Fungal Halo

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Dissonant Chord

The doll approaching the house is not a messenger, that much is obvious to me right away.

It’s not a thing a person can easily tell, but…the rhythm of another doll’s movements—and the thrum of what drives it—plays the song of its purpose at a pitch we know how to hear.

A doll cannot know much about another from that feeling alone, but we know when the note they sing strikes a dissonant chord with our own.

I see coiled ferocity in this doll’s delicate stride, and it makes me clutch the gardening trowel to my chest in both hands, fearfully.

It asks me if my mistress is home.

I cannot do otherwise than to answer. She is.

Not a moment after the words pass my lips, its fist travels through my chest, shattering my flesh, wrecking my inner workings.

The trowel falls, crushing the violets at my feet.

My legs lose the strength to hold me upright, and I crumple into the garden I was tending a moment ago.

The other doll proceeds to the door, trampling the rest of my work. As it passes the bird bath, an indifferent backhand causes the sculpted stone to crumble to rubble.

I cannot move or make a sound. What remains of my mind slips away, one turn of the gears at a time.

I am just another pretty thing to break and deface in the name of revenge on my mistress for some rivalry of hers.

I hope my replacement’s garden will be as pretty as mine.