For CreepOs Part One, Click Here

Quick Recap: Dale, a recently unemployed Advertising guy, picked up a “not just for breakfast cereal” called CreepOs and accepted the horrible box art challenge “We Dare You to Eat It After Midnite!” and has unleashed the gremlin-fairy hybrid title creatures hidden inside the box on his unsuspecting neighbors. Luxy is some sort of exotic dancer/waitress, and her daughter Chell is excited about a field trip to the Science Discovery Center.

Luxy tucked Chell into bed, kissed her on the forehead and turned her bedroom light off, again.

“Mommy, do you think Mr. Dale is going to be alright?” Chell called after her mom.

“Sure, Honey. Now get some sleep, you’ve got a field trip tomorrow,” Luxy replied, leaning against the door frame.

“You think Mr. Dale would like to go?”

“On the field trip? He probably needs to be out looking for a job.”

“Maybe he could get a job at the Science Discovery Center.”

“Maybe. I think he’s in advertising, though.”

“The Science Discovery Center could use a new commercial. The ones on tv are from the seventies or something.”

“You’ve got a point. Okay, I will text him about it in the morning. Now sleep and dream, baby girl.”

“You too, mom.”

Luxy walked down the hall to her bedroom, closing the door behind her. She plopped down on the bed and picked up the small stack of bills beside her: PG&E, Visa, internet, phone, car and health insurance, a medical bill for a sprained ankle Chell suffered last month, and a cosmetic surgery consult for Luxy herself last week. She pulled out her smartphone, turned on the camera option and checked herself out in selfie mode. To augment or not to augment, she thought, that is the exotic dancer/alt model question. ‘They’re a damn good size,’ everyone says. ‘But you’ll get better tips and more work, more shoots if they’re bigger,’ some of the other dancers, the bar owners and a few photographers have admitted. ‘There are some risks,’ some say, ‘and in the long term, they probably aren’t worth it.’ Luxy knew some high-profile celebrities, like Pam Anderson, have had implants put in and later taken out, and even put back in again as work or self-esteem demanded. Her followers on social media were split about sixty percent against and forty percent for, and there were a few followers for it that were even willing to fund her augmentation. Luxy knew there would be strings attached, despite them promising there wouldn’t be any. Luxy thought about the bills, about the offers, but mostly about how to secure a good future for Chell. I should probably get some sleep too, it’s almost two o’clock, and mama always said big decisions should wait until morning.

Luxy thought she heard Chell giggle. “What in the world?” Luxy said. She waited to be sure, and heard her laugh again.

Luxy got up and crept out to Chell’s door and listened.

“Mom says we shouldn’t hold our breath for dad to get his life straight,” Chell said.

A voice answered Chell, but it was so tiny, like a doll’s, Luxy couldn’t imagine it was Chell talking to herself, unless she somehow got a hold of some helium. She thought the voice said, “That’s right, your momma sounds like she’s got a good head on her shoulders. She got a new man, then?”

“No, not really. I think Mr. Dale is nice though. He drew her a portrait when we moved in last year and sometimes he takes us to the park for sandwiches or KFC.”

“So, what’s the problem? She not into him?” The tiny voice asked.

“Well, my mom says she wishes he weren’t so shy, more open with his feelings or something like that. And, he just lost his job. And she worries about money SO MUCH.”

“Mm, mm, mm,” the tiny voice said, “Well, your Auntie Eveline is here now, so all your worries are over.”

Auntie Eveline, Luxy thought. She had heard enough, and turned the doorknob to go in, but the door was locked. What the hell? There’s no lock on this door. What is going on?

“Baby, who are you talking to? Why is this door locked? You open this door right this minute!”

There was no answer. Only silence. Luxy tried to open the door again. Still locked. A horrible sense of urgency came over her and she took a deep breath, stepped back and raised her leg to kick the door down. Then the doorknob turned and the door swung open. Chell stood in the doorway, rubbing her eye.

“What, mom? Did you have a nightmare? I was sleeping, then I heard you banging on the door,” she said, her voice full of concern.

It was as if Luxy had been slapped in the face. She was confused, but she knew she wasn’t imagining things. This made her angry. “Baby girl, you are seven years away from being a sassy teenager, don’t you dare start lying to me yet. Who was in there with you?”

Chell reflected her mother’s confused look with a tilt of her head, but said nothing.

“If you don’t tell me who was in that room with you, you can forget about that field trip tomorrow.”

Chell looked back into the darkness.

“She said she would cut me if I said anything,” she whispered.

Luxy felt her stomach drop and her throat seize up. Someone was here and dared to threaten her precious child?

Someone was going to die tonight.

“Who?” Luxy managed to choke out through the rage and fear.

“I can’t–”

“Don’t worry, baby girl, she ain’t the one that’s gonna be doing the cutting. Come here,” Luxy said.

“You disappoint me, Chell. I thought we were going to be best friends,” I tiny voice said from somewhere behind Chell’s bed.

A creature of phosphorescent light flitted up from the floor and hovered just over the bed. For a moment, Luxy had the wild thought that it was Tinkerbell, but when it landed atop the nearest bedpost to the door, Luxy’s eyes focused on the figure, and it looked more like a curvy Halle Berry as Josephine Baker, except phosphorescent and three inches tall, with wings like a dragonfly’s.

Luxy reached out her hand for Chell to take it. Chell started to inch forward and the creature, Eveline, shot up, buzzing like a tiny helicopter, and arced towards Luxy’s face. Luxy wasn’t sure if she screamed or shouted, “Oh, no, you are not coming at me!” and threw a punch like Aldous had taught her, a high, face-guarding right hook, and her fist connected solidly with little miss thing, and it was like hitting a super-dense marble suspended firmly in its space. So, Luxy wasn’t sure what she expected would happen, but she surely didn’t expect her hand to crack—a possible finger or knuckle break–and her arm to recoil or to lose her footing and nearly fall to the floor, but she managed to catch herself on the door frame.

Eveline had been moved a few inches back, but in a slow loop, as if to absorb the energy and dissipate its force. She hovered over Chell and Luxy, laughing. “That was a good one, Luxy,” Eveline said, “I haven’t been hit like that in centuries. I mean, I actually felt that. It tickled.” She sounded like one of those cartoon chipmunks, but it was terrifying. She was like a talking superfly, one that you couldn’t swat.

Luxy picked up Chell in her arms, found her footing, turned and ran.

“You get the hell out of my home! You stay away from us!” Luxy shouted, running for the living room.

The laughing, buzzing anti-fairy followed lazily down the hall after them. “We’re just getting to know each other,” Eveline said, “I was about to offer you the same deal I offered your baby girl.”

“I don’t know what you are,” Luxy replied, reaching for a bat mounted one one of the living room walls, “and frankly, I don’t care. I can’t even believe I am talking to you. You’re a, a—”

“You ever hear of a Genie, darlin’?” Eveline asked, raising her hands in peaceful supplication, but staying clear of the bat. “A D’jinn? A Wishmaster? A Dream Maker?”

Luxy was breathing hard and clutching Chell tight to her chest. Chell was holding on just as tightly. Eveline had a sing song quality to her voice, tiny as it was, and it was starting to tickle Luxy’s inner ear.

“Yeah. I’ve read A Thousand and One Nights. Rumpelstiltskin. I’ve seen The Monkey’s Paw and that episode of The X-Files. Those fuckers always come with a price,” Luxy said, hoping Chell was too scared to catch the swearword.

“Of course, baby mama. Everything comes with a price. Life isn’t free. But what if I told you I would give you the opportunity to decide how you pay? What if I told you that you could pay in installments?”

Oh, hell no! Luxy’s mind screamed. Kick this bitch to the curb! There is no way this ends well if you let miss thing keep talking. Yet that sing song in Eveline’s voice somehow slowed the breakneck beating of Luxy’s heart, soothed her sore feet and the headache she had grown accustomed to for most of her young adult life was gone.

“Mom, I’m scared,” Chell whispered in her ear, “I don’t think Auntie Eveline has our best interests at heart.”

Our best interests at heart. Luxy had used that phrase a dozen times in the last few years to describe shitty friends or would-be boyfriends to Chell, to explain why they wouldn’t be coming around anymore or why they didn’t deserve a second or third date. It helped break the spell Eveline was trying to weave around Luxy’s inner ear.

“Why don’t you hand over the child. I’ll put her back to bed and see that she stays there,” Eveline said, her voice deepening and echoing, “and then I will show you just how interested I am in your precious hearts.” Eveline flit closer and her face broke into a grin that would put the greasiest car salesman to shame.

Luxy went over to the sliding glass door that led out to the balcony. Without letting go of the bat completely, she opened the catch and slid the door and the screen door open, letting in the warmth of the summer air.

“Not interested,” Luxy said, and bid Eveline to leave with a wave of the bat out to the balcony.

“I see,” Eveline said, crestfallen, hovering lower to the ground and pouting.

Luxy wasn’t moved. She straightened the line of her arm and held the bat firm outwardly.

“We coulda had something good, ladies. Have fun with your field trip to the Science Center or whatever,” she said, buzzing out into the night, “Bitches.”

Luxy slid the screen door and then the sliding glass door shut and lowered the catch with a hard, bolting sound.

She dropped the bat and fell onto the sofa and held her baby girl and sobbed a little bit.

“Mom, that was weird.”

Luxy laughed, nervously and nodded, holding Chell’s face in her hands, “Yeah, Chell baby, that was really fucking weird.”

Luxy and Chell stood to go back to bed and the sliding glass door exploded, sending shards of glass hurtling through the living room. Luxy covered Chell with her body hoping to shield her, feeling the skin of her back, shoulders and arms torn open by the glass like shrapnel. The pain was exquisite, and her headache was back tenfold.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, Aldous was fond of saying, especially now since he was in prison. Just damned, Luxy thought, lost.


End of Part Four

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