On her first day back at school after the Summer holidays, Autumn was delighted to see all her friends again. When they filed into the classroom and took their desks, the teacher said she had an announcement to make.
“Class, we have a new student this year,” she said. “Her name is Dolly.”
Autumn looked at the new girl. She was really pretty, with long blond hair, bright blue eyes and pale white skin. Her features were so refined that they looked almost too perfect, as if they had been carved from porcelain.
The year before, Autumn had been the new girl at school and she knew how difficult that could be. It had taken her a long time to make friends, so at lunch time, she made a point of sitting beside Dolly. She wanted to make her feel welcome and help her settle in.
“Hey!” she said cheerfully, “Welcome to our school!”
Dolly looked up. “Oh, thank you!” she said. Her voice was very sweet and polite. “It’s nice to meet you. What’s your name?”
“I’m Autumn,” she answered. “I was new once too. I know how it feels. You’ll get used to it.”
“Yeah, I hope so,” sighed Dolly. “I don’t really know anybody yet.”
“Well now you know me,” smiled Autumn. “Hey, if you like, you could come over to my house after school.”
“Sure!” said Dolly, grinning from ear to ear. “That sounds like fun!”
Over lunch, they talked about a lot of things. As it turned out, they had a lot in common. The two girls shared the same interests: clothes, hair and makeup. Both of them also collected dolls.
Autumn was actually surprised by how well they got along and after only knowing each other for one day, she felt like they were the best of friends. Dolly was turning out to be really nice, smart and interesting. She really was perfect, just like a doll.
At the end of the day, when school had finished, Autumn waited for Dolly and the two girls walked home together.
When they reached home, Dolly took one look and excalimed, “Wow, your house is so cool!”
“Really?” asked Autumn, looking at the plain semi-detached. “It’s just… a normal house. I bet yours is much cooler.”
Dolly grinned. “Definitely not,” she said.
The girls ran up to Autumn’s bedroom and had a really fun time just talking about stuff. Autumn showed Dolly her clothes, her makeup and her collection of dolls. Then, they went downstairs to watch TV. Not long after that, Autumn’s mother arrived home from work.
“Is that your sister?” asked Dolly as she walked in.
“My sister?” Autumn laughed out loud. “No! That’s my mom!”
“Really? Wow, she looks so young!” exclaimed Dolly in amazement.
Autumn had to go to the bathroom, so she excused herself. When she came back, she found her mother sitting in the living room, deep in conversation with Dolly.
“Autumn! Your friend is so interesting and talented,” said her mother. “Did she show you her trick?”
“What trick?” asked Autumn.
“She can do ventriloquism,” said her mother. “Go on, Dolly. Show her.”
Autumn looked at Dolly. “You’re able to throw your voice?” she asked.
“Yes, of course!” replied Dolly. Her lips never moved.
That night, as Autumn lay awake in bed, she thought about her new friend. She didn’t know what it was, but something about Dolly unnerved her. Maybe it was the way she was able to speak without moving her mouth, or maybe it was how she always seemed so perfect.
“I guess that’s why her parents named her Dolly,” she mumbled to herself.
The name definitely seemed to fit her. Looking at the time, she saw that it was growing late so she switched off the bedside lamp, rolled over and went to sleep.
Suddenly she heard a strange, high-pitched laugh. She shot up. Who was that? She was a little scared. When she didn’t hear anything else she lay back down in bed, thinking it was nothing.
The next couple days Dolly came over a lot. One Saturday, Autumn went downstairs to ask her mom something. She had heard the laughing three nights in a row now and she was kind of scared. When her mom saw her she smiled, the fresh smell of bacon and eggs filled the room.
“How was the sleepover?” she asked.
“Oh, it was…” she said sleepily, “Wait, what sleepover?” she was now more awake.
“Um… Dolly sleeping over. Was it fun?”
Autumn stared at her like she was crazy. “Dolly didn’t sleepover yesterday,” she said.
“Autumn, I saw her at the door with her bags, and I saw her go up to your room. I heard you guys at night. She even came down and talked to me for a little while when you fell asleep. Stop messing around,” her mom looked a little more serious now.
“Mom, what are you talking about?! Dolly wasn’t even here yesterday!” she yelled.
Her mom continued cooking, “Autumn, that’s not funny. I’ve had enough of this, go back up to your room.”
“But Mom!” she started.
“Go,” she said bluntly.
Later that day, Autumn leaned over to Dolly in class and whispered, “Hey, Dolly, I know this might sound strange, but did you sleep over in my house last night?”
“If I slept over, don’t you think you’d know about it,” whispered Dolly.
“Well, the thing is my mom said you slept over last night,” said Autumn awkwardly, “but I… I don’t what’s going on… Aw, forget it. I think my mom is just going senile.”
Dolly just smiled sweetly.
The next day, Dolly was absent from school. When she didn’t show up the day after that, Autumn began to think it was odd. Usually, she never missed a day of school. Something else struck Autumn as weird. Whenever Dolly’s name was mentioned, one of the girls in her class named Brianna, always seemed very nervous.
‘Things are getting kinda weird…’ Autumn thought.
When she walked into her room that night she was thinking deeply, so the scream she heard scared her, except the weird thing was that the scream was hers. Sitting on her bed there was a ventriloquist’s puppet. Its mouth was open and its big eyes just stared vacantly at her. She ran downstairs to tell her mom, and to see if she put it there as a joke.
She ran into her mom’s room, but all the lights were off.
“Mom?” she asked, scared to death.
“Yes?” her mother replied in a hoarse voice as if she had a sore throat.
“Are you ok, Mom?”
“I have a little cold, that’s all,” she replied.
“I’m scared, there’s a puppet sitting on my bed. Can I sleep with you?” she asked.
“Sure,” said her mom in a rough voice.
Autumn almost fell asleep and had calmed down, when she heard the laughing. She burst out into tears, and surprisingly her mom stayed asleep. The next day her mom wasn’t there. There wasn’t any note or anything. She was getting really scared.
After a week of her not coming back she decided to call the police. Dolly had come back to school and said that she was really sorry about her mom thousands of times. They looked for her mom for a long time, and a week later Dolly offered to let Autumn come to her house to make her feel better. She agreed and after school they went for a sleepover.
“What’s that?” Autumn asked while Dolly was giving her a tour, she was pointing at a door.
“Nothing,” Dolly said sternly, “I mean,” her voice got sweet again, “That’s my mom’s study, so, uh, don’t go in there.”
“Ok,” Autumn said.
That night, Autumn woke up and had to go to the bathroom, so she walked downstairs.
“This house sure is big…” she mumbled to herself. “Someone could easily get lost here.”
She found what she thought was the bathroom and opened the door. The second that it opened she noticed it was Dolly’s mom’s study, and was about to apologize when she noticed something strange. Instead of an office, it was a staircase leading down to what looked like a basement.
“Huh?” she said walking down.
It was really dark and she was starting to get scared. Eventually she arrived downstairs and searched for a light switch. She found one and turned it on. The Light swung back and forth, and she only got glimpses of the terror that was there. What was this? Autumn’s eyes grew wide as she saw the bodies all over. Strings that you would find on puppets were on them, reaching the ceiling. There mouths were cut like puppets too, and some of them were open, just moved down, there jaw wasn’t doing anything. She could see chunks of there backs out, a place to put four hand in and make them talk. Then she saw something even worse than all of this. There was her mom in a puppet pose. She couldn’t scream, this was the most horrifying thing she could imagine. She started to weep quietly, scared to death.
Suddenly, she heard Dolly’s voice behind her. “Didn’t I tell you not to come down here?”
“This is your mom’s study?” Autumn said, crying now.
“Of course not! Look…” said Dolly and she pointed to a human puppet in a corner. This one was polished and actually looked like it was wood. “That’s my mom, this is my art studio,” she laughed.
“Wh-what?” Autumn backed up, and screamed when she hit a dummy.
“It’s not that bad,” Dolly started as she walked over with some strings, “In fact, you’re my next project…”