Don’t Take My Doll :
It was July the 2nd, 1998 when she first appeared. A slight, pale woman with large black rings around her eyes, thin, hollow cheek bones and hair like matted wire. I watched from the front desk everyday as she flitted up to the window, stared into the police station and repeatedly tapped her bony fingers against the glass.
I’d been drafted to the small seaside town of Gentry less than a month ago and not a day had gone by without the woman appearing at the window, sometimes for hours on end. I’d asked a couple of my superiors what she was doing but they merely avoided my eyes and told me not to pry into private affairs.
Today was no different; the woman crept over to the window and danced her fingers across the glass. The sky outside grew dark as the hours dragged on and I watched as the first drops of rain fell from the sky. This light drizzle quickly progressed into a downpour and I observed as the woman went from being doused to being drenched in a matter of minutes. Yet her movements didn’t cease and she continued to tap fervently on the window, her hollow, maddeningly wide eyes fixed on me the entire time. When her hair began to literally melt out of its precarious bun I pushed back my chair and walked over to the door.
I hesitated for a moment, glancing tentatively behind me to make sure that all eyes were averted. Quickly, I wrenched open the door and stuck my head outside and called “Hey! Do you want to come inside until the weather calms down”?
The woman froze and snapped her head towards me. I was startled by her movement; the angle of her head made it appear that she possessed no spine to speak of and instead that her head was disconnected from her neck; a near complete rotation without her moving her shoulders. I couldn’t suppress a shiver as she twisted her body to align with her head and began to creep towards me, her arms lying limp at her sides.
I stepped aside to allow her inside and she twisted her head in that inhuman state to face me. We stood like that for a few painfully long seconds before she whispered “I have a crime to report”.
Her voice was delicate and childlike; as though encased within the putrescent grey skin and bedraggled hair lay a sweet child with pink ribbons scattered in her blonde ringlets.
“Of course ma’am” I smiled, gesturing for her to follow me to the front desk. I’d barely taken a step before she clasped her fingers around my wrist; her cold skin creating a crushing vice that stopped me in my tracks.
“Please sir…could we go to the back room”?
Her question surprised me but I could understand why some witnesses would be too scared to declare crimes in the open. I had never heard of any witnesses being relocated to an actual room in the time I’d spent at the station but the itching desire to know more about the woman prompted me to nod and change course; heading down a long, thin corridor leading to the tiny back room.
As we walked, I stole a glance back at her and noticed that she was a fair deal younger than I’d first assumed. Her slender limbs, hunched figure and dark eyes made it appear that she was an elderly woman but on closer inspection her undeveloped physique and smooth face suggested that she was most likely a prepubescent child. I was shocked at myself for not noticing this sooner that I almost strolled headfirst into the door of the backroom. Halting in the nick of time, I fumbled my keys before unlocking the room and stepping inside.
The room was comprised of dark metal walls and a concrete floor complete with a stainless steel table and two chairs. I took the chair closest to the door and waited for the girl to sit down.
I pulled out a recording tape from my bag and set it on the table.
“Okay,” I smiled “Go ahead…”
The girl’s dark eyes stared into my brown ones and she let her jaw grow slack. After a moment however, she began.
“It began like every other day. The sun rose, the tide ebbed from the shore and the seaside town stuttered into life. However this day was special-”
“Um, wait a second please,” I interrupted. “You don’t have to tell it like this; like a story, I mean. You can just tell me the key elements and I can submit a report.”
She fixed me with her intense stare and replied “But this is how it goes. I have to tell the story how it goes…”
I sighed and waved her on, not in the mood to argue with a child.
She continued. “It was a special day because it happened to be the birthday of the mayor’s daughter; Cecilia Abigail Townsend. Her mother had promised Cecilia that she could ask for anything she wanted so the little girl had replied ‘A doll’. So Cecilia’s mother went searching for the most beautiful china doll in the town. She looked in quaint boutiques and upmarket department stores but she found no doll worthy of her beautiful daughter. Finally she found a little girl playing on the street, a cherubic doll clutched in her hands. She begged and pleaded with the girl to part with the doll but the child would have none of it.
As the child played on, steely clouds rolled in from the ocean; threatening a storm. Finally the girl set the doll on a nearby bench while she went to fetch an umbrella from her house which lay only a few yards from where she was playing. Taking her chance, the mother snatched the doll from the bench and ran home, not stopping once along the way.
She arrived home and wrapped the doll before presenting it to the delighted Cecilia that night. Cecilia however, received a great number of presents that night and the little doll was forgotten amongst the onslaught of gifts.
Cecilia bade her parents goodnight and left for bed as the moon rose in the sky. Her father soon followed her but her mother was left to clean up the mess that the wrapping paper had created. It was only when she had completely tidied the kitchen that she noticed the doll sitting on Cecilia’s chair; its glassy eyes staring straight ahead.
Cecilia’s mother had been sure that the doll had been discarded under the table earlier and no one had re-positioned it on the chair, unless it had somehow climbed up there itself…Scared by her own musings, Cecilia’s mother switched off the lights and retired for the night.
When the clock struck midnight, Cecilia Abigail Townsend awoke to a small voice whispering in her room.
‘Cecilia…I’m in the front hall.’
Cecilia slipped out of bed and padded to the front hall which led from the kitchen to the grand staircase. The doll was lying on the carpet, its gaze directed at Cecilia who stood at the top of the staircase.
Thinking perhaps her brother was performing some sort of trick on her, Cecilia shook her head and walked back to her bedroom. But then the voice returned.
‘Cecilia, I’m on the stairs. I’m on the first step… I’m on the second step… I’m on the third step…’ the voice continued until the very last step on the grand staircase.
Cecilia crept outside to check and, sure enough, the doll was lying at the top of the stairs, its hollow eye staring straight at her.
Truly frightened now, Cecilia ran to her room, locked the door and dove under the covers. And still the voice continued.
‘Cecilia, I’m in your brother’s room…’ There was a sudden scream of agony followed by the sound of a body hitting the floor ‘Got him’…
Cecilia began to cry, her teeth tearing through her bottom lip as the voice went on.
‘Cecilia, I’m in your parent’s room…’ Another set of screams followed ‘Got them.’
Cecilia listened in horror as her lock clicked and the door swung open.
‘Cecilia, I’m at your toes…I’m at your knees…I’m at your waist….I’m at your shoulders…’”
“STOP!” I yelled, slamming my hands down on the table. The girl didn’t look taken aback in the least at my outburst, instead gazing at me as though waiting to continue.
“I demand you stop this right now!” I growled “This is a police station, not a campfire and I’ll have none of your tales here. I know very well that today is the mayor’s daughter’s birthday and that they are all alive at this moment so please kindly stop wasting my time and”-
I was interrupted by the door bursting open and the Chief sergeant leaning in, policemen dashing backwards and forwards behind him.
“Detective, we need you at Mayor Townsend’s residence, please come with me”.
I looked back to the chair and saw that the girl had slipped behind me and out the door while my attention had been preoccupied. Gritting my teeth in frustration, I turned back to the Chief and nodded, following him back though the station and into the sheeting rain…
When we arrived at the Mayor’s house, the coroners were removing gurneys laden with bodies covered in blood spattered sheets. One of the sheets was blown back in the wind and I saw the mutilated face of Cecilia Townsend; her throat slashed into ribbons of flesh and her mouth slit from ear to ear in a horrific grin.
I felt bile rise in my throat and excused myself to empty my stomach behind the house. I was wiping my mouth when I heard a light tapping, even through the rain. I glanced up and saw a figure standing in the upstairs window, its fingers splayed across the glass. Squinting I could make out the outline of the girl from the police station, a large smile upon her usually deadpan face and a doll with blonde ringlets clutched in her hand. She tapped on the glass again and began to write something on the window. When she was finished she waved at me, her smile growing impossibly huge, before disappearing into the room’s shadows I stepped closer and saw the words daubed on the window in blood red letters:
DON’T TAKE MY DOLL…