|“I want to go. Everybody else has gotten to go. Some of them TWICE. Why can’t I go too? I can do it, I know I can!” Envy clutched the Harbinger’s robes. He pried her hands away with some difficulty. |
“It just so happens that it’s your turn,” he said. “Here’s your roster. They’re in the rec center. Go on.”
“Ah, finally!” she said, literally skipping her way toward the rec center, where Red Storm, Dream Traveler, Forget Me Not, and Mania were playing a ping pong tournament.
Ka-punk. Ka-punk. Ka-punk. Punk punk punk. “Nuts!” DT cried. “I missed!” She grabbed the bouncing ping pong ball and prepared to serve.
“You know,” said FMN (ka-punk, ka-punk), “I’m so glad I found a new house that I like. But I wish I had the furniture I saw in the store the other day.”
“I know what you mean,” said Red Storm from the other table. (Ka-punk, net. Cursing.) “My neighbors have a really great pool. I want a pool too, but it’s just not feasible.”
“Zombies.” Mania missed the ball as she got a misty, faraway look in her eyes. “I want my zombie army.”
Envy jumped between the flying ping pong balls and waving paddles. She reached into their minds, deep down into their brains to find their desires and roll them around like pearls forming inside an oyster, letting them grow and build upon themselves.
“I mean, everybody has to have furniture, but why can’t I have the Italian leather recliner?” FMN asked. “Rich people have it, but it’s not fair! I’m as smart as them. I want money for an Italian leather recliner!”
“You’re right,” Storm agreed. “I deserve money for a pool too, and a hot tub even. Why does everybody else get those things and not me?”
“Everybody gets to have better jobs than me,” said DreamTraveler. “Did you see all those cocky bastards who died in the beginning? They all had new jobs. I want a new job. A great job with great pay and lots of paid time off and stellar insurance. Everybody gets to have good jobs but me!” Pout, pout, ka-punk, ka-punk.
“I want the zombies,” said Mania, missing the ball again. “I never get the zombies like other psychotic, evil leaders do.”
Ka-punk ka-punk ka-punk. The ping pong balls were zipping back and forth now. Envy rolled their desires around more and more, led the girls to compare their own possessions and opportunities with those of everyone else, and let the rancor rack up.
“Agh!” DT cried. “What’s happening?” For the paddle fell from her hand, which could no longer grasp the handle. Her fingers were gnarled and wrinkly.
“I don’t know,” FMN said, watching her own skin shrivel up.
“Your skin is still better than mine,” Storm said petulantly.
“Hey, when you’re dead, will you come be in my zombie army?” Mania asked the others. Envy let them see her, and she clucked at them in mock sympathy.
“Poor dears, you want what you can’t have,” she sighed. “That can make you bitter. And bitterness will twist you like a little slice of tart lemon.” She watched, head tilted, as the Debs could no longer stand up straight, their spines bending and warping, the wrinkles multiplying exponentially, their faces screwing up and their bones becoming more brittle by the second. They crumpled to the ground in pain and dried up on the spot.
Envy opened her green crystal bottle and four twisted wisps bounced into it with a tinny “ka-punk.”