Toy Story, Part 2

(If you missed Part 1, click here to read it first.)

Hex cringed as Mabel let out a long, piercing wail. The room grew cold and the oil lamps along the wall flared. Internal clockworks whirring, the toys stood at attention, their heads turned towards Locksley and Hex. Even through Hex's purple-tinted vision, their tiny eyes appeared coal black.

Hex swallowed. "You're seeing this too, right?"
Stephane Halleux

"The army of possessed toys surrounding us? Yep." Locksley nodded, her knuckles turning white as she gripped the truncheon's handle.


"Get them!" Mabel jabbed a crooked finger at Locksley and Hex, her finger nails growing into ragged claws.

Hex flinched as stuffed bear with button eyes leapt off its shelf towards him.

Backhanding the bear with her truncheon, Locksley sent it flying as Mabel slammed into her. Hex toppled from his perch as Locksley stumbled sideways.

"Seal the room!" Locksley called as Hex crash landed on the counter top, the wind knocked out of him. Toys began to jumping down from their shelves and mass around Locksley, their articulated hands clawing at her legs. One puppet launched itself at her back and began climbing up her jacket towards her head. Locksley grabbed it by the foot and hurled it away.

A tin soldier climbed onto the counter and marched towards Hex, a bayoneted rifle in its outstretched arms. His chest heaving, Hex struggled to his feet, fighting for purchase on the slick surface as he scrambled backwards. Locksley's truncheon came spinning through the air and smashed into the toy soldier, sending it to the floor in pieces.

"Anytime today, Hex!" Locksley latched on to the back of Mabel's dress as the ghoul tried to round the counter towards the backroom door.

Hex swallowed and slid down the length of the counter as Mabel turned and kicked Locksley in the jaw, knocking her backwards in a spray of blood. A wave of toys sucked Locksley beneath its surface and Hex lost sight of her.

Mabel hurried towards the door, her skirts swirling behind her.

Hex hurled himself off the counter top, his opposable toes grasping the door handle as he landed. His violet eyes began to glow as power swelled within him. Chanting in a low, hurried murmur, he scrawled a spell on the door with the small stick of graphite hanging from a small chain around his neck.

"What are you doing?!" Mabel screeched as Hex finished the spell. A Seal undulated along the walls, enveloping the doors and trapping her in the room. She grabbed Hex by the scruff of the neck, hissing as their energies clashed, stinging Mabel's hand. The ghoul catapulted hi  across the room, shaking her hand to dispel the pain.

Hex crashed into a stuffed rabbit on the top shelf, sending it squealing to the floor. It disappeared beneath the writhing mass of toys obscuring Locksley, her colorful language muffled beneath the fray.

"You're a familiar, how did you do that?!" Mabel pointed a claw at Hex as she hurdled over the counter towards Hex.

Hex gulped and took off down the shelf, his breath ragged as he ran on all fours. Mabel charged after him, her claws brushing the tip of his tail. Hex yelped, launching himself into the air above the skirmish below. His paws closing around the railing along the gondola, he pulled himself onto the dirigible and scrambled up the side of the inflated balloon.

Mabel leapt and shrieked below him, her nails scraping the air just below the wooden bottom. Turning to a handful of toys near her feet, Mabel barked a command. The toys piled on top of each other directly below Hex. His breath caught in his throat as Mabel clambered to the top, and pushed off, her arms stretched out before her. The ghoul's fingers closed on the bottom the gondola and one of the lines snapped from the added weight. The dirigible keeled sideways, and Mabel cackled as Hex clung to the top, his tail flailing as he struggled to keep his balance.

The hair rose on the back of his neck as he felt a familiar swell of power ripple from within the tangle of toys by the counter, a faint glow emanating from inside the mound. He braced himself as the toys suddenly exploded outward in a ball of cerulean flames. The concussion sent Mabel crashing to the floor.

Her eyes blazing, Locksley surged to her feet, blood dripping from her chin. "I'm done playing with you little miscreants," Locksley said, her blunderbuss clenched in her hand, smoke wafting from the barrel.

"Watch out!" Hex called as Mabel stormed across the room towards her.

Locksley swung her pistol up, but it was knocked from her grasp as a doll launched itself at her arm from a nearby shelf. The pistol bounced off the backroom door and skittered behind the counter.

A wave of charred toys crashed against Locksley, pulling her to her knees. Mabel wrapped a liver spotted hand around Locksley's throat. "Where on earth did a wretched creature like you find such a weapon?"

"I am a weapon." Locksley grinned through the blood, grabbing Mabel's thumb. She bent the ghoul's wrist backwards, wrenching the ghoul's hand away from her throat. The toys clawing at her legs, Locksley stood, twisting Mabel's arm behind her back. Flames erupted from Locksley's fingertips, disintegrating Mabel's body to ash. Locksley kicked free as the toys collapsed to the ground, the black fading from their eyes.

"Well, at least this day can't get any worse." Hex sighed as Locksley stood.

Locksley wiped the blood from her face with the sleeve of her coat, glancing up towards Hex.

"Day's not over." She pointed at the ceiling and winced as the last two lines holding the dirigible to the ceiling snapped, sending it careening towards the floor.

Hex screamed as it crashed into the pile of toys, shredding the tarpaulin balloon and sending him sailing into a scorched wooden puppet embedded in the wall.

"Am I still alive?" Hex croaked, his eyes fluttering open as he hung upside down, tangled in the puppet's smoldering strings.

"Your body's indestructible, remember?" Locksley sliced through the tangle with her pocket knife, and Hex fell face first to the floor. "You might want to put out your tail, though," Locksley said over her shoulder as she waded through the mess of burnt toys and bent behind the counter to retrieve her pistol.

Hex jerked upright and slapped at his tail until the flame puffed out. "Well, now what?" Hex asked, throwing his arms in the air. "All that, and we've got nothing to show for it. Sebastienne's not going to be happy when we go back empty handed."

"Who says we're empty handed?" Locksley said, grinning as she crouched by the dirigible's corpse.

Hex turned around, his jaw dropping as Locksley plucked a small compass from within the torn balloon.

Securing the compass inside its matching tin box, Locksley stood and brushed herself off. "Come on, I'll buy you an ice cream. You'll feel better," she said, lifting Hex onto her shoulder.

"Fine. But you're taste-testing it first," Hex said.

"Fair enough," Locksley said as she walked towards the door, tucking the tin box securely back inside her pocket.

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