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red devil vs. the dillingsworth 7

by Benjamin Andrew Moore

The Dillingsworth Household

The stroke of eight o’clock was fast approaching and the tension, palpable, almost physical, was pure grade Columbian cocaine butter.  Purest on the market.

Cocaine Butter! Yum!

Needless to say, this made for a rare and uneasy moment of quiet at the Dillingsworth estate.  The seven strange children had just sat down around their small, old-fashioned television set, anxious and eager to watch their most favourite television show ever. They were a family of nine if you included their never around, medically-inclined parents, Dr. George and Georgette,  supreme believers in the ‘do-it-your-darned-selves-or-don’t-do-it-at-all’ motto of child-rearing. If you included them.  I wouldn’t.

Marcus Dillingsworth

At age twelve, Marcus was the oldest, a barely meaningful fact that he never let the other six forget. He was tall and arrogant and demanding and skinny, and had stringy black hair and big wire-rim glasses that took up half his face. When he smiled, it looked like he had sunken, cleft palates at the corners of his mouth, except—he didn’t. That was just how he smiled.

Hannah Dillingsworth

Hannah, his younger sister by almost a year-and-a-half, was similar in look and twice as intelligent, but whereas Marcus would have made this fact known to his younger siblings, day-in, day-out, forever and always, Hannah preferred to keep it to herself.  It’s not that she wasn’t evil and rotten—she most definitely was—but her evil, rotten nature was one of slyness and subterfuge.


Fattest of the family at the ripe age of nine was Everett Allans Dillingsworth, a one-hundred and fifty-nine kilogrammer* who—in addition to being round and fat and full of Bavarian cream and Belgium chocolate, to say the least!—carried around the ashen remains of Andy Alex Dillingsworth the first, their previously eight-year-old thug-brute of a brother who died under very mysterious circumstances. Very.  Mysterious.  Circumcisions.  I mean stances!  Circum-stances!  @#$%.

*For you yanks: three-hundred and fifty pounder.

The Dillingsworth Twins

Next oldest were the twins, Neville and Niten, a singular psychopathic manic-monster-maniac from figurative HECK in the form of two human children.  Indeed, if they had been physically capable of it, both seven-year-old boys—mirror images of each other, literally, with one right-handed and the other left—would’ve completely destroyed and/or consumed every existing thing in existence, present company included.  Yes, even you, dear reader.  Especially you.

Bethany Dillingsworth

Last of all, but most certainly not least, there was Bethany, a five-year-old girl with the hair (blonde), eyes (blue), and demeanor (perfect) of an angel.  In fact, she was the only member of the family who did not have jet-black hair and pale white skin, who did not get bad marks in school, and who was not ‘rotten to the core’—something they all quite hated her for.  If they had to be ugly, if they had to be evil, if they had to be puke-sickeningly disgusting and stupid (or in Hannah’s case, not), it was only fair that Bethany be, too—only uglier and more evil and more incredibly disgusting and stupid and especially, most definitely, more hated!

The Dillingsworth Seven!

And so there they were, brother and sister and brother and brother’s ashes and brothers and sister, huddled around the black-and-white glow of their tiny TV—antennas like bunny ears like singing swords that didn’t work. They sat there waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and probably teasing little Bethany in between waiting and waiting and sitting, but unfortunately, their most favourite television show ever broadcast in the history of broadcast television—Undercover Surfer Cops Down Under: Cover!—would not be broadcast that night, or ever again, to them, no sir.  Instead of the usual, and usually very thrilling pre-show credits appearing when they should have, a great and terrible red Devil-Man with candy-cane horns and curly, black facial hair appeared quite colourfully onscreen.  He pointed and stared at his audience with fingers like snarling rattlesnakes and eyes wide and white and horribly gleeful and bright.  The only thing more white—and more gleeful for that matter, or even bright—was his ever-stretching smile, the most terrifyingly unfamiliar thing the children had ever laid their fourteen ogling eyes upon.  It was even more disturbing and awful and terrifying, in fact, than their most least favourite television show ever broadcast in the history of broadcast television: Bellatose the She-Whale!, co-starring A-list strongman of stage and screen, Tom Selleck’s infant son, Anthony Michael Selleck.

“I am here to take you with me, children, for you are all evil, evilevil!” the red Devil-Man screamed in his impossibly high devil voice.  “And British!” 

“The devil!” Marcus yelped, pointing right back at him through the TV.  “That is the devil!  I would know him anywhere!”

“Oh no,” Hannah muttered.  “Dear me.”

No one knew what big-belly Everett said with a mouthful of graham crackers and ice-cream bars, but you can pretty much be certain…that it had something to do with getting more ice-cream bars, and this time with bacon bits on top!

Andy Alex opted not to comment.

Then, simultaneously, the twins grunted like bull-children in agreement. This surely was not a good thing! 

And lastly, but most certainly not leastly, little Bethany Dillingsworth said nothing, and did nothing—nothing but stare onward and outward at this most unfortunately unscheduled program!


Suddenly, a fierce wind was felt by all seven sitting siblings.  At first, the wind was just wind, blowing from no particular direction, from no particular source.  Then, without warning, the wind turned inward, the blow turned to suck, and the push turned to pull.  All seven siblings, all seven Dillingsworths, were pulled and sucked and vacuumed right out of their enormous mansion and into the small, black-and-white television set…which, as luck would have it, was much larger on the inside.

In a blink of meta-trans-configurative camera flashes, the televisual barrier—a passageway of time and space and dreams long dead, made of black and white lines like hypnotist spirals—swallowed the hideous family whole, including the one that wasn’t hideous. One gulp. Time stopped but motion moved, and the children shot down tubes of changing patterns—black and white again, but now with spots of red and darker red; crimson liquid, tastes like rust.  Eventually, the waterslides of colourlessness opened up into rainbow-coloured-everything, where—only seconds after hovering there—rainbow-coloured hands attached to not-there-walls, whose skin was riddled with question marks, gripped tight their prepubescent bodies and threw them hard and fast down deep, black holes of presumedly perpetual darkness.  Marcus screamed, the baby that he was; Hannah closed her eyes, the realist that she was; Everett Allans puked in excess, the greedy glutton that he was; Andy Alex sat inside a jar inside Everett Allans’ pocket, the ashes that he was; Nevin and Niten held one another, the twins that they were; and Bethany…did nothing, and said nothing, the quiet, perfect person that she was.


One by one, all seven children crashed head-first and feet-third onto a shiny, slippery, spick-and-span floor in a dark yet eerily familiar place.  The children immediately jumped to their feet—less immediately, so did Everett—before swiveling round in circles to eye-drink in the world around them: With their eyes!  Colour was back to normal now (neither black and white nor rainbow bright, just normal) and unless the trans-dimensional trip through TV time and space had scrambled their heads to the point of dementia-ridden egg-rot, the place that they were in, where they didn’t know where they were, looked suspiciously like a small-town grocery store.  They knew this because they had been inside one once—long ago—reluctantly asking for directions on their one and only road trip.  Their long-since-dead nanny had taken them, of course, as their parents had been far too busy.

In fact, the only difference between that store and this one was that everything here was dark and turned off—the lights, the easy-listening music, the random announcements from the acne-ridden eighteen-year-old shift-manager about a deal on rank and rancid BBQ sauce that no one cared about (buy one, get five free).  Side-note, and of no particular interest: The only machines not turned off were those annoying, gas-fueled engines roaring up and down aisles on either side of them, and in the distance—whatever they were. Chug-chug-chug-chug-chuggling back and forth and to and fro, with little to no concern for the annoyance they were causing everyone. So annoying! But again, pay them no mind. This side-note  is of no particular importance to any future plot points, however soon they may or may not occur.  End side-note.

Collectively, almost unconsciously, the seven children concluded that the store must be in its off hours.  Why else would it be so dark and empty?  A closer inspection from Everett, who was particularly interested in his food-filled surroundings, revealed that they were in the additive aisle, home to the ranch dressing, the mustard drip, the ketchup cavalry, and, lest we forget the off-whitest of them all, the mild mince-meat mayonnaise sauce.  I don’t have to tell you that this place was heaven for your average chubby child who loves food.  Unsupervised, all-you-can-eat, and free nastiness—how could it not be?  But for Everett Allans, it was more than that—more than heaven.  For Everett Allans, it was nirvana. 

OhhsweetbetoBuddha!” Everett Allans moaned softly, mouth open, pits salivating.  “Condiments!”

“No, Everett!” Hannah yelled. “Restrain yourself!”

But it was too late.  The last-remaining middle Dillingsworth had already found his waddling way to the mayonnaise jars and was sucking them down, pint by pint, with his younger, deader brother unwillingly in tow.  It was a sight to see, to say the least.

“Leave him, younger sister!” Marcus yelled. “Let him have his fill! We will stake our claim here and fend off any red devil people that may come our way.”

Hannah squinted at her older, dumber brother who thought he was so much smarter, obviously displeased with his plan and the situation altogether.  And—if I’m not entirely mistaken—there was a hint of regret there, too, for not being able to smack her gluttonous, younger brother Everett in the back of his food-stuffed skull with unrestrained brutality.  Beat, beat, beat, like the beat of a drum, but rather a skull, with a policeman’s nightclub—official regulation, Scotland Yard, London, England.  Splat.

“Yes,” Marcus continued, “it will be a good life.  For years we will live here and enjoy ourselves, having children with each other—a utopia for everyone but the mistake—and by the time that utterly rude devil man who interrupts even the best of the best television shows comes calling—as I said, years, maybe even hundreds from now—we’ll be ready!”

All of a sudden, the feedback from the loudspeaker overhead screeched painfully as some high-pitched person turned it on and cleared his throat. The children quickly covered their ears in pain, but held off just enough protective pressure so they could still understand what was being said.

Chiiiiilldren,” the voice slurred, elongating its vowels in predictably creeping fashion. “Looks like somebody’s made a mess of my store. Clean up on aisle three, my floor-clean-bots!” 

It was the red Devil-Man. His voice was unmistakable. 

A moment later, the gas-fueled engine noises moved closer toward the children, and the red Devil-Man muttered under his breath, “I really must change that name sometime…”

Through a steadily declining mouthful of mayonnaise, Everett Allans asked no one in particular, genuinely curious, “Mitch mile miz mile mmree?”  Which translated to, “Which aisle is aisle three, and where are the candy bars and sausage patties and onion-flavored eggnog-rolls?”

The Devil-Man quickly responded, “Your aisle, fatty!”

Marcus’ eyes lit up, determined but bloodshot.  Determined because for the first time in a long time, maybe even ever, an idea was forming in his brain.  Bloodshot because his eyes were ugly and tired, and they just always looked that way. This is my chance, he thought.  I am the oldest; I must save my stupid siblings, most stupid of all the little stupid one whose name I forget right now, so they can all owe me un-payable debts for the rest of their sad, stupid lives!  Ha-HA!

“I have a plan, stupid siblings!” he declared. “I mean—normal siblings!  We shall fight the devil and win the day!  What do you say?”

Not a moment later, an army of gas-fueled, engine-powered, robot floor-cleaners with sharp teeth and dull eyes pulled achingly slowly around the corner, aiming their cleaning, cutting underbellies directly at Marcus and his six siblings. They looked like push mowers with mean faces, each a different pastel colour, each with full, dark eyebrows slanted downward.  Each repeating, “Bugger me, bugger me, bugger me,” in simultaneousness.

“We must get out of here somehow!” Marcus yelled, his voice cracking sharply.

“Faster, floor-clean-bots!” the Devil-Man yelled.  “Faster!  Else they may escape!”

Hannah, thoroughly unamused and unenthused, turned around and away from the Devil-Man’s  voice and his robot minions and pointed towards what she deduced was the exit.  She deduced this not because she was the smartest of the children—though she absolutely was, as you know quite well from what I’ve told you—but because there was a bright red neon sign that read ‘Exit This Way’ above the door that she was pointing towards.  Seeing this, Marcus, more sturdy this time, exclaimed, “We shall go this way!”  And so, in a line from oldest to youngest, they all went that way. 

Marcus threw open the double-doors in a hurry, expecting to find himself in small town somewhere—hence the small town grocery store he’d just been in—in the middle of the night—hence the closed small town grocery store he’d just been in. Instead he found himself under a swelteringly hot (not to mention blinding) yellow sun atop the cliffs of a gnarly and jagged red mountain three times the size of the dwarf planet Pluto.  Above a desert.  Without a single vanishing point in any of the four known directions. Needless to say, all seven Dillingsworths were somewhat shocked and confused and scared and really bloated, especially Everett-Allans. But worry not, for young master Marcus Dillingworth had a plan!

“We will fly down, all six of us, all the way to the bottom and to safety!”

“Seven,” Hannah corrected.

“What?  Oh, yes, seven. Whatever. All seven of us will gently fly to the bottom!” 

“Um—” Hannah began to say with more than a hint of skepticism.

But Marcus quickly interrupted her, “I’ll take that ‘uhm’ as absolute confidence in my flying down the mountain idea.  But first—someone must test this idea…”

—His ridiculous idea that didn’t make sense to any of the siblings, even the really crazy ones.  Then again, what was sensible about any of this?

“…Someone who hasn’t lived long enough to appreciate life…someone who is stupid and weird and different from us in every single way.  Someone—” Marcus grabbed beautiful Bethany by the back of her beautiful head, “LIKE YOU!”

He then tossed five-year-old Bethany into the air and off the cliff.  To everyone’s astonishment, especially Marcus’, she did not drop like a stone and to her death, but instead casually floated in the air like a balloon—or, as she more obviously resembled, an angel.  But I said that already, didn’t I?

“Gruh?” uttered the twins in utter confusion.

Awwwww, my triple chocolate, triple fudge, double dark chocolate, single milk chocolate malted cocoa ice cream made from chocolate milk is melting!” cried Everett, literally, with tears and everything, as melted ice cream dripped between his fingers.

“Amazing!” Hannah shrieked, the first time any of her siblings had seen her in such an astonished state.

“Indubitably!” said Marcus, a word his sister had taught him. “And I am next!”

Without hesitation, Marcus jumped into the air and off the cliff, just before falling down, down, down like a stone and to his death. He didn’t even stall in the air for a moment like the cartoons do.  He just fell.  And then died.  And then bled out onto the sand and rock and dirt like it was nothing but matter that didn’t even matter.  The three siblings still standing anywhere then stared at each other, and then at Bethany, who just stared right back at them with her big blue blinking eyes.  How was it that the stupid little sister whom nobody liked could float in the air, high as a mountain, and yet the bossy older brother who…admittedly, nobody really liked either—could not? 

Oh well, Hannah thought. It’s useless to question the logistics of this strange, TV world that we’ve all been vacuumed into via our small, black and white television by a big and red Devil-Man with candy-cane horns and fingers like snarling snakes—almost as useless as my useless, stupid siblings!  But not quite. 

Eventually, Hannah, being the smart one that never bragged about it, saw a way down and off the mountain that did not involve dying.  Despite its simplicity, she chose to enact it without explanation.  As such, she quickly ducttaped her twin brothers to herself (she always had ducttape on hand), herself to her obese, younger brother, and then her obese, younger brother to Bethany, before shoving, pushing, and ordering the lot of them off the side of the cliff.  You’ll be happy to know that with their combined weight, Hannah, Everett Allans, Andy Alex, Nevin/Niten, and Bethany all floated very gently, very safely, and very contentedly to the ground so far below. Marcus would have been proud, and by proud I do mean jealous. 

Their first problem—getting off an enormous mountain without dying—was no longer a problem.  But their second problem—being stuck in the middle of a vast and unending desert with no food or water or visible vanishing point for kilometres around—was still very much a problem.

So they started walking, and walking, and walking for kilometres, and kilometres, and kilometres.  And though they had only been walking for a brutal but bearable three hours, it felt like decades with suns as malicious as the ones lashing down upon them.  Yes, there were actually seven suns in this universe, something clearer now that they were further away from them, just as there had once been seven Dillingsworths.  However, the seven…make that six Dillingsworths were in luck, because less than half a kilometre in the distance there was a great, white house, unmistakable against the yellow blighted blandness of the desert all around . 

A real house, not a mirage, in the middle of an unending desert, itself in the middle of a television universe with seven suns—one red, six yellow—in the direction they so randomly chose.  What were the odds?

“I will go in first, because I am now the oldest—and the smartest, though I usually like to keep that to myself,” said Hannah.  “I will go in and explain to them our dire situation, garnering their sympathy by pretending to be a homeless orphan, cancer-ridden and religious.”

So Hannah entered the great, white house, leaving the five remaining Dillingsworths to temporarily fend for themselves. For what seemed like half an hour—though it could have been half a minute with suns like the ones…well, you know—they waited very patiently and painfully for their brilliant sister to return with good news. 

And then, fifteen seconds later, they gave up.

Try to understand, the children attempted to wait longer. Truly, they did. They focused every drop of all their rapidly depleting energy into staying outside for as long as possible—at least until their sister came back—but a bunch of creepy, pale kids can only handle so much!  So much sun, that is. It’s true, of course, that the desert was a potentially safer place than the great, white house—after all, anything could’ve been going on in there, including Oprah book club meetings or sandpaper races or dental appointments. But none of these scenarios discounted the fact that the one, two, three, count them five freaky children could no longer stand, sit, or do anything outside in the unreasonably hot heat. They had to go inside, be there good news or bad, bad teeth or good, pumpkin-cheesecake pie or no pumpkin-cheesecake pie, because if they didn’t, they were going to collapse and die of hell-hot-heat stroke—or, God forbid, skin-melt.  So, in a huff of sweat and heavy breath, Everett Allans, Andy Alex, the twins, and Bethany Dillingsworth gathered up what remained of their courage and entered the great, white, and probably air-conditioned house, praying, for the very first time in their lives, that it was central-air instead of single room and window installations. 

On the inside, the house was just as beautiful and white and air-conditioned as they had imagined it would be.  In fact, it was completely white and beautiful, pristine and pious, even the leather furniture and the stereo system and the plastic plants, like a sea of white snow on a channel that doesn’t work. The only thing not so white or beautiful was what hung in a line on the wall in the living room.  There, in a perfectly linear pattern, were the severed heads of six men and women, young and old, fat and thin, hung like deer heads on treated wooden plaques.  The children stared, mouths gaped and horrified (but maybe not so horrified as the heads on the wall, which were—trust me on this one—looking really horrified), and their horror only grew as the very tall, very red Devil-Man entered the room from the kitchen by way of ducking under the archway.  He had something in his hands and was polishing it with a perfectly white rag.  It was his newest addition, his greatest prize, his ugliest trophy.  

It was their sister Hannah’s head.  


Their older sister, once sneaky, brilliant, and rotten to the core, was now, as Marcus, no more.  The twins tried to scream, but it came out in dry heaves of nothingness and throat scratches.  The red Devil-Man heard these unnatural noises and looked up to see what unnatural thing had made them, smiling his red devil face off. 

“Oh, hell-o, children!” he sang.  “I’m afraid I didn’t see you there!  Would you like to say hello to Hannah?  ‘Hello brothers and sister, I may have been smart while I was alive, but now my brain doesn’t work because I am dead!’ He-he-ha-ho-hew!”

As he pretended to vocalize their newly-dead sister’s newly-dead voice, he forced her hardening lips to move in unison. The twins screamed like the monsters that they were, only more scared than any monster ever had been, even the really small ones, and ran out of the front door and into the endless desert.  Everett Allans screamed too, and in doing so, accidentally dropped the jar of ashes containing Andy Alex, which exploded into glass and ash-cloud on the floor. Then Everett really started screaming, this time sadly, frantically, and blubberingly, tears flowing like face-lube and moisturizer. He quickly dropped to his knees on the rubbery white floor and attempted to scrape up the ashes into his pockets. When that didn’t work, he started licking at the ashes with his fat, red tongue, coughing and gagging at the bitter burnt taste. When that didn’t work, he looked up to see the red Devil-Man standing over him.

“What the hell are you doing, man?” the Devil-Man asked, legitimately confused.

Everett didn’t stick around to answer.  He jumped to his fat feet as fast as his fat body could fat-manage—faster than it ever fat-had—and ran after his younger, twin brothers, screaming in continued fat-terror.

And, following behind all of them with much less noise, was Bethany, unusually calm and…skipping?

After a hundred hours of running away—or much less, who knows!—hunger began to rear its ugly head, and not just for Everett Allans, who was always hungry. They all needed food, they all needed water, and they all needed it fast.  But with no real sustenance in sight, the twins, monsters that they were, set their sights instead on their slowest, meatiest brother, Everett Allans Dillingsworth. He may have been bigger and older and hungrier, but he was no match for a singular psychopathic, manic-monster-maniac from figurative HECK in the form of two twin Dillingsworths.

It is getting quite late and I will need to eat something soon, Everett Allans thought to himself as his stomach growled louder and louder.  I wonder what my brothers would propose?

“It is getting quite late and we will all need to eat something soon,” said Everett, turning towards the twins. “What do you propose, my brothers?”

But before Everett Allans even had the chance to register what was happening to him, flesh was torn from bone, muscle pulled from flesh, and blood sucked through makeshift straws found strewn across the desert ground. The two monster twin children, when all was said and done, had consumed their older, previously meatier brother alive—in eighty seconds flat!  

As often happens to human cannibals, the twins were immediately hooked on the taste of raw, human flesh…not unlike that sports team that crashed their plane on the snowy mountain and had to eat their dead teammates to stay alive.  I think they made a movie about it—Night of the Living Zombie Jerk Hockey Players or Whatever from Minnesota or Some Other Place Who Crash-Landed and Got Stranded on a Snowy Mountain and had to Eat Each Other to Stay Alive and They Loved It and Became Zombies For Real, or something.  Anyway—one entire boy the size of three grown men would not be enough food! Not for an addict, and especially not for twoBriefly, the twins turned towards their younger sister Bethany and considered eating her before realizing the pointlessness, not to mention displeasure, of eating someone so small and stringy.  Then they turned towards each other and, impossible though it may sound, the two brothers, the two twins, the two monsters, once one, ate each other—to death! 

Splat.  Spleck.  Red.  Black.  Bone.  Brain.  Smash.  Taste.  Chew.  Eat.  Eat. Swallow. 

One gulp.

And what of poor little Bethany? Sweet little Bethany? Darling little Bethany?  What was she doing as she watched her brothers die in terrible, self-inflicted agony?  What was her response to the gruesome, God-awful ghastliness flying here and hither, there and thither, in bits and chunks of skull plus hair plus miscellaneous monster muck? Certainly she was struck with fear, screamed for help, and covered her eyes to hide the horribly hideous sight—right?


Poor little Bethany did nothing but stand idly by, is what she did, as she watched her brothers  die—this time in twenty seconds flat (which, FYI, was just under the previous world record: zero minutes twenty-five). Then, after the bloodbath concluded and her twin brothers lay motionless, mere skeletal corpses atop her other older deader brother, big-belly Everett, Bethany lay her head down on a sedimentary stone and took a nap.  She didn’t even care that the stone was so sizzling hot.  She was too tired to care. 

It had been a big day.




Time dragged slowly as Bethany slept soundly, peacefully, forever, never ageing.  She was a very deep sleeper, and make no mistake.  In time, a sandstorm like the open mouth kiss of a convict, big and burly, bloody fingers, blew in from the east and buried her deep, deep, deep beneath the delicate desert sand.  The seven suns, different shapes of big and bigger, aged rapidly, aligning at arm’s length in perfect succession.  The red one exploded, its supernova flares like fireworks in all directions—each a billion universes wide, reaching out to her sisters and daughters and granddaughters with cleansing, blue-fire fingers and arms.  The six yellows turned four of them red.  It’s called colour theory!  Take an art class.  As a result, the sky became as red also, with hints of supernova blue and purple, and eventually, all eras, all persons not red, were dead, save for Bethany, wrapped inside a cocoon of sand and dirt and rock, smiling uncontrollably. Smiling happily. Smiling forever.




Sometime earlier, the giant, red Devil-Man appeared on the horizon in business attire and approached Bethany.  His walk was sauntering and elegant, almost regal, like a man on a mission, and an awful one at that.  Just as he arrived, Bethany awoke from her nap and stood up from the stone to meet him.  This was it, and there they were: Bethany and the red Devil-Man—face-to-face and child-to-devil. They stood and stared for a very long time, and after a very long time was over, they shook each other’s hands and smiled while doing it.  Bethany even winked. 

“Excellent work, my Bethany-bot,” the Devil-Man whispered.  “Exquisite, even.

Bethany smiled so very hard, harder than she ever had in her entirely perfect life.  How could she not?  She had served her master well.  Then, without warning or sentiment or slowness of hand, the Devil-Man reached behind Bethany’s shoulder to her back where he flipped her on-switch off.  Bethany’s motor-monitor and sonic cell fusion immediately powered down, down, down as she fell to the ground [ground, ground] in a lifeless pile of plastic miscellany that looked so darn pretty.  Slowly, her eyes went blank and black, her fingers lost their grip, and her arms hung like a rag-doll robot’s.  But her smile, oh her beautiful smile—that remained regardless; uncontrollably, happily, and forever in pause.

Finally, his mission complete, the leathery, red Devil-Man reached behind his head like some zany cartoon character and pulled The Zipper That Held Everything Together from the bottom of the back of his hair, up over his skull and betwixt his tasty horns, down past the tip of his hiked-up hairline and across his nose, his pursed lips, his pointy chin, his slender neck, and eventually stopping on a pence five feet down at his smelly, filthy, lint-laden belly button. There was lint in that button from the eighties, it was so nasty and moist and rotted and old.  The eighteen eighties.   B.C.  Guh!

After gravity had its way and before the smelly-bad belly button’s odor grew on everyone like an acquired taste for Frenchmen, the lanky, long suit of red devil skin collapsed and folded slowly in circular heaps around the most adorable little girl in the multiverse, previously hidden beneath its many magniloquent layers.  She had the eyes (sapphire), hair (pigtailed), dimples (bottomless), and demeanor (Hitler-esque) of a five-year-old angel darling from not-quite-literal heck, and, coincidentally, her name was Bethany Delilah Darling Dillingsworth. The real one.

Off in the distance, a sandstorm was coming—fuzzy and confusing like a blocked channel that still comes in occasionally, but it’s risky to watch because your parents might catch you.  Bethany squinted her eyes to see it more clearly, but to no avail. Why can’t I see the sandstorm more clearly? she wondered. I’ve never needed to squint my eyes before.  I have perfect vision. Absolutely perfect.  I am perfect! I am so perfectly perfect. I am perfectly perfect perfection incarnate. What happened to my hawk-eyes? I refuse to see an optometrist!  I am perfectly perfection, I am perfectly perfection, I am perfectly hawk-eyed and no-glasses perfectio—

The last surviving Dillingsworth desperately dug into her pink dress pocket and pulled out the meta-trans-dimensional remote control of time and space and dreams long dead and dying. In a single stretching motion, she pointed the remote, riddled with flashing lights and buttons on top of buttons, at you and me, with hateful purpose and a look that said, “You’re not real, you’re not real, you’re dead, Andy Alex! I killed you! Stop WATCHING!” And, after hesitating for just a sliver of a slice of a single scrawny millisecond—


—She changed the channel like a fade-to-black.


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