They walked between strewn Kleenex (the extra-large size) on the floor of the loft beneath Her. The breeze still blew as Clarissa continued to sneeze, but they were calm now because they knew what was behind the strange wind. Well, all were calm except for Andre.
Andre stood, small as an ant to her eyes, and shaking his fists at her, he cried, "How do you cause all this chaos without saying a word? You big bag of wind!"
With that Henry, Diego and Shakespeare grabbed Andre before he could say another word.
Diego, covering Andre's mouth said, "What are you trying to do, fatso, make us her dinner?"
Then Henry, who was standing next to Diego while keeping a careful eye on Winifred's stroller and Shakespeare's toes, intervened, "You know, Diego, my mother isn't going to eat us, and certainly not because Andre said a few stupid things."
"Really, Henry?" Diego breathed. "Then why did we all scramble, you included, to shut the big one up?"
Henry shriveled inside, Diego was supposed be on his side, but lately more and more she had been ridiculing him in front of the group. He turned red and he said, "Still, we don't want to antagonize her."
Diego's eyes slowly followed Clarissa's form, starting at her tentacles brushing against the floor, then higher and higher until they reached her black eyes, and then she whispered, as if in a trance, "I guess so, Henry."
Feverishly, Andre shook himself off as if he had been covered in the worst kind of dirt. "You know something? I am not stupid, and by the way, have you forgotten the incident on the roof, not to mention your own wedding, Henry?"
"I haven't forgotten but Mother has been pretty docile lately."
"Yeah, she just talks endlessly about the imaginary world behind her door," Shakespeare snapped.
It was at that moment that Clarissa reared her head and let out a gargantuan sneeze: books flew off shelves, chairs flew across the floor, the skylight rattled, and Shakespeare, Andre, Diego and Henry all ran toward Winifred's stroller. They used their bodies as shields to protect her from the mighty gust.
"What do you humans and half-humans want from me? I have a bad cold," Clarissa buzzed shaking her head. Her black eyes darted back and forth until they landed and focused, steely-eyed on Andre. "You, sir, are a trouble maker. You have been a trouble maker for a long while and all that is about to end."
Andre stood shivering. He could hardly move yet his lips could speak, he cried first instead, and then he wailed, "For the love of God I am just an innocent please don't eat me!"
And Shakepseare snapped, "Innocent?"
"Yes, you little worm, this is no time --" Andre cried, hardly able to contain himself, as his hands shook and sweat poured down his neck. He continued, "and as I've always maintained I NEVER TOLD JULIUS TO SHOOT THE MAYOR I TOLD HIM TO DRUG THE MAYOR."
Then, Diego, still holding tightly onto Winifrid's stroller breathed, "Very interesting; we weren't speaking about that incident. In fact no one has even mentioned it in ages. Yet, it is still on the top of your mind. Sounds like a guilty conscious to me, big one."
"She has a point," Shakespeare said quickly, as Henry was making his way towards him.
Then Henry said to Shakespeare, "I don't believe Andre would ever tell anyone to kill someone, do you, Shakespeare?"
"Thank you so much, Henry!" Andre said. The color seeemed to return to his face. "See, Shakespeare? Henry is a true friend, unlike some small people whose name will go unmentioned."
"Gee, everyone, from the way he said the word 'small' I wonder who he could possibly mean?" Shakespeare said, smirking.
And then abruptly, her furry head and her black eyes furiously weaved and she buzzed loud, "Will everyone please be quiet and you, chubby, you don't move or I really will eat you."
The color left Andre's face again and he cried, "OH MY GOD I'M GOING TO DIE FOR REAL."
And unexpectedly, her tentacles reached for Andre, and she said,"Tch! Too bad."
With that, she pulled Andre up toward the skylight, and she retched and buzz-laughed and sneezed whilst Andre's body shook uncontrollbly in the air.
Then Henry cried, raising his hands, "Mother, put Andre down!"
But Clarissa refused to listen. She played with Andre, tossing him in the air and catching him as if he were a toy.
Andre's life flashed before his eyes.
A crash of ligtning seared acrosss the skylight that seeemed to signal the impending doom that was about to come.
Henry tugged on his mother's long tubular legs and tried again. "Mother, have you lost your mind? Put poor Andre down!"
They could hear Andre's cries in the distnance as Clarissa continued to play with him.
Diego pulled the stroller up to Henry and said, "Your mother has really lost it this time. I guess we should prepare ourselves and say our last goodbyes to the big one."
"What? Don't worry, she'll come to her senses," Henry said as Winifred began to cry.
Clarissa began to buzz-cackle and toss around Andre harder.
"What senses? She is a lunatic, Henry," Diego breathed, and she stared at the gruesome scene of Andre being tossed around the loft by Henry's giant mother, his cries still piercing the distance above.
Then they smelled smoke.
They turned around and saw Shakespeare grinning, standing by her feet with a match, and a chair he had obviosly set on fire.
At once, Clarissa lurched, sending Andre to the floor next to Winifred's stroller.
"Ouch!" he cried, "you saved my life, Shakespeare. You are my hero. You really are a true friend, indeed."
"Please," Shakespeare snapped, "I've always wanted to set her on fire."
Suddenly, they looked up and saw her head careening towards them like a giant crane.