"I just bought a whole new load of ink yesterday, now it's gone," the store owner, Mr. Peter, said to Heather, as her mother looked at the dresses.
"Why is it gone?" Heather asked him.
"Must be the work of devils," Mr. Peter said, "If it weren't for the high demand, I would stay as far away from it as possible.
"Oh," Heather said.
She quickly turned to her mother, holding her hand.
"Oh my, look at this. Heather, you would look beautiful in this," her mother said, holding the yellow dress in front of her daughter. Heather nodded. Her mother went to the cash register.
"Ah, that's a pretty one," Mr. Peter said, placing the dress in the bag. "The Gilberts' were just looking at it."
"Oh really?" the mother asked, taking the bag.
Heather looked around the store. Dresses, jeans, candy were all around the store, trying to tempt or bore her. She didn't understand why grown-ups came here so much. She'd rather be playing with her dolls.
A young boy holding a journal and an inked quill in his hands sat down by the marketplace steps. Heather moved to her toes, glimpsing at him. He was writing. Or drawing. Heather couldn't really tell. Just then, the boy turned his head to the window and saw her. He chuckled a little before motioning for her to come outside.
Heather glanced at her mother. She was still chatting. Heather scurried out of the store.
"You know, it's easier to watch someone if you are sitting next to them," the boy said, shrugging.
Heather looked at his notebook. There were scribbles and doodles all over the page, along with several inkblots.
"What are you doing?" she asked him.
"Oh, Mr. Pete didn't tell you?" the boy said, "The Inklings are here."
"What is that?"
"You mean, who."
The boy handed her his notebook. The cover was a smooth leather, and the pages were flimsy due to the amount of ink written on each one. Pictures of tiny people and stories about them covered each page, making her world more magical than she had ever thought it was before.
"Wow," Heather said, gazing at every page.
"Wow is right," the boy smirked, "I've seen them."
"No way," Heather said, quickly turning to him.
"No really. Cute little crooks, they are. Keep 'em away from your Pa's ink."
"Heather!" her mother called to her, "Come on, chatting time is over. Time to go home and get dressed."
Heather waved goodbye, and trotted to her mom. When they got home, her mother slipped the dress on her small body, and used a gold ribbon to put up her hair.
"You look so pretty," she told Heather, "Just like me when I was your age."
Heather smiled, and curtsied for her. Her mother clapped her hands.
"Now, Heather dear, go downstairs while I go fetch your father from the shed."
Heather stepped downstairs, rushing over to a place she knew the Inklings would be. Her father's study.
The study was simple and small. Books were stacked on top of each other, and the typewriter had long since gathered dust. Crumpled paper was scattered around the room, but none was actually in the trash bin. On his desk, was the inkwell. She grabbed it and quickly dumped it in her hands.
Ink ran across the paper and onto Heather's hands, staining them with an odd blue tar tint. The ink crawled in the small crevices of her skin, seeping and spreading like little rivers, all collecting as a lake in the center of her palms.
"You've arrived," she whispered to the pools of ink.
"What have?" Her mother said as she stepped in, her fabric in one hand, her thread and needles in the other, "Your father said he had to quickly finish somethings before he came to see you."
"The Inklings Mama," Heather said, showing her the ink as it dripped through the slivers between her fingers. The ink dripped fast onto the wooden floor.
"Heather, you know better than to play in the ink wells," her mother said, "Stay right there while I get the hanky."
Heather frowned. Ink was splattered like raindrops on the floor. Heather dropped to her knees, starting with wide brown eyes and clenched fists.
"Come out," she said, "it's time to play."
The inkblots trembled as warts started to overcome their once smooth skin. Shiny, black hands poked out of the inkblots, and soon shoulders, necks and heads followed suit. Each ink painted person was as tall as an inchworm was long. A few rubbed their hands against their big eyes and yawned, others covered their hands and cried. One, a small little boy with sleek short hair, gazed around the room with his mouth gaped open. His eyes met Heather. She smiled and waved faster than a hummingbird's wings. The little boy tumbled out of his ink and two legs with feet flew out with the rest of him. He glanced at the girl before falling to the ground and becoming a drop of ink again.
"Wait," the girl said, slumping her shoulders.
Drops of ink started tumbling into each other, forming a round puddle in front of her. When the puddle of ink started to become restless, only one pair of hands appeared, lifting itself out of the ink. The boy came up with a smile on his face. He was now nearly the size of her hand.
"Wow," she said, "What else can you do?"
The inkling smirked. Sprinting for the inkwell, he dumped the rest of the ink on himself. Little black footprints were left as a reminder of his birth. Grabbing the last of their ink he dumped in on him, laughing as he became the size of Heather. Heather snatched his hand and held it tight.
"Let's go play outside," Heather said, grabbing her dolls.
The boy stumbled alongside her, still wobbly on his new legs. Heather spun around, and held out the doll to him.
"This is Cindy. Wanna hold her?" Heather asked him.
The boy grinned and nodded, greedily grabbing the toy. It only took moments for him to make Cindy's pink dress black.
"Oh no," Heather said, stealing the toy back, "you weren't supposed to do that."
The boy put his face to the ground, and kicked his foot into the soil. A little piece of ink dropped into the dirt.
"It's okay," Heather sat Cindy down and patted his back, "It's okay, really."
Heather hugged him with care.
Suddenly, the hose kicked on and soaked Heather's back first, and then the boy. It was over. The boy screamed as he continued melting into the ground before washing away forever.
Heather fell to the grassy floor, scooping up the ink that was now mixed with mud. Tears rolled off her face, adding to the mess in her hands.
"No," Heather said, still trying to force the liquid together, "You can't, you were going to play with me."
Her mother turned off the hose and rushed to her. All she saw were the mittens of filth in her hands, and a ruined clothes.
"When I told you not to go anywhere, I meant it. Now look at you, ink all over your dolls and new dress. Get on up to the bath. You have a lot of explaining to do," her mother grabbed her arm tightly, forcing her up to the bathroom.
"But the inkling"
"For goodness sakes, those things are fake."
Her mother then filled the tub with water then left the room.