St. John stirred sexily in his sleep, the satin sliding from his sleeping shape. Mimsy was restless, despite their reciprocal rapture. Sweat still slicked her skin, stinging the scrapes she’d suffered in the psycheverse. She kissed and caressed his chest, creeping from the cot so as not to concern him. Naked she nimbly nipped across the nest and knelt, lotus natured. A backward look at her languid lover and she lidded her lamps, leaning into the lunatic land of luminosity. She felt the world whirl away as she went, wilful to seek the wickedness within.
The psycheverse here was hers and her mind was filled with the scattered remnants of recent thoughts. St John’s face, massive, carved into the red rock of her imagination, contorted in remembered ecstasy. This island in the void smelt of sweat and sweetness, butter and incense, a low note of old spices, warm and christmassy. Her mind was never the same landscape twice, wide open to the world this island in the void was always hers but always different. Her fears were manifest here too, a tinge of yellow – primrose rather than mustard – laid here and there. Cracks in the firmament beneath her feet, a chill wind of disquiet fluttering her diaphanous salwar kameez around her body as her unease made her manifest clothing.
If the deaths were to stop, if Mr Mustard were to be stopped, she would have to sacrifice herself. Her mind, her essence, her energy, her vril, her prana was stronger than others. Her third eye a blazing beacon in the psycheverse. If he took her mind he would have to take no others. He would be real and it would only cost her, not however many others he killed in his quest. It was a worthwhile sacrifice.
She turned out, towards the teeming sea of minds and opened her third eye wide. It blazed as the prismatic light shone out deep into the psycheverse, a beacon, a line of rainbow light that slowly tightened down to yellow, calling her enemy.
There was a creeping sense of dread, of terror, she swallowed it back knowing the sacrifice that she was going to make – assuming that he took her up on her offer. She felt him approach, the world around her turning yellow, save for a little patch under her feet. A stink like a Friday night stairwell, rot and piss and nicotine smoke and he appeared again, riding on a tide of jaundiced light until he alighted at the edge of her mind, wary, flexing his mental muscles, a yellow steam wafting around him as she shuffled closer, step by step, that hideous face snarled into a contemptuous sneer.
“You called?” The laugh that accompanied the comment was grotesque and utterly humourless, it was the laugh of a boy plucking the legs from a spider one by one and watching its hopeless struggles.
Mimsy nodded gently and inclined her head, looking humble, even though her stomach was convulsing in terror. “I have an offer for you.”
His greasy fingers cupped her chin and lifted her eyes to look into his mustard glare. It stung all three of her eyes to look at him that closely and stroboscopic tears crept down her cheeks from the pain and the fear. “I can eat you up the moment I choose to. What can you possibly offer me?”
She wetted her lips with her tongue and tried to close her eyes, feeling his ragged nails scratch as he tightened his grip, stopping her. “My mind is more powerful than most. If you take me you can become real without having to kill anyone else. You can leave, through me, enter the real world and it’ll be over. You’ll get what you want.”
The disgusting tulpa raised his other hand to his own chin, mirroring the way he was holding her as he scratched and thought, flakes of dead yellow skin falling like snow and clinging to her, making the bile rise in the back of her mouth. “Maybe I like killing. Maybe that’s the way I want to do it.”
“Can you wait that long?”
The creature pondered a moment longer and then simply nodded. “I accept. Open wide.”
Mimsy’s two eyes closed and her third eye gaped wide, blazing with light, wider and wider, brighter and brighter. Mr Mustard laughed over and over and over, louder and louder, his paper clothes rattling in the wind as the portal grew wider and wider and he was reduced to a sallow-edged silhouette.
Through the coruscating light her room could be seen beyond, the vague shape of St John, asleep in the bed, not that Mr Mustard cared. This was his promised land, the really-real, a place to be physical, set, to experience everything first hand through his own senses rather than through anyone else’s. He began to shuffle forward, into the light, closer and closer to the other side.
A burst of cardamom scent and an inverted flash of darkness behind him and he was caught between two Mimsy’s, one blazing light, the other blazing dark, hauled in two directions between them. “What? What’s going on, what are you doing?”
The two of her spoke as one. “She is my self image, that is a memory, a recent one, a short term, forgettable memory, a night of passion with a man, one night of many. Forgettable in its detail, part of a continuum, a memory that will not last. Once you’re in there and its forgotten, you are forgotten.” The two of her began to slowly pace together, sandwiching him between them.
“You forget Miss Burogrove… am I stronger than you.” His own yellow light began to glow anew and he began to grow, bigger and bigger, reaching out his hands to deflect the light and dark in scattered rays from his tawny, stained fingers.
“Anywhere else in the psycheverse you are stronger than me, but this is my mind and you came here willingly. The more real you become, the more like me you become. The playing field is levelled and here, in my mind, my memories, my dreams. I am more, I am stronger.” The mirror twins grew as fast as Mr Mustard, faster, dwarfing him, rejoining, flowing into a swirling taijitu as her palms closed together around the fading yellow light. “I’m sorry, you deserved a chance to be real, but not like this… I love you.”
And he was gone.
Mimsy stood, shakily, a single shed tear shearing from her chin and sliding down the slope of her breast in the shadows. Timidly she tottered across to the trundle and tipped into it. St John stirred and stared as she slipped against him.
“Everything alright luv?” He murmured.
She nestled her noggin in the nook of his neck and nuzzled at him. “It’s over. He’s gone now. I dealt with it.”
His hands hold her, hug her, her hips hove back and she hooks her heels behind his shanks. “Make me forget,” she says.
Eyes meet and for a moment he has misgivings, a merest mote of yellow in her gaze, but lips meet, bodies move and immediately all is marvellous, magnificent and mean Mister Mustard, but a memory, melting away.