Category Archives: abuse

Yowling, It Came: 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.

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Yowling, It Came

The Abysmal Dollhouse

Separating itself from its shadowed corner faster than it ever had, the Unfolding Doll felt its prey before it saw him. He had drawn his blade from the figure on the ground. The doll noticed the Shopkeeper, having grabbed her broom, begin her finger placements. But the prey was turning towards her, too fast. Too fast. As it took it all in, the Unfolding Doll grabbed The Serpent House and flung it at the back of his head. Connecting, it slithered down in pieces.

Off balance for only a moment, the attacker, the murderer, the child turned to see who was behind him. He noticed only the Unfolding Doll’s knife, long and sharp, and bringing up his Vorpal blade, he snarled. “WHERE IS SHE? WHERE IS SHE!!”

Smashing into the display in front of him, dollhouses were jettisoned off their perches. The Unfolding Doll leaped on top of the showcase in front of it and bounded towards its quarry.  Its blade came sweeping down, going for the throat, but the Vorpal blade came up quickly, deflecting the attack.

The doll threw itself at the murderer, wrapping its linen body around him, tightening and squeezing, folding in. He struggled, trying to pry the thing off of him. Down they both went, bones cracking in him, rents being made in the doll from his blows. They tumbled over the floor, under the tables, into the displays, onto and around the soldier lying there, a growing pool of blood leaking out.

He wrestled his blade free and with a slice cut through the Unfolding Doll’s restraining left arm. He leveraged himself up by grabbing one of the display cabinets, toppling more houses to the floor.

All through this, the Shopkeeper held her broom and chanted subvocally. The air in the shoppe grew dense as she worked on eliminating this threat. Eliminating this…thing, that killed an innocent, killed what was hers, killed what she had loved. Malcanisen was suddenly at her side, guarding her. His growl was terrifying, but he gave her a needed boost. She focussed her emotional energy into her focal point, sparks flying off around her. As the killer took a step towards the Unfolding Doll, the Shopkeeper let loose a blast that took him in the side and sent him flying over the soldier’s still form and partially into the front display section.

The Unfolding Doll bent to pick up its knife with its right hand, the left arm hanging by threads. The Shopkeeper noticed that it was already beginning to mend itself; she had some power left and gave it to the doll. The arm was reforming quicker, and the various rents around its body were stitching themselves, sealed and whole once again.

Regaining his wind, the killer groaned, pain lancing through his middle where he hit the frame. He picked up his head and saw his Vorpal knife just past his hand. He raised himself enough to grab hold of it. In doing so, he noticed what else occupied the display area.

Muirhouse was there. Hated, hated house. Besides it…’NO!” he bellowed. From the dollhouse came the voice of the woman he despised more than anything. “Mine, mine, mine,” it beckoned. Standing on shaky legs, he grabbed his Vorpal knife in both hands and then crawled onto the shelf. On his knees, blade held high above Muirhouse, he yowelled out his pain, his fear, his anger, his deep, deep hatred.

The Shopkeeper yelled “NO!” as the Unfolding Doll vaulted onto the display, shoving her blade into his back as he drove his Vorpal blade into the house. The cut was deep but not fatal, and they thrashed and went after each other, trying to end the other’s existence.

The injured monster kicked the Unfolding Doll. It rolled along the parlor floor, coming too close to the flames in the fireplace. Standing just in front of the window was the hated Mrs. Harris. She had been looking out and up, but now was witness to the invaders of her home, her prison.

“Child,” she grimaced, “It is almost 4:00 pm.”

For a moment, he froze. Only a moment, where every despicable thing ever was done to him played an encore in what was left of his mind. He howled, ran over, and skewered Mrs. Harris. One jab, then a second. He pulled his Vorpal blade out, raising it out and back, and brought it through an unbroken arc. Mrs. Harris’s head slid off her neck, rolling onto the throw rug.

He had forgotten the Unfolding Doll. It had not forgotten him, watching the scene play out. Its knife, lost somewhere in the window display, reformed in its hand. It took its knife and slowly made its way along the fireplace mantel, tap, tap, tapping the blade.  He turned just as the doll plunged the blade, driving it into his shoulder.

Tripping over an ottoman, he tumbled onto the floor, the Unfolding Doll following. He was by the fireplace, losing blood along the way. Without a thought, as the doll pounced on top of him, he shoved his hand into the fire and, hand blistering, brought out a burning log of wood, knocking the flaming pile out of the fireplace. The logs rolled this way and that, setting first the rug on fire, which caught with speed. The fire spread, fast and deadly, its hissing noise an exclamation of what it was devouring.

The Shopkeeper did her best to contain the fire, Malcanisen at first trying to drag her away from the flames. The power that had waned was full again, and she used it to the shoppe’s advantage. While the window area was apart from the rest of the shoppe, the fire burned bright and hot. Flames leaped out, catching onto some shelving, cremating a few dollhouses in its way, but it did not become the tsunami of destruction it wanted to be.

Broom in hand, the Shopkeeper walked over to display window. Nothing remained of Muirhouse except for ashes and a burnt display flooring. Also gone were the Muirhouse’s woodshed and two other dollhouses she had just placed there: the Movie Palace and the Carousel Pavilion were gone as well.

She checked the soldier; he was still living, but just so. Walking towards the back of the shoppe, the area with the least amount of damage, the Shopkeeper found the Saint Michael’s Hospital dollhouse. She brought it over to the soldier, placed its entrance close to his side, and unlatched the front. The shopkeeper asked Malcanisen to turn his duty over to this man. And he did, staying by his side.

As the Shopkeeper went around the shoppe, righting a cabinet, picking up and replacing the fallen houses, the broken houses slowly faded away. One by one, new dollhouses appeared, taking the waiting spaces, placards in place with the house’s legend.

The front door and the display case, taking the worst of it, mended itself, but it was not a quick fix. The counter with spider web cracks was fusing together, and slowly the shoppe began to feel whole again. Some chirppings of “Mine, mine, mine” were starting to be heard, silent through all the altercations. The Shopkeeper just said “Hush” as she went around, putting in the finishing touches.

She waited a long time near the shadowed corner, searching for any movement, any unfolding of shadow to light. None came. By the time she gave up, the shoppe was whole again, new houses in place, debris cleaned up and gone, the door and window area immaculate, and a new door chime was in place, waiting to tinkle upon someone’s arrival.

The Shopkeeper went to her back room, turning on the light. A fresh, warm orange glazed scone was waiting for her, alongside a cup of the finest Earl Grey’s. She moved her padded chair so that she had a better view across the shoppe. She sat, nibbled her scone, sipped her tea, stared out at the shadowed corner, and cried.

“Sarah,” she grieved.

Monday April 30th: Epilogue

 

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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.

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Voices of the Moirai: 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.

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Voices Of The Moirai

The Abysmal Dollhouse

As meant to be, three by three,
The Vorpal blade lives, not vicariously.
It dances and twirls as it slices the skein
Threads disconnected; blood falls as rain.

Jab once, jab twice, jab three times; no more
In this he excelled, his devil’s chore
This deed is done. Callooh! Callay!
He should be off; but yet, he stays.

The chest of his chosen still rises and falls
This won’t do, no no no…not at all.
Should he jab again? Should it be four?
Four! The bells ring out loud; no time for more. 

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

If the running loon hadn’t knocked him over, the soldier wouldn’t have been able to save her life. If the guy hadn’t vanished into the crowds, he wouldn’t have stopped to catch his breath but go after him. If he hadn’t stopped to catch his breath, he wouldn’t have paid attention to the path in the woods the other guy tore out of.  If he hadn’t gone looking, to see where that nimnut was running from, he would not have heard her weak cry for help. Would not have found her bleeding body, out the back of the park maintenance shed. Would not have wrapped her in his jacket, as she started to go into shock. Would not have found her phone and called 911.

If he hadn’t.

The police and medics came. He was questioned over and over, the blood on his clothes, his missing fingers, what did he see. He had to repeat himself over the same questions until as she was being lifted into the ambulance, she came about just enough to hoarsely whisper to the EMT: “not him. not…” and they sped away.

He described the guy-the suspect-as best he could: more his view from the ground after being knocked down. Dark brown pants, stained near the bottom. Running shoes that looked like they were held together with duct tape. A long dark coat: the right side fluttered as the guy ran, but the left must have held something heavy because it was stiff and really didn’t move. Long black hair in the back, matted. White guy. That was it.

Explaining again his time in the corps, his need to pay attention under any condition. Even with his protests that he was ok, they took him first to the hospital and then to the precinct, to question him one more time. A sketch artist was of no use since he did not see a face. What they had did not give them any hope unless the girl could provide more when she came out of surgery.  If she survived the surgery.

A few days later, the soldier was welcomed into her room at the hospital. She thanked him, cried some, wiped it away, and told him what she saw before the first thrust of the knife. She told him it was a heavy looking knife, large and cumbersome. The attacker had big eyes, really dark pupils. Scraped up face, only patches of facial hair here and there. He hadn’t talked at all, but he smelled.

“Bum smell,” the soldier offered.

“No. Wood. He smelled like burning wood, from a fireplace.”

They exchanged names. He promised he’d come back to check on her again. Then he left, hit the streets, and went hunting. He had a mission.

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

"Child, come. Child, come." The hateful noise 
Her horrid voice that she employs
Rang round and round his echoing skull
The maddening sound; it would not dull.

He had failed; he had failed; his three times three
What punishment deserved? What shall it be?
Something draws him on, but not to his lair
"Child, come. Child, come!" as if a dare. 

"Child, come. Child, come!", without remorse
"I come. I come. Of course. Of course."

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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.

This Is Not My…: 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.

camino+de+amor+perdido#6

This Is Not My…

The Abysmal Dollhouse

4:00 p.m.; The scond day
Vorpal Knife; Time to slay.
Following the jogger, unawares,
He caught her midstep by her hair.

A yelp, a shock, but she did fall
No other sound was made, none at all.
The Vorpal Blade went snicker-snak
As she lay on ground, on her back.

Looking up, grabbing his hand
Fading fast, muscles not in command
He brushed it away, with such ease
Nothing would delay, not her pleading “please!”

Three jabs fell, precise, deep
Life force ebbed, the blood seeped.
Oblivion attained, Vorpal Blade sheathed
One more to come, one more to cleeve.

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

Broom in hand, the Shopkeeper worked her way through the shoppe. She had a determination to her, but she fought it. The strength of the Unfolding Doll’s monomania was poisoning the energy that ran through the dollhouses and their “guests.” Their chants for more ebbed and flow, whether someone entered the shoppe or not.  The Wall of Death wailed, new skulls replacing ones that crumbled, their stories gone to dust.

The Shopkeeper was on edge. This had happened before, but never to this degree. “Drastic measures” ran through the Shopkeeper’s mind. Measures she had never attempted, but she talked herself into hoping this would prove a possible solution. She wouldn’t know until she tried.

With a commanding “HUSH!” and a twist of her broom, silence returned. The houses ceased; in fear or anticipation, the Shopkeeper did not care. It was done. Now, the real task fell on her shoulders.

She gingerly walked over to the Muirhouse. She had stirred others away from this house, in a sense starving it of its malevolent ethos. The hope was that its spirit would be a draw, bringing the one who had helped damn her to this shoppe. The one who took away the one dear thing in her life, leaving a terror in his wake. The strongest connection was within the Muirhouse, and whatever means possible…

The Shopkeeper reined herself in. She closed her eyes, taking deep breaths in, slowly letting them out. She rolled her neck, trying to ease the tautness. Opening her eyes, fixed on the dollhouse, she realized that acting in a Machiavellian way was not her nature. She was feeding off of the deep well of the Unfolding Doll, and that just would not do.

Bringing her broom horizontally, heart high, the Shopkeeper gripped the handle, spreading her fingers over as much width as possible. Her left foot went straight towards the Muirhouse; her right was turned towards the right, second position. She adjusted her balance. It would do no good to teeter during her casting.

Concentrating, focusing, controlling her breaths, she began. Words did not form through her lips, but the pattern became a swirling concordance that wove through her. Mixed in were the command words: “Tell Hime To Come!” It would variegate itself, taking on a new configuration every third repetition. By the end of the third set, the Shopkeeper had salt laden sweat sting her eyes.

Closing her eyes, she stopped, gave her inner voice freedom of appreciation, and finally lowered her broom. Her knees buckled and she would have fallen flat to the floor if not for her firm hold on the broom.

And the hands of the Unfolding Doll, bracing the back of the Shopkeeper’s upper arms. Slowly, she slid down to a sitting position, the Muirhouse displayed just behind her head. The Unfolding Doll walked backward, but only a few feet instead of its usual retreat into the shadowed corner. Its button eyes were not on the Shopkeeper but on the Muirhouse.

Without looking, she knew she had failed. The power of this dollhouse was strong; the Unfolding Doll rarely ventured near it, let alone enter. The Shopkeeper somehow knew it wasn’t fear that caused the avoidance. It was so much deeper than fear.

She swiveled around on the floor and slid open the cabinet door underneath the dollhouse presentation surface. Staring into the darkened space she made out the minature that she had never wanted to display. Her inner fight on going this far was as exhausting as what she had attempted with the Muirhouse only moments ago. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw that the Unfolding Doll had crouched, staring into that darkness. The Shopkeeper noticed that its knife was back in its hand.

Reaching in, letting out a deep sigh, the Shopkeeper brought out the dilapidated Wood Shed. Chains were affixed to one wall. It was moldy, in need of a thorough demolition, tossed in a roaring fire, its ashes scattered by the wind. She knew all this, yet she still took it out of its crypt and, standing, placed it alongside the Muirhouse.

A shriek pierced the entire shoppe, one that did not stop until a chant began, coming from Muirhouse. The sound moved from room to room, loudest by the windows, echoing down the hallways. The shriek stopped by the back door, by the kitchen. From the window grew a chant: “burn it, burn it, take an ax, burn it, burn it.”

Gathering her broom in her hands, and her resolve set, the Shopkeeper drowned out the incessant wail from the dollhouse.

“You will be quiet, and you will listen!” she said, voice clipped and harsh. “You will call out to him. You will draw him here. Call him with your harshness. Call him with your cruelty. Call him with your anger, despair, rejection, jealousy, hatred. Call to him; bring him here. You will call to him to come here…or the Wood House will have a new tenant. Muirhouse looks like it would burn nicely in a fireplace.”

The house was silent, but a shaking of the windows, the creaking of boards, spoke volumes.

The Unfolding Doll had sidled up alongside the Shopkeeper. Their attention was solely on the house. They stood there, staring, for three minutes. Finally, the force of the Muirhouse tumbled, and a tinny voice could just be heard.

The house called: “Child. Come.” Like a beacon on the Lighthouse, the beseeching continued at regular intervals.

The Shopkeeper made her way to her counter, deposited her broom, and trudged into the back, not turning on the light.

The Unfolding Doll stood sentinel over the Muirhouse and its Wood House.

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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.

Muirhouse: 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.

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Muirhouse

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The dollhouse was in the style of a Classic Colonial. Two floors, plus attic with peaked gables. A second story wrap-around porch was accented by a finely detailed iron railing, the parquet wood flooring glistening. A stone walkway led to a stone staircase, a few steps to the stone portico in place before the red colored front door. The house, itself, was painted red, with white accented shutters and moldings. Spacious, elegant for its time, a dream house by manys’ standards.

Mrs. Harris hated the house. Hated everything that transpired within. Hated what went on behind closed doors, what transgressions that were out in the open. Hated the people that had moved through the rooms. Hated what had been locked up, out back. The only thing she didn’t hate was herself. Mrs. Harris was furious, and that fury bound her to the house; from the house to this replica. That, she did not know. She just hated the house.

The back room, where the maids were supposed to have made their bed, had been converted into a chapel. Mrs. Harris was on her knees on the padded kneeler, eyes closed, head bowed. She wore, as always her large silver cross that stood out against her all black dress. Her hair, tightly bunned, was covered in a black shawl. No frills, no lace, no adornments other than the cross.

Finished, she rose and commenced her prowl of the premises. Up the back stairs, the ones the maids took to Mr. Harris’s bedroom, or he to theirs, she took at an even pace. At the top was her iron rod. She picked it up, as always. Down the hall she went, stopping at his door.

Grasping the doorknob, she remembered back to the findings. One she chased, through the hall to the screen door that led to the wrap-around landing. She had raised her rod, as she had to do again and again to this ghastly servent in her duties, and by bringing it down in her distress caused the blow that caved in the side of the maid’s head and sent her tumbling over the side. The blood stain on the stone steps below never was completely washed away.

Grasping the doorknob, she remembered another maid, but this one her husband intervened, grabbing the rod and forcing her from the room. He never allowed his wife to be alone with this one, hiring a male servant to watch over her: she was with child. Mr. Harris’s, and he was damned if his wife would cause further harm. “Not while I am alive. Not while this is my house!” he bellowed.

Mrs. Harris backed away from the door, her hand clasping the knob until it escaped out of her grasp. She meandered then, in and out of rooms, up to the attic, back down to the landing, looking. Searching.

More than a few times she felt something pulling at her. The feeling would be faint and off in a distance. She would find herself rushing to stand at one of the windows, looking out and up. A hunger roused itself and willfully slipped out of her lips: “Mine, mine, mine.” Repeated until the force subsided, the silence of the house and her heart returning.

She went down the main stairway, passing by the words written in dried brownish-black. “Die Jack…ha ha ha” had lost its feeling long before. That was after the child had been born, the child that wasn’t right in its head. The child that grew to like playing with knives. The child she “cared” for after its mother met with an unfortunate accident after Mr. Harris suddenly…went away.

Dragged to the chapel by Mrs. Harris twice a day, every day, the child was whipped until it understood it needed to be quiet while she prayed. Dragged to the back of the house, the child was chained to the stone housing of the woodshed. The child, whose mother read of a wonderland, before her accident, had no further schooling beyond what was experienced in the chapel.

Every day, at 4:00 p.m., Mrs. Harris would leave the house and bring it its food. She would look down at it while it wolfed what she served. Speaking of religion, of release, of abstracts that went well over the child’s’ head and heart, Mrs. Harris droned daily.

For three days a month, all in a row, every month, instead of food at 4:00 p.m., Mrs. Harris brought out a very sharp knife from the kitchen. At first, the child would whimper as it knew what was coming; the cuts, slowly delivered but not deep. Three each day, for three days. The child eventually fell into the pattern, knowing that it would be fed, again, after the cutting stopped. For the time being.

The child grew.

One day, it broke free. Entering the house through the kitchen back door, frightened and wary, the child saw something shining on a counter by a screened in window that looked out at the woodshed. His eyes danced over it: the knife, the knife, the knife. He took time glaring at it, breathing in short sharp bursts, until finally taking it in hand he raised it up high.

The light filtered from outside filtered through the screen and the window’s glass. It refracted, the glare causing a vertical and horizontal like that intersected. As the no longer child looked, he saw what looked like the silver cross that the woman always wore. The sight frightened him. Trembling, he fled the house, knife still in hand.

He ran, he ran, he ran.

At 3:45 p.m., Mrs. Harris walked into the kitchen, ready to dole out the child’s meal. She immediately saw her knife was missing. Looking over the counter, she glanced outside and noticed something else was missing. “Good,” she said to herself.

She had hated the child as she had hated the house and everything it was about.

Locking the kitchen door, she waited until it was 4:00 p.m. As she was leaving the room, on the way to her chapel, she felt something pulling at her, from a distance.

Walking to the front room, past the staircase, Mrs. Harris waited at the picture window, looking out and up, and heard herself saying “Mine, mine, mine.”

To be continued…

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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.

The Monte Cristo Homestead in Junee, Australia, inspired this piece. It is supposed to be the most haunted house in Australia, with a fairly ghastly background. I hope I did it justice here, taking some of the backgrounds and weaving it to suit this series.

Muir, by the way, means “moor” in Scotish. Just kinda fit.

Listen…: 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.

Sound-Waves

Listen…

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The Unfolding Doll slouched in shadow, the darkness punctured by pinpricks of from out there. It wasn’t photophobic, fear not an emotion that it took in but rather exuded. Its prey reeked of fear, drawing the doll along. Emotions were not a foundation it drew upon. Instead, it was attuned to severe emotional states of those out there; the heartbeats projecting as they quickened; the mental waves that crashed upon each other in disarray; the breathes coming in short, jagged waves. Anger. Sorrow. Guilt. Greed. Menace. Fear.

If the Unfolding Doll could relish anything, fear would top its list. Fear was a calling from the shadow.

Out there, the Unfolding Doll sensed the excitement from the houses. Not the complacent ones. The others, whose hunger was always throbbing, fed or not. It sensed more than heard the plaintive peals of “mine, mine, mine” that ran along the edges. The greedy ones, always wanting more. The doll was in tune with these; there were always more to be made “mine.” Symbiotic yearning, melting together in want. Its blade ached for action.

The Shopkeeper steered the man away from the corners of the shoppe. Upon entering, his “harumph” made evident what he thought. He brusquely told her about his twin daughters upcoming birthday. They wanted a dollhouse, “of all things.” He was busy, needing to get back to his office, his wife nagging him to get their present.

His cell rang and he answered it, talking finances at a rapid clip, ending the call as abruptly as he took it. “I don’t have all day. What’s good for two seven-year-old dreamers?”

He spat the word “dreamers” out.

“Mine, mine, mine,” were insistent calls from the back wall. He wasn’t listening beyond his own head, his plans, and meetings, the deal to broker, the way his assistant bent over his desk. The Shopkeeper guided him to where the calls were hungriest.

“Hush,” she subvocalized.

A lighthouse stood on the shelf; it towered over the surrounding replicas. The white and red painting was pristine as it wound its way around the cylinder form. The deck at the top extended from the watchtower; all looking as if it had just been produced. The tiny house at the bottom was made of the same material. He touched it with some force.

“It’s solid, I’ll give you that. But, I said dollhouse, not..”

The Shopkeeper unclasped the latch and the lighthouse and dwelling below swung open.

He noticed the details in the living quarters, the bedding and rugs, the table and chairs, and miniature toys scattered on the floor. In the lighthouse itself, he admired the spiral staircase. “Metal?” he inquired. She nodded her head.

She left him, returning to her counter.

Having no preconceptions, nor any real care when he entered the shoppe, the man was fascinated. He had lived in Florida most of his childhood. The beaches were his playground and the lighthouses he saw were always in the distance. His father would tell ghost stories about them, the mysterious deaths and hauntings, the shipwrecks and the ghostly crews seeking revenge. His father delighted in scaring him.

Some sound caught his attention. It came again, closer. Seagulls. Seagulls were flying around the lighthouse, landing on the deck so high above, taking off and swooping down. One splattered its last meal on the sleeve of his suit. In disgust he tried wiping it off, only making it worse.

The door to the residence was open. Walking inside, he called out. No response, but he saw the sink with a towel draped over its edge. It was still damp. Blotting his sleeve, he called out again. Again, no answer. He kicked a toy boat out of his way as he advanced further in.

The staircase loomed over him. Sweat began to form on his brow, his hands were clammy, and his heartbeat skipped along a little bit harder. His father’s stories swept through his mind but he brushed them away, uneasy that he would allow that man to upset him still after all these years.

He began the climb. Success wouldn’t have been his all these years if he didn’t meet every challenge and conquer it. He climbed, 219 steps, each one presenting, in his mind, deals he had made, enemies he had tossed away, people he had screwed over, women he had screwed with, those he had crushed on his way to the top.

As he climbed, the light through the glass dome receeded. It was replaced by the rolling of the lighthouse lens. He stopped so near the top. He hadn’t heard it turn on. No one had answered his call. Thinking about it, he hadn’t heard the seagulls either for a while. Standing still for a moment, he was about to turn around and go back down.

Steel scraping on steel from below. One long, continuous squealing sound of metal on metal circled up the staircase, echoing off the inside of the lighthouse. He was about to call out, demand an answer, but his father had buried too many nightmare tales in his memories. He had scoffed at horror films: why did they always call out “is anyone there?” just before…

Running. The metal staircase reverberated with the sound and vibrations of something running upwards. The strident metal sound grew more discordant as it got closer. Turning, he bolted up the remaining steps.

At the top were two shadowed figures, hand in hand. Small, they reminded him of his daughters. Shadow outlines of long hair, dresses, a hint of washed out colors as the light came around, blinding him momentarily, not giving him a chance to focus clearly.

The noise from below made him move towards the figures. They drifted away as he advanced. Reaching the door to the deck, it flew open as the figures disappeared. He made it onto the deck and tried to shut the door.

A hand blocked the way. When the light came around, he saw it was clothlike. He screamed, backing away. The Unfolding Doll stepped out after him, knife in hand, honed to perfection on its journey up the staircase.

He turned for a moment, realizing the height they were at. He listened to the crashing of the waves below, the return of the gulls cries, and they stabbed through whatever reserve he had left, as the Unfolding Doll completed the job.

***

Far away, it was 4:00 p.m.

To be continued…

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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.

The St. Augustine Lighthouse in Florida is also a very haunted place to visit. There are many tales told of ghostly happenings. Supposedly, the ghosts of two young girls who mysteriously died during construction still can be seen.

Be careful if they beckon.

Jabber Wonky: 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.
Knife

Jabber Wonky

The Abysmal Dollhouse

No Bernard Hermann orchestrated violin screeches. No frame to frame jumps. No bewildered surprises. After his first time, no sneaking behind, no hiding behind the curtains. He didn’t get the same satisfaction. He did not want anything obscuring the process: the vorpal knife in hand, the vorbal knife raised up, the vorpal knife descending, the vorpal blade sliding and  plunging in. Repeat; no rinse. Repeat.

There was symmetry in threes. One definitely wasn’t enough. Two didn’t achieve fruition. Three. Three was complete. Three was Divine. A trinity of deep stabs, releasing the crimson in light, black in the night. Shadows, John Prine sang: shadows formed by the tree that shared the killing space.

It was 4:00 p.m. when the deed was done, the third on the third day. A live mop of a blackbird cried out before it took off, wending round and round the man and his kill. The vorpal knife was shaken towards the daft thing, and it took further flight as droplets, lithe and slimy, flecked its unruly feathers.

Kneeling, the killer jabbed his vorpal knife into the grass-plot at the base of the tree. Three times again; the vorpal blade was cleansed. Only then did he stand and place the weapon back inside the sheath that was the inside pocket of his dark oily duster. His prey lay beside this purifying space, face up, color and warmth drained away.

Backing out of the brush that hid the tree that hid the grass that hid the body, the jabber of the vorpal blade strode along the path that led to the main street thoroughfare. He was whistling Greig’s “In the Halls of the Mountain King”, badly, as he walked away. His need was sated; good for another month. As he passed a roach coach food truck, a line extending from the curb long enough that he had to walk around the queue. this bothered him greatly, but, again, his need was sated. He walked on. Whistling.

The shadows, formed by the tree as it blocked the fading sunlight, grew darker. Out of this stepped the Unfolding Doll, piece by piece, until it stood, whole, flush against the tree trunk. Late. It was late, again. The once alive was sprawled by the doll’s linen shoes; it was careful not to step into the slowly seeping into the ground ichor.

The black button eyes, fixed in place with black thread-like stitching, moved with the turning of its head. There was no more presence, nothing to draw it on further. Nothing in this spot, not anymore. The Shopkeeper felt the need to set it free, even for this little bit, but her hesitation was its undoing. Its knife appeared in its hand, the blade scraping against the trunk of the tree, and then receded and drawn in.

The knife folded into shadow; the Unfolding Doll followed. The hold of the shoppe, and of the Shopkeeper, was too strong. The doll could not fight its return, yet fight it tried. As the shadow crept over and through, the Unfolding Doll struggled to remain where it was, its need to track and destroy the jabber strong, but not strong enough. With a pull from the Shopkeeper, the doll was yanked into the shadow of the tree…

And out of the shadow in the far corner of the shoppe. The doll stood, just on the edge, facing the Shopkeeper, whose broom was in hand.

“Late. I know. I know. I acted too late, giving my consent to hunt. To take him down.” The Shopkeeper slumped, allowing the broom in her hands to help support her. Her head drooped, slightly, and with averted eyes said “Another time. Next time. I won’t hesitate.”

She looked up at the doll.

“I won’t hesitate!” She returned to her counter, busying herself with odds and ends that did not need busying about.

The knife appeared in the Unfolding Dolls’ hand. It turned it left to right, back again, left to right. The rigidness of the doll faded and it moved among the dollhouses. As it came near, there were squeaks and gasps and shutters slamming shut, tiny sounds made tinier by the menace prowling around them.

It stopped its meandering. Standing in front of the Lawang Sewu, then standing inside, the Unfolding Doll began to travel the thousand doors, in search of a prey of its own.

To be continued…along the way

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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.

Heights Withering: 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.

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Heights Withering

The Abysmal Dollhouse

Madelaine stood, transfixed, in front of the elaborate dollhouse. She had given scant acknowledgement to the store girl, breezing past her greeting. She was here only to waste time until lunch: she had been bored with the shops she passed by. This place caught her eye. First it was the sun reflecting off the window. No signage. No attempt to draw her in. Challenge, and accepted.

But now, taking off her Panthere de Cartier sunglasses, Madelaine wiped at her moisture falling, threatening to run down her face. The mascara stained her fingers. Closing her eyes, she took in ten precise breaths and slowly let them go, rouged mouth pursed. Placing her sunglasses back on, Madelaine opened her eyes, then her purse, found a moisture pad, and cleaned off her fingers. With the snap of her purse, she fixated on the replica in front of her.

Banff Springs Hotel. Stone facade, it’s many floors filled with windows. These were surrounded by artisan crafted trimming.  She studied it from a variety of angles, finally settling onto the tower. Painter tower, named so for the architect who designed the remodeling of the main part of the hotel, with the addition of this tower…and which information she could not have cared less about, but for the droning of the hotel’s sales pitch.  The information, now, was branded in her memory.

The Shopkeeper had kept her silence, watching the young woman’s intensity. Quietly, she walked over, reached across with a subdued “excuse me,” unlatched and opened the tower’s facepiece. She went back, retrieved her duster, and busied herself around the perimeter of the shoppe.

Madeline thought she heard the girl whisper “Hush,” but with no one else in the place, she felt she must be mistaken. She knew it was not directed towards her.

The Painter Tower had been built with the idea of hosting events and galas. Two glass encased ballrooms sat floors from each other near the top; the mountains looming around the site were a view to behold under any condition. Yet, that night, she had thought they were more than magnificent, the clear star-laden sky and shining moon felt magical. She felt it fit the way it should, for her, on her wedding night.

The bridal party’s room was on the floors beneath. Madelaine moved figures around, furniture, doors that noiselessly opened or closed. It was all so precise, so accurate. She felt tears welling again, but she tamped them down. Hard.

There. The Bride’s Suite. Expertly fitted. Full-length mirrors. Lighted vanities for hair and make-up.  Wardrobe racks. Screens. Superbly crafted furniture that was, beyond expectation, comfortable. Including the settee. Including the champagne.

Madelaine walked over the to wardrobe rack. Her gown was still in its plastic sheath. She took off the covering, deposited her sunglasses on the closest vanity surface, and ran her fingers along the material of her gown: a Sophia Tolli, its sleeveless misty tulle, beaded lace, plunging neckline, and a scalloped lace hem. The pearl buttons down the lace back were exquisite.

Bringing it over to the mirrors, Madelaine held it up and fell in love with the dress all over again. She had to try it on.

She was down to her underwear, reaching around to unhook her bra when she heard the door behind her open. She froze. “No, no…not again,” she whispered to herself. Yet, the actions began their deja vu on steroids.

He came behind her, running his hands up and down her arms, her chest, nuzzling at her long neck, brushing her long auburn hair out of the way. She melted into his kisses, his caresses. Turning around to face him, she completed unhooking her bra and let it, and the dress, fall to the floor.

They made their way to the settee, leaving a trail of his clothes, her thong, along the way. Things progressed as they had before: just before she climaxed, the door to the suite was kicked in. Her fiancee was there, gun in hand, fury in his eyes. He glared daggers at his best friend, the woman he had loved, and after only a moment barreled into the room.

A shot was fired. Madelaine ran, snatching up the man’s shirt off the floor. She ran, the noise of the fighting propelled her. Another gunshot echoed, the noise amplified in the empty hallway, the staircase she fled up towards the ballroom.

She was winded, scared out of her being, but she had enough sense to try to find a place to hide. The lights in the room were off, but the star and moonlight lit up the room in a stark searchlight. Patches of shadows broke up the natural glow; she dove for the largest area in shadow. The far corner.

Madelaine smelled the smoke as it wafted up the main staircase. Her fiancee had started the fire in the Bridal Suite after he killed her sometimes lover. He had raced up the steps to find her, pointing the gun at her, threatening to kill her, then him. She, clad only in a shirt, had rushed him in her fear and anger at what he had done…what she had done. She pushed him, hard. Clutching her arm, they both tumbled down the staircase towards the growing blaze below.

But he had broken his neck, and she escaped down the second stairway down the hall. She gave no reason why two bodies, why the gunshots, how the fire began. Everyone consoled her, but they knew. They knew. Many let her know by their distance, their silence.

This time, though, hiding in the shadow, her fiancee did not appear at the top of the stairs, did not overwhelm in the doorway to the ballroom. The fire crept in his place, the room getting smokier and hotter. Madelaine began to cough. She stood, watching the flames leap up the stairs in the short distance, traveling along furniture, material, walls, ceiling, carpeting. The way she had originally survived was a furnace, now.

Madelaine began coughing deeper, more painfully. She was just leaving the once shadowed corner when a pair of hands grabbed her from behind. She yelped as the fingers dug into her arms, her breasts. Hot air ran up and down her neck, onto her shoulders, and she was forcibly turned around, the shirt torn off and tossed to the floor.

The Unfolding Doll held her with the inferno of the ballroom surrounding them. The doll, with her dark ringlet hair, button eyes, stitched linen hands, arms, and legs; behind Madelaine’s back, if she would have been in front of the three-way bridal mirror, would have seen the long, sharp blade that was reflecting the dancing flames of the room.

Madeline, tear-streaked face, coughing lungs, was guided around the ballroom dance floor by the Unfolding Doll. Try as she might, and she had little left inside of her, Madelaine could not break free of the doll’s leading steps.

She realized, as the slicing pain that she began to feel in her back, this…this was their first dance.

And it was her last.

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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.

The Banff Springs Hotel can be found in Alberta, Canada. There are a few stories of ghost attributed to the location, but the one that caught my imagination was the Bride on Fire, who can sometimes be found in the ballroom, dancing. From that, I came up with the above. This is a work of fiction, and I took fiction writing liberties with all of it but the ghost rumor: I have no idea if there was a fire in the Painter Tower, I have no clue where the ballroom, bridal suite(s), or anything else is in the place. As to the Bride on Fire, this is as good a reason as any for her story.

Until she tells me otherwise during our dance.

Forever F(r)iend: 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.

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Forever F(r)iend

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The echoing bleating of “mine, mine, mine” continued long enough to draw the Shopkeeper’s attention. The dollhouses clammored until she shushed them, stern look to one and all. As usual, she had been making her rounds, dusting in a grid pattern, excavating the settled floating particles from her charges. She stood and faced the door, knowing.

The chime above the door tinkled as the door opened. Standing in the doorway, looking left to right, the man in the green cardigan sweater adjusted his sleeves, pushed the middle of his black framed glasses up his nose, and finally completed his entrence. The Shopkeeper had noticed him pass by a number of times, occasionally stopping and squinting at the display window.

He waited.

“If you need any assistance, please don’t hesitate to ask,” she said, taking her place by the counter, hanging up her duster, and placing herself so that her broom was at her back. She had felt him staring at her as he stood there, and knew he had been squinting at her the few times he had peered in. Her feelings were correct, as always. So many of the dollhouses felt it too, long before he touched the doorknob. She glanced at the shadowed corner, but it remained still, vanquishing the sparse streaks of light that came its way.

There were aisles of dollhouses between them, various archetectural styles; some so very plain, while others reeked of the overdone. The man looked around, walked over to a few, bent over, inspected, stood and moved, ever closer to where she stood. He had not said a word. She noticed that even as he looked at a replica of Hill House, then The Emperor’s Pagoda,  moving onto the Waverly Hill Sanitarium,  no discernable hint of interest crossed his mein. His gaze might have been on the shoppes’ ware, but his attention appeared to be solely on her.

She broke the silence. “I think I have something that might be of interest to you. It has received avid interest, from time to time. The description on the display card is as fascinating as the dollhouse itself.”

For the first time, his face changed: a small curve of the lips, a mini smirk that froze in place. He bent over and read out loud “Akershus Festing: The Fortified House of Aker.” Straightening up, the smirk was gone. “So? What of it? It looks it’s made of stone, with arrow-slits in place of windows.”

“Notice anything else?” she asked.

His eyes narrowed and creases formed on his brow above his nose. “It has a fence, som..”

“A battlement,” she interrupted. “It is called a battlement.”

Glaring at her, he noticed the stone…battlement created a wall around the house. There was something else written, on a smaller card that was just beyond the wall.

“Read the card.”

“Look, enough of this playing around.” He backed up a step from the house, beginning to turn towards where she stood.

“Read the card!” It was not a request.

It went beyond him that he did so. “Beware of Malcanisen? What…”

The front gates of the battlement groaned open at the same time as the door to the house did, equally grating. Finding himself in front of the door, he heard the gate forcibly shut behind him. He turned to look; as he did so, a deeply aggressive sounding growling came from inside the house.

“Hey,” he shouted, “what the hell is…oh my god.”

In the doorway was Malcanisen. Dark gray matted hair covered the huge dog’s body. Its lips were pulled back, displaying the sharp pointed teeth. Saliva drooled down, its eyes were blazing, and Malcanisen advanced.

The man tried to run, but Malcanisen lept and brought him down. With fangs deeply embedded in his prey’s upper left thigh and groin. Dragging the man through the door of the house, the screams and rending sound diminished and went silent as the door closed tightly shut.

During the process, the Shopkeeper had moved to her back room. Her timing was perfect, the sound of the door sealing shut just as she returned to the floor. In her hand were two miniature bowls: one filled with dark ale, the other with special biscuit treats. She placed both by the front of Aker’s Fortified House and gently tapped on the door.

“Thank you, Mal. I left something for you.”

Returning to her counter, she picked up her duster and waited. The Shopkeeper heard the lapping of the ale and the crunching of the treats. She smiled.

“Who’s a good vicious dog, hmm? Who’s a good evil dog? You are. Yes, you are!”

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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.

The Akershus Festing (Castle) resides in Oslo, Norway. It has been around since the 13th century and, as you could imagine, has a rich and varied history. It also has tales of hauntings and other assorted bumps in the night. Malcanisen is one of them: the name translates to either “The Vicious Dog” or “Evil Dog”, and if he was to advance upon you while you were traipsing around the castle, you would face a horrible death within three months of the encounter. Basically, Mal was supposed to be guarding the premises.

Who’s a good doggy?

Either Or: 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.

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Either Or

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The Shopkeeper and the Unfolding Doll neither moved towards or away from the other. Brandishing her broom, the Shopkeeper turned it vertically and lowered the straw bristles, close but barely kiss the floor. She held it at arms length. The Doll, matching her in height and volume, continued to just stand and aim her button eyes at the Shopkeeper.

Her shoulders and the back of her neck were tightly taut. The cathexis on the Unfolding Doll’s confrontational stance, unusual for it to be so blatant, had her mind racing through Protectives that, she hoped, would diffuse what was occurring. The thought of it escalating to the Breakage of so many years…no. She could not let it get to that point.

A slight movement of the Doll’s feet, a fraction of an inch closer. The Shopkeeper poured her concentration onto the broom and shoved down. The hand-bound rugged head bit into the floor between the two of them, vibrating with the Shopkeeper’s force. Placing three fingers of each hand around the handle top and middle, the Shopkeeper envisioned the pattern that would ensorcell the Doll.

Will alone, they fought against the other. Eyes and buttons locked on each other, neither giving an iota. Noises began to seep in from the shoppe around them. The dollhouses, the replicas, the shadow boxes, the cabinets of curiosities…things were moving, rearranging themselves. Plaintive sounds began, first almost a call and response, then merging into an infinite cannon of feelings. There were no words, but the meanings were clear: it was fear, despair, anticipation, hunger, longing, madness. It fed the Doll. It bolstered the totem that was the broom.

The shadowed corner where the Unfolding Doll emerged had been lengthening, tendrils of dark unshapes moving towards the Doll. The Shopkeeper had noticed it when it began to advance, then lost sight of it as she focussed on what was before her. As the cacophony emitting from the houses grew, the Shopkeeper felt a lessening. Stealing a glance, she saw the shadows spool back towards the far corner. Bringing her gaze back, she let a small smile escape.

The knife that the Unfolding Doll had held, had threatened with, was gone. The clenched fisted hands were looser, beginning to lose firmness. Pulling energy from around her and moving it into the broom, the Shopkeeper loosened the broom head from the floor and swept it towards the Doll.

It backed away, slightly at first but with each movement of the broom towards it, the Unfolding Doll. fell back. The Shopkeeper advanced, the Doll retreated. Getting to the middle of the shoppe, the broom and keeper stopped. The Unfolding Doll did not.

Shuffling backward, it reached the far corner, meeting the shadow that was reaching out. The Doll’s button eyes never left the Shopkeeper as it moved further back into shadow, piece by piece folded in until all that was left was the corner and its shadow.

And at the edge of the shadowed corner, two bodies.

The Shopkeeper was by their side in an instant. She placed her broom on the floor, creating a barrier between the three of them…really, the shoppe as well…and the shadows. As she bent down to inspect the two, she became aware that the stringent chorus had died down and the radiating emotional vibes were depleted.

Now, instead, were faint callings of “mine, mine, mine” coming from two different areas of the shoppe. It remained in the background of her awareness as she analyzed what was before her. The woman had been emitting sounds of pain as the keeper had advanced on the pair. The sound intensified when her body jerked and spasmed.

The Shopkeeper turned her eyes to the closest of her dollhouses that were of medical origin: The Waverly Hills. It would have to do if this woman was to survive. She stood, walked over to the replica, and brought it over to the woman. Setting the sanitorium beside the woman,  another spasm increased the sound of her pain. As the Shopkeeper turned her attention to the man, she heard the front wall of the dollhouse creak open.

She stared down at the man. The back of his head was caved in. Knife work decimated his torso, arms, and legs. No medical unit was of any use to him. Some things were beyond her and her miniature dwellings.

Again, she turned to the closest of items displayed. She thought for a few beats, thinking of what lies within, but in the end, she had to do what needed to be done and walked over to the next aisle. Carefully, she lifted the mausoleum setting from the Westminister Presbyterian Churchyard and just as carefully placed it down beside what was once a man.

Picking up the broom, The Shopkeeper returned it to its spot behind the counter. She picked up her apron, tied it firmly around her waist, patted down her skirt, checked to see that the top button of her blouse was secure, and stared across the shoppe at the corner of shadow, waiting for a return to order.

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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.

The two locations mentioned towards the end are real: The Waverly Hills Sanitarium and the Westminister Presbyterian Churchyard. At this present time, I’ll just leave it at that.

Zenith of All Things (A to Z Blog Challenge)

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**To start from the very beginning: From the Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

**To read the first parts of this story line:  X-Folders and Yesterday’s Sorrows

Zenith

“Zenith of All Things”

The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

Khazarian Rovas, ex police Inspector, awoke in the hospital with a splitting headache, woozy and disoriented for a moment. Knowing only he was laying down, Rovas raised his head. Bad move, as more pain shot through his head. Putting his head back down was almost as painful as when he raised it. The room was dark, the only light in the room was either emanating from the machinery near his head or seeping in from outside his room. Looking the other way he saw Berrak, sleeping, in a chair.

He coughed when he tried to call her name. She woke and immediately came to his side.

“Hi,” she said, running a hand through his hair on the left side. She saw him wince and moved her hand. “Would you like some water?”

Zarian nodded. He sipped some, started coughing again, drank some more. Berrak put it down and moved the chair closer. She left the room only to return with a nurse a few moments later. Berrak refused to leave as the nurse brought in her cart and  turned on all the lights. She took all his vitals down, entered everything into her computer, and asked her questions. She didn’t stay any longer than she had to, which suited both Zarian and Berrak.

Berrak walked over to the light switches, turning all but the light by the bathroom off. Closing the door, she sat down and took Zarian’s hand.

“Obviously I got hurt, but I don’t remember how.”

“What do you remember?”

“Peters had a knife up to one of the children’s throat. He nicked her with it. Is she all right?”

“Yes she is. They all are,” she squeezed his hand.

“Good. Peters put down his knife, picked up his rifle, and aimed it at me. He lost seconds when he tossed…”

“Aemilie. She’s 13.”

“He tossed Aemilie away and brought the rifle up. He knew the recoil: one handed and nothing to brace with, he’d have little to no chance. As it is, he got off two shots before I beaned him.

I had that moment between the tossing the girl and his training his sites on me to barely dodge the first bullet. As I went down I reached for a fairly hefty crystal candy dish…could I have some more water?”

Berrak brought the straw to his lips. He motioned it away after a few sips.

“I tossed the dish as hard as I could. It hit him in the chest with a satisfying thud. Peters staggered. I got to him as fast as I could, going for his knife. I turned…I turned…dammit, I don’t know what happened next.”

“I do, Zarian. The mother, Mrs. Frasier, told us what happened. She was cringing on the couch, trying to protect her children with her body, but she saw you throw her dish at Peters. Mrs. Frasier -Caroline- said as you grabbed the knife and turned, Peters fired one more time. He…clipped you on the side of the head, there.”

“Ah, that’s why the pain there.”

“Yes. It was a nasty looking wound. I thought you were dead when the police let me in. So much blood.” Berrak stopped, took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

“And…?”

“And you fell, knife in both hands. You fell down on Peters, driving the knife into his chest. The police found you on top of him, blood all over the floor. Yes, before you ask, he’s dead.”

She brought his hand up to her lips and kissed it. He moved it out of her grip and cupped her face, sliding his thumb over her chin, her mouth.

“It’s over, Berrak. I wished he could have stood trial and rotted in jail, but…it’s over.”

She nodded, closing her eyes as his hand cupped her cheek.

She stayed all night by his side.

*****

EPILOGUE

Many hospital visitors later, they both returned home. Gil and Jill had organized a small “Welcome Home” party. Rovas was not a fan of surprise parties, but this one he tolerated with grace. Jill had brought Sara, her daughter. Tina, who had nicely recovered from her ordeal with Peters, brought a date.  Chief Inspector Oliver Dole was there, with his wife, as well as other friends from the force. Even Maggie and Pearl, who kept refusing the people food the others tried to slip her. Maggie allowed Pearl her treats. He was content with this crowd, but then the doorbell rang one more time.

The Palmonts arrived, all three children in tow. Berrak had gone to the door, ushered them in, and called Rovas over. They gathered around him, the parents shaking his hand. He got hugs from both Janice and April. The three of them shared some tears; the girls hugged Berrak as well, then went into the living room: they had noticed Sara.

Rovas’s arm was tugged on. It was Gerald. He beckoned to him with his finger. Rovas stooped down a little. Gerald went close to his ear, saying, almost in a whisper:”Thank you for stopping…him.” Rovas got another hug. He returned this just as fiercely.

Rovas sat on the couch, a cup of perfect coffee in his hand, made by Berrak, of course. Dole came over. He was congratulating and chastising him in the same breath, until his wife smacked him on the arm and made him promise to behave. This brought a round of laughs from all, more so from those who worked with him daily. Rovas was glad, later, that he kept to his promise.

Gil, with Jill in hand, came over and sat with Rovas. Berrak was talking with Tina and her plus one, Samuel. They went over to join Zarian.

As they sat, Gil hit himself in the head, smiling. “Oh, I can’t believe I didn’t…well, yes I can. It’s not like nothing else has been happening.”

“What, Gil?” asked Rovas.

Gil turned and looked at Tina. “I think we’ve found the man who killed…um…your friends,” he said, pointedly not looking at Samuel.

“He knows, Gil.” She took Samuel’s’ hands in hers. “Go on.”

“Well, while Inspector…um…Zarian,” he changed after a look from Rovas. “While he was recuperating, one of my inquiries into this Vic character came to my desk. In one of the books we found from the…woman of the house…there were numerous booking for a VG. So, I started searches for anyone named Vic or Victor with a surname starting with G. I finally got a hit, and I think it’s him. It took long enough, but…”

“And…?” Berrak asked, pushing Gil along.

“If this is the guy, his name is Victor Gilbride. I found him in the mental ward. Scarily, he was in the same high level ward that Peters had escaped from.” Gil shook his head.

“Victor had been in another…house…when he was arrested. He was with two girls and got rough with them. He left teeth marks, pretty bad ones, on one of the girls. They screamed, he was getting more violent, the madame threw the door open and tassed him.”

“Good for her. I wish Lily had one.”

“Yes, well, once he was in police custody, Victor went a little bat crazy.”

Everyone groaned.

“Yes, well…when they searched his home, they found more equipment like was left at the scene of the murders. Victor didn’t confess so much as relished his telling of why he did such a disgusting thing.”

“Gil, he drank the blood?” Rovas asked.

“Yes, and he got good and sick from it. Victor really thought he was a vampire- wait, I know, but according to the docs this is a syndrome. He was planning to do it again, he said. His biting was a kind of foreplay for him. The madame said she knew he did it, but it had been more restrained before that night.”

“Oh. Oh…wow. I just…I’m not really sure how I feel, Gil. Thank you.” Tina got up, nudged Jill slightly, and gave Gil a hug. She went back to sit by Samuel. “He’s not on the streets. Wow.”

They all smiled and relaxed.

The evening wound up early. Everyone knew Zarian needed his rest. They didn’t linger very long. He got many hugs and pats on the back, and some kisses on the cheek from Jill, Tina, and Janice, the oldest of the Palmont girls. Gerald stood in the doorway, looked him in the eye, and waved. Rovas waved back.

Alone, the two settled on their couch.

“I will clean up tomorrow, Zarian. I’m tired, and I know you are as well. It’s in your eyes.” She leaned her head on his shoulder. “All this horror is done with, now. I think I could sleep for a week.”

Zarian stroked her hair, closing his eyes, relaxing with her on the couch.

“Come,” she said after waking up from dozing off. “Bed time, for both of us.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too. Let’s go up.”

He took her hand as they both levered themselves off the couch. She turned off the light in the room and made their way to the stairs. Rovas stopped for a moment, looking into his darkened study, out the window.

Rovas noticed a silhouette of a man briskly walking away from their house, down the street, hands in his pockets, head cast down, fading down the street horizon.

He smiled, looked at Berrak, and headed upstairs for some much needed sleep.

The End

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Well, that’s it…for now? I’m not sure if I’ll return to this or not. There are a few other story lines I like (Devil’s Diary; The Kitsune Mochi; The Abysmal Dollhouse) that I’d like to re-explore, as well as an idea for a novel that has been floating around the vast emptiness of my mind, one that sets foot in the urban paranormal vein. I need a couple of days off of just vegging. Then…we’ll see.

I’m supposed to have a Reflection Post up sometime in May, say the Masters of the A to Z. I will get to that, and announce the date as soon as I firm it down.
There is still plenty of time to check out blogs from the A to Z Blog Challenge. Click on the banner below. It will take you to their home page. Or, click HERE to go to the A to Z Challenge list.

As to the Blogging from A to Z challenge, I’ll let the words of Arlee Bird (founder of said challenge) tell you what this is all about:

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends.

Thank you for coming by. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series, mistakes and all. As I said awhile back, I consider this my “First Draft”, which kinda sorta means I might pull this out and rework it a bit down the road.

Anyone want to be my editor? Beta Reader? Cannoli maker?

Comments, likes, and outpouring of love and gratitude is always welcome.  🙂