23: The Undoing

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    During the past minute Powder hadn't realized that the cries and wailing had subsided. Now they were replaced by Madame's urgent screams beyond the the alcove. Scotch and Powder gave each other a brief questioning glance before darting through the curtain.

     The Monstress was fighting off an old enemy of theirs: the wedding-dress-clad Dolly. The M stood on her magnificent bed, her ostrich feathered robe billowing around her while she kept Dolly at a four-foot distance with a diamond-studded cane. Shears in hand, Dolly was lashing the air and hitting the cane.

    Scotch and Powder approached the scene while looking around them to be sure Dolly wasn't the only one to have made this breach in security. Scotch moved off to the left, picking up an upholstered chair and bracing it in front of them while Powder dumped the contents off a silver tray and held it like a shield.

    The Monstress saw them approaching and began aggressively striking at Dolly's armed hand. The proto made a dry shriek, its mouth gaping open and bits of fluff and a handful of feathers drifting out. The double-doors behind it shook and unidentifiable moans rang out from the other side. Scotch rushed at the proto from behind, but Dolly rattled and rotated around at the waist in time to bring down the shears to meet him. Scotch swung the chair hard, knocking the weapon out of Dolly's hand. The shears flew into the bedsheets and the Monstress brought her cane down hard on the proto's head. Dolly wailed, catching the cane in it's gnarled wire fingers.

    Powder heard a clatter behind her and braced herself with her tray as she turned to see the perpetrator. The orange-faced doll from earlier was staring back at her, crystal eyes swiveling loosely. Immediately Powder raised the tray as Orange swung a brass vase. The two items made an astonishing clang that sent both parties reeling backwards.

    "Finish! Finish!" growled Orange in a feminine voice that crackled like paper. Powder thought the hideous thing was yelling at her, but from across the room Dolly croaked back, "Finish Evils!"

    Orange hoisted the vase above its head again and Powder retreated, keeping just out of reach. She stole a glance to her left to see that Scotch had somehow caught Dolly's head within the legs of the chair. Dolly moaned and twisted, confused and angry. The sound of popping seams filled the air as Scotch started ripping a hole in its back with his hands. The M was crouched on her bed, holding the cane and trembling.

    "Prit-ty..." hissed Orange, "prit-ty for meee!"

    It flung the vase down towards its enemy's face. Powder managed to deflect it with the tray (causing a great dent in it), although the weight threw her backwards again. She rolled over her shoulders and onto her knees, grimacing in pain. Her left shoulder sent a spasm down her arm in protest of being strained so shortly after a dislocation. Orange lunged at Powder and she swung the tray at it sideways this time, whacking Orange's face with enough force to twist its head more than halfway around. Normally Powder would be screaming but the chaos and pace of everything barely left her with room to breathe. By the time Orange got back on its feet Powder was already standing on hers. She smashed it to the ground with the tray again, stepping on Orange's neck and belly. At its shoulder she spied a long section of loosened threads that traveled up the neck. She dug her index finger in the middle and snapped a few. Orange kicked up at Powder but its legs were far too weak to be a deterrence. Now able to fit her fist inside it's neck, Powder pulled at either side of the seams and ripped a hole from the back of the jaw to the tip of its shoulder. With another yank she tore the loose fabric across its chest, exposing old, bulgy and shrunken stuffing. Orange made no sound; its limbs fell to the floor and the eyes rattled to a standstill.

    Powder stood up. Her own breath echoed in her ears as her eyes assessed every inch of the proto, looking for life. She stood back. She kicked it. Nothing happened.

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