Category Archives: Events

Sigurd The Mighty: 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.

Skull

Sigurd The Mighty

The Abysmal Dollhouse

Shadows edged their way throughout the shoppe,  pockets that swalowed light. The Shopkeeper would try to rearrange the lighting, add more fixtures, but nothing stuck: what was in the light remained so; the rest was shadows’ realm. The far corner held a shadow so complete that nothing affected it for more than a few moments. The Shopkeeper normally kept her distance, her peripherial vision always alert.

She made her rounds, dusting dollhouses, counters, display cases, and cabinets, in a grid pattern. She was careful in her dusting normally, but her experience with the woman whose mouth was covered, the devout way she used her personal brush on her temple, made an impression on the Shopkeeper.

Time passed. The shopkeeper stood at the side wall, off the left of her workstation, and realized she had not cleaned inside the largely locked cabinet in quite some time. Searching her apron pockets, the could not find the key that would unlock the door. She left the floor, positive she had hung it from the key hook in her back room. She walked behind her counter, hung up her duster, and went in search of the key.

Yes, the key was hung by its own ring, on top of a series of keys that unlocked other things. Taking it down and placing it in her pocket, the Shopkeeper heard a noise just outside of her room. A tap, tap, tapping against the glass. “Not now,” she muttered, knowing what it was, knowing she had not heard the front door open nor the door chime tinkle.

Stepping over the threshold, she turned and saw that the Unfolding Doll was leaning against the glass of the large curio cabinet. Its knife was making the sound, the tap, tap, tapping.  The hand of fine linen clutched the handle, letting the tip of the blade make the noise. The doll was all in white this time, delicate lace enclosed wrists led to the white sleeves, attached to a white lace bodice, finished off with a white linen skirt that fell almost to its ankles. The black buttons in the place where eyes would have been being fixed on one thing in particular in the locked display.  Its black ringlets were tossled, adding a wild contrast to the rest of its attire. Yet, it suited the blade.

The Unfolding Doll turned its head in the direction of The Shopkeeper, the tapping continuing. “Please, stop,” the Shopkeeper asked, reaching to her right where her broom was propped against the wall. Surprisingly, the noise did cease. The Shopkeeper sighed, took the key out of her pocket and waited until the knife was gone.

Walking forward, key in hand, the Unfolding Doll took a step away. Its button eyes did not move from what it was fixated on. The Shopkeeper inserted the key, turned and unlocked the large glass door, and gently opened it.

Inside stood the multi-tiered Wall of Death, a miniature presentation of the Conservatoire d’épouvante Maison De Poupée. Skull after skull adorned the replica wall, each with its placard, in tiny print, the matter of death that was the story of each individual whose brainpan was showcased. At present, there were seven shelves with six neurocraniums displayed, most of them complete, a few with cranial abrasions or missing pieces. 

The Doll stepped up and gazed solely on one skull, second shelf from the top, first one to the left. The Shopkeeper quietly moved behind and to its side. She pointed at it, reading the sign: Sigurd the Mighty. The Unfolding Doll appeared to relax, enough so that the Shopkeeper knew it was this that drew the doll’s attention.

Focussing solely on Sigurd, the Shopkeeper channeled her emotional energy on the object, as she had done before with other skulls. For her, it was the only way to unlock its story.

A deep male voice came from the cabinet.

40 men fought with me; 40 fought against. Their leader, Mael Brigte the Bucktoothed, refused to bend knee to me and my king, my brother, the rightful ruler of Norway. I had conquered all of this northern land of the Britains, this pissant of a leader being the last to stand in my way. He and his fought for his land; I and mine fought for our King.

Both sides were able, I will give Bucktooth that. Yet, his men had not fought battle after battle, did not have the true knowledge of those they fought with and their capabilities. My 40 cut down them all to a man. Mael put up a great fight, but he was still no match; I had not been called Riki, The Mighty. 

Shattering his knees with my mace, I drew my long sword, releasing his life force with blow after blow. Down went Mael Brigte, down the Bucktoothed, and the remainder of his men still standing lost hope, and they followed him down, to let the ground feed off of their blood.

While my men took their spoils, I took Mael’s head, tying it up to hang off my horses’ saddle. This was a trophy for my king, a show that this northern land was mine, and in its way, the king’s as well. We rode away from the slaughter, making our way back, knowing many days were still ahead of us. At nightfall, around the fire, it was made notice that I had a series of large scratch marks on the outer part of my leg. I had felt some pain, ignoring it as we rode having just left a battle. We passed around the skins of wine and none feeling anything after a while.

As I made to mount in the morning, I found Mael Brigte’s head looking at me. It seemed it was smiling, but it was only his buckteeth sticking out, his mouth frozen in an open grimace. The mouth and teeth were red, but I would be damned if cleaning the head was going to happen.

The road back was uneven, and my horse stumbled now and then. Each time it did, the head of Mael banged into my leg, a few of those times I felt pain. I kept one eye on the path, one eye on the head. A hole in the ground almost caused the horse to drop, but it righted itself well. Yet, eye on the trophy, I saw that the buckteeth of my foe had bounced far away and returned, scoring my leg. Blood pooled down my calf and was soaking my footwear.

When we finally stopped, the pain in my leg was so wretched that I at first limped to the campsite, nearly falling into the fire. I tried to sleep, but the pain was absolute. I was sweating, shaking, and when one of my men tried to help he touched the area where it hurt the most. He drew his hand away sharply, saying that the leg felt like a winter stove. He rubbed his hand in the dirt. I had been going in and out of being awake. I thought he said that there was something slimy coming from that spot on my leg, and there was a horrible smell being emitted. I passed out and remained so until the morning.

My men had to bring me to my horse and saddle me. I heard the complaints of a smell, and evil looks were given to my leg but the glances were swift. Everyone mounted, and we continued on. The path remained uneven, the head of Mael Brigte scored my leg again and again. Towards the setting of the sun, a day and a half away from our home, I fell off my horse, already dead before I left the saddle.

My son, Gottorm, buried me at Sigurðar-haugr.

This is my story told. Leave me be.

The Shopkeeper revived herself, awareness flooding back into the shoppe. The Unfolding Doll was not there. It was walking down the aisleway, tapping every now and then with its knife. The doll headed to the far right corner and the shadow. Stopping just before it, the Unfolding Doll turned to look in the Shopkeeper’s direction. Walking backward, it folded itself into the shadow and was gone.

Dusting the skulls was needed, and dust she did. A few of the skulls reached out to her, wanting to tell their story.

“Hush. Not now, please,” she gently quieted them down. “There is always time for more.” Finished, she took the key out of her pocket, locked the cabinet door, and returned to her back room. She hung the key back on the hook with all the other keys.

She smelled something. On the small dining table was a freshly baked scone, clotted cream, and raspberry jam. Next to it was a steaming cup of tea. She picked it up to take a sip: yes. She “mmmmmm”‘d as she folded herself into her padded chair. Thai High Mountain Oolong, a fresh scone. The Shopkeeper sipped, nibbled, and smiled.

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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.

Sigurd the Mighty is part of Bizarre Viking Deaths. No joke. I came across his story years ago and always wanted to do something with it. Well, here you go.

As to the Wall of Death, if you ever go to Philadelphia, there is the Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians. A very bizarre place to have a first date, but it’s what she wanted to do. There is a wall of skulls. I just took it a step further. I always thought this was an appendix to the “normal” Abysmal Dollhouse tales, but I’m glad I wrote this one for the AtoZ. Hope you enjoyed.

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Rotten To The Corpse: 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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Rotten To The Corpse

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The Shopkeeper was pacing, duster in hand, not dusting. Cleaning did not help. Taking some bites from a freshly made scone, a cup of Ancient Lotus Green Tea did not help. She was feeding off of the Unfolding Dolls agitated state.  There was a new vicousness at its core that transcended the doll’s norm.  She knew the cause, but there was nothing she could do about it.

A series of “mine, mine, mine” shook her out of herself. Casting off the frowning, the Shopkeeper straightened herself up, pinning loose hair, tidying her skirt, apron, and shirt. Duster in hand, she faced the door of the shoppe.

The door chime started to tinkle as the tall man entered, but he wrapped his large hand around it, cutting the sound off in mid tink. He turned, closed the door, then, with his back to the door, he surveyed what was in front of him.

The Shopkeeper waited silently, noticing his eyes roaming. She took him in, his height being the obvious aspect that outlined him. Dark long beard, buzzcut on top, tinted sunglasses. His hands went into his denim jacket, pulling it down as he, too, straightened himself.

“Ma’am,” he nodded to her.

“May I offer any assistance?”

“No, ma’am. Not even sure why I came in here. If you don’t mind…” he stopped, as his eyes roamed again.

“Please. Let me know if you do need anything.” The Shopkeeper returned to her counter, brushing off the last crumbs from her scone and then briefly left to return her teacup to its place. She came back, standing on the threshold between the shoppe and her back room.

She was aware that his ankle-high black boots made almost no sound as he walked around. When his hands left his pockets, to almost touch one house or another, she noticed that the back of his right hand was scared in a number of places. On his left, he was missing his last two digits. He stopped dead in his tracks. He must have known she was looking: he shoved his hands back into the jacket pockets.

He came to the end of the far aisle and stopped suddenly again. He was facing the shadowed corner. He froze, his body slightly lowering, his right hand moving towards his boot. It rested there while he stared into the shadow. The Shopkeeper only remembered to breathe once he began to slowly back away, his hand moving back to the jacket pocket.

The Shopkeeper heard a low growl of a chuckle come from him. Heading down the last aisle, he stopped again. Removing his sunglasses, she found that his gaze was glued to the dollhouse in front of him.

“What the…” he asked. It was not directed towards the Shopkeeper. It was his turn to remember to breathe, coming in and out in short gasps. Reaching towards it, he closed his eyes.

He knew if he heard the whistling sound of the mortar it most likely meant he would be dead. This time, it was close enough to do damage; not enough to kill him. Killboy wasn’t so lucky. Neither was the LT, getting a face of wall bringing him down. They had hit the grounds, ordered to retreat to the barracks. Wasn’t supposed to get this close to home, but the sneaky bastards didn’t seem to know that.

Those thoughts flew through his mind as he ducked and weaved, diving for cover.

It went all FUBAR real fast. By the end, there wasn’t one Cadidiot left standing from his squad and only a couple of the brass who hadn’t evacuated at the first sign of trouble. The rest of the cannon fodder, like himself, took the r&r inside and out of one of the barracks that missed all the action.

A couple of grunts went AWOL for a few hours when dark dropped. They came back with some honey. They went to a secluded spot, one of the barracks that was only partially splattered, and decided to party. Seven of them: two girls from the village.

Someone had to keep watch; he got elected. Outside, the day’s action was just hitting him. He didn’t mean to doze, his nerves still jangled, but he was out soon after he sat down, rifle at his side.

He awoke with a stabbing pain in his right arm. Eyes flying open, he saw a large sharp looking knife draw back and was heading back down again. His left hand went up in defense while his right went for his side pistol. The knife sliced into his hand, severing the last two fingers off. The pain almost knocked him out. Almost.

Whipping up the gun, he fired five times, head and chest shots made without training his weapon. The assailant was too close. As shoved his hand into his pants pocket, pushing against the fabric to stop the bleeding. Getting up, he knelt, crouching, eyeing the area.

There was no one he could see. Just the dead in front of him. One of the girls they had brought back. She had stabbed him, tried to do it again, but he scragged her. His head hung down for a moment, his body shaking until he remembered the other girl.

He poked his head through one of the holes that opened up from the mortar blast. He saw her shadowed figure, knife in hand, standing over a body on the floor. The light coming in from outside was enough for him to see the other three guys, sprawled out on the floor. The fourth, under the girl, was making gurgling sounds. He raised his gun, aimed, and shot her in the back. Her head exploded, bits and pieces flying.

The three others were dead, throats cut. The fourth got his throat slashed too; it took a little while for him to die. He was found a few hours later, having passed out from blood loss.

Things progressed from there until he found himself wandering the streets back home, not knowing why. Not really caring why.

All of this passed through his mind as he stood in front of the miniature scale barracks in front of him. He opened his eyes and put his sunglasses back on. Shrugging, his jacket adjusted itself around him. He pulled his left hand out of his pocket and gently placed it on the roof of the barracks for a few moments. Looking over to the Shopkeeper, he nodded at her.

“Sorry, ma’am. I don’t think there’s anything I need. Not here.”

She nodded back. She knew.

He stopped again at the shadow in the corner, hands still in his pockets, waiting. He stayed for the same length of time that he paid his respect at the barracks dollhouse: a few moments.

He turned, left the shoppe, and walked away.

This time,  the door chime tinkled.

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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 Babenhausen Barracks can be found in Hesse, Germany. The legend I found was that a woman was burned to death as a witch (she turned someone into a newt, but he got better). From that bit of horror, it was said that a ghostly woman haunted the barracks, seduced many soldiers, and then murdered them. Thus, the AD story above. No German soldiers, no witch, but…

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.

Behind A Thousand Doors: 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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Behind A Thousand Doors

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The sweat ran out of Roger’s body, soaking his once crisp white shirt, black slacks, black socks, black shoes. His wispy hair was plastered down as salty drippings ran into his eyes, irritating and momentarily disrupting his eyesight. Wipe, drip, blink, repeat. Roger’s breath rasped loudly; the combination of the extreme muggy heat did not mix well with his pell-mell running. Roger ran. He had to. The sound of thumping footsteps followed, closer and closer still.

Bursting through a door, Roger found himself in another long hallway, dotted with more doors. He’d lost count of how many doors he’s opened, how many similar halls he’s raced through. Straightaways, T-sections, dead-ends. Pausing for a moment, the noise behind him grew. He pushed on, stirred when he heard a woman’s voice call out “mijn, mijn, mijn…”. His heart accelerated before his running began again.

Patches of red bricks shone through areas of decayed and dingy white plastered walls. Roger barely noticed them, passing them by in his haste, leaving hallways behind, closing doors to discover more of the same. Stained glass windows sporadically broke up the passages, filtered colored light barely illuminating his way.  Still, the thumping followed him. Still, the echo of  “mijn, mijn, mijn…”

A grand staircase stopped Roger: one stairway leading up, the other down. Its complexity in marble and iron railings, its vast size placed underneath a huge stained glass ceiling,  startled him momentarily.  Up, or down. Roger knew he could not stay where he was. He wanted out of this place, whatever it was. He had no idea where he was, how he got there, or what was after him; he only knew that going on was all that mattered. He only knew his life depended on it. It was that primal.

The noise of a door slamming echoed in the atrium. Roger took off, choosing a downward flight, hoping one of the bloody doors would take him out of this place. Tripping in his haste, he tumbled down the remaining 14 marble steps, falling hard on the landing. His head hurt, his arms and legs were banged up, and his back arched as he lay there, staring upwards. His chest rose and fell with each sharp gasp for air.

Silence. Silence forced his eyes to the top of the stairway.

A woman. The woman. Tall. Her long blonde hair fell below her hunched shoulders, her head tilted down, her dead eyes staring into his. The red dripping from the jagged tear in her throat, staining down her torso, her skirt,  joining the red dripping off of the long butcher’s knife clenched in her right hand, spilling red onto the top stairs. Watching it cascade down one marble step after another.

“Mijn,” she said.

“I killed you. I killed you. I killed you!” Roger screamed as he raised himself from the landing.  He whimpered: “A suicide…I made it look like…”

Roger, wincing, trudged down the remaining flight of stairs. The woman followed, slower now, matching his rate of descent. He reached the floor, finding himself in ankle deep water. The humidity level had been rising, combining with Roger’s exertions, drawing more moisture out of his pores. His internal cooling system was not working against the overwhelming heat and the unbearable fear.

He slipped. She grew closer, stepping into the stagnant pooling water. Looking around, looking for an escape, Roger saw a line of doors surrounding doors surrounding doors. Each one he went to was locked; each one solid, thick.  With each one tried, Roger heard splashing footsteps, heard a gravely “Mijn.”

On the twenty-fourth door…or was it the seventy-ninth…or the two hundredth…or one thousandth…he stopped and turned. She was there, knife raised, still dripping, as she said “Mijn!”

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The lock to The Abysmal Dollhouse’s door quietly repaired itself. The Shopkeeper busied herself cleaning up the bits of broken glass that had been left in the wake of her furtive guest. He had slammed the door so forcefully after rushing in. Ashen, the man barely apologized as he stumbled along the aisleways, brushing against one dollhouse after another.

Small cries of “Mine! Mine” came from her assemblage as he passed them by.

“Hush, now,” she gently said, to none in particular.

Emptying her dustpan of the last of the door debris, she placed it back on its hook and settled her broom of straw and wood in its place in the corner. She heard a distant, tiny cry coming from one of the grander display houses.

The Lawang Sewu, detail exquisite, she felt, was slightly ajar. She walked over to this landmark of Indonesia and marveled, again, and the detail of its many doors and marvelous stained glasswork.

Gently, she brought the two halves of the cabinet house together. She noticed that there was some water leakage coming from its base. Off the Shopkeeper went, to fetch a rag, to wipe up the excess moisture. Doing so, she turned off the overhead display light.

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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 Lawang Sewu (the Thousand Doors) is an actual landmark building in Indonesia. It has a long and varied history, and if you’d like to know more about it, click HERE.

There stories of hauntings in the building, with the spirit of a Dutch woman-a suicide-seen by many. Care for a visit?

Abysmally Yours (The Abysmal Dollhouse) AtoZ Blog Challenge

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The Abysmal Dollhouse: Prologue

Painstaking labor, with splintered hands,

Religious fever does not long stand.

Affluence showcased, aging decays,

Domestic roles turn to miniature plays.

 

Shadows seep along the floors

The dockenhaus has closed its door.

The Nurenberg kitchens, metal cast,

Dollhouse owners never last.

 

Passed along from old to youth,

In the end, what is the truth?

That the passing of what was fondly owned

Sometimes falls into hands unknown.

 

These replicas, once loved and used,

(Or, too often, sadly abused),

Put away, forgotten in dusted shade

But the houses…

The will not fade.

 

Too much went into their making

Emotions flew free, all for the taking.

Deprivation of care, an ugly sore,

Eventually becoming much, much more.

 

A resting place, a want, a need,

The houses hanker, they must feed.

Some with love, others with hate;

Fear envelopes those that wait.

 

Now the houses have found a home

A shoppe whose location ever roams.

Its keeper dusts, traveling the floor…

Be wary if you come to its door.

 

The Abysmal Dollhouse is open.

 

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Welcome to The Abysmal Dollhouse and 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 myself as well as my readers.

Since 2011, I have joined this five other times, never the same theme or style twice. I’ve tried one off’s and serialized storytelling. This year will be a little of both, at this point in my quasi-planning. If you’ve read my blog before, you know that The Abysmal Dollhouse has been a series of flash fiction stories that I’ve written over the years. I’m proud of the majority of them and have (almost) aways gotten a positive response to them. Many readers have asked me to continue this storyline: well, here you go. If you want to read previous entries, please use the search function on the page.

This will be the only Sunday post. The rest of the challenge will be met on Mondays through Fridays.

Please click on the link above to find out more about the AtoZ Blog Challenge, as well as to find all the other bloggers who have joined. You’ll find fiction, non-fiction, poetry, rants, musings, photos, recipes, some sexual activity (so posted), and, well, click and ye shall find.

Comments are very welcome, praise or thoughtful critique. If you liked it, there are a stars on top of the page and a like button towards the bottom. You’ll find link button to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media thingies, if you are so inclined.

Welcome to a month of The Abysmal Dollhouse…

For your consideration.

Nerves Like Daggers (A to Z Blog Challenge)

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**To read the first part of this story line: Mental Challenges
**To start from the very beginning: From the Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

Nerves

“Nerves Like Daggers”

The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

The house had been booby trapped.

Luckily for those under his command, Sargent Detective Gil Katsaros held back his men in respect to the local police force. Rovas and Berrak were behind them when the explosion forced them all to hit the ground. Shrapnel flew by Rovas and Berrak, but wood slivers and other debris pierced some who were closer to the house. The five members of the local force were scattered around the burning mess of a vacation home.

Berrak helped tend to the wounded with some of the other officers, after making sure Rovas was OK. He, after checking she was all right, went with the Sargent Detective to examine the scene after they called the local authorities.

“EMTs and fire trucks are on their way,” Gil told Rovas as they went to check on the status of the downed police. Three of them were dead; the other two, one a female cop, were still hanging on. Both were unconscious, which Rovas thought was a blessing for them, seeing how badly they were injured. While the others did what they could until medical help could arrive, Rovas and Gil continued searching the perimeter. The house was still ablaze and too hot to get too close to.

Gil drew his gun, offering Rovas his back up piece. He shook his head and produced his own gun from under his coat. Gil’s eyebrow went up in a bit of surprise, but he let it go immediately.

“I’ll take that, Gil, if you don’t mind.” Berrak had come quietly behind them, aware of her presence when she arrived.

Gil’s face twitched, ready to say no, but Rovas turned and gave his wife his gun. He took Gil’s back up. “I feel better if Berrak has a gun that she’s practice on already. Home protection, after…” he trailed off.

“Right. There’s not much we can do here while the fire burns so hot.” Gil walked over to his second in command and spoke to him out of earshot of Rovas and Berrak. “They’ll stay her for the medical team and back up, and will call me when this area is secure. I’d like to go check out the surrounding area, but…” Gil said, kicking himself as he was saying it, “…stay close to me.”

Rovas only gave him the look. He nodded. Berrak fell to her husbands’ side as they made their way into the trees that surrounded the property. To the west was a small beach area; the east, behind the remains of the house, was forest, a small hill in the near distance led to the south. Open land and the main road were due north. If John Peters was still in the vicinity, Rovas agreed with Gil: the forest would be the first choice to hide or escape through. Everything else appeared too wide open.

They scoured through the copse of trees, searching the tops of the sturdiest trees as well as any large groupings of shrubbery. They heard the sirens in the distance. Rovas remained intent in his hunt for Peters; Gil was glad to hear the sound, knowing reinforcements would soon be freed up to join them. Berrak was unsuccessfully looking for any markings of Peters passing this way. There were none.

She turned around, looking back along the way they came. The land had risen slightly as they walked, which now gave them more of a panoramic view of the burning house and more of its surroundings. Around a bend in their search, she spotted something: a bright glint of light to their left. She prodded Rovas, who tapped Gil. They began to crouch just as they heard the sound of a rifle firing.

Gil went down in a spray of blood from his shoulder. Two more shots rang out, missing them.

“Berrak, stay with Gil. Call for help.” She began to shake her head, but Rovas was already off. As he ran, he flicked the gun safety switch. He heard Peters cutting through the brush more than saw him. There were glimpses, but not enough for a clear shot as he ran. There was more than a twenty years difference in their ages, but Rovas was spurred on by adrenaline and anger.

Rovas followed Peters as the hill rose steeply. Peters fired off another shot, turned and ran again.  He missed, but this allowed Rovas to lesson the distance between the two. The killer crested the hill and disappeared completely from sight. Wary, Rovas made his way to the top, expecting another bullet.

He crept to the top and peered over. The hill sloped down with a radical drop. He saw Peters sling his rifle over his shoulder. From the distance, Rovas saw Peters take out a piece of paper, a knife, and watched him drive it into the trunk of the tree closest to him. He climbed onto a waiting motorcycle and put a helmet on. As he revved the engine, Peters turned and looked up.

Rovas and Peters locked eyes for an instant.  Peters reached up and closed the helmets’ shield and kicked up the stand. Rovas took aim with his gun and fired off four shots. Peters drove off at high speed and was gone in a flash.

A medic was tending to Gil as Rovas came to where he left them. Berrak was by him before he could say anything. She checked him over to make sure he wasn’t shot. She found nothing more than scrapes. “I’m ok, I’m ok,” he said to her as she dabbed at the blood on his hands and then face. “It’s only a flesh wound.”

“This is not a time for joking around, Zarian.”

The half smile faded from his face. “I know. He got away, Gil. Had a blasted bike hidden away. He left us a present where he stashed his motorcycle. We’ll pick it up soon.”

“Military planning all the way around. Take the enemy out, stake out the high grou…ouch!…high ground. Plan your retreat.” Gil grumbled. “Bastard.”

“Your shoulder?”

“Through and through,” said the EMT, Jill. “We’ll take him to the hospital for a full check up. Yes, you are going to the hospital,” she said, before Gil could say anything.

“I assume you’ve already had this argument while I was gone.”

She turned to him, tight-lipped but smiling nonetheless.

“Gil, go. We’ll be right behind you.”

Rovas put his arm around Berrak’s shoulder, pulling her into a hug as the others made their way back to the house.

“I was worried,” she said.

He just nodded his head, which she felt alongside hers in the embrace. They stood like that for a little bit, then made their way to the car.

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“The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Cold case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve. My plan is to use a variety of genres within this overarching theme to allow me to play and, of course, challenge myself. Some cases might bleed into another case. Most will be stand alone. We’ll see, won’t we?

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.

So, join me (and the over 1700 other blogs involved) starting on Friday, April 1, 2016 and ending on Saturday, April 30th. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy the stories.

Inquiries (A to Z Blog Challenge)

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

Impulsive2

“Inquiries”

The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

The tiny caskets were lowered into the earth. The entire Palmont family was there; Gerald was holding both his parents hands, while Janice and April held each other, slightly apart from their mother and father. Berrak was standing off to the side, towards the back, while others gathered around, the first to the grave site trying to touch or hug the girls. Most still didn’t understand Janice and April’s avoidance at the chapel: here, the rebuffs left nothing to misunderstanding.

As the mourners were leaving in small clumps, Berrak gathered herself to join them. She noticed that Janice was staring at her. Neither of them moved for a moment, Janice did a small wave to Berrak, then looked to her parents, then to April. Berrak caught her eyes one more time. She nodded and left.

Khazarian had stayed at home. He felt that he had done all he could do for the girls. The case closed. The funeral, in his opinion, was for them to come together again as a family. He was not part of that process. Berrak disagreed, so she went while sat at his desk, looking over the notes he was adding to the Palmont children’s file. Plus, the file notes about their abductor/rapist, John Peters. Sargent Detective Gil Katsaros had called early in the morning, bringing him up to speed on the proceedings.

John Peters was ex-military, a fact Berrak fathomed by the way Peters held himself while they were in his kitchen. “His posture was stiff, and he clasped his hands tightly about his back,” she said. “I’d be surprised if he didn’t have a military background.” She was right, of course. Each turn of events with his wife left an ever growing sense of respect for her, even with a high regard to begin with.

What he was loathe to tell her was that Peters’ lawyer had him plead not guilty, by way of PTSD. An insanity plea. Khazarian shook his head when Gil told him, this, noting the anger in Gil’s voice over the phone. At this point, Peters was locked up in a secure mental ward, undergoing psychiatric examination to either support or deny any of this. His military file was sealed. Both of them were extremely curious about that, but there was no way they could get that information. It would be on the shoulders of the prosecutor.

There had nothing in their data system about Peters. He had no arrests, no outstanding tickets, and nothing more than an expired meter ticket from three years prior. Bank statements came up clean. There was nothing that outwardly appeared unusual.

That is what gnawed at Rovas. Psychopaths walked among them, he knew all too well.

Rovas completed updating the files, copying down all that the Sargent Detective shared with him. He had a light bite and returned to the study, looking over the files to other cases on the desk. Berrak returned soon after.

“How was it?”

“Dreary. Dreadful. A funeral.” She sat facing him. “Why is it worse when it’s children?” Pausing, not waiting for an answer. “I know, I know. I know all of the usual reasons, the life ahead never happening. This…this was just compounded by what Janice and April-and Gerald-went through.”

Khazarian got up, knelt in front of her, and gave her a hug. He held her until she stopped crying. She gave him a kiss. He patted her back and returned to his chair.

“Zarian, got your shirt wet,” she said as she wiped her face dry with a tissue.

“It’s not the first time. If that is the worst…”

“I know.” Berrak took in the stack of folders on the desk, noticing one was open, some of the papers flipped over. “Is that…”

“No. The Palmont case is closed. I’ll tell you later about what I gathered from Gil about John Peters.” They both involuntarily twitched at that name, he in his shoulder, she in her face. “This file, well, this one does not involve any children.”

He pushed it over to her. Berrak took it, turned it right side up, and began to read.

“Really? Lacing marijuana with Heroin? Why is this…oh. Five deaths.” Looking up, she continued. “Obviously, you didn’t find the one, or ones, who did this. Do you think we could find something after…” she checked “…seven years?”

“Read on,” Rovas answered.

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“The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Cold case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve. My plan is to use a variety of genres within this overarching theme to allow me to play and, of course, challenge myself. Some cases might bleed into another case. Most will be stand alone. We’ll see, won’t we?

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.

So, join me (and the over 1800 other blogs involved) starting on Friday, April 1, 2016 and ending on Saturday, April 30th. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy the stories.

Delicate Decisions (A to Z Blog Challenge)

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Delicate

“Delicate Decisions”

The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

The morning started not with coffee with his wife but a dialogue, one Khazarian had hoped would not happen, but knew it was eventual. Just not this soon. Berrak was sitting up straight in her chair, arms folded tightly across her chest. He took a glimpse towards the coffee equipment, sighed, and sat down opposite his Berrak.

“Why?” She nodded her head towards the file folder he had placed beside himself on the kitchen table. Berrak stared at him. Khazarian noticed her eyes were wet.

“I rarely, as you know, ever brought work home. Yes, even though that time that work followed me here. I’ve had cases that…I have cases that were never solved, that baffle and gnaw at me to this day. You know that as well. Berrak, you could always sense how I was feeling,” he tried, with a smile.

“So?” It didn’t work. “Again, I ask ‘Why’? Those cases belong to your old unit. You’ve done enough. We’ve done enough.”

“Do you really believe that?”

A tear made it’s way down Berrak’s cheek.

Rovas sighed, reached out a hand towards his wife. It took a moment for her to unclench. Berrak took his hand in hers.

“I do not do this to punish us. You. All this free time…I have not yet adjusted to this new routine. Going in early, the hustle of the day even without a major case, and when it was major…” He shook his head. “I never thought I would miss it as much as I do. I also did not anticipate that cases unsolved would come to haunt me with such a vengeance.”

The room was silent but for the ticking noise of the wall clock. Berrak soon cleared her throat. “I am assuming that that folder holds one of those cases?”

He nodded. “Yes.”

“Tell me about it.”

“Tell you…about this investigation?” Rovas’s eyes widened.

“Yes.”

“Berrak, I don’t wish to…”

“‘Zarian, how will you…well, we…adjust to our new regimen, if you don’t let me in. I am no longer at arms length. Tell me. Please.”

Rovas sighed. “You won’t like this.”

Berrak sighed louder. “‘Zarian…”

Rovas took his right hand back, reached for the folder, hesitated, and then opened the case folder.

“Do you remember, almost five years ago now, the story of the missing Palmont children? Janice, April, and Gerald, ages 9, 7, and 4. On that late summer afternoon, the three seen on the beach, just a few blocks from their house. Witnesses who knew them said they were playing games with an unknown man, blond, tall, thin, who they assumed was a relative of their mother’s,  resemblance enough for them to not be overly concerned.

The children were seen leaving the beach around dinner time. They were never seen again. No clues. We could not find this blond man. It went totally cold and was filed away”

“Could they still be alive?”

“I would like to hope so. I doubt it.”

Rovas was flipping through the pages, glancing at what little they had gathered. Berrak got up, moved her chair around to sit next to her husband. Khazarian looked at her.

“Where do we start looking?,” she said, leaning her head on his shoulder.

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“The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Cold case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve. My plan is to use a variety of genres within this overarching theme to allow me to play and, of course, challenge myself. Some cases might bleed into another case. Most will be stand alone. We’ll see, won’t we?

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.

So, join me (and the over 1800 other blogs involved) starting on Friday, April 1, 2016 and ending on Saturday, April 30th. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy the stories.

“…and Old Lace” (A to Z Blog Challenge)

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and old lace

“…and Old Lace”

The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

 

Being married for forty-one years, Berrak made coffee exactly how her husband liked it, az şekerli. She liked hers çok şekerli, sweet like her nature, and fixed it accordingly. Khazarian would never be called sweet by anyone except Berrak. He had no room for sentimentality when he was working, and only relaxed, just enough, when he was home with her.Now he was home all the time, and it grated on his nerves. Not Berrak. Never Berrak. But, not working, arresting criminals and bringing them to justice. He did not know how to retire.

Holding his demitasse cup still almost full, Khazarian stood, bent over to kiss Berrak, and went into his study. He licked his lips and smiled. “Yes, she is sweet,” he thought, as he made his was to his desk and sat.

Rovas stared at the folders on his desk, the one he looked over just the night before. He knew this was a major infraction, his having old case files at his house, him not on the job anymore. It weighed on his mind for more than a moment. Sighing, he also realized that these open cases would remain so if they just sat in a box in the department’s storage. Taking a sip of his coffee, he opened up the file.

Twelve years had passed since the last of three like murders occurred. The papers played puns with the way the three women had been murdered: strangled by their lace veils. The “(Arsenic and) Old Lace Murders” headline shouted out on the newsstands after the second murder, and even more so after the third.  Each of them a bride for only a week, only just returned from their honeymoon.

He went over the facts, as they had them, and reached nothing new in summation. Each newlywed was found in her bedroom, strangled, the twisted veil still wound around her neck. They had little in common besides being newlyweds, brunettes, and of medium build and height. Differing economic ranges, different positions (the last one didn’t hold a job). Different areas of the city. They were found in various states of undress, but no sexual violence. Each was sexually active, but…newlyweds.

And then it just stopped. No reason why it started that they could find, and nothing after the last murder. Frustrating. With no new evidence, the case eventually went cold. The husbands all had solid alibis, as did neighbors, co-workers, bridal parties, caterers, wedding photographers…the man hours they put in, and nothing.

Unsolved, and new evils coming in by the day, these finally became less of interest. But, not to Rovas. Each unsolved case stayed with him.

Turning on his laptop (grudgingly relied on at first; seeing it’s usefulness in the last years), Rovas went searching. His computer search lasted almost a week, which then led him to walking the crime scene areas again, after so many years. All three residences had changed hands. Two of the three allowed him inside, to just look around the room. The third residence (which was the second of the three murders) was not at home when he called, and had not gotten back to him. He retraced his steps, mentally and in person, all to no avail.

The missing home owner bothered him. Working at night, with Berrak asleep and all offices he needed information from closed for the evening, he took a chance.  Calling his old department, and speaking with Sargent Detective Katsaros, eventually yielded Rovas a name: Micheal Avgoustidis. Online searches revealed a bit about him: a lawyer, widowed, still single, no children. His ex-wife cause of death was listed as accidental, falling down a flight of stairs. Her death three months earlier than Rovas’s first victim. He checked for a photo, and stopped, staring.

The ex-Mrs. Avgoustidis was brunette, of medium build and height.

Rovas felt he needed to take a closer look at Micheal Avgoustidis.

…to be continued

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“The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Twenty six case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve from this list of cold cases. My plan is to use a variety of genres within this overarching theme to allow me to play and, of course, challenge myself. Some cases might bleed into another case. Most will be stand alone. We’ll see, won’t we?

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.

So, join me (and the over 1800 other blogs involved) starting on Friday, April 1, 2016 and ending on Saturday, April 30th. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy what I’ve got planned.

Came The Wind

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leavesThe golden, brittle leaf brushed over the top of her shoe, resting  in mid air for a moment. Another gust blew, picking up the leaf and spiraling it away, under a sky filled with darkened clouds. Alice shivered in her coat, the hem overlapping her knee high skirt. She bunched the top together, clutching it closed, having already pulled up the collar. She stared down at the marble and stone work that lay around her, the past staring back up at her. More leaves blew past her and the others, milling around for a moment, then taking off to skitter across the grounds.

The side comments seemed endless to Alice. A few suffered in silence, getting hugged, heads leaning against shoulders for support, comfort. Alice drifted from one group to another, paying attention to the tone of the voices more than the actual words. The elder set, the few who could barely walk, stayed by the cars. They huddled near the aunt who always needed to be the center of attention, her husky voice talking about anything but what lay before them. A few tears, clutched tissues, and a dreary day filled them all.

The service done, the discussions turned to who was following whom, where they were going, who had to leave. Hugs and kisses were passed around, and the car doors opened, and then closed. One by one, the cars pulled away.

Alice looked on. As the last car left, a vortex of leaves swirled together in the spot left vacant, a mini tornado of golds and oranges and browns. Alice turned to watch the receding tail lights pass through the gates.

The leaves dropped to the ground.