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Maaaammy” “Maaaammy” “Maaaammy”...the woman jolted awake and noticed the sun was going down. Three days before Halloween. The car rumbled on… more and more bone-bare trees appeared as they entered a deep forest landscape. As her little girl slept in the back of the car, Jane Wilson struggled to keep awake, casting the odd glance towards Andrew, her husband, his glasses flashing as he stared ahead, driving the car.

It had been another terrible year. This was a fresh start, a chance to escape the bad fortune which had haunted them. Three of their babies had died. The still-born twins, two beautiful baby girls... Then last year, little Emily, killed by that car…  Jane was tortured every minute by these memories.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, it appeared: the house... the home that was to be their future. Jane’s stomach fluttered...why was she so nervous? “This is it, then,” announced Andrew. Larger than they’d remembered it, the building appeared, bold and dark. The key was under the pot, just as the letter said it would be. Through the rustles and groans of the forest, a distant owl could be heard.

It didn’t take long for the woodstove to warm the house. Everything seemed to light up, and the future was hopeful once again. They began exploring the rooms, one-by-one, the little girl excited to discover new things along every passage. Finally, reaching little Amy’s new bedroom, they switched on the light. “Lovely!” screamed Amy, as the joys of the room revealed themselves: a magical play-rug covering the ancient floorboards in the centre, and the four-poster bed in the corner.

Then she noticed the painted wooden box. Amy scrambled towards it, frantically opening the lid. “Wow...look Mummy, look!” Three identical dolls, facing upwards... curly hair, the same prim white dress, the same innocent smile frozen on each face, three pairs of eyes, dark and deep staring up. “WEIRD...” muttered Jane, quickly closing the box.

During the next couple of days Amy became fascinated by the dolls; at every opportunity she had them out, playing dolly games on the rug. “They’re as good as friends,” observed her dad. “Creepy, if you ask me,” replied Jane. But seeing that her little Amy was settled, Jane was content to let Amy play - against her better judgement. There was just something about those dolls.

So it was Halloween and Jane decided to make it a memorable occasion, visiting the nearest store to purchase the usual tacky stuff, and possibly a dressy-up costume for Amy. Andrew had carved out the pumpkin, which lay on the porch windowsill. It was dark as they drove back. Already, crazy-faced lanterns lit up some of the porches and windows of the isolated houses they passed along the way.

Arriving home, the smell of burning pumpkin pervaded the house. Amy scampered about in her little costume, as mum and dad faithfully played their parts on Halloween night. Mum suddenly remembered the scary mask Amy had made at school, that she’d put to one side in the bedroom.

The scream shook the house – Andrew flew upstairs, his wife frozen stiff at the doorway of Amy’s room. The gruesome sight that entered his eyes took his breath away: scattered across the room: butchered. One had its head torn off, the dark eyes looking upwards, still smiling innocently; another with an arm ripped apart; the third, its leg at an impossible angle, lying inches from the body. Thick crimson blood oozed from each ghastly wound – the three dolls... a massacre.

Halloween cancelled, Amy was dragged upstairs. Jane was shaking as she prepared the spare room for Amy, and within minutes she was unceremoniously bedded, door firmly shut. Amidst the little girl’s whimpering, Jane opened a bottle of red wine. “I’ll clean that mess up in the morning, Andy.”

“What’s up with that kid? I don’t understand it. Just what the hell’s going on?” replied Andrew.

After what seemed like hours, the whimpering did cease, and only the autumn wind outside could be heard; branches tapping against some part of the house. Exhausted, but warm in bed, Jane was peacefully drifting off, lying against Andrew’s shoulder, when unexpectedly, “Maaaammy” “Maaaammy” “Maaaammy” could be heard from across the landing. “Just leave it darling. She’s got to learn.” He was right, thought Jane, and she drifted back to sleep.

Time must have passed, because Jane had been dreaming. “Maaaammy” “Maaaammy” “Maaaammy.” Jane sat bolt upright. “I can’t leave her like that, Andrew; I’ll check on her” Andrew pulled the duvet tighter, hearing his wife’s footsteps fade as she crossed the landing.


His wife was once again frozen in the doorway of their daughter’s bedroom.  Inching forward, the sight that met Andrew’s eyes would live with him for the rest of his life. There on the play-rug lay the remains of his daughter, Amy, her body… headless. One arm close by, ripped from the shoulder socket; a torn off leg, lying at an impossible angle. Thick crimson blood oozed from each ghastly wound. Inches away, the head stared upwards, the knowing eyes dark and still.

Andrew ran to the painted box. Lifting the lid, there they were, perfectly repaired, three identical dolls, facing upwards... curly hair, the same prim white dress, the same innocent smile frozen on each face, three pairs of eyes, dark and deep staring up.


A young writer and amateur critic - I write as a stimulating release from study and exam pressures. I hope to one day become a medical doctor.


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