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By Iron_Dwarf All Rights Reserved ©

Horror / Children

Painting: "Death and the Maiden" by Egon Schiele (1915)

Prying eyes. Her felt-tip pen gazed upon paper. Blank stares all around. A story soon to be told, if The Muse allowed her this night. Stars outside, stark drawn curtains inside. Drapes rustling in the wind. Her attention was on the white sheet in front of her and only there. Luck was with her: everyone was away for the night, frolicking about on the funfair in this maiden’s village. Dolls were meticulously arranged one by one in set order in the House. She had put the kettle on and given them their evening tea.

Welcome to the Dollhouse. On the left, in the small garden shed was Monkey, her favorite. A black plucky chimpanzee with brown glass eyes. He was set on scraping together tiny pieces of plastic wood for the hearth inside the cozy home. This hero was second to none in sacrificing himself for the greater good. The crackling fire: she could almost hear it. Around it were sitting his two best friends. On the right it was Patchface, a joker retired from the game (he got too old to care), grumpy yet adorable. His face was made up of various stitches in rectangular form. Once he set the world ablaze with laughter, but the only fire burning now was in the hearth. In her heart she felt a certain pity towards him. Poking the heat on higher. To the left, Prince Frog. Green that hurts one's eyes. A desolate dismay as his facial expression of choice. Still awaiting a kiss, but not from her. One couldn’t blame her for a lack of trying. An empty chair for guests. Monkey preferred to hang around.

Tonight was the night she would finally be able to write the first chapter on the rich history of the Dollhouse. How it all started. How Monkey, Patchface and Prince Frog got there having tea all ever during afternoon. Bent over her paper, she was praising herself blessed. The television screen downstairs humming a gentle white noise. Nobody seemed to watch. There was nothing that could keep her from sheer indulgence in fantasy, not even racket outside the window. The night was silent.

In her mental quest for a moment of inspiration her attention turned towards the most peculiar shape in the brick wall on her right, never noticed before. The texture of the stone had the shape of a smiley face. “Laughing out loud” she thought. It reminded her of Daddy, who always texted her on the ride back home from work. Always ending with a smiley. “Hi sweetie, how was your day? Daddy is tired. He worked so hard. See you at home. Love, Daddy”. And then a smiley. Always a smiley. It reassured her that no matter how bad the day at school might have been, the love and warmth of family would always be there to fall back upon. She and Daddy were best friends forever. As soon as she would hear the car coming up the terrain, she would shout excitedly. “Daddy!” She would run to the door, holding it open in eager anticipation of a welcoming hug.

One day long ago he brought back a package wrapped in gift paper. A present! A present from Daddy. For her. Without restraint yet with the utmost care she ripped it open as soon as it was handed to her. It was the day Monkey entered home as the first of the stuffed animal entourage. In his loneliness he built the Dollhouse during Christmas, or so Daddy used to say half-jokingly with a wink. Whoever it was, she was always grateful to receive such a grand palace for her humble creatures. Such loyal toys deserve a place like that, they’ve been through a lot with her.

She smiled back at the stone cold constellation at the wall and regained full focus. On to the history of the house. In the corner of her eyes she thought she saw something moving. Disturbed, she looked up and noticed she could not find the smiley face on the wall anymore. She shrugged her shoulders. “Ah well, we’ll see it some other time then.” Pen on paper again. Ready to ride and make history happen. Suddenly she heard a quiet, strange sound coming out of the Dollhouse, as if something was burning. The Muse at last? Looking into it, the only thing noteworthy was the steam of tea still hanging around, circling to the ceiling where it turned into tiny water drops. Back to the desk where her story awaits.

After writing “Once upon a time...” she again heard subdued sounds, as if her imaginary hearth in the Dollhouse really was set on fire. She slowly turned her body towards the Dollhouse again. On hands and knees she crawled towards it in disbelief. The fire was really on! It had brought a smile on Patchface, who could feel the warmth. The heads of the dolls turned around, acknowledged her presence and turned back towards the third chair which wasn’t empty anymore. In it sat a small black-haired young girl whose white dress reflected the light of the fire. The Muse looked eerily aloof amidst the cozy household of her puppets, yet they all seemed to get along just fine. Suddenly, when she had approached really close, a silence fell. One of the brooding kind.

Her puppets turned motionless having lost the recently gained life. The Muse rose up from her chair with a wicked smirk and slowly stumbled in her direction. With every step growing a little bigger, albeit ever so slightly. The evil grin remained. She seemed to whisper a certain sentence over and over again, the sounds leaving from her white lips. Her pale skin became more and more blinding to the eye. Suddenly she could hear what The Muse was saying repeatedly: “Daddy died”. Sometimes, The Muse paused and gasped for some breath and gargled in her neck. “Daddy died,” “Daddy died,” “Daddy died.” She was too big for the Dollhouse now.

It was left behind. She stood still and looked at The Muse, who came nearer and clutched her legs upon leaving the Dollhouse. The mantra kept on repeating. “Daddy died.” With each uttering of the phrase The Muse grew bigger and more fearsome. “Daddy died.” The Muse rose up and started to force them both into the corner. Finally, being pushed to the left of the desk it came to a standstill. A chilling sigh. She could feel the icy hands of The Muse grabbing her face. The Muse’s yellow teeth were revealed when the hissing started again. “Daddy died.” Laughing maniacally as if The Muse had triumphed. Blood was gushing from the windows. The paper on the desk had caught fire. “Daddy died.” “Daddy died.” She looked into eyes which were fiery red as if fire was burning inside. “Daddy died.” These eyes suddenly turned black. The pupils rolled, leaving the white only. Two strong furry black paws were holding The Muse’s neck. Gasping desperately for a last breath The Muse was slowly sinking deeply through her feet and shrieking. “Daddy died” could still be heard until suddenly the hiss was gone, accompanied by a big flash of light.

Her paper lay white as ever before on her desk. Where was all the blood? There wasn’t a single drop to be found on the windowsill. Reluctantly she checked the Dollhouse. Patchface? Check. Prince Frog? Check. Of course the third chair in the room empty. Monkey? Monkey? Monkey? He was nowhere to be seen. The plastic cinders had to help themselves to the now again imaginary hearth, which was burning ever so brightly just a few moments ago. Where once Monkey stood working for all there was nothing to be found. Feeling the surface of the floor there she did find something. A black hair. A long black hair. “Daddy died” she could hear in her head.

Hasting to the bed, she threw herself on it, crying relentlessly. This was too much to bear, too much to handle. All the intensity of past times ran through her head. Everything that happened. Wiping away her tears after a minute, she thought she heard someone arriving downstairs. Fumbling sounds. She got up and sped down to the front door. No one to be seen. She headed to the living room. There on the middle of the coffee table she saw her phone, lighting up blue from a new message. A private number. When she opened it all she saw was a smiley. Always ending with a smiley. :)

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