No Fear of Mercury

Every day, monsters.

One of her regulars: a woman with the diamond-toothed head of a kitten. Nonfat sugar-free vanilla latte. She drives a Humvee, and though Petra has never seen them, a kindle of children squabble deep within its cool, mirrored depths. Do they take after their mother?

Another, new today: one singular chicken-scaled leg below, one impudent fleshy horn above. Blank, nonjudgmental eyes of a newborn saint and the tight-curled hair of a prophet. Depth charge: a shot of espresso in an artillery of coffee. Pleasant-voiced, as deep a soothing rumble as his child’s chest will allow.

“Good work again today,” the blemmya tells her, her voice muffled by the thin muslin shirt. Petra struggles as always for politeness, drifting haplessly from the space where her head isn’t to the motile expansive of her shirt. “You’ll make manager yet.”

Petra shudders in delicate horror.