Category Archives: Mystery

Reflections of the 2018 #AtoZ Blog Challenge: The Abysmal Dollhouse

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A-to-Z Reflection [2018]

For all the information you could ever want about the AtoZ Blog Challenge, Click:  Blogging From A to Z Challenge.

This was my fifth AtoZ Blog Challenge:

The rules are simple: During the month of April, you commit to writing 26 blogs, each day based off the run ot the alphabet. Up to you how you do that. Blog hop around, read and comment on other blogs, build a community. Don’t sleep. You had to sign up through the AtoZ main page. From that, most people chose and announced their Theme (more below): I signed on late, missed that, and, well…I had no idea what I was going to do up to two days before it started.

Yes, I am that unorganized.

I actually had another idea that I thought would be funny, but when I realized the main character I wanted to use was verbotten, the idea lost all its allure. Quelle dommage. That had me in a bit of a spin; I asked on Tale Spinning if anyone wanted to see me continue some previous storylines that I liked, or should I try something new. I got two: TWO, and only two, requests. Hence, The Abysmal Dollhouse.

I have written TAD stories since 2012. Almost always positive comments. A few followers suggested I should add more to the oeuvre and publish it. Hemming and hawing, procrastinating, all my usual excuses for not committing fully added up to one fact: I didn’t.

Scared? Insecure? A rough number of years on so many levels? No motivation? Creativity and passion just drained away?  Lump them all together and I just never carried it through, letting the ideas pretty much just lay there, occasionally bursting forth. Definitely not often enough. Tale Spinning was pretty much an empty space for the last couple of years.

In actuality, boredom with my life, and myself, kicked me in the arse.

I’m what is known as a Pantser: I don’t prewrite, rarely have an outline, especially for continuing series that I like, and only have a basic idea that I use as a jumping off point. When I started off this round of TAD, I just thought I’d continue on my “Monster of the Week” stories, letting the letter of the day create my title, which then started my writing for the day.

One thing I do do (hee hee. Oh, sue me) is take a little bit of time for research. In this case, I just went online and found a whole bunch of Weird, Murder, or Haunted Houses around the world. I chose a number of places that I thought would be great prompts for every day of the challenge. Didn’t use even half of what I found, this go around.

Something happened that changed in me really early on in the process: I started creating a backstory/mythology for the series and began to drop hints and clues about the backgrounds of The Unfolding Doll and the Shopkeeper. Yes: I started to shed my pantsing and began-gasp!-planning. Not 100%, still no outline, but things were starting to gel and I got much more invested in what I was writing.

I look at it this way: X-Files had many episodes of Monster of the Week, with episodes of their mythology scattered here and there. A MOTW episode could still give us more background info on Scully & Mulder while kinda sorta avoiding the BIG story. Character development and whatnot. That’s how I was viewing all this.

Then the next change happened: I got some new readers, who commented, questioned, told me what they liked, and I felt they were really invested in what was going to happen next. I had that in 2016 with that year’s storyline (link at top of the page), but not to this extent. It kind of added to the challenge for me; it definitely altered my thinking on the storyline.

The ending may seem rushed (it was) but I had dropped hints and clues in many of the stories. It’s hard to fill in all the details when I was trying to limit the daily posts to around 1,000 words. Many people will skip a long posting, and I know I lost potential readers for that reason. Nothing I can do about that. I’m sure many will pass up this reflection for the very same reason. Quelle dommage, part two.

For those who might have missed the main posting where I dropped a lot of clues, go to the “I” posting: In The Absence Of…

A couple of more things: please bear with me.

One thing I’m “frustrated” with are the posts that I thought I was being witty with. Alas, alas, alas.  Too gimmicky? Too obtuse? Spot on? No idea: no feedback. Jabber Wonky was my attempt to play on the Jabberwocky poem in Alice in Wonderland (which gave me the reason to rhyme what goes on in The Child’s mind). I used some of the verbal tomfooleries in the piece, more as an homage; In Quoth the Riven, I think it was pretty obvious. I actually wrote following the path Poe’s poem took. One of my favorite pieces by him.; Orchestra! Curtain! Lights! was my wink to one of my favorite things-animation. It’s the opening lyrics from “The Bugs Bunny Show” theme song. My story has nothing to do with Bugs & Daffy, but Orchestra! was my jumping off point for the tale.

I did not blog hop as much as I was hopping to. I always say I’ll do more, and I did, this year, but I fall far short of others. My apologies. I did happen to come across some wonderfully written blogs along the way and picked up some new blogging friends. I’d like to thank (in no particular order): David, Debs, Sharri, Ms. Wolf, Iain, Jo, Jacqui, Varard, and Melanie. If I’ve forgotten anyone, please forgive me. As to previous readers/bloggers: thanks for sticking with me. Roy: didn’t make that many mistakes this time around, eh?

Special thanks go to Arlee Bird for starting this whole thing, and to the hosts who share the duties. It’s been a blast of a month. Next year? When the time comes, we’ll find out.

Thank you, everyone.

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Epilogue: Zephyr, A Caress: 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. Please check back on Monday, May 7th, for my Final Reflections. Thank you.

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Epilogue: Zephyr, A Caress

The Abysmal Dollhouse

Grief lasts as long as it will last. There is no timetable when it should end, no scale for how deep it should be. Nothing to say grief won’t return. It is its own living thing, and it either eats away at you or strengthen your resolve to go on, to mourn, to let go.

The Shopkeeper embraced hers as an inner sore: on the outside, she presented herself as was her norm. A freshly starched white buttoned blouse, the top button fastened, her fingers assuring her of this fact. She smoothed down the black fabric of her ankle-length skirt. Putting on her apron, she winced, tying it a touch too tight. She left it as it was, as she had done every time since…

In the many weeks since the incident, the Shopkeeper took her time getting to know all the new dollhouses. They appeared, without ceremony, taking residence in the places of the ones that had been destroyed. Malcanisen remained by her side as she ambled about. She still found some of the debris scattered in the most unlikely of places around the shoppe; but, once found, they simply faded away once she wasn’t looking.

This new crop of minature replicas had wants and needs, just as the previous tenants of her shoppe had. When the opportunities presented themselves, they murmured the same “mine, mine, mine” as the ones now absent. But, things were not status quo as before. Far away enough that it brought something new to the Shopkeeper: worry.

There was a balance shift with the new: more unhappiness, more anger, more depravity. These dollhouses outnumbered those that exuded more peaceful memories and needs. The Shopkeeper did not like this new shift at all. Yet, there was little she could do about the denizens about her. Only another upheaval could, hopefully, tip the balance in the other direction, creating a more harmonious setting.

What she could do, she did. Once she had the feel of the new she began to rearrange the placement of the houses. The darker abodes were situated near lighter natured dollhouses; when she could cluster them, she did. There was a stabilizing effect for a short while, but distinct grumblings permeated the shoppe after the first reshuffling. Twice more she shifted locations around the shoppe; on this third try, the houses seemed to accept their lots. The Shopkeeper was pleased, but not entirely happy.

The window display took on a whole new life. A magnificent replica of the Castle of Goeie Hoop stood there, majestic in scope, taking the whole of the display space. Many called out for their due when the new door chimes tinkled; sometimes many hushes from the Shopkeeper was needed to silence them. Occasionally, when she was at her counter, waiting, sounds of gunfire could be heard. The Shopkeeper would look over with a scowl; the noise ceased. Always.

She had begun to avoid the Conservatoire d’épouvante Maison De Poupée best she could. The Wall of Skulls underwent a thorough cleansing of what had been displayed before. All forty-two specimens were new, with new nameplate labels. She had glanced at them early on, missing a few, especially Sigurd. She felt them all yearning to tell their stories, their need overwhelming. It disturbed her deeply; she kept it locked, a drastic change in her dusting duties.

It was one skull in particular that had her in knots. While she was privy to some ghastly knowledge from many in her care, there was that one: she wasn’t ready for it, wasn’t sure if she would ever be ready to hear the telling of this one’s tale.

The label only read “Child.”

Duster in hand, she busied herself around the shoppe, doing her best not to glance towards the empty far corner.

*** *** ***

The soldier only vaguely remembered the incident. He had a new scar that was painful if he placed any real weight on it. He had no concrete awareness of how he got this scar or even the when or the where. All he knew was it ached at times, and was only one of many scars all over his body. He carried it like the others.

There was a stiffness in his right hand, the outer two digits especially. His EMT buddy said it was probably a bad case of Trigger Finger since they sometimes get locked into a bent position. He was able to release them, so he didn’t bother checking out a doctor for it.

“Look, Tom. A Zayat ahead. I could use a rest stop.” His companion, Mary, tired easily, but he was more than fine with that. Her recovery from her stabbings was labeled a miracle by the nurses that tended her. His EMT buddy thought so too, having read Mary’s charts, even though he wasn’t supposed to.

Tom had awakened one day at the hospital, sitting by Mary’s side, no idea how he had gotten there. He remembered tracking Mary’s assailant, and that was it. The next thing, he’s by her side, an aching scar, stiff right hand, and an awake Mary staring at him. Her smile filled her face when she saw he was awake.

The nurses had told her all about the guy who had brought her in, most likely saving her life. They said he sat by her side more days than they kept count, talking to her comatose form, keeping on eye on her while she was out. He disappeared for a bit, and they all thought he had given up hope, but-surprise-he was back, and just after she, also, was back.

They talked for a long time, first about her attack and the aftermath. Mary was upset that her assailant had not been found, but was also relieved that there had been no further sightings or attacks. Tom was a reassuring presence for her, and she wound up being the same for him.

After her discharge, they got closer. Close enough to the point that he easily asked her to come with him: he needed to travel, come to some peace in his being with the loss of his brothers, and the guilt he still felt for falling asleep while on sentry. She agreed, without a second’s thought.

The Zayat was simple but more than sufficient, as all the others they had stumbled upon. They rested, found fresh food and water, and stayed for a few of the religious occasions that happened around them. Mary had an idea that Tom readily agreed to: they were given permission to stay and help tend this particular Zayat, for the time being, keeping it clean, helping with any chores that needed doing, and welcoming other travelers seeking shelter.

Their lives, for the time being, was enriched by this Zayat, the Jivitandana Sangha, and they enriched it, finding peace and love.

*** ***

The Shopkeeper was resting in her back room, fresh scone devoured, a second cup of tea steaming by her side on the table. She had closed her eyes, leaning into her padded chair. Malcanisen was at her feet; on her feet, more accurately, snoring away. Cleaning around the shoppe, tending to those who entered, the houses that wanted: it all still left a hole in the whole affair.

She had thought with the death of the murderer, the vengeance sought and achieved, that she would be released from her binding. As the Unfolding Doll seemed to have been. There had been nothing left of it from the fire that consumed Muirhouse and its woodshed. There had been no shimmering from the far corner, now less shadow filled than it had ever been. She was left, and it was gone, and the pain in her heart was so severe at times, the grief that subsided but rose again, and again.

Something prevented her from moving on. She racked her memory of everything that happened after that night at the Carousel, her then grief turning into a burning pledge of hatred and revenge. Promises made, from her and…promises made, but not kept, it seems, for her.

Collecting herself, she began to breathe in deeply, hold the breath, and let it out slowly. She continued this, calming herself into a single path of breath. It eased through her, a wind of her own making. It carried out a host of inner turmoil, a monsoon of sadness. She rested for a long time.

Until.

She came awake instantly. The Shopkeeper wasn’t sure if she had dreamed it, or…but, no, there it was, slight but there. A tap, tap, tapping…and it was near, so near.

Malcanisen bounded out of the back room. The Shopkeeper jumped out of her chair and ran through the threshold into the shoppe. Stopping suddenly by her counter, she looked around the entire area, looking under, behind, around; no one was there. Malcanisen sat down, eyes on her.  Tears that she thought she had been finished shedding started to well up once again as her heart shattered once again.

Until.

She glanced down. On the top of her counter was a knife. Long and sharp looking, it had a sheen that caught the light in the shoppe and sent spiraling of colors into the air, a prism of steel. She took hold of the hilt of the blade and brought it up, level with her heart, and held it there.

Looking in the far corner, it was again clouded in the deepest, darkest shadow.

And it was unfolding.

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

Here we are: the end of this year’s AtoZ Blog Challenge. During the month of April 2018, the challenge required that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. On Monday, May 7th,  there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers. If you travel back to the main page of the AtoZ Blog Challenge, you’ll find other blogs that participated. Many, I’m sure, will pique your interest, as many did mine.

On May 7th, all of the participants of the AtoZ Challenge are asked to post a reflection on the month’s process: afterthoughts, explanations, frustrations/elations, and whatever else may come to mind.

****After you read the Z post on Monday, April 30th, I will be asking YOU for questions, ponderings, or suggestions you might still have. I found a number of editorial mistakes when I copied and pasted the stories into a Word file (thank you, Grammarly) and already did some (minor) editing. So, if you’ve been with me all along, or just finding your way into The Abysmal Dollhouse, April 30th will be a good time to pose what’s on your mind. I will do my best to answer/address all on the reflection (mentioned above).

Any queries must be posted by Friday, March 4th.

As to what happens next with Tale Spinning &/or The Abysmal Dollhouse…time will tell.

Thanks for reading along.

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.

White Plague: 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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White Plague

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The screaming came from the dark end fo the body chute. Victoria stopped dead in her tracks. She clutched her head with both hands and screamed; a counterbalance to the wailing coming up the passageway. She collapses, wracked with fear, tears pouring one the floor that was pressed against her face. Victoria continued screaming until her vocal cords gave out, leaving only a rasping sound. The shrieking echoed up the body chute until it, too, faded away.

Panting on the floor, Victoria’s mind was in a vortex of thoughts and emotions. Pain overwhelmed her, body and mind. The scream came first to her, scrambling around until she began to fixate on being afraid. Fear turned to hatred. Hatred morphed into Victor, then anger, then pity, then loneliness, then anger again. Fear hit her hard, sending her head slamming into the floor. Fear. Slam. Escape. Slam. Victor. Slam. Knives. Slam. Pain. Slam. Hatred. Slam. Victor. Fear. Slam. Victor. Victor. Victor.

Slam. Slam. Slam.

Woozily, she staggered to her feet. Victoria had to wipe away the blood that was dripping into her eyes; the drool that was escaping from her open mouth. She wanted to cry, to scream. Instead, bouts of coughing shook her, hurting her throat even more. As they subsided, she stood, listening. With a sudden jerk to the left, she heard the sound that had been chasing her. That damned thing…still after her. Still that tap, tap, tapping.

Victoria ran. The coughing resumed.

The Unfolding Doll, knife in hand, moved down the hallways of the sanitorium. It passed the many wraiths that wafted around, in and out of rooms, through floors and ceilings. The doll went after the woman with the bleeding wrists, but it pulled away through the floor. Its knife flashed out in front of it as a leather ball came flying toward its head. The Unfolding Doll lashed out. The ball went through the knife, losing velocity, and fell to the floor behind the doll. Turning, it saw the outline of a child pick up the ball and take off down the hallway, only to pass through one of the closed doors.

These were not the things to pursue. The Unfolding Doll had other prey. Continuing down the hall, floor to floor, it tapped it’s blade, announcing its passing. Knife on the walls. Tap. Kife on doors. Tap. Knife on everything that came its way. Tap, tap, tapping.

It approached room 502 and stopped. The doll did not tap on or near this door. It moved away to the other side of the hall, button eyes fixed on the closed door. Giving it a wide berth, the Unfolding Doll made its way to the staircase, black plastic eyes locked onto room 502 until it couldn’t be seen anymore.

Bleeding badly from the head laceration, Victoria’s strength was ebbing as her voice had. Her throat was even rawer from the constant hacking coughing.  She had tried to staunch the blood flow, tearing part of her hospital gown to make a bandage, but the blood seeped through. When she wasn’t coughing, she heard the tap, tap, tapping as it grew closer. Door after door was locked. There was nothing she could find to jimmy open a lock, no keys to be found.

Victoria went down a side hallway, through a pair of swinging doors. Ahead there was a nurses station, fixed in place. Rounding a corner, Victoria searched the drawers and cabinets for anything she could use: for the blood or for protection, whatever. The station was emptied. Not even dust.

The thing that killed Victor, that drew into this horrible place, was close. She could hear it. Near, too fucking near. She shoved her mouth full of the sleeve of her gown to muffle the coughing. Crouching, she went into the space where a chair would be pushed into. She made herself as small as she could, tried to blend into the shadow underneath. Tried to calm her cough.

Tap, tap, tap. On the top of the station desk.

Tap, tap, tap. Running down the counter.

Tap, tap, tap. Rounding the corner.

Victoria, fetal position, turned her head slightly, enough for one eye to see beyond. There, at the edge, were two black shoes. White linen legs, stitches running up and down. The edge of the knife, glinting in the darkness.

One step forward. Then another. Then…

The Unfolding Doll’s head snapped up and out. It twirled its knife back and forth, rising it towards the ceiling. An inner thrumming sang through its linen body. No decisions were to be made. One moment it wanted Victoria to dance with its blade. The next, it stepped into a shadowed corner and was gone.

Relief washed over Victoria when she realized she was alone. Pulling the material out of her mouth, she gasped for air, reawakening the whooping cough. Spent, she slipped down, laying on the cold tile floor. As she was drifting away, she heard the screaming, again. It was coming from the body chute.

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 Waverly Hill Sanatorium is in Kentucky. Built in 1910, 40 to 50 patients were supposed to be housed there to deal with the White Plague: Turberculosis. Many people died there of all ages. The link will give you more info on the hauntings and stories surrounding the building. The body chute is one of the more disturbing aspects of the place. For some of the more gruesome facts, click HERE.

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.

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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.

Quoth The Riven: 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.

headstones

Quoth The Riven

 The Abysmal Dollhouse

Victor was weak, weary, the dreary night neverending. He leaned against tombstone, almost falling over, carved name and dates faded away. Resting over this forgotten soul Victor thought he might stop for a moment, maybe sit down, maybe close his eyes, maybe refresh himself. He was halfway down, already starting to nod off.

The noise came from a short distance behind him, snapping his head up from his chin. That damned tapping, again. Metal on stone. Tap, tap, tapping, until it became a pounding in his skull. Gritting his teeth, eyes ablaze, he screamed out that devil’s name: “Victoria!” Only that, and nothing more.

Harried, he hurried off, jumping o’er a downed sign. If Victor had time, or care, he would still have been able to make out what the sign read: “Westminister Baptist Churchyard.” Even if he had stopped to read it, it would have meant nothing to him, especially being chased. That infernal tap, tap, tapping. The sound propelled him to his feet. He ran.

Pools of light were scattered throughout the yard, lampposts here and there, lit lanterns once in a while. The moonlight leaked through breaks in the clouds then vanished behind the murky sky. The lanterns cast a twisted light, an off yellow hue, giving the grassy ground a look of velvet, the green giving way to a purple haze. Victor’s heart beat faster, more than his exertions demanded. Peering back, the true darkness ate away at what light he left behind him.

Victor cursed as he ran. “Victoria. Victoria. Victoria!” spat out, counterpoints to the tap, tap, tapping. Crashing through the brush, skipping over broken stone, he ran pell-mell, occasionally tripping, falling, scurrying to his feet to try to escape what was coming after him. This last bout of tripping brought him to his knees, panting.

Looking up, gasping for air, was a backlit shadow of a figure. The lamplight was behind it.

“Victoria?” he asked.

The figure stepped into the light, appearing for the first time this go around. Instantly, Victor froze. Instantly, he realized the mistake he’d been making, forgetting it was not Victoria, it was this…thing. Instantly, he saw the gleaming knife.

“No more!” Yelling, he bolted upright, wheeled around, and bolted.

The Unfolding Doll gave chase. The dense air cut by its pursuit. The scent of Victor’s sweat wafted behind him, leaving a trail something sour. The Unfolding Doll did not breathe in, did not smell what her prey produced. What sent it forward, what drove it, was his unbridled fear. It was pouring out of him.

“No more!” he yelled into the darkness in front of him as he raced on. “No more!” His energy, fed more by his fear than anything, began to waver. He drooped. He dropped, eventually, landing on his knees again, hands on the ground.

“Let me be! Let me be. You’ve sliced me apart, dug your blade into me so many times. No more. Please. No more.” Tears brimmed and fell.

The Unfolding Doll came forward. First a jab, then a slice, continuously flitting about him. It stabbed and punctured, skewered and speared, struck and carved. All the while, Victor’s voice pleading “No more, no more, no more”, trailing off into dead silence.

A few aisles over, at the Waverly Hills Sanitorium, a woman screamed out “VICTOR!” In her padded room, on her padded floor, smacking her head into the padded wall, Victoria repeated his name until she fell unconscious.

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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.

Edgar Allen Poe‘s grave resides in Baltimore. The place is supposedly haunted.

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.

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.

3

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.

Doll, In Shadow: 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.

8a265fd5b13caf558c397bfcbe7038d6

Doll, In Shadow

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The two bodies sprawled in the utter dark, unaware of each other even though one groaned (her) or the other mewled (him). Vicky clutched her left side, sticky wet, her body convulsing. Victor was curled up tighter than a fetal position, a position no grown man who wasn’t a contortionist should be able to actualize.  Victoria and Victor. It was cute when they met; still cute when they married. Not cute any longer.

It had been a long time since anything about the two of them could be called “cute”

If they weren’t alone in their suffering, mere inches from each other, they might have registered another presence in the darkness. If they hadn’t been so engulfed in their own personal miseries,  they might have heard the shuffling footsteps, the scraping of something metal along something like stone, the soft chant of “mine, mine, mine.”  If they hadn’t been so wrapped up in their polemic “I’m right; You’re wrong” attitude with each other, they might not be in the so much peril. If. If. If.

“Mine, mine, mine,” swirled around them.

The figure that had clutched them into its space waited. Neither woman or man moved from their spot, made no attempt to run or, even, really to move much at all. This made it sad, for only the briefest of moments. The sadness disappeared as it began to kneel between the two, the Victoria and the Victor, and as it reached out its right hand to touch her, and its left to touch him, an impression of a smile appeared. Neither Victoria nor Victor could see it, of course. The darkness enveloped them completely.

But they felt the hand as it touched down on them. The left settling on the back of Victor’s head; the right hand displacing Victoria’s hand over her sticky wet side.

Then the screaming started.

*****  *****  *****

The Shopkeeper had given up waiting by the shadowed corner. There was nothing she could do, this side of shadow except wait. The dollhouses took what they took, and she had no power over that as well. Not all taken suffered. Some found bliss, relief, epiphanies. The wicked found…not what they were expecting, in a shoppe full of dollhouses.

Taking off her gray apron and laying it on the front counter, she rehung her duster in its proper place. She went to pick up her broom, thinking she needed to just do something; the floor really didn’t need sweeping, but…

A ruffling sound came from behind her.

She spun around, holding the broom out diagonally in front of her.

It had come out of the shadows into the shoppe. What wanted to be done had been done; there was no reason, anymore, to dwell in its place. The long, sharp knife was in its hand, but the hand was lowered to its side. The shopkeeper noticed a thin line of red liquid dripping down the blade, smeared along the side of its dress, lightly pooling onto its shoe, then the floor.

Its head was tilted slightly to the left. The coal black button eyes fixed on the Shopkeeper. The sharp black ringlets on its head surrounded the round, white linen head. The gloved hands were clutched, one around the knife, the other in a fist. The leggings that extended below the linen dress showed stitching along its sides. The shoes were like black patent leather, but from no hide that was known.

The Shopkeeper faced the Unfolding Doll.

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.