The Unfolding Doll: A Tale from The Abysmal Dollhouse The first tale
Time was immutable in her hands. The Shopkeeper had always been there, or so it seemed. Just off the threshold of The Abysmal Dollhouse, to the left. See? There! More often out of the corner of your eye, yet when you did see her straight on…you wish you had not.
The Shopkeeper tended to the many, many dollhouses that were carefully strewn around the store. On counters, behind glass, on pedestals, on the floor, way up high, hidden, seen…she kept track of them all, even when they had other ideas.
Dollhouse Borley Rectory was one of those, not wishing to remain where it had been placed. For a long time it lay desolate, behind a curtain of dust and ashes.The screams of the murdered monk and his would be bride were heard again when it appeared one dreary morning in the display window.
The Abysmal Dollhouse’s displays were often changing at their own whim. One night there was the bhoot bungalow, House No W-3, in its ancient squalor. The Shopkeeper had paid it mind, for the Grandparents always had the best tea. In the morning, the Rectory resided, and this did not please The Shopkeeper.
“You brought this upon yourself,” she said to the house, picking it up from its less than welcome spot. The Dollhouse reacted as best it could, its side opening up, trying to draw her in. The Shopkeeper would have none of it. The seconds halted mid tick, and she phased the replica into the air, the screaming pair howling mad now. She had fallen, once, to the absolute terror in the house when she was new. Long ago. She was not new now, and there would be no unfolding for her. That doll had its own place in the shop, and it was not for her…ever.
Quieted, the Borley Rectory found itself again in dust and ashes. In the rear of the shoppe, towards the far wall, it lay among the bramble of the other unruly ones. It spoke to the others, and planned, and plotted, and hated The Shopkeeper to death.
Sipping tea with the Grandparents of House No W-3, The Shopkeeper glanced in all directions. She kept an eye on her wards, her function to keep them. Safe, or not, was not for her to say. She held the Dollhouses in check, when she could, and fed them when it was a necessity.
“This is good tea, Grandparents,” she said, lifting her cup to them in appreciation.
Dollhouse walls slid open and closed around her. The shopkeeper drank her tea.