After The Builder had left, Annette cautiously approached Ox-Head and the dead body he sat next to.
“I take it they punish you a lot?” He only nodded. Then he took hold of the body’s hand, and shook it wildly. “So who was this in life, if you don’t mind me asking?”
Ox-Head uttered something nonsensical, before speaking properly. “First Horse-Face. This one was actually nice to me. Like, he taught me stuff.”
Annette then watched Ox-Head randomly count on his fingers. “I think he taught me to read and write, count past double digits…Oh! And he told me why I shouldn’t eat toilet paper.” The last one seemed jarring. Then again, so did Ox-Head in general.
“He did all that, huh?” Annette took a closer look at the headless corpse, trying to figure out who he had been in life. “Sounds like he was an upstanding citizen.”
“He was! And that’s why he’s dead.” Ox-head dropped his body down to lay next to the cadaver. Grimacing, Annette wondered how different this Horse-Face had been to the current one.
“At the risk of sounding nosy, how’d he die like that?”
Sleep wasn’t coming easily for Sinbad that night. The smells of the atelier and sleeping bag wasn’t helping matters, either. Sinbad tried curling up further, but to no avail.
Out in the other room, the quiet sound of a machine could be heard. Despite its oddly soothing rhythm, it didn’t do any good either.
Deciding a glass of milk could help, Sinbad wriggled out of the sleeping bag and left the studio.
On the couch, Marc lay in a state of overly contented sleep. Attached to his face was a mask used for breathing, possibly for sleep apnea. He didn’t stir when Sinbad walked by him towards the kitchenette.
“Wonder why he doesn’t just use the bedroom, like a normal person…” Sinbad muttered as he opened the fridge, and surveyed its contents. Right away, what he noticed was the distinct lack of meat.
“And apparently this guy doesn’t know how to shop for himself.” Sifting through the items, Sinbad finally found a carton of milk. Upon opening and drinking it, he was taken aback by what had sat behind the carton.
Looking back in, he pulled out a strange prickly fruit.
“I’ll just clarify now, puppy,” Shark whispered to Sagebear as she lay in his bed that night, “I’m not mad at you. I’m mad at your grandpa.”
Sagebear just yawned, and slapped her tail heavily against the mattress. She lay her head onto the pillow, the teddy bear next to her.
“And I could never be mad at you. You know that, right?” With that, Shark pulled the blanket up over her, and gave her a kiss on the head. “Maybe tomorrow morning, I can make a little breakfast for you. Sound good?”
He then turned the light off to let her sleep. When he was back out in the living room, Shark let himself fall onto the couch.
By the time he heard the front door open, he was fast asleep.
“The first Horse-Face, he was super nice,” Ox-Head awkwardly began while Annette listened, “The assistants, we all liked him.” The whole time he spoke, he pulled at his fingers. “Maybe you’d have liked him too.”
As he went on, Annette kept watch for the door in case The Builder came storming back in.
“Whenever we got stung, he made sure we were all okay. Then we did the same for him. One day, he…He had enough of The Builder doing such mean things to us.”
“And that was the day this happened.”
Ox-Head nodded to her inquiry. “He tried killing them when they were sleeping one time. It didn’t…Didn’t work.”
Now Annette was confused. “How did it not work? What, they only pretended to be asleep or something?”
“That’s what we figured. Next time we saw them, first Horse-Face’s head got blown to bits! It made me sad.” He looked up at the first Horse-Face, as if in remembrance. “Then The Builder grabbed me, pushed me on him, and…”
He stopped, and then proceeded to make stabbing motions. Annette quickly realized what he was referring to.
“Yikes,” was all she could really say.
In a sudden instant, Ox-Head jumped up to his full height. “I don’t want to talk anymore. Can you walk me back to my room, Andromeda?”
Quietly entering the dark room, Dennis undid his ponytail in preparation for bedtime. Instead of his son in the double bed, it was a gray dog with a teddy bear.
Sagebear was woken up when the door opened. Noticing this, Dennis gently patted the pillow she was using in a visual apology.
“Sorry, puppy. Grandpa didn’t mean to wake you,” he whispered. Sagebear licked his fingers as if to say ‘apology accepted’. He then drew back and pulled off his shoes.
Mulling over his earlier visit with Blaise and Alma, Dennis sighed, and sat up in his bed. Although he’d enlisted their advice, he was still torn as to when to put it to good use.
Dennis knew there was a high chance Shark would refuse to listen to him now. He at least had to try, though. Trying to distract himself now, Dennis looked over at the still-awake Sagebear. He tried putting on a smile just for her.
“Just remember, puppy: Whatever happens after tonight, you’re a big sweetheart, and Grandpa loves you very much.” Hearing his words seemed to please her, given the way her tail wagged under the blanket.
He went on. “I just want to make sure you know how important you are to Shark and I.” He then got under his blanket. “Well, good night, my furry little granddaughter.”
He then turned over to the other side, and closed his eyes for sleep.
Fascinated by the bizarre food item, Sinbad carefully handled it. Right away, he noticed the pungent smell that seemed to emanate from it.
“What the fuck is this thing? It smells like rotting grandma ass.” He let it drop gracelessly onto the nearest surface.
The resulting thud that came about from this jolted Marc awake. Pulling his breathing mask down, he screwed his face up into a most wretched scowl.
“Oh, shit! That smells like…” His eyes widened when he recognized the stink. Looking over at Sinbad, his jaw dropped. “Oh no, you didn’t!”
He stood up and immediately began opening the windows to let the smell out. His reactions were understandable, yet confusing.
“Uh…So what did I end up doing?”
Marc frantically gestured toward the bizarre object currently smashed against the table. “I was supposed to make ice cream with that! Now Mister Clay’s gonna be so mad!”
He started to make his way to the bedroom, then looked at Sinbad again. “Don’t just stand there! Open up the rest of the windows!” With that, he ran in to open another window.