Karen lives in her own world. People do sometimes.
It’s a very neat little world. Everything has its place. Everything is as she has decided it should be.
Sometimes bad things happen. She knows why. It’s because some people don’t respect her wisdom. They don’t do things like she would. They don’t rely on her reserves of knowledge about the world. Some of them refuse. Others never get the opportunity to hear her out.
Sometimes good things happen. That’s not as common, but it happens. She makes it happen, when she can, with her own two hands.
Everything would be good, except for the wogly.
It sits on the wall. It’s a hollow thing, shaped like a torus. It has soft coral skin and two winky eyes. It hisses.
It’s there when she wakes up in the morning.
It’s there when she goes to bed at night.
“I know why you’re there,” she says one night. She sits up. She swings her legs off of the bed. She looks at it. “It’s because there’s a little bit of me still believing all the stupid stuff.”
The wogly rotates left.
“I saw a ghost once,” she says. “And a unicorn. And I take in stray cats that I find, clawless and shivering, out in the woods. And I believe in wonders.”
The wogly rotates right.
“It’s clinging to dreams,” she says. “As long as I do that, the world won’t be all the way in place.”
The wogly thinks on her words for a long time. Finally, it says, “You walk into Hell thinking of your own salvation.”
She sighs. “I shan’t expect truth from a wogly,” she says.
The wogly winks, first one eye, and then the other. It eats a little bit more of Karen’s world.
“Woglies are not measured in truth or falsehood,” it says.
“I’m right,” she says.
“What is the source of your truth?” it asks.
She flops back on the bed. She looks very tired. “The world is as it is.”
The wogly rotates smoothly, twice, in one direction. It approves of circles.
“I don’t need to believe in all the crazy things,” she says. “I have a perfectly good world.”
“Where is your child?”
She scowls. She looks up. There’s a second wogly on the wall. Its skin is the lurid green of an Amazonian snake.
“Not important,” she says. “A minor aberration,” she says.
“Where is your success?”
She hesitates. “Bad things happen,” she says, groping for consistency. “The world is a hard place.”
“The people you believe in,” the first wogly says. “The people you take your counsel from. Are they good? Can you admire the things they have done?”
The hissing is louder. There’s a third wogly in the room.
“What have you done?” the third wogly asks.
She leans back. “You ought have a care,” she says. Her face is twisted. “You ought all have a care.”
The phone rings. She doesn’t pick up, so the answering machine does. It’s the monster.
“Karen,” he says, and his voice is smooth. “I was hoping we could get together tonight.”
She can hear him adjusting his tie.
“It’s a religious occasion,” he says. “Tenebrae. The Service of Darkness. In honor of the death of Christ.”
There’s a small almost-snigger in his voice.
“It starts well-lit, but one by one, they put the candles out. Finally the whole room is dark. They say, you know, that the whole world went dark when the good Christ died.”
“I don’t like Christian ceremonies,” she says to the air. “People always get hurt.”
“Anyway,” he says, “give me a call if you’ve got time.”
There’s a click. The room is full of the hissing of woglies.
“Faith is just as insane as the magic,” she says. “But where’s the beauty? Where is the unicorn, running in the woods? Where are the wishes, and the fire, and the hopes? They’re just people wanting to feel good about themselves.”
She runs her hand through her hair. “Like me,” she admits.
The wind tugs at her clothing.
“I renounce it,” she says. “I renounce it all.” She sits up. “I can live perfectly well in the world I’ve chosen. I can seal all the gates. I can close all the cracks.” She looks wildly at the woglies. “I don’t need to remember anything else.”
“You are empty,” the first wogly says.
She closes her eyes. She ignores it. She chooses her beliefs. She opens her eyes.
The world she has chosen is thin as tissue, and full of inconsistent holes. They hiss, and they wink their eyes, and the wind roars through them. Bits of Karen fray and come off as that great wind passes. Flesh. Mind. Soul. She falls apart like a man torn by maenads or a child by lions, until only her shadow remains.
The woglies thunder strepitus, and crack wide the gates of Hell.