It wasn't the first time Karl had wanted to tell Cindy Curlicue to fuck off and he knew it wouldn't be the last.
Once again the living doll with her too-big eyes and bountiful locks of curled, strawberry hair was in his face and once again it was all Karl could do to restrain himself. His last run-in with the Thought Police was all too recent and fresh in his mind and he didn’t want to do anything to draw their unwanted attention. No matter how cute and cuddly they looked, the pricks on the DUCKLING force knew their business.
No. No matter how much of a bitch Cindy Curlicue was being to him, Karl was just going to have to keep his tongue from getting him into trouble. He merely nodded and tried to keep the urge to punch her off his face.
"We sure are super, duper glad you're here to help, Kourageous Karl!"
KOURAGEOUS KARL. He hated the nickname, the way it dripped with wholesome delight off her tiny, red tongue. He could just feel the way she added the "K" to "courageous" in the way her eyes twinkled with mirthful delight as she talked. It was the same whether she was calling him "Kaptain Karl" or "Konquering Karl" or "Kool Karl" or any of her scores of other ridiculous pet names she had for him
"Oh, Kourageous Karl, you're here to save the day and save all of us once again! Without your help, we'd all be doomed!"
IF ONLY THAT WERE TRUE, he thought. IT'S JUST BETTER TO GET IT OVER WITH. DO THIS ONE THING AND YOU CAN LEAVE. WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T ... TALK ... BACK.
Karl mumbled non-committally and looked to where Cindy and her flock of bright-eyed goats were staring. Up on a hill no taller than a single-story building sat a baby goat, crying tears the size of grapes and alternating between bleating and wailing like a newborn human baby.
"But … TRAPPED?" Karl asked, baffled. It was his general mental state since arriving in the screwed-up land. Nothing made sense.
"Yes, trapped!" cried Cindy Curlicue, her own radiantly blue eyes shedding gigantic tears that, despite their quantity and size, somehow magically failed to mess up her ever-immaculate flowered frock. "Little Baby Buggaboo is stuck and scared and only you can save him, Kourageous Karl!"
Her flock of goats nodded in agreement, earnestly adding their own contribution to the flow of tears.
Karl sighed. He started to question how the young goat could possibly be “trapped” when it could simply walk down off the hill more easily than descending a gentle flight of stairs. However, he knew it would do no good. Cindy's bottom lip had started to quiver and Karl had been down that path before. Logic had no place in her padding-filled head.
Karl involuntarily looked over his shoulder for the Thought Police, positive they could somehow detect him through his dark mood alone. With a shrug that only furthered the tension in his already knotted-up shoulder muscles, he turned and walked towards the hill.
It took him barely twenty seconds to walk up the gentle slope of the hill. It was covered in short, luscious grass that would make golf courses murderous with jealousy. Another few steps took him to where the baby goat sat on the hilltop, its back legs splayed out to the sides. Little Baby Buggaboo's massive sobs were like stabbing needles to Karl's frustrated brain and he quickly repressed the urge to strangle the goat with the big, blue ribbon tied around its neck. He caught himself checking over his shoulder again.
Karl cleared his throat with a grunt of malice. God, how he hated what came next.
"Have-no-fear, I'm-here-to-save-you," he quickly mumbled. He looked back down the hill to where Cindy and her flock were gathered, no further than thirty feet away. Her lower lip still trembled and two bright, glossy tears perched on her overly-rosy cheeks like wet vultures seeking prey. But now there was a slightly hopeful look to her face and she leaned forward, ever so slightly, practically trembling with anticipation.
Karl cleared his throat again. The baby goat stopped sobbing long enough to look up at him uncertainly. "So come with me … and, uh … and I'll save you."
Several long, quiet moments passed. The baby goat looked from Karl down to Cindy. Karl followed the gaze. He knew he was supposed to "do it right," as she would say. From the look on her face, he clearly wasn't. Her trembling lip and massive tears were gone. They had been replaced with a stern glare shooting out from beneath her painted strawberry-red eyebrows.
Her flock stared up at her with anticipation.
Cindy crossed her arms and, very daintily, began to tap her foot. It wasn’t a good sign. Karl groaned. He turned back to the baby goat who was now staring at him with the same stern look Cindy wore. It clearly was expecting something more.
"Fine!" muttered Karl through clenched teeth. Taking a deep breath, he said loudly, with wild exaggeration, "Oh, no, what has happened to you, oh baby goat?! But do not fear, I will save you and take you back to your family! Then all will be well and okay and, uh … you'll be fine!"
He felt the ending was a little lame, but couldn’t bring himself to add any more. Already, there was a throbbing in his temples and he was seeing the world through a red haze of frustration. He had no doubt that if Cindy demanded any more of him, he would fly into a violent rage that would never stop until every last, cutesy inhabitant of Snappy Happy Land were dead. However, both the baby goat and Cindy wore a simpering smile and a flood of relief flushed away some of Karl’s hostility. He bent down, scooped up the tiny goat in his thick arms, and walked back down the hill.
The flock bleated cheers and pranced in graceful leaps about him in celebration. Cindy looked as if she was going to explode with pure joy. Her eyes were glowing bright and her over-large head could barely contain her smile.
"Oh, you are indeed wonderful, Kourageous Karl! You have saved Little Baby Buggaboo!" The cuteness dripped from every syllable, grating on Karl's already frayed nerves. "And Little Baby Buggaboo learned his lesson, didn't he! Yes he did, yes he did, my little bouncing, beautiful, baby boy! Yes he did! And he will never wander off by himself evers again, will he? We doesn’t ever wants him to get lost again!"
Karl tried to quietly slip away, hoping to go unnoticed amidst the frolicking, prancing goats and Cindy’s snuggling and gentle admonitions of Little Baby Buggaboo, but he didn’t get very far before hearing what he dreaded most.
"Oh, no, Kaptain Karl! You left without your reward! We must give you a BIG reward for saving our little baby boy!"
Karl was tempted to just make a run for it.
Cindy was suddenly standing at his side, her curly-topped head not even reaching up to his shoulders. She clasped her hands behind her back, lowered her chin, and looked up at him from beneath thick eyelashes. The power of her moue was palpable. Behind her, the goat flock looked on with looks of adoration and gleeful expectation. "Doesn't our Kourageous Karl wants his reward?"
DON'T SAY "NO", DON'T SAY "NO", DON'T SAY "NO".
"You is going to make us all very, very sadly if you isn't wanting your reward," said Cindy, her voice now so ratcheted up in cuteness it could have melted a serial killer's heart.
"Fine, I'll take it," snapped Karl through clenched teeth.
"You isn't sounding very much like you is wanting your reward," Cindy said softly. Her pout would have been detectable from space.
"No, no, I want it." Karl's effort to lighten the tone of his voice wasn't very successful.
"Does you REALLY?"
Karl looked down. Cindy had a way of giving him a look that was equal parts sad kitten and grand inquisitor. He wanted to smack both parts right off her face.
But, at the same time, there was always the same terrible temptation he felt when the doll was close to him. Whatever sick mind had created the storybook world he had been dragged into had created a whirlwind of contradictions when dreaming up Cindy Curlicue. Her wild shock of brilliantly red locks cascaded down her shoulders in a tangle of tight curls, like that of a young girl too interested in chasing butterflies to spend time brushing her hair and keeping it neat - or like the flowing mane of a devious temptress who knew what effect it would have on any male who still had a shred of sexual drive left in his bones.
She spoke in a toddler's youthful tones, but was quite capable of throwing the full force of not-so-subtle innuendo behind her words.
She had been created with a diminutive form, other than her oversized noggin. Dainty blue velvet shoes covered her feet, her legs were covered in form-fitting white tights under a red and white checkered skirt, over which she wore an apron onto which countless hearts had been embroidered. A plain white blouse lightly decorated with a light scattering of flowers and odd puffy, short sleeves completed her attire. It was what was under the blouse that drove Karl to distraction and haunted his thoughts at night.
While the rest of her body was lithe and slender, she was created with a bosom that could have made real women gnash their teeth with jealousy. Gravity had no seeming effect on the doll's breasts, and their perfect, ample form was an irresistible magnet for Karl's eyes. Cindy seemed to know this as irrefutably as she knew how to drive Karl into a blood-boiling rage just by talking. No matter how prim her blouse appeared, no matter how neatly it was buttoned and kept free of wrinkles, she seemed to possess a magic talent for positioning herself in just such a way as to provide Karl with a tantalizing vista of the sweet curve of her décolletage.
Doll or not, the sweet, smoothness of her skin and the round curves lurking beneath her blouse made Karl yearn for more.
He hated himself for it.
Later on, when he had more time to reflect on the incident, Karl didn't know if it was the cynical tone in his voice when he answered or the unmistakable sneer on his lips that got him into trouble when he tried to assure Cindy that yes, he did indeed want his reward. Anything to get away from her and back to whatever comfort he could wring out of a good stiff drink … alone! All he did know was it was as if the Thought Police had materialized out of thin air.
It had taken him roughly ten seconds to realize they were there and to recognize what that meant. It had taken them only five more to beat him to the ground, barely another fifteen to truss him like cattle off to the butcher, and barely two to toss him into the back of their truck. Now, locked up in their dreary detainment center, he mentally kicked himself for letting Cindy get to him."God, I hate those fucking ducklings!" Karl spat, adding to the smallish puddle of blood-tinged spit on the floor of his cell.