Viola marvelled at her creation, immensely proud. Well…it wasn’t hers, technically speaking. It had existed before she’d happened upon it, but Viola had expanded upon it greatly, cherry-picking the best bits, and so she claimed full credit for it.

A nimbus of bubbled encircled her, infinite in number and variety. If one looked closely, and Viola often did, one could discern a minuscule world contained within each bubble. Some of the kingdoms were more advanced than others, some were prettier than their fellows. Viola was a staunch believer in playing favourites, and she liked the beautiful ones best.

She preferred the bubbles to conform to a set aesthetic and ideology: pollution and destruction were not things Viola took kindly. Those that silently obeyed her were rewarded. Their tiny universes expanded exponentially. Those less favoured were shrunk, in order to be made more manageable. Viola had a strict code of non-interference. In that she did not directly interfere in the lives of the citizens of the bubble kingdoms. Viola did not care who they warred against or who they loved, so long as their worlds retained their splendour.

One bubble, made grimy by industrialisation, hovered above her left ear. Viola did not approve of what they had done to their world, and it maddened her that they had disobeyed her wishes. She stretched out an arm, catching the bubble. She cupped it in the palm of her hand. Quick, Viola blew it away like wheat chaff. She was feeling kind today, she would give them one more chance.

It was because of this exhalation that two other bubbles, ordinarily separated by a massive gulf, came together. The frail membrane surrounding one world was pushed flush against that of another. Fascinated, Viola shifted closer. She hummed a cheerful tune over a shapeless lump of copper. Enchanted, it resolved itself into a spyglass. Viola plucked a star from the endless heavens and flattened it into a lens.

Moments had passed for her, while she assembled her contraption, but for the inhabitants of the bubbles, it had been centuries. Infinitely curious, Viola shifted closer. She peered at the bubbles through the spyglass, squinting because what she was examining was far past microscopic.

Because of how the two bubbles were positioned, two great castle towns sat side by side. One was a sprawling mass of stone, medieval in design. The other shone like a jewel, tiny airships hovering above a city of gears and steam.

The two kingdoms, close as they were in proximity, had apparently noticed each other: curious citizens waved at each other from both sides of the membrane. Normally, the bubble kingdoms were isolated, utterly unaware of the existence of the other worlds. These two kingdoms not only knew of each other, but their timelines were rapidly starting line up. More than that, both worlds had had centuries in which to adjust to the concept.

Something faint flickered, just outside of Viola’s range of vision. She tapped on the lens, increasing the magnification. A paper aeroplane swiftly moved from the city of gears to the medieval one. Moments later, a near identical plane made the trip in reverse. They’d found a way to breach the membranes. Worse, being bubbles, the worlds were shifting closer together. Soon, they’d merge. That would not do at all.

In a fit of consternation, Viola dropped the spyglass and grabbed the bubbles with her other hand. With a remorseless prod of one finger, she popped them.

It took a few moments for her to calm down. When her rage had abated, Viola drew a bottle of dishwashing liquid from her skirt pocket, along with a twisted loop of pipe cleaner. She blew two new bubbles. Viola hated starting over. Still, she was the caretaker of these kingdoms, and the passage of causality happened according to her will. Nothing was allowed to happen without her consent.

What she didn’t notice, busy as she was watching two civilizations start from scratch, was a new bubble. It formed behind her neck, all by itself.

I'm a horror writer, an artist, a contortionist, and my back up plans (in case writing doesn't pan out) have included running away with the circus.