Category Archives: Writer

Liebster Award Sunday: not lobster; 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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“Share, Discover, and Enjoy!” That is the underlying mission of Shari Marshall’s blog, Writing is Communication. We discovered our mutual blogs through the 2018 AtoZ Blog Challenge. It has been a pleasure discovering her work: focusing on a fantasy world continuing story through a drabble (100-word complete flash fiction). It’s not easy to par down all you want to say in just 100 words, make the post complete, AND have it tell an engaging ongoing narrative…well, Shari accomplishes it, and does so very, very well. I’ve linked the title to her blog: go check it out. Now. Shoo. Do it. I’ll stick around for the nonce.

As to the Leibster Award: AtoZ and other blog challenges are two-fold. (1) The most obvious is that they are challenges for the blogger to meet the requirements in whatever they are tasked to do; not always the easiest thing to accomplish, but the reward is in making a go of it and hoping you can see it through to the end. (2) The most important element (to me, anyways) is to discover new blogs and their creators. I’ve come across some amazing sites, followed & continue to follow most, became online friends with a lot of them, and one more intense crossing of paths.

Nominating blogs you admire is tied into the blogging community. It shows appreciation for what you’ve produced beyond hitting a like button, or stars ratings; even beyond leaving a gushing comment or three. While there are many “rules” for the Leibster Award, here are the

RULES OF THE LIEBSTER AWARD 2018
The rules are:

1. Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you and display the award logo.
2. Answer 11 questions that the blogger sets for you.
3. Nominate blogs that you think are deserving of the award.
4. Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
5. Let your nominees know about their nomination!

Hey Shari: I acknowledge you. Phew. That one was easy peasy.

I shall now endeavor to answer her eleven questions, sorta like a magical quest:

  1. Do you think that a writer has to be defined by one genre?

Absolutely not. I do my darndest not to. I believe a writer should move beyond what becomes their comfort zone.  Write what moves you that day. I’ve attempted a lot of genres and styles. Some more successful than others. My blog is an open…blog. The list of the last 50 or so is to the right. Scroll down. Discover. I have favorites that went nowhere.

2. What is your favourite writing topic?

Paranormal stuff. Horror, lately, it seems.

3. Do you have a book that you recommend to other readers on a regular occasion? What and why?

Knots, by RD Laing. It blew my mind wide open at 17. I suggest that if you tackle it, you must read it in one sitting, late at night. If you do, I think you’ll also get a good insight of the mess that is my thinking process.

4. Book version or movie version?

Depends on the book and the movie. Each is its own animal. Caveat: If the movie is trying to be a “faithful adaptation” of the book, then you better damn well be faithful. Loose adaptations, where the director is adding her/his voice (which is the majority) I’ll try and take it as a separate entity. Please note: I wrote “try.” Just be good. Don’t suck.

5. If I gave you the word “vellichor” as a writing jump off point where might you jump?

The Last Used Bookstore In The Known Worlds

6. What would be your dream setting to write in?

THE comfy chair, headrest perfectly aligned (with massage system embedded and  attuned to every ache). THE perfectly brewed Black Cherry Iced Tea. THE best snack at hand: sweet or savory, as needed. THE well-trained puppy and kitten, needing attention; being perfect momentary distractions. Last, but definitely not least, THE love of my life, for fuller distraction and attention, cuddles, kisses, massages (who need the comfy chair, then?), and other things only she can provide.

7. What is your favourite season?

Fall. Cool, breezy weather. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh

8. Who is your favourite villain? Why?

Catwoman. Meow. Does one really need to ask?

9. Who is your favourite hero? Why?

I’m Batman, Damnit.

10. What does writing mean to you?

Release. Distraction. Creativity. Justification. Acknowledgement. Appreciation. Love.

11. How would you respond to either of these quotes from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there” or “No wise fish would go anywhere without a porpoise.”

I’ll take “The Road Less Traveled” for $2000, Alex.

Phew. All done. Wait? That was only #2 on the Liebster rules????? OY…I’m dying!!! Ok, here are my TOP OF THE POPS:

Fiction Can Be Fun   Yes, both of you!!!

A Creatvie PTSD Gal

A Bit To Read

Iain Kelly

Swerve Strikes Again

WordDreams

I’m exhausted. But wait…there’s more.

OK. Here are MY elven…um…I mean eleven questions that the six nominees (well, 7) NEED to answer. There will be a quiz. BONUS POINTS: answer any of the questions with WHY you answered that way. Up to you. No pressure. ::::Unfolding Doll sharpening its knife::::

  1. If you could write in any writers voice besides your own, whose would it be?
  2. What literary genre holds NO interest for you?
  3. What song with a strong narrative still touches you?
  4. What fictional character do you wish you were?
  5. Savory or Sweet?
  6. What are “The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of?”
  7. You stumble upon a magic rock. Picking it up, you discover something underneath. What is it?
  8. Have you had an inexplicable experience? What was it?
  9. What fiction book would you recommend to me?
  10. What movie or TV show do you love but hate to admit it?
  11. What does writing mean to you? (yes, I’m stealing it from Shari. Deal).

Have fun kiddos.

I’m done. Lunch and nap.

Tomorrow: N is for…

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Muirhouse: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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

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Muirhouse

The Abysmal Dollhouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The child grew.

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

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

He ran, he ran, he ran.

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

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

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

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

To be continued…

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

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

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

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

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

Listen…: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge

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

Sound-Waves

Listen…

The Abysmal Dollhouse

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

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

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

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

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

He spat the word “dreamers” out.

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

“Hush,” she subvocalized.

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

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

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

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

She left him, returning to her counter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

To be continued…

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

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

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

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

Be careful if they beckon.

Keening At The Bell and Ram: 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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Keening At The Bell and Ram

The Abysmal Dollhouse

Disappointment did not settle long on the Shopkeeper’s shoulders. The ache inside was a sizeable force that moved her along, binding her to her duties. The sudden unfolding of that horrible memory brought to visual life, did its damage. As it had done before, and she feared it would do so again. She had lit every light, tied back or moved anything that would hinder even the slightest bit of light, all in the effort to dispel as much of shadow as she could in the shoppe. At least, for now.

The far right corner fought her. It wasn’t a lost cause, but it was a strain to contain.

For a short while, things were uneventful. She tidied and dusted, swept and mopped, moved dollhouses around, adjusted displays to her best. There were grumbling sounds coming from all around her; the commotion was a disturbance that put off the houses. They were much settled in their place. Let others come to them. The claiming was the satisfaction.

She placed dollhouse after another in the window, but nothing was feeling right. Ten times she fussed; ten times she returned them to their resting place within the shoppe. The eleventh attempt felt right. Making sure it was just so, the Shopkeeper rummaged in the cabinet underneath the display window, looking for the things that would best showcase its new charge.

Creating this display gave her a focus. A green mat, the color of fresh, healthy grass, was laid down. The piece was next, and she outfitted it with wooden benches that sat along the outside wall. She anchored a tree and some bushes to the mat, creating a path of gravel, from a jar kept for just so,  that led to its door. She fussed a bit more but felt it was right as it was. Brushing her hands together set off a small cloud of earthy dust.

With a “tsk,” she went to retrieve her duster and bin.

An old man had been watching from the street. He had been shuffling along, tan cap pulled down over his forehead, still squinting from the sunlight. The movement in the window caught his eye and slowed him down, and then to a stop when he noticed what was placed in the window. He watched as the details came together, so intent was his attention he barely noticed the Shopkeeper after the first moments.

“Well, I’ll be,” he muttered to hisself, as it all came together. “Well, I’ll be.”

He stood for awhile just staring, losing hisself in what stood before him, and what was dredged up from inside. It was the rolling in of the clouds overhead, cutting some of the sun glare, that caused him to shuffle along again, but this time into the shoppe.

“Howdedo,” he said, noticing the Shopkeeper and doffing his cap. Turning away from her, he looked at the other side of what caught his attention. “Looks like rain. It’s not raining yet. It looks like rain,” more of a mutter than a statement. No answer required.

The Shopkeeper smiled. “May I be of any assistance?” she said to his back.

“Well, I’ll be. It’s the spittin’ image of The Bell and Ram. The Bell and Ram.” He turned his head slightly towards her. “I spent a good part of my youth there.” Turning back, his entrancement caused him to forget her, the shoppe, the weather. Behind the pub is where he and his mates would sneak smokes, drain glasses of beer that were snuck out to them by Tom’s older brother. That bench is where he first kissed Jenny, she kissing him back so hard they fell off of it and laughed on the ground.

Sitting under the tree, telling all the ghost stories that slithered about the B&R: devil worship and child sacrifices. The Lady in Gray who would sip from your mug and whisk you away, keening and wailing loud enough to wake the dead, from the basement and through the walls. The stories only became chilling when they were finally old enough to be inside on storm laden nights, with the wind tearing around and down the chimney, sounding like the Lady was just waiting to sip and take.

The first peal of thunder sent him shuffling inside, more scurry than a shuffle. He had been cold and moved himself to sit near the fireplace. The old man noticed, rounded the bar, and brought him a pint.

“Looks like rain,” he said, receiving the drink with both hands. “Looks like rain, and a lot more.” He took a swallow as the keep went back to tend his station.

Staring into the roaring fire, listening to the wind’s keening,  he repeated: “Looks like rain, and a lot more.”

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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 Ancient Ram’s Inn can be found in Gloucestershire, England. Built in 1145, it has many stories of devil worship, murders, child sacrifices, and the good old Lady in Gray.  Like anything with that age, it has a very colorful history.

A follower of this blog might recognize the old man, The Weatherman, from another AtoZ series I wrote. He just felt right for this.

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 Wonkey

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.

In The Absence Of : 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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In The Absence Of

The Abysmal Dollhouse

There was no dust for the little fingers to doodle through. The Shopkeeper was on top of the particles, no fleck of detritus escaped her eye nor her duster. Without that distraction, the tiny fingers danced over the display tops, in and out of spaces, up and down her glittery cardigan, searching without any prethought. When something met her eyes, the child’s reaction was immediate. In this case, total joy.

She had stopped in front of the Irondequoit Carousel miniature. The horses were rearing their heads, the coach seats laquared and shiny, mermaids with flowing red hair, squat frogs with saddles; all frozen in a circular race. Golden-framed mirrors were hung from the middle station, reverse imaging and refracting the colored lights that ran along the top perimeter.

The Shopkeeper had not moved from her counter through all of this. Her gaze, fixed on the girl who could not be there. The door hadn’t chimed, hadn’t opened nor closed. The dollhouses pleas of “mine, mine, mine” were nonexistent. In the midst of her dusting, she turned and there the girl just was. Her thoughts went cold and ached; she retreated to her counter, her broom close at hand.

A faint blossoming of shadow in the far corner caught the Shopkeeper’s eye: the Unfolding Doll was there, more in shadow than not. The doll was just there, her attention also focused on the girl. The Shopkeeper’s instinct was to confront the doll: it could not have the girl. But, the doll’s stillness halted her rush over. She noticed, too, that the Unfolding Doll was sans weapon. She let out a breath she did not know she had been holding. Her attention went back exclusively to the girl.

The carousel’s calliope music roll began to turn, the sound reaching around the shoppe. With it, the amusement ride began its endless circular journey. The girl’s laughter melded with the music; she twirled around as it did, tightly holding onto something in her left hand. The Shopkeeper cried out “NO!” as she tried to move away from her counter. Paralyzed, she could only watch.

Clambering over the slowly spinning side of the carousel, the girl wound her way around the poled figures. She climbed on one, rode for a bit, tried another, and then finally settled on the mermaid. She whooped with glee, the Shopkeeper noticing the huge smile that came into view with every revolution.

“No,” she moaned, tears streaking down.

Out of the housing that surrounded the center pole and its machinery, a figure emerged. The Shopkeeper saw it was a man, dark clothed, oily outer coat, matted down dark brown hair. She noticed his eyes, searching for and following the girl as she appeared and disappeared around and around. He jumped onto the spinning base just after the girl had gone by again.

Spellbound, the Shopkeeper could only watch the scene as it was enacted: he caught the mane and strap of the horse that rode the highest as the hanger rotates it up and down; he reached into an inside pocket of his long hanging duster and drew out a long knife; clutching it, he advanced on the girl. Raising his arm, the knife blade reflecting the colored lights of the carousel, the music pulsating around them, the man slashed down.

If the girl cried out it was mixed too tightly with the calliope sounds. She slumped against the pole embedded in the mermaid, jerking as the knife plunged into her another time. Then she fell, and the man knelt down and delivered one final thrust. Standing up, he tore the thing that the girl had been holding onto throughout it all: a linen doll, now bloodied. He dropped it on the body.

The Shopkeeper could not see the blood that pooled on the floor of the carousel, the blood that stained the mermaid, that splattered the arc around the still moving amusement ride. She didn’t need to see it with her eyes.

Just as it had started, so it all ended. No movement. No sound. The lights that broadcast from the carousel were gone. The Shopkeeper felt she was freed from whatever held her so, but she still did not move, except to extract a tissue to blow her nose, another to wipe her eyes and face.

Exhaling deeply, her eyes were once again attracted to the far corner. She had completely blotted out the Unfolding Doll from her conscious. The doll did not appear to have moved an iota from when she last took notice, but something was different. Glancing down at the doll’s left hand, she saw its long sharp knife.

“Yes,” she acquiesced to the Unfolding Doll.

“Yes, yes, yes.”

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.

Heights Withering: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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

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Heights Withering

The Abysmal Dollhouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it was her last.

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

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

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

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

Until she tells me otherwise during our dance.

What We Hold Onto: The Abysmal Dollhouse (reblog Jan 2, 2012)

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What We Hold Onto

The Abysmal Dollhouse

January 2, 2012

The late December air outside The Abysmal Dollhouse smelled like snow; it was either a pleasant promise or a horrible threat, depending on how you felt about this turn of the weather. The Shopkeeper had been busy decorating, dusting, and defending herself inside the shop. Most of the time was spent puttering around, but there was just as many times when she had to… sidestep mishaps.

She had already frosted the windows, hung garlands of greens, reds, and silver. The blue and white lights twinkled on and off, in various patterns and in complicated loops throughout the store. Many of the dollhouses were opened wide, reveling in the joyous patterns that were presented for all of them. Many, but not all. Those… Those are not ones that even the season allowed them to join in.

The front door opened with a tinkling of bells, and a heavily bundled older woman entered, closing the door behind her, checking to make sure it was firmly closed. The shop was warm and cozy, allowing her to undo her knit scarf, unzip her parka, and take off her gloves. She left her hat on, just in case.

Looking around the store, she smiled broadly. It was transformative, that smile, and The Shopkeeper could not help but smile broadly too. It was infectious.

“Can I help you, Mrs…”

“Miss. Miss Singleton.”

“Oh, but you…”

“Miss…Singleton,” she said, losing part of her smile, as she glared at The Shopkeeper.

“Of course,” acquiesced The Shopkeeper. “Welcome to my shop. How may I help you?”

“I’m not sure. I was just on my way home, and I noticed the dollhouse in the window, and the lights, and…oh, you did a marvelous job decorating. I assume it was you. Was it?”

The Shopkeeper nodded. Her smile returned, enjoying the compliment.

“Wonderful. All these dollhouses…so many different styles. I was never interested in such things when I was a child, or even as I grew older. Do you mind if…”

The Shopkeeper lifted her hand, palm up, an invitation. “Of course not. Stroll around, and if you have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them for you.”

Miss Singleton put her gloves in the pockets of her parka, and in an unconscious way tugged her sweater down. She ran her fingers through her fine white hair as she took her time studying the miniature displays. She said “Thank you” as an afterthought, transfixed as she was by not only the delicate craftsmanship but the stories the placards told.

The variety of the houses captivated her. Some, Ms. Singleton sensed, were not “right”, so those she avoided in as wide an arc as she could in the cramped store. She noticed some houses behind glass, against the back wall, and these radiated more ill ease. She shook her head, laughing a bit at herself. “They’re just dollhouses, silly old woman,” Ms. Singleton said to herself in a whisper.

The Shopkeeper walked around and shut a few of the dollhouse exteriors. Ms. Singleton thought she heard voices from those being closed…all sounding like “No!” or “Mine!

“I’m sorry to distract you,” said The Shopkeeper. “I should oil the hinges of these. They make such awful little noises.” Walking over to the back wall, she drew a heavy looking black curtain across the displays.

Miss Singleton’s attention wandered back to the open dollhouse in front of her, offhandedly remarking that it was all right, she understood. She was bending over an antebellum-style Southern mansion: the Nottoway Plantation, the placard mentioned. “At any given time, 200-300 slaves worked the fields. Many died and were buried outside the plantation grounds. During the Civil War, Mr. Nottoway took 200 slaves to Texas. None made it back.”

With each dollhouse, Miss Singleton noticed all the details, the furnishings that looked just right. The craftsmanship was uncanny, and she deeply appreciated the work that went into what she saw.

She was most enamored of le Conservatoire d’épouvante Maison De Poupée, with its Wall of Death. Miniature skulls of differing shapes and sizes, and a magnifying screen so she could read the mini signs, each describing how the death occurred. She covered her mouth when she began to laugh out loud at “Death by Stupidity,” and ended up chuckling to herself, wondering about all the stupid things she saw in her long life that could have caused someone to die from it.

The Death by Stupidity skull’s jaw began to move…

“Shhh!” The Shopkeeper tapped the dollhouse, surprising Miss Singleton. “I’m sorry to intrude, and I did not mean to startle you. I think there is a dollhouse you should see. Follow me, please?”

Miss Singleton let herself be led away. She looked back, once, and thought she saw tiny movements from the Wall of Death and thought she heard tiny sing-song voices coming from the dollhouse. She shook her head and looked away, back to where The Shopkeeper was taking her.

“Here, Miss Singleton. I think you might appreciate this dollhouse.”

The Shopkeeper gestured, and Miss Singleton stood stock still.

“That looks like the house I grew up in,” she said. “How…oh, look.” Examining the exterior, she was filled with memories of climbing out of windows, running in and out of the doors, anything to play wild outside. She turned the dollhouse around, inspecting all the sides.

She stood up and made eye contact with The Shopkeeper.

In a whisper: “This IS my house!”

The Shopkeeper bent over the house, touched a part of the roof, and the house opened up.

Every room was identical to what Miss Singleton remembered. Details in miniature were exact, from wall coverings and paint colors to the furnishings. She explored every room, one at a time, picking up items from each location, and then carefully putting them back.

“My room…” and it felt, to Miss Singleton, like it had been forever since she had been so happy, so free, as her eyes wandered around “her room.” Bed, books, desk…all there; and, lying next to the bed…

He rose up on his hind legs and barked at her, waiting for her to get off the bed. She dove off the mattress, giving the large German Shepherd a huge hug, driving her hands into his fur. He huffed and tried to wiggle out of her embrace, but the dog was no match-this time-for the strength of a girl who loved her dog.

Wiping away tears, she got up, looked out the window, and noticed what a beautiful day it was outside. Dressed all ready for it in tee-shirt, shorts, and sneakers, she opened the door.

“Come on…let’s get out of here!”

The dog bounded after her, as she ran past her sister’s room (knocking on it really hard), flew down the stairs and bolted out of the front door. Her laughter was mixed with her companion’s barking the whole way.

Catching up with her, he ran circles then between her running legs. Down she tumbled, her smile broader and her laughter deeper, and they wrestled together on the lawn, and she didn’t care if she got grass stains on anything. She was happy, and she was with her dog. The dog.

The thing she loved most of all.

The Shopkeeper had been watching all of the joy and merriment happen to her. She heard the squeals of giggles and barks…straitening up, she knew she was not alone.

Turning to her right, The Unfolding Doll was motionless, fixated on Miss Singleton’s escapades. The Shopkeeper noticed there was no knife present, and she relaxed a bit. She had never seen this behavior before from the doll, and never had felt this sense of…calm, either.

They stayed like that for a short while. The Shopkeeper’s attention was brought back to the dollhouse with a slamming of the front door, and she noticed the young Miss Singleton now seated in the dining room, her companion lying at her feet, and she doing her best to put her feet on him. He grumbled and moved; she did as well.

More than satisfied, she closed the dollhouse, snapping it shut. The Shopkeeper had kept The Unfolding Doll in her line of sight. The doll’s head turned slightly, its glass eyes locked onto The Shopkeeper’s, who was expecting the worst. They stood that way for close to a minute, neither moving.

“I…,” began The Shopkeeper, but the moment she spoke The Unfolding Doll faded back into the dark parts of the store. The Shopkeeper was alone. She patted Miss Singleton’s house, and before she walked away, she heard the sound of feet running up stairs-both human and canine-doors being knocked on and then slammed…and always laughter mixed with barks.

Going to the front of the store, The Shopkeeper looked out the front window. It was snowing; that deep heavy looking all white snow that covered all outside. She smiled, enjoying the silent pleasure before her, and the pleasure that she had experienced, and shared. It brought back her own memories before she took over the duties of overseeing the shop. Good memories, mainly, and know that she found comfort in her life, then and now.

“Well, that was a start,” she said, turning away from the window, speaking to the back shadows of The Abysmal Dollhouse. “If you can hear me, you can have pleasure too. It does not always have to end in violence. You can have what she has.”

No answer. She had not expected one.

But, as she said, it was a start.

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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: Wow. Six years ago. My life, and head & heart were in a very different space then it is now. I have not edited this piece, even though I see, now, that it def does need it, especially if I want it to fit into what I am currently putting out. I just hope you enjoy it. Still means a lot to me.

Gluten for Punishment: 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.

(CR) Barbara Heimoff Lardizabal

Gluten for Punishment

The Abysmal Dollhouse

Nothing looked familiar, but that seemed to be the way things went nowadays. Arthur felt he was in the right place, was sure of it, but then, again, in the next moment, he was just confused. Arthur paused before the facade of a place with no sign, old but not decrepit, a large window display whose interior was obscured by the glare of the sunlit reflecting off of it. He wasn’t sure anymore of what he was hoping to find. “No way to know if I just stand here,” he thought.

The doorbell tinkled as he entered, and again when he closed the door. Looking around, his shoulders slumped and he let out a soft sigh. Arthur took in his surroundings, finally turning to the woman who was watching him, waiting. No one else was in view, even though he thought he heard some muffled words in the distance. She looked the part of a store employee: fastidious white shirt, black skirt, and a gray apron. Prim, came to his mind.

“Do you work here?”

The Shopkeeper smiled and nodded. “Can I be of any assistance?”

Arthur, eyes wandering, let his feet follow. Dollhouses. Row upon row of dollhouses, all different styles, all, he noticed immediately, with such details.

“Um, yes. Yes. I was looking for a place that I could have sworn was in this location. Could have sworn. But,” his eyes raised to meet hers, “nothing seems to be where it should be, anymore.” He paused, looking at the walls and displays around the shoppe. “No, nothing is the same.”

The Shopkeeper joined him by his side. “Tell me about what you are searching for. Maybe I can be of help.”

“Um, well, yes, maybe.” They continued walking, stopping, he contemplating the dollhouse in front of him, she contemplating him. “Maybe.”

Replicas of houses began to have mixed in other structures: theaters and museums; hospitals and castles; motels and stores; places of pleasure, of memories, and some…some that just did not feel right to Arthur. Those, he passed by quickly.

He thought he heard brushes of conversation, laughter, animal barks, crying, screams, but looking around, no one else was there with them. “It is all right, Arthur. Everything is all right.”

Standing up straight, Arthur faced the woman. He did not remember telling her his name and was about to say so. But, something startled him, to her right and just over in the next aisle. He left her side, walking to what caught his eye. Joints cracking as he bent to look, Arther’s face became radiant. The Shopkeeper smiled and returned to her counter.

The bakery. His memories swirled of all the tastes of the freshly baked goodness. The smell gladly assaulting his nostrils, breathing in the aroma, closing his eyes to add to his sense of smell, taste.

The service counter was just as he remembered it. Cookies of all types, pastries, cakes, pies. Special delights, like his favorite, a Charlotte Russe, paper sleeved cake filled to the brim with fresh made whipped cream and topped with a Maraschino cherry, with the stem.His dad’s favorite Rum Balls. His mom’s favorite anything sweet. Danish and crumb cakes, strudels, Strawberry Short Cake, and Black & White Cookies.

Arthur was drooling.

“Hello, Arthur,” Mrs. Glibert called to him, behind her place at the counter. “Rye bread is fresh, as your mother likes it. Here.” She handed him a slice of the loaf. The texture was perfect, soft and flavorful, with the crust having that golden baked perfected crunch.

“But, but, um, it’s gluten. I break out in a rash. My stomach tumbles. My…”

“Hush, here. Try it,” she insisted gently.

Arther tentatively took a bite. It was heaven in his mouth. Then another-to hell with getting sick from this. He finished the slice, licking his lips, searching for any stray crumbs. He wanted more.

Mrs. Gilbert handed over a large Black & White; the cake-like cookie still warm and soft, the chocolate and vanilla icing gooey. Arther took it over to one of the small tables with their wire-backed chairs and set about to polish off this treat that he hadn’t had in way too long.

The door opened. “Hey Artie,” the guys called to him as they came in. Ricky, Eugene, and Steve ran to the counter, errand running for their moms but also looking for their favorites.

“Boys, boys, one at a time,” Mrs. Gilbert smiled as she fussed over them.

They brought more of the smell of the bakery swirling around them as they joined Arther at the table. He was almost finished with his B&W and thinking about another. Neighborhood kids in a neighborhood place that had the feel of home. Arther was happy to be here.

The Shopkeeper looked around her empty shoppe,  taking in the memory of freshly baked goodies. She walked to the shoppe door, locked it, turned the sign to read “Closed for Lunch,” and went to her back room for a chocolate chip scone and tea.

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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 G & R Bakery in the photo above once existed in the Bronx, NY. The photo was taken by Barbara Heimoff Lardizabal; you can find more of her work at Bronx Pictures 92.

Now I want a real Black & White!

Forever F(r)iend: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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

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Forever F(r)iend

The Abysmal Dollhouse

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

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

He waited.

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

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

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

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

“Notice anything else?” she asked.

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

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

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

“Read the card.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

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

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

Who’s a good doggy?