Nov 12 2005
There is a square house arranged in three rings – the rooms along the outside walls, a red-carpeted hallway, and the inner rooms. There are small alcoves set into the inner walls in the hallway. One has a clock in it. The others are empty, and every time the clock strikes, something will come out of one of them somehow, and move in circles around the hallway for an hour until its shift is over and something else comes out. There aren’t twelve alcoves, there are maybe five or something, and anyway the clock strikes thirteen once a day. Usually that happens after midnight, not after noon.
The monster that comes out at eleven at night is the patchwork girl. She’s shaped like a human, not like a rag doll, though she’s underweight and you can see the wire ribs that keep her shape pressing out against her worn cloth skin. If you punched them she would dent.
Her patches look from a distance like they might once have been all different colors, like you’d expect with a patchwork girl, but actually they’re all pretty much the same shade of dull yellow; some of the fabrics have patterns in them, little flowers or ducks in darker or lighter yellow and brown, but in general she’s just yellow. All the patches are different shapes – some are round and some square and some star-shaped or triangles – and a lot are velvet. She has a coat or robe down to her knees on, the belt untied and bouncing along after her, and it’s made of the same stuff as she is.
She always skips instead of walking, and when she skips you can hear her squeaking. She’s probably filled with that styrofoam stuff like they use in crane machine dolls. That would explain why she holds her shape so well, too.
Her hair is just a yellow patchwork veil, attached at a single point at the center of her scalp. It’s not sewn on very well and sometimes gets twisted around in front of her face. She does notice when this happens, and tries to push it back, but when she moves it’s just a gesture – when she pushes her hair back it’s more to be pushing her hair back than because it bothers her that her hair’s in her face. So sometimes the veil stays in her face for a while before she gets it fixed. She giggles more than usual when she’s pushing her hair back.
She’s always giggling. It seems like she does talk a little sometimes, but she never stops skipping or giggling for anything. She’ll seem to raise her head a little to you when you talk to her, though it’s hard to tell because she’s still skipping, and she’ll gasp something out, like, “- yeah, I *know*, well -” And then she’ll collapse into giggles again and wave at you because she can’t help it, something about it’s funny. If you ask her something, she will seem to be amused that you don’t know already, or that you even care. If you’re scared because you can’t find the door or because of the tree or something, you’ll get the idea she thinks it’s absolutely ridiculous to be scared. If you are, it won’t reassure you. She probably wouldn’t really notice if you followed her around for her whole hour – she might look back over her should and wave sometimes, making you think she wants you to come up to her, but she won’t have anything to say if you do. She might wave at you again when it strikes midnight, and she goes back into an alcove and is gone.
You know that she’s never, ever going to do anything other than skip in circles and giggle, until she finally gets torn apart by someone who’s angry she doesn’t answer questions. She can’t do anything else. But still, she somehow seems very dangerous.