The Vripe

A short story I wrote in a fit of inspiration on 11th April, 2024. Persons attempting to find a moral will be shot.

Alamity Feague was frightened of the vripe.
She had heard, on the playground, as a child, that Desmilic Hapt could command the vripe to visit all manner of childhood cruelties on those who displeased hir, and the thought left Alamity so thoroughly trembling with fear that she had ran over to the park bench and demanded that her mother take her right home and conduct a thorough inspection of her bedroom’s security measures against the vripe. Her mother, who had of course never heard of such a thing, attempted to dry her tears by saying that the vripe did not exist, so it could not possibly enter her bedroom. This was altogether the wrong tack for the younger Feague, who then and there resolved it in her heart that one of the powers the vripe possessed was the ability to obliterate all knowledge of its existence in its victims, and that should it probe her with its beak, or its stinger, or worst of all its terrible second tongue, she would all at once become like an adult, and blind to all manner of true and excruciating dangers.
From then on, the vripe plagued Alamity’s life. It was not a constant threat in her mind, of the kind that would bring immediate visits to child psychologists and new and exciting medications that would, in all probability, be more effective at giving her the blindness of the adult than any of a vripe’s appendages – no, it was the kind that slowly gnawed at the walls of her sanity, lurking unremembered in her unconscious until all at once the distracting barriers of reality she had so appropriately and good-heartedly maintained came crashing down, and there she saw the vripe lurking in every shadow. Moreover, Desmilic was hardly ever more than an appendix to the monstrous danger of the vripe, so she never confronted hir about hir terrible servant, provoking childish outrage and an eventual unveiling that Desmilic had no such servant, and that other children were artless liars.
If the lack of participation in the pharmaceutical-industrial system had inadequately prepared a nervous and high-strung Alamity Feague for adulthood, the lack of awareness that other children were artless merely compounded the issue. By the time that Alamity was tall, and let her hair grow in dark waterfalls over her eyes in defiance of the uniform regulations at her new school, she had formed an entire elaborate world of hatred and scorn, where no action was without meaning – and every one of her peers was either a vripe-charmer or ignorant of the danger. As a teenager, newly awakened to the impertinent tugging of her own flesh’s awareness towards others, the vripe took on a distinctly more lurid cast. As her pen filled her composition books with scratchy, shadowy illustrations of the vripe, she imagined its raptorial forelimbs tearing away every defense she could bring to bear against the world, and then – then, mercifully! – continuing to tear into her flesh, flensing away the parts of her body that vexed her the most, so she could be exquisitely and sacramentally pained by them even as the vripe’s questing first tongue drank her bodily humors and its lascivious second tongue licked away her knowledge that there ever was a vripe. She could play the scenes in her mind for hours, safe from the girls and children with similar genders who looked at her as a figure of quiet and bitter mystique and wanted desperately to know what she was drawing, safe from any of her mother’s honest and gentle attempts to console her or discuss her future – safe, in fact, from a world that terrified her in ways she did not understand.
Alamity Feague had come to understand the vripe.
Her mother and teachers had, at least, managed to impress upon her the importance of college essays. She had made a choice, hardly thinking it mattered, sure that she would not last long for college, anyway, and would fall into the thin and crawling places of the world, shuddering alone in the cold and the dark and the brush, until the vripe found her, sobbing in a cardboard box, and gave to her the end that she had decided she deserved.
We can only imagine her shock when she found a vripe, in all its sinuous and inky glory, sitting at the same table as her on the first day of Orientation Week, openly acknowledged as a vripe but treated with the utmost nonchalance, hiding behind a dense rulebook for some game she did not understand like it was for all the world frightened of Alamity Feague.