Becky Bloom has been dating her girlfriend for over a year; and things seem to be going quite well— At least, they do when Becky pushes down all of her looming anxieties, and ignores other people’s comments about them, and compromises on… everything. But that’s alright! She loves Mattel, and it will all be worth it. Even if Mattel encourages her to go out and— And to do things that… that she’d rather not be doing…. 6,036 words.
abuse / gaslighting / violence / explicit sexual content
Becky paced anxiously in her room.
Mattel would be here, soon. For their date.
It was going to be fun.
Fun! Fun. Fun….
Becky turned, quickly trotting to her mirror to look herself over again.
Was she underdressed?
Was she overdressed?
Did she have time to get changed again?
Don’t be silly, she told herself. You look fine!
But did she, though?
A groan, and she tugged off her shirt; replacing it with another.
And then, again. With another.
Why was she so anxious?!
She’d been dating Mattel for over a year— She should have known what the woman liked, by now!
Annoyed, Becky threw her shirts to the floor and stormed to her bed; flopping over face-down and letting out a heavy sigh.
Why was everything so hard, lately?
It was like she hadn’t recovered from December….
But… she always felt better, by now.
No matter how badly the holidays went, she always felt better by February….
Maybe it was her fight with Jareth?
No— No. He’d messaged her, and told her it was okay.
Though Mattel didn’t know they were talking again….
It was probably best to keep it that way. She didn’t like keeping secrets from Mattel, but it probably wasn’t a good idea for her to know her and Jareth were still texting.
Mattel didn’t like Jareth. And Jareth didn’t like her. And whenever Becky tried to bring up either one to the other, she always ended up in a fight, but….
Jareth was one of Becky’s oldest friends. She couldn’t just not talk to him ever again.
She rolled over to stare at the roof.
What was wrong with her?!
She barely spoke to any of her friends anymore. And when she did, it was tense.
So, so tense.
The only person she really saw outside of school anymore was Mattel.
Becky gave a wistful sigh, and rolled again to hug her pillow.
She was so beautiful. And smart. And sweet.
She always looked out for Becky and knew what to do. Any time Becky was confused or unsure (which seemed to be a lot, lately) she knew she could go to Mattel.
Two short, loud honks sounded outside and Becky tensed—
Mattel was here, already?!
She wasn’t ready!
Becky leapt to her feet and quickly began to pace again.
‘Oh god, oh god, oh god—‘ Becky rushed to her wardrobe and started hurriedly looking through it.
But she was too panicked to know what to grab— So she yanked the closest shirt off the hanger and threw it on.
And just in time, as her bedroom door opened and Mattel chirped in to her.
‘Beeecky!’ Mattel sung. ‘Heeey sweetheart! You ready to go— Oh. Uh…. Hm.’
Becky turned just in time to see Mattel toeing a dirty plate across the floor.
Oh god, why hadn’t she cleaned up more?!
‘Becky…’ Mattel sighed, her voice laced with disappointment. ‘We’ve talked about this, before. You let your room get messy again?’
‘Uh— Yeah— Yeah I know I just— I haven’t managed to— That’s actually… the same plate as last time….’
‘That’s worse, Becky,’ said Mattel. ‘You need to clean up.’
‘I know, but—‘
‘—I just don’t know how you can let it get like this,’ Mattel tutted. ‘All you have to do is take the plates out.’
‘But there’s just so many—‘
‘—More excuses,’ Mattel sighed, shaking her head and kicking away a dirty shirt to clear her path to the wardrobe. ‘I’m just trying to help you, you know. I don’t know why you can’t just do things when they need to be done!’
‘Mm,’ Becky looked away. ‘I’m…. I’m sorry.’
‘I’m just worried, Becky,’ Mattel told her, gently taking her hands. Then, she looked Becky up and down, and her lip twitched. ‘You’re… really going to wear that?’
‘Um… I was— Why?’ Becky pulled away to look herself over. Thinking she looked fine, she turned around and craned her neck to try and see her back in the mirror in case she’d missed something. ‘I-Is there something wrong with it?’
‘Hmm…’ Mattel gave a tentative hum. ‘Oh, no. Mm…. No. It’s… fine.’
‘It doesn’t sound like it’s fine!’ Becky replied, anxiously. ‘What’s wrong with it? Should I wear something else?’
‘It’s just that… well. It doesn’t really suit you,’ Mattel said, gently. ‘Cooler colours, they just… hmm…. With your red hair….’
‘Oh… uh… o-okay. Um… what do you think I should…?’
Becky trailed off as Mattel leant past her to reach into the wardrobe.
She flicked through several of Becky’s shirts, and Becky felt her chest tighten—
How much of her wardrobe didn’t suit her?
‘Ah! Here we are!’ Mattel chirped, pulling out a canary-yellow top. ‘This one will look beautiful on you!’
‘You think so?’ Becky asked, slowly taking it from her girlfriend.
She’d never actually worn this shirt, before. It was one Jezzibeth had gotten her; she hadn’t thrown it out because it was a gift…. But she’d never really had an interest in it.
‘Yeah! Trust me, Becky, I know what I’m talking about,’ said Mattel. ‘It brings out your eyes.’
‘Mhm,’ Mattel hummed, putting her hand on Becky’s cheek and giving her a loving smile. ‘You have such beautiful eyes…’
‘—I don’t know why people say brown eyes are boring,’ Mattel continued. ‘I think they’re cute. Like soft hazelnut.’
People thought brown eyes were….
‘Come on, Becky!’ Mattel’s voice was like a song, again, as she giggled and hooked her hands onto the bottom of Becky’s shirt and lifted it up and over her head. ‘Get changed so we can go! We don’t want to be late!’
‘Right— Sorry— Right—‘ Becky stammered, quickly discarding her shirt on the floor.
‘Mhm,’ Mattel gave a curt hum, before tutting. ‘And that is why your room is like this, Becky.’
‘Sorry,’ Becky mumbled again, slipping into the yellow shirt Mattel had picked out for her. ‘I— Uh—‘
There was a knock on Becky’s door, and the girl flinched as Isa called out.
‘Becky? May I come in? I’m doing a load of washing and I want to get some of your clothes done!’
‘Oh, yeah! Sure,’ Becky replied— Then gasped as the door was open and a pillow with long spidery legs bolted into the room. ‘Mimi— Isa! Mimi’s gotten in—‘
Before anyone could react, the mimic had bolted across the room and latched itself onto Mattel’s ankle; snarling and biting and shaking itself viciously.
‘Ow! Ow, Becky! Get it off!’ Mattel cried, stumbling and trying to shake the mimic off. ‘Get it off! Becky! Ow!’
‘Mimi! No! Let go!’ Becky scolded, gripping her pet and trying to remove it from her girlfriend’s leg as blood began smear into her socks. ‘Mimi! Let! Go! Now!’
Mimi did as it was told and released Mattel; though it trembled violently in Becky’s grasp and growled as the woman stumbled to the bed and sat down to examine the blood on her leg.
‘Mimi, no!’ Becky continued to scold. ‘No biting! Bad! That was very bad!’
The mimic shrunk into itself, at that, letting out a long whine as it did.
‘Aw, don’t be too hard on her,’ Isa said, sounding humoured as she eyed Mattel and dropped an empty clothes basket onto the floor. ‘She’s just protecting you.’
‘Mm…’ Becky gave a groan in response. ‘She doesn’t need to protect me from Mattel.’
‘I wouldn’t be so sure….’ Isa mumbled in response, just quiet enough Becky couldn’t be sure she’d heard the drow right as she bent down to pick up clothes from the floor. Then, she sniffed, ‘Anyway, I’m sure Mattel’s fine. Aren’t you, Mattel?’
‘Mhm,’ Mattel’s agreement was hesitant. And though as she finished wiping off her ankle and sat up straight her voice grew sweeter, Becky could still hear the frustration in her tone. ‘She’s so… charming, isn’t she? You know, you should really consider taking her to a proper trainer sometime. Get this little… problem nipped in the bud.’
Isa gave a snicker, which she quickly hid as she continued collecting clothes. ‘She’s just so cute, isn’t she?’ Isa stood up straight, then, and reached out to pet Mimi; who accepted it with a purr and turned into a scarf. ‘Don’t worry, Mattel. I’m sure if you just give her enough positive attention she’ll get used to you…. Why don’t you come give her a pat, now?’
‘I’d rather not,’ Mattel commented, shooting Isa an annoyed glance— Which softened as she turned to Becky. ‘I hope you understand, Becky? Maybe next time. I just don’t want to deal with two bites in one day.’
‘Oh— No, it’s fine, I understand,’ Becky comforted, stroking her own hand down Mimi’s back before carefully handing it to Isa. ‘I think… maybe she’s just a bit jealous.’
‘Hm, maybe,’ Mattel shrugged, giving her ankle one last look before rising to her feet. ‘Anyway, we should get going. We don’t want to be late again.’
‘Ooh, yes,’ Isa chimed in, her voice filled with false-concern as she wrapped Mimi around her neck. ‘Late. You’re always so worried about being late, Mattel!’
‘Because we always are,’ Mattel shot back through grit teeth.
‘Hm. Well, Becky’s rarely late when I take her places,’ Isa shrugged, picking up the now-full clothes basket and heading for the door. ‘Maybe you should come over to get Becky ready a little earlier, Mattel. Because being late only ever seems to be a problem when you’re feeling fussy.’
‘Fussy?!’ Mattel gasped back, placing an offended hand to her chest as Isa disappeared out the door. ‘Oh. My. God! She did not just— Mhm! Well! That. That is not how the help should be talking!’
‘—Mm-mm! Uh-uh!’ Mattel cut Becky off and shook her head. ‘That. Was. So rude! Mhm! Mm-mm. No. That’s— Oh, Becky! That’s just— UGH!‘
‘I-I know,’ Becky put a hand on Mattel’s shoulder, gently pulling her down off her toes. ‘It’s okay. Isa’s just… been a little stressed out lately. I’m sorry I’ll— I’ll talk with her.’
‘I would hope so!’ Mattel snapped. Then, she took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. And then again, until her tone was even and calm…. Then, she waved a dismissive hand. ‘I’m so sorry, Becky. I didn’t mean to snap at you. I’m not mad at you. Hm…. Let’s just— Let’s just go.’
They had only been a little bit late for their reservation, this time. And Becky had wondered if what Isa said was really true—
She did always seem to be late places when she was with Mattel. But she always thought that was her own fault; she took so long to get ready, after all….
‘What are you thinking of getting, Becky?’ Mattel asked. ‘I was thinking of having the soup.’
Becky tried not to scrunch up her nose; she didn’t want Mattel to see her disgust….
But it was just— The soup here was so… bleh!
It tasted like someone had boiled vegetables in it, then thrown out the vegetables instead of the water….
‘Becky? What are you getting?’ Mattel asked again, her voice edged with a firm note as she placed her elbows on the table and rested her chin on a hand. She was smiling, but Becky could tell she was still frustrated after Isa’s comment. ‘We need to order soon or we’ll have to leave.’
‘Oh, uh—‘ Becky looked back to the menu, and tried to pick something… decent from it. She didn’t really like anything from here but— But Mattel did, and she was a picky eater, so they always ate here on their dates.
Well— Not always, of course. That was an exaggeration! She meant whenever Mattel picked where they ate, it was here. Mattel didn’t always pick where they ate. That would be silly! They’d been dating for just over a year, now, and it would be silly if Becky had never chosen where they ate!
She knew they’d had to have gone to…. No, no. They definitely hadn’t….
There was that time they ate at…. No….
Well, it didn’t matter! Becky didn’t mind coming here for Mattel. It made her happy; and that made Becky happy!
‘Becky, sweetie, do you need help choosing?’ Mattel asked.
‘Oh— No,’ Becky finally replied. ‘I was thinking of… um… a steak and chips?’
‘Hm…’ Mattel gave a tentative hum. ‘Mhm…. Oh well… that’s… nice.’
Becky felt herself blush as Mattel grimaced. ‘What— What is it? What’s wrong?’
‘It’s just— Oh, it’s nothing.’
‘Mattel?’ Becky lowered her voice, leaning forward. ‘What? Tell me. What did I do?’
‘It’s just that…. You eat a lot of meat, Becky,’ Mattel replied; her voice soft and full of concern. ‘Like. Orcish amounts of meat. It can’t be healthy for you.’
‘Well— I uh— Ahah!’ Becky gave a nervous laugh. ‘I am half human. Humans… eat a lot of meat.’
‘Maybe…’ Mattel let out a breath, and pressed both her index fingers pensively against her chin. ‘Oh it’s— I’m sorry, Becky. It’s not my place to comment, is it? I’m just concerned, that’s all.’
‘Oh, no, no it’s fine!’ Becky gave another laugh. ‘I don’t mind. I know you’re just trying to look out for me. I’ll get something else— Maybe just the chips?’
‘That’s a lot of calories, though,’ Mattel gave another grimace.
‘Well…’ Becky hesitated. ‘I… do burn a lot of calories. I’m just— They’re filling, and I’m hungry, you know?’
‘Oh, yes! Yes! Of course! No I wasn’t—‘ Mattel waved a dismissive hand. ‘I’m so sorry, I wasn’t trying to make a comment or anything. I’m just concerned. What with that issue you’ve been having with your uniform size in school.’
‘No that’s just—‘ Becky paused. ‘Well. Because my chest is so big. That’s all. I’m not fat.’
‘Still. Aren’t you on the biggest shirt they sell? What will happen if you move up a size? I’m just concerned. You don’t want another… accident.’
Mattel motioned to her own chest with a rolling motion, and Becky was reminded of the… unfortunate wardrobe malfunction she’d suffered in sparring practice the previous year.
‘Uh… yeah. I mean… I see your point,’ Becky nodded.
Mattel was right.
She didn’t want that to happen again.
Especially not now that, since that incident, there always seemed to be twice as many gawkers in the gym when the monks were training.
The hollering that had sounded the first time was enough to last Becky a lifetime— Though, she had to admit that one wizard kid who’d ended up having an asthma attack was sort of funny.
But even then, Mattel was right.
‘Thanks, Mattel,’ Becky gave Mattel a warm smile. ‘I didn’t even think about that.’
‘Hmh,’ Mattel gave another hum, and huffed out a playful breath as she grinned and rolled her eyes. ‘Really, Becky, I don’t know what you’d do without me, sometimes.’
‘Who knows,’ Becky chuckled. ‘Um… what do you think I should get?’
‘Well, I know you’re not a fan of the carbonara here,’ Mattel stated, incorrectly.
Was she incorrect? Becky liked carbonara but… did they use that weird sauce here?
She couldn’t remember ever trying it before….
But if Mattel said she didn’t like it, then she must have had it at some point.
‘A salad’s always a good choice,’ Mattel continued. ‘The grilled peach salad has blueberries and honey in it. You like blueberries, right?’
‘I do like blueberries,’ Becky agreed. ‘I’ve never had grilled peaches, though….’
‘They’re so good, Becky!’ Mattel told her. ‘You should try it! Like, for real! You would love it!’
‘Alright, uh— Yeah!’ Becky felt herself grinning as Mattel motioned for the waitress to come over. ‘I’ll give it a shot!’
‘That’s my girl.’
Dinner had been short; Mattel had seemed to want to get out of the restaurant as quickly as possible to continue with their plans for the night— A walk through the woods.
They’d practically danced their way along the trail, Mattel pulling Becky along behind her as she hurried to find them somewhere secluded to spend their time. They’d ended up sneaking into what Becky knew was the Brimstone’s property. Becky had always avoided trespassing here, and turned back whenever she realised she’d strayed too far; though at this time of night Mattel had been sure they wouldn’t be be caught. And, besides, it wasn’t like they were doing anything wrong….
They’d just ducked behind a tree and, as instructed by Mattel, Becky had slipped under the woman’s skirt.
And now, as Becky’s face was buried tightly between Mattel’s thighs, she thought she knew why the woman had been so eager to find a private place to spend their date.
She could feel Mattel trembling as she pressed her tongue deep, and so she reached up her arms; grasping around Mattel’s thighs to keep her steady.
‘Mm! God yes,’ Mattel moaned, breathlessly. ‘Oh my god. Oh my— Oh god! Okay! Okay, Becky— That’s enough. Stop— I— I’m done.’
Becky pulled back obediently and wiped her mouth before slipping back out from under Mattel’s skirt. She gazed up at her girlfriend with a wide grin. ‘How’d I do?’ she asked, playfully.
‘Amazing!’ Mattel leant down and pecked a kiss onto Becky’s cheek. ‘Oh my god, you’re so good at that!’
‘Thanks,’ Becky giggled, and pushed herself up. ‘Alright so— Uh… what do you wanna do, now?’
Mattel shrugged as she took Becky’s hands and helped her to stand. ‘I don’t know,’ she answered. ‘I definitely don’t want to go home. I want to spend more time with you.’
Becky felt herself blush as Mattel gently ran a finger down her cheek, bringing it to rest under her chin. Then, Mattel gently tilted Becky’s chin up so she could kiss her.
‘Let’s keep walking,’ she suggested, taking Becky by the hand and starting back to the trail.
‘Okay,’ Becky agreed as she hurried after her girlfriend.
It was like a dream come true. Just her and Mattel in the woods, under the cloudless night sky as they wandered and talked. They’d done this many times before but… Becky swore every time they did, Mattel grew even more beautiful….
Becky felt like she was under a spell. She didn’t even want to think— It was just too perfect a night to ruin it with any sort of thought; so whatever Mattel said, she mindlessly agreed with.
‘Hey! Oh my god wait!‘ Mattel gave a sudden gasp as a thought hit her. ‘Oh! The junkyard is near here, isn’t it, Becky?’
‘Huh— Uh… oh, yeah,’ Becky felt herself snapped out of her trance as Mattel swung around and waggled a thoughtful finger. ‘It is. Why?’
‘We should go…’ Mattel said, trailing off as she quickly looked into her purse; she sifted through it as if looking for something, and then nodded. ‘Ah! Yes! We should go!’
‘What you mean… break in?’ Becky asked.
‘No— No— Not into any buildings! Just the yard,’ Mattel said it as if it was supposed to be a sort of comfort. ‘Snoop around, you know? See what dirt we can dig up on the Brimstones— Maybe we can find out more about that weirdo, Patty! Heh…. I mean, even her name is weird!’
‘I… don’t know,’ Becky grimaced. ‘Isn’t it illegal to trespass? I-I don’t want to get in trouble.’
‘I mean, technically, aren’t we trespassing now?’ Mattel shrugged. ‘You didn’t have a problem coming out here.’
‘Yeah but it’s like— This is just the woods, you know?’ Becky couldn’t find the words to explain it; and as Mattel stepped towards her and rested their foreheads together, Becky found herself trailing off. ‘The junkyard is like full of junk and… stuff….’
‘Please?’ Mattel begged, her voice high and sweet as she took Becky’s hips and pulled her closer; until they were pressed tightly against each other and Becky felt her cheeks growing hot. ‘I really want to go.’
There was a lump in Becky’s throat as Mattel’s beautiful blue eyes stared into hers. She knew her breath caught in her throat, and she knew her cheeks were red— And she knew that Mattel knew all of this, too, as the woman’s face broke into a cheeky grin and she leant down to plant a kiss on Becky’s neck.
‘Okay,’ Becky caved, practically melting in Mattel’s arms. ‘We can go.’
Sneaking into the junkyard wasn’t hard, but it was terrifying. Becky could feel her heart thumping in her chest the entire time— And it wasn’t just from Mattel’s presence.
She’d heard stories about Girl Dog, the Brimstone’s hell-hound, from Adam. She was huge. And vicious. And guarded the junkyard like a dragon guarded its hoard.
According to Adam, that animal was dangerous enough to be around when you weren’t illegally trespassing….
She could only imagine what it was trained to do to trespassers.
‘Come on, Becky!’ Mattel whispered; landing on the other side of the chain-link fence. ‘Hurry up!’
Becky swallowed down the lump in her throat, and let her eyes trail up the fence. She could make it, easy. She’d scaled much harder fences, gates, walls, trees— But the idea of breaking in and actually trespassing….
It was a crime.
And even with all she did, she still never….
She tried not to….
She’d only ever done something like this once before.
Thinking about the time she’d broken the liquor store window, Becky swallowed again and placed her hands on the fencing.
She couldn’t just back out now.
Not with Mattel already on the other side.
It would be fine.
It would all be fine….
Becky hurriedly scaled the fence, pausing at it’s top for a moment as she estimated the height of the drop— Then, she landed lightly on her feet beside Mattel.
‘Yes, Becky!’ Mattel gave a quiet cheer, before grabbing Becky by the arm and pulling her along. ‘Come on! Let’s go look around!’
‘Okay but—‘ Becky cut off as she dodged a lump of metal on the ground. ‘Okay, but keep an eye out for Girl Dog!’
‘The Brimstone’s guard dog! She’s really dangerous! She almost took off A—‘ Becky replied, barely catching herself as she almost name-dropped Adam. ‘—Aaaah friend of mine’s arm!’ she finished.
‘Ugh, figures the Brimstones would keep a vicious animal like that around!’ Mattel huffed. ‘I mean, have you seen them? They’re basically animals, themselves!’
‘Well… they’re a bit loud, but they’re not—‘ Becky cut off as Mattel shot her a look. ‘Hm…. Um… which way should we go?’
‘Hmm… this way!’ Mattel ordered, dragging Becky along.
Then suddenly she stopped and let go of Becky’s arm, instead pulling out a can of deodorant and spraying thick, long lines of it across a nearby car.
‘What are you doing!’ Becky asked, confused, as Mattel moved her spray towards the ground and began to trace a trail to the next car. ‘Mattel?! What are you doing?!’
Mattel didn’t answer; she just continued spraying, and spraying, and spraying. Even as she backed away from the cars she left a long, thick white line in the dirt behind her.
‘Mattel!’ Becky called after her— Only to get shushed. ‘Mattel!’
‘Shh!’ Mattel shushed her again, finally stopping her strange behaviour and looking up over a nearby pile of junk. ‘Oh— Shit!’
‘What?!’ Becky gasped, quickly joining Mattel.
‘It’s that Old Man Brimstone!’ Mattel answered, peaking around the pile again. ‘Oh, thank god. I think he’s sleeping…. Hey! Here—‘
Becky flinched as Mattel picked up a nearby hunk of metal and thrust it into her arms.
‘—You’re a better shot than me!’
‘What?!’ Becky reeled back. ‘You want me to—‘
‘—Throw it at him! Yeah!’ answered Mattel. ‘You’ve got better aim than me!’
‘I…’ Becky paused, peering around the junk herself.
She could see Old Man Brimstone, asleep in a chair under a small shelter.
The tiefling was slumped over his chair in a way that made him look like he’d been laying dead for days. Had his tail not been twitching, Becky might have believed it.
His curved, oversized horns pulled his head down at an awkward angle, and the too-thin limb on one side (a false leg? Becky wasn’t sure) was propped up awkwardly on a box.
He was a mean-looking man, but….
‘I-I don’t w-want to!’ Becky stammered. ‘He’s just some weird old guy! I don’t want to hurt him!’
‘Come on, Becky! You know he’s been trying to ruin my parent’s reputation, right?’ Mattel hissed. ‘He’s been spreading rumours that they’re like, evil or something.’
Becky didn’t think that Mattel’s parents needed help with that; they were perfectly capable of making people think they were evil on their own…
They were awful, manipulative people— And Becky was just glad Mattel didn’t take after them.
‘Come on, Becky, he deserves it!’ Mattel huffed. ‘It’s such a good opportunity, too! Please?! I won’t ask you to do anything else like this again! But it’s like— The one time we’re going to get this chance!’
‘I… I don’t know….’
‘Hmp,’ Mattel gave a frustrated snort, and stood up to walk away. ‘Fine, then. Whatever. Be like that— I’m not even asking much!’
‘I— No— Wait— No—‘ Becky gasped, feeling herself begin to panic. ‘N-No! Don’t be mad I’ll— I’ll do it! I’ll do it!’
Mattel rolled her eyes, but stopped walking; crossing her arms as she watched Becky closely.
‘Okay, okay—‘ Becky took a deep breath, and edged out from behind the pile. She swallowed, and adjusted her grip on the lump of metal, lifting it above her head and….
She lost her nerve and lowered it— Taking a laboured breath as she did.
‘Come on!’ she urged herself. ‘You can do this! Just pretend he’s… a statue or something…. With how still he is, it can’t be that hard….’
Again, she raised the hunk of metal, and….
It sailed through the air in an arc before slamming directly into the side of Old Man Brimstone’s head and knocking him off the chair and onto the floor in a confused, swearing heap.
‘What in the ever-fuckin’ tarnation!’
Becky ducked behind the pile again— Just in time to hear a click-click-FWOOSH and she turned to see Mattel had lit the trail of deodorant on fire.
‘MATTEL!’ Becky shrieked as the flame shot along the path her girlfriend had drawn and lit up the two deodorant-covered cars. ‘Mattel what are you doing?!’
The deafening sound of a gunshot rung through the air, and Becky let out another shriek as the barking of a large dog sounded nearby and— Mattel bolted, leaping around piles of junk and vanishing from view.
Another gunshot, another scream from Becky, and the sound of Girl Dog’s snarls and her huge feet thumping against the ground as she approached.
‘Girl Dog! Git’em! Git’em, Girl Dog!’
The sound of crashing metal and falling car parts came from behind Becky, and she whirled around to see a humongous hell-hound stumbling back to its feet. It carelessly kicked past the pile it had knocked over— Then leapt directly through the burning flames and towards Becky with a snarl.
Becky let out a cry and stumbled backwards; barely managing to avoid the beast as it snapped at her. She bolted out from behind the pile of garbage and rushed past the old tiefling who was reloading his gun— Out of the corner of her eye she saw him throw something, and felt it catch her in the side.
It almost knocked her down, but her fear of the animal behind her kept her from falling as she ran.
‘Ay! Git you back ‘ere!’ Old Man Brimstone shouted furiously. Then, another gun shot was fired into the air. ‘That’s ya last warning, girl! Next shot Ah’m aimin’!’
Becky didn’t dare stop running; she bolted through the junkyard as fast as she could, leaping over piles after pile— And letting out cry after cry as Girl Dog effortlessly smashed through them.
Then, her path was blocked by the rusted remains of an old school bus.
In a panic she leapt at it; grabbing onto the empty window frames and scrabbling for a foothold as she hefted herself to the roof.
Fire-hot breath hit her as Girl Dog snapped at her heels, and Becky pulled herself up just in time to avoid the animal grabbing her by the leg.
The hound began to bark at her. Then, it let out a deep, furious hiss and a spiral of fire shot into the air— And Becky let out another long, terrified scream.
Then, Girl Dog began circling the bus; barking and leaping up at Becky whenever she dared glance over the edge.
Feeling her adrenaline running thin, Becky flopped over and tried, desperately, to catch her breath— And as she panted and wheezed, she realised that her cheeks were streaked with tears.
‘Aye, you got her cornered now, Girl Dog?’ the voice of the old tiefling called over the animal’s furious growls. ‘Back up, now. Back up! Lemme git a look at her!’
Becky saw the tiefling emerge from behind a mound, and she instinctively ducked down, pressing herself against the top of the bus and trembling.
‘Hrmph,’ he grunted, motioning for the hell-hound to quieten down. ‘Y’all crying up there, huh? Ain’t so tough now, are ya?’
Becky felt herself sniffle, and shivered; not daring to lift her head to look at the old man.
‘Look at me, girl,’ he ordered. ‘C’mon! Lemme git a look ya!’
Becky didn’t look up— Not until she heard the chk-CHK of Old Man Brimstone cocking his gun.
‘Ah!’ he gave a grunt of recognition. “Yer Rebecca Bloom, ain’t ya? Datin’ that young Masters girl?’
‘Yer ‘ere with her?’
‘N… No,’ Becky lied. There was no point in getting Mattel in trouble, as well….
‘That’s a fib— Ah heard yer yellin’ at her!’ Old Man Brimstone snorted, putting a hand on his hip. ‘Hm. An’ now Ah know y’all are a dirty little fibber….’
Becky was quiet.
‘Didn’t sound like yer was anticipating her setting that fire though, hmm?’ he gave her a grin, and raised his brow. ‘Yer sounded almost as shocked as Ah did. You weren’t expectin’ her to do that, were ya?’
Slowly, Becky shook her head. ‘No….’
‘Mmhmm…. An’ which one o’ y’all threw the distributor?’
‘It was… it…’ Becky looked away, swallowing. ‘I… I did….’
‘Hmph. Thought so. Miss Masters ain’t never been a good shot,’ Old Man Brimstone gave a sniff, and motioned to the huge hell-hound that was still growling up at Becky. ‘Alright, Girl Dog. Thank y’all. That’s enough. Ah can handle her from ‘ere. Why don’t y’all go see if yer can’t find where little Miss Masters ran off to?’
For a moment, Girl Dog looked like she wasn’t going to listen; but then she licked her lips, and sniffed the air, and ran back the way they’d come from.
Becky let out her breath as she did.
‘Alright, y’all git down ‘ere now!’ Old Man Brimstone ordered, making a beckoning motion with his shotgun. ‘C’mon! Git down off that bus an’ come an’ face the consequences of yer actions!’
Slowly —very, very slowly— Becky did as she was told, and slid off the top of the bus to the ground. She landed heavily, stumbling, before making her way over to the tiefling.
‘That’s right, c’mere!’
Becky felt herself shrinking down in shame and fear as she approached him; her head down, her shoulders tensed, and her eyes flicking from him to the ground and back as she fought back more tears.
Then, as she reached him, she felt a sharp pain in her ear as he grabbed it and gave her a harsh tug.
‘Now y’all listen ‘ere!’ he growled, pulling Becky close and ignoring as she scrabbled at his hand with her own to try and loosen his grip. ‘The ‘mount of damage y’all’ve just done to me an’ my property is unacceptable. Right? Ah know for a fact y’all was raised better than this, Bloom! Ah’ve met yer Miss Valstille an’ know she ain’t lettin’ y’all run wild like Miss Masters’ daddy lets her do! What’d yer think she’d say if Ah gave her a call right now an’ told her ‘bout yer behaviour, hm? Hm? Think she’d be happy with ya?’
‘N-N-N-No!’ Becky stammered, feeling more tears beginning to roll down her cheeks. ‘Sh-Sh-She—‘
‘—Nah!’ Brimstone agreed, giving Becky a firm and painful shake. ‘She’d rip yer a new one! An’ yer lucky Ah ain’t ripping yer a new one right now, too! Yeah? Yeah?!’
‘Ah, yer “sir”in’ me now, aye?’ Brimstone scoffed. ‘Do Ah scare ya, girl? Hm?’
Becky gave the best nod she could, and tried to sniff back her sob.
‘Good!’ he snapped. ‘Maybe y’all’ll learn some damn respect!’
Becky sniffed again and tried to wiggle out of Brimstone’s grasp— Only for him to squeeze her ear so tight she let out a cry.
‘Ah ain’t done with ya, girl!’ he growled. ‘Yer crossed a damn line, throwin’ things at an old man on his own property! An’ yer know yer lucky Ah ain’t burying y’all in the ground ‘ere an’ now, right? Yer lucky Ah saw y’all was as young as yer were, or Ah would have put a bullet in ya! Y’realise yer lucky Ah didn’t kill you, yeah?’
‘Mhm!’ Becky squeaked in agreement.
‘Yeah,’ Brimstone repeated, decisively. ‘Now, Ah’m gon’ let yer go; but Ah ain’t done talking yet. So if y’all try an’ run again Ah’m gonna shoot yer. Y’hear me?’
‘Y-Y-Yes, sir,’ Becky stammered. ‘I-I won’t run.’
Finally, Becky was released. She took in a shaky breath as Brimstone let her go and rubbed at her ear.
‘Sit,’ Brimstone ordered firmly as he motioned to a pile of junk.
Becky didn’t need to be told twice; she practically leapt onto the pile in her hurry to do as she was told, and felt herself cowering under the old man’s gaze as he stared her down.
Then, she thought she saw his eyes soften as he sniffed again. ‘Now, girl,’ he began, his voice kinder than before; though still firm. ‘Ah don’t think y’all are a bad person. Ah’ve heard about you from the Slader family, an’ they’ve always talked about how y’all are a lovely girl—‘ his voice grew dark again, and he loomed over Becky with a menacing glare. ‘So Ah’m going to let y’all off with a warnin’. Just this once. Y’hear me, girl? Y’get one more chance. Y’all walk out of ‘ere now, with no arguin’ or fussin’ or moanin’, an’ nobody has to know what y’all’ve just did.’
Slowly, Becky nodded. ‘Y-Y-Yes, sir….’
‘But —an’ Ah mean this!— if Ah catch y’all ever pullin’ a stunt like that again, Ah ain’t gonna be callin’ off Girl Dog. Y’hear? Ah will leave yer to her mercy. An’ whatever she decides t’do t’yer— Well. That’ll be yer own fault, won’t it, girl?’
‘Yes, sir,’ Becky repeated.
‘Mhm. An’ finally,’ Brimstone straightened up again, taking a step back and opening his shotgun to examine the bullets as his tone slowed into a scathing drawl. ‘If Ah can be so bold as to recommend? Y’all should be more careful what company yer be choosin’ to keep… Them Masters are bad news, girl…. They’ll eat yer up an’ spit yer out without a care fer ya….’
Becky swallowed, and gave a weak nod of acknowledgment.
‘Hm. Now, git!’ Brimstone snapped, loudly snapping his gun closed. ‘Go on! Git! Or Ah’ll shoot ya!’
A fearful cry escaped Becky as she fell from the pile of junk and scurried away through the yard.
She ran all the way to, and over, the fence. Then she ran more. Into the woods, up the road, and all the way back to town.
She didn’t slow down. She couldn’t slow down—
Not until she had scaled the tree by her bedroom window and hidden herself deep within her blankets; panting, and sobbing, and desperately trying to stop herself from being sick.
She knew could never, ever dare to set foot on Brimstone property again.
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