Saturday, December 18

"Roboctopus, please..." beg both Potato and Loraine. "Please don't light any more small animals on fire."

"Everything's going to be all right," says Roboctopus in his friendly robot voice. "Everything's going to be all right."

Under one tentacle is a small bird wiggling desperately to get free. In another tentacle he holds a matchbook.

"Mom and Dad'll be home soon," says Potato.

"We won't have time to clean up any mess," says Loraine. "Please don't..."

"Everything's going to be all right. I love you so much, Mrs. Dickenson." Roboctopus strikes a match and holds it to one of the flapping, oily wings. He has to hold the wing still with another tentacle in order to set fire to it properly.

The bird screams and runs in horrified circles as its feathers quickly burn to nothing and its flesh bubbles and boils.

Potato starts crying softly. Loraine takes his hand and holds it in her own. They look away from the tiny pile of charred flesh in the middle of their backyard.

"I love you so much, Mrs. Dickenson." Roboctopus looks up at the tree and follows with his shining robot eyes another little bird. "Everything's going to be all right."

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