...." Swaying, she took a woozy step back. "I feel...nnn...."
She collapsed on the pavement.
"YES! YES!" The green girl howled, and bent over her enemy's prone form as if to inspect it. Straightening up, she struck a satisfied pose, "Hamster! Gather the fiends! Their work is done."
Grudge nodded, hurrying to fulfill his duty as his master continued to gloat.
"Soon– soon she will awaken, never to torment me again!" Vendetta burst into a fit of evil laughter. "Finally!"
As he snapped the lid back on the box, Grudge noticed Charlotte's eyes begin to open slightly. Shocked, he grunted a warning, "HMM!"
"What?" His master snapped, then blinked, "Ah!"
Charlotte was indeed awake, scrubbing at her bleary eyes with the back of her good hand, "Where– where am I....?" she moaned.
Unable to help herself, Vendetta chuckled. The gleeful grin on her face was so large that her teeth were actually showing. "Charlotte.... How are you feeling?"
"Vendetta?" Charlotte pulled a face. It was not a sad expression, that much was obvious. Vendetta's grin dissolved into a puzzled frowned. "What happened?"
Recovering slightly from her initial disappointment, the green girl shrugged as nonchalantly as she could. After all, Charlotte's personality still had to be altered somehow. "You, ah...you fell!"
Sitting up, Charlotte studied her bitten palm. The two puncture holes were painfully obvious. "What happened to my hand?"
Now Vendetta's frown was one of utter bewilderment. Something wasn't quite right.... It was that stupid blue girl's stupid voice, but it wasn't quite right. There was an underlying...edge to it. Not of pain or sadness, as Vendetta would have expected (and, indeed, had hoped for), but of...wait–
The thought wiped even the frown from Vendetta's face, leaving a blank, stupefied stare in its wake. Never– never had she heard even a trace of irritation in Charlotte's voice before. It was actually kind of...unnerving. She cleared her throat uncomfortably. "You– ah– you fell on two...nails! Yes! That's what happened." Clenching her teeth, she flashed the blue girl her best approximation of a charming smile.
Charming smiles, however, were not Vendetta's forte, and she ended up looking somewhat crazed.
Still, crazed or not, for the first time she could remember, the blue girl did not respond to her trickery in the same naive manner as she always had. Instead, Charlotte fixed her with a highly suspicious scowl. The green girl took a step back, eyes darting from side to side. This was an extremely unexpected turn of events, and she had no idea as how to deal with it. With her giant hamster to back her up, safety wasn't an issue. It was the fact that no one had ever scowled at her before. She had, whether by force or cunning, always been able to have the upper hand in situations like this. No one dared to question her.
At least, not until now.
"Really?" Charlotte shrugged as if she knew Vendetta were lying, and that it didn't matter much to her either way. Standing up, she took a look at the wreck of a town that surrounded her, "Ugh, what a dump.... Why did I ever like this place so much?"
Suddenly, the blue girl smiled, but it was not Charlotte's trademark giddy grin. Instead, it was as sinister and malevolent as any smile Vendetta had ever let stretch her lips. "But maybe I'll change all that, huh?"
The fiend-maker felt as though what was left of her heart had sunk to her toes. This feeling was made even worse when Charlotte, seeming to sense her discomfort, laughed.
It wasn't the girl's usual, "Tee-hee!"
In fact, it sounded more like....
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