A/N: Sorry for the long wait! I'm working on a novel of my own right now, so don't expect another update anytime soon. This chapter is also terribly short. (It's more like a filler chapter than anything else)
As I was updating, I began to wonder this: Why do so many people love stories with Wybie as the main character/plot? I may never know.
I already felt terrible and different.
As soon as the words, When do we start? came from my mouth, I felt like I had just agreed to sell my soul to Satan. In my opinion, the Beldam was Satan. Or at least the female version of him. You get my point. Now that I thought about it, it really seemed as though I had made myself a slave without putting up much of a fight. Here I was, now listening to every single word uttered by the Beldam with barely a second thought. What was wrong with me?
My head snapped up. I was sitting... Where was I sitting? I looked around, and realized that the Beldam had brought me to some type of workshop. Where had that come from? It looked terribly similar to our small basement in the Pink Palace. Only I was in the Beldam's version of it.
Shelves, drawers, small closets and all lined the walls and most of the floor of this workshop. Dusty books, cloth, ratty dolls and other items I couldn't make out sat in various containers and holding devices. I thought I saw my very own doll sitting upon one of the shelves, smirking triumphantly at me, but I hoped it was just a trick of the light. The only light source in the workshop was a tiny light bulb dangling from the ceiling. I wondered how the Beldam could possibly see in here, then remembered she had buttons for eyes. If she could see through buttons, she certainly had no problem seeing in the dark.
I shuddered. I allowed my gaze to focus on the Beldam's outrageously high heeled shoes instead of her face. All that came out was a choked, "Yes?" I felt like slapping myself. This monster didn't even deserve a kind 'yes'. She deserved a, Leave me the hell alone witch, before I kick your sorry a-
My thought was cut short by the Beldam answering me. "Would you be a dear and get me some fabric? There's some lovely blue cloth over by the window."
I clenched my teeth and barely kept myself from snapping at her. Biting my tongue, I got up from the dull chair I was in to go fetch the fabric, which was, sadly, intentionally blue. I pulled down my old t-shirt that I slept in as I made my way over to the window. I noticed that the space behind the window was a darker shade of blue than the sky outside. It looked almost as if what lay beyond was actual space, with planets and stars and who knows what else. I wondered if someone were to throw something out there if it would float away to an unknown realm.
Taking my eyes slowly off the window, I found the fabric that the Beldam was talking about nearby. It was folded neatly on top of the others, as if the monster had already planned to use it. I scowled, taking the metallic blue fabric off of the pile and making my way back to the chair.
"Here, your highness." I meant to toss the fabric at her feet, but she somehow caught it with unrealistic speed. I blinked a couple of times, taken aback by this.
Her blood red lips formed into a smirk once again. Changing the subject, she said, "Are you ready to start?"
My gaze turned to the blue fabric that was now in her hands. Was she actually expecting me to do something with that? Sewing wasn't my specialty, especially since I now had a phobia of all things that dealt with needles. I cringed as I remembered the many times my fear of buttons and sewing items had been revealed to people. I broke into a cold sweat every time my mom tried to fix a button on my shirt or a needle was brought into my sight. Did this monster really expect me to do things like her?
I fingered the small earring at the top of my left ear nervously. "What am I supposed to do with that?" I wasn't very comfortable with being in the same room as my worst nightmare with sewing utensils surrounding us.
The Beldam stared at me with amusement. "I'm just going to see how much you know already." She put her hand out, signaling that she wanted me to take the blue fabric.
I stared blankly at it. How much I know already? What was I even supposed to do with a single piece of cloth? After a few moments, I allowed myself to take the fabric from her. Her palm felt like cold sandpaper, so I recoiled almost immediately. "I don't understand," I muttered.
"You will soon enough. Why, just being here in my presence is already changing who you are."
I blanched and found myself stumbling backward. Just being here in my presence is already changing who you are. The strange feeling I was currently experiencing was due to some change. I glanced down at my bare arms, inspecting them in case pale cracks were appearing in the skin. No, I told myself. Don't think about your appearance now. You'll get out of this mess.
"Hm," she pondered, her grin never leaving her face. "Come here."
I was hesitant. After all, who would listen to a spider witch whose original intentions were to sew buttons into your eyes and then later eat you? I thought about my life, which would be at stake if I didn't listen to the Beldam. Then I thought about my family, friends, and Other Wybie. I hadn't seen the speechless doll in 3 years, and my feelings for him were returning. Wait, feelings? My eyes grew wide for a moment. What was I thinking? He was a doll, made by my worst-
Suddenly, the Beldam was beside me and my mind went totally blank. I spun around, finding her button eyes staring intently at my face. I made a noise close to a squeak, and nearly jumped in the air. "W-What the hell," I sputtered. "Why must you always scare the crap out of me?"
"You didn't move, so I came over here," she told me, as if I were a child. "Is something wrong, darling?"
I brought a shaking hand up to tuck my hair behind my ears, for it was starting to stick to the back of my neck. "I'll tell you what's wrong. This..." I gestured to her, the area, and myself. "This whole thing! Why did you bring me back here? I was fine without being a psycho spider witch! You never make any sense, and honestly, I have no idea why you even care so much! I could easily do without all of this. I don't even-"
I was suddenly cut off. I couldn't move, couldn't breathe. My heart seemed to stop, and my eyes frantically darted in all directions. I realized that I was pinned to the wall by the Beldam, and her bony fingers had a tight grasp at my throat. I looked closer and saw that her hands were bigger and longer than before. With choked gasps, I attempted to look up.
The Beldam was back in her second form. Memories I had desperately tried to push away in the depths of my mind came flooding back. I had mouthed off, telling the monster that she wasn't my mother. She soon went over the edge, growing taller and uglier in a matter of seconds. You may come out when you've learned to be a loving daughter! she had screamed at me after throwing me behind the mirror.
Her wrinkled mouth was pulled back in a snarl. "Listen brat, I don't have to do this. I could kill you right now to make matters easier. Would you like me to?"
There was a strange ringing in my ears now as I tried to shake my head with her hand still around my throat. My heart was beating at an unbelievable rate. I was completely terrified and I couldn't do anything about it. I struggled, clawing at her hand uselessly with my stubby fingernails.
"Of course, The First wouldn't want me to do that," she seemed to say to herself. She turned her head slightly, as if she was trying to see something on the floor. She smirked, suddenly. "But things have changed since her time."
"Let - Me - Go!" I tried to scream, but it came out as a weak whisper. I felt her grip loosen, before finally pulling away. I gasped for breath, and clutched at my neck as I wobbled to the floor. I must have looked pathetic, coughing wildly and trying to return to my normal state. If I indeed looked pathetic, than there was no doubt that the Beldam was enjoying this. Making hacking noises, I allowed my eyes to return to the monster before me.
The First? Who was that? What did it mean?
"Hmph." The Beldam made a noise that resembled annoyance, but the upward tug of her lips said otherwise. "I hoped you learned your lesson. Maybe now you know to listen to what I say."
I knew my eyes were still wide with shock, for they felt as though they would pop out of their sockets. I allowed myself to fall to my knees. I was suddenly weak, and I knew it wasn't due to just the lack of air. Something else was happening. Something I definitely didn't approve of. I merely blinked.
The Beldam went back to a nearby table. "Let's get back to work, shall we?"
I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw myself in the mirror.
First of all, my hair looked like something Cat ate and then threw back up. It was a frizzy mass of blue that didn't even look like real hair. My butterfly hair clip, which I refused to take off, was suddenly missing from its usual spot at the top of my head. My skin had turned a sickly white color, much like the Beldam's unrealistic skin. Dark bags had formed under my eyes. All of these newly acquired features made me look like a zombie that had never heard of the word 'sleep'.
But, for some reason, I couldn't bring myself to sleep. It wasn't just because I was terrified due to the fact that a monster was in the same house as me. No, I didn't even feel tired. The dark circles under my eyes made it seem like I needed a week's worth of sleep, but being here for extensive amounts of time made me less tired. More like not tired at all.
Food was also becoming unappetizing. The Beldam made food in the kitchen when we weren't working, spending hours and hours in front of the heated stove. After the meal was ready, she'd sit it at the table and let it sit there until it started to grow mold. She had to have known that I had no desire to eat anything. If she knew this, then why did she always prepare food in her spare time?
I rubbed at my cheek, feeling the dry, peeling skin there. If I ever get out of here, I thought, I'm buying a year's worth of skin cream.
"Enjoying your new home?"
I could have recognized that voice anywhere. "I dunno, Cat," I replied. "Are you enjoying your time away from helping me?" Turning around, I locked eyes with familiar, icy blue orbs.
"She put up a barrier. It took me an extensive amount of time to get past it." He eyed me wearily, taking in my new appearance. "It looks like she's already begun transforming you."
"Really?" I faked surprise. "I hadn't even noticed!"
Cat merely looked up at me. "I don't think sarcasm is appropriate for this situation."
I put my hands on my hips dramatically. "And what is appropriate for my situation? Sit back and enjoy becoming a monster? Because that's really all I can do at this point!" Sighing, I turned my back to him. My image in the mirror stared back at me disapprovingly.
The old tom cat was silent.
"She's bringing others like her to see me," I whispered. "She said they would like to see my progress. Apparently there hasn't been another person like the Beldam in ages."
"You're correct," he responded. He circled me, the soft padding of his paws echoing in the empty hallway. "From the little knowledge I have, I know that another one of her species hasn't been created for well... longer than I've walked the earth. And that's certainly a long time."
I shook my head, chuckling despite the situation. "I just don't understand. Why does the Beldam want me so much? If I was her, I would have gotten bored a long time ago."
"Perhaps she is just determined to get her prey, or as she may look at it, receive what is rightfully hers." Cat's eyes wandered around the long hallway. "She brought you here in the first place. Knowing her, she probably finds you fascinating. Your courageous attitude and your ability to outsmart her might have something to do with it. The previous children she tricked lacked the intelligence and bravery that you posses."
"So I probably seem like a useful companion to her," I said. "With me by her side, we'd be able to lure any child that comes near here."
Cat looked me up and down, and if he were a human, he would have probably raised his eyebrows. "Yes. She most likely finds you a useful tool to get what she wants. And that's exactly why she is so determined. She always gets what she wants in the end."
I rubbed my arm uncomfortably. Remembering what the Beldam had said earlier, I whispered, "The First! Who is The First, Cat? She mentioned it-God, I'm beginning to lose track of time-not too long ago. She got angry with me and said The First wouldn't want her to kill me."
His blue eyes widened in surprise. He opened his mouth to reply, but before he could, his ears flapped back. Startled, he whipped his head frantically about the area. "I'll tell you the story later," he hissed. "For now, I must flee. She's returning."
With one last look at me, he disappeared around the corner.
About ten seconds later the Beldam strode in, her tall, anorexic-like form towering over me. "Who were you talking to?" she asked, the hint of anger nearly breaking her sweet facade.
"Myself," I answered a little too quickly. She raised a dark eyebrow. Nervously, I gestured toward the mirror. "I'm... not too thrilled about my appearance, and I was complaining about how crappy I look." I winced. Using the word 'crappy' probably wasn't the best thing to do.
I nodded slowly.
The Beldam stared at me long and hard. It was as if she were trying to find something about me that was invisible to her eyes-er, button eyes. "Very well, then," she said uncertainly. "It's about time for another lesson. Come downstairs in approximately five minutes."
She walked out without another look at me, the sound of her heels becoming fainter as she disappeared.
I let out the breath that I didn't know I was holding. It will be a miracle if I don't die from terror.