Me: The animals gathered in a semi-circle around Willow and Tara, who sat side by side on a cushion they'd dragged up from the lower shelf. By standing on each other's shoulders, three of the younger animals reached the knob that controlled the brightness of the bedroom light. They set it to a dim glow.
Me: It had begun to rain outside shortly after Simon had departed, and falling drops spattered the glass panes beside the shelves. Between the weather and the lighting, Tara thought the perfect mood was set for the story they had planned.
Mel: A scary story?
Me: "Before we begin," she said to the crowd, "I'd like to mention that what you're about to hear isn't just a story." She shook her head. "No, this really happened. It was originally told to me by Pookums." A murmur ran through the audience. Pookums, all the animals knew, had been Simon's first stuffed animal, and it had belonged to his Mother before him. Years earlier, before most of the animals had been made, Pookums had retired and moved up to a luxury suite in the attic. Or so the rumors went.
Mel: >.> Lol... retired stuffed animal
Me: The name carried a lot of weight in the animals' circles. Pookums was ageless and had gathered more knowledge than any of the others could even fathom. Its stories often bordered on legend. The relationship Pookums had crafted with Simon had set the stage for the later generations of animals. The stories they heard each night, they knew, were often retellings of old Pookums tales.
Me: "This is the story," Willow chipped in, "of Pookums and the Unstitcher."
Me: Around the circle, button eyes widened nervously. All of them had heard of the Unstitcher; it was the horrible unknown that lurked in the nightmares of every stuffed animal. If anybody might have known the true legend of the Unstitcher, it would have been Pookums.
Mel: Pookums' name makes me laugh
Me: "When Pookums was a much younger...Pookums," Tara faltered. There was still much debate over what type of animal Pookums actually was. When she had met it, and indeed she had, it hadn't been possible to identify its species. It had no distinguishing characteristics save a head and limbs protruding from a roundish torso, and its fur--if it could be called that at all--was a distant shade from the bright, vibrant colors that surrounded her, now.
Me: "...a much younger Pookums," Willow picked up the story, saving her, "belonged, as you know, to Momma. In those times, humans did not have so many stuffed animals. Momma had only two: Patches, a bear like Tara, here, but with fur you would not even believe..." She took a moment to admire Tara's beautiful baby blue shade. It had long been her favorite color. "...and of course, Pookums itself."
Me: "Pookums and Patches were inseparable." Tara idly scratched the tuft of hair between Willow's ears as she continued the story. "Momma refused to play favorites, and she'd take them with her everywhere. Momma's human family traveled a lot, so Pookums and Patches saw a lot more than any of us...they even knew what it was like outside the house!"
Me: Gasps of wonderment rippled through the crowd. For nearly all of them, even thinking about a world outside of the bedroom was more than they could handle. Some of them knew they had lived on shelves in another place besides Simon's room, but their memories had begun only when Simon breathed life into them, so they knew of their personal histories only through his stories.
Me: "On one fateful night," Willow whispered, and the audience immediately hushed, to listen, "Momma brought Pookums with her when she and her momma had to go to her school, which is where humans learn about things from other humans. Her momma insisted that she bring only one of her animals, and after an agonizing decision, Momma had picked Pookums to accompany her."
Mel: Oh jeez, poor Patches
Me: Tara picked up the story. "When they returned to the house, Momma took Pookums up to her bedroom, and there the most grisly sight awaited them. Patches lay on the bed, torn to itty bitty pieces! Jagged shreds of its fur had been sliced apart, the stitches slashed in two. Stuffing covered the bed like snow on the window sill."
Mel: Patches became emo?
Me: "Patches' eyes were gone," Willow added. "They never found them."
JuJu: knew it!that's why I hid under myblanet before to read what came next *shudders*
Me: A tiny voice issued from the circle of animals. "...It was the Unstitcher, wasn't it?"
JuJu: (your bed story gets scary LoL)
Me: Tara blinked, then scanned the faces carefully. She identified the speaker. "Dawnie! What are you doing?"
Me: The baby kangaroo looked suitably ashamed. "I wanted to hear it, too."
Me: "But sweetie, you'll have nightmares, and you know how that upsets your tummy."
Me: "But I never get a story," Dawn complained. She presented Tara with a practiced-and-perfected pout.
JuJu: *that's like a lethal weapon to all resolve!*
Mel: A Dawnie pout?
Me: Buffy heaved a heartfelt sigh and nudged Dawn with her sparkling horn. "Okay, you. Come on, I'll tell you a story. Let's go down the the lower shelf, so we're not interfering."
Mel: Lol, a story from Buffy? What I wouldn't give to hear that one one day
Me: After they departed, Willow and Tara whispered to each other to remember where they had been in the story before the interruption.
Me: "Oh, right," Willow spoke up, "so Patches was in pieces. Momma ran crying to her momma, carrying two handfuls of the tattered remains. She left poor Pookums alone on the bed amid the scraps and stuffing."
Me: "Pookums swore it changed everything," Tara said. "After that, they stopped sharing so much. Momma stuck Pookums up on shelf much higher than our highest, and she only took it down when she traveled. Without Patches, things were never the same. It was only when Momma gave Pookums to Simon that it began to open up, again."
Me: "Simon wanted to know all about Pookums' adventures with Patches, and Pookums was happy enough to share. They became the best of friends right away, and the rest is history," Willow finished.
Me: The audience was silent.
Me: Outside the window, several cars passed by the house. Each one rattled the loose window pane.
Me: "...But what about the Unstitcher?" one animal asked.
Me: "Yeah, what happened?"
Me: "What was it?"
Mel: Yeah! What they said!
Me: "Did they ever find out?"
Me: More and more voices joined in, each one demanding resolution.
JuJu: bjmk j p*
Me: "That's the scariest part of the story," Willow told them. "They never knew exactly what happened."
JuJu: (sorry that was kitty waking up and demanding attention (he doesn't like my laptop) )
Me: "It's true," Tara agreed, "not even Pookums knows what the Unstitcher is, or what it looks like."
Mel: >.< Lol
Me: "But it can come and go as it pleases; it can enter the bedroom without anyone even noticing."
Mel: My money is on a kitty... or a puppy
JuJu: *mine is more on puppy than kitty, none of my cats did this butmy dog did LoL*
Me: This explanation did not sit well with the animals. Unease settled over them, and they nervously stood and shook the stuffing back into their legs.
Mel: Yeah but when a dog enters a room, everyone knows it... Cats are known for their stealth
JuJu: (lol try a small dog, or when its masters are away and he's mad at being left alone, it takes its anger out on poor stuffed cuties)
Me: They spread back out to their favored shelves, and as they departed Willow and Tara shared a knowing smile, for they noticed quite a few of the animals cautiously checking behind their backs every few steps.
Mel: Lol, all I know is the Unstitcher better not touch any of my stuffed animals *Holds kitty close*
JuJu: *hugs her dolphin and the one eyed bear*
Me: They settled down on the shelves, nestling up against each other in pairs and piles, and listened to the sounds of the growing storm outside. Tara took Willow's paw in her own and retreated to the upper shelf. She fwumped down on their favorite cushion and shifted some extra padding to her left side, chuckling as she brushed a few red whiskers from her fur.
Me: Rain began to pelt the window in earnest as Willow curled up in her usual spot beneath Tara's arm. Tara listened to the arrhythmic drumming and let it lull her toward slumber.
Mel: Yay sleep!
Me: As the animals fell asleep, one by one, the final audience member yawned mightily from its hiding place beneath the bed. Its jaw snapped shut, teeth clamping together. Pale yellow eyes drifted shut. What a lovely story it had been; Simba loved happy endings.
Mel: Simba the kitty?
JuJu: The Unstitcher!
Mel: Or Simba the Lion?
Me: next time: *sounds of breaking glass*
Me: next time: *Buffy holding a hoof in front of Dawn's mouth as a dark shadow looms over them*
Mel: Oh no!
JuJu: are her hooves sparlky too?
Me: next time: *Willow leaping into Tara's arms*