Mrs. Blandings studied her reflection in the hotel room mirror. She turned to the side, and squared her shoulders. She sighed. Her chest, she thought, was more of a gentle curve than an eye-catching upward arc. Today I feel like some oomph, she thought. Today, she thought, I’ll need a little help.
Mrs. Blandings reached for the tissue box on the table by the mirror.
The tissue box slid away from her.
Mrs. Blandings stared. The tissue sticking out from the top of the box swayed, like a cobra.
Mrs. Blandings thought, What the hell?
Then the tissue box attacked.
The tissue box leaped off the table. It lunged for Mrs. Blandings, and the protruding tissue wrapped around Mrs. Blandings’ right wrist. The soft tissue felt hard as metal. Around her wrist, the tissue constricted like a steel tourniquet pulled tight by a demon.
What the hell? Mrs. Blandings thought, again, trying desperately to squeeze the fingers of her free left hand under the tissue. Her right hand was already white, already throbbing as its circulation was cut off at her wrist.
Mrs. Blandings staggered back against the television set. She pounded the tissue box against the heavy television. The box just flexed slightly and shifted itself around on her wrist, keeping her wrist between itself and the television. The grip of the tissue remained excruciating.
Her right hand felt like ice. Her fingers were pale, bloodless.
Mrs. Blandings thought, If I faint, would the tissue box attack my throat? If it’s this tight around my wrist, around my neck it would kill me.
Dazed by the attack, disoriented by the loss of feeling in her hand, Mrs. Blandings punched at the tissue box with her right hand. The cardboard box, however, was strangely hard, almost rock-solid. Although it had shifted away from the blows against the television, it reacted not at all to her punches.
Mrs. Blandings thought, I can’t hurt it. It’s just cardboard. Cardboard and paper tissues. But I can’t hurt it. What the hell. When I think of all the tissues I’ve crumpled up and thrown away...
The mental image of throwing away tissues sparked an idea in Mrs. Blandings’ mind. She thought, Before you throw away a tissue, first you pull it out of the box.
Mrs. Blandings bent her right arm and clutched the tissue box against her chest. Instead of attacking it, she hugged the box with her left arm as tightly as she could. She tensed all the muscles in her right arm as best she could, then swung out with her right arm, straightening her right elbow, pushing away as if she were forcing open a stuck door.
The tissue around her right wrist jerked free from the tissue box.
The box, still clutched to Mrs. Blandings’ chest, began to twitch violently, expanding and contracting in her grip. She threw it to the floor. It tumbled end over end and rolled under the bed.
Suddenly, Mrs. Blandings’ right hand felt on fire. She looked down, and saw that her skin was now flushed, deep red and puffy, as blood returned to her fingers. The tissue had gone limp and soft outside the box. The tissue uncoiled and fluttered gently to the floor.
Mrs. Blandings kicked at the tissue with her toe. It crumpled under the simple pressure.
Mrs. Blandings thought, I was attacked by that?
Movement caught Mrs. Blandings’ eyes from across the room.
The tissue box slid out from under the bed. The clear, flexible plastic slot at the top of the box sucked in, then blew out. The box pulsed. Another sheet of tissue puffed up. The tissue bent toward Mrs. Blandings, as if there were some kind of exotic lines-of-force connecting the tissue to her. The tissue uncurled, waving slightly as if reacting to Mrs. Blandings’ terrified breathing. Then the box began to move again, straight toward Mrs. Blandings.
The tissue box flexed in the middle. Its sides seemed to reach up.
Mrs. Blandings thought, It looks like it’s trying to stretch out to me.
Then the sides of the box snapped down, hard and fast. The motion launched the box upward into the air directly at Mrs. Blandings. The tissue sticking out of the box curved in the air, shaping itself to encircle Mrs. Blandings’ neck.
(Mrs. Blandings And The Tissue Horror continues tomorrow)