Cold night air was biting my exposed skin, leading me to push my clavicles inward in order to tuck my torso, barely covered by a flimsy tank top, inside the cage of my arms. My trunk missed the warmth provided by my wool sweater while my hand was itching to turn back and grab the sickle I had dropped near the side of the road to avoid drawing suspicious looks. The adrenaline rush I had been riding on for oh so long had finally went back to its normal level, leaving me behind feeling more tired and anxious than before. My sneakers were producing weird squeaky sounds I dragged them along the rough pavement I had been walking indefinitely for what seemed like hours. Raising my heavy eyelids, I glanced at the fancy colossal hands of a round clock adorning the clock tower in front of me.
It was way past midnight, 2 am to be more precise. I could scarcely tell it by the way the crowd roaming the town’s square had leaned towards an adult audience, with little to no children in sight. Multiple pairs of eyes were burning holes into my worn out body yet I wasn’t affected much by them as it was still better than the haunting eyes I’ve been seeing all night. Whether it be a decomposing one, a buttoned one or... burning embers.
My first encounter of the night with that hideous creature had filled me with doubt, drilling it inside my head that I wouldn’t be able to survive alone for the whole night but the surprise victory I had stumbled upon in case of the scarecrow had eventually given me some hope, hope that I wouldn’t be needing someone else’s help to ensure my salvation, hope that I had miraculously become my own dawn.
Suddenly a chortling group of teenage girls dressed as witches passed by me, the loud noises urging me to turn my head towards them, immediately making me regret my decision as my wandering eyes landed on the jolly group, more specifically the girl-witch walking two or three feet behind them. She clearly was neither interested nor involved in the group’s conversation. In fact, her eyes were trained right on me unnerving me with her odd stare. Passing a quick glance at her group talking nonchalantly amongst themselves, I moved my gaze back towards the lone girl only to find her giving me a weird smile. That’s when I realized.
She wasn’t human. She was a real witch.
‘It’s okay. It’s fine.’
Repeating the words for the umpteenth time in my head, I averted my eyes from her, keeping them trained on my brown sneakers which once used to be white, trying to focus more on my next step rather than the queer witch staring at me.
‘Right, Left, Right…’
Too focused on my drill, I was crossing the showcase window of a shop when the mannequin displayed in there jumped towards the glass and started banging against it as if trying to break it with her mere hands to reach me.
Through sheer luck, I had managed to remain quiet at the unforeseen occurrence, saving myself from the addition of another embarrassing situation I had faced in public but my feet hadn’t been all that lucky. In the end, I had twisted my ankle in my attempt to turn away from the glass and had as a result, bumped against the witch staring at me, making my eyes almost pop out of my sockets.
I had no idea what to say or how to behave. I was opening and closing my half parted lips in an alternate manner resembling a fish as I gawked at the uncanny existence in front of me with only one thing in my mind,
‘Shouldn’t have dropped that sickle.’
“Here, for you.”
The witch tilted her black hat back, giving me a devious smile with her black painted lips as she all but thrusted an object in my hands before disappearing right before my eyes.
My eyes widened as I rapidly turned my head in all directions, trying to see whether someone had seen it happen but disappointment came all too familiarly when I noticed that no one had been able to see her, except for me.
I had no idea that I had been pressing something soft with my fingers until a creepy voice emerged from beneath my breasts, making me let go of the object immediately.
I could definitely sense my soul leaving my body the moment I stepped back to peer down at the object that had fallen out of my arms and was now lying face front on the gravel near the sidewalk while producing mechanical prerecorded sounds of a crying child.
It was one of the things that I hated the most after Hysteria—a vintage mama doll.
“No. Please, no.”
The rendezvous with my little doll from childhood was still fresh in my mind—the night my doll had suddenly come to life and scared me to death, inciting me to seek refuge in a dark damp sink cabinet for hours. It was the same night I had developed claustrophobia along with a deep dark hatred for dolls.
Following the squeaky voice, the doll rotated its head back at an angle impossible for a human, its body was still laying face first on the ground but its head had now turned towards me, staring me square in the eye as a creepy smile pulled at both corners of its plastic lips making my blood freeze with horror inside my vessels.
The newfound confidence which I had acquired after slashing the scarecrow had completely abandoned me, transforming me back into the child hidden underneath the sink, afraid of her most favorite doll crawling around her house in quest of her.
I could hear the wild thumping of my heart along with loud swooshing of blood travelling away from my face, draining all color from it. My mouth was getting drier by the second, my chapped lips were meshed against each other getting heavily assaulted by me teeth as I looked around hoping for someone, anyone to see the agony painted all across my face yet like my every desperate attempt to find refuge in other people, my sight came back empty handed, bereft of any comfort.
The doll’s tone had turned into a slower, more unnerving version of its previous childish voice, making me slowly take another step back from it.
‘If I start running blindly and it attacks me from behind like the corpse, It’s game over for me.’
My wide-eyed gaze, fiercely searching for a suitable escape route suddenly turned horrified as I noticed the doll missing from its original position.
The sound had come from just under my legs. Before I even had the chance to look down, a sharp pain shot up my foot making me hastily jerk it back and forth in order to get rid of the source of my discomfort. If it had been possible for my eyes to get bigger, they’d definitely have, by the time I saw a little head full of blond curls stuck to my ankle, its sharp teeth digging inside the skin above my ankle. Blood was furiously oozing out of the fresh wound, rapidly soaking my already dirtied sneaker in a messier crimson tinge.
Numerous shrieks were tearing their way out of my mouth as I felt the dolls teeth digging deeper inside my flesh, almost grazing the bone.
‘The bitch is about to crunch my bone.’
The thought immediately set my body in motion, my crumbling defenses kicking in as I raised my leg high up in air before banging the side of my leg against the corner of the wall. I was trying to aim for doll’s head because I had a notion that I wouldn’t be able to separate her from my flesh by merely pulling her fake hair out.
“Get off already, you bitch!”
More and more people had started looking my way probably questioning the death of my last two brain cells as I, uncaring of their stares, continued smashing my bleeding ankle against the brick wall.
After several wild kicks to its head, the doll finally landed hard on the ground with a small thud. The relentless banging had cracked its skull yet the creepy smile was still lingering on its sickening pink lips as its dazed eyes stayed locked on me through all the ruckus,
Its voice had turned much lower and thicker in comparison than before. It almost sounded like a male was talking to me.
“I didn’t give birth to an ugly creature like you. You hear me?!”
Several gazes were burning a hole through my back, but I didn’t give a damn in that moment. My focus was set on the battered doll on the ground. I had let her win once. I wasn’t letting her win again.
“I want your head bitch!”
That did cajole a couple of gasps from the crowd gathering around me. They couldn’t see the doll, the probably couldn’t see my bleeding ankle as well. I was going to do the same—pretend that they didn’t exist.
I was searching for something sharp to cut its neck but when I couldn’t find anything, I decided on detaching it from the trunk with my bare hands. Being careful of not going near her lips, I tried gripping her blond locks yet she still managed to get a chunkful of the soft flesh on my hand making me let out another wail of pain. All the pent up anger from my childhood seemed to have been unleashed as I punched the little devil with my uninjured hand as hard as I could deflating one side of its face, making it instantly let go of my hand that it had been munching on previously.
“This is for ruining my childhood!”
Not paying any attention to the their horrified stares, as I had completely lost it, I landed another punch on the fake barbie’s face,
“And this is for making me claustrophobic!”
“And this is for ruining my sneakers!”
I must’ve looked utterly crazy, straddling air, delivering punches to earth, but in that moment, I couldn’t care giving a damn. I was too contended with the visible results. The doll’s face was totally ruined.
After I was done letting my stream out, I grabbed the doll’s body with my bleeding hand and its crushed head with another and separated them with a forceful jerk before throwing them both far away.
“See you in hell!”
I didn’t know I had been crying until cold air kissed my freezing cheeks making me feel the tightness of my cheeks due to dried patches of tears lacing them. I was slowly returning back to my senses. The pain in my heart was intensifying more and more with every pump it applied to keep me alive.
Lifting my hooded eyes, I stared at the small crowd gathered around me. One or two of them seemed to be holding their phones to their ears.
“Yes, near town’ square. Yes, she’s standing right in front of me.”
My eyebrows furrowed as I realized what they were doing. They had probably called the police or some kind of crisis center for help. Gritting my teeth, I started walking away from the herd. Some of them tried stopping me, coursing me into thinking that they could help me, but I kept shoving their extended hands away, walking briskly to avoid an unwanted encounter with the authorities, slowing down only when I was sure that I had come far away from them.
Trudging aimlessly for some time, I eventually found a desolate alley to rest my back. I couldn’t walk anymore. The wound on my feet was making it more and more impossible to continue sauntering.
‘Why am I so pathetic?’
Covering my eyes with the back of my forearm, I let out a gut wrenching wail, followed by a series of sobs as I continued banging the back of my head against the wall I had been leaning on for support.
“Please, stop. Please.”
My eyes widened as my loud wails abruptly came to a halt. My reddened face was turning pale with fear as I let my forearm fall down into my lap gingerly, lifting my gaze, looking around me to detect a familiar head full of blond curls, but as far as I could see there was nothing remotely close to that in my surroundings.
This time, the voice had come from above me.
With my heart pounding in my ears, I slowly raised my head up. The first thing I was able to see were blond locks dangling in front of my face before a battered, broken face of a doll smiling down creepily at me filled my vision.
I wasn’t even able to let out a scream from the shock when something heavy suddenly pounced on my huddled frame from above, tearing the skin of my neck with its mouth along with one of the major vessel resting underneath the tissue, releasing a spurting jet of blood that painted the wall behind me in a scarlet graffiti.
‘She hadn’t died. I hadn’t seen her evaporating in smoke.’
I was finally able to see my mistake clearly but it was far too late now. I had nowhere left to go. Even after miraculously avoiding this situation, I had nowhere else to go. There were people running after me, trying to lock me inside some house.
‘It’s the same everywhere I go.’
Barely able to see the wrecked doll hovering over my face, smiling triumphantly down at me, I turned my gaze to the side refusing to look at her disgusting face planning to suck Hysteria’s soul out of my gasping lips,
‘Maybe, it’s for the better.’
A small trail of blood had escaped out of my mouth, slowly trickling down the corner of my lips, joining the bigger puddle of blood that was furiously pooling on the asphalt present under my torn neck. Surprisingly, there were no tears leaking out of my swollen eyes, I had ran out of them. I had let it go.
Black dots started appearing in my vision, coalescing as more and more time passed to create bigger blobs of blackness that were slowly devouring every inch of my vision. I was rapidly loosening consciousness and I knew it wasn’t long before I’d end up breathing my last.
In my haze, my clouded vision was suddenly lit up with another presence filling it—a dark clad figure leaning against the opposite wall with his arms folded in front of his broad chest. I couldn’t see clearly but it looked it his skull painted face was twisted in a frown as he continued staring wordlessly at me until I heard a husky voice ringing inside my head,
“Call for me.”
The voice cocooned me into a warm embrace much like the feeling you get when you return home after a tiring day. It painted a picture of a place that gave me a feeling of belonging. I didn’t want to let it go. I didn’t want to die like this.
Raising my bloodied hand towards the figure, my fingers twitching, itching for him to come closer, I tried motioning for him to reach for me, grab my hand, before everything went black before my sight.
I could hear a slashing sound—sword cutting through air accompanied by a loud shriek before everything went deathly silent.
‘Is it over? Am I dead?’
I could see the light disappearing from my vision, the doors were getting closed. Everything had turned pitch black. My body felt light, its reigns left in the hands of these merciless tides, drowning me deeper and deeper inside this unnamed sea of darkness. It seemed like there was no way out until a familiar pair of hot lips met my cold ones in a passionate kiss, bringing me back to my senses.
Unlike before, they weren’t trying to suck something out of me. Rather they seemed to be breathing something into me, as if they were pouring their own life into me, sharing their energy with me, merging our completely different existences into one dynamic soul.
The more these hot lips caressed mine, the more warmth returned to my freezing ones. The pain arising from the multiple parts of my body seemed to have completely disappeared. I couldn’t feel any more of a warm sticky liquid furiously pouring out of my wounds. The only thing I could sense in that moment was the feeling of a soft pair of plump lips lightly massaging my own, claiming me as theirs.
“Why, because I love you, Gia.”
I was well aware of my benefactor; he had been my tormentor for over a decade, but the sweet taste of this comfort that I had tasted after a long time was too hard to let go so easily. He was the drug critical for my survival. I felt safe and that was all that mattered to my tangled senses in that moment, as for the first time since forever I slept peacefully after losing myself in the arms of Hysteria.