Melissa Slogar sat Grogar the teddy bear carefully down in the corner of the old bench by the lake, then sat down on the other end of the bench, as far from the teddy bear as she could get while still technically sitting with the bear. After weeks in the prison infirmary the doctors had concluded that whatever the teddy bear had once been, he was now no more than an inanimate object. A simple teddy bear. The prison released Grogar to the Slogar family at Professor Helena Slogar’s request, and she had presented him to Melissa, promising that she would still someday make Grogar the perfect husband for Melissa.
The thing was, Melissa didn’t really want the teddy bear for a husband anymore. It hadn’t been her idea in the first place, and now the teddy bear had killed people. Melissa didn’t want to hurt her mother’s feelings, but she’d been looking for an excuse to ditch the teddy bear all week. It was just creepy. Melissa shivered and slid a little further down the bench, until she was pressed right up against the other arm. She leaned back and stared out at the lake, swinging her legs and drumming her heels against the side of the bench, waiting for inspiration.
Melissa heard the buzzing first. Faint, and then louder and louder. Then she saw the movement from the corner of eye. A cloud of wasps was swarming from beneath the bench and all over Grogar, stinging him over and over. Melissa leapt up off the bench and ran. When she got far enough away, she turned around and looked back at the bench. The wasps weren’t chasing her. They were still swarming Grogar. Melissa backed up another step, then smiled a slow smile. She turned on her heel and skipped home, free at last.
Balthazar, Cousin Mordecai’s dog, had been so lonely since Cousin’s Mordecai’s marriage, incarceration and unfortunate death. The Old Dam never walked him. Stark fed him. Sometimes. When he wasn’t with the women. Mostly Balthazar wandered alone, scavenging food scraps from trashcans. Today he was hunting down by the lake. There was an old trail around the lake that led to a bench where there were sometimes picnic leftovers, but when he got close to the bench, he heard buzzing. He paused and picked up his head. There were wasps buzzing around something on the bench. Food, maybe. Balthazar picked his was closer to the bench to see what was there. Small, furry, didn’t smell like food. Shiny black button eyes. It was a thing, a thing he normally saw with children, but it was alone. Alone like him. Balthazar picked up the teddy bear carefully in his mouth and shook it until the last of the wasps flew off. The thing was soft, and Balthazar liked it a lot. Maybe he would take it home and then neither of them would be alone.
Grogar was wounded by wasps but none the worse for wear; he was, after all, just a teddy bear. Balthazar found love by the lake.
So right now the scores stand like this:
Lord Slogar -45
Professor Helena Slogar 0
Melissa Slogar 0
Elias E. Gorr -5
The Old Dam -25
Cousin Mordecai -10
Willem Stark +10
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