Category Archives: Paranormal

Julemo, The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy

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Julemo, The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy

A prompt from A Creative PTSD Gal

...Some shall be pardon’d, and some punished:
For never was a story of more wo

Whoa. Hold on. Two kids, in the throes of their first lust love, just offed themselves. Their pining for each other hurled a monkey wrench into a powder keg mess, and boom it went off. Four confirmed Main Players died beyond these two, with enough blood on the streets, steps, terraces, and food stalls, that suggest there were a lot more (names not important to the larger issue) who fell down dead: damn kindred kept taking and hiding their deceased. Poor mojo on their famial name if the numbers were known by the populace.

Now, neither head of the two bloodlines were respected or even liked. They held their positions due to fear, the potential of favors bestowed, and the rest who care to be seen with the ones who are being seen without their even trying to be seen. They are a headache on the populace, if not to that last sentence. It’s no wonder their wives cloistered themselves with knitting, other crafty projects, wine, and “hey, is that a codpiece or are you happy to see me?”

No matter, for they all become even more bit players than they had already been. Well, except for the best friend. And the brother. But, this isn’t about them.

The once hot-to-trot teens were wheeled away. Unbeknownst to all the other players involved, not to the building where their bodies were supposed to be prepared for the funeral process. A bit of misdirection brought them to a place that, if alive, they would have killed themselves before willingly entering. Well, again, they were dead, so there was really nothing they could do.

Some of the gas buildup inside of them started to waft out, perfuming the surrounding area. Merc would have enjoyed that, gotten a great big chuckle out of it, and made a bon mot that all his friends would have laughed at, praising his scatological wit, whether they got it or not.

Friar Lawrence waved away the awful smell that started to fill up his small cell. He was lambasting himself for the way everything had unfolded. The friar knew he was culpable as an instigator, sticking his nose so far up the problems of the two households that…well, the picture in his head was enough to cause him the willies. He gave himself some satisfaction that he had nothing to do with Romeo meeting Juliet nor for the two of them falling in lust love with each other.  Just pretty much everything else that ended in their endings. He had a plan to fix things, no matter that Mother church would condem him to Heck for what he was about to do.

He knew a guy who knew a woman who knew a group of people who said they knew things no one else on Earth knew. Two of that group had been waiting in the friar’s cell. They had done their preperations already, and by the time friar and the corpses (later to become the name of a Punk band, circa 1972) arrived, the two men were five sheets to the wind, having found Lawrence’s holy wine stash.

The Friar, after admonishing the pair, needed their help in transferring the bodies to the prepared circle on the floor. Closing his eyes, he performed the sign of the cross, prayiing that he was not overstepping the will of the church and the savior or, well, not as badly as others might judge him. He uncovered the two; first Romeo (“Look at that…” was hushed by an elbow in the ribs by one of the men), and then Juliet (they both whistled their approval).

Candles were lit, ewe blood was tinkled around, and an undercurrent of chanting proceeded. Finally, Friar Lawrence came to the section he most dreaded: he would either succeed or epicically fail. He hoped to make things right, and only if he went through with this…if only he went through with this..if only…

The taller of the two sidemen gave the friar a shove. “Go on, mate. We ‘avent got all day. Go on with your self. ” The other man, who had been nodding off, came to, enough to agree. “Go on,” he slurred.

Friar Lawrence went on. He rushed through the Latin chants, stumbled over the sections that were complete gibberish to him, but was assured it was all right. Once the ritual words were complet, he said:

“These two, whose fate death doth stole, left this earthly plane too soon, too soon. I beseech the one on whom I call to make things right. Make them live, again, so that they may be together, as one.”

With that, a poof of a cloud enveloped the cell, with a stench that made Lawrence wish for flatulence again. Once the cloud settled, a ghastly, oozing, smirking demon, on the smallish size, appeared.

“Really? That’s what you want, what you went through, what you will suffer the eternity of damnation for? Really? For these two?”

Trembling, Friar Lawrence fell to his knees. The taller of the two men just sat down; his friend fell over, snoring.

“Yes,” he quivered. “Yes, yes, yes. My suffering is nothing compared to what these two suffered. Please. Make them live, so they may live as one.”

The demon (whose name I dare not write on pain of pain), looked at the two on the floor. His eyes passed over Juliet’s form, but with Romeo, he spent a lot of time…contemplating. The friar shivered even more, noticing a tumescence he wished he’d never had noticed.

The demon announced: “OK, as you wish.” With that, he snapped his clawed phalanges, and another foul-smelling cloud encircled the square cell. Friar Lawrence keeled over, dead; the tall man slung his passed out partner over his shoulder and was out the door before one could say “Bob’s your uncle,” which he was, but…

When the fogginess in the cell faded to nothing, it took the demon with it.
A stirring came from within the circle.

A painful groan caused eyes to pop open, followed by more groans as the aches and pains of death were shook off upon standing. There was a stretching of limbs, a rolling out of the muscles. Looking around this familiar room, it came that no one was in attendance when there should have been many servants around. Standing in place for a long, stiff time, perplexed, the bright rays of the sun were eventually replaced by crystal clear moonlight as it streamed through the small windo-nee-hole in the wall.

Hands began exploring, feeling what was known but also unknown. Panic soon set in, followed by a flailing  of appendages, hair being pulled this way and that, and a frenzied carrening around the room.  Finally, exhausted, a large plop! on the ex-friars sleeping pallot was felt in great pain. Huge moist sobs ensued.

The star-crossed lovers were, as that damnable friar (in reality, now) asked as he asked for.  Alive, but as one.

Only one.

Combined as one.

One body. One set of hands. One heart. Even death would not part them now.

Knowing he/she/they could not stay, they threw on one of the hated robes that Lawrence had left lying around, which, truth be told, needed a thorough washing.

They realized they could not be called Juliet nor Romeo anymore. That started up a quick arguement. Neither won. They were somewhat something wholey new. The idea came to combine names, somehow; neither one of them could agree who came up with the thought first, which started up another quick arguement with themselves.

Romiet didn’t sound right at all. They were in agreement on that. A few other configurations were considered and abandoned. Fred didn’t work at all for them. With resignation, Julemo was the best of all possiblities.

They crept out of the cell, vowing that the only time they would ever return would be to cause its destruction.  Easing on down the road, it was tough going in the beginning.  As they got the rhythm of their gait in check, they made their plans. Julemo knew if any of their kinsmen found them, they would face death, again.

Julemo fled, under the fairest stars in all the heaven.

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Author’s note:

Jo at A Creative PTSD Gal was one of the writers/bloggers I fell upon (sorry for the bruising) during the AtoZ Blog Challenge. I enjoyed her work and visa versa. Like others, I found a prompt on her blog that actually was a contest, which was the least of it. I liked the picture prompt and that led to Hence, The Exorcists.

Jo had been following another blog that dropped a lot of prompts and then dropped dropping said prompts from their pages. I also had not won the prize from Jo’s contest, but she sent me an email with three potential prompts:

  • The main character is trying to quit smoking and the medication that she is using to help shows her the evil within someone she thought she knew since childhood.
  • The world just survived an apocalyptic event (your choice) and your character has to team up with the one person they hate to survive. 
  • It was not your normal Romeo and Juliet tale. The star-crossed lovers aren’t kept apart by their family but rather an unforeseen paranormal being.

Obviously, I took the last one, tweaked it, and Bob’s your uncle. I left it open-ended because, who knows? Why? I don’t know. Third base.

Hope you liked it. Please check out her blog for stories, doodles, and a lot more.

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Hence, the Exorcists

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Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus, omnis satanica potestas, et secta diabolica…
The exorcism was conducted three times by three priests: two blessed by Rome, one who got his degree online. Exhausted, the three stood, facing the evil abode. It looked down on them with disdained amusement.

The Arbor of Solomon they constructed trapped and halted the spread of its demonic ways. Before they came, it got the Weeping Willows, red droplets pooling around the roots. Mrs. Alto’s Victory Garden ate her dog, three cats, and the mailman’s left leg. Shrubbery wilted, foundations cracked, and Vampiric chipmunks invaded. Subverting the Women’s Weekly Book Club was the step too far; hence, the Exorcists.

After a quick call to the Vatican, all three packed up their bags and began to leave. The Online Priest pulled a sign from his bag, driving the stake into the thorn-laden lawn.

“House for Sale. Terms Negotiable.”

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The above little bit is from a Prompt Contest that was created (and is run by) Jo at A Creative PTSD Gal.  I “met” her during the AtoZ Blog Challenge. The rules are simple: the photo, above, is your prompt. Limit your story to 150 words exactly. This is a contest: if you decide to join in, there is a form provided by way of the link above. Jo says: “This could be in any genre you like, non-fiction, fiction or what strikes your fancy…”

You have until May 30 2018 to enter; she’ll post the winner(s?) soon after.

I just had fun with this. Originally wrote 188 words and had to edit it down. People who know me know I hate to edit, but I do follow rules. Usually. For the most part. When they make sense to me.

 

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.

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.

Take Care: The Abysmal Dollhouse (Reblog Sunday)

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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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Take Care

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The storm clouds had moved along with the wind, leaving behind a still, grey day. The heavy downpour had come down on a slant, washing the dusty windows of the shoppe. The glass glistened as the headlights of passing cars fractured off the puddles, the brief flashing of light creating a strobe effect on the items on display. Dollhouses littered the shelving: Victorian, Tudor, Colonial, Craftsman, and an Abbey. All stood at a slant, showing the open side, the rooms, staircases, floors. The placement also allowed the outside features to shine, the gables, balconies, bay windows, and wrap-around porches, adorned with miniature plants, rocking chairs, and welcome mats.

The bright reflective bursts caught the eye of Mark, who was passing by but at a slow steady pace. His head had been turned to the ground, hands in his pants pockets, shoulders taught. The light drew his eye to the display, and his feet followed. He studied each house, taking in the details, admiring the color scheme of some, others the aesthetic beauty of the architecture. Mark’s wandering eyes and feet led him to the door to the shop. It was a plain glass door, wooden frame, with nothing to announce the name of the place of business. He found his hand reaching for the door handle, but he really couldn’t figure out why.

Behind the glass, behind the dollhouses, The Shopkeeper had been watching Mark as he viewed her safe houses, appraising him, the way he observed, his slow steady examination of her wares. She checked the dark corners of the shoppe and let out a wistful sigh. Some of the houses hungered, and she wished them appeasement, yet this man was not for them. The Shopkeeper shushed them before Mark had completed turning the door handle and entered, the action causing the hanging doorbell to sound.

The Shopkeeper took in his appearance, which through the window gave him a yellow/sepia hue. Inside, things did not change all that drastically. While he took a few steps in, looking around, she observed his color choices were dull, and his clothing, while well kept, was far from being stylish. He looked lived in and comfortable in what he wore, but his body language suggested more.

“May I help you?”, she asked.

Mark looked up from the Carriage House he was staring at. “No, thank you. I…I’m just looking, I guess.” He paused, his shoulders frowning, turning his head to the left, away from the Shopkeeper. “I’m not even sure why I came in. Dollhouses,” he swept his arms, palms up, around the room, “are not really an interest of mine. My ex was into it, and my daughter. Mom, too.” Mark shrugged his shoulders. “Sorry. Not sure why I’m telling you any of this. Is it OK if I just look around?”

The Shopkeeper nodded, picking up her duster, for there was always dust in the shop. The flakes swirled in the sunbeams as they slanted through the windows. Today, they weren’t visible…until it settled down on top of the many surfaces. Mark brought in his own dust trail, and he was leaving it around the shop as he went from dollhouse to dollhouse. She followed him out of the corner of her eyes, marking where she had to concentrate on dusting, later.

She heard him stop walking. His shoes had been making a tap,tap, tapping as he walked; when he stood still to look, and he bent down, the shoes gave a little squeak, adjusting to the new stance. This time, it was a full stop. No noise from his shoes. No “hmmm” or “huh?” or just regular breathing. Stillness. The Shopkeeper turned and looked at Mark.

He was frozen in front of a traditional style dollhouse. Two floors, an attic with dormer, wide porch, shutters on the windows, wood detailing, the front door with two windows on either side and five windows on top, with the middle window directly above the door. The house in pristine white paint. Mark was staring hard. He gasped for air, realizing he had been holding his breath.

Turning the house around, he let out another slight gasp. “My house. This…is my house.” He stood up, looked around, found The Shopkeeper. “How? This is my house.”

The Shopkeeper walked over to stand by his side. He followed her as she bent down to look inside the house, adjusting it so they faced it squarely on. Mark began to point out some of the details to her. The layout was the same. The decor, the same: paneling in the dining room, the soft blue scalloped floral pattern wallpaper that ran from the front door to the kitchen, up the stairway to the halls on the second floor, the wood floors with its various rugs and runners. The tables, chairs, sofa: same as it ever was.

Mark forced himself to look at the bedrooms, the ones on the second floor, and the den that had been converted to one on the first floor. He reached into his room, stopping to look at The Shopkeeper, waiting for permission. She stood, did a light dusting sweep of the houses’ roof, and moved back to the front of the shop. Mark bent back down and touched the bed. It felt soft and inviting.

His eyes and hands traversed through each room, taking in the memories each invoked. The kid’s room, converted from the guest room after his divorce, was as they had left it after they both stopped coming, college then marriages, ending their obligations to be there, to be with him weekly. His parent’s bedroom, full of his mothers’ things, which she valued above anything else most of the time. The walk-in closet crammed with her clothing, shoes, pocketbooks, hats. Her cane leaning against the nightstand.

Mark kept his eye on the cane for a short while. He started to reach in but stopped, closing his eyes, his right hand locked just outside of the room. He breathed in deeply, letting the air escape slowly. Three times. Opening his eyes, he moved his arm.

Piece by piece, Mark removed items from her room, placing them down on the side of the dollhouse shelf. The dressers, the rocking chair, footstool, pictures hanging on the walls, the bed, night table, the cane. He emptied the closet of all the clothing, making neat piles on the shelf next to the furniture. He was looking at an empty room, save for the wallpaper she loved. Mark stripped that off carefully, leaving the white walls underneath without blemish as best he could.

The kid’s bedroom was next. It was easier to strip away everything in there, things that would never be used again. Removing everything on the second floor, leaving his room alone. Marks’ excavation, of digging down to the basis of the home, continued downstairs. He methodically removed the items and decor from the living room, foyers, kitchen.

The bedroom nee den stopped Mark dead in his tracks. His eyes got blurry, wet, forcing him to wipe his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt. Leaning against the back wall was another cane, next to a walker, next to a wheelchair, next to an oxygen tank. The hospital bed was in the center of the room, which had been denuded, sterilized down to its bare bones.

Mark knelt on the floor, slightly rocking back and forth on his heels. “Sorry, Dad,” he whispered, as he cleansed the room as he had done with the others. When he finally took the hospital bed out of the room, he held it up, examined it, had trouble putting it down, but he eventually did.

While this last task was going on, he had faintly heard The Shopkeeper moving around him. Looking down once the room was emptied, he noticed that all of the familial life pieces had been removed. In their place was new furniture, the stuff one fills a house and makes it a home. Mark wasn’t too surprised to see that it all was in his tastes, design, and color.

He filled up the house quickly. Mark moved his things into his parents’ room, adding a few new things that he found left for him. The kid’s room was returned to guest room status, and he transformed his own room into a second. He moved to the first floor, laying down wall to wall carpeting, then bringing in the chairs, tables, sofa, big comfy chairs with big comfy pillows, large screen TV and fixings.

Mark took his time when it came to refurbishing the bottom bedroom back into a den. Executive office chair, desk, computer, stuffed full bookcases and shelving. It was comfortable, and he finally relaxed.

The doorbell rang. Mark got up from the padded chair, walking towards it in his socks only, not wanting to mar the new carpeting. As he got closer to the door, he noticed a familiar face peering in through the left side window at the door. Mark stopped short. He hadn’t seen her in years, lost touch with her, missed her all this time.

He reached out and opened the door.

“Donna.”

She smiled at him, bottom teeth still slightly crooked, head tilted to her right, eyes shining. She had on the red dress and white stockings with red hearts on them, the same as she wore that one Valentines Day.

“Are you going to invite me in?” she asked.

Mark did, watched her walk a few steps down the hall and into the living room.

“I really like what you did with the place,” she said, whirling around. “Feels like home.”

Mark smiled deeply and went to join her.

The Shopkeeper turned the dollhouse around, the front facade facing out towards the aisle. She gave them the privacy they both deserved.

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

Author’s note: I thought this would be a nice piece to put after yesterday’s Y post for the AtoZ Blog Challenge.

Monday, April 30th, brings the final post, Z, which will serve as an epilogue.

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 2nd. 

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.

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

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

Doll

Xanthippe’s Rage

The Abysmal Dollhouse

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

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

There was. He moved on it ASAP!

*** *** ***

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

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

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

*** ***

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

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

***

“HE’S COME! HE’S COME!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued…

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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.

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

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.

waverly-hills-sanatorium

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.

Voices of the Moirai: The Abysmal Dollhouse (#AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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

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Voices Of The Moirai

The Abysmal Dollhouse

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

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

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

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

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

If he hadn’t.

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

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

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

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

“Bum smell,” the soldier offered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

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

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

Unfettered Essence: 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.

desperate-woman-holding-head-in-hands-tearing-hair-psychiatric-clinic-patient_bredtbcvee_thumbnail-full01

Unfettered Essence

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The Shopkeeper withdrew to her back room, sans light, sat in her padded chair, and stared into the darkness. What she had done should not have been realized. She had inserted herself into an action that was not her function, her purpose. She was Guardian, Guide, Teacher, Rescuer…Mother. The balance of chaos and order that she maintained, the weighing of those who were drawn to the shoppe, to them she was Judge. But, Executioner? That was not her role to take on.

Until just now, when she lost herself.

With an abyss dwelling sigh, she levered herself out of her chair. Lightly stepping, she stopped at the threshold to the shoppe. Her eyes went to where the Muirhouse and its new companion were displayed; they were there, a low placed mournful weeping coming from the house. The shack, to its side, vibrated in sudden violent bursts, subsided, and then start again.

She thought the Unfolding Doll would still be fixed in place by the dollhouse. It was not there. Instead, moving just her eyes, she espied the doll in its shadowed corner, more an outline than a full figure. The Shopkeeper knew without actually seeing the Unfolding Doll that its black button eyes were on her. Her composure had reset before she left the back room. She swore to herself that she would not let that happen again.

She tidied up her dress and apron and walked into the shoppe proper. Choosing a direction, she went from dollhouse to dollhouse, stopping to inspect them, to feel its wants, needs, pleasures, pains, and in some cases, its madness. She walked around without her tools: both the duster and the broom left in their places by the front counter. If the Shopkeeper had not been so distracted. If.

Each dollhouse she touched. Each one grabbed a tiny bit of her emotional essence, sated and satisfied with the tidbit. The Shopkeeper gave it freely, not drained or diminished, but removed. She gave, they took, they remained silent.

Stopping near her counter, she went to her knees, touching Mike’s house, the Singleton household, and the Derasar. The pleasure of these was returned to her with her giving. Opening a sliding panel at the bottom of this display case, she brought out a replica she had vowed never to display again. She set it down on her front counter.

The Shaded Radiance Emporium, gaudy in decor, twinkled its fairy lights from the fading sunlight that hit it just so. The fake Persian rug was accented by the fake Chintz draperies. The chairs and tables were spool-turned furnitures, meant to give a Victoriana elegance, but falling far short. The roundtable in the center of the room was covered in brushed purple velvet that hung 2/3 of the way down, covering the middle pedestal.  Long strands of colored beads blanketed the two doorways on either end, and the two windows were overtaken with blackout curtains.

A bemused chuckle left the Shopkeeper as she sat down in one of the chairs. She looked at the beaded doorway facing her and waited. Soon enough, the clattering of the beads announced an entrance, much like the door chimes that tinkled in the shoppe. A crystal ball was carried in, but not placed on the table, but off to the side.

“That’s not for you. That’s to come. You, for you, cards.” The older woman, covered in unmatched layers of different colors and patterns, settled her many skirted self into the chair opposite the Shopkeeper.

A croup-like cough came from the older woman, drawing out a large deck of cards from a hidden pocket. “You swore you would never return here. You swore, but I knew. I knew you would have to come to see me. You will still have to see me again, one more time.”

The Shopkeeper sat silent, staring at the woman, then looking at the cards. She did not wish to show that that last statement bothered her more than her being in the Emporium at present.

“You still won’t talk to me. That is fine. The cards will tell us what we need to know. What you need to know.”

She shuffled the cards, placed them face down, and the Shopkeeper cut the deck. The older woman repeated this two more times. On the Shopkeeper’s third cut, the Mystic took the cards and began to lay out a pattern.

Without turning her head, the Shopkeeper knew that the Unfolding Doll was still watching her from across the shoppe.

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

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.