Wawa’s Visitors, chapter 3
His legs were trembling as he steeled himself, but the creature above him just laughed.
With every new visitor Wawa learned a little more. How to act, how to speak, when to smile.
He cherished the time spent with each visitor, especially those who let him join them, but it never lasted long. Most fluffies died trying to reach the castle’s end; some fell into traps as soon as they had entered, and Wawa learned to help his visitors so as to keep them from a too-early grave.
But as they dug deeper into the castle, coming too close to the end where the Wish Granter lay, Wawa always felt that unease. And as his concerns of bad wishes grew into paranoia, he did what he had to; sabotaging and murdering the very visitors he coveted. The method varied; whether it was setting off traps, leading them down the wrong paths, or killing them with his own hooves. None were allowed to reach the Wish Granter.
It wasn’t like he had no reason. Wawa had seen many cursed trapped in their rooms, suffering or driven insane from seemingly innocent wishes. He who asked for food and became a cannibal, he who asked for friends and was trapped with rotten corpses. A white fluffy who must have asked to forget the castle’s horrors, sitting in a room with spike-filled traps and sobbing as he couldn’t remember to warn those passing through. A small hole that held a foal, one who must have been bullied for being weak and slow, wishing for the sweet taste of revenge and now murdering any who entered. A room he could never enter where someone within whispered apologies to its ghostly herd.
No matter what your wish was, no matter what you asked for, it would be turned against you. If he was asked, that was the answer Wawa would have given for his actions. After all, he was doing his victims a mercy, wasn’t he? Even if their spirits lingered, if he could see the faintly crying visages of Mayflower or Blueberry in the water or recognize a stallion taxidermied into one of the dolls that had killed him, if the intangible shades of foals lay dead within sprung traps. It was a mercy, ghosts instead of zombies.
But beneath such thoughts, with every death he caused, Wawa’s paranoia grew deeper. He stopped considering what his visitors may ask for, and instead grew convinced they wanted power. Revenge. After all, how many had he killed? If he were to miss a single fluffy, why would it not ask for his death? His duty was to prevent more wishes, to kill those who sought the end. Faced with such a person, wouldn’t any fluffy want him dead?
After all, to them Wawa was a monster, someone out to hurt them. And the more ingrained these thoughts became, the better Wawa became at smiling gently and chuckling at the right time, acting as a sweet and trustworthy guide. Careful to hide the cruelty others could suspect him of.
He still kept an eye out for the castle’s subtle changes. It didn’t matter how cruel his visitors’ intentions were, after all - they were short sunbeams to break up a moonless night, providing him with the purpose he needed to keep going.
Until a day came when, despite the changes of the castle, nobody appeared.
At first Wawa believed he’d simply arrived at the wrong room. It often happened that he stepped into the neighboring room from his visitors, or down the hall. But never as far away as this time, where no matter how he searched there was nobody there. No babble, no colorful fur, as before he was all alone in roaming the castle. And he kept searching, further and further, until he was walking down a hall he had never gone down without even realizing - and then he slowed to a stop.
In front of him was a tall set of doors he had never seen before, cracked open to reveal cold wind and unfamiliar scents. The front doors to the castle, a path to the outside world, stood within his reach.
Wawa sprinted through the doors before they could disappear, looking around with wide eyes. Everything was different; the smells, the taste on the wind, the sky. He stood in a walled garden of plastic plants but beyond that, beyond the metal fence and golden gate, stood real trees and real grass.
It was enthralling and Wawa searched for a way outside, some way to escape his prison. But sadly, this area was as inescapable as the fake garden in the castle, the fence too tight to let him pass and the gates immovable. Even here, with reality so close by, he had no way out.
Still, he enjoyed what little he could get. He lay against the gates and stretched a hoof through to touch the grass outside, damp and soft with a curious texture, and he listened for the wind running through the trees so their leaves rustled.
It was only on his third pass around the garden, when over half an hour had passed, that Wawa finally noticed he wasn’t alone. Hiding deep in a corner, quivering but silent, was a black ball of fur that had to be a fluffy. As soon as he saw it, the reason for the strange situation clicked: A visitor had arrived and simply refused to enter the castle, so the doors could not disappear.
With nothing more to do in this area, Wawa made a decision. Moving carefully so as not to freak out his newest visitor, he approached the furball and put on a kind smile. “Hewwo.”
The black bundle flinched and curled up tighter, whimpering to itself. “Nu am hewe, nu am hewe…”
Wawa cocked his head to the side. Really, the visitor was still scared? First not daring to enter, now refusing to even look up when spoken to. He tried again, sitting down. “Hewwo?”
For a moment it seemed to work; the fluffy peeked through its hooves, a white eye peering out of the dark mass. But then it yelped and disappeared again. “Pwease go 'way, munstah! Nu am tasty, pwease nu eat fwuffy, nu am gud fow munstahs.”
Wawa laughed light-heartedly. “Munstah? Dun be siwwy, thewe’s nu such thing as munstahs.”
He had learned with time that claiming monsters didn’t exist worked much better than saying he wasn’t one. It threw off his visitors, placing the burden of proof solely on them. (One visitor, in a strangely philosophical move, had argued that monsters were born from the evil in one’s heart. It hadn’t saved him.)
This visitor was as thrown off as any other and slowly unraveled to reveal a unicorn colt, fully jet black other than his pale eyes. “Stwange fwuffy nu am munstah…? A-Am fwiend?”
“Dat’s wight!” chimed Wawa with a big smile that didn’t match his spiteful thoughts. Coward.
The black fluffy began to relax, telling Wawa his story, but the alicorn hardly listened. He registered the visitor’s name (Shade) but otherwise paid more attention to his mannerisms; his meek way of speaking and hesitant body language, how he seemed to plead for a sense of security despite not outright saying it.
It made him easy to convince. All Wawa had to do was reassure him that he knew the Castle’s ins and outs, and the Coward latched onto him as a beacon of hope. As Wawa confirmed there was nothing left for him outside and re-entered the castle, his new visitor clung to his tail as if it were a disguise, huddled close against him and glancing around with a fearful gaze. Even though the rooms were bright and colorful, something any other fluffy would be awe-struck by, this one was so fretful that none of it eased his mind.
No, the only thing he trusted seemed to be Wawa. A friendly smile and a promise of safety was all it took for the Coward to place his life in another fluffy’s hooves.
What a pitiful, flawed logic.
In a way, the Coward was intriguing. No visitor had behaved this way before; Wawa was used to explorers and stubborn minds, fluffies who blindly followed the path laid out for them. No matter what happened around them, they were lured by the Wish Granter to just keep going.
But not the Coward. He would do nothing but cling to Wawa, with no more agency than a foal carried on its mother’s back. The Wish Granter could do nothing to convince or lure someone terrified of the very world around them.
It was unique. A fluffy that did not run ahead, that did not disregard warnings or wish to explore. If Wawa stopped, so did the Coward. If he took a different path, so did the Coward. Even if he backtracked, the Coward dutifully followed along like the little shadow he was.
But the same traits that made the Coward so interesting were also a source of frustration.
Wawa could not move freely anymore. The paths he had come to rely on, the doors and passages that would open when he broke away from his visitors, were closed as long as the Coward would not leave his side. He could not progress without traversing traps and puzzles; ones that the Coward refused to do himself, instead relying on Wawa to solve. The only solution he had was to stop moving at all, lying with his new shadow to talk and rest.
And that wasn’t enough. The more time passed, the more impatient Wawa became. He knew the Coward would not leave his side, he knew another visitor would come and that everything would change again. And once that happened, then what? How was he to stop anyone with such a heavy shadow on his tail? The Coward asked in a whisper when they would move and Wawa simply changed the topic. The Coward whimpered that he was hungry, and Wawa held back from snapping at his whines.
Even sneaking away while the Coward rested did not work; Wawa only got a few steps away before the Coward was again hurrying after him, stumbling over his hooves in a half-awake delirium. Frustration spilled over into resentment and hatred. Why? Why would the damned shadow not leave him alone?
Wawa was forced to face the reality of the situation. If he stayed in place, all that would happen was that his new friend would starve to death. If he attacked the Coward to get away, no amount of sweet talk or kind smiles would repair their bond. He was stuck with the shadow of a fluffy, tired white eyes and pitch-black fur constantly clinging to Wawa’s tail.
His heart swirling with dark thoughts, Wawa could only keep moving forward. With every obstacle he helped the Coward through, his resentments grew deeper. Why was he doing this? To find food? There was none to find. No matter what rooms they passed through, there was no kitchen or dining room in sight. Was he only doing this to lead the Coward, a pitiful and pathetic fluffy who refused to even earn his path, to a reward from the Wish Granter?
No. Wawa would not go to the Wish Granter. He had not visited the abomination of a creature since it threatened him, wrapped around him like the wide-toothed snake it was. Wawa didn’t know its thoughts; did it hate him for stopping its visitors? Was it happy with him for acting as he did? He did not dare face it and find out, even knowing it wished to see him, its presence tugging at his subconscious.
One more chance, Wawa decided. He would give the Coward just one more chance to prove himself.
He turned to the Coward as they reached another obstacle, thin walkways criss-crossing above a pit of spikes. “Wawa nu know if big wawkie-ways am safe fow two fwuffies at once. Shade go fiwst!”
The Coward’s eyes widened and he fearfully shook his head. “N-Nu, Shade nu wan…”
“Bu’ thewe’s nu othew way,” Wawa urged. “It’s safew if Shade go fiwst!”
The black colt carefully crept up to the walkways, but in looking down and seeing the spikes scrambled backward. “Nu! Nu, Shade nu wan faww an’ get huwt!”
Wawa tried again to convince the Coward, but he wasn’t having it. The pitiful waste of space just hid his face in his hooves and whimpered, and Wawa reached the end of his patience.
“Fine,” he replied, just a little frustration seeping into his voice until he steadied it and waved his tail in the Coward’s direction. There was only one thing left to do. “Hewe. Howd Wawa’s taiw, an’ Wawa wiww wead Shade.”
The Coward wasted no time in latching onto Wawa’s tail, and he narrowed his eyes as he began to walk across the walkway. As he thought, it was only when he walked in front that the Coward would do anything at all. And still, if they reached the Wish Granter, the waste of fur would make a wish; probably for bravery, to be less pathetic. A useless wish for a useless being.
As they reached the middle of the criss-crossing walkways and the path turned, Wawa glanced one last time at the shadow clinging to him. Then he sharply swung his tail and hind legs, throwing the Coward off the platform.
The pitiful fluffy lost his grip on Wawa’s tail and gasped as he was left in free-fall. His white eyes were wide with horror and betrayal, his little hooves scrambling for a grip on the tail and platform that were already beyond his reach. He could not even scream, only able to make an attempt of a squeak before his body hit the spikes.
Wawa watched the Coward from above, his smile thin and wide as the pitiful creature was impaled. Deep red blood contrasted against the black fur, running down the spikes much like the tears on the fluffy’s face. The Coward didn’t move anymore, staring up at the one he’d trusted as the life left his eyes.
And Wawa, satisfied, simply walked away.