Within the darkened hallways of an ominous house, within the writhing and reaching branches of a dreary forest, within the inner sanctum of a forboding yet enchanting town which could only be duly named "Nevermore", there lay a little girl tucked in safely beneath her blankets, her trusty ragdoll slumbering at her side. Her chest did not move for she did not need to breath, her dolly however appeared to be snoring. She did not need to breathe because this little girl was dead, undead you might say. Having resurrected all on her own of sheer will, or perhaps ignorance, she'd denied death—twice. A pneumonia victim, she'd been bedridden for many nights and days until one morn her mother found her pale and cold, where she was then taken straight to the morgue on an unfortunate man's autopsy table, where from she rose to carry on life as though her heart never stopped beating. But it was not to be so, for on arrival at her own funeral her family was quickly revolted to see her. Cruelly abandoned and rejected by those who once loved her, tears blocking her vision the little girl wondered without aim to find some kind of life elsewhere. Find it she did, Nevermore and its characters welcomed her with open arms.
In life the girl had looked extremely different from now: in life she had dark black hair, skin so full of color from health, and two bright blue eyes. Now she wore the same mourning dress she'd been meant to be buried in, blonde tangled tresses messed themselves together around her face, two skull barrettes—one on each side, which were taken out as she slept—accentuated them nicely. Her skin became pale and ashen from age and decay, only managing to hold itself onto her. Her eyes had become gray, one of them with a circular shape around the left iris.
For a brief time she even had a boyfriend named Mr. Gosh. This was also not meant to be so, as she'd ran over him 164 times with a lawnmower head-on. He continued to be persistent until another fateful day, but that is another story.
The wondrous, dangerous little girl who overcame all this was named Lenore Lynchfast.
At her side, the doll continued to sleep undisturbed as she. This doll, the reason it snored, was not really a doll at all—at heart and in a past life it had been Ragamuffin: the Eternal Vampire Scourge and former terror of Nevermore for well over 2 centuries. What had brought him to this lowly state was the vengeance of a witch whose sister was unlucky enough to become what would be his next and final victim. He'd attacked the lone woman walking home from a shopping spree, ironically enough feasting on her innards mere feet from the entryway of a restaurant, where her sister emerged, horrified at what was beheld before her. Ragamuffin merely stared at her as he continued to feast, but suddenly hesitated when she began to form strange-looking orbs in her hands—orbs that were immediately shot in his direction with a painful impact. Thrown into the gutter, he gave a mild "Ow…" of irritation, but she could not kill him, as he'd explained, he was immortal. Her response needless to say puzzled him…until he began to witness an agonizing transformation before his very eyes—eyes that were soon to become plastic with irises prone to gravity as he soon laid in the same gutter he had before, as a motionless ragdoll. Who should come along but the still lively Lenore. What it took to break this deeply-loathed curse inflicted upon him was a drop of blood—untainted blood. And as life would have it, it never being kind to either in previous roles, the little dead girl's blood was infused with embalming fluid. Ragamuffin was revived, but would be a vampire no more.
And somehow, they'd been able to make that work—she with her drastically-changed non-life and existence, he with his. Since then the two had been inseparable—playing games and living simple undead lives, together, in their eidolic home with their newest occupant Pooty Applewater; an ex-bounty hunter and dark minion of the 9th layer of hell, who gave up his powerful position in heck when sent to the surface world to bring back Lenore to her intended and final resting place. …Though if the boss' plan made any sense, everybody would've been picked up to be brought to heck, given that everybody else was dead. And yet he'd only been sent up to get her. Branded a "rogue" and a traitor, heck's armies turned on him as well upon arrival to retrieve the girl. He fought back with rigorous fervor, as his way of repaying Lenore for allowing him to stay even if he'd come to forcibly abduct her from her real home and rightful place where she belonged. And, in the final battle he'd fought, actually changed Ragamuffin back into a vampire to protect her—protect her he had: impeccably; walls upon walls of soldiers were falling at his vehemence. Even if it was more a righteous reason, the Vampire Scourge was back…just, not so eternally, as the spell had worn off when the battle was won. But Lenore had been saved, and that was all that was important to him. It still was; doll or vampire. He could have very well left her when changed back, for dead, and he had not. Like Pooty, it could've been recompense for all she'd done; it could've been loyalty; it could have very well been…something stronger.
Lenore cradled Ragamuffin snugly in her arms; neither of them produced heat, not anymore, yet somehow they'd been able to keep each other warm. The night around them went on menacingly, hugging the house in an apathetic, deathly-algid grasp, such a nice evening…
Both dreamt on that menacing night, of things pleasant though applying to the other's differing…interest. Ragamuffin dreamt of a haggard old woman, powerless and scared, as she backed into a corner, hidden away in a dark alley where nobody would hear her calls for help. A chance she was aware to this, she tried pleading for her life. "No!" Cried she, while a shadow that looked mysteriously like him in his old form, began lurking closer…
Lenore was in a cloud 9 of her own as well…an edible cloud 9. The land she dreamed of was full of sweets and wonders—made from sweets of course. On her cloud 9 there was a huge fairground with carnival rides, carnival attractions, carnival games with prizes: all made up of candy. Even the attendant who'd been nice to offer to show her around, was just a walking lollipop…who was then eaten savagely. As were the many other people who were there; carnies, simple fairgoer folk, even the gummi animals who worked under the praline tent in the gelatin circus. All made up of candy; all eaten. Though now that she'd eaten the carnival people all that was left were the carnival rides; she ate those too. Now that the carnival rides had been eaten there were only the games; she ate those too; and their prizes; eaten. Now however, that all the rides, games, buildings, and occupants had been devoured on her cloud 9, there was only one thing left to eat:
Cloud 9. Which was made of fluffy purple cotton-candy…with the texture of marshmallows…that tasted like bacon. Oh well, she'd take it. She gummed it hungrily, unaware to the noises it was starting to make. It seemed to kick away at her, groaning.
"Shhhhh." She shushed it, not aware to how she could with a mouthful of puffy goodness. "Be a good marshmallow and let me eat you."
It pulled away from her mouth, wherein she bit savagely at it.
"OW! Wake up!" It demanded angrily.
"Good marshmallows don't talk while they're being eaten." She started to mumble gluttonous, pleasureful noises as she gummed away at the talking "marshmallow".
"Don't fight it." She said for some reason, in that creepy tone she used when she buried Ragamuffin in the backyard and he protested. Finally, the "marshmallow" seemed to have had it.
Lenore awoke with a loud cry, throwing a certain ragdoll off her stomach and across the room, where he thudded against the wall with a painful, cottony, slobbered-on "splat!" In all her trauma, she completely disregarded he was there, and now her eyes darted around for the evil broccoli. …But when she saw there was no evil broccoli, she also saw there was no more giant marshmallow.
Ragamuffin groaned as he got up, rubbing the back of his cottony-stuffed head; both in pain and disgusted, he glanced down at his left leg and lower left torso, which had been soaked in drool in roughly the shape of a little girl's mouth. To add insult to injury, the drool made him slip as he tried to walk back to the bed, his body making a hollow sort of noise as it fell again. Thankfully, being that he was very small and made of soft materials, it didn't hurt much…physically. Rather than be worried about him however Lenore crossed her arms and looked at him with suspicion.
"Ragamuffin, what did you do with my giant marshmallow?"
He rolled his eyes. "Good morning to you too."
For being a good little dead girl and not massacring anymore kitties that week—not intentionally anyhow—Ragamuffin had offered to take Lenore to the movies. She'd zipped up the stairway faster than he could perceive she was gone. He did hear her getting ready up in her room, with all the zeal and excitement a 10 year-old girl could have going to her best friend to the movies, and it sounded like somebody was being murdered in there. But it couldn't possibly—
"Stop struggling Mr. Bunny-Buns, do you want this splinter outta you or not!"
A sharp squeaking noise was heard right as the sound of ripping flesh—he'd been a ravenous murderer for over 2 centuries, he knew what that sounded like—then a brief silence.
"Bun-Buns?" She was shaking it now, he was sure, before he heard the "flop" of her discarding it heedlessly as she'd done to small animals many times before, and then the hums of a little nonsense song as she finished doing whatever she'd been doing when she sped up there. He sighed; so much for the reward. Aw well he was a nice guy, a formerly savage one, but a patient friend nonetheless…very patient when it came to Lenore. He wouldn't deny her the treat for something she couldn't see she'd done wrong anyway. So while she was getting ready he headed over to the cabinet beside the oven where, unbeknownst to anyone but them, a ceramic jar full of money was hidden way in the back. His stubby hands pulled it open with a long squeal, before he stepped into the dark dusty storage hold, shoving dirty wine glasses out of his way and leaving small pats of footsteps behind him—he only needed to visit this jar monthly, for house maintenance and such. Lenore never saw a use for it since in her world the need of money never extended beyond the funds for candy, unaware to the duties of bills or keeping the house intact after her…misadventures. He gingerly removed the lid, setting it against the wall between two glasses nearby, and—though it was difficult because of the dark—counted up the right amount of change that'd be needed to gain admission plus popcorn, drinks and—irremissible in Lenore's book—candy.
He heard the heavy footsteps as she walked…well, bounded downstairs, hopping down each step with zeal and fervor she couldn't contain. She was surprisingly nimble for someone who was dead…and decomposed for over a hundred years. She wore her usual mourning dress, but insisted that "It took me forever to decide what to wear!" It was then Ragamuffin noticed she dragged a certain cat by the tail on its back behind her. Lenore followed his gaze and then took note of his disapproving look.
"Kitty can't come?" She glanced down at him with surprise, the deceased feline attracting numerous buzzing insects that hovered around its head. He crooked a brow at it strangely.
"Uh…I'm pretty sure they don't allow pets in movie theatres." Especially dead ones that were obviously rotting.
"Oh." Lenore's disappointed face was brought up to Kitty's eye-level as she lifted him by his tail. "Sorry Kitty," She apologized. "You can go back to sleep now." Without a second thought she tossed it over her shoulder where it crashed into something loudly.
Ragamuffin just chuckled. "Off we go?"
Lenore yanked him up by the arm he offered and ran with him outside. She emerged through the front door, holding him above her head like a toy airplane—a very patient toy airplane—sputtering little motor noises as she raced along; through the front irons gates, past the rows of beefy, orange pumpkins that seasonally grew near those iron gates for some reason, and down the winding road which would inevitably lead them into the city. Ragamuffin was taking this all in stride, he'd learned to; he had to. He did allow a frown of annoyance as she kept onward, as he always found himself doing being pulled into Lenore's games.
Daytime was as bright and annoying as usual—he'd never liked the sun, even when he wasn't burned by it—thankfully, whether it was a recompense or just bittersweet, in this doll body the large fireball could not hurt him.
"Easy!" He told her as she started to get a bounce in her step.
"Toy airplanes don't talk!" She retorted, starting to spin him around. Lenore, to his horror, began to "play" more heatedly to make the trip go faster. She threw him up in the air and caught him in her arms, him protesting all the way of course. Lenore didn't mean to be cruel, she never meant to be, she was a 10 year-old girl; she was just playing. Ragamuffin knew this…but that didn't make it any less traumatizing. All the while he was pleading for her in his head not to drop him in her little "stunt flight" episode.
Suddenly she twirled around, "WE'RE HEADED FOR A CRASH!"
"NO! LENORE!" He begged, seeing the ground frightfully zoom in at alarming speed. He imagined the world going black, bracing himself for the pain, seeing spots if he came out consciously…but nothing happened. Gradually, he inched an eye open, and saw he was now dangling above the sidewalk, instead of plummeting into it. Wondering why she stopped, he glanced up and saw Lenore focused on something; he followed her gaze and saw the opening titles for the movie theatre posted above.
He groaned in relief, wiping his brow though no sweat had poured there. Now much more calmly, he gazed up at Lenore.
"Ok," He explained, "just walk up to the man and do it like I toldja."
Lenore, unsure, readjusted her dolly to an upright position. "I dunno…"
"Trust me, it's gonna work." He assured. "Just do it like we practiced."
Lenore had opened her mouth, but he fell lifeless before she could say more. She shook him, "Ragamuffin?" No response; just a floppy, motionless doll, his eyes were even prone to gravity…so it looked. Still perplexed, she did as her friend had asked and walked up to the booth in front of the theatre.
"Hello little girl." Greeted the ticket vendor with a grin. Lenore was visibly put off by it; she cringed at his smile that was a little too…what was a good word…overbearing. The hair on his arms looked all crinkled and fuzzy, like that thing that crawled out of the drain and claimed her as its "mother". His hands were a little meaty, the fingers like stubby sausages. Lenore was not entirely certain about Ragamuffin's motives, but her little buddy had never steered her wrong before so she approached the counter, albeit hesitantly. As instructed she placed the cash he gave her through the slot. The man took the bills, pressed a button, and Lenore's ticket popped out. "There you are." His fuzzy-knuckled hand reached through to give her the stub and her change.
"Uh-oh." She glanced down at the black-and-white form in her arm. "Ragamuffin, you only gave me enough for one people."
The vendor, observing her behavior, gave a laugh. "That's ok, dolls get in free."
"Really?" Lenore suddenly glanced up at him, her repulsion turning into amazement.
"Sure." He winked. "It's a special offer."
Unbeknownst to either of them, Ragamuffin had chuckled on the inside.
"And don't forget these." He held out a pair of 3D glasses for her to take. Lenore smiled in thanks, and started to walk inside. Someone's throat cleared, and the girl halted just in time to realize what she'd forgotten. The ticket vendor, who'd heard the noise as well, pushed his head further to the window.
Lenore walked back to the booth again, her gaze neither awkward or timorous—instead, it was cute, intentionally. Adorable with one hand laid slightly below her mouth, eyes held upward hopefully, and her dolly still clenched to her side.
"Uh, mister, can dolly have a pair of glasses too?"
The man looked at her, smiled again, and once more retrieved a pair for her behind the counter.
"So, you and dolly like action flicks?"
"Well I wanted to see "Night of the Living Eyeball Impaler" but Ragamuffin said that you said I'd be too young for that—which is bunk because I've seen scarier stuff coming outta my closet!" The vendor chuckled, his kids would've said the same thing. Lenore however had gotten too caught up in the moment, and started to demonstrate why she'd prefer to see that movie in favor of the one full of stunts and special effects she'd paid for…and the next thing she and Ragamuffin knew, the ticket man was lying in the gutter, his eyeballs gouged out, a horrified gape upon his face. Ragamuffin—having lost count of how many times he'd face-palmed himself—shoved a cottony stub against his forehead yet again. Lenore observed the man curiously, shrugged, and pocketed an eyeball she'd found lying next to him on the walk.
"Don't do that!" Her friend scolded, before a groan. "What are the snack people gonna say when they see blood on—"
Fortunately for Lenore, the entire commotion had caused quite a lot of faculty, concession attendants included, to rush outside and see the gory mess right in the middle of the sidewalk. Ragamuffin bit his tongue, and she happily made her way inside to the unattended concession stand. She was in hysterical elation over any free choice of candy she could pick, and while she stood in awe Ragamuffin busied himself getting the popcorn and soda before she snapped out of it; in this state she stayed put. And if she got bored and wondered the theatre only worse things than what happened to that man on the sidewalk could occur. Ragamuffin, knowing what she was capable of, tried to hurry. Lenore didn't seem to want to go anywhere anytime soon. She immediately attached herself to the display casing; her little palms and ardent face pressed up against the glass. She pointed to individual packets.
"I want summa that! And summa those! And summa this! And-!"
"Alright, hang on, I'm coming…" He jumped up from out of the popcorn machine, brushing kernels out of the yarn strings on his head, and hopped from each dispenser, cooler, heater, whathaveyou, until he made it back onto the counter. Lenore eagerly took the large filled bucket and paper cup he had beside him. "Don't scarf it all down before we get there! It wasn't easy climbing in an' outta that popcorn machine." Lenore pointed to the display case expectantly, now latched onto the soda, gazing up at her friend pleadingly. Ragamuffin sighed, he could never say no to those lifeless gray eyes. So lacking hesitation he jumped back behind the counter, smiling up at Lenore through the transparent breakfront.
"So, what'll the lady have today?"
After picking out two boxes of chocolate cookie dough bites, another two packets of gummi worms, one box of caramels, a couple ropes of taffy, and three of their biggest containers of chocolate spiders, with full arms the doll and elated dead girl strolled their way inside the immense screen room. Lenore took her designated seat and her doll to the pilfered one beside her. Before she could even sit down he grabbed his glasses, the large bucket of popcorn, and set the drink with two straws in between them. Lenore held the candy, it was all hers anyway. Ragamuffin didn't bother hiding the smug look one little bit, never sluggish to extol himself.
"See? What'd I tell ya?" He said, chucking a kernel in his mouth. Lenore didn't answer, nor noticed his egotistic behavior; she was too busy slurping down the soda with one task and forcing open the bag of sour gummy worms with the other. It tore apart with little gummies and sour crystals flying everywhere. Ragamuffin wiped the grainy flavoring from his face, before glancing her and saying, if not a bit irritably, "Need some help?" Lenore waited uncomplainingly while he opened up every box, bag, and container she'd picked out. It was difficult since he had no fingers, but a lot better than her raining them down with the alternative. He handed her the last box opened, a carton of chocolate spiders, "Here ya go."
Lenore sat back and got comfy right as the previews started; just in time too, Ragamuffin didn't think the audience had that much tolerance left for Lenore bouncing and squeaking in the foldable seat of her chair. She marveled at the screening.
"The TV's all fuzzy!"
"Put your glasses on!"
A few moviegoers turned to shush them.
Lenore continued to stare at the blurry screen until he readjusted her 3D glasses from her forehead to her eyes, then he sat back to enjoy the show with her—the one he'd gotten himself into free thanks to his clever vampiric wit, which made it all the more sweeter. All was going well on this just slightly violent outing, between the candy and the movie and her best pal at her side, wiping all the mess and stickiness she'd accumulated on her hands and face, Lenore was having as magical a time as anyone could at the movie theatre. Her mouth kept getting greasy from all the imitation butter, much to Ragamuffin's annoyance. Lenore was not really a tidy eater if she wasn't savoring tea or muffins. Not that he minded, but she was going to carry him home in those hands and arms. He wanted them clean for that thank you very much.
Wary of all the junk food she was consuming, even if she was dead, he tried forcing vegetables on her one time at dinner…needless to say, after Kitty Number 203 perished, he did not repeat those actions a second time. The last time he handed her a napkin she made it into a paper swan, so he took upon the duty of making sure her already bacteria-ridden face was at least wiped clean. Just as he finished disposing of the last napkin and sat back down, he noticed an odd shape from the corner of his eye. Glancing over, he saw it was Lenore's finger…pointed at him.
"What?" She tilted her head at him neutrally.
"What're you uh," He scooted away, the digit following him, "doing?"
"Nothing." She replied, finger still held in mid-air, only mere inches from his head.
"Well…knock it off." He moved away again, only for her index to follow again. He frowned. "Seriously, stop it."
"Stop touching me."
Lenore cocked a brow at him. "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout?"
He motioned to her finger. "You're doing it right now!"
"Cut it out!"
"Just watch the movie, you're making a scene."
"Stop touching me!"
"I'm not touching you."
"YOU'RE TOUCHING ME!"
The two gazed over in the midst of their spat, to see a uniformed man with a tiny flashlight in their aisle. Ragamuffin also noticed by this time that there were a lot of unhappy audience members glaring angrily at them. Using his only defense, he went lifeless. The man ignored her doll laying over the arm of the seat next to her and pointed the beam in her direction. "I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
"Whaaaaaaa? Why?" Lenore gazed up at him perplexedly, no idea what was the matter.
"You're causing a disruption for the rest of the audience in the theatre. Please vacate the premises, now."
Needless to say, the audience's attention was no longer on the screaming little girl in back, it had returned to the movie; anything to distract them against the horrors that they just saw. The man laid in the walkway of the aisle, a strange-looking stick object with the head of a primate at the tip embedded in his spine. Ragamuffin too tried not to look at it; he'd seen Lenore in action, up close, and did not like it one little bit. That said quite a lot coming from one of the most savage killers the world had ever known. He might've been more tolerant of it in his vampire form but, sadly, those days were gone. Lenore wriggled something in his vision, and he glanced over to see she'd held up an arm…the usher's arm. She smiled at him, and, as if to apologize for the deed she still had no clue she'd done, offered it amicably.
"For getting me all the candy."
He took the severed limb and held it in his hand. To feel the familiar texture of recently deceased flesh in his grasp again was almost too overpowering. And the blood, which had not clotted yet, still flowed freely from the wound. It looked so juicy, welcoming, and derisive; for as appetizing as it was to the former vampire scourge, it was still too impervious…for fangs made of cotton.
More depressed than flattered, the vampire-in-doll-body sighed, "Thanks…"
Lenore, oblivious as usual—who would soon turn her attention back to the screen although the movie was near its end—continued to gaze on her longest, dearest friend with wholehearted gratitude.
"Thanks for taking me Ragamuffin." Said her genuinely sweet voice.
His gaze momentarily strolled to the man still bleeding into the aisle. He hadn't moved, but quite a lot of blood was spilling out of him and slowly draining into the lower aisle seats of the theatre. A few unlucky audience members would be going home with bloody shoes tonight. He and Lenore wouldn't mind walking over the body to leave, others (who hadn't ran out of the nearest exit in their row) would preferably take the long way out. He turned back to the screen and tried to enjoy the rest of the show.
Lenore was in a clamor all the way back home, acting out scenes from the movie—thankfully not with him this time—as they strolled down the rudimentary forest path they always took to get out of the city. As they walked however, Ragamuffin noticed something peculiar about the route they were taking. It was the same shortcut, and yet there was something different about it today, and he strongly believed it was Lenore's doing. As they walked past trees and other shrubbery, he noted pictures of women pasted on trunks, angled from the rear and it looked like they were almost meant to have…two sets of spines. There were several of these pictures all around the woods. And what's more, there were heaps of food spontaneously piled out of nowhere, some on their lonesome, some near or inside cages, snags, live traps, bear traps, etc. Most of it was breakfast cereal—dry or becoming soggy in curdling, pungent milk—but he could spot a few select mounds of dog food, cat food, chicken bones, and even the fearsome broccoli that even the flies wouldn't touch. Strange it was, but not anything harmful, with a shrug he brushed it off. Though with Lenore, so he thought he'd learned, you could never correctly presume anything…
Pooty nearly had a heart attack, and on top of that, almost spilled the soda he'd been drinking. With a startled glance, he swirled around to Lenore, looking at him so innocently from behind the couch. He thought with her and the puff-puff midget off at the movie theatres he might get some peace and quiet, which he did for only 3 hours. Now he could see that they were back; Lenore beaming at him creepily while Ragamuffin was just making it through the front door, carrying a half-eaten carton of chocolate spiders, the only candy still spared after Lenore's insatiable consumption. He placed a twigged hand on the rim of his bucket and the thought almost passed his metallic mind to give the puff-puff guy more credit.
Lenore continued to stare at him, some unchewed kernels and bits of artificial flavorings clinging to her dress.
"Can't an honest hard-working demon sit down for a couple of hours to watch some daytime TV?"
"Not in this house…" The dollpire mumbled, heading into the kitchen.
"POOTY!" Lenore shouted, vaulting over the couch. Instantly she went into a ramble over how amazing the movie was; how the pictures seemed to jump out at her so realistically she'd almost defended herself with the monkey stick about 6 times before Ragamuffin stopped her, how she'd gorged herself on all her favorite candy—which explained the extreme dynamism, even for her—how she was so thrilled from it all she might just puke from the excitement!
"Or possibly the sugar intake." She finished. She'd forgotten the parts about unintentionally removing an innocent ticket vendor's eyeballs as well as rendering an usher's body lifeless with the good help of her monkey stick; though Pooty, judging by the blood on its blunter end, could've guessed something impulsive happened. Lenore was…quite excitable at times. In fact, she was so unintentionally dangerous, the only ones who would be able to survive in her constant company were a coldblooded vampire forced into retirement and a 9th level bounty hunter from heck…and it was still pretty close. Lenore was still on her going-strong sugar buzz when she rushed upstairs to tell Kitty all about what happened. Both Pooty and Ragamuffin sighed in relief.
Ragamuffin poked his head into Lenore's bedroom at 8 on the dot. Normally, she'd come down around to inhale her dinner at 6, be in the tub by 7, and coerce him into reading her a bedtime story by 8. But tonight, ever since returning home, she hadn't come out of her room even once.
"Lenore?" His small head cautiously edged past the doorframe. He didn't want to walk in on her changing or something. Granted since the pair were bunkmates there were some pretty close calls, and each one was more awkward than the last.
Lucky for him, Lenore was fully clothed. He saw her poised at the window, Kitty by her side, a pop-gun in her hands; Kitty had the plunger. Both of the shutters were wide open and she readied the pop-gun's toy barrel just barely outside the frame for whatever she was thinking would be out this late. Kitty remained at-attention, though he slouched against the pane. Puzzled, the intestine-shaped dollpire came up and took his place at her other side.
"What're you d-"
She quickly shushed him, temporarily darting her gaze from the window. "Me and Kitty are on a search for the two-backed beast."
…He must've not heard her right. "The what?"
"Two-backed beast!" She repeated, if not a bit proudly. Lenore would laugh at innuendos, and make them, as was typical for a 10 year-old kid, but rarely did she know what they'd mean. Which earned her a stare from her fibrous roommate. "I'm not real sure what it looks like, but I been making tons of preparations ever since the funny little people bugs tipped me off!"
Ragamuffin wondered if she was still on her sugar high.
"I started settin' out traps, bait, photographs of two-backed ladies—assuming it swings that way—and now with the help of Kitty, I can finally locate this beast and bring it back to give Taxidermy the biggest project he's ever had!"
Her dollpire raised a brow in her direction. "…Lenore uh, maybe it's time you and I had a tal-"
"THAR SHE BLOWS!" Screamed the armed-and-ready dead girl, thrusting a finger out the window. Kitty was so thrown off by the shock it was knocked back with its plunger lying useless next to it on the floor. Lenore positioned her pop-gun and aimed out the glass pane. Ragamuffin was about to guarantee her that she wasn't going to get anything on this innuendo-based witch hunt when-
"HOLY CRAP!" Her guardian swore, seeing an immense creature with two vertebrae rise up from the ground and give a piercing screech. Lenore re-positioned Kitty, slapping him with a "pull yourself together soldier!" and remained at the window. The dollpire just stood there, slack-jawed, as the huntress readied her ammo: the toy "popped", but the tiny cork fell short and dangled useless from its string.
"Damn…" She frowned, just as Pooty burst in.
"I don't want to alarm anyone, but-" He could already tell by the puff-puff's expression that they'd seen enough. Lenore looked pretty disappointed in her weaponry, as well as her manpower, and gave a sigh.
"Well men, looks like it's a victory not won tonight," And just like always her demeanor changed from scary to happy, "Let go watch it from the roof!"
Pooty and Ragamuffin exchanged glances.
If either of them hadn't seen it they never would've believed it, but there it was, in the flesh, an actual two-backed beast; with fur, claws, fangs and a gigantic body large enough to be ¾ the size of their house. The bucket-headed demon and body-swapped vampire stared, unable to comprehend that this was really happening: that was a two-backed beast prowling around in their yard, it was taking the bait Lenore had set out earlier, favoring the curdled cereal over the broccoli, and yes, every now and then it would oogle at the taped-together photos of two-backed women adhered to the tree trunks. It was aware of them staring at it from their rooftop, and glanced up at them every now and then with a puzzled expression, but otherwise returned to its business. It seemed potentially dangerous, but so far displayed no threat. Pooty wondered how the heck it got around with two backs on its body; Ragamuffin wondered how the heck this was possible. Lenore was glistening with excitement.
"It's even bigger than I thought it would be! Just look at it take my bait!"
It was gulping up the last of the fermented cereal, before it moved on to a heap of cat food. It sniffed it a few times, before shrugging and devouring that too. It wolfed down all the bait she'd left out for it, but the broccoli remained untouched. To describe it accurately, aside from the double-spines curving on it, it had brown fur with clumps of green stuff dangling from it, perhaps moss or algae, long yellowed teeth, narrow just-as-yellow eyes, and long, blackened claws. It also had two gaping nostrils with which it sniffed at the broccoli, gagged and flung it away with disgust. Lenore watched on with her hands cupping her jawline and her elbows on her knees.
"Boy, it sure is ugly." She spoke aloud. Unfortunately…
Within seconds the beast was accosting their house, latching itself on the lowest roof and snarling at them with an infuriated expression. Ragamuffin yanked Lenore back and stood in front of her protectively—though what good could he do her with a maybe 3-ton, extremely irate and possibly still hungry creature she lured here in the first place he was unsure of. Unsure of, but certainly not going to back down from. It was his duty to protect Lenore, and he aimed to uphold it. Pooty readied his pitchfork, though his expression too looked doubtful. Ragamuffin noticed his hesitation.
"What's the problem? Zap it already!"
"I can't," The demon admitted.
"Whaddya mean you can't! You can blow bubbles that'll destroy an army but not-"
"I forgot to charge it this morning." He finally confessed.
"YOU BASTARD! YOU'VE KILLED US ALL!" He pointed a gray, digitless stub.
Before the ragdoll could say more the angered creature was already rocking their house, trying to shake them down from the roof so he could devour the three—most importantly the insensitive little girl—with great satisfaction. Lenore backed away but accidentally tripped on her dress. She let out a mild cry, more of surprise than fear. Ragamuffin saw her just in the nick of time and clasped onto her hand with his cottony stub. He would've fallen too…had his other arm not been caught and then impaled on the weathervane. He too let out a cry—of pure agony.
Below, the beast was still unremitting and struck the house with its large claws. A wing of the house took some massive damage. The giant infrastructure swayed with a groan.
Lenore had been saved, but she still hadn't gotten her footing, she was merely dangling with Ragamuffin's clasp as the only thing saving her from a horrible fate. The sight of it from Pooty's perspective was terrible; Ragamuffin's seams were beginning to split from Lenore's weight, and the longer he held onto her the more his arm dragged down deeper onto the weathervane which protruded from his stuffing by half its length. The rip only widened as the weight from Lenore pulled him in her direction, and all the while the poor martyr was bellowing in perhaps the worst torment he felt in his life. To say the doll was in pain would be the understatement of the millennium. One limb was skewered, and the other torn dislocated.
Lenore looked scared—quite so—she was ignorant most of the time but she was well aware of the danger she was in. And what could possibly befall her should she fall to the earth below. But, she trusted Ragamuffin; through years he always kept her safe, and though the stub that held her was now literally hanging by a few threads, she glanced up at him hopefully.
"Don't let go of my hand, ok?"
In spite of his anguish, his already half-dismembered appendage, only gripped tighter. The house suddenly rocked back on itself and Lenore was pulled onto the rooftop, no longer needing her already badly-injured companion—who was apt to rip apart anyway—grasping on to keep her safe. She held onto the weathervane for support, neglecting to pull him off it though he weakly asked her to; it went unheard over the beast's roar. Lenore gazed at Pooty, an unsaid question of what to do now directed at him when he looked back.
"I guess we all sit here and wait to die." He answered. The two of them observed the beast for a few more minutes, before something none of them would've expected occurred.
A second beast—this one with pink fur, comedically red lips, but the same yellow eyes and teeth—lunged up from out of the earth. And yes, it had two backs to it as well. The first beast immediately turned at the other's presence…and then recoiled as she began to berate him with formidable force Pooty hadn't seen since his last marriage. She held up a picture of one of the two-backed women—Lenore had strategically gotten her models from underwear catalogues—and snarled in fury. Her male friend began to deny it, before she slapped him and with another piercing growl grabbed onto him by the ear…or at least the place where his ear might be, and dragged him back down into the earth with her, pausing momentarily to chastise him about the open plate of broccoli, which he ate to placate her, but to no lessened anger. Each disappeared in their own glowing fissures, both of which closed up after they had gone.
When they were sure they'd left, Lenore and Pooty finally climbed down from the rooftop via the drain pipe, reaching the shingles next to Lenore's window and climbing in her room, safe and sound. He observed the dazed vampire doll in her arms, with immeasurable amazement.
"Wow! I'm still barely able to register it! You held on even while both your arms were being ripped apart! Even if it could've saved you the misery to just let her go you still kept your grip! I can't even begin to IMAGINE the pain you must be feeling!"
"Neither can he," Lenore explained, holding the horribly-mutilated doll close in her arms, "he passed out from it."
Pooty observed his barely-stitched on arm hanging over her bent elbow, the other was lying between his out cold form and the girl's abdomen. Lenore just cradled her hero in her arms…while she poked a string of cotton that dangled from his wound.
Ragamuffin and Pooty rush to save Lenore who falls into the portal-to-hell well after running from Mr. Gosh. As this is his fault, Pooty threatens him to go down and get her back with his trident, since both he and Ragamuffin are not welcome, obviously. He is secured to a rope, is lowered down, and does find her, and just as Lenore is about to reach the top, she is pulled back. Ragamuffin quickly reaches down to yank her to safety, but is taken with them. Luckily in hell his curse is undone and he is a vampire again, making saving her much easier. With Lenore safe, he mournfully looks at his hand between the portals, watching where a cotton arm begins and turns into a clawed hand. Upon hearing her scream in fright at Mr. Gosh's advances, he swings his arm out so hard it tears a chunk of the portal with it. The impact hits Mr. Gosh, but is quickly forgotten as the portal overtakes his body and he is restored.
Elated, he immediately flies off into the dusk, "I got 100 years to catch up on!"
And he does. Reestablishing himself as a deadly killer is a great boost to him, but a blight on Lenore, who never sees her dolly OR vampire friend much at all. And when she does, he's too tired to play! Letting on that Pooty and Taxidermy aren't the same and Ragamuffin is particularly important to her, they eventually come to a compromise. Ragamuffin's strikes happen less often, but just as horrifying. Lenore eventually grows accustomed to Ragamuffin's true form, seeing how happy it makes him.
The final part of the last chapter was to have her climbing into his coffin while he's fast asleep, planting a kiss on his cheek, and murmuring, "I love Ragamuffin, Ragamuffin so special." The final scene is of them cuddling as the fic ends.