Chapter 8 Page 8
Posted December 16, 2022 at 02:00 pm

*EDIT* No update this week, spending time away for the holidays! See you next week!

Thanks for waiting! It's everybody's favorite character!



        Mayview Middle School’s very own vice principal, Devilora Demonelle DuNacht, was slithering down the sidewalk like a slug on a mission. In lieu of slime, she left a trail of bitter birdseed in her wake. It scattered about like a bagel’s dandruff with each kneading flex of her withered old hands, folded surreptitiously behind her back.

        It wasn’t birds she sought to feed, though many a foolish fowl that followed her was indeed fed. No, it was the cats in the neighborhood that had earned Vice Principal DuNacht’s fancy. They’d learned the route to her secret weekly rendezvous, and had taken to lying in ambush along the path to pick off stragglers from the avian parade.

        A flurry of feathers and screeching behind her signaled that yet another meal had been delivered. Vice Principal DuNacht’s dentures flashed in Mayview’s dawning dusk. The carnage suited her just fine. This was the natural order of things, predator devouring prey, and she’d refined the entire process to run on schedule, like perfect gleaming clockwork.

        The extra dash of black surrounding the ghost of the cats’ fresh kill, the squawking specter of a crow, caught Devilora’s eye over her shoulder. With a flick of her taloned finger and a flash of a hair-thin string in the twilight, the bygone bird was reeled in and absorbed. Only a wisp of black spectral energy remained, until it, too, was slurped up by DuNacht... or, perhaps, by something hidden on her person.

        “Many mouths to feed,” the vice principal muttered, tut-tutting in a grandmaternal tone. She hissed at a baby passing in a stroller as a little treat for herself, tore a poster advertising an unimpeachable charity from a telephone pole, and slinked into the shade of the backstreet that led to East Hill’s public swimming pool.

        No water but the rain had graced the basin’s Olympic-length depths for many months, not since Davy Jones had bought the property. Now only shadows filled it, slowly but surely rising as the sun sank lower and lower in the sky. The whole place was abandoned and decrepit, overgrown with weeds and saturated by splashes of graffiti.

        String snaked from the vice principal’s hand into the padlock securing the rusty fence around the pool. With a puppeteering twitch of her fingers, the lock popped open, evidently picked. Another tug threw the gate wide, then shut it tight behind her as she stepped through. One last dismissive swish secured the lock again from fifteen feet away.

        Vice Principal DuNacht smiled as her string whirred back to its unseen source. It only took a little push, the gentlest pull, to put things in their proper place. People, too, if they could even be considered their own category... especially all those stinky little children running about her school like rats, ripe for possession. Only she was fit to herd that horrid flock. When it came to plucking each strand to shape the preteen puppet show just so, Devilora had learned from the very best of the worst.

        A soft meow behind her paused a slew of wicked thoughts. The vice principal turned, sweeping her aardvark nose in a long, slow circle, and met the feline eyes of a ratty stray, one she recognized from her route.

        “Now, now, you silly wretch,” DuNacht said in a singsong hiss, “I meet filth like you halfway. That means no free lunch, my dear.” With a series of unsettling snaps and crackles, the vice principal loomed low to pet the cat. “If the others got the birds today, well, you can just starve, can’t you?” The cat purred appreciatively as DuNacht’s disturbingly sharp fingernails scratched away at its chin. “Yes you can~!” she cutely crooned. “Who’s my insufficient little darling~?”

        The vice principal’s ears perked up at the sound of additional paw pads landing softly on the poolside pavement. This was soon followed by a much less graceful thump, which earned its source a sharp hiss of admonishment.

        “My, my,” mused Devilora, turning on her creaking axis to face the new arrivals, “I was under the impression that cats always landed on their feet. Are you feather-dusted furballs the exception to the rule, or should I let the old wives know their tale needs some retelling?”

        “No proper rule abides exception,” sneered one raspy voice.

        “No twuth would be so foowishwy uncompwicated,” added another.

        “No way, man, you’re married??” a third chimed in. It was a very bassy chime indeed, still ringing from its rough landing moments earlier.

        “...Not for a long time,” Vice Principal DuNacht replied, grinning with a wistful sort of murderous intensity. “Now I’m a wicked widow who spends all her time doting on her kittens. Isn’t that right, my little morsel?” She redoubled her stroking of the stray, which rubbed itself against her and flopped over.

        The cat was unperturbed by the creatures perched on the opposite side of the pool. After all, it couldn’t see or hear them.

        “Wet us begin our wegular business,” chirped the Sphinx of Truth impatiently. “Nine wives won’t wast fowever.”

        “Dude, YOU’RE married too?!” gasped the golden-winged hulk of a sphinx beside her, which earned him a punitive swat from the Sphinx of Games. If it hurt, the big sphinx didn’t show it. “What am I doin’ with my life, man?” he mumbled, hanging his shaggy maned head.

        The vice principal slowly unfolded her way back to her full height, rippling and crinkling like a Jacob’s ladder made from stale saltines. “Run along,” she said to the cat at her feet, and it complied politely.

        The Sphinx of Truth followed the subtle glint of string above the stray as it departed, wriggling out through a hole in the fence. Her eyes narrowed with wary distaste, shifting back to the vice principal once she’d puppeteered the creature out of sight.

        “Your turn,” grinned Devilora Demonelle DuNacht, reveling in the sphinxes’ clear unease. “Haven’t you someone to send away as well?”