(Titivillus is the working title of my newest novel-in-progress. Originally it was slated to be a short story for this blog, but once I got into it I couldn’t short change the story.
This is a edited scene from the first draft of chapter 2. Edited because I want to keep the main plot points close to home for a while. But folks were interested in seeing more of Titivillus after his visits to the #5MinuteFiction writing contest in November.)
Moth wings sprang up between the keys. Alex gave a startled yelp and jumped out of her chair. Inside her chest, her heart was doing its best to keep up with the pounding drums of the techno music. Once it finally showed signs of slowing and something horrible hadn’t jumped out of the laptop, she laughed at herself. It was only a damn moth, after all. Unless she was about to turn into a wool sweater she was fine. The light from the screen probably drew its attention and it got stuck.
Dust flew off the wings as they gave a flutter. The poor thing seemed to be pretty well lodged under one of the keys. She looked around at the clutter covering her desk. Something thin and flexible could slide under the keys and free the moth without hurting the poor thing. Alex looked up from rifling around in one of the desk drawers. From what she could tell the full length of wings were freed from the keyboard.
“Damn that’s a big moth,” she observed.
The moth’s wings surged upwards with another violent burst. She watched the struggle, careful not to breathe across the keys and send it burrowing back down into its plastic prison. All of the mistakes on the manuscript still needed to be fixed before she could write more. If the moth didn’t move its butt then she couldn’t type without squishing it. Not an ideal situation for the computer or moth.
As Alex was busy sizing up instruments to pry a moth out of such a tight spot, a small hand reached up and grasped the edge of the G-key. Using it for leverage, the tiny creature squirmed free of the cramped compartment. Miniature dust bunnies clung to its pearly white skin. The creature swept an annoyed hand over its arms in an effort to knock some of the dust away.
“Ever think to clean in there, chickie?”
With a start Alex looked around the small room. The voice was too clear to be one of the neighbors. Frowning, she slapped a hand on the CD player and paused the music.
“I was listening to that, ya know,” came the voice again.
“Who are you? Where are you?”
“Right under your nose. Ew, there’s a booger hanging in there. It moves every time you breathe. Do a demon a favor and take care of that.”
Slowly Alex’s head came back around to look at the computer. For a second she didn’t know what to expect. The thought had occurred that Steve was seeking revenge somehow by hacking into the beast and playing one of those videos that’s all fluffy bunnies and puppies until right at the end a ghoulish face jumps on screen and screamed so loud your eardrums burst. There wasn’t a video playing on her screen, just the manuscript with its myriad of mistakes waiting for her attention.
“Boy you’re a slow one.”
“Who the hell are you?” Her pulse was in her throat making it hard to speak.
“Oh look, an intelligent question.” The voice chirped with laughter.
“God damnit, Steve. If you are behind this I’m going over to your house at dawn and dragging your ass out on the sun, swear to God. I’ll even make you go jogging.”
“There went the intelligence. Hey, chickie, look down at your G spot.”
The small figure bounced on the G-key then cart wheeled over the gap between it and the T-key and back again. Its small feet clattered on the keys, finally pulling Alex’s attention down. She assumed the moth was still making an attempt to free itself. For once she wished her assumptions were right because what was staring at her was not anywhere near what she wanted to see.
Ragged moth wings rode on the small back of the creature bouncing around the keyboard. Its skin shimmered in the bright light from the computer screen. Somehow it was white, green, purple, and blue all at the same time. Thankfully a torn scrap of what might be leather covered the thing’s crotch. An unruly mop of moss green hair bobbed up and down with its movements. Dust flew around, leaving tiny footprints on the black keys.
“That’s it. I’ve been working too hard to meet this deadline.” Alex rubbed her burning eyes and looked back down. The creature was still there.
“Hey-yo. About time you paid me the proper attention. If I were a lesser demon my feelings would be hurt.” Wings fluttered, sending tiny dust bunnies scattering in their wake.
“Oh come on! Do I look like a friggen fairy to you?” It stomped down on a key hard enough to start typing on the screen lighting the strange tableau.
“Well, yeah.” Alex couldn’t begin to understand why she was talking to something that was obviously a figment of her taxed mind.
“It’s the wings. I told ‘Bub that they were too girly, but no he thinks he knows everything.” The demon crossed its impossibly thin arms and stared up at her. “I can assure you I ain’t a fairy, chickie.”
“Sure you can. Look, I’m going to stop talking to myself and go to bed now. You’ll be gone when I wake up and we can just pretend that I didn’t have a complete psychotic breakdown.”
Without waiting for the supposed demon to pop off another smart-assed comment, Alex turned and left the room. Inside she knew that the last week had been nothing but work, work, work. And stress. Buckets of stress. A small breakdown was inevitable. Though this particular manifestation was particularly amusing. It wasn’t often she toyed around with ideas of demons. Maybe the little guy would fit into her next project. Sometimes her ideas had weird ways of coming to life.
“After this book is at the printer’s I’m going on vacation.” She told herself as she climbed into bed. A vacation was long past due.
Exhaustion swept over her like a nice warm blanket fresh out of the dryer. The bed felt wonderful under her sore back and hips and the pillow felt softer than usual, more inviting somehow. Sleep tugged down on the blanket of exhaustion and down she went into the sweet darkness.