by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

The Maker was born in the Earth’s hot core. All of her childhood, she dined on magma and the fossils of carnivores and befriended the worms who wriggled in the soil above her. She was raised by the hum of the world, and when it became time for her to push up onto Earth’s green surface, the Maker had been morphed by decades of shadow and destruction.

She was tired of dwelling below, of answering to those above, but that is exactly where she found herself even once she lived in view of a harsh, blue sky.


The Maker ran her hands across the patterned silk of Nightmare’s cape. She shivered as she pinched the fabric and pulled it up to the level of her eyes, and then let go and watched it dance back to the sewing table below. It was magnificent, almost too good to let go—but Nightmare would pay her a heinous amount for the thing, so she would fold it into a golden box and send it away.

The next day, Nightmare called her on the giant screen he used to send threats to unsuspecting and suspecting heroes alike.

“The cape is sentient?” he asked.

The Maker grinned with her mouth of one hundred teeth. “It is sentient.”

Nightmare laughed so hard that he let out an accidental neigh. The Maker liked Nightmare; he was the kind of villain who took on a schtick but refrained from punning. In his case, he had failed at an initial transmogrification potion, turning himself into a black horse instead of a monster. Rather than tweak the ingredients, he used the strangeness of his transformation to his advantage. No one suspected an evil horse.

The Maker had taken his transmogrification into consideration; the cape she sewed for him was made of microscopic silkworms who worked every second to ensure that the cape remained large enough to cover Nightmare’s spine. They threaded more silk when he was horse and swallowed silk when he was human.

It was the perfect cape for an evil horse.


That night, the Maker attended a party thrown in her honor. She wore a dress made of the same sentient silk with which she had crafted Nightmare’s cape. The dress moved around her body, changing formation with the temperature or with altering conditions of the Maker’s body. If the room were cold, the dress gave her sleeves. If she drank one too many martinis and could hardly stand, the dress would shorten so that she would not trip over her own skirt. As she descended the stairs, her clawed toes clacking against the marble, the audience below let out an audible gasp.

At the party, everyone wore her creations. Still, villains approached her with new requests, but she turned down all commissions. She was not here to sew for other villains; she was not here to remain a tool of their destruction.


When it came time for her to make her speech, the Maker stood at the podium to address the audience of evildoers. These people had expected her to spend her life working at their backs. How many times had they thanked her publicly, outside parties like this one? Had anyone ever mentioned her name on national TV? They had not. They did not.

She tapped the microphone as a show, for she did not need to use the technology. She had her hands on every villain in the room, draped across their shoulders. She spoke, and the worms relayed her message.

“You have grown complacent,” she said in the voice that sounded like a hundred curdling screams. “You trusted.”

The audience murmured. Nightmare frowned, his mouth turned down so far it formed a strange comedy on his face.

“You have trusted me,” she said.

With her command, the worms did their work; they made wings at the Maker’s back and lifted her on high until she hung suspended like an angel of death before the party. There was a villain who called himself Angel of Death, and he scowled at the Maker’s imitation of his powers. The Maker grinned, and this was not the smile of customer service that she usually bestowed upon the villains who purchased her capes but the grin of a creature stepping into its fossilized footprints.

Her grin grew wider as the worms, wrapped around every villain’s throat, squeezed tight.

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