Dolls

A girl rapt harshly on the stiff wooden door as thunder boomed loudly in the background and lightning lit up the muddy skies. The girl persisted in knocking, her knuckles now white from the abuse. She jostled and jolted the dented brass doorknob, desperate to escaped the unrelenting rains. She screamed as a vicious flash of lightning struck a nearby tree producing an explosive crack! The tree didn't stand a chance. Its shredded remains ripped through the air and embedded itself barely meters away from the panicking girl. Rippling with fear, she doubled her efforts to breach the door for shelter. With a final, solid shove and sharp twist of the handle, the door opened. She hastily slammed the door shut, hoping the wooden barricade would be strong enough to defend her from the horrors of the night.

She turned around and surveyed her new environment. It was dark, but the flashes from the turbulent storm infiltrated through the broad, dirt and water-marked windows, illuminating the room with an eerie glow. The shadows cast off from the decaying furnishing seemed to flicker and crawl across the walls and floor, almost as if silently stalking its prey. The air was stale and sour like the breath of death itself. It was almost suffocating and she gagged from the pungency with every breath she took. The girl sputtered. The air that was thick with dust tackled her windpipes in hope to invade her lungs.

She traversed across the threadbare carpet towards the lopsided staircase. She trailed her hand on the dusty mahogany banister of the winding staircase as she made her way upstairs. Carefully, she stayed away from the disguisting wall patchily covered with peeling wallpaper and rings of mould. The delicate crystal chandeliers and fragile glass windows seemed to rattle with every step, resonating with the creak of the decrepit wooden floorboards. The girl cringed as she noted the thick spread of spider webs hanging from the corners like ancient weeping willows. Spiders - she never did like them. Reaching the top, she took a left turn to seek for a room she could spend the night in and then quickly leave this ominous place.

She slowly trailed down the long abandoned hallway, tense with every step. Crunch!She looked beneath her foot and involuntarily shivered. Cockroaches. She should have known a dilapidated place like this would have cockroaches. The only reason cockroaches were slightly more tolerable than spiders were because they were non-venomous - not that it made them any more likable. The one she stepped on wasn't the only one though. The floor was literally carpeted with insects and bugs. Maybe sleeping outside would have been a better choice after all, and as if to remind her why she was here in the first place, a clap of thunder tore through the air, causing the girl to jump and squeal. Stupid brontophobia. Staying outside was not an option.

She approached the nearest door and attempted to open it, but it was locked. She continued, door after door but each was locked, until she finally reached the last door. She reached for the handle but abruptly shrunk back as it electrocuted her. She rubbed her palm against her trouser legs to try and soothe the pain, and just as she was about to turn and leave, the door magically opened with a stuttering croak.

Inside the room was not what she had hoped for. It was not a bedroom or lounge where she would have a bed or sofa to rest upon, but instead it was more of a play room. The once vibrant blood red walls were now splotched with dirt and marred with gaping holes. The elegant tea party table in the centre of the room was now rusty and its snow-white lacy table cloth was now frayed to the extent that it looked like a haggard beard. The dainty little cloisonné tea party set now lay shattered on the ground, all over the once fine carpet, with little insects now calling its cavities home. She turned her attention to the aesthetic armoire leaning against the back wall; its two doors were wide open, exhibiting its glorious collection of late Victorian style dresses.

In the corner of the room, previously hidden by the shadows was a hoard of life-sized dolls, all wearing dresses of a similar style to the ones in the armoire. The medley of mangled bodies was all hauntingly wide-eyed. Their features were delicate and dexterously carved, providing profound detail and vitality. However, practically all were dismembered, some even decapitated, displaying their mechanical entrails. Grease and lubricant dribbled from their joints creating the illusion of human blood.

She receded back to the door in search of another room for rest. Just as she was about to touch the doorknob, she heard a hollow voice.

"Are you leaving so soon already? Why not stay and play for a while," asked the small voice of a young girl.

She turned around for the voice and screamed at the grotesque scene before her. There were two young girls, identical twins by the looks of it, dressed in a lacy white gown splattered with the blood dribbling from their deep-slitted throats. One of them was hugging a one-eyed teddy bear with loose stitching on its right arm. They both smiled at her hauntingly, their eyes never blinking once in her presence. She frantically tried to grasp for the doorknob, desperate for a way out of this wretched mansion, but found her joints stiff - stiffer by the second until she could barely twitch. Her muscles no longer obeyed, as if they had wasted away. A blinding flash of lightning washed the room, and with that split second, it had been restored to its former glory some hundred years ago. In the light of the now cloudless, sunny sky, the children were no longer blood splattered or jugulated and the dolls were no longer mutilated and scarred, but instead the splitting image of living humans.

"Come join us," one innocently smiled at her as she poured the tea whilst her other twin lead her to a seat at the table where the other 'dolls' were already seated; exactly twelve of them.

"Let's all have fun and stay here for the rest of eternity."