By: J.J. Cheesman
It’s been two years since that day that I sat in at my parent’s kitchen table and learned about the terrible secret that the old man kept. Since then I have moved out on my own, and I now live in a modest studio apartment. It has been… difficult, to say the least, living on my own that is. Last time I told you all that I would wake up at night to the sound of footsteps on my bedroom floor, and that is true. Often I shoot up at of bed, sometimes at midnight, at other times, not till three or four in the morning. But it’s always to the sound of what sounds like tiny, muffled footsteps scampering away in the night. When I search my room, there is nothing to be found at all.
That’s not everything, though.
When I’m at home, I constantly feel as though I am being watched. Because of my late night intrusions, I had taken to staying up watching television on the nights that I didn’t have to go to school. On these occasions I would be binge-watching some series, or some light-hearted comedy movies, when all of the sudden I would hear strange sounds coming from one of the air vents in my apartment. When I would go to investigate, nothing would be there.
Then there were the things that would turn up missing out of the blue. One morning I woke up and began getting ready for school, when I discovered my hairbrush was gone. There was another instance when I my deodorant was nowhere to be found, as well as my favorite bottle of perfume. The nightmares didn’t help. Any night that I DID get any sleep, I would be plagued with the same dream over and over again.
In the dream, Mr. Ahbta would be standing over me, while Christmas lights decorated a house full of dolls. He held out a gift box to me, that was wrapped in pretty pink paper. My parents stood behind him, looking on with excited expressions. Every time I would open the top of the box, even though every ounce of me screamed not to. When I looked inside, there was a rotted carcass of what looked to be a doll, maggots and worms writhing within its softened, green wood. I would look up at Mr. Ahbta in horror, while he just smiled at me with his wide grin and soft blue eyes.
“Do you like it Elizabeth?” I would always wake up screaming, always to the sound of pattering feet.
You might be wondering why I didn’t just return home. Why I endured the torment for so long, living on my own. Well, what was I supposed to do? Go and admit to mommy and daddy that the world was too big and scary for their little girl? That I couldn’t handle it on my own? That wouldn’t do.
That is until last night.
Yesterday, after I got home from school, the lack of sleep had hit me hard. As I sat and watched T.V., I soon became groggy, and before I knew it I was asleep. While I was sleeping, that same dream started playing in my head. I stared at a rotted doll corpse, and Mr. Ahbta looked down at me with expecting eyes. Then, his smiling expression changed suddenly. He became angry, and his hands wrapped around my throat, squeezing hard. I gasped and fought for air clawing at his hands that seemed too small for his body, and felt far too rough. I woke up, gagging and coughing, and to my shock, still being choked. I fell asleep with the light on the night, and Alonzo’s was above me with a manic smile that was never painted on his doll-face. His eyes were the worst part, where they were once the color of amber and made of glass. They were now human, and the color of a soft blue. I grabbed the doll and frantically threw him against the wall and out of sight.
I didn’t stop to look back, I sprung out of bed and ran to the door, snagging my keys off of the hook as I went. I sprung the door open and bolted outside for my car in my bare feet. When I got the car started, I sped out of the parking lot and out onto the highway towards my parents’ house. On the way, I tried calling their house phone several times but got no answer. It was late, so it was possible that they just didn’t hear the phone in their sleep.
About thirty minutes of not obeying the speed limit went by, and I arrived at the house. When I pulled into the drive-way, I looked up at the house. It had begun raining while I was on the road, and flashes of lightning spread light across the yard and my childhood home. My heart sunk as the light revealed what sat behind each window, and the reason my parents never answered the phone.
Thousands of dolls.