Chapter Four - T.P.C.
On his walk home from teen prison, school, Elias wracked his brain trying to think what had happened to the removed page from his book. Was it an accident? or was it taken? More importantly... what were those symbols?
Elias’ key entered the stiff lock on his Grandma’s flakey red front door and as he turned it, it opened with a click and screech. He entered the living room to find his Grandma staring out the front window across the street, then down the road as far as she could see. “Hey, Grandma.”
“Your sister’s upstairs, watch her. I’m going out.” His Grandma’s reply was short, almost cutting.
“Okay Grand-” She was gone before he could finish.
Elias spent the next half hour searching for his workbook page with no success. Under tables, in drawers, cupboards. He had looked everywhere. He threw himself onto the couch and sat staring at the wall entering an almost meditative state when he felt a wave of what could only be described as pure energy hit him. It was like a dull electric shock but throughout his whole body and as it hit him, a crack appeared on the wall. Strangely, it was at the point in the wall he and his Grandma had taken to staring at.
There was a weird bump that ran along the edge of the crack and as Elias moved closer to check it out and ran his finger along it, some of the paint flaked off revealing a luminescent blue moss. He’d never seen phosphorescent mould before. His concentration was shattered by a scream that shook him to the bone, freezing him in position. Sarah.
Elias pelted up the staircase, the power of his thrusts creating a symphony of creaks as he went. Sarah sat outside her bedroom door clutching her knees as she sobbed into her arms. She looked up, shaking, and couldn’t say anything. She was clearly terrified. Elias made to enter her room and she yelled “Don’t go in there. She’s angry Elias. She wanted to talk to her friends but the tea party didn’t work.”
Elias was dumbfounded. Could she really be talking about the doll? Was Miss Holly the reason that Sarah was sat outside her room too terrified to move? One way or another he was going to find out what was in that room.
Sarah clambered on to Elias’ leg as he walked past her and begged “Please don’t go in there, she’ll hurt you. She’s a bad doll!”
Tearing his leg from his sister’s ironclad grip, Elias latched onto the cold, brass handle of the door, his expression a forced neutral to hide the growing unease within. It had to be that creepy ass doll! He turned the handle and pushed the door, almost falling into the room. Nothing could prepare him for what he saw next.
The room, Sarah’s room, was trashed. Her bed was in tatters, feathers and springs stuck out of the multiple gashes adorning the main body of the mattress. Her television lay face down with the glass of the black screen peppering the bubblegum pink carpet. Amongst all of the destruction was Miss Holly sitting upright on a chair, the only undamaged thing in the room, patiently watching Elias take in the disaster zone. The wall behind the doll, once a fantastic white was now covered in crayon. Blue, purple, green, red, but worse yet was the shapes that the crayon made on the wall. It was his symbols.
Elias freed his phone from his pocket and shot photos of the room with the swift precision of an expert marksman. If the destruction disappeared like the page from his notebook he needed evidence that he wasn’t going insane. As an extra precaution, Elias sent the images to Jay before grabbing the doll off of the ground. Elias took his sister by the hand and led her downstairs.
Sitting at the table, the doll propped at the side of his chair, Elias took his sister’s hand once more “Sarah, you know Miss Holly couldn’t do that to a bedroom. She’s just a doll and Grandma’s gonna be...” He couldn’t think of any other word but “...pissed.”
“It wasn’t me, I swear.”
“Don’t lie to me Sarah,” Elias’ voice was one of a man who had walked eternally through a desert, “dolls can’t move and they certainly can’t throw televisions or rip a bed to shreds” It was surprising enough to think that his sister was able to do that much damage, never mind giving a second thought to her raving story about a raging doll. “Just clean it up, will you? I’ll get the sharp pointy things and you can do the rest.” He reached down to pick the doll up, “and this -“. The doll wasn’t there. Elias stood up from the chair, half throwing it and half stumbling over it.
Fear shot straight to his heart but he still didn’t understand, Elias knew this couldn’t be happening. The adrenaline coursing through his veins was almost audible to him creating a loud reverberating ringing through his skull. He stared where the doll had once been then to his sister who had jumped up onto the sofa and was sobbing wide-eyed staring straight past Elias. He followed her gaze to the wall and sure as shit, standing next to the crack in the wall was Miss Holly and in her hands was a crumpled up piece of paper. The piece of paper that Elias had been scouring the house looking for thirty minutes earlier.
“How do you know these symbols boy?”
Elias jumped not knowing where the aged woman’s voice was coming from. “I... I don’t know” replied Elias shakily to the room. He still hadn’t noticed that the voice had come from none other than Miss Holly.
“It’s the doll Elias, it’s the doll.” Sarah whimpered from her corner of the sofa.
“Now, now. I think you know already that I’m so much more than a doll young one.” Miss Holly was walking towards Elias now. “I ask again. How do you know these?”
Elias, still in complete shock, watched the doll with open eyes as she moved eerily in his direction. The stuffed legs of the play-thing moving one at a time to imitate a humans walk. He finally understood why her eyes had scared him so much. He didn’t just think they were following him around the room. They were. “I don’t know, I just drew them. I don’t even know what they are!”
“Don’t lie to me. Isn’t that what you just drummed into your sister? HA! She wasn’t even lying, you stupid child. Your mind is just too small and closed off to understand the possibility that your world and countless others are occupied with more than just what you humans create.” The doll began to grin.
Had the doll just said, humans? Obviously, it wasn’t human, it was a doll but the way in which she said it made him think, were there others?
Jay felt the short repetitive buzz of his phone on his lap and sat up from his bed. Images received from Eli, his notification bar read. Jay swiped down from the top of the screen and clicked on the notification, as the images loaded Jay grew weary. It wasn’t like Elias to send images through text message. He was more of a “dog filter” kind of guy. The pictures loaded and Jay took a second to scan the details of the destruction and the symbols behind the ugly freaking doll that Elias’ sister adored. Jay threw on his trainers and jacket and stumbled his way downstairs with his phone clutched in one hand and his keys in the other. “I’ll be out late mom,” he yelled to the room and left before he received an answer.
As Jay sped through the streets of Aitken he skipped through Skarramow Park, or as the commoners call it, Spraypaint Park, on account of the volume of painted graffiti that coats the benches, slides AND the swing sets. Jay was almost running now, under the slide, through the swings and round the climbing frame when he recognised someone. “Hey Beth,” it was Elias’ Grandma. “Sorry to hear about what happened to your house, I’m just on my way to see Eli now.”
“What do you mean my house? If that boy has put another hole in my kitchen wall playing hockey I swear to goodness!”
“No nothing like that... well, kinda exactly like that actually.” Jay brought his phone out of his pocket and quickly brought the photos onto the screen. “Sarah went ape sh- crazy in her room.”
Beth scrolled through the photos, her mouth stretching wider and wider as she went until she fell on the image of the symbols. Her jaw hardened and her mouth clenched tight. “Go home, Jay.” Beth took off still clutching Jay’s phone.
For an old woman, Jay struggled to follow her. She raced along two streets and into a goodwill store. She finds out her house is trashed and she goes shopping? Jay called after her, “Beth, BETH!” She ran through the store and into the changing room without lifting any items of clothing. Jay followed Beth and stood at the changing room door. He would wait there until she came out, he needed his phone.
A flash of green came from behind the door. “Beth, are you alright?” No answer. “Beth?” Jay hurriedly searched his pockets for a coin and turned the lock on the changing room door. Please don’t be naked, please don’t be naked. The door opened... She was gone.
Elias struggled to his feet. “So you’re a living doll? What the hell do you want with my sister?” He looked frantically around the room for something, anything that he could use to fend off the doll long enough for he and Sarah to escape. It couldn’t be that fast, it was just a doll... a living, psychotic doll. Elias spotted a piece of wood by the kitchen door - it had fallen off of the back fence a few days ago - and started to edge towards it trying not to draw attention to his plan.
“I want nothing of this idiotic young female. I have sat, for over a week drinking imaginary tea at a hideous plastic table in the middle of a room that would insult the eyes of the sweetest pixie.” Miss Holly was becoming angry. Good. That was just what Elias needed, angry people aren’t thinking straight, they don’t notice things that they normally would.
The doll continued walking towards Eli at a steady slow pace, “There’s powerful magic here boy and YOU are going to tell me how you pulled it off. At first, I thought it your sister who had the gifts. That’s why I followed them into the store, she and your Grandmother. They do make for an irritating pair. I disguised myself as a play-thing in an attempt to win over the girls affection. It was so easy -”
Elias turned to grab for the plank, a blinding green light burned through his eyes into the back of his skull and he tripped backwards. His sight came back to him swiftly and even before the blurred images took shape he could see that Miss Holly had appeared on top of the plank. How had she got there so fast?
“All this talk of the mystic arts and you think you can overthrow me with a plank of wood?” The doll sniggered. A strange green aura erupted from her fingertips and with a swift turn of her hand it took the shape of two circles surrounding her wrist. “You know the symbols child but nothing of what they can do? Then there’s another... Where does your Grandmother spend her days my boy?”
As if on cue another green flash erupted behind Elias casting his shadow across the doll and Beth walked through the floating embers emitting for where her spell had scorched the ground.
“Grandma it’s the doll, she’s-” Elias couldn’t believe what he was seeing. His grandma stood one foot in front and one behind with her hands held up in a claw position and had glowing circles hovering around her wrists.
“Move Eli.” Beth looked at Elias briefly then solidified her gaze on the abomination before her, “What do you want Dreamer?”
“And she has arrived. The charms on this place won’t hold my magic for long, and even in my current, unfortunate, form, you wouldn’t stand a chance. You’re old. You’re weak. You wouldn’t last two seconds.”
Elias’ watched his Grandma straighten her back and whisk her coat from behind and across her face throwing it to the ground. His Grandma no longer stood where she once did but in her place was an elegant tall woman who’s arms moved in a way that reminded Elias of a ribbon, following one curved movement and ending with a flick at her wrists. She was young and beautiful with slightly angled eyes and skin that glowed with a blue tinge, her eyes a glorious purple. Was this stunning deity the one staring at him from Mr Creeper’s window on the day he was attacked? Was this delicate beauty the one who had attacked him? There were too many questions running through Elias’ head, his train of thought only broken when finally the doll, the Dreamer, as his Grandma had called her, spoke.
“Fae.” she said, “I should have known.”
The Aphrodite glanced towards him for the briefest of moments, Go Elias.
Somehow, she was channelling her words straight to his brain and no one else seemed to hear her. There was something familiar about the way her words were received.
Elias ran, catching his sister in his arms as he went. A bolt of orange energy flew past his head and shattered the front door through which Elias could see Jay’s shocked face. Elias placed his sister on the ground outside, “watch her” he said to Jay.
“Eli what the fu-”
Elias never heard the rest of what was said, he was already running back into the building. He stood behind the doorway into the lounge, hidden from the manic play-thing but in full sight of the gorgeous being that had once portrayed itself as his Grandma. Elias scanned his surroundings, there were more cracks in the wall now. Every one of the cracks were glowing, blue, green, yellow, orange.
“I had no idea what would be waiting for me within these walls but this exceeds expectations. The full house is in another realm AND you stopped me from returning to my true form. You may be more powerful than you once seemed old woman" came the faraway voice of Miss Holly. “Now, who are you?”
“My name is Virtue, I am one of Avi’s seven guardians of old, I am a Grandmother, but most important of all... I am your downfall. Before I return you to the hell from which you spawned, who are you?” questioned Virtue.
“Remove these vicious charms that bind me and you shall see” spat back the doll.
Like a break in the sea, blue spark speckled ripples emanated from his Grandma’s core and passed through the room. Slowly Elias could see a disfigured shadow rising on the far wall of the living room and looked at his Grandma. She replied to his gaze with a subtle wink. He still struggled to see how this mystical creature could possibly be his fifty-eight-year-old Grandmother but in that one small act, he knew it was her.
“I assure you dreamer, leave this house now or you will be scorned by the goddess of the elements.” The magic bands reanimated around her wrists, her left wrist shining a brilliant red and her right shining white-blue.
Virtue quickly ducked out of the way of an oncoming bolt of orange and shot back a bolt of blue. As if in slow motion Elias saw the energy form in Virtue’s shoulder and spread through the delicate curves of her arms before gathering in the tips of her fingers and shooting out in fine bolts of blue energy. Elias watched as a green circle appeared above his Grandmother and as it moved down her body she seemed to dissolve into nothing. The whole action took around a second but that second was forever engraved into his memory. It was the most spectacular thing he had ever seen. He knew what had happened from the sounds of the kitchen being destroyed.
Another flash of green and Elias felt a hand grab the back of his shirt and then he was flying. He landed on the living room floor with a clatter and clutched at his leg. It had been impaled on a piece of splintered dining table that had been blown around the room. His eyes were blinded by white pain forcing him to let out a sharp grunt of pain. His Grandma’s head whipped around from where she stood from him and back to the creature that stood in the doorway opposite Eli. This was the first time that he could see the shape that Miss Holly had taken since being released and it was grotesque. She was smaller than Virtue and her spine seemed to twist at blood-curdling angles at two points causing her shoulders to be off level and her to move with a slight stagger.
Virtue appeared next to Elias raising him to his feet and rushing him to the other room. Again Elias smashed to the ground as a dark purple smoke smacked off of his Grandma’s shoulder. Spinning to the ground Virtue lashed back with a blast of flame that struck the living Picasso where it stood. Elias watched the beast let out a final primal screech as it dropped to the ground and its face went forever still. The monstrous lump on the living room floor started peeling away like paint flaking from a weathered fence, piece by piece disappearing until nothing remained.
Eli was still staring at the space when Jay walked in, “what the hell happened in here and who’s the babe?”
“Subtle as ever Johnathan,” Virtue replied
“Beth?” Jay’s mouth gaped.
“Would you please leave me to speak with my Grandson for a moment?”
Jay didn’t reply but walked back out the front door glancing back twice still in disbelief.
“Eli I can’t talk for long. The dreamscaper hit me with a curse that will leave me in a waking nightmare if not stopped in its tracks and to do so I’ll need to put myself in stasis.” She looked at his face with remorse. “The remaining charms on the house won’t last long with me being inactive. You and your sister must go to your mother.”
“What can I do? What’s a dreamscaper and what the hell are you?” Eli wanted so much to be angry with her but in her current state his voice took on a worried tone.
“Your mom will explain all Eli. You are a very special boy and you need to remember that. Please, go.”
Elias watched as his Grandma, one of Avi’s seven guardians of old, dug her fingernail into her wrist creating a small gash. Using the blood dripping from her wrist she painted two symbols on each side of her body and slowly her eyes started to close and a shining magenta pink netting materialised around her. Within seconds she had vanished from her place on the floor and Eli was alone.