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Puppet Strings

by:Janani

Content Warning: Attempted Suicide, Domestic abuse, Gore, Death of a child

Part 1:

It was a rather gloomy day. 

The sun was out, but almost entirely hidden within a nest of stormy grey clouds that was slowly spreading through the expanse of the dull sky. 

Only the faintest dredges of light peeked out, colored with an expected tint of bleakness. It wasn’t dark enough to be mistaken for nighttime, but it certainly couldn’t be perceived as the height of the afternoon, contrary to what the clocks said.

It was more like twilight. An odd time between day and night- where things could sometimes feel surreal. 

Although the sky made it seem as though it would rain at any moment, the staleness of the atmosphere said otherwise. The air was so dry that it felt as though the slightest spark would ignite it. Gusts of hot air swept through, ruffling branches, and displacing hundreds of autumn leaves. 

One such leaf drifted along, descending in a staggered motion, before gently landing on a tangled mess of blonde hair.

A woman walked along the broad path leading to the public park. With one arm, she pushed a stroller, and with the other, fixed her tousled blonde hairdo, carelessly brushing away that single leaf.

To be honest, calling her hair blonde was an exaggeration. Once her hair might have been called golden yellow in its sheen, but now it seems to have lost all its luster, just a few shades away from gray. 

Like her lifeless hair, her countenance was wan and pale. Her cheeks were gaunt- not starved, but certainly unhealthy.  

She had all the makings of a beautiful woman but lacked the expected appearance. 

The frailty of her very being seemed unnatural and all too sudden. It wasn’t a slow withering, but one that had clearly struck fast.

A few other women idled in the park, similarly accompanied by strollers and fussing toddlers, despite it being a dismal day. The needs of the children didn’t make an exception even for bad weather it seemed. The kids ran around the grassy fields, climbed up the slides, or were roughhoused in the sandpits. 

The women had all gathered together on the benches, chatting away, but keeping a watchful eye. 

Until the blonde woman strode in, the park had actually been quite lively. 

But the moment that distinct, washed-out figure walked in, pushing the rusting pink stroller, an atmosphere of gloom settled among them. 

The children continued playing, unperturbed, and so blissfully unaware, but their mothers were almost silent- warily watching the blonde woman.

Aside from the shrieks and laughter of kids, it was too quiet- that was- until the hushed whispers started. 

Looks of pity, glances of contempt, gazes of disgust.

The blonde woman kept walking, as though she could not see nor hear any of it. 

They avoided her, knowing better from past experience- and she- ignored them in turn.

 It was a rule that they implicitly followed.

Stay away from Barbara

All of them adhered to this, without question- until today. 

Linda was the shiny-eyed, nosy brunette that had just moved into lot No.2 in the neighborhood a few days ago. 

She was young, attractive, and nothing but an eyesore to most of the housewives that lived along Piccadilly Street. When she had appeared, there was an almost unsaid agreement to cast her out, before she even had a chance to join.

 It wasn’t Linda’s fault really- she hadn’t done anything drastic or flamboyant to earn this sort of ire from her fellow neighbours. 

Anywhere else, Linda surely would have been well-liked and popular, certain to be invited to all the potlucks and dinner parties. 

But this particular neighbourhood was overly wary and had formed an inner circle that practically no one could breach. Not even starry-eyed Linda.

They had instantly deemed her as “no good”, “untrustworthy”, and “sneaky”.

So Linda had spent a few unfortunately lonely days right after moving into Piccadilly Street. 

As a normally extroverted and social person, she wasn’t sure how much longer she’d be able to tolerate isolation like this.

When she saw the lone blonde woman, pushing her stroller through- she ran to go and greet her, hoping to make at least one friend.

And since she was isolated from the start, she would obviously be unaware of the rule to stay away from Barbara. 

Linda grabbed her son- a pasty 6-year-old boy on the heavier side- and dragged him with her.

She approached the stroller, a bright smile already on her face, but a slight hint of desperation in her eyes.

Her tone was enthusiastic- almost exaggeratedly so, as she loudly announced; “Hi there! I just moved in! I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting y’all yet!”.

She thrust forth her son and moved his limp arm in a waving fashion. 

“This here is Robbie! Say hello!”

Robbie reluctantly mumbled something that could just barely pass as a “Hello”, but it was enough to satisfy Linda.

“And I’m Linda! Now who’s this?”, she chuckled, peering into the stroller, without even waiting for the blonde woman to respond.

In an instant, her face paled. 

 Every drop of blood drained away and left no color in her horrified expression. Her mouth gaped open, moving up and down like a dying fish gasping for air. But there was no sound coming from her, for no words could describe the shock she felt at that moment.

In the stroller, was what seemed to be the figure of a child, at first glance. It was small and dressed in young girl’s clothing. 

The thing inside the stroller had clearly once been a life-like doll. It had porcelain-looking limbs, and glassy eyes- no-eye.

Half of the doll’s face was burnt beyond repair. Part of its head had caved in, and the glass eye melted- the colour within fused to the ruined “skin”, turning it a sickly blue. 

The rest of the melted material dripped down the ruined side of the face, and while cooling down, made gruesome streaks of skin coloured ridges all along the “cheeks” of the doll. The blonde hair on its head was partially burnt, and unbearably filthy, matted with all sorts of dirt and dust.

The limbs were in far better condition but it was still ghastly to look at. There were crude, black stitches running along the entire length of the left arm and legs, and around the circumference of the right. The limbs were all splayed oddly, as though they had been torn apart, and then hastily stitched back together.

Now that Linda had realized that the thing inside was a doll and not a real child, she calmed down considerably.  The lifelike resemblance it had was terrifying, but in the end; it was just a doll.

But there was still a trace of horror in her face, as she wondered why anyone would keep a half-burnt doll in place of a child in the stroller.

Just when it seemed as though her strangled cries of shock and disgust would crawl out of her throat, another woman that had been watching this exchange, yanked her back. She shot a warning look at Linda, and faced Barbara, with a nod.

“It’s nice to see you out, Barbara. I’m sure Annie…”, she hesitates, dropping her eyes to the stroller, before continuing with a forced grin. 

“I’m sure Annie enjoys these walks in the park”

Barbara didn’t react for a moment, as though she was in a daze and hadn’t heard anything. Then she smiled gently in acknowledgment and walked away.

When Barbara was well out of earshot, the other woman gathered around the still stunned Linda. 

“Get a grip”, hissed one woman. “That’s why you don’t poke your nose around here like some snoop.”

She was a tall, rather broad woman, with a face that looked permanently stern. A scowl hung on her thin lips, as she looked disapprovingly at Linda.

“W-What was that?”

An older, gentle-looking lady with greying hair looked at her with pity. She was one of the few wives that opposed the decision to ignore Linda, but unfortunately, she also wasn’t the type to go against the voice of the majority.

“You’ve only just moved here, so you don’t know what happened at No.9 a few months back. “

“No. 9? That big old house at the end of the street?”

Piccadilly Street had 17 houses. The street was shaped like a severely compressed semi-circle. There were 8 houses on the arms of the semi-circle, and one house in the center- Lot No.9.

It was considered quite a well-to-do neighbourhood, with most of its residents belonging to the upper-middle class. The houses were large and luxurious, but the best of them all was No.9. 

“The family that lives there- the Averys….”, the older woman paused, unsure how to continue.

The stern-looking woman finished for her.

“Their only child recently died in an accident.”

Linda gasped, her eyes growing wide. 

“How awful! What kind of accident?”

“We don’t know. They wouldn’t say.”

“But get this- the funeral was closed casket! Whatever it was, it wasn’t pretty-”

“An accident? I say bullshit. We all know it was murder. The kind of business Roger Avery is in- it’s impossible for him not to have any enemies”

“Hush now, Martha-”, scolded the older woman. 

“You know what I’m saying is true. We’ve all seen the kind of unsavoury characters going and coming from that house”, spat Martha. “It was only a matter of time before something happened. I’ve been saying from the start that the Averys were no good, and now, look what happened-

“Enough Martha”, the older woman snapped. 

Martha glared, but she didn’t say anymore. The rest of the wives shuffled uncomfortably, waiting for the older woman to continue.

“Ever since then, Barbara….she’s lost her mind. That doll you saw in the stroller, it belonged to her daughter, you see.”

“Oh!”, blinked Linda. “But then why…..”

“She keeps insisting Annie’s spirit is in the doll, and treats it like her daughter. Mad, I tell you. I’m surprised her husband hasn’t just thrown her into some looney bin yet.”

“I hear Roger actually goes along with her! My husband told me how he treats that doll like Annie, and not just to appease his crazy wife.”

“Now now. We shouldn’t be so harsh on them. The kind of loss they’ve faced….it’s unimaginable.”

The older woman faced Linda, with a solemn expression.

“That’s why it’s best that we just stay away. Whatever happened in that house- it’s none of our business. Understand?”

Linda nodded solemnly, She did understand. 

She was never going to make any friends here, was she?


Part 2:

The day that Annie died, Barbara felt her entire world crumbling down. Her grief was unimaginable, and she cried inconsolably.

Her darling daughter, her only child after 15 years of marriage- dead in her crib. 

At first, they had no clue who had done it and how it happened. Who would want to hurt such a precious young child?

But the most horrifying thing was the state of her corpse when they found her.

Strangled with a thin string that cut through her throat, half decapitating her. 

Later, the investigators found the man that was responsible. A former employee of Roger

bitter about being fired, and decided to take revenge. Not even the death penalty would be enough to appease the anger Barbara felt. But the man was only sentenced to 20 years in jail. He had denied the claims to the very end- despite being the only possible suspect. They even found thousands of dollars of cash and jewelry on him, stolen from Roger’s safe.

 A thief and a murderer.

In the end, he had died in his cell within 2 weeks, stabbed viciously in the neck about a dozen times. Hurting children was considered the lowest crime, even among those in prison. 

Yet she still felt hollow and unappeased when she thought of that horrific day. 

It was the nanny that had discovered her daughter’s body first. She had fainted on the spot.

Not only was the crib drenched with blood, it had also splattered onto the pink wallpaper behind. There were dozens of stuffed toys in the crib that were dyed crimson. Including one large, beautiful doll.

It was a family heirloom that had belonged to Barbara’s grandmother. It was the size of a 4 year old child- almost the same size as Annie- and it resembled her in every way. The doll wasn’t so lifelike at first, but as a birthday gift to Annie, Roger had commissioned a doll-maker to remodel it in their daughter’s likeness. It was originally a puppet, but later they decided to simply tuck away the strings and turn it into a proper doll.

It was her favorite toy, and she carried it everywhere. Sometimes, they would joke that they had two daughters- Annie and her doll.

That doll was covered in Annie’s blood.

Barbara could no longer look at that doll, or enter the nursery, without feeling an incredible sense of loss and depression.

Annie’s room was cleaned, and then preserved perfectly- as though she was still alive, and nothing was wrong.The only difference was that the doll was kept on a shelf, instead of Annie’s crib.

And that was where all of their problems started. Or, their greatest blessing.

Sometimes they weren’t sure which.


Roger blamed her for their daughter’s death.

He didn’t say it, but Barbara could feel it in his gaze, in his every move. 

Why weren’t you watching Annie? How could you let a strange man break into the house? Where were you when our daughter’s neck was being mangled?

Barbara blamed herself too. When their daughter was being murdered, where was she?

Having tea at the neighbour’s house and bragging about a new diamond necklace Roger bought for her.

By the time she got back, her daughter’s body was already cold, and eyes lifeless. 

Never again would she see her smile, hear her call for “Mommy”, or watch her grow older.

She was gone.

There were times when Barbara considered going to the other side with her daughter. It would be a simple task- but when it actually came to it, she found her resolve wavering.

That didn’t stop her from attempting though.

One such time, when she felt especially despaired, she went into that nursery room that she had feared and avoided for weeks. It was the place that her daughter had died. And it would be the place where she died as well. 

Somehow that thought comforted her. It made her feel as though she would be closer to her daughter- at least in death.

A long white cloth was bundled in her trembling arms, and she slowly began to tie it into a noose.

She shook uncontrollably, her expression on the verge of tears- but none fell. 

Perhaps she simply had none left to shed.

Just when she prepared to put her head through that loop- she spotted something on the crib.

The crib that had always been empty after her daughter’s death.

And yet- a dreamlike vision was there. A scene that she had imagined countless times, only to wake up to disappointment and even more sorrow.

It was Annie. 

Sitting in her crib, and staring at her. Looking at the noose in her hands, as though she knew what her mother was about to do.

Barbara dropped the noose, and blinked, wondering if she had already died and reunited with her daughter. Her vision cleared, and she looked once more. 

It wasn’t Annie.

It was the doll. The damn doll that looked so much like her daughter that Barbara couldn’t bear to look at it. The doll that was covered in her daughter’s blood.

The doll…. that she was sure she had kept on the highest shelf of the nursery, as far away from the crib as possible.

And yet it was there, sitting in that crib. 

Barbara began to think of something- so ludicrous, so far-fetched, so foolish that anyone who heard her would deem her insane.

Even the normal Barbara would never even consider such a preposterous possibility.

This wasn’t the normal Barbara though.

This was a woman driven almost half mad from grief. 

And like a dying flower that had gained a few drops of water, the feeling that she once believed died in her heart bloomed once more.

Hope. 

It was a wonderful thing, but it could also be the gateway to insanity

To hope and hope, until you can no longer hear the truth. No longer face the truth- and be wrapped in your own lies. When you can no longer tell what’s real, and what was merely a fantasy. 

The smallest bit of hope had entered her heart, invading her soul, until she was filled with dark delusion.

Barbara walked to the crib, a soft smile forming- not unlike the loving ones she had given her daughter.

She picked up the doll, and cradled it gently.

“Annie…… I knew you wouldn’t leave mommy.”


Part 3:

Roger Avery knew it wasn’t his wife’s fault that their daughter died.

He knew that better than anyone. 

Even after he had a family, he chose to stay in his line of business. 

The man that had killed his daughter held a grudge against him. Roger had ruined his life and family, so he decided to return the same. 

He was the one that had created the monster that would go on to kill his daughter. Made him lose his job, his home, all his money- and eventually his family. 

His daughter was dead because of him. 

But he just couldn’t accept that fact. 

He chose to blame Barbara because he couldn’t handle the guilt- take the culpability of being responsible for such a horrible thing.

It was almost funny. 

He had done innumerous wretched things throughout his life, that he had never felt remorse or guilt for. 

But this? 

This he couldn’t take. 

So like the coward he never thought he was, he turned all the blame onto his wife.

But even doing that had him wallowing in a stinking bog of guilt- that he could never wash away.

He dreaded breakfast with his wife every morning. 

Sitting at that table, where one spot was so painfully empty, with Barbara no longer looking him in the eye.

No longer humming in the kitchen as she cooked, no longer kissing him on the cheek when she served his eggs-fried- just the way he liked it.

But one morning, he heard humming. The radio was on, and he could smell fried eggs.

His heart pounded, and he rushed to the dining room, wondering if this had all been some sick nightmare that he was finally waking from- or a dream that he could live in forever.

Either way, he would be fine. He would be fine, as long as he could go back to those days when everything was perfect.

He opened the door, to see Barbara looking more lively than she had in weeks, and standing at the stove, flipping a large omelette.

She glanced at him entering, and smiled widely- a smile that he had almost forgotten about.

His eyes drifted to the table, where he could see a tuft of blond hair from the side of one of the chairs.

His heart soared, and he rushed inside, to gain a full view of the scene.

Could it be? Could it really be??

In an instant, his hopes came crashing down.

It was a doll. Sitting in the place of their daughter. 

A doll. That had made him believe everything that had happened was nothing more than a horrible nightmare.

A doll. That had a full plate of food in front of it. 

All while his wife was going on as though there was nothing unusual about it.

Something in him snapped, and he roared; ”BARBARA! What the hell do you think you’re playing at??”

He swept the dishes off the table, and tried to hurl a chair at the wall, to somehow unleash the anger he was feeling. 

The fury coursing through him was palpable and his veins throbbed with that rage.

In a matter of a minute he had gone from the height of bliss, back to an abyss of agony.

The dishes clattered on the ground, the porcelain plates shattering while all the food on them was now nothing but waste.

Barbara flinched, blankly looking at the mess her husband had just made for a few seconds. 

The eggs continued frying on the stove, making sizzling noises that were drowned out from the sounds of porcelain shattering.

 Then, a sense of indignation overwhelmed her.

“What am I playing at??? You just broke 10 of my best dishes! What the hell are you so mad about?? Are you drunk??”, she screamed back, matching his volume.

“AM I DRUNK? I SHOULD BE ASKING IF YOU’RE DRUNK! WHY IS THAT THING THERE?”

“WHAT THING??”

“THAT THING!”,  he shouted, aggressively pointing at the doll.

“YOU MEAN YOUR DAUGHTER! ? ANNIE! NOW STOP YELLING IN FRONT OF HER!”

Roger prepared to bellow back, but those words made him pause.

“Annie?? What in the world are you talking about? Annie’s dead!”

Barbara gasped, cupping her mouth in outrage. She took a step back, and almost stumbled as she raised an accusing finger.

“Don’t you dare say something like that! How dare you?”

Roger’s anger slowly morphed into confusion, as his eyes followed the place where Barbara’s finger was pointing.

“She’s right there! She’s right there! She’s sitting right there! Our daughter! Your daughter! How can you say something like that?”

He froze, seeing his wife’s enraged glare, while streams of tears flowed down. She was holding the doll.  Realization began to dawn upon him, and his dread magnified. 

“She’s not dead Roger, she’s right here.”, she weakly cried, clutching the doll closer to her heart, unable to part from it.

Roger defeatedly slumped down onto the chair he had just tried to fling into the wall. His anger had completely vanished, only to be replaced by an even greater despair.

He didn’t know whether he should laugh or cry- so he just did both, and it came out as a deranged sob.

He thought he had already experienced the worst when his daughter died.

Now his wife had gone mad as well.


After that fight, Barbara pointedly ignored him for the next few days. 

That was for the better, because seeing her treat that doll like their daughter sickened him greatly, but there was nothing he felt like he could say.

Maybe it was the guilt speaking- the guilt that whispered in him, that it was his fault his wife had been driven to insanity.

He decided that if keeping that doll around her made his wife happy he’d just let her be. Ignore her, as long as she doesn’t try to involve him in that ridiculous business.

But very quickly, he took back those thoughts.

He had a particularly infuriating day at work. A bottle of alcohol swayed in his trembling arms as he stumbled home. 

His mood was terrible and his anger was on the verge of ignition. 

When he came home- seeing his wife play house with that doll- it was the last straw. 

How dare Barbara look so happy? When he was perpetually upset?

Before, at least they were both miserable but now it was just him. Haunted by his failure while his wife had already moved on.

He couldn’t tolerate it. He hated it. And he was going to change it.

Roger Avery had never been a good person after all. 

Barbara was carefully tucking the doll into a crib, mussing its hair and murmuring soothing words. Her face was serene, and a smile hung on her lips.

The sight was slightly nostalgic but it infuriated him to no end.

He slammed the nursery door with his fist, to let her know he was home. 

She jumped in surprise, hissing for him to keep quiet, and gestured for him to wait outside.

Wait outside? In his own home? 

He barged in and yanked the doll out of its crib. 

“ROGER!” 

She desperately scrabbled for the doll, but he held it out of her reach. In frustration she beat his chest and raked her nails across his face. 

He roared in pain and kicked her to the side.

She went flying and crashed onto the crib, whimpering pain as she huddled into herself.

Now that Barbara was out of his way, he looked at the doll in his hands and muttered unintelligible curses.

“Stupid doll….stupid b*tch…crazy….” 

He grabbed a porcelain coloured limb and pulled. With a horrific tearing noise, one arm came flying off. 

The anguished scream of his wife fell on deaf ears, as only his own vented pleasure coursed through him. 

Like a switch had been flipped, he methodically tore off the other limbs, and then proceeded to throw the doll on the ground and bash it with his foot.

At some point, Barbara had crawled to him and was holding onto his leg, begging him to stop. She tried to shield the doll, but he pushed her away, grabbed the limbless monstrosity and marched out of the room.

His eyes wandered around the house, as he tried to figure out what he should do next, until his gaze landed on the fireplace burning dimly in the living room.

Barbara had run out of the nursery following him, and she also noticed where his line of sight was focused.

Her heart dropped.

“Roger no… Roger- Roger please….it’s Annie! Your daughter- please-“

A low, wretched laugh escaped his lips. 

“Wake up Barbara. Our daughter is dead.“

And with that, he threw the doll in the fireplace.



Part 4:

By the time he sobered up, he found himself in their guest bedroom. Clothes sprawled haphazardly, and a few empty bottles of wine on the side.  A dim light shone through 

A splitting headache assaulted him, as memories of the evening played in his mind. He had the conscience to feel a sense of shame and guilt, but an ego that would prevent him from ever admitting it. 

He stumbled into the living room, unbearably thirsty. 

Barbara was nowhere to be seen- probably holed up in their bedroom, still upset about their spat.

He would make it up to her later anyway. Maybe some new jewelry, or taking her to the countryside for a few days.

As he poured himself a glass of water, he couldn’t help but notice how quiet and dark it was. 

Then he realized it was because the fireplace was out- and with it, that comforting crackling and warm glow missing.

He decided he didn’t feel like sleeping anyway, so he made his way to the dark hearth, and grabbed the lighter sticks.

He leaned in to light the fireplace, but there was a dark figure lying inside it. Startled, he leapt back.

As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he realized it was the doll he had torn apart. Covered in soot, and melted into some limbless monstrosity.

He wanted to heave a sigh of relief seeing that it was just a doll, but something about it made him uneasy.

The longer he stared at the melted face- no matter how damaged it was- the more troubled he felt.

It really did resemble Annie. It really really did.

To the extent that he couldn’t bear seeing the doll like that- as though it was actually his daughter.

Suddenly, he started to understand why Barbara went mad.

Without knowing what he was doing, he gingerly extended his hand onto the damaged doll, and picked it up.

He held it close to his heart- like how he had held Annie.

And in that moment- he thought he heard a voice he’d never hear again.

A word he’d never hear again. From someone who he thought was lost forever.

“Papa…….”

That same dark hope had entered his heart, invading his soul.

He cradled the doll close to his heart, and cried; “Annie…. Papa is sorry”


Epilogue

A black and white tape plays on a tiny screen placed on the dashboard of a yellow cadillac. Inside the car, are two men. One of them is smoking a cigar, while the other shuffled nervously in his seat, fiddling with the tapes. 

“Hurry it up will ya?”, called out the gruff looking man. “Pastor Green gave us 2 hours, and here you are, taking all day.”

The anxious young man nodded, fast forwarding the tape, until he stopped abruptly, with a click. He heaves a sigh of relief, leaning into his seat after he checked the date on the corner.

 “June 12th. That’s the day.”

The footage flickers and blurs, before focusing on the scene that it captured. It was in a nursery. Within a crib, was a 3 year old child- dressed in fine clothing, and sporting wonderfully curly hair. 

Next to the child was an assortment of toys- from stuffed bears, to toy locomotives.

However, the one that stood out the most, was a beautiful, life-like doll, made in the image of the child. There were also strings hanging from its back,but safely gathered and tucked into its dress- so as to not get tangled.

“Is that a puppet or a doll?”

“Shut yer mouth. Just watch closely- this is important evidence.”

The child seemed to have noticed the bundle of strings extending from the back of her toy, and curiously tugged at it. In her childish carelessness, a few of the strings snapped, and broke free.

The child continued tugging, but seeing that no more of the strings were coming undone, she lost interest and turned away, opting to play with some other toys.

As the child’s back was turned away from the doll- it moved. It was slight- barely noticeable, but it moved. As though it were just getting used to its own motility, the arms of the doll shook slightly. The unraveled strings on its back slowly raised up and it moved momentarily.

“Did you see that?? It’s- it’s moving-”

“I did. Looks like it’s exactly what Pastor Green suspected.”

Before the young man could say anything more, there was a strangled cry from the screen.

The doll lunged at the child, and wrapped the string around its throat. Within minutes, Annie’s face turned from red, to blue then purple. The string was sharp, and started to cut clean through her throat.

Annie died choking, and drowning in her blood. 

A few seconds later, the doll went back to its original position,as though nothing had happened.

A disheveled man walked in- the one that had been charged for the murder of Annie. He was carrying a bag filled with jewelry, and noticed Annie lying motionless in the crib, covered in blood.

He screamed, and his screaming brought the maid running in. 

The young man paled, seeing that gruesome scene. He started to open the car door, before the gruff man yanked him back by the collar.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Telling that couple inside! Those two- they think that doll’s their daughter! That some man killed their daughter- when it’s that thing inside-”

The young man looked like he was going to be sick. 

“They’re treating that thing that killed their child as their own. It made them think it’s their child-oh god-”, he gagged and heaved, while the other man rolled his eyes, not even bothering to recoil in disgust.

“There’s no way in hell I’m gonna let ya do that.”

The young man looked like he had been slapped across the face.

“Why??? We have to tell them- They can’t go on like this-”

“We don’t hafta do anything. Listen here, and you listen well. The sort of malevolent spirit that’s haunting that doll- it’s not something you wanna to mess with. It’s the clever type you see- and trust me- there’s nothing more terrible to deal with than a spirit that knows exactly how to ruin you.”

“B-but-”

The older man made a shhhh sound, and continued. 

“That thing got an innocent man convicted for murder. That thing convinced Roger and Barbara Avery that it’s their daughter- an’ for whatever reason- it’s perfectly satisfied playing house. It’s contained.”

He looked towards the house, glancing through the window to see Barbara rocking the doll in her arms, and he sighed.

“The Avery’s are happy. If we go and tell them what that thing actually is- it’ll ruin them even more. Everyone wins- if we let this go. The Avery’s think their daughter is with them, the doll won’t be haunting anyone else for a while, and us? We get ta avoid being hunted and tortured by that thing, as long as we simply leave it be.”

“But- it’s still not right.. Our job is to get rid of it… And Pastor Green-”

“You- You got married recently right? I heard yer wife’s expecting.”, the older man asked. The younger man nodded, not sure where he was going with this sudden subject change.

“How would you like it if we try to go an’ exorcise that thing, only for it to fail, and it gets mad? And when it comes for revenge do ya know what it would do?”

He shook his head.

“It would burrow it’s way into yer wife’s womb, kill yer unborn child, and take its place. Is that what you want to happen? To put yer family at risk?”

Seeing how clammy and frightened the young man looked now, the older man let out a sympathetic chuckle.

“I’ve been in this business fer a long time- and there are some times when we just shouldn’t interfere. Ya hear me?”

Finally, the young man nodded in agreement.

“Good. Now, we need to tell Pastor Green that nothing’s amiss okay? That it’s just a regular murder case. You know what to do right?”

Slowly, the younger man raised a trembling hand towards the screen, where the half-decapitated image of Annie’s head lingered, while the doll crawled around the crib, playing with the corpse. 

He paused the footage, and took out the tape, to crush with his bare hands. 

“Atta boy. Now let’s go.”

As they drove away, he chucked the fragments of the tape into a lake they passed up, watching as those pieces sank into the murky depths.

No one would ever know.

Categories
change childhood chilling story Technology theory Thoughts Uncategorised violence World

Survivor’s quest

by:Aasika

The mighty sun peeked from behind the rugged mountains of the town Saka, Hiroshima, and sluggishly emerged higher. The sun rays generously hit the ocean, causing its surface to gleam as the balmy summer breeze carefully carried the dulcet chirping of the birds and the fragrance of the dainty flowers throughout the city. The small town of Saka remained a serene residence for its inhabitants.

Bun Hashizume, an avid fourteen-year-old, lived a contented life with her parents and siblings in the town. Taking leisurely strolls along with the flower gardens, ascending the majestic oak tree and admiring the beautiful ocean, and indulging in endless conversations with her best pal Hitoshi were pretty much the details of her routine. She aspired to become a poet as Hitoshi desired to become an author. 

The dawn of 6th august, 1945 bloomed like any other. Bun Hashizume set out to work at the Ministry of communications in Hiroshima. It was around 8:15 AM and Hashizume was standing near a window on the third floor. She was bewildered when a sudden powerful light beam splitting into vibrant rays momentarily blinded her sight. That was the moment when the American US B-29 warplane dropped the lethal bomb bearing the moniker ‘Little- boy’ over Hiroshima.

The bomb exploded with a drastic thud as it hit Hiroshima. It annihilated the buildings, shattered the glasses, demolished the edifices, and eliminated 70,000 lives instantaneously, and victimized another 10,000 lives as the rapid-fire commenced. Moreover, the intense radiation ejected by the nuclear bomb was starting to affect the civilians. The hospitals were crammed with injured patients and the relief efforts rendered by the government were below the par.

Finally, acquiring consciousness after her concussion, Hashizume attempted to fight back the aching agony in her limbs as she willed herself to stand up. After a finite number of sloppy foot-steps, she stumbled her way out of the building as blood droplets resumed to ooze out from the wound in her head. She was fortunate to find an elderly woman who offered to walk Hashizume to the nearby hospital.

The walk to the hospital was horrid. Hashizume perceived that her entire town was demolished and the path was covered with innumerable injured people screaming in agony, wrecked people mourning over the corpses of their relatives and desperate people jostling their way to any nearby shelter to protect themselves.

The next morning, dubious and concerned if her family survived the bombing, Hashizume decided to get back home. Placing cautious steps amidst the relatively less fervent fire, Hashizume made it to her place and was delighted to reconcile with her mother but had lost her brother and Hitoshi to the catastrophe.

After years of being tormented by trauma and dwelling in the dark chambers of depression, Hashizume stepped forward to share her experience, and talking about it helped her to heal. She eventually became a poet who penned down her authentic thoughts and fed her readers with motivation and optimism.

Even at the end of this disaster, she admits that hasn’t developed resentment towards the human race. More than being appalled by the fact that human beings dropped a bomb on other human beings, she was genuinely astounded by how wonderful human beings can be after such turmoil.

Meanwhile, Sachiko Matsuo’s family residing in Nagasaki was dreading the inevitable. Matsuo was a hopeful 5th grader. After the horrendous event at Hiroshima, the US B-29 bombers raided the city of Nagasaki and threw flyers all over, proclaiming that Nagasaki was about to be reduced to ashes on August 8, 1945. Tentative though, this announcement created commotion and chaos. Schools and workplaces were shut down and the citizens were insinuated to evacuate the town.

Matsuo’s family gathered the essential equipment and embarked to the hills behind their residence where they established a tiny makeshift shelter to survive the night of Aug 8. Anxiety and apprehension filled the hushed atmosphere and Matsuo’s siblings protectively snuggled towards one another as they lived the longest night of their existence, anticipating the disaster to slam anytime. On the contrary, nothing happened that night.

The next morning faintly relieved and positively hoping that the flyer news was fake and that the storm had passed, Matsuo’s mother suggested moving back to their residence since the town remained intact but her father protested otherwise and insisted that they stay. So, Matsuo spent the morning unpacking their luggage while the elders prepared their meal and her innocent younger siblings played outside.

Hours later, Matsuo witnessed an extremely intense yellowish-white beam that was bright enough to instantly disrupt her vision and before she could retaliate from it their shelter succumbed to the fiery flames of the bomb and blew up. That was when the second US airplane dropped the fatal bomb code-named ‘Fat-man’ on Nagasaki. The resilient fire butchered Matsuo’s elder sister while her father died on exposure to the perilous radiation from the bomb while Matsuo, her mother, and her brother were fortunate enough to survive the calamity with some serious burns.

The paramedics and the rescue team couldn’t make it in time and the severely injured lay in despair awaiting death to take them as screams of anguish and yelp echoed everywhere. The alive assembled at the air-raid shelter with much difficulty. Matsuo’s mother retrieved their savings from the nearby bank, garnered food, and aided the critically wounded before their relatives came to their rescue and escorted them away from the radiation.

Even though the obnoxious memories from the aftermath of the bomb blast keep lingering in Matsuo’s mind, over the years she has learned to talk about it and realized the necessity of passing the story on. At that time, due to the hideous discrimination that came along, she couldn’t openly admit that she was a survivor. Today, she proudly speaks up that she is a survivor but the thing that detains her from being happy about it is how the radiation might affect her grandchildren.  

However, the bomb attack did put an immediate stop to the prolonging second world war, and estimated life loss during the war panned out to be relatively less due to this. Yet, are the inhumane intentions and acrimonious actions of the US military officials which drove them to drop an atomic bomb on fellow humankind to manifest authority justifiable?   

Categories
chilling gore psychological story thriller violence

A CERTAIN DARKNESS

by:Joshua

(Viewer Discretion is Advised)

It was time to wake up and once again he had a splitting headache; like a hangover. The past few months had been hell for our protagonist. Every time he woke up with a headache, something bad would’ve happened. Not knowing why this was happening was killing him on the inside, as if something was eating him from within, consuming his soul, slowly, until nothing was left to devour. He had no strength left to get out of bed, knowing that something would be waiting for him, something that would finally break him and his mind. Somehow, he convinced himself to get out of bed and get dressed for work, his body trembling in fear. Since it was a chilly morning, he decided to wear his long coat. When he put his hands in the pocket of the coat, he found a list of names scribbled on a paper, names of people he knew, crossed out in red. He had tried to get rid of that list many times before but he couldn’t seem to do so. Holding the list in his hand, he did not know who it was this time, the fear of knowing someone he knew would be no more, maybe living in denial would bring them back or make it seem like that they never went away.

As he opened his front door and walked into the lobby of his old and gloomy building, he saw the corpse of his landlord being taken away, covered in blood, eyes gouged out and fingers cut off. He saw the cops talking to his neighbor, a college girl, in her final year, about to graduate. She had beautiful golden hair and brown eyes that complimented her smile very well. But today she seemed scared, shook to her core, her hair was a mess, probably bed hair, and she was shivering. Was it the cold? Or was it the sight of the old man’s corpse? I couldn’t tell

A detective noticed our protagonist and walked up to him and informed him about the situation and asked him a few general questions, if he saw anyone or anything suspicious, about his whereabouts, and if he had heard anything the previous night. He calmly answered the questions and proceeded to go to work, on the inside he was terrified and wondered if his landlord’s name was on that list. As he got on the 10 AM train, he slowly pulled out the list and mustered up whatever mental strength he could find, and opened the list. Right there, on the eleventh number, he saw the name of his landlord, scratched off with red ink, or was it blood… The train’s brakes were suddenly applied and the screeching sound that followed only amplified his headache. At that moment he heard a voice in his head saying that the landlord deserved it, that justice had been done. He immediately started sweating and became anxious.

(Flashback to the previous evening when he was returning from work and walked into the lobby of his drab building.)

He saw his neighbor being cornered by the old landlord, trying to take advantage of the poor girl. As soon as the landlord noticed him, he backed off and his neighbor rushed into her apartment while sobbing. The landlord made a face that showed his displeasure at our protagonist and slowly walked away while rolling his eyes. Our protagonist then went to check on her and comforted her, but there was nothing he could say that would turn back time. He heard her whisper under her breath that she wished the old man would die a gruesome death. This triggered something inside him, something dark, was it the voice in his head or was something darker at play here. His head suddenly started aching and he went to bed.

Right as the clock struck 3 in the morning, he woke up, put on his long coat and picked up some stuff, few rags, a bucket, some tools, and calmly made his way to the landlord’s house. Fortunately, the old man lived alone, his wife had passed away 13 years ago and his children despised him. He knocked on the old man’s door. After a minute the door creaked open and the old man’s shriveled up silhouette was seen against the streetlight coming from the window behind him. He immediately knocked him out with a hammer on the head and dragged him inside and closed the door behind him. He tied him up on a chair and stuffed his mouth and tied it with a piece of cloth. He woke him up with a splash of water and whispered in his ear about what he was going to do to him, and smirked under the flickering light. He cut off his fingers slowly, one at a time, showing the old man the fate that awaited him and kept going until all his fingers were gone. Picking up a spoon from the kitchen, he made his way towards the old man’s eyes and gouged one of them out. The muffled scream, making him more eager to remove the other one out. Eventually, the screaming stopped and he cut his jugular vein and let him bleed to death. He collected all his tools and made his way back to his apartment, trying not to leave any evidence behind. He immediately made a list and scribbled a few names and crossed them out with the blood of the old man and slipped it in the coat pocket and went to bed after getting rid of any biological evidence he could find.

(Back in the present)

His sweating had stopped and he was as calm as he could be. The train reached the last stop and he made his way onto the platform. The train had stopped at a small town on the outskirts of the city. He made his way to a nearby bridge and sat on the bench that was next to it. He reached into his pocket and pulled out what looked like a gun. He put the gun against the side of his head and whispered under his breath, “Justice has been done” and pulled the trigger, killing the twelfth and thirteenth person…

Categories
murder story thriller Uncategorised violence

SIX FORTY-TWO

By:Vidhya

It was a cold Friday morning, and I didn’t feel like waking up. My back hurt a lot from last night. I kept going back to sleep. But finally, I pulled myself from my bed, trying to forget everything that happened last night. As I wash my face, I see a wound near my lips. From the corner of my bruised eye, I see Derek walk towards me. My hands started to shake in fear, and I just froze. He came closer and just hugged me from behind and said I love you. I smiled a bit, more than which I couldn’t. I dusted the whole thing off, and I was going to go back to sleep when Derek came around carrying a hammer with blood dripping from it. My eyes widen as he runs towards me to hit me with a hammer; the radio is being turned on.

“Mama, just killed a man

Put a gun against his head

Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead

Mama, life had just begun

But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away”

There walks Michael with blood all over his shirt, staring at us in the eye. 

Too late, my time has come

Sent shivers down my spine

Body’s aching all the time

I was in shock. I didn’t know what was going on. My legs felt numb, and I fell to the ground. Everything was way beyond my understanding, and I was looking around, and all I saw was blood. Before I could even realize it, Michael fell in his pool of blood. Derek scoffs, and he turns towards me, and all I wanted was to escape. 

I see a little silhouetto of a man

Scaramouche, Scaramouche

Will you do the Fandango?

Thunderbolt and lightning

Very, very frightening me

He walks towards me with the same hammer. As I bleed through my vagina, he raises the hammer and SLAM!!!!!!!!!

[Gasps]

*the alarm rings*

I started breathing heavily and profusely sweating. It was a cold Friday morning. My back hurt a lot from last night. I kept going back to sleep. But finally, I pulled myself from my bed, trying to forget everything that happened last night. As I was dressing up to leave for work, I see Michael walk towards me from the corner of my bruised eye. He hugs me from behind as I stand there. 

*The doorbell rings*

I went to answer the doorbell, and I see Derek there. 

“Hi, Laila! I hope I didn’t disturb you,” said Derek.

I stand there baffled when Michael plays the radio. 

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality

*Bohemian Rhapsody plays in the background*

I had instincts that something is going to go wrong, but I chose to ignore it. 

I started applying makeup to cover the bruises under my eye and…

*glass breaks*

I ran to the living room to see what happened, and I saw Derek lying on the ground, while 

*Nothing really matters

Anyone can see

Nothing really matters

Nothing really matters to me* feebly plays in the background.