‘With Friends Like These’ by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write something with these words: emotion, thumb, copyright, chapter, misery.

This week’s tale comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series. Find out more at www.corgicapers.com.

With Friends Like These

By Val Muller

She woke to that funny feeling she wasn’t alone. What was wrong? She glanced at Cleo, curled up by the window in a patch of moonlight. Cleo didn’t seem concerned: there were no intruders.

At least not the human kind.

The room, though, echoed in sinister shades. Curtains looked swollen and corporeal. The closet door hung open with sinister intent. The dresser looked demonic.

On her bed, something seemed out of place. Something small, sentient—starting. She traced it from the other side of the bed down the long line of her arm. She slid her arm to the left. The thing moved, too. It was her thumb, as much a part of her as her other fingers, but also apart form her, too. It stood rigid, judging.

“Allo,” it said.

What altered state hell was this? It was too real to be a dream, though she wished it were. Emotions pooled and pricked the back of her neck.

“What are you?” she moaned.

“Pardon?” her thumb replied.

Her mind flashed with possibilities, from dreaming to accidental drug use.

“What are you?” she repeated.

“I think we both know the answer to that,” said the thumb.

She shook her head. “Mary’s not going to like this.”

She glared at the thumb, and it cocked its head.

Wait, what? Thumbs don’t have heads.

She shuddered, thinking the thumb reminded her of the little blue worm from the movie Labyrinth. It seemed polite enough, but in the end it turned out to be treacherous.

“If you can’t sleep, you might as well exercise,” the thumb said.

She glanced at her glowing fitness tracker watch. 2:12 in the morning. Exercise, now?

“I’ll get Mary,” she threatened.

The thumb laughed. “Please do.”

With her other hand, she reached for the light. She turned in on, illuminating the nightstand in a roseate glow—and revealing the hastily-scrawled eyes, the mouth, the  nose, the lightning bolt.

“Oh,” she said. “Are you Ziggy Stardust?”

The thumb laughed. “You’re thinking of Aladdin Sane, love. Not Ziggy. But no, that would be a violation of copyright, I’m sure. I’m Zaggy Moonshine.” The thumb cocked its head again. “See, the lightning bolt goes the opposite way.”

The thumb’s snark rubbed her the wrong way. This is how it always acted, pushing her to the brink of misery until she had no choice but to get Mary.

“I need to sleep,” she said.

“Why? So you can sit in front of your computer again tomorrow?”

“Well. What else is there?” she asked.

The thumb laughed because it knew the answer. It always knew the answer, and it never told.

“Errr,” she groaned. “Mary!”

Her left hand snapped to attention. There, on the pointer finger, was scrawled the familiar eyes, nose, and curly hair of her favorite childhood friend.

“Bloke getting you agitated again?” asked Mary.

“What else does he do?”

“You know what to do.” Mary nodded.

“But…it goes for you, too.”

“A sacrifice worth making. You know he won’t let you sleep. And don’t get me started on the meeting you’ve got tomorrow. Presenting to the boss. Can you imagine—doing that with him around? What would your boss do?”

“You’re right,” she sighed.

“Just do it, love,” Mary said.

“That’s right. Do it now,” the thumb taunted. “But we’ll be back before you know it.”

She nodded and rose from the bed, past her ink pens. Red for Mary. Purple and black for Zaggy. Then into the bathroom. Soap. Lather. Count to 20. Repeat. She watched the rainbow remnants of her friends swirl around the sink. She was alone in the house again, alone in quarantine. But still she couldn’t sleep. Maybe it was the loneliness. Chloe still snored, as if pandemics did nothing to disrupt her dreams.

She dressed quickly and went downstairs to the elliptical. Zaggy was right. She did need exercise. But at least the little bastard wouldn’t be around to whisper “I told you so.”

Oh, he’d be back, of course. She knew that. He’d last as long as the pandemic. Zaggy was an uncomfortably long chapter in her life. But all chapters come to an end eventually. And for now, there was the simple whirr of the elliptical and the peace of solitude.

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

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