The steel sings a long piercing note. My shiny, sterile prison rattles and clatters and chatters and bucks. The guards were sleepy and other others prisoners too. I’m alone with Miss Edith. She whispers the sweetest things. The music has ended. She wants me to make more.
Before the others lay down, they played the loveliest tune. Their hearts pitter-pat. Screaming, fretting, mewling…
Lemon drops and candy canes, they melted in my mouth.
The cage door opens with a screech and a whoosh. Fresh air pours in.
A nasty man calls out, “Sunnydale Station! Last stop this line.” He’s here to hurt me.
I scurry into the shadows like a little mouse.
The steps creak. Nosey man. He lumbers up the aisle toward me. He’s come to the dance, but he’s worn the wrong tie. Naughty, naughty. Tin badges and starched blues. A soldier, like the ones who defiled my precious boy.
He’s about to learn. This mouse has teeth.
He screams, “Oh god! Oh please!” Naughty little Tommy tries to scamper away.
Miss Edith laughs and claps her hands.
I snare him. Thrashing, tugging, wailing, “Help me! Somebody please! Help me!” All flailing limbs and nummy fear. I string him up by his tie. He should’ve worn a bow. He wriggles and writhes, like a worm on a hook.
His legs dance a clumsy jig as I bite down. An overripe peach, his juices spurt down my throat, warm and lovely. I lap and suck and squeeze, wringing the wriggle right out of him. I let go. He dangles there, a marionette tangled by its wires. All twisted joints, bugging eyes and lolling head. Another tin soldier to fill the coffer.
Delighted, I sashay down the aisle. A chill hits my skin, my first breath of freedom in hours and days and weeks. Miss Edith stays behind to keep watch. She’ll let me know when the shrew discovers the pretty picture I made for her. I whirl and twirl, looking up. My beautiful stars swirl like celestial soup in a great iron pot.
I stop, facing the giant metal coffin that brought me here. Song fills me, bubbling up and brimming over. “The Sandman's coming in his train of cars…” I shimmy and sway. “…with moonbeam windows and with wheels of stars.”
The songs are all mine now. There’s no one else left to sing. Daddy’s lost. And my darling, daughter - grandmummy despairs. I must find my prince. Only he can mend our happy family. He was the bravest knight in all the land, but his mind has been poisoned.
My heart breaks for him. Poor dear boy, he’s so confused. He needs my help. I must show him the way. Lead him from the forest. He’s gotten very, very lost. I should’ve never left him.
Wicked little tart, with rancor in her heart, deceitful, treacherous, tricky, weaving a web of hateful lies and pretty promises. Sweet tawny thighs. Tempting succulent flesh. My William is only a man after all.
Louses in the meal, the lot of them! Squish one and there’s another and another and another… Filthy vermin! They burrow and gorge and tear…devouring everything that is good. Crush them all!
I see her clear as day reflected in the carriage glass. She’s in chains.
My heart soars. Mustn’t dawdle. No time to waste. There’s much to do. It’s left to me to set things right.