There was a girl
at the edge of a menagerie
of several
universes that I was building
here at my house at the edge of nowhere
for some reason she drew our attention
when we heard the knock on the door

A man comes to visit
a pilgrim

We let him in

He enters
My parrot makes a worried
I had coded
that to warn me
canary in the coal mine
that we'd been breached

The pilgrim subroutine
was already running against the ice
I had coded to the homes defense
but I kept up pretense

pretending to serve the meat
I lodged the fork in his neck

He pushes me down
And asks me
Where is the key

Instinctively I retreat
But where to hide? He is everywhere
I choose a world far away from the center
the one I built
to play

The girl is in her room
she hears her parents arguing
they are fighting again
Her father hits her mother
calling her obscenities
he calls her into the room
and grabs her by the arm
it hurts
he calls her a little bitch
he says you're just like your mother
and picks her up
she feels something snap
and sees that something is wrong

and her father stops
realizing what he has done
he becomes afraid
she can hear it in his voice
but she is already gone

she goes to the place where he can't find her
her bunny is there
a single tear falls
her fathers apology charlie browns
into the pall
she reads the tag

pulling back fast
the pilgrim detonates a logic bomb
soon all will be compromise
preserve the key somehow
hide it somewhere

And then he senses her
he quickly transfers himself into her bunny
and whispering mimzy
with the pilgrim rapidly converging upon him
he is glad that she can hear him

She whispers
you've come back
he says
I am here
and I want you to do me a favor
hold me close
keep me safe
If you do
I can keep you safe
we will keep each other safe
ok? he says
ok. she says

The pilgrim's routines almost complete
the final trace to my destination done
he will soon have the key
and destroy us altogether

That was when
parrot jumped forward
a general
at the line of a army thousand beings
that we had planned for another galaxy we were building

Marching on the pilgrim
they overtook him
swarming up his arm
and leg
turning him
into nanotech grey dust
the pilgrim grasps vainly at the lodged fork
pulling it free
he spears the parrot
feathers flying
and the lines on the map blew from side
to side
but somehow
the diversion worked

the last piece of me

and we are in the bunny
in her arms

The ambulance arrives
father cries
he promises he will never do it again
she doesn't hear him
ward of the state
the broken bone
deciding for them
a tear falls upon the rabbit
she seems to hear words
she cannot understand

whispering mimzy
the pilgrims will come again
but they will not find us
and we will begin a world together
you and I

and as the ambulance pulls away
she draws washable safe
to her

The parrot dead
the pilgrim to return
to the house at the edge of nowhere
they will find
the animals we had designed
escaped their diorama
chaos in these small galaxies
will reign for centuries to come
until the aeon
or the instant
the next pilgrim comes
they will clean house
looking for the key
across the universe

but our tactic worked
the pilgrim distracted
if just for a moment
long enough
the key
is safe within a lock
of her curly hair

But which one?