Smoking in the girls room

It’s a night of celebration in the land of Liberation as the Museum Gala kicks off!
Light surrounds the Capitol burning the skyline and creating artificial halos for all the arriving angels. The Tiffany District is empty tonight.
Everyone who is anyone is here and anyone who is part of everyone is watching. Whether at home, or clapping in the crowd, the bodies parade for your amusement. Always abiding.
Beyond the carpet and all the exploding flashes the elite wait, the most voyeuristic of all, observing the celebrities’ arrival in luxurious comfort. They sit in the main hall, tables adorned with delicate pastries and, of course, this year’s wine. Compliments of the Nation’s artisans. As with everything at any of the years events-the Nation provides.
We arrive with the bluest of the red bloods, the creme de la creme if you will, our blond bombshell: Victoria. Though tonight she has no name. Her limousine is a generic black car, and her arrival goes wholly unnoticed and woefully unappreciated. She can see the stars touring the carpet from where she stands. She can even see the backs of all their fans-how quaint. She smirks, thinking of the fun. Pearl pink lips twitch she’s loving the feel of tonight. Her outfit a tribute to a more entertaining kind of worship and a more entertaining sounding time. She revels in it. Her blue eyes filled with the glamour of it all, her body tightly wrapped in white lace from the neck down, her fingers gloved as well. A true vision of grace with gold locks framed by a chapel veil, everything fitting to theme.
The night’s events are in full swing when she enters. The drinks are flowing and the music is intoxicating. Everything is adorned to please the eye and invoke the feeling of Dark Age worship. It’s beautifully gaudy with a hint of Peregrinus decadence.
The well bred District folk are all adorned in wearable fashions mimicking the appearance of the faithful throughout time: many in veils-like our girl, holding rosary beads, crosses, stars, and the like. Patterns, textures, and colors vary wildly creating candy for the eye and too much sugar for the mind. Though, the most gilded in room are those dressed by the designers themselves. Visions of angels and paintings, even a sculpture of old. Dead. Lost images brought back to life in their gowns and tuxedos. The Gala centers on watching these individuals as they display themselves, everyone smiling, drinking, laughing and applauding.
Moving through the celebration she recognizes so many faces, so many people, some you could even call family, but they don’t see her-why should they?
Keeping a glass close to her chest she sips red wine, searching. Adjusting designer eyewear she waits. She is here for something, someone, specific. Her gloved fingers move down the flute as a gaggle of actresses walk past her, giggling and pointing. Each likened to a cherub though the silk reveals no purity, their gowns more for accent than anything else.
“Hm?” curious eyes follow their lead to a well heeled young lady in the midst of composing herself, cheeks flush ever so slightly, eyes wet, but head high. She’s made up as a lost world queen. Her dress: the kind that exaggerates the hips and bust with all the wrong colors, but that’s not why they’re laughing. Victoria smiles faintly poor thi-
“HA!”
The outburst of laughter is stifled by bare hands covering delighted mouth. The group of actresses stop moving, each hushing one another while trying to stifle their own laughter. Tables of guests turn their attention on them, but they don’t notice. Of course not. They can’t feel the stares or maybe, maybe they like them. It really doesn’t matter they don’t see them anyways.
The original offender breathes deep, “Oh! Ha-”
Another burst of laughter is stifled before they continue towards the restrooms, with the mass slowly returning to center. Judgements are past, but rarely seen as just displayed-some things never change.
The subject of their amusement keeps her chin high as they make their exit. Her breathing is steady though her lower lip whimpers-just so. A picture of well bred naivety, and very effective socialization. Victoria sighs sparing the girl another set of prying eyes, instead following the gaggle.
Her heels nearly glide on the plush red flooring. She sets her drink down on an end table in a fluid stride. Our angel baby’s got that predator smile as gloved fingers play at her sides, the corners of her mouth twitch as she reaches the restroom door.
The entrance is a deep blue no accents or highlights, just a deep blue door, with dark grey smoke escaping it’s bottom-how quaint. She grins that wild grin, cheeks framed by blonde locks and veil-time for the fun. Her pearl pink lips curl as she enters the room. Removing the eggshell chapel veil she breathes deep the second hand cheap.
“Hello ladies!” All teeth. The room goes silent. “Oh, come now, you’re all going to be so-so-so… lame?”
Everyone takes a drag of their cigarette, dead eyes on our pious princess.
“Yeah, yeah you are,” she sighs as three women, two of which are dressed in Halloween grade angel gear, make for the exit. She’s about to open her lips, to say something clever, then Victoria sees her. Her eyes go black.
“Everyone who wants to live follow their lead,” gloved finger points toward the exit, nobody moves. Shaking her head, eyes fixed on the prize. She’s not up to repeating herself. Cracking her neck, her eyebrow twitches, she’s hungry.
“Get out weirdo,” some shrill model demands. She’s in a tight dress completely unthemed her voice would normally induce violence, but Victoria’s hearing has ceased.
“Did you-What the fuck-Are you-” the girl dares to continue almost grabbing the blonde, but a frighten bystander grabs her before she can do anymore harm.
Victoria reaches her mark: another tall, beautiful, blond. Though, this one comes from a bottle. She’s dressed similarly to Victoria, though this bitch is in black, and the plunge in the front is inherently bland. Our girl’s wanted this one for a very long time she’s always hated orange tickets-especially her type.
“So, you think you’re strong?” Victoria’s voice is soft but throaty. Her eyes narrow as the room shifts uncomfortable with the new energy.
“Get the fuck out of my face,” the mark replies. Her green eyes shaking. She’s terrified, almost like she knows, “Seriously, get the fuck out. Someone call for security.”
Everyone’s listening, but no one moves. They can’t, they’re all frozen, and no one is sure why. It’s like they all know, and they just don’t want the fight.
The green eyed vixen waves her hand in front of Victoria’s face shifting to a more dominant stance. She doesn’t even know she’s made a mistake. No, this body thinks she can act and edge is her number one seller. Or, so she thought.
Our sweet vision in white grins wider, her eyes going round with delight as the mark brings her cigarette back to red colored lips.
Too quick to notice our girl lunges forward.
“Let’s see,” with one hand she pinches the green eyed girl’s nose shut and with the other Victoria covers the victims mouth. Cigarette and all-locked in tight.
“Let’s see how strong you are.”
Green eyes are wide, she’s struggling, grabbing at Victoria’s wrist, as her soon to be killer laughs. In that instant the room empties, everybody in hysterics. She doesn’t know she’s made a mistake.
“You don’t seem very strong. You should know how to get free, there’s a way, a few. It’s all quite easy,” Victoria snickers. Barely working at holding the orange ticket to the wall. “No? Hmm? Guess not. Pathetic, really,” tears well, deepening the green of her victims eyes, “It’s really, really pathetic. You don’t even seem to want to live.”
The actress is choking. She would really like to breathe now, but if she could do that she’d be screaming, “I do! I do want to live!”
Her throats on fire, but this isn’t over yet.
“You know, you’ll never be more than a clown. A puppet on stage for everyone to laugh at. You think, you actually believe you’re human, but you aren’t. None of you are,” Our girl laughs, the hyena peaking out, “You exist to dance for my amusement,” Victoria’s gloved hand lifts ever so slightly introducing a taste of oxygen to the mix. She screams, eating the flames as they form.
“So dance.”
The green eyed girl struggles, weakly at best. Victoria
takes a slow breath, watching her life fade, almost bored. The body goes limp and our girl lets it fall to the floor. The restroom’s plush purple carpet now gaudily adorned.
Victoria takes a moment to replace the veil, straightening it just so, before she exits.
Her entrance back into the Gala goes wholly unnoticed and woefully unappreciated. As security rushes the restroom the once frozen gaggle is now fully mobile, crying, and recounting their harrowing survival.

Showfolk and FREAKS

Once again we’re with our wicked witch, she’s cackling. In a room full of green smoke, three girls sit before her screaming at one another.
Her eyes roll, “You’ve asked the questions-now pay for the answers” her voice is a deadly kiss, her glowing green eyes fixed on easy prey.
The middle of the trio throws bills on the table her face completely soured.
“Take it-just take it,” she stands abruptly pulling the other two with her their arms linked tightly.
Their chairs fall back: one, two, three, causing the middle to jump.
And the one to her right to scream, “I can’t fucking believe you!” her eyes fixed on the one far left.
“Me?! you-you’re never there for him!“ the victim of the glare wails her blue eyes bulging out of their sockets.
Wicked can take no more.
“You two! Money. Now.” She snarls pearly white teeth revealing themselves under her ever thinning patience.
Simultaneously the girls’ focus snaps to her direction. Glaring at our soothsayer, pausing a moment before shoving fists into pockets then, just like their friend, they throw crinkled bills on the table.
“Get out,” the witch demands with an on going cackle. One that accompanies the air as it cracks into a thunderous boom which forces the trio to flee in terror.
The door closes behind them with a slam leaving Wicked to count the bills, smiling-they overpaid.
Giggling, “That was good,” Fiona comes up from behind, her body sloshing as she reforms, “how’d you know that stu-”
Scoffing she interrupts, “I didn’t.”
She folds half the earnings, turning to the thunder and smoke with a smile, “It’s not my fault they’re awful people.”
Her companion takes her cut laughing in that odd aquatic way. The green lady sighs overheating in her shoes, skin greener than before, every trick adding another godawful shade. Not to mention the body heat.
Fiona shakes her head with a smile using her newly formed hand to shape more acceptable cheeks. She’s savoring the feeling of cash-beautiful currency! But she’s not convinced in her partners denial of skill.
“Okay, yes-no is that easy. The name, though? Like the girls dad?” she’s unusually hopeful, still giggling.
Breathing deep and smiling cheek to cheek.
“Let’s just say I surprised myself with that one.”
Both burst into laughter Fiona cursing as she hiccups, a bubble escaping her freshly minted lips. Popping the delicate sphere with a long sharp fingernail Wicked sighs contently.
“Seriously we gotta work together more often.”

Anything your heart desire

“There’s a green lady somewhere in the old Candy District-where-where all-”
An impatient friend interrupts, “The Alley, right? All the black market shops,” she cups her lips in her palm as she speaks the last of it, leaning in to the group she adds, “all the FREAKS.”
The girls are in a crowded train heading to Market 3-many people are listening. Though no one really cares. People rarely do.
The first begins again, “Yes. They say,” she lowers her voice and head, “there’s a green lady-a witch,” pausing, the three exchange glances, “that can tell you anything.”
“Anything…” the girl who’s yet to speak gasps her eyes wide with possibility.
The impatient friend scoffs unimpressed, “Yeah, yeah-there’s always one: a red one who can boil bathwater, a yellow one who can make you see heaven, and a-”
The first interjects, “Shush! And lower your voice,” the last words an actual whisper, “It’s just what Jimmy told me, okay, sheesh.”
She pouts scanning the train cart praying no one they know can hear them. No one likes FREAK talk. Though, everyone loves FREAK talk.
Miss Impatient rolls her eyes as their wide eyed friend breathes, “But what if-like-what if it’s true?“
All three gasp, their eyes hungry, their plans change-it’s not a long walk from the market.
Making eye contact, each nodding firmly-the new plan is go.

Once off the train they link arms. All dressed in University uniforms showing their Pinkerton pride, pleated skirts brush up against each other as they move taking each step with purpose.
Three hungry young women pushing through the crowds as a wall. It makes the older generation smile, the Liberated love to smile.
They get to the walkway those lovely little inbetweens each girl thinking-what if.
All this dreaming makes the journey go faster as they reach the border-the district gates: open.
“They don’t close it anymore, do they?“ the wide eyed friend asks. Her heart sad for reasons she can’t comprehend. She stops so they all stop. Her big brown eyes begin to water-why?
Hearing the sadness The Impatient just sighs, “No-why would they?” Shaking her head she pulls the trio forward through the threshold, “What would they be protecting?”
Once in the new district the air changes. Of course it’s different in the inbetweens. You’re inside but Miss Impatient hates how the atmosphere changes in some places-just like the sky.
They enter closest to Manufacturing where the other district shadows The Alley, shielding everything from the light.
They shiver.
“I think it might be early,” our impatient girl states to annoyed to be terrified.
Looking around. It’s empty, but they’d have a walk to get anywhere with life.
The leader opens her mouth to speak, but gasps instead as a green light flashes across their vision.
Huddling closer they turn toward the source: the front window of a dilapidated building. Each tilt their head to the right-frozen. Silent and holding their breath they stand still. Again the green light flashes, again the girls gasp-it’s calling them.
Eyes wide they march forward. Swallowing hard, this is what we came for, they push open the soft wooden door-once a beautiful shop entrance, and walk in. The front room is empty, but another door to the girls’ left calls attention to itself. Smoke seeps from underneath-green fog beckoning them.
They press on, crossing the next threshold with bated breath. When they enter the room it’s internal pressure pulls them in-or so it feels. Their eyes all drawn to a crystal ball sitting at the source of the smoke. A cackle-they see the witch!
Her green skin becomes they’re entire focus as she hisses, “Sit-sit my guests-I have been waiting,” And, she has-the benefits of networking.
Chairs come into view as the smoke begins to move. They shuffle to the seats. Eyes yes still wide, breath: still bated.
“W-wh-who are you?” the first asks, her mouth dry.
The witch cackles again throwing her head back as the sound of thunder crashes over them.
“Who-who am I? Ha!“ green lightning strikes hitting the crystal ball then dissipating into a ghostly figment of death. “I am the one who can tell you, all you desire-SPEAK-child and tell me what you want to know,” she demands her voice raspy and full. She’s pointing a long devilish finger at the leader of the trio.
Frozen, but trying to speak the dryness holding down her tongue, “Uh… I uh… um-should I say yes to Billy?!” the words escape fat though they bleed together, her tongue slow to pronounce producing a sluggish panic.
Her friends are both in shock-say yes to what?
Lowering her head the wicked witch places two green palms just over her crystal ball and hisses. Green fire appears within its depths-the room growing hot.
She growls, “no.”
The girl’s heart sinks, but she’s silent.
“You,” a green finger extends to the wide eyed friend who now shivers with insecurity.
Swallowing hard those wide eyes close-what to ask?
Then-inspiration strikes.
“Who is my real father?!” when she opens her eyes again they’re wide, wide with panic. Her friends are mortified realizing together-no middle name.
Green lips twitch as our witch summons green flames, her crystal consumed as she growls.
“Fred R. Miller,” wide eyes sing-Mr. Miller!
“Now you,” her finger points to Little Miss Impatient.
She’s been waiting.
“Should I break up with Billy?” her voice is poison. The kind our Wicked loves.
Our green soothsayer smirks not bothering with tricks growling, “Yes”.

How teddy bears are made

Today we catch our darling STEM touring the halls of The Colony. Not hers of course, but one of five. This particular tour is her invitation. Sixteen and ready to choose-will it be genetics?
She follows a hive injector marveling at what the introduction of honey bee had done to her eyes. It wasn’t new-oh no she’s seen this before. Every Colony has them, secretaries, created right here.
Genetics.
Her eyes are wide-it’s beautiful!
“So, miss-”
“STEM” the young girl interrupts adjusting her glasses as she moves to the left of her guide, eyes fixed.
The injector knows what she’s looking at-they all look! Who wouldn’t?
“Ah, yes, STEM,” she smiles. Her eyes all a flutter as she nods politely ,“So. STEM,” extending her arm she beckons forward, “as you can see our facilities are up to date with all Colony upgrades coming to us prior to any other location. I’m sure you are aware that this location is responsible for all Adapted like myself.”
Delicate, almost impossibly thin hands touch her chest as she fully faces her guest. To her displeasure the child is still fixated on her eyes, like all Honey Bee Adapted her eyes had grown and split forming into compound structures, unlike other Adapted they retained their color. Blue. Soft, ice blue-now in compound! Everybody stares.
“STEM, if I could redirect your attention to the workstations behind us you may-”
Moving closer to the guides face, uncomfortably so, the curious teen pushes her round glasses up pointed nose, examining.
“No, I’m not interested in anything behind you,” her face is dangerously close to the Injector’s right eye, “You’ve got to tell me about this. I’m curious. Have-”
“Miss!” she stamps her sensibly heeled foot almost losing her manners, “You are here to examine the facilities-not my eyes! And I would kindly ask you to respect my personal space,” her voice has its usual ever present tremble, but her annoyance is clear.
STEM shrugs taking a step back, “Look we wouldn’t be having this discussion if you’d show me something good. I really don’t want to see the Ticket masters, or the Adapters-everyone has seen the footage. Show me the labs.”
Our fiery colonist sighs. STEM knows where she’ll end up and it has way more explosions. She’s only really here because they told her to visit at least three facilities.
The Honey Bee is displeased-this is her favorite part! But this is not her tour and customer service is a must.
“Very well, follow me.”

STEM follows her down deeper into The Colony the glass elevator doors revealing floors of animal enclosures which the Injector explains is for breeding and conservation. Some of the species: spectacular colors, others hidden in exotic plants-wonders rarely seen outside these walls. The only perk it’d seem of choosing this life.
“You wanted something good, correct? Well this is something magical.”
The doors split open revealing not an animal enclosure, but what looked like a storage room. Grey and almost industrial looking. STEM is not pleased and it’s noticeable in her frown.
“Well don’t just stand there looking sour, come out and see,” she extends her arms, smiles wide, “This is where teddy bears come from!” her giggle is a vibrating buzz.
Round lenses gleam, “Teddy bears, you say?“
Inside the room she finds the walls are lined with metal boxes, each square numbered with rectangular slits at the top.
“Yes, those cute, cuddly companions introduced to us long, long ago by a dead president-created right here! Just open that slot.”
She’s standing next to STEM now almost to her shoulder.
“Just grab the tab and turn it to the left. I suggest 253-she’s the cutest!”
Taking one step forward and then another she inhales, deeply, slender fingers taking hold of the tab. She exhales, something doesn’t feel right. Sliding the tab with a shh and locking it into place with a clank she sees it, the teddy bear.

It’s
-her-
nose wiggles sniffing the fresh air.

STEM inhales sharply slamming the slot shut. The action elicits a wave of pathetic adorable moans originating from center, but fillingp the room in an instant. She jumps back bumping into the bee.
“Cute, huh?” she’s smiling, but our little lady is just frustrated.
“That’s a live bear? Like from before? In a box? You put a bear in a box?” STEM can’t help herself.
“Me? Oh no, I’m just a worker. No, but the toy makers do-that’s what we call them internally. Selective breeders handle the bears and when these little guys are ready-well they are just the most loving creatures.”
Our girl hates pointlessness.
“I’m done here,” Throwing her hands up she heads towards the elevator mumbling, “goddamned bears in boxes.“

Breaking and entering

Tonight we find ourselves with dear little Madison. Her pretty little head filled with sugar plums as she snoozes delicately on her pillow. Our girl doesn’t hear the window break, but she stirs. Her breathing slows the blankets crumple at her waist as she finds herself on her back. Deep breath in, her chest rises, something isn’t right. There’s a creak-it’s the third step. Is Ari home? Madison wonders as she makes her way to consciousness.“Shit!” it’s said under breath-it’s not Ari. Madison’s eyes fly open-it’s not Ari! Heart pounding she’s forgotten where the bat is. It’s right behind her door, but she’s not thinking clearly.
He’s on the final step. Her room is to his right. “The diving knife” she gasps reaching under the bed, hands meet sheath, as the doorknob begins to turn.
Deep breath Madison this bad man is coming in! Her eyes already adjusted to the dark narrow as she pulls the knife to her side “get out” she growls firmly, he laughs seeing her on the bed immediately undoing his zipper. Wrong move! Leaping towards him she strikes with the butt of the knife screaming wildly “I warned you!” again and again the butt falls she’s not sure where all she sees is red. “this is my house! My house! And you’ve ruined it! You ruined MY SAFETY!” again and again she strikes he’s on the floor now trying desperately to cover his bleeding dome. “This is my home! Mine! You don’t fucking belong her!” hot tears stream down her face, she feels nothing, but rage. Madison, sweet, sweet Madison seethes seeing nothing, only feeling, feeling the need to protect. To live. To get rid of this intruder at all cost. He can’t flee, but she doesn’t know. He tries to push her off his arm meeting the naked flesh of her abdomen-wrong move bandit boy.
She turns the knife, the metal sings, our lady roars and everything is painted in wanna be theif blood. Breathing heavy her face dripping with his life “I warned you. This was my home, mine.” Tears mix with the blood as uniformed men run up the stairs Ari visible behind them. A neighbor saw him enter and called. There was no time. “I told him to get out” she says numbly as a blanket falls onto her shoulders the blood mingling with the fabric.
The officers stare down at the body “I’d call this excessive-” the words stop as Ari reveals a dozen or so bills held in an obsidian clip. “Get the body out of here, woman was in the right.”
Staring into nothing our girl Madison nods slightly mouthing with a faint smile I warned you.

The engagement party

The walls are cream colored, everything a variant of white with accents of beige. Victoria is staring at her visage in a full length mirror frowning, she matches the room. Her blonde locks down defiantly framing her face in an almost wild fashion. Our girls been bored for ages and this new venture appears to be no different.
The door opens with the sudden sound of the celebration outside, it’s him. The bridegroom-her bridegroom.
“Baby girl!” He’s drunk, she exhales eyebrow twitching “why you hidin’ whatcha playin’ at” He reeks of brandy, the closer he gets the thicker it becomes until she can’t escape it. Her eyes still fixed on the mirror “you dirty girl” grabbing her ass he whispers “did you want me to come get you?” His hand moves from her ass to her abdomen before shooting between her legs.
Protesting she turns to face him “hey!” prying his hands away she attempts to return them, but she already knows he’s too drunk.
“It’s okay baby” pushing her into the mirror he laughs smashing his face into hers while pulling at her thighs. Mouth still over hers he mumbles “you can still wear white” he’s lifted up her dress desperately trying to remove her panties.
Turning her face to the side feeling the cool, hard, mirror as his chin digs into the visible side of her jaw. “No!” One hand raises to her face forcing her lips back to center, his tongue forcing it’s way inside her. Our girl’s in shock. He’s rubbing her mound furiously over the lace of her underwear the sensation startling and unwelcome.
All she’s thinking is: this dude drinks brandy, in a garden, regularly. Then her fist meets his face-glass jaw. This dandy’s never taken a punch which is apparent the second time around, and all the times thereafter.
Our lady’s fist makes contact about seven times before brother Clayborne saunters in having heard the struggle from the hall “oh my word, sister, sister, what have you done?” He’s speaking softly, the door now closed, his soft hands take hold of her wrist, wild eyes fixing on his own. The bridegroom is sobbing, in far too much pain to move.
“He attacked me” she hissed, and of course the injured man protests trying to speak through cries and the sucking in of snot.
Clayborne covers Paul’s face with his handkerchief “if that’s the case, which it certainly is, I shall handle it.”
The bridegroom struggles to sit up as Victoria’s knee sits on his chest “I didn’t… I-you attacked me” he spits blood as he speaks “look at my face!” His words sound like mush, but come out shrill all the same.
“Hmm, why yes, she did do a number on you. Victoria, go sit down over there. I’ll talk to mother and father” scanning her tsk “and fix yourself up dear, you look dreadfully gorgeous considering the circumstance” rolling her eyes she does as directed. Reluctant, but accepting. Knowing all too well that he was far better equipped to preserve her reputation than she.
As she walks away she can hear Clayborne wince as he weakly punches the bridegroom’s face, she could hear him say ‘one must make it believable after all’. The world is ever so predictable. Sitting only steps away from the door she begins to tear and rip at the beige dress, then smears her makeup all while watching the men, seeing nothing new, nothing exciting. Pinching her right cheek, holding the flesh inbetween her thumb and index finger, she doesn’t feel a thing.  
The men leave like children each hoping to get their story heard first. Only her twin knew it didn’t really matter. Her brother, as always had class on his side.
Victoria waits. It won’t be long, but life is an eternity. What would come next would be dreadfully predictable. She plays the whole scene over in her head, waiting.
She exhales as the sound of footsteps rush the door. Her once expressionless face contorts into sobs, dropping her head into her hands, she trembles.
Mother Humphries burst in dramatically, her arms flung open as she runs to her daughters side. She wails “oh darling what did he do to you?” She cups her daughters face “did… did he get… an-anything?” Her voice is shaking though her eyes are hard-she’s furious. Internally, our girl sighs. A bored Victoria throws herself into her mother’s bosom with nothing much to say she just buries her head and continues to sob. As  she does this she counts the steps until Mr and Mrs McClure walk in  their son mere moments behind them.
Once they enter Mr Humphries turns to his son “again, Clayborne, tell us what hap-”
Mrs McClure cuts him off sharply as she closes the distance between the two families “there is no need! Your son is a pathetic little whelp-there is no way he did this!” She points a sharp finger toward her sons bloody face “it’s that little whore! She did it! She’s an abusive slut! She-” she thrust herself forward with every word, finger still pointed at Paul’s downcast face.
“Martha-enough!” Her husband interjects, his eyes seething, she’s shamed them both. “Paul, tell us what happened.”
The room is still as his son eyes our blonde bombshell, his golden ticket “it was Clayborne-I-I wasn’t doing anything! I-I-Victoria tell them-tell them baby” she looks up at him tears streaming down her cheeks. Everything is terribly predictable. “Baby-baby tell them!” He nearly squeaks as he takes a step toward her immediately his father grabs his forearm. Keeping him at a distance Paul continues to babble “tell them-we-we can still get married-just tell them!” Victoria begins to tremble in her mother’s arms, cowering now, as it should be.
Mrs Humphries stands suddenly, stamping her heeled foot delicately, mocking the other woman “oh! no, no-no-no the wedding is off! You’ve shown you and yours have earned you’re stripes” Victoria’s ears perk, her lips twitch-now that’s interesting she thinks, biting her tongue not to laugh. “Get out and leave the bill-we shall cover this whole fiasco.” Her words come out cold filled with that old world lush. She has completely decimated the McClure’s and now everyone will know.
Martha begins to protest, but her husband takes her by the mouth-he’s had enough. “Thank you, for the kindness Mrs Humphries” he swallows hard eyeballing the still trembling beauty, longing. “Mr Humphries” he nods before dragging his family away.
“Kindness indeed! The nerve of that woman-did you hear her?” Belle asks her husband as she glares through the door, soft eyes turned daggers. “And that boy! Oh what a ruffian-Victoria what on earth were you thinking! Fix yourself and stop all that crying… you look-feral!”  She demands as she wags a glove covered finger in her daughters face. Predictable. “All the time you wasted.” Dreadfully so. “You are not getting any younger.” Her small voice went on and on.
Her father said nothing, in fact he wouldn’t look at her-time is money and money has been wasted. Clayborne takes her hand, giving her gentle, dignified eyes, she exhales-dreadfully predictable.

Withdrawal

“Green?! Green!?” We find ourselves again with dear Wicked. Who after several days of normal pleasures consisting of traveling through Liberation Land, enjoying a read in the gardens, and even taking in an afternoon of free theatre finds herself in a fit. “NO! NO NO NO NO!” but even as she wailed she knew, she always knew this would happen. Hot tears run down her grassy cheeks as she stares wide eyed into her broken mirror. She isn’t nearly as green or vivid as before, but as her blood boils she can feel the color grow. She watches in horror as brown eyes turn green and crumbles to the floor sobbing “how… how could I-” stopping herself in that very instant she rises from the floor. It’s been four long years since she made her bed in the sewers and this wicked witch isn’t about to give up. She moves toward the door grabbing her hat as she races for the cure.
Once out she’s taken aback by the sight-just yesterday everything looked bright, but today everything looks like the town of Blight. Tears swell again “what the fuck did he do to me?” Boots crash against the muck as she finds the yellow bricks. Our witch is on fire now running down the road memories of slick yellow men and the tongue not her own all playing in her head. Her skin is glowing greener, as madness builds she runs deeper and deeper-until the pitter-patter of tiny little feet catch her ears. She sees the yellow glow, hears the disturbing giggles and veers clear of the road.
She’s headed now to the Town Below, the seedy side where the drunks and addicts roam. Wicked doesn’t notice she’s after the tiny feet.
As she runs suddenly one appears a little yellow man glowing, giggling, and singing “if you want another taste-another cleanse of skin-follow me to the place where all your dreams begin!” the sound sends shivers down her spine as she can feel the slick flesh on her tongue.
Deep green lips part “get back here! You creepy tiny little MAGGOT!” but he doesn’t look back, just continues to giggle, as he runs up wood steps and disappears through a shop door. The Clinic. Wicked doesn’t know this place, but her instincts tell her to go.
She takes one step up, and then another, her mind is screaming no. Visions of the blindfold darkness, and the physical memory of restraint near choke her, but she moves on. Green hand on the door knob she throws herself inside, pulling down her hat to obscure her eyes she sees them-FREAKS of all kinds. They’re laid out on couches, the floor and each other. They’re smiling-all smiling. The corners of their lips twitch. They don’t even know I’m here she thinks as she notices a curtain taking the place of a door. Again her instincts scream, but she moves towards it. Pulling it open, eyes shocked to what they see, a yellow, slick blob melting into itself, and a circle of FREAKS wrapped in it, sucking on tentacles of it, molested by it.
Wicked wants to run, wants to wash her eyes with acid, but as she turns to leave a gurgling bloop happens and he’s there.
The yellow man stands grinning though almost translucent “welcome wintergreen, time for another round?
“What the fuck did you do to me?” she ask through her teeth. Her legs won’t work and her body won’t scream.
He looks at her sort of bewildered “I gave you what you wanted”
“Well then why am I green!” Stamping a foot-she can move! Now that she isn’t trying to run her body relaxes, she wants the answers she came for-she wants to see if this FREAK has blood.
Shrugging “unfortunately there’s nothing I can do, permanently. You are what you are and I am what I am-”
“Which is?” She’s pulsating and glowing brightly trying not to remember one more thing.
He laughs watching her intensity grow almost salivating “a dream maker” he winks.
“Don’t-” puts a slick almost airy finger to her lips.
“I live off your energy-and you are quite delicious. Some don’t provide for me, but I can take them places I-”
“You drug them yo-” again the finger falls this time she smacks him away her hand going right through his finger, dirtied and wet with his slick.
“I’m the drug-as you can see” he gestures toward the circle, but she doesn’t look “you can think what you want, but you’ll be back again.”
“Fuck you.” She spits moving past him. Our girl has seen enough, but mostly tears have begun to well and she doesn’t cry in public.
“That would make it last longer” he tempted smoothly as she hears the gurgle and bloop right before he appears in front of the entrance stopping her dead in her tracks “or whatever you’d like. I’ve never tasted anything like you-you don’t have to give up cash-just the taste” someone fell out of their seat behind her, but she doesn’t move, doesn’t look. Memories and tears threaten to shatter her as she can hear the land above “you can be a part of that” he says softly as if he knew-did he?
“Get out of my way”
He smirks “you can walk right through” and so she does feeling the slick of his substance cover her.
She doesn’t turn back. She just keeps walking home. Feeling the corners of her lips twitch as the world appears cleaner, and she knows.

After taste

Back in the shack we still find Wicked enamoured with her flesh. She hasn’t moved an inch yet. She’s breathing slow and steady, heart beating loud within her chest-not green. A smile breaks the silence a laugh escapes before she leaps to her feet eyes on the front door. Before she can exit a flash of light catches her attention. She turns to see a mirror and for a moment looks closely at her face. Her hands touch soft skin the rosy cheeks that once always came with exhaustion-they are back! She kicks her heels before exiting.
Boot clad feet hit the familiar yellow bricks which led to this salvation. Cleaner now they seemed. She almost sang. Running down the yellow road to the bright light of day. Through The Town Below blind to all the FREAKS that were stunned by the lack of glow. No one really knew her but you can’t forget that green. Our girl doesn’t notice their stares she just races towards the light to run past it’s beams and up, up a ladder. She’s climbing into an abandoned building up, up, and up she goes, out through the dark sewers, out of a makeshift manhole.
Our girl is tired, but she’s too excited to mind. Huffing and puffing after the climb Wicked’s still smiling as she collects herself “slow down, breathe, and walk out slow” the corners of her lips twitch as she speaks.
Taking one confident step forward and then another. Putting one foot in front of the other while giggling inside. Walking out into the shadowy streets she breathes in deep, moving towards civilized folk, checking her hands periodically. Only half chancing on believing.
Light hits her brown eyes as the sounds of the street hit her ears. There’s still a few shops including the cafe and bookstore she revered. It’s been four long years.
Our girls a worker as even the unwanted need to eat and today she’d feast.
Turning left onto the sidewalk she sees a few children and some young adults presumably meant to watch them. Their collective attention on the shop windows. On candies being made by a craftsman one of few that remains, a showman of course-they are captivated. She passes it all merely smiling at a young girl who held one hand on a lollipop stick the other on an child who pulled constantly away. They didn’t scream she dances inside the corners of her lips twitching.
She enters the glass door of the cafe-she gets it all to go. Several bags worth of treats; baked, pre-made sandwiches, and several bottled drinks. The cashier just smiles commenting on her hat. Our girl actually blushes remaining silent but handing him her cash. He shrugs it off as she dances away. Tucks away her bills flashing one last shy smile before she’s back on the sidewalk. Walking down the streets she’s repressing singing, she’s almost hysterical with all of the joy. She’s didn’t think this was possible, but she made it to the bookstore.
Once inside let’s just say our girl, she spends hours-and hours flipping through pages.
When she finally makes a purchase the day has nearly turned into night. She leaves carrying all the goods the long way-going through Eden to keep out of sight. The last thing she wanted was to deal with someone else’s desperation.
Tonight Wicked has a taste of luxury when she finally gets home she forgets all that came before its almost like she’s a girl again-like before she had to run. She’s happy here, reading and believing it’s done.

Just a taste

Peering out from the gutter eyes glow green, a passing dog begins to growl the owner tugging at its lead, and a child sitting outside the small cafe sees the twinkle under the sidewalk. The child stares deep through the gutter bars catching her subject, eyes wide as her tiny mind makes out the visage-green skin, green eyes, wide brimmed hat? The image is confusing, disturbing to the child’s mind and she begins to blubber.
Our Wicked witch flees back below before anyone else could see her, boot clad feet echoing in the sewer puddles. Reluctantly she’s heading back home.
Wicked sighs as she walks lamenting her life, it’s been too long since this girls sniffed between pages. Nothing in the sewers was worth half a shit. FREAKS didn’t read-they drink, but that’s just not Wicked. Removing the glove from her right hand she grimaces-green. Toxic, unnatural-green. A tear escapes her left eye as she just stares at her flesh, still moving. Our girl walks, and walks. Absently entering The Town Below she hears nothing, but echos from the past. She sees nothing, but that toxic skin. Completely unaware of the yellow bricks her feet decided to follow.
She used to be beautiful. She used to have talent. She would have been on the stage. She would have lived normal-but now? These thoughts are what’s crushing her even though other memories keep surfacing she knows, this is her life now. But is there an answer? Could there be hope?
Suddenly she trips. Face first into slick, grimy brick the sound of tiny footsteps all around. She looks up in a panic, yellow little legs dash past in a whirlwind then the sound of inhuman giggling “welcome! Welcome! Welcome!” tiny voices cheer. To Wicked ears though they are all the same. A dozen little men-all the same circle around her.
“Get away from me!” She wails. This is just too much-tiny, glowing, yellow men, giggling like children “get! Get! Get!” She’s standing now.
While the tiny man directly in front of her frowns “well you don’t have to be rude” little hands at his side he kicks out his leg “just saying hello”
Another chimes in from the crowd “thought you might want a taste”
All together “yeah!” Wicked doesn’t know what to do, or what they’re talking about, but she’s seriously disturbed.
The ‘leader’ speaks again “yeah, a taste of something special-for you today it’d be free!”
Another chimes in “it’ll make you feel incredible!”
And another “it’ll make you a lot less green!” The group snickers in their very disturbing way.
“Less green?” She’s interested now. She’d do anything now-until a tiny little yellow man holds out his hand, she recoils. All the tiny little faces frown as the same tiny little yellow man thrust out his hand again. This time she takes it resulting in cheers, they’re all the same person Wicked thinks as shivers run down her spine.
Still circled around her they lead our girl down the rest of the brick road to a little brown shack resting deep within the sewers. They are surrounded by black the only light coming from the yellow glow emitted by the tiny men and of course the glow of Wicked. The stress of the situation lighting her eyes and skin in a brilliant display that’d give most nightmares.
All at once everything is black Wicked cannot see, there is no yellow glow and certainly no green. Reaching out she feels something slick, not wet, not sticky-just slick like oil. She hears a bubble pop, and the sound of muck gurgling and then a mouth covers her own. Eyes wide to no avail-she cannot see! Reaching for her face her arms get pulled down hard to her sides. She cannot breathe. Cannot move. She panics-mind racing our girl fears for her life. She doesn’t give in though, oh no, Wicked knows pain-our girl knows trauma. Memories explode behind eyes as she begins to thrash her head hits a slick solid substance knocking the blindfold just slightly revealing a yellow glow. It’s too late to think, too late to cool down her flesh is burning now. Screaming into the mouth of her captor it’s probing tongue enters her as she is preparing too explode.
She screams and screams.
And screams.
Basically our girl spends about 45 minutes screaming into the slick captives mouth only to grow extremely tired, and limp. She’s let go, dropping down, down, down onto a what feels like a bed. The blindfold fully falls off and she sees the bare mattress she’s laying on, dirty makeshift walls, and the glow-the yellow glow. She pushes herself up hoping to strangle the closest little man she can grab only to find a man, a yellow average sized man, standing, staring, with a grin. “Was it as good for you as it was for me?”
She flies at him without thinking hands gripping his neck before recoiling-his flesh is slick! “Ugh! I’m going to kill you!” The rage instantly exhaust her as she calls back onto the bed burying her head in her hands.
“I’ve no idea why you got what you wanted.” She looks down at her hands, eyes wide, not green-not green! Looking up the yellow man is gone.