Mrs. Blandings thought, It doesn’t have to wait for me to be knocked down. It’s going for my neck right now!
Mrs. Blandings ducked. She side-stepped to her left. The tissue box shifted in the air, spinning to keep its tissue facing Mrs. Blandings. The tissue grasped at her neck, just out of reach.
But the tissue wasn’t out of reach of Mrs. Blandings.
As the box flew past, Mrs. Blandings swung up her still throbbing right hand and grabbed the tissue. The tissue box continued its motion, tugging against her grip. She reached up with her left hand and closed her fingers around her right hand. Twisting her shoulders and bending back at her knees, she tugged downward. The tissue pulled free from the box.
Out of the box, the tissue immediately softened and became still. Mrs. Blandings dropped it. It floated to the floor.
The tissue box arced down and fell to the carpet. It twisted, orienting itself with one of its long sides toward Mrs. Blandings. The box bulged and twitched. Its clear strip puffed open, and another tissue started to poke up.
But Mrs. Blandings was waiting.
She had dived to the floor, and then lay with her chin pressed to the carpet, her eyes level with the top of the tissue box. Mrs. Blandings was waiting to attack. When the tip of a new tissue emerged from the slot on top of the box, Mrs. Blandings grabbed the tissue and ripped it out.
Mrs. Blandings crouched next to the tissue box, hand raised, ready, waiting to pounce again.
The tissue box bulged again, flexed and flattened in the middle. Its edges bent up, then quickly down and it leaped into the air, jumping clear of Mrs. Blandings’ hand. She straightened up just in time to see the tissue box fall to the carpet and disappear under the bed.
Mrs. Blandings hurried to the foot of the bed, then dropped down to one knee. She could see both sides of the bed. “You’ve got to come out some time,” Mrs. Blandings said. “I’ve got your number now. Now I’m ready for you.” She waited, crouching, arms out-stretched, hands low, fingers bent and ready to grab.
Then Mrs. Blandings sat back against her heel. She thought, Am I nuts? I can just make a run for the door!
Mrs. Blandings stood, but hesitated. Her eyes moved from the bed to the door and back. She thought, I can run, but do I need to be afraid of a tissue box?
“Screw it,” Mrs. Blandings said. “The maid can deal with the tissue box.” Mrs. Blandings started for the door.
The instant Mrs. Blandings turned her back to the bed, the tissue box made its move. It darted from under the bed. A new sheet of tissue waved in the air as the box launched itself upward toward Mrs. Blandings’ ankle. The tissue wrapped around her leg, and the box swiveled around her thigh, tripping up her free leg in mid-step.
Mrs. Blandings fell heavily to the floor, the fingers of one hand scrapping helplessly against the door.
The tissue box raised itself onto a narrow side, then tipped backward against its edge. It pulled Mrs. Blandings away from the door. Rocking from side to side, corner to corner, the tissue box dragged Mrs. Blandings deeper into the hotel room.
Rolling onto her back, Mrs. Blandings kicked at the tissue box with her free foot, but the tissue maintained its hold and the box just twisted around her ankle to avoid her blows. She felt her foot growing cold, saw her skin turning white as blood was cut off at her ankle. She tried to swing her captured ankle to knock the tissue box against the television, but the box shifted again and Mrs. Blandings only banged her own leg against the set.
The cold pain in her bloodless foot and the hot pain in her lower leg energized Mrs. Blandings’ thinking. She swung her leg and the tissue box upward, in a circular motion, as if again to attempt to slam the box against the television. At the same time, she cocked her free leg, bringing her knee against her chest as if ready to kick the tissue box with all her might.
The tissue box reacted to Mrs. Blandings’ movements. It swiveled first around her ankle to avoid possible impact with the television. Then it tucked itself against the outside of her thigh to use her own leg to shield it from her free foot.
Mrs. Blandings moved quickly. She continued the circular motion of her leg, completely through a full circle and then stopped with her foot just below the bottom of the television. She forced her foot up against the set, wedging the tissue box against the bottom. With her free leg, Mrs. Blandings then swung in another circular motion, this time completing a full circle and then kicked herself, driving the top of her free foot hard against the heel of her captured foot.
The kick forced her captured foot up and away from the television. The tissue box was still pressed tightly against the bottom of the set. The tissue wrapped firmly around Mrs. Blandings’ ankle was tugged free from the blocked tissue box.
The tissue uncoiled and fluttered to the floor. The box fell to the floor. It landed with its top up, and immediately began to ex pand and contract, its top slot puffing at the edges to make way for a new tissue to pop up.
Mrs. Blandings rolled upright and kneeled to face the box. She shouted, “Ten years of Pilates does a girl good!”
The white tip of a fresh tissue pushed up through the slot in the box.
(Mrs. Blandings And The Tissue Horror concludes tomorrow)