WHO LOVES OCTAVIA PRANDDISHAW? 3
“No Pranddishaw has ever gone hungry, no Pranddishaw has ever lacked for clean clothes, and no Pranddishaw has ever spent the night out of doors!” Father bellowed.
“What about while camping, Dad?” Julia asked.
“Especially while camping!”
(Who Loves Octavia Pranddishaw?, Chapter Seven)
Physically the Pranddishaws appear to be unremarkable specimens of their kinds. They are of average height, weight, and build for 1963, which is to say they’re fairly trim by modern standards. Their complexions are muddled-Caucasian, with dirty-blonde to dark hair and brown or green eyes. Their hair is cut in fashions that might have been stylish in 1963, but look drably unstylish now. All in all, they look unremarkable.
The truth is more complicated. The Pranddishaws discovered the night they killed the graduate students (“the night of the arrival,” they call it among themselves) that they do not need to sleep. None of them get tired.
They don’t get especially hungry, either. Rose Pranddishaw once went seventeen days without food or water, just to prove a point, but generally the family still eats and drinks, out of habit.
They steal groceries from the corner store on a regular basis, and as yet have not been called to task. They do not pay the utility bills which arrive every month, but their electricity, gas, and cable remain connected.
Pranddishaws do not perspire or excrete other fluids. They have no natural body odor. The clothes the family “arrived” in do not tear or stain. They are always unwrinkled, as if freshly ironed. Family members are free to change out of their “arrival” clothes and into modern ones, but few do so, as no one wants to bother with laundry.
Their hair and nails do not grow. If, however, either are cut back, painted, or styled, they remain in the altered state only until the Pranddishaw concerned is distracted and stops thinking about the change. At that time they return to their original state. Octavia spent nearly two thousand dollars in salons before giving up on it.
Every member of the Pranddishaw family is surprisingly strong. Even Caius, the smallest and weakest Pranddishaw, is able to bench press around two hundred pounds, twice his weight. Larger Pranddishaws are proportionally stronger.
Since the arrival, no Pranddishaw has been cut or bruised, suffered a broken bone, or otherwise been damaged. A few days after “the arrival,” however, Robert Burns was hit by a car and killed instantly, his skull crushed. About seven hours after this tragic event, the family was disposing of the body in the manner they had by then adopted as standard: wrapping it in black plastic bags and putting in the trash, when it began to whine.
When they tore the bags aside, the family found Robert Burns apparently unharmed, though the dog whined and shuddered and refused to eat for several days. He remains a shadow of his former self.
Rose Pranddishaw theorized that Robert Burns had forgotten his skull was smashed in, and so his body had returned to the basal “arrival” state. The obvious implication is that the Pranddishaws are fundamentally indestructible, but family members nevertheless generally refrain from risks. Robert Burns’s altered behavior is one reason. That it was a dog who died and came back, not someone who could talk and describe the process and explain that it was safe, is another.
In the six months since “the arrival,” the Pranddishaws have killed over six hundred people and suffered no consequences. Whenever in a group of two or more, the Pranddishaws murder quickly, efficiently, and at the slightest provocation. Afterwards each remembers only standing by and watching while the rest of the group committed the latest horrible deed. Their bloodthirst manifests only when multiple family members work together, presumably because otherwise they couldn’t shift the blame.
At the time of “the arrival,” the Pranddishaws were horrified by each other’s casual killings. They have since grown inured and callous, however, following Julia’s example of trying not to think too much about it.
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