Xanthippe’s Rage: The Abysmal Dollhouse (#AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

Doll

Xanthippe’s Rage

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The soldier had been tireless in his tracking. He had moved beyond the area where the girl (Mary) had been attacked. Weeks had passed since the incident and he knew more. One of the EMT’s had been in country, same tour, different times, but they bonded on the way to the hospital, bumping into each other while the soldier looked over Mary. The EMT had connections with some of the street cops. Sightings got passed down the line; the soldier followed them up, often going further when the police stopped.

One lead took him to an abandoned campsite. Stacks of wood had been piled up by a fire pit made of stones. The ash remains were old, dry and cold, and much of the wood was green, hacked up in a haphazard way. He knew he was in the right place, or a right place, because the immediate area had a heavy smell of burnt wood. It was thick, leaving a sour taste to the air around the pit. The soldier had set up a nest, bivouaced, but a day turned days; frustration set in deep after a week. No one returned. Not kids. Not hunters. Not the attacker. The soldier left, went back to the hospital, hoping some new info would be available.

There was. He moved on it ASAP!

*** *** ***

The Shopkeeper went around the shoppe, dusting, sweeping, moving one dollhouse here, one there. An older dollhouse would leave, a new one taking its place. People were drawn in. Only a very few left. It was all as usual.

The droning from the Muirhouse grew irritating the longer it went on. Nothing had come of it, and the energy of the house was draining away. The Shopkeeper had continued to steer potentials away from it, having placed the dollhouse in the display window, far enough from the pulling in; hoping that its calls of “Child, come!” would travel easier, grab its prey, and bring the monster to them.

It was all as usual, except the Unfolding Doll was spending less time in its shadowed corner and more time visiting the expanse of dollhouses. The Shopkeeper tried to stop this escalation, but the best she could do was lower its frequency, if not the manic drive. The Shopkeeper thought only one thing had changed in her favor: the Unfolding Doll had ceased trying to attack her. She knew it was only for the time being, but she was relieved by the respite.

*** ***

They chased, they chased, and still she bawled
"Child, come! Child, come!"; Oh, he'd heed that call. 
Wiffling through briar and cement
His Vorpal blade would cause lament!

It's close, so close, that hated voice
He had to come; he had no choice. 
He'd send the blade through and through
Make him come; Oh, how they'd rue...

***

“HE’S COME! HE’S COME!”

The cry from the Muirhouse, so piercing it shook the Shopkeeper, just as she had hung up her duster. The door to the shoppe smashed open, the doorbell flew off, tinkling off-key as it skittered across the floor.

His smell hit her first, foul and acrid before he bounded over and backhanded her with his left hand. The Shopkeeper fell back, hitting her counter, causing the glass to grow spider web cracks. He stood glaring at her, eyes wide open, his mouth open revealing rotted and blackened teeth, what ones were still in place.

“You! You called me!” He advanced, knocking over two dollhouses that crashed to the floor. “You…no. Not you.” He stopped, having grabbed the Shopkeeper by her arm, preventing her any space to grab her broom.

“No, I know that hated voice. Where. Is. She?”

In his free hand, he reached into his left side coat pocket and drew out a short sword. The Shopkeeper took in its polish, knew, without doubt, its sharpness. The tip so pointed, looming closer.

“WHERE IS SHE?” he shouted, raising the sword high.

The Soldier hurtled through the broken doorway, tackling the attacker and away from the Shopkeeper. The smell was intense this close, but he needed to get the sword away from this madman. He had been so damn close to catching him out on the street, but the bastard had noticed him in a store window. The soldier gave chase for three blocks before finally…

The hilt of the sword battered into the Soldier’s skull, stunning him. The murderer kicked the soldier off of him and gained his feet. With space, so did the Soldier. As did the Shopkeeper.

She, aching and bloodied, went for her broom. She reached out with her right hand to grip the handle, but it slid out of her grasp, slick with the blood running down her arm. She went for it again and succeeded. Turning to face the fray…turning to face…if the handle hadn’t slipped…

The sharp pointed tip of the blade, the honed edges, the gleaming strong metal, pierced the soldier, deep. The soldier choked as he fell to his knees. Mouth opened in a shout that did not come, eyes popping wide, the soldier tried to grasp the blade with his right hand, losing the mirror fingers of his left.

The Shopkeeper screamed “NO!” as she leveled up her broom, the murderer turning his attention back to her.

As the soldier fell to the floor, as his blood dripped off the Vorpal blade, as the Shopkeeper made her stand…

The Unfolding Doll, knife in hand, burst out of its shadowed corner.

To be continued…

*****************************

The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

Author’s note: ASAP in civilian life means “As soon as possible”. In military lingo, it means “IMMEDIATELY.” Just thought I’d let ya know before someone thinks the soldier wouldn’t move with haste in this case.

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