Seanan McGuire (seanan_mcguire) wrote,
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Velveteen vs. The Fright Night Sorority House Massacre Sleepover Camp.

Title: Velveteen vs. The Fright Night Sorority House Massacre Sleepover Camp.
Summary: What happens when a former child superheroine, her allies, and a bunch of co-eds wind up locked in an improbably large Greek house with a masked serial killer and unreliable super powers?

***

"What the—" Loud crashing sounds from the kitchen obscured whatever the Princess said next, although judging by the movements of her mouth, it wasn't anything G-rated or appropriate for children. Velveteen had to admire the pinpoint timing of the racket, even though she knew it was probably just going to make the Princess angrier. Anger wasn't the problem. They kept running, and the noise stopped as the Princess continued, "—is going on here? This doesn't make any fairy-fucking sense!"

"What doesn't make sense is how the universe bleeps out normal cuss words, but lets you say 'fairy-fucking,'" said Jackie.

"Less snarking, more running!" snapped Velveteen, taking her own advice and shutting up as she high-tailed it for the stairs. The others followed, trusting Velveteen's unerring sense of self-preservation to get them at least moderately out of harm's way while they regrouped and figured out what to do next. Apart from "survive." That, more than anything else, was turning into the goal of the evening...which might have been why that, more than anything else, seemed increasingly impossible.

Three minutes later, the four of them were wedged into the space beneath the stairs, mostly blocked from casual view by a coat rack laden with leather jackets straight out of the 1950s, denim jackets straight out of the 1980s, and blood-stained lab coats that needed no era to define them. The Princess was down on her hands and knees, whispering into a mouse hole, while Victory Anna sat next to her, trying to pry the cover off a Speak-and-Spell. She was cursing softly but steadily under her breath in a mixture of Latin and English, and what little Vel could understand made her glad that she didn't know what any of the Latin actually meant.

Jackie, meanwhile, was keeping a wary eye on the thin sliver of hallway that could be seen through the coats. Voice pitched very low, she said, "This is almost as bad as it is stupid. You realize that, right?"

"We're trapped in a supernatural sorority house that's been in the middle of its own private horror movie since the early 1950s at the absolute minimum, our powers aren't reliable, I don't know how we got here or where everyone else is, or even who everyone else is, and the architecture appears to be a collaboration between M.C. Escher and the guy who did the set design for Labyrinth," snapped Velveteen. "Yeah, I get that this is bad."

"You left off the part where we're all in our unmentionables," said Victory Anna, not looking up from her pilfered toy. "Really, that's the part that cuts most dearly. You're all nice girls, I'm sure—"

Jackie snorted.

"—but I'd rather not display my entire treasury to casual lookie-loos," concluded Victory Anna, ignoring her.

Jackie turned to Velveteen, one white eyebrow raised in silent question. Velveteen shrugged.

"She has a point, you know," she said. "Love you lots, not so sure I needed you to see me in my underwear." She paused. "On the other hand, this isn't my underwear, so I guess 'not so sure I needed you to see me in fan service mode' would be more accurate."

"Thank Disney this place ain't wired for broadcast," said the Princess, causing the other three to look around uneasily.

"Great," muttered Vel. "Because I wasn't uncomfortable enough."

Somehow, whatever mechanism had dumped them in their current situation—a mechanism which, Vel was pretty sure, was going to get punched in whatever it had that was most like a face, when or if they finally figured out what it was—had also changed their clothes. Mid-transition costume changes weren't unheard of in the superhero world, but they usually involved a transition between "street clothes" and "costume," generally right before you got dropped into a pan-dimensional gladiatorial tournament of some sort. Sometimes the costume in question would be a new variation on the norm, like Halloween with its tatters and rags, or Christmas with its fur trim and velvet. Going by that logic, and considering that they were all relatively attractive females, their current "costumes" made perfect sense.

But that didn't mean they had to like it.

Jackie, whose normal costume was revealing enough to disqualify her from the Olympics (even if they'd been willing to let her compete, what with the whole "the South Pole isn't a country" thing), was wearing white boy shorts and a white lace bra, both of which were patterned with small silver snowflakes and stood out starkly against the blue of her skin. Privately, Velveteen thought she looked like an ill-conceived modernization of Smurfette. Not that she was feeling suicidal enough to say it, even if Jackie's ice powers had been increasingly erratic since they arrived in the house, lingerie and all. Victory Anna was wearing frilly bloomers, thigh-high striped stockings, and a brown canvas corset with gears embroidered all over it. Both of them were barefoot. Velveteen herself had found her costume replaced by a brown lace teddy that seemed to have been modeled on something from the early Playboy club, including the white cotton rabbit's tail and wire-supported bunny ears. At least she'd managed to ditch the high heels after the third time she nearly twisted her ankle.

"What I don't understand," said Victory Anna, as she finally managed to remove the back of the Speak-and-Spell, "is why she gets to remain decently covered." She gestured toward the Princess.

The Princess, who hadn't actually met Victory Anna before they were all thrust into this horror movie turned endless sight gag, looked away from her mouse hole to frown at the gadgeteer. "You'd rather the little girls of the world pictured me all nice and slutty?"

Victory Anna raised her head and looked at the Princess blankly. "Haven't the little girls of this world nightgowns of their own?"

Sensing an impending throw-down, Velveteen quickly raised her hands and said, "Princess, Torrey originally came from a dimension without Disney, so she hasn't really internalized what it means. Victory Anna, please keep working on that transmitter. If we can't signal for help before midnight, we're going to be in a world of trouble."

Now it was Velveteen's turn to get the blank look from Victory Anna. "Whatever does midnight have to do with anything?"

"...a dimension without Disney or horror movies," muttered Vel. More loudly, she said, "Midnight is when it gets bad."

In the distance, to punctuate her statement, someone screamed.

*

Superhuman abilities are generally divided, not only into power levels, but into categories, or "classes." Physical powers, such as enhanced strength, enhanced reflexes, or rapid healing, are the most common, with most superhumans possessing one or more at a low level, even if they are a not a part of that individual's primary power set. Transphysical powers—which is scientist for "Damned if we know how they work, but they're tied to the body, so fuck it"—are also common. This class includes flight, metamorphosis both major and minor (from changing the color of your eyes to turning into an elephant), and manipulation of personal mass, a sub-class comprising growth, shrinking, and phasing through solid objects. The lists go on, with each class and sub-class containing a surprising number and variety of powers. Even the less common classes, such as the animus, contain their own sub-categories of powers. Some are unique. Some are theoretical. All, applied correctly, are dangerous.

And of all the classes, from the physical to the transphysical to the psychic to the temporal, the most dangerous are the reality manipulators. The ones who change, not themselves, but the very nature of reality. They are distinct from transmuters and shapeshifters; while a transmuter can turn a turtle into a tree, the tree will once have been a turtle. While a shapeshifter can transform him or herself into another creature, they will once have been themselves. Once a reality manipulator gets involved, that is no longer the case. They can wander the world leaving a trail of puzzled turtles behind them, rewriting the universe to suit their deepest desires...or their most transitory whims.

It is rare for The Super Patriots, Inc. to recommend the depowering of a superhuman, stating that they do not want to establish a precedent via which a hard-working member of the superhuman community can be permanently punished for a temporary lapse of judgment. (As this sort of sentence is requested only in instances where non-superhumans have died due to either negligence or malice on the part of the accused, the general public is much more positively inclined toward depowering, despite the near-universal suicide rate among former superhumans.) This does not hold in the case of the reality manipulators. When someone who can bend the fabric of the cosmos to suit their whims, they are too dangerous to be controlled. The only thing that stops them is depowering or, in extremely unusual cases, exile to a reality of their own creation. Generally, being completely at peace with their surroundings will stop the reality manipulators from exercising their powers.

For a time.

Reality manipulators are quite likely responsible for the nature of the world in which we live, where superheroes form corporations and holidays take on physical form. If that alone is not enough to convince you of the danger that they represent, may your inevitable death occur somewhere far, far away from anything we'd like to keep. Including the Earth.

*

"What in Epona's name is wrong with this place?" Victory Anna scowled at the guts of the Speak-and-Spell as if they had personally betrayed her. That seemed unlikely; they were spread out across her knees like a mechanical shawl, and weren't in a position to go around betraying anyone.

"What, honey, can't you read the future in its entrails?" drawled the Princess, looking up from her mouse hole.

"Of course not," said Victory Anna, transferring her scowl to the other superheroine. "I'd need a pigeon and some gloves if I was going to do that."

"I don't know what to say to that," said Jackie.

"Why the fuck am I always the one riding herd on the carnival of weirdos?" muttered Velveteen. The hall was still empty. It wasn't likely to stay that way, but still, she had to risk it. Cautiously, she turned. "Victory Anna, why are you cussing at the broken toy?"

"Because it's still bloody broken," said Victory Anna, sounding utterly disgusted. "This thing isn't broadcasting a signal, making me a cup of tea, or shooting out flesh-melting lasers."

"That's, ah, an interesting range of possible functions, honey," said the Princess. She was using the careful tone of voice she usually reserved for speaking to small children with questionable bladder control when they approached her at her public appearances.

"Tea is important," said Victory Anna primly.

"Oh, sweet Claus," groaned Jackie. She dropped her head into her hands. A thin scrim of frost had formed on the wall where she'd been leaning. It melted as Velveteen watched, dissolving faster than it should have. Jackie's ice wasn't natural, and once it had condensed, it normally lasted. "We're all going to die here."

"You don't know that," said Velveteen. "Maybe—"

Her words were cut off by the sound of screaming. Every head in the small room rose, but it was Victory Anna who looked the most alarmed. Her eyes went very wide.

With the feeling that she was standing at the edge of a dam that was on the verge of bursting, Velveteen scrambled to her knees, trying to position herself between Victory Anna and the hall. "Okay, I just need you to hang on a second before you run off. We don't have weapons, we don't have reliable powers, and—"

"Get out of my way, you milk-sop gear-grinding horse-beater! That's the woman I love!" She sprang to her feet more quickly than any of them would have thought possible for someone without superspeed, barreling past Velveteen and down the hall before the last pieces of the Speak-and-Spell finished hitting the floor.

Everyone blinked. Finally, the Princess said, "Maybe you ought to think about nudging her over to decaf tea."

"I think about it every day," said Velveteen, and scooted her way back into the open. "Come on. Let's go keep my roommate from getting herself slaughtered."

"We still haven't seen whoever brought us here..." said Jackie.

Velveteen paused, looking at her like she'd just said something unbelievably idiotic. "I'm not worried about whoever brought us here," she said. "Well, I am, but that's just become a secondary concern. The woman who just screamed her head off was Sparkle Bright."

"...oh, crap," said Jackie.

"My thoughts exactly."

They got moving.

*

Victory Anna ran down the hall without hesitation, her hands itching for the guns she didn't have. Damn whoever brought them here, to this Epona-forsaken place, where nothing worked as it ought, and even the technology refused to come to heel as it normally did! Her compatriots had been distressed from the first, but after losing her home dimension—twice—Victory Anna had thought herself more difficult to frighten. And so she was, until those so-familiar screams began to essay from the bowels of the cursed manse...

Familiar to you, but not to her, came the thought, insidious as arsenic, unforgiving as an academic review. She only knows you as Velveteen's cross-dimensional roommate, not her own star-crossed lover. What are you thinking? That if you save her, she'll fall into your arms and make everything make sense again? You're a fool, Victoria Cogsworth, and you'll suffer for your foolishness before this night is over...

She shoved the thought fiercely aside and kept running, scanning the walls for doorways, and for things that could be used as a weapon. If science had deserted her, she'd regress to barbarism, if that was what it took. Whether her Pol knew her or not, whether they were ever even to become friends in this strange new world, Victory Anna had been brought up to never leave a loved one in danger. Nothing in her lessons had told her to make exceptions for parallel universe versions of those loved ones. And so she ran.

The sound of footsteps running along behind her was unnerving, but that was no matter: the screaming was in front of her, and that meant she was being chased, if not by allies, then likely by fellow victims. Somewhere up ahead in the dark, Polychrome screamed again. Victory Anna put on another burst of speed, preparing to fling herself around the nearest corner—

—only to be hauled up short as the Princess, who had learned to sprint in high heels and was thus remarkably suited to running without them, grabbed her by the back of her corset. The Princess also had six inches and thirty pounds on her. The effect was not unlike suddenly being lassoed from behind by a solid wall of irritated Southern belle.

"Let me go!" demanded Victory Anna. "Pol needs me!"

"Her name's not Polychrome here, Tory; it's Sparkle Bright," said Velveteen. "And trust me, I want to save her as much as you do. But we're not going to do her any good if we rush in and get ourselves killed. Now please, can you calm the fuck down and let us help you?"

Victory Anna stopped twisting in the Princess's grasp and simply glared at Velveteen. "While you're standing here lecturing me about remaining calm, Po—'Sparkle Bright' is being subjected to horrors unknown and dangers unknowable. We have to move."

"You have to watch your language, or Jim Henson's going to sue you for copyright infringement," said Jackie.

"Says the girl from the Rankin-Bass special," drawled the Princess, and let go of Victory Anna. "I'm sorry about grabbing you, honey, but Vel's right. We gotta take this careful. Horror movies have their own rules, and if we go rushing in like a half-baked television spin-off, we're going to get cancelled like one."

Victory Anna looked at the two girls blankly. Fearing disaster, Velveteen stepped hurriedly forward and said, "Okay. We have to assume that everyone who's been brought here against their will has slightly dysfunctional powers right now. Maybe that's a big assumption, but it helps us plan. Are you all with me?" The others nodded. "Good. Now, I haven't seen Tag. He's the only male hero currently in Portland, so he should have been a target. I think he didn't get grabbed."

"Three cheers for sexism," said Jackie dryly.

"Exactly. We're in a creepy horror movie house, and it's not connected to Halloween or you and I would both know it. That means it probably belongs to somebody who wants to be a horror movie villain, and they're almost always male. This is a hunting preserve."

"And you're keeping me from running to Sparkle Bright's aid why?" Victory Anna demanded.

"Because you're unarmed, and horror movie rules say that if you run in unarmed, you're going to get there just in time to see her die." Velveteen looked around the hall, finally pointing to a door. "That one. Jackie, I need that door open."

"Sure, make the blue girl do all the heavy lifting. I'm pretty sure that's racist," grumbled Jackie, and moved to try the door. It was locked. Jackie made a sour face before reaching around behind herself and calmly removing her bra.

Victory Anna made a small squeaking sound. The Princess rolled her eyes. "Oh, goodie," she said. "Stripping."

"You can kiss my blueberry ass," said Jackie, before using her teeth to rip into the thin mesh on the side of her bra strap. It gave way easily, confirming everyone's impression that they had been dressed for viewer appeal, not actual function. "You think I want everyone here getting a look at my flawless rack? Nope. None of you are normally cleared for my boobies."

"What, does our clearance get upgraded every time you get your hands on a bottle of tequila?" asked the Princess.

Jackie glared at her as she pulled her underwire out through the hole she'd bitten in the side of the bra. Then, still glaring, she bent and started to pick the lock. "Unarmed, my sweet Aunt North Wind," she muttered.

Victory Anna finally found her voice, demanding, "Is no one else here troubled by the presence of a topless glowing woman?"

"You get used to it," said Velveteen.

"Besides, topless girl gets results," said Jackie triumphantly, as she twisted the wire and the lock clicked. "Your previously locked room awaits." She pushed the door open. The others crowded inside while she was putting her bra back on. "Uh, you're welcome?"

None of the others said anything. Feeling suddenly exposed—and woefully unprepared for a fight, since a single underwire did not a full arsenal make—Jackie crowded in after them, and suddenly understood their silence.

The room was covered in blood. It was splattered on the walls and ceiling, and jellied in inch-deep puddles on the floor. There were no bodies. That was really the best thing any of them could think to say...at least until Victory Anna's gleeful squeal of, "I think I see a hacksaw!" She went charging into the room, ignoring the fact that she was walking through blood, and snatched a, yes, blood-covered hacksaw from one of the counters. "Well? What are you waiting for? You can't be squeamish, we've a friend to rescue."

"I never thought I'd say this, but I miss Halloween," said Velveteen, and started into the room with the others close behind.

*

Very shortly, the four of them were heading down the hall at a jog, moving toward where they'd last heard the sound of screaming. They were all blood-splattered. It showed up most on Jackie, whose white lingerie seemed perfectly designed to display the blood to its best advantage. Besides Victory Anna's prized hacksaw, they had found a butcher knife (Vel), a fireplace poker (Princess), and a crowbar (Jackie). It was nice to be armed. It would have been even nicer to know where they were going.

"I should never have let you stop me," said Victory Anna. "She hasn't screamed since we unlocked that door. Had you noticed? She hasn't screamed."

"Actually, the screams stopped—" began Jackie, and stopped when the Princess shot her a nasty look. "I'm sure she's fine," she said lamely.

"And if she's not? What then?"

"Torrey..." Velveteen's attempt at an answer was cut off quite effectively by the hockey-masked figure who burst out of a door ahead of them, charging into the hall. He had a meat hook in one hand and a machete in the other...and a blonde woman in rainbow-striped lingerie on his back, her knees anchored on his shoulders and a strip of barbed wire wrapped around his neck. The man in the hockey mask was screaming in pain as he ran. Sparkle Bright was shrieking in fury and triumph—and probably a little pain of her own, since her hands were clearly bleeding.

The masked man didn't seem to register the presence of the additional superheroes, maybe because he was so distracted by the one in the process of throttling them. He kept charging, forcing them to scatter to the sides of the hall. Sparkle Bright looked back as he plowed onward, and snarled, "You guys want to give me a little help here?"

"She's magnificent," breathed Victory Anna.

"She's getting away!" said Velveteen, and charged after the pair, trying to stab the masked man in the back of the leg as he ran. She missed. As she didn't stab either herself or Sparkle Bright in the process, it was classifiable as a win.

"Allow me," said the Princess, running daintily past her and whacking him as hard as she could in the ankle with her poker. The masked man stumbled and howled. Sparkle Bright adjusted her grip and pulled. And Jackie ran up and hit the man in the back of the head with her crowbar. He howled one last time before going over like a felled tree.

Sparkle Bright released her barbed wire garrotte, shaking her punctured hands as she climbed off the fallen mountain of a man. "That sucked," she declared, and turned a scowl on the other superheroes. "Where the hell have you guys been? I thought I was all alone in here, at least until Chuckles," she kicked the man in the back of the head, "showed up and started trying to machete me to death. Asshole. Slasher movies are so sexist."

"We didn't know you were in here with us until we heard you screaming," said Velveteen. She looked back in the direction that Sparkle Bright and the machete man had come from. "Does he have, like, a slaughter room back there?"

"I didn't check," said Sparkle Bright frostily.

"Okay. Well, where there's a masked man with a machete, there's usually a room full of things that make it easier to vivisect nubile young girls. Victory Anna." Vel turned toward the gadgeteer, who was trying to stare at Sparkle Bright without actually looking at her. It was a neat trick, and under normal circumstances, Vel would have enjoyed watching it go on for a little bit longer. Considering the situation, however, it was better to show mercy. "Torrey, Princess, I want you to go back that way and see if you can find us something to tie this guy up. Rope or chains or duck tape or something. It's got to be in his torture kit."

"You know more about torture kits than I'm really happy with, sugar," said the Princess.

"I've spent a lot of time in Halloween."

"Come on, hurry hurry, we've got a lot to do," said Victory Anna, speaking so fast that all her words ran together. She grabbed the Princess's hand and hauled her away down the hall, leaving Vel, Sparkle Bright, and Jackie alone with the fallen would-be killer.

"She doesn't like me very much, does she?" asked Sparkle Bright, before kicking the man in the head again. Jackie and Vel both blinked at her. She shrugged. "What? He looked like he was waking up."

The man hadn't so much as stirred. It seemed better not to point that out. "It's not that she doesn't like you, Sparks," said Vel, choosing her words carefully. "It's more a matter of..."

"She likes you too damn much, and when you're standing here dressed in six scraps of cotton candy and a Gay Pride flag, it takes every ounce of Victorian repression the girl has not to throw you up against a wall and kiss you until your head explodes," said Jackie laconically.

"Uh," said Sparkle Bright.

"Jackie, some of us are capable of expressing affection without resorting to sexual assault," said Velveteen.

"Uh," said Sparkle Bright.

"Hand-holding, cold showers, and sappy poetry are probably about your speed, yeah," said Jackie. "I remind you, I'm the one who dates regularly, you're the one currently on...what, your second boyfriend? Ever? So maybe I'm the authority here."

"Victory Anna has a crush on me?" said Sparkle Bright. "But we only just met!"

The other two turned slowly to look at her, Vel's eyes widening, Jackie's cheeks flushing a slightly darker shade of blue. "Yeah, about that..." began Jackie.

The man on the floor groaned. Sparkle Bright kicked him briskly in the side of the head. "What about that?" she asked.

"We found tape!" announced the Princess, coming back down the hall with an armload of duck tape. Victory Anna was close behind, her own arms loaded down with loops of rope.

"We'll tell you later," Velveteen assured her.

Sparkle Bright looked unconvinced.

*

Fifteen minutes later, the machete-wielding mountain of a man was securely tied to a chair that Victory Anna had produced from one of the side rooms, and the others were standing around, waiting for him to wake up. The Princess had bandaged the wounds on Sparkle Bright's hands with strips torn from her nightgown.

"I could freeze his eyelashes," Jackie offered. "That usually wakes people up, and even when it doesn't, it makes me feel better."

The man groaned. All conversation stopped as the five superheroines turned to see what would happen next. He tried to stand. The ropes and tape held him in place. He tried again. The ropes and tape still held. He stopped struggling, but his posture was subtly different now; he was clearly awake.

Velveteen stepped forward, leaning close enough to see his eyes through the holes in his mask. "Did you bring us here?" she asked. "Because we need you to send us back, right now."

"Or what?" he rumbled, in a voice like a broken trash compactor.

"Oh, honey. Or nothing," said the Princess. "You're going to send us home, because it's the right thing to do. It's the gentlemanly thing to do. Also because the little redhead found a pair of bolt cutters, and she's in a bit of a mood right now. It's in everyone's best interests, really."

"You wouldn't," said the man, sounding less sure of himself. "You're good guys."

"I'm freelance," said Jackie.

"I was technically a supervillain for a while," said Velveteen.

"I still am," said Victory Anna.

"I just quit the Super Patriots," said Sparkle Bright.

"I am sweetness, light, and compassion incarnate," said the Princess. "That's why I'm going to go clean a few rooms in this hellhole while you and my friends have a nice long talk about what you've done." She turned her back as if she was going to walk away.

"Wait!" yelped the man. The Princess turned to face him. His voice seemed higher now, more like a teenager's than an adult's. "Don't go! If you go..."

"My friends will take you apart. I know. But as long as I'm not here to see it, I don't have to know." The Princess shrugged. "Loopholes."

"I...crud." The man sagged against his bonds. They were looser now, because he was getting smaller, dwindling from an impossible juggernaut to a skinny teenage boy. He didn't fight at all when Sparkle Bright reached out and took his mask away. He just raised his head, looking at her helplessly. "I'm sorry. I wasn't really going to hurt you."

"So what, the machete is your version of a bunch of daisies?" asked Jackie. She crossed her arms. "Uncool, dude. Way uncool."

"You're a reality-manipulator, aren't you?" asked Velveteen. He nodded, looking ashamed. "Got a thing for horror movies?" He nodded again. "And that's why you created an extra-dimensional space where you could play out a horror movie of your own. Why us? What made you go for a bunch of superheroes?"

"I...I wanted it to be extra fun. Crossovers are always the best."

"Did you stop to think that it wouldn't be much fun for us?" He didn't say anything. Vel sighed. "Yeah, I thought not. Okay. The way I see it, we have two options here. Option one, we kill you, find a mirror, and have Jackie take us home by way of Santa's Workshop."

"I like that option," said Jackie.

"I don't!" the teenager protested.

"Option two, you unblock our powers, send us all home, and you promise never to abduct someone for your sick games again. Because if you do—if you even think about it—I will know, and I will find you." Velveteen's smile seemed to have a few too many teeth. "Deal?"

"You're the one who controls toys," said the teenager. "Why are you the scary one?"

"Practice," Vel said. "Do we have a deal?"

"Deal," he whispered. "Just untie me."

Velveteen stepped back. "Torrey?"

"This is a terrible idea," said Victory Anna, before stepping forward and cutting the boy's bonds with his own machete. They fell away, even the tape, which should have stuck until someone pulled on it. The room froze. The air shimmered.

And the five blood-drenched, lingerie-clad superheroines were suddenly standing in front of Powell's City of Books in downtown Portland. "Hey, ladies!" shouted someone from a passing car. "Nice tits!"

Victory Anna shrieked and attempted to cover herself with her arms. Velveteen groaned, putting a hand over her face. At the same time, Jackie spread her arms and announced, "Yes! Look in awe upon what you will never touch! Genetics have been kind!"

"Stuff it, Sexy Smurf," snapped the Princess. "I'm going to go find us some kind of gourd or melon to turn into a ride." She stomped off.

"So this is the freelance life, huh?" said Sparkle Bright to Velveteen, smiling wanly at a pair of pedestrians who were openly staring. "Fun."

"There's usually a little less gore," said Velveteen, hand still over her face. "I need a shower. And a shirt. A shower, a shirt, and a long, long nap."

"Sounds good. I just had one question, while we wait for the Princess to come back with a pumpkin or whatever."

"What?"

"Don't these things usually have sequels?"

Velveteen slowly lowered her hand and stared at her friend, who shrugged.

"Just saying," said Sparkle Bright.

"I'm sleeping with a baseball bat from now on," said Velveteen. Sparkle Bright laughed, and together, they all waited in the bright sun for their carriage home.
Tags: short fiction, velveteen vs.
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