The Molligans

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Nobody believes in Glow Worm any more.

“I promised them that I’d keep the Molligans away,” he mumbles.

He shuffles through the streets of Hell. He enters his office. He puts his briefcase down on the desk and curls in on himself in pain.

The pressure on his stomach causes his head, just for a moment, to light up.

“I promised them safety and peace and happiness,” he cries. “Why did they turn away?”

There’s a nickering and a cantering and an equine head peeks around the door. It’s Starbright, the most magnificent horse in all of Hell. She’s got pretty decals of flames on her flanks.

“Boss?” she asks.

Glow Worm straightens up quickly. He hates it when people can see him glow. He’s afraid it’s a sign of weakness.

“It’s all President Reagan’s fault,” Glow Worm says. “I made a deal with him, you know.”


“We sat down, him and me. I said, ‘Yah, I’m a bug from Hell, but you need me. You need me. Because if I’m not in your world, then the Molligans are. I’ll keep your civilization alive. I just need a few crumbs. Some marketing. The occasional death squad. A hug from a needy child, late at night, when I’m feeling lonely.’ And we cut a deal. But he forgot. And his heirs forgot. And now suddenly it’s like I’m a stranger in Washington. I’ve got no pull. Nobody’s answering my phone calls. ‘I think we can handle the Molligans,’ that smug punk says.”

“I’m sorry, boss,” says Starbright. She canters forward and nuzzles him. His head lights up. He pushes her away and hides his face under his cute little nightcap.

He still has his pride.

“I bet they’ve been listening to one of those modern newfangled toys,” he says. “Some nympho doll whose underwear wasn’t even melted onto her torso at the factory. She probably thinks she can keep the Molligans away with fashion and multi-ethnic appeal.

“There’s nothing you can do,” says Starbright. “Nobody’s scared of the Molligans any more.”

“They’ll come in and they’ll kill everyone,” says Glow Worm.

“I know.”

“As soon as the last of the dolls in my image is gone, it’s game over. I’m the only thing keeping their little shell of a world together.”

“I know.”

Glow Worm can’t cry. His eyes are permanently fixed in a bright, wide stare of joy.

“I’m just one bug.”

There are terrors outside, great gangling demons and scythe-legged harvesters, and they hear his plaintive cry; but they do not approach, they do not come, they do not kill. The light from his head is still too fierce, and keeps the dark at bay.

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