Sarah awoke from her agonised headache gagging for breath, something hard and tough was pressing down on her throat, it felt like hands choking her. She could feel a presence just above her, the presence of a man. At the back of her mind, she could sense that she was lying down on some kind of soft surface, but that wasn’t important right now, someone was trying to kill her. She reached for the grappling hands tightened on her neck and tried to prise the fingers off of her. She couldn’t, it was as though they were stuck to her neck with glue, she couldn’t take the hands off of her, or even move them aside.
What the fuck is happening? Get the hell off me!
She tried to scream, speak or even exhale, but it was useless, the pressure on her throat was too powerful, she could feel the air being cut off from her, she started to feel a little light headed.
Who the fuck are you?
She tried to open her eyes and see her attacker, but it was increasingly difficult. She used her every will to simply open her eyelids, but it felt as though some power or force was keeping them closed, no matter how much she tried, they wouldn’t open. She gritted her teeth and forced every part of her will to fight this attacker, summoning every bit of strength inside her to fight back.
You will not kill me, get the fuck off me and get the hell out of here!
She gripped the hands around her throat and used her every strength to pull them off, she used her nails, digging them deep into the skin and the flesh, she could feel the blood run by her own hands. Whoever it was didn’t scream or yell out loud at the pain, but it didn’t matter, her own attack seemed to release his grip.
That’s it, feel the goddman pain, you son of a bitch. How the fuck does that feel!?
She began to feel dizzy as the last of the air started to leave her body, she was getting weaker, but she couldn’t stop, she had to keep going. She dug her sharp fingernails deeper and deeper into the attackers flesh, so much that she could almost feel the bones of the hands scraping against her nails.
Eventually, the attacker released his choking grip on her throat, she instantly reached for her neck to protect it, gasping for air, the taste of it felt like a cold lemonade on a hot day. She could sense that he was backing off from her, through the intense dizziness, she could hear him stumbling around wherever this was.
How do you like that, you fucking . . .
Her silent curses stopped as the dizziness in her prevailed, coming on quickly as though someone had suddenly increased its power with the press of a button. Her head fell backwards and she again fell unconscious.
She again awoke, feeling a hard surface underneath her, possibly tiles. The dizziness returned to a low level until it buzzed around quietly in her head. She lightly rubbed her throat, still feeling the fading pain.
What the fuck is happening here, where the hell am I?
She used the leverage of hands and what felt like a wall beside her to pull herself up, her shoes echoed against the hard tiled floor. She blinked her eyes, realising that she could now open them. She opened her eyes and looked around her.
She saw that she was in a small darkened hallway in what seemed like an ordinary house, there was an open door just to the right of her, a small doorknob was fixed onto it. There was a room in front of her, brilliantly white and glowing, she could see a few dark patches dotted around the room, and what looked like the outline of a shower curtain. She tried to look closer, but the whole image of what she could see was shrouded in a thick blanket of static, like watching grainy images on a television screen.
She suddenly turned her head around to face the glowing room as she became aware of something inside. She peered closer and could see a small human like figure silhouetted against the perfect whiteness. It seemed to be half the size of the room, its arms looked like they were simply stuck on the body, the same with the legs and the featureless, hairless head. It looked like that whatever it was was violently hitting something, something that was cowering underneath it, also a silhouetted figure, but a lot smaller, its physical proportions looked unusual and out of place.
Sarah took a tight hold of the doorknob beside her, pushing her whole body against the door and hiding in the shadowy corridor, hoping to avoid whatever the hell this was.
I can’t stand this, get me away from here. William, where the hell are you?
The unusual violent scene slowly broke away as the few dark patches gathered more and more until they covered her entire field of vision, like an old projector film coming to an end.
After a few moments of muted darkness, the wool over her eyes was once again torn away, instantly showing her the image of a hideous ventriloquist dummy lying on a bed. She tried to cover her mouth in shock when she realised that both her hands were around the dummies neck choking it, it writhed on the bed as it struggled to escape, its wooden mouth opening and closing, uttering a strange high pitched shrill screech.
Sarah tried to move her hands, move her feet, but some invisible power was keeping her glued to this spot, forcing her to choke the life out of this wooden doll.
Don’t do this to me, please let me go!
She tightly closed her eyes, unwilling to see anymore of this bizarre and terrifying sight.
She opened her eyes again, sensing that she now no longer held the dummy, she jerked her body around, instinctively forcing herself to run. Something was holding her down with strong arms, preventing her from running. She wriggled around like a cat as she struggled to escape. She turned round and saw William holding her, shouting something in her face. She glanced around and saw that she was back in the abandoned house. Slowly, her senses came back to her, Williams shouts burrowed through to her ears.
“Sarah, stop, stop it, you’re back now, you had one of your visions. Are you okay, now?”
Sarah stopped her frantic efforts of escape and began to cry, burying her head in William’s chest, gripping the edges of his jacket tightly. William held her tightly, softly placing his hands on her head. He sat comforting her for a short while until she stopped crying and looked up at his face.
“I saw them,” she said quietly. “I saw the things the little girl on the tape was saying. I understand what she was trying to tell us.”
William looked at her in mute patience to what she would tell him. He didn’t really want to know what she had to say, but a part of him longed for the answers.
“The little girls father, he beat her.” She told him, her voice thick with emotion. “He had a ventriloquist dummy and the bastard loved it more than his own daughter, his own flesh and blood.” She cleared her throat to shake away the emotion inside her to say more. “Whenever she wanted her daddy, the bastard would beat the hell out of her, I saw him beat her in the bathroom like she was some fucking rag doll!”
She immediately tore herself away from William’s comforting grasp and drew herself up to her full height and shouted: “Where the hell are you, you son of a bitch!?” She constantly turned her body to face everything around her, raising her head up above her, as if speaking to some invisible figure that constantly moved around her. William couldn‘t believe her outburst, wondering why he hadn‘t got used to them by now. “I don’t care who the fuck you thought you were when you were alive, what the hell kind of super-being you thought you were to that poor little girl. But, to me, you’re nothing but some sick freak, a damn pathetic human being like the rest of us. I can’t fight you, but I hope to god that you’re friggin’ burning right now!”
As a final burst of energy, Sarah tightened her arms and fists as tight as she could and suddenly spun her entire body around to face the wall, violently driving a stone hard fist into the crumbling weak wall. The wood, brick and plaster barely made a sound as it all broke into pieces on the floor, like broken pieces from a fake wall in a television studio.
Sarah gradually began to relax herself again, her fists slowly retracting to open hands, her frustrated breaths coming out like grunts as she forced back the incredible hatred and anger. Her whole body shook at her own surprise of how angry she really was. William approached her cautiously, not knowing what she would do if he got to close. He approached her slowly and gently rested his hands over her own quivering hands. He was taken aback to how angry she really was.
Without warning, Sarah suddenly jerked away from William causing him to quickly retract his hands in surprise. She started to run toward the staircase, grunting with each exhale of air, her arms shaking all around her like a rag dolls. It took a moment for William to realise where she was going and what she had in mind. He started to run quickly after her shouting when he saw her trying to climb up the rickety staircase, the fragile wood of the whole staircase wobbled and creaked as she made her way up further and further, unfettered by the constant warning noises coming from the stairs.
“Hey, stop right there!” William shouted at her from the bottom of the staircase, his hands holding hard to the banisters to stop them shaking. Sarah stopped in her tracks, her heart beating ferociously fast, consumed with rage and hate for the little girls father. Her eyes were alive with fiery brightness, sparks and lights gathered like a raging storm in her pupils.
William took a few careful steps toward Sarah and held out his hand to her, careful not to encourage her to keep going, as well as being careful not to break his leg. “Now, come down,” he said with a shaking voice. “Come right down here, to me, you’re not safe on this thing. If you keep going, it’ll all crumble underneath you and that might kill you. So, please, come down and take my hand.”
Sarah hesitated for a moment before taking one step back down the staircase, William extended his hand out a little more, hoping to take hold of her and not have to catch her. His breathing stopped momentarily as he heard the steps make a loud creaking noise. He kept his eyes firmly on Sarah.
“I’m sorry, William,” Sarah said in a calm flat voice. “Please don’t follow me.” She immediately sprinted up the staircase to the upper floor, the pressure and strength of her steps caused the staircase to buckle and shake, creaking enormously. The moment Sarah reached the upper floor and jumped off of the stairs, the whole construct came crashing down, falling into rotted and crumbling pieces as it fell, bringing the whole staircase down in front of William like pieces of trash. William coughed hard as he struggled to fight off the thick mist of sawdust that gathered around him, his eyes partly closed as another method of protection.
Jesus Christ, Sarah, what the hell are you doing?
Despite knowing it was a total waste of time and probably dangerous to try, William knew he wouldn’t leave Sarah alone to face whatever was in this house that the little girl warned them about and decided to join her, hoping he could somehow coax her back down, if there was still a way back down.
He looked at the mess of decayed wood at his feet and wondered how the hell he’d get up. Then he remembered, the rope he had put in the trunk, he could use that.
But, wait, what the hell do I tie it onto, the stairs have gone?
He looked back as far as his viewpoint would allow at the top of the stairs at the upper level and noticed that there was a small square plastic part of the banister remaining, just to the right of where the stairs had been.
Maybe, that could work, I don’t think plastic rots like wood. I think I could tie one end of the rope into a knot and throw it on there. I mean, I’m no cowboy, but what the hell.
He turned round and headed outside to the car.
On the upper level of the house, Sarah was running quickly from room to room, her eyes open wide, programmed to search for the dummy that was here somewhere. She pulled the rooms apart in her frantic search, pulling the dusty cobweb ridden blankets from beds, pulling open drawers and cupboards and throwing the contents all across the room.
Where the fuck are you, where are you hiding?
Then her memory suddenly flashed her an imagined image, joined by the little girls words. She said he kept it in the closet.
She ran into what like the master bedroom and opened the closet beside. Apart from the dusty and ragged pieces of clothing, there was nothing like a doll or a dummy inside.
He would have kept it in his own room, surely? Oh, Christ.
She realised suddenly a disturbing and disgusting thought. He must have kept the damn dummy in Amy’s closet. That son of a bitch made her sleep in the same room with it, even though she hated and was terrified of it.
She ran from the master bedroom into Amy’s bedroom and immediately caught sight of the closet. It had long ago fell from the wall and dropped forwards onto the bed.
Jesus. Sarah thought covering her forehead with her hand.
She walked up to the closet and pushed it back against the wall. It wasn’t as heavy as she thought, probably due to the strength washed away from it by the onslaught of the plague. The moment the closet hit the wall behind it, she hears something thud inside. She relaxed herself for a moment and took hold of the small handles on the closet doors. She thrust them open wide with a loud creak, the joints were heavily rotted and immediately came away in her hands and fell to the floor. Sarah looked inside the closet, her arms falling by her sides.
There, sitting like a disjointed deformed hideous child, sitting on top of the little girls small dusty clothes, was the moth-eaten ventriloquist dummy, its dead white lifeless eyes coated with dust, its reddened mouth open wide into a harsh twisted grin, as though constantly laughing at its power of Amy, just like its owner once did. The small plastic teeth inside were the host to a large cobweb that covered its whole head.
Sarah’s mouth and eyes quivered in sorrow for Amy and what she had to go through, as well as in hate and disgust for her father, forcing her to be around this thing against her will.
“Amy might have been afraid of you, but there’s no fucking way that I am.”
She grabbed hold of the dummy’s arm and dragged it across the floor out into the corridor, its wooden head thudding with each step. Pulling it up to her face, she stared into its dead eyes, her face consumed with rage and hate, she spat into its face, then threw it across the corridor against the wall. It landed with a thud on the floor, its right arm and leg came loose from its body.
Sarah approached it and stopped just a few inches from it, looking down at it with a heart consumed with rage. She reached inside her jacket and pulled out a small lighter. She pressed the small metal switch down until the small flickering light appeared. She looked down at the dummy’s eyes, wishing she could see Amy’s father in them, to see him fearful for the first time, terrified of what she would do. She smiled a little and threw the lighter down onto the dummy, it exploded immediately into a ball of flame and light, turning it within minutes into a pile of smoking ash. Sarah crossed her arms and watched it burn, not bothering to wipe away the tears from her eyes.
God, I hope this is all you need to rest, Amy. I really do.
Sarah was so engrossed into the sight before her that she barely noticed William appearing where the staircase had been, trying his hardest to climb the piece of rope he was using. She turned round eventually and looked at him, smiling when she saw him lying on the floor of the corridor, drawing in great mouthfuls of air. He turned his head and looked at Sarah, noticing she looked a little saddened. “Are you okay?” He said, slowly standing up in front of her. Sarah nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine, now. I’ve done what Amy wanted me to do.” She looked back down at the heap of ash in front of her, William followed her gaze, squinting his eyes tom understand what he was seeing. “What is it?” He asked.
“Just a painful memory that’s now gone.” She responded, sighing.
William looked at her , seeing the great pain inside her. He decided against inquiring about it with her. Better to let the ghosts rest. He thought.
“Come on,” he told her. “We’d better leave now, I think we’ve done all we can.
Sarah nodded and walked with her head down toward the piece of rope hanging down and began to climb down it. William followed till they were both downstairs and headed towards the dining room to collect the equipment. He jerked his head around suddenly when he heard Sarah crying. The whole upper part of her body was bent downward to the floor, her hands covering her face.
“What’s the matter?” William asked walking towards her, instantly recoiling when she shrieked out at him, waving her hands in the air. She sank down to the floor on her knees, her voice fiercely alive with emotion. William knew better than to interfere with what was clearly some kind of grief for the little girl she did this for. He wanted to tell her that there was no time for that, that they had to hurry and avoid detection, but he could tell she didn’t give a damn about that at the moment.
After a few minutes, Sarah’s crying was now little more than a sob and a few grunts of air, she began to wipe her face with her hands. William decided to attempt to calm her down again, not knowing exactly whether it was the right moment or not. He stepped toward her a little and looked down at her.
“You okay, now?” He said as quietly as he could, not wanting to cause her to shriek out again. Her grunts slowly became quiet breaths of air as she clamed down, her fingers slowly winding themselves around William’s’. She slowly looked up at him with tear stained eyes beneath ragged untidy hair.
“Oh god, William,” she said quietly. “What if that sick freak is still with Amy, what if he’s holding her here against her will?”
William sighed and lowered his head to face the dusty floor beneath him, hoping she wouldn’t see the confusion in his eyes as he sought for a good answer. Finally, after a few moments of silence, he looked up at her, reinforcing his face with mute confidence. “Lets just trust in god that she’s safe and well and pray that she’ll be okay in the future.” Sarah looked at him in silence for a moment before nodding.
“Hey, listen,” he said. “Do you really wanna’ carry on with this? I know you really want to do this to find your father, but its it really worth it, I mean look at yourself, this stuff is screwing with your mind, you’re finding yourself in places full of dead people. Why can’t you just throw in the towel and come with me to the countryside.”
Sarah sighed, her slightly annoyed eyes piercing right through to his mind. “I’ve already told you, you can go to the countryside if really want to, and I’ll carry on with this. Even if I ran away from all this, its in my head all the time, and it’ll follow me wherever I go. I’ve nothing else in life to worry about, now, except for the smallest chance that my Father is out there somewhere, just like they told me. I believe he’s waiting for me and I’m gonna’ find him whatever it takes and those goddamn scientists can just go to hell for all I care, because I’m not afraid of them.”
William was stuck for something to say to her, something to snap her out of this insanity that was telling her to push on, but the empty horizon of his mind left in silence. He thought she was brave not to be afraid of the insane scientists that were constantly up their assess, as well as thinking that she was stupid not to be afraid. But, in the end, he knew he couldn’t argue with her, doing so would just waste time and energy and decided to listen to her, while still retaining a little doubt and disagreement with her.
Quickly bringing his mind to the task at hand, he quickly brought her hands together and briefly rubbed them before turning away.
“Okay,” he said with a quick intake of air. “I don’t know about you, but I think we’ve done all we can here. We’ve made contact, and that’s what’s important. We’ll put this stuff back in the trunk and get the hell out of here. Its still dark, so we shouldn’t have too much trouble finding somewhere else.” He turned round and looked at Sarah behind him, standing pathetically in the same position she was, her clothes heavily creased, her hair like that of a homeless person. “Why don’t you let me drive.” He said to her. “You’ve been through a whole damn lot. Take a nap in the back seat and I’ll find us another place, okay?”
Sarah looked at him and smiled a little. She nodded and tidied up her hair with her hands as best as she could, quickly smoothing away the creases in her clothes. She cleared her throat and walked towards the tape machines on the table and helped carry them and the other equipment out in the bags and back to the car, trying her best to hide the growing fear in her face and the same frightening question that buzzed like electricity in her mind. Father, will I ever find you through all of this, or are you not there at all?