The Poossession: Part Four
Huval, if this is how it ends, I just want you to know, I'm sorry," Collux wailed.
"I'm sorry too, man. This is all my fault," Huval said, knees shaking as the MSPPs closed in.
"It's not your fault. Well, yes it is. But I don't want those to be my last words to you." Collux looked to the other plushie who would share their fate. "And I'm sorry to you. That was my fault."
The plushie ignored him. He was probably still a little annoyed but mostly scared out of his mind.
Just as Huval closed his eyes for what he thought would be the last time, a flash of blue halted the MSPPs in their tracks. "Leowinn," Cloezi sneered.
"These Poogles are under my protection," Leowinn declared. "I suggest you find someone else to bully."
Collux breathed a sigh of relief, but Huval couldn't possibly figure that Cloezi would let Leowinn stop her. She was a ghost; the MSPPs would just walk right through her. But for whatever miraculous reason, Leowinn had more sway over Cloezi than met the eye.
"I thought we agreed that if I stayed out of your business, you would stay out of mine. Plushie Poogles are my business."
Leowinn crossed her arms. "Yeah, well, this plushie Poogle is my business."
Cloezi smiled as if she had backed Leowinn into a corner. "Really? What about that one?" She pointed to the victim of Collux's blaster attack.
Unfortunately, Leowinn was unfazed. "I don't know him." Huval's mouth hung open. Was she really going to throw him to the MSPPs? The other plushie inched closer, as if he thought he would be protected if he could just make it behind Leowinn. "But," she continued rather reluctantly, "they appear to be in cahoots, so he is protected by association, I suppose."
The two Poogles stared at each other for a good long while until finally Cloezi conceded. "Fine. But you're treading on dangerous ground. I won't tolerate any more of these disputes. I will look the other way, and I suggest that you all be gone by the time I turn around."
For a moment, Huval and Collux were too awestruck by their luck to move. Then they saw the other Poogle scramble away like a flustered Peadackle, and they began running as well.
"You two are a couple of idiots," Leowinn said, once they were safely away from the MSPPs. "I cannot believe I had to do that. I have never seen a plan so poorly executed!"
Huval smirked. "I don't know about that. It was going fine until you showed up."
Leowinn whipped around, anger flashing on her face. "Don't sass me, Huval. Now is not the time for humor. I just saved your tail and possibly sacrificed any hope I had of ever living peacefully in these woods."
"I'm sorry," Huval mumbled. "I didn't mean to offend you, I just—I, uh… I'll be quiet."
"Also, you probably just ruined this guy's life," she said, pointing to the other plushie. "I mean in a way, he was lucky you were there to distract the MSPPs from delivering their full wrath to him alone, but still."
Collux stepped back and looked down. "Ruined his whole life? I mean, we did mess up his disguise, but we're all alive, and that's what matters, isn't it?"
The quiet plushie finally spoke. "Leowinn, do they know what MSPPs are?"
Leowinn sighed, exhaling some of her anger off. "I suppose not. It's time you knew." Huval shivered. MSPPs were just evil plushie Poogles, weren't they? Whatever could possibly be worse than that, he certainly wasn't ready to find out. And by the look of Collux's quickly paling face, neither was he.
"The reason your disguise worked so well when you first stumbled upon the MSPPs is because you nearly were one. Every MSPP is a victim of the lab ray." Huval flinched at the name, and so did Collux, but his was on the borderline of a convulsion. Huval didn't blame him. The memory of that day must still haunt him, and surely he didn't want to share any relation with those evil MSPPs. The lab ray could do unspeakable things, such as turn you into a Quiggle or a wraith. Although it hadn't occurred to him before, the lab ray was a fitting beginning for those creatures as well. "Sometimes, when the lab ray zaps a plushie, there is a ghost nearby. The energy of the zap fuses the two together, with no way for them to escape the bond. They struggle and struggle, but nothing can undo the lab ray's damage. Having two different thought processes screaming over each other every moment of your existence eats away at your emotional capabilities until you're left only able to feel agitation, annoyance, and pure anger. With the MSPPs who have been fused longer, like Cloezi, it's harder to discern their two personalities. That's why they hate plushies—and ghosts, so much. They used to be one."
Leowinn let her words sink in. Huval wasn't sure why, but he felt oddly violated. The MSPPs were still evil, certainly, be he could understand how it was so easy for them to feel angered. Collux didn't seem to be taking the news well either, perhaps because he knew firsthand the horrors of the lab ray.
"Which brings me to the existence of our friend here," Leowinn continued. "This guy, not a plushie in disguise. Up until a few minutes ago, he was an MSPP as well." At Huval and Collux's visible uncomfortableness, the ex-MSPP held up his paws in a nonthreatening gesture. "What normally happens is the conflicting personalities of the ghost and the plushie are so discordant that the ghost simply dissipates. Most plushies are left standing bare in the midst of a clan to feel the wrath of the MSPPs' anger and jealousy. But thanks to you, this one escaped." She paused, suddenly struck by an idea. "Speaking of which, that blaster must be hugely powerful to unfuse an MSPP. If the ghost is still in there, we may have found a way to beat them. Granted, we could just zap the ghosts out of them, but I would prefer to save the ghosts."
Collux checked the reading on his blaster and grimaced. "Nothing."
Leowinn breathed heavily. "I suppose nothing could be that powerful. To save the ghosts. But I'm not bitter, not at all."
Collux backed away, presumably afraid of Leowinn's apparent bitterness. Huval would allow his friend some time to process the information. It was a little disturbing to say the least, but Huval was ready to move on.
First, Leowinn had one more thing to say. She turned to the plushie. "Look, I don't know who you are, and to be quite honest I wasn't thrilled about saving you. But now you're probably the first plushie to escape, and you and I both know the MSPPs will track you as soon as you leave my side. I suggest you get out of this forest as quickly as possible and start a new life somewhere else."
The plushie bowed his head. He then turned and nodded at Huval and Collux. "Nice knowing you. Perhaps we'll meet again someday."
"The nearest town is that way," Leowinn offered. And with those words, the ex-MSPP raced off into oblivion.
After a few tense moments, Huval cleared his throat. "I'm sorry, Leowinn. Whatever went wrong, it was my plan. I should take responsibility."
"You don't have to apologize Huval; I suppose it is somewhat my fault. You two radiated such irritation that night I met you, I nearly mistook you for an MSPP! It's no wonder they thought the same. If I didn't know better, I'd say you nearly fused yourselves permanently into a version of an MSPP. That's never happened before though. Of course there's a first time for everything." Leowinn smiled a white, toothy grin, as if remembering her favorite inside joke. Huval shuddered. Her smile had an odd familiarity to it. "I just trusted that you were usually like that, on each other's nerves and all. I never thought you'd be able to pull together and tolerate sharing a body with another being. The idea of that is foreign to me. If I'd told you what MSPPs were, you could have prepared better."
Huval gulped. Sure it had taken Collux's help, but it was his idea for them to work together. In a way, this entire failure was his fault. Huval shook his head. He couldn't think like that. They made it out, and they were going to try again. Only this time, he was going to make sure Leowinn told them everything they needed to know.
Oddly enough, Collux beat him to it. Huval had noticed his discomfort earlier, but he had misidentified the source as Leowinn's bitterness. Instead, Collux had noticed an odd detail about Leowinn's story. One that had apparently unnerved him quite deeply.
"Leowinn, you say that the ghost is the one to dissipate. Well, why? Has it ever happened that a ghost has…" He paused, searching for the right word. "overcome the plushie?"
Leowinn smiled her toothy grin again. "It has happened, once." Huval's heart pounded. With a start, he realized why her smile was familiar. "To me. I used to be an MSPP."
To be continued…