The Hollow Man
Part 12: Reconsideration
Part 12: Reconsideration
Several days have passed since Zodiac’s injury, and this evening, you are roused from your sleep by Zodiac’s nocturnal babbling. In between happy vocalisations, you catch the occasional “munstah daddeh gif... best hewties…” It’s been about five days that Zodiac has slept on the pillow next to your own, proving once and for all that your investment in a king-sized bed was completely pointless.
Tonight however, awoken by his nocturnal speech, you find yourself considering more about Zodiac than his prior cooperation. You watch him briefly, his small frame coiled loosely on your pillow, his leg wrapped in bandages, and a new thought runs through your head. What happened? You gently shake Zodiac awake.
“Hmmm…? Wai daddeh wake Zodiac? Am stiww dawk time.” He yawns and begins to return to sleep. You shake him slightly harder, and he grunts in frustration. “Wai daddeh wake Zodiac? Wan sweep.”
You repress a frown. “Daddy wants to talk, Zo.” Your tone clearly concerns the pink fuzz-ball. “Wat wong daddeh?” He awkwardly tries to stand, but his injured leg causes him to flop impotently to his side.
“Huuu…” It’s one of the few times Zodiac has wept. “Wai weggie nu wowk?”
You sit up in bed. Even so, you tower over the vibrant pink foal. “That’s what’s been bothering me Zo. How did you end up getting hurt?”
“Stuppi bwuddah an’ sissie gif hewties!”
“But how? You seemed to have them pretty well in line until then Zo.” You give him a dark look. “What caused your failure?”
Zodiac cocks his head, confused by your question. “Wha’ mean faiw? Zodiac was asweep when meanie bwuddah gif hewties. Nu am Zodiac fauwt.” You now allow yourself a frown, and Zodiac picks up on it. His cheerful disposition drops a notch, an expression of concern forming between his chubby cheeks, and his stumpy lavender tail tucking subtly between his legs. “Wha’ mattew daddeh? Nu wuv Zodiac?” He tris to rock onto his back legs to assume the “gif huggies” pose but his injured legs holds him back, causing him to flop down onto his side with a faint “huuu…”
As he lies there, looking pathetically up at you, his abnormally large eyes both extraordinarily damp, and uncannily filled with love, something just feels… wrong. As your brow instinctively furrows, and as a “wai daddeh gif Zodiac dat wook?” You begin to realise the problem,
“Zodiac.” You voice is stern, and your pet whimpers before answering, and when he does, his voice is overly saccharine. “Wha’ bestest daddeh wan awsk Zodiac? Wuv ‘ou daddeh!” As he declares his love, you can see fear in his eyes, and suddenly everything makes sense.
“You little fucking shit.” Zodiac gazes up at you with wet puppy-dog eyes.
“Wai daddeh say meanie wowds tu bestest babbeh?”
You feels your eyes narrow instinctively. “You’ve been playing me this whole fucking time, haven’t you?” Zodiac’s entire body shivers as he forces himself into the “gif huggies” pose, his broken leg supporting at least half his weight. “Zodiac wuv munstah dad…” he winces in pain as his shattered leg bones shift out of place under his weight. “..deh… gif bes...bestest huggies an’…. an’ wuv!” He practically screams the word love as he tries to disguise the intense pain of supporting himself on a broken leg.
You gently picking him up, his diminutive body only just extending beyond the palm of your hand. He sighs in relief as you ease the pressure from his leg. “You know exactly what I like, don’t you? You figured out how to make me happy.” You slowly wrap your fingers around his injured leg, causing him to wince in pain, and to release a brief chirp. He looks miserably up at you, tears already staining the fluff beneath his violet eyes. “Zodiac twy be gud fwuffy fow daddeh…”
You feel a rage like you’ve never felt before rise within you. How dare this… you pause in your own mind before you redefine your beloved pet. How dare this… shitrat... manipulate you like that? You let your eyes settle on Zodiac’s large, lavender peepers. “How fucking dare you?”
Before he can even respond, you rotate the hand that holds his leg 90 degrees, rapidly jerking the limb out of its socket. You sigh deeply as you hear him wail “SCREEEEEEEE! CHIRP! WOWSTEST HEWTIES! SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEE! WAI DADDEH HEWT ZODIAC!?” There’s genuine confusion in his voice. As you hold his dislocated limb in place, he slowly calms down enough to vocalise more rationally.
“Zo...huuuu… Zodiac jus’ twy be… huu huu huuuu… jus’ twy be gud fwuffy.,.. Huu…. wai daddeh hewt Zodiac? Huuu…” You let his body drop from your other hand, holding him up by his injured leg. As he screams in pain, you hold him before you, shouting in his face “HOW FUCKING DARE YOU MANIPULATE ME LIKE THIS?”
As he alternates between “SCREEEEEEEEEEE!” and begging “Pwease nu mowe hewties! Zodiac wuv daddeh!” You carry him by his dislocated leg back to the saferoom. As you enter, a small geyser of shit erupts from his anus as he squeals in terror’ “NUUUUUU! ZODIAC AM GUD BABBEH! NU TAKE TU HEWTY WOOM!” His loud protest rouses every fluffy in the room; his siblings chirp in panic, while Pear gazes at you in conflicted misery, clearly unsure how to feel about the situation.
Once you’ve gone further into the room, you toss Zodiac carelessly to the floor, landing him by sheer luck on his already broken leg. “SCREEEEEEEEEEEE! CHIRP! CHIRP! MUMMAH! HEWP! SAVE ZODIAC FWOM MUNSTAH DADDEH!”
There is fucking is. You allow Pear to erupt in an instinctual “Babbeh! Haf wealiwise daddeh am bad munstah!” and even let her waddle to almost a foot away from Zodiac before you grab her by the loose skin of her scruff, you grip aided by the pale green fuzz that’s slowly returning over her body.
“Bad upsies!” she wails, as you dig your fingertips into her warm, squishy flesh. You hold her in front of you, her soft, kind, mutilated face inches from your own. Your snarl violently at her. “I told you not to fucking touch your babies.”
She panics, “NUUUUUU! PEAW AM SOWWY!” She quickly breaks down into tears. “Huuuu huuuu huuuuuu…. Pwease nu hewt Peaw…”
You sigh in disgust and toss her away, ignore her squeals of pain as bones clearly break on her landing, but you don’t even care enough to check which ones. It’s not like she’s going anywhere, after all. Your full attention is drawn by the sobbing Zodiac, who lies inches away from his putrefying father. Given how little time you send in this room, only visiting to feed the fluffies, you decided to leave Oliver’s mutilated corpse as a constant reminder of what happens to bad fluffies: the destiny of every fluffy in the room.
You gently kick the tiny Zodiac into a soft, rotten pile of rotten flesh. “Huu-URGK!” He retches at the stench, heaving up partially digested milk, and squirming in distress as he tries to escape from the foul odour. “NUUUUUUUUU! NU WAN-UUURRRGGGH-BE IN-HUURK-WOTTEN… HHHHHUUUUURRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHH”
You approach the rotting remains of Oliver to retrieve the wailing, dry-heaving fluffy, and are yourself overwhelmed by the stench. Unable to control yourself, you feel your stomach clench, and you hurl violently on the ruins of Oliver and his son. Zodiac’s squeals are silenced by panicked coughing as his inhales your vomit, finding himself immobile as you flee the stench, catching his breath only to vomit pure bile as he’s overwhelmed by the putrid stench of his decomposing father.
You exit the safe room, slamming the door behind you and dry heaving a few times in the hallway, comforted only by the sound of Pear and Zodiac sobbing in pain and anguish, and the sympathetic cheeping of the other foals.
After a few minutes, you work up the courage approach the stench again, wielding a pair of kitchen tongs so as to avoid touching the red-grey sludge that once was your adoring pet. Zodiac whimpers as the sharp edges of the tongs press into his fragile body, bringing a wet, maggot-ridden chunk of Oliver with him, but he seems more grateful than anything to escape the safe room. He conjures his sickly-sweet voice one more as you deposit him in the kitchen sink. “Daddeh save Zodiac fwom wotten bad fwuffy. Daddeh wuv Zodiac ‘gain? Pwease nu mowe hewties… am onwy wittwe babbeh.”
You feel your breath seize in your lungs. You gaze down at the small, pink fluff-ball with the strongest emotion you’ve ever felt: pure loathing. You gaze into Zodiac’s sodden eyes, waiting for him to return the eye contact before saying “I fucking hate you” and turning on the hot tap, full bore.
As the cool water trapped in the pipes rushed out, Zodiac reacts first to your emotional attack. “NUUUUUU! NU HATE ZODIAC! ZODIAC WUV DADDEH! JUS WAN MAKE DADDEH HAPPPEH! TWY BE GUD BABBEH! Huuuuuuuuuu!” Shortly however, the scalding water hits him.
“SCREEEEE! SCREEEEEEEEEEE! CHEEP! CHEEEEEEEP! SCREEEEEEEEEEEEE!” The agony of the steaming hot water seems to override the pain of Zodiac’s ruined leg, as he scrabbles desperately against the side of the sink, screeching in agony. “SCREEEEEEEE! BUWNIES! SCREEEEEEEEE! DADDEH PWEASE! SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” Once you’re satisfied the putrid sludge of Oliver has been cleansed from Zodiac’s fluff, you shut the water off, leaving a wheezing, steaming Zodiac lying in a puddle of hot water.
“Ww...wai… d...daa...daddeh… nu wu...wuv Zodiac nu… nu mowe…” You’re surprised your icy glare doesn’t counteract the weeping fluffy’s burns.
“You played me from the beginning, you pink maggot.”
Were you not consumed with determined rage, you’d have recognised the ongoing confusion on Zodiac’s face, and had you been able to take a glance inside his walnut-sized head, you’d have seen the all-consuming panic of a fluffy who’d tried from the day of his birth to be a good fluffy; To make his daddy happy, and to act how how he thought he should. But you don’t see any of that. You see the most abhorrent of shitrats. One who pretended to be good to save his own skin. You’ll never realise that was never the case.
As you lift Zodiac from the sink, and slowly, carefully hammer nails into his three working limbs, his miniscule frame allowing you to drive them all the way to his hips, you can’t hear him whisper though the pain “Pwease… pwease daddeh… Zodiac… Zodiac wuv ‘ou…”
You’ll never hear it, for you no longer listen for it.