Ippy was our town weirdo and a stranger to everyone, despite having lived here
her whole life. She spent her days sitting in the rocking chair on her porch,
silently watching as we walked by. Always alone and older than anyone could
remember, people often whispered rumors about her being a witch. Despite this,
she was considered harmless. That is, until they found Melissa Bigley’s body
hanging in the woods behind her house, with Mrs. Ippy holding the end of the
rope in her bony fingers. We all watched as Brooks, the girl’s father, squeezed
the life out of Mrs. Ippy in a fit of rage, and then strung her up like his
daughter before her. And then the next day, we were shocked to find Mrs. Ippy
back on her porch, wearing the exact same clothes, rocking in her chair as
though nothing had happened.
one knew how she’d survived. It was assumed the grief-stricken Brooks had
misjudged her level of “dead” and the tightness of the rope he’d used to hang
her corpse. To see her sitting there, as though mocking Brooks for his
incompetence, awoke something in us all: outrage, and a burning desire for
never seen a mob in action, count yourself lucky. A mob – that is, a real mob,
not the peaceful protesters police like to gun down with pepper spray for no
good reason on TV – is a terrifying sight both to those participating and to
those watching. They become a wildfire, and whether you like it or not, you get
caught in the swell. Bloodlust replaces wisdom, and bestial instinct replaces
humanity. You no longer have friends, family, or neighbors: you have an inferno
that won’t be snuffed out until everything is burned to the ground. You become
a whole. A single-minded entity with one goal. In our case, the goal was clear:
can’t remember if I did any of it myself. I remember the rage burning in my
chest, I remember the sensation of warm blood splattering on my skin, and I
remember screaming until my voice crackled and gave out. Whether or not I was
one of the people who cut off Mrs. Ippy’s limbs, I was part of the whole, which
makes me just as guilty as everyone else.
it was over, all that was left of Mrs. Ippy was a pool of blood and pieces of
her body strewn about her yard, left there for the dogs to eat. And, once the
mob disbanded, a collective wave of shock snuffed out the embers or our
wildfire. There were no whispers as we started to return home, and the reality
of what we’d done sank in. I felt drained, as though I’d run a marathon in
under ten minutes. I think everyone else felt the same, because we all took
lethargic steps away, somehow both in a rush, but unable to rush.
not have heard it if shock hadn’t muted us, but from behind us came the
strangest sloshing noise, like someone chewing gum made of molasses. Brooks was
the first to turn around, and the guttural scream that came out of him made my stomach
feel as though it were tumbling down a hillside. How could I not look?
Just like it’s impossible not to push a button labelled “do not push”, I had to
turn around and see for myself despite the warning from both Brooks and my
spires were emerging from Mrs. Ippy’s lawn. Spires made of pulsing red material
slowly building into arching shapes. Each had a single beige spot at different
locations, and it wasn’t until the beige began to spread out that I realized
what they were: pieces of Mrs. Ippy. Her skin stretched out over the growing
forms, until they were entirely covered in her flesh. Then, they molded into
her shape, with any excess skin melting down and hardening as though to give
the illusion of sagging skin.
a knot in my throat, I started counting: one Mrs. Ippy…two Mrs. Ippy…three Mrs.
Ippy…four Mrs. Ippy…five Mrs. Ippy…and more kept growing. Twelve Mrs.
Ippy…thirteen Mrs. Ippy…there was no end to them.
know what to expect. It was all so surreal. Were they going to form a mob of
their own and rip us apart?
I didn’t have the energy to run, even if I wasn’t too scared to move. I stood
there in terrified anticipation, trying to keep the fear from spilling out of
me. Trying to stay in control. Like a child about to get scolded by her
parents, I braced myself for whatever was to come.
Ippy. That is, the thirty-or-so Mrs. Ippys all standing in different parts of
the lawn and porch, slowly raised their right arms and stretched out their
index fingers, all pointed towards the same person: Brooks. She…they said
nothing, merely looked at him with accusing eyes. He tripped as he tried to
back away, his face draining of color. I think we all knew what Mrs. Ippy was
trying to say, although no one wanted to admit it. To admit the truth was to
admit our own guilt. As long as it remained unspoken, we could justify our own
actions as “justice”, but if we admitted we were wrong, then…
took a single step forward.
held his head in his trembling hands.
was surrounded now. Mrs. Ippys on one side, the disbanded mob on the other, and
his shaking form at the center. It was hard to read what everyone else was
feeling. In the mob, we’d been single-minded, but now, I could see a mix of
concern, confusion, and loathing, but beneath the surface emotions, I think we
all had a twinge of fear and guilt running through us.
cracked. “I did it!” he shouted, “It was me!”
horde of Mrs. Ippys took another few steps towards him.
crawled towards his wife standing nearby, wrapped his arms around her leg, and
groveled like a child. “It was an accident! You know how she got. Always
disobeying us! I was just trying to teach her a lesson…but then I went too
far,” he choked up, tears streaming down the sides of his face, “I-I didn’t want
you to hate me. I had to blame someone.”
had been purposely loud that day, so we had all seen Mrs. Ippy holding the end
of the rope. We just hadn’t realized she intended to untie it. We hadn’t
realized he’d been trying to frame her.
old,” cried Brooks, “no one would have missed her! No one batted an eye!”
was right. No one had come to her defense or insisted on a fair trial. We’d
stood by and watched the so-called grieving father squeeze the life out of an
innocent old woman, and then we turned on her when we thought she’d somehow
survived and wanted to mock us.
wife let out a gasp and kicked her leg back to try and knock him off as he
begged for forgiveness.
not my fault! It’s not my fault. I’m sorry.”
crowd of Mrs. Ippys closed in on him. And, just like we hadn’t stopped him from
killing her, no one stopped her from dragging him away. No one kept the
thirty-something Mrs. Ippys from tearing him limb from limb in front of us, not
even his wife.
just kind of slowly returned home at our own pace, trying to forget the horrors
Mrs. Ippy still sits on the porch and watches us as we walk into town. I’m not
sure what happened to all the other Mrs. Ippys, though. My best guess is they
re-assembled at some point, but I don’t think I’ll ever know.
I’m not brave enough to ask her.