The Doll-Maker

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Sometimes a child's love for his toys is not reciprocated...

Submitted: January 15, 2013

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Submitted: January 15, 2013




The Doll-Maker


I always loved playing with dolls, as is usual with most six-year-old children. There was even a point when I was costing my parents at least 50 pounds a month on them (which in my young eyes was a gargantuan amount of money). Now when I talk about dolls I don’t mean those plastic figures of chisel-jawed men with six packs and army uniforms or the Barbie dolls with long, blonde hair and pencil-thin waists, which enthralled other children so. I mean those lovely old rag dolls, the ones that were stuffed with cotton and had the bead eyes. Something about them had always held an inexplicable thrall over me. They had always seemed alive compared to those rigid figures with painted smiles and plastic accessories. But these knitted creatures seemed to have souls of their own, as if their creators had left a part of themselves in each one they made.

The other kids had always made fun of me, teasing me for the old dolls I almost invariably carried with me (that often had a button missing or a tear in them, since the only place we could easily find them was in an old second hand toy shop where the dolls were often somewhat used). But I didn’t care. I only cared that I had my blue knitted bear or my black cat with the shiny brown eyes. I should mention that I didn’t really buy dolls of people. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them but I had never felt compelled to buy them for myself. Until I saw Jill.

It was that time of the month when my parents would take me to Natas & Co (the toy shop) to buy a new doll. I had already decided which doll I was going to buy before we arrived, but when we got there the shopkeeper, a friendly looking man who only had a few short, silver hairs left on his head, called over to me, saying he had recently received a beautiful doll of a blonde girl. I was going to reply no thank you, but then I saw the doll, and immediately fell in love with her. She had shoulder length, strawberry blonde hair and she was wearing a blue dress with a white ribbon tied around her belly. Her face was painted with painstaking delicacy, and was so life like that had she been a bit bigger then she would have looked like a pretty 10-year-old.

I asked who had handed her over to the shop (what person would!), but at this the shop keeper scratched his head and replied that he didn’t actually remember anyone giving her to him, he had just found her on the shelf a couple of days ago. But I wasn’t even listening at this point, and insisted that my parents (who really did not understand my fascination with these old things) immediately buy her for me.

And that was how Jill and I met. We had many great adventures that first week. She would ride on the back of the bear dodging rabid dogs and feral cats, then all these animals would become her partners in a daring siege led on the castle of the Elephant King. It was always good fun with Jill who added extra life to the others. I took every care to make sure she remained in perfect condition.

But after a week it changed, ever so slightly. I began to feel strange around her, as if she was to good to be true. Her expression, which had always looked like a broad grin, now turned to a sneer, and her perfectly white teeth even appeared to become pointed, with the end result being that my eyes saw a taunting, hungry expression. Now, along with bringing life to the table, she also brought a feeling that the others at the tea party were angry and malicious. These were no longer the furry companions I had spent my childhood days playing with.

But the most profound change came at night when I was trying to sleep. Before this ‘change’, Jill had always provided me with comfort in the blackness (I was still scared of the dark). Her soft hair rubbing against my cheek would comfort me when the wind rattled against the window. But now she did not seem to be in my arms at night (even though I could swear I went to bed holding her), and when I woke up I would find her looking at me from the top shelf, that I couldn’t reach, with that same hungry expression. The transformation seemed to become even more extreme in the following weeks, though no one could see it when I told them. Her eyes became a much darker shade of the light blue they had originally been, so dark that they were practically black. Though I did whatever I could to avoid touching her now, I could tell that her hair had become much more brittle and disordered. Her expression grew even more feral, so that she looked murderous.

Then one night, I heard the tiniest of noises up on the shelf. It was a small rustling, as if someone was trying to move an object out of the way, but my parents were in the living room. Thud. My heart skipped a beat. Something had fallen to the floor. At this point I was too frightened to dare move an inch. There was another smaller thud nearer the door of my room. It was slightly open to provide some light from the corridor. I lay there frozen. I could swear there was an almost inaudible sound on the floor now. It was a pitter-patter, as if tiny feet were walking quickly towards my bed. I shrunk further behind my covers, my heart now pounding my chest. The sound reached the foot of my bed. It seemed as if it was deciding the best way to climb up to me. But it moved away, towards the door. The crack of light widened slightly. A few seconds passed. The corridor light went out. I was alone in the dark except for the faint, dim glow from the living room. All I could hear was my dangerously increased heart rate and the faint noises from the television in the living room.

A minute passed. I thought I heard two thuds but I was convinced it was in my head, and I was beginning to think that the other noises had been from my head too, when the TV sounds stopped. The faint, dim glow from the living room went out. The door creaked again, this time swinging wide. Maybe my parents were checking I was in bed, but there was no silhouette in the door. The pitter-patter of tiny feet returned again. It moved very quickly this time. It was already at my bed. There was the scraping of something sharp on the wooden frame. A second went. I was paralyzed with fear; I could almost feel something creeping up the side of my bed. I felt a cool metallic pressure on my leg. This seemed to cure me.

I screamed and leapt from my bed; something cut me as I got out. I nearly fell over as I tried to get out of the room, because all my dolls had appeared on the floor. I managed to escape the room and sprinted down the corridor almost sure I could hear the pitter patter behind me. I ran into the living room. It was absolute darkness and it pressed in on me as I ran for the front door. I was going to make it out. My foot suddenly met resistance as it made to reach for the final step to take me to freedom. I tripped and landed hard on my face. Momentarily forgetting my fear I looked to see what I had fallen over, but I couldn’t make out the black outline in the thick darkness. I reached over to touch it and my hand came away wet.

The lights snapped on. Once again I froze, utterly unable to comprehend what lay in front of me. On the floor was my mother, or at least… the top part of her. A few meters away was my father, who had at least a dozen holes in him. A bloody kitchen knife lay on the floor next to him. But these were not what had caused my mind to go to standby. Standing on my poor, decapitated mother was Jill. She could not have looked happier. She seemed to have grown fingers, for she was holding a small black frying pan. The painted face moved to form a huge sharp-toothed grin. It raised the frying pan. The world went black.

I woke up screaming. Not because this was a nightmare but because I was experiencing worse pain than one would have thought possible, surging through my body. I could not see properly and there was a black haze over everything, as if I was looking through tinted glass. My limbs wouldn’t move and I was only able to raise my head a few inches before it drooped back down. I was still screaming when I realized there was no sound coming out. It might have been because of fear, but then I realized I could not move my lips either. They were stuck together and nothing I could do would part them.

More pain.  A small outline crawled into my sight.

“Ooh my new dolly is awake. Now we can have the tea party! You can meet all my friends Mr. Bubbles! We’ll have such fun. Just like we did at your house.”

With that I was dragged off to a small table. I forced myself to look up to see the shapes that were sat around the table. Through the black haze I strained my eyes hard.

They were children. Black beads had replaced their eyes and their heads and arms hung limp. Their bodies were covered in stitches with pieces of cotton sticking out, they even had the same Natas and Co. tag that Jill had sticking out their sides.

We were dolls. We were toys. We were slaves.

“Who wants to play animals?”

© Copyright 2017 Lucas Aldrich. All rights reserved.

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