The black void in the grass of Gaven Hill Park disappeared as Brindel stitched the last inch of the universe’s fabric, watchful for the culprit. It takes a special kind of power to unravel reality, and whoever it was couldn’t be far. Luckily she’d caught the breach before it became a catastrophe.
Next to the park, she wandered through an old neighborhood, houses with additions and changes made over the years, back yards overgrown with ivy, and dry, lofty trees ready to collapse and give way to saplings. The stink of compost and perfume of roses. Preschool kids played outside, the closest two making castles in a sandbox, three in another yard climbing on a swing set.
Not the kids. None of them would have the necessary focus of mind to tear through the material of existence.
A pair of mothers, one with a baby on her hip, chatted in a driveway. The smell of baking bread wafted from a window. Perhaps an overworked mother at the end of her patience would wish the end of the world?
She lurked close by, blending in as an old hag taking very short steps on a long walk, and listened.
“He just stood there confused, not knowing what to do—it was right in front of him.”
“Did you tell him?”
“No, he decided to stay inside. With those powers of observation, it probably saved his life.”
Brindel waved to them. “Good morning, ladies.” She scratched her voice to sound cronish. “Any strangers about today?”
“Hi, ma’am,” said the one with the baby. “None at all. You’re the first person I haven’t known this morning.”
“Yeah,” said the other. “Haven’t even seen a Mario.”
“Mario?” asked the first mother.
“Yeah. You know—worker bees who go around on adventures completing tasks and collecting treasures, just like Mario or Luigi. Painters, exterminators, plumbers, landscapers. All those guys.”
Not these mothers. They were too whimsical. Too cheerful to be threats to the universe.
A rift. She could feel it close by, ripping through existence. She picked up her pace, her disguise forgotten. Along the side of a white house with fiber-cement siding, a pitch black gash widened between some olive-green trashcans.
She pulled out her thread and needle and bustled over, expertly threading the needle from a thick spool, deftly setting the knot. She stitched the hole together with great care to be sure it was tight, firm, and neat.
A forager? A vagrant? A bum? Sometimes the most sinister things had humble trappings.
It seemed doubtful one would go unnoticed in the neighborhood. It had to be someone familiar. Someone no one feared. A monster hiding in plane sight.
Brindel cut through the back yards, carefully examining each one. She sensed yet another rift over by a woodpile. She raced toward it, the black crack growing from behind the logs. She threaded her needle and looked behind.
A grey and white tomcat rolled on the ground biting and thrashing at a tangled thread of existence, unraveling reality as he pulled it further and further apart.
Brindel scowled, untangled the cat, and made repairs.
Later that evening Brindel sat in her rocker by the fireplace knitting a scarf for her niece. The grey and white cat sat on a pillow in a basket, flicking his tail. He batted into the air, and a tiny sliver of black appeared.
“No!” said Brindel. “No, Pernicious. No.” She tossed a ball of green yarn to him, which he happily attacked. “Good kitty. Let’s not destroy the universe today.”