Chapter 8 Page 51
Posted January 26, 2024 at 05:04 am

There's a global strike going on this week to protest the ongoing genocide in Gaza, and many artists are avoiding putting out work this week in solidarity. In my case, since skipping updates to put more time into a page or rest my wrists is a fairly common occurrence, I thought I might be able to do a little more good updating and using this post to ask you all to join me in donating to Care for Gaza or supporting the Cartoonist Cooperative's E-Sim Drive for Gaza, as well as any other effort taking place in your circles to help Palestinians in the absence of aid from many of our governments and others in power. Thank you!



        The Hijacks flinched in unison. The bizarre patchwork crone looming over them had arrived without warning in a flurry of color and cloth, as if a carwash had taken matters into its own hands and chased its favorite meal down on the freeway. Now she was swarming Cody with an anthill’s worth of appendages, oozing blacker-than-black spectral energy that clung to him like dry ice to a stage.

        Who was this weirdo? A spirit? A spectral? Half-remembered warnings were scattered between the Hijacks’ disparate lobes, screaming for attention that could not be undivided.

        “You’re much too TALL and plump and HANDSOME to be MY Cody,” cooed the Witch, pinching the young vampire’s cheek and watching the scratch her nails left quickly heal. “You’re not growing up, ARE you? Oh, dear. Your father MUST be terrified, to have to worry that he’ll someday SEE you ROT.”

        The last word left her felt lips as a growl. Even Fauxbia’s voice seemed stitched together from the sound of countless others’, like the spoken version of a kidnapper’s newsprint demands.

        “Don’t act so surprised, Madam Vice President.” Cody met her bulging eyes with his fluorescent blue ones. “It hasn’t been that long at all since we last saw each other.” His smile widened to a smirk of accusation. “Has it?”

        The briefest silence hung between them. Then Fauxbia grinned, flashing sharp teeth that the Hijacks could have sworn she hadn’t had until just now.

        “Whatever DO you mean? The last time Davy brought you to a MEETING, why, you were THIS big, dumpling.” It was unclear which of the Witch’s many hands was supposed to be marking his measure. “BITE-SIZED! Though I suppose that you still could be, dearie, if I just—unhinged my JAW—”

        There was a horrible sound of tearing thread and cloth as about a dozen hands began to do just that, pulling still more rows of teeth free from her ripping folds of fabric. Hijack’s right half floundered in surprise, gasping water through his gills. He closed the only eye he could control—

        “Oh, my! Such loyal PETS.”

        The sound of snapping yarn had stopped. RB risked a fearful, squinting peek...

        Cody had been encircled by a phalanx of pale teens. Their sharp claws were extended to the Witch’s threadbare throat, a threat as keen as any knife could make.

        “So well-trained,” the Witch hissed in three different whispers, “they’d even bite the hand that FEEDS THEM on command.”

        One of her cross-stitched pupils shot to the young woman at the lead of Cody’s vampire bodyguard trio. Paige faltered, breaking previously piercing eye contact; her face fell to a brooding grimace in its place.

        “Gosh, guys! Thanks!” Cody grinned at his protectors. “I can take care of myself, though. You didn’t have to rush to my rescue!”

        “Shut it, shortstack,” snarled Gage. “You know we do.” He was in a foul mood and an ill-fitting suit, an awful combination for a teen who made his problems other people’s. “We got standing orders from your old man. Don’t get cute.”

        “Get cute? I already AM cute!” Cody beamed false innocence up at Gage, sparkling like the sun, which repelled him even faster than the real one.

        “SPEAKING of PETS—”

        Somehow, with just a moment’s distraction, Fauxbia had slipped past Paige, Gage, and Youth Culture, appearing from beyond their peripheral vision a breath from Cody. As her torn jaw stitched itself back into place, the Witch’s face fell suddenly, as if beheaded by a gallows, to meet the Hijacks’ wide eyes just an inch and change away.

        “WHO’S THIS little MORSEL, hmm??”

        Left Hijack blinked in speechless shock; Right Hijack silently screamed a stream of frightened bubbles.

        Fauxbia, the Fear Witch, licked her lips.