Driving home after work catching glimpses of the river alternately thundering and creeping but always ever flowing, Raul Bay took no comfort from the natural world, could not appreciate the twisted trunks gnarled and snarled over the road. It would be dark soon. Deer were prevalent.
He kept his trailer tucked away in the maze of back roads. Just a temporary situation. At least until he could get his head above water. When he unlocked the door and stepped inside, the first thing he saw was Sonia at the table with the cards sitting out. Due to circumstances, he’d had to home school her for the year. Reliable transportation to and from school which would not compromise his illicit parking status did not exist.
They played gin rummy and ate little sandwiches on cocktail bread. Then it was time for homework. The look of concentration on Sonia’s face as she worked on her subtraction brought tears to Raul’s eyes.
“All done now, Daddy. Can you check my work?”
“I absolutely can. Let’s see here…yep…yep…yep…double-yep—how did you get to be so smart? Are you a genius?”
Sonia smiled and shrugged. “I don’t know. I think maybe so. Did I do them right?”
“You sure did.”
“All of them?”
“Every last one. And you know what that means.”
“I get a story?”
Sonia climbed up in her dad’s lap.
“Let’s see now, all right. Did I ever tell you the story of the kid who went to the toy shop?”
Sonia shook her head, smiling.
“No? Well, there was a kid. And she was just minding her own business standing in a toy shop one day. Wasn’t the world’s biggest, nor the world’s smallest, just a regular toy shop. And she stood there thinking about all the toys she’d like to have. Couldn’t make up her mind, really. That was the cause of the whole problem. You see, if only she has made a selection and left, she would have been totally fine, and everything that was to follow would never have happened at all.”
“Well, I’ll tell you. As you know, a lot of toys are made of plastic. Most, really. And a lot of plastics have properties to them that, even today, no one fully understands. The best anybody can figure, some of the toys had a weird new plastic that didn’t work well in the sun. The toys spontaneously combusted, literally turning the girl into a living synthesis of flesh and toy.
"She burst from the smoking rubble on crazy jack-in-the-box springs for legs. All kinds of toys were roiling around only in the loosest semblance of a human form. But the really odd part was, as the thing that used to be a kid rampaged across town, incoherently blaring all kinds of toy sounds, toys from other kids in nearby houses began floating free right out of their little hands. Like toys in a bathtub heading toward the drain, all the toys of the kids in town got sucked into the rampaging kid toy, and every toy taken in added to the bulk, so that with every increasingly thunderous step the kid toy grew, grew up into Toyzilla, for this was the only name that all who saw realized could possibly apply.
"The skies darkened. Toys streamed like cyclones from homes forming massive burgeoning clouds of toys and toys and toys. Big as a very big tree, Toyzilla emitted a semi-inarticulate, knell-like command: 'Toys…TOYS!' Fft! Fft! Fft! Tornados of toys funneled into Toyzilla, until Toyzilla was as big as a skyscraper, and then ten skyscrapers, and then fifty skyscrapers, for now all the toys in the world were filling the skies, swirling inexorably toward the One Toy Source, until every last toy in the world strode crash! boom! over the globe, and so concentrated was this vast weight of toy upon the planet, it actually shifted the rotation of the earth’s axis sufficiently to affect the planet’s orbit, and it wasn’t long before the planet spun right into the sun, and out of everything on the planet, Toyzilla, being biggest, lasted longest before the final melt.”
Raul caught the gleam in Sonia’s eyes.
“Bed-time,” he said...