The Little Things 9
My story, “The Little Things,” is now appearing in the current issue of Black Static. Have you had a chance to read it? If not, check back soon for an opportunity to rectify that. In the mean time, here’s a snippet:
Inside, she was greeted by a half dozen of her siblings, all bouncing or hopping with excitement.
Timmy was first at the door, like always. He was nearest to Cassie’s age, and she could not remember a time without him around. He had thin, muscular arms and a normal torso but where his legs should have been was a lumped mass as if his lower half had grown into a tadpole tail. The top of his head was smooth with strings of long hair; he had no eyes, only slots for a nose, but did possess a large mouth with a dozen thick, perfectly straight teeth. Folds of flesh rippled on either side of his head where ears should be; he could hear very well and smiled frequently when Cassie talked to him.
Teddy was a snuggler—mostly an elongated mass of hair, a couple of stumps for arms or legs, and a lump on top with a mouth, he enjoyed curling up next to her when she slept. He even made a sound a bit like a cat purr, though more gravelly. As with most of her siblings Teddy had no noticeable gender, but Cassie thought of him as a “he,” and that was good enough for her.
There was Lucy with big bulbous eyes, no nose and no lower jaw. She did have a tongue, and it usually hung down her front—like many, it was hard to tell where her body stopped and her neck started as everything blended into each other. But Lucy was often happy, Cassie could tell by the smile in her eyes.
The triplets—Harry, Barry, and Larry—were not identical, at all, but had fallen off at the same time and thus Cassie had named them together. Between arms, legs, and heads, each one had something the others did not.
There were many others about, though the ones at the door were the most mobile. Some of the others lived in tubs of water, or huddled in a mass of dirty clothing. They were as varied as could be, from vaguely humanoid to barely animal-like. More than two dozen lived in the basement, along with Cassie and her mother, Cynthia. Each one was unique, and occupied a special place in Cassie’s heart.
Most of them Cassie had named herself; a few years ago Mother had stopped giving them names. Cassie hated Mother for that. How horrible would it be to grow up without a name? Cassie took care of it, naming those that lived after characters in books.
Of course, there were many things that had fallen off of Mother, far too many to count, each living at least briefly on its own. From flakes of dried skin, hair, and moles to full tumors, every thing she spouted came with its own life; what survived, Cassie named—what didn’t became a treat for the rest. Mother was a walking, breathing Garden of Eden, blessed with abundance from God. Mother had told Cassie this when she was young, and Cassie still thought it to be the case.
Mother not naming her offspring was bad; what she started doing a year ago was far worse.
Update: I’ve included Galen Dara’s illustration of the character Mother – she drew this as part of her 30 Characters challenge last fall. You should really check her artwork out – she’s great.