Toby jumped out of the truck to look at his family’s new house. His father had been transferred to this new town from New Orleans where they had lived for five years. Toby was eight years old, and this was the first real house. Before this his family had rented apartments, but a recent death in the family left them with enough money to buy a new house to go with Toby’s father’s new job. It was blue and the yard had plenty of trees with a swing all surrounded by a tall fence. The town was about an hour or so west of New York City.
His father and mother walked up the sidewalk with Toby in toe. They were still a young happy couple only in their late twenties. Toby’s father took out the shiny new keys, opened the storm door and then slid the key into its lock. He pushed the door open picking up his wife and carrying her over the threshold. Toby stepped in quick after them. It was hot inside and a bit stuffy.
“Toby your room is at the top of the stairs and to the left, why don’t you go and open up the windows.” Toby sped up the stairs to twist the golden knob in his little hand, pushing open his new bedroom door. The walls were green and the carpet the color of desert sand. The room had four natural wood bookcases built into the walls, four windows in a box pattern on one wall and two half windows high on another. A dresser, a TV stand and a bare bed were waiting for him. This was much larger than his last room which had just enough room for a bed and dresser. He opened the two lower box shaped windows letting the summer breeze in, turning to look at the sunlight patterns on the wall. There in between the blocks of sunlight was a closet door left ajar by the houses last occupants. The sun seemed to be avoiding. Toby had two urges the first was to leave it alone the second was to close it.
He walked over slowly meaning every step to be a careful one. Placed his hand on the knob and pushed the door closed. Toby slowly back away retreating from the chills that were now running down his spine, the same chills that made his skin rise in little mounds and bumps, the knob had been cold as ice. He turned around and bolted out of his bedroom letting it all begin to boil in his imagination. He wasn’t in New Orleans anymore his father had told him that he wouldn’t need to worry about “bad magic” anymore. For Toby’s father this meant he was trying to break his old habits. For Toby it meant the voo doo part of magic was no longer a factor. Toby breathed outside of his bedroom door, his back pressed against it attempting to hold it shut. There was no force trying to pull it open so this became an easy task. Once he had regained a little bit of himself he shook his head and went back downstairs to help bring boxes from the truck into the house.
Toby had finished unpacking all the stuff in his bedroom with the exception of a single shoebox. He walked over to it and opened the lid. Within the shoebox he found a few items that he had remembered seeing at his neighbor’s houses, someone had taken them and put them in this box, marking it, “storage.” At the bottom of the box was a doll in a very intricately sewn cotton dress, the doll looked like it had been around for a very long time and reminded Toby of the dolls in the magic store down in the French quarter. His father was a closet kleptomaniac that was very good at keeping his obsession a secret. His father had swiped it from the voo doo counter in the French Quarter magic store where it had been placed to keep anything in store from being stolen. The curse had been effecting the family ever since. Chills returned to Toby’s spine and the hair on the back of his neck stood on end, he picked the doll up, looked at the open closet behind him and the panel that led into a place he feared for no good reason. He moved fast and deliberate, unlocked the little white door, closed his eyes, and tossed the doll in, closing the door and locking it again before he opened his eyes. It was locked in there out of sight, so he backed away and slammed the closet door shut.
“Don’t you go slamming our new doors Toby.” His mother yelled up. Toby was thinking of the best ways to go about sealing the door off but he would get yelled at if he were to move the dresser in front of the door so another way would have to work for now.
After thinking on the idea of blocking the panel within his closet off and making it harder for whatever kept creeping him out beyond reason, he took as many of his toys as he could and shoved them in the closet then pushed the door closed. If the force within wanted to get out it would have to move all the toys first. This put his mind to ease, the amount of noise those toys would make spilling out of the closet would be enough of an alarm to get out, get a weapon of some kind or show his parents that something was wrong in his room.
A week or two passed with no problems. When finally an issue arose, another family that lived in the area decided they were coming over for a house warming party. The house was supposed to be on display. Every single inch of it had to be clean and easy to show off, even the closet in Toby’s room was up for inspection.
The whole weekend was spent cleaning, fixing things up and making the house look perfect, when finally it came down to Toby’s room. His mother, like all mothers knew every single little speck of dust and where it was before she even entered the room to tell him he needed to take everything off of the shelves, dust again, vacuum again and after that clean up all the toys in the closet.
“She didn’t even touch the knob and she knows all my toys are in there but she doesn’t know that they are there for a good reason and I can’t tell her that the “bad magic” followed us,” he thought to himself once she had left the room. He would hold on the task of cleaning the closet as long as possible. The shelves were emptied, dusted, reorganized. The carpet was vacuumed, again and finally as Toby looked out the window and the sun was beginning to set he realized he had made a mistake, it was going to be night time soon and he would be stuck cleaning the closet.
He took a deep breath and put his hand on the knob, it wasn’t ice cold this time, so he opened the door and the toys tumbled out like an avalanche. He began to clean them up and put them in bins and crates. Why did he have to unpack them if they were just going into other boxes, and why did everyone who was coming over need to see inside his closet, they had seen closest before hadn’t they? This was his thought process. The growing darkness outside reminded him of one of the only times his father had taken him to the magic store. When it struck him, he had seen the doll before; he had read its little plaque. “Ancestor’s Doll- to protect all our family goods and keep greedy hands in check”
As he laid in his bed finally able to sleep Toby was being watched.
The darkness came to life within the door inside of his closet. It called for a debt to be paid. It drained the warmth of the summer air. it pulsated and breathed making a cold green mist.
The mist crawled out swelling and making waves across the carpet, the night breeze dragged some of it out the windows while the rest came to a halt at the foot of Toby’s bed. A dull green pulsating light shot beams out onto the closets walls and then out into the dark bedroom.
The only thing his parents ever found was the Ancestors doll within the crawl space. After four years Toby’s parents would move again this time instead of leaving the behind the curses, they left behind the hopes of ever finding their son. His father would always feel guilt, but would never be able to control his habits.
© Copyright 2016 Michael Lange. All rights reserved.