Horror Story: The Broken Dolls
The Broken Dolls
Melissa R. Mendelson
The house was quiet. The walls were bare. Family photographs were tucked away in cardboard boxes. The staircase was dusty as if to cover any tracks of what had happened here, but the truth were the holes in the walls that still echoed with misery. One cardboard box was torn open, and inside were broken dolls. Their arms and legs stuck through the sides of the box, and their decapitated heads were all kissed by a hammer. Even the teddy bears weren’t spared, and some of them still held an ugly, burnt smell. At the bottom of the box was a shattered porcelain doll’s face.
“I’m sorry to keep you waiting, Doctor Leif.” Mrs. Waters wrung her hands. “That was the movers on the phone. They’ll be here tomorrow morning.” She looked over at the box of broken dolls and burnt teddy bears.
Mrs. Waters struck me as a once lively woman. Now, she had shrunk, caved in by despair, and her blonde hair was quickly turning gray. Her brown eyes were tinted with fear, chased by the large, deep bags of deprived sleep. Her hands curled into one another, seeking hope, but there was none. Her lips were chapped as she gnawed on them, and her gaze darted up the stairs. She swallowed hard, and I could almost hear her heart thump. There was nothing that I could do to erase what was done, but I still laid a hand on her shoulder. And she shook, trying to keep her tears from erupting. She failed miserably, crumbling to the floor and wailing like a banshee.
“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Waters.” I embraced her, trying to chase away the touch of death that consumed her, but it cut right through me. “I’m so sorry,” I whispered into her ear as she clung to me.
“She’s upstairs,” Mrs. Waters cried. “That’s why I called you. She locked herself in her room.” She tried to push away her tears. “You don’t think that she will do it again? Do you?” Her eyes shined with fear. “Maybe, she was released too soon. Maybe, it was a mistake bringing her back here,” and she once again looked over at the box of broken dolls and burnt teddy bears. “I should not have brought her back here.”
“You’re moving tomorrow,” I said. “You’re taking her far away from here.”
“To my sister’s in Florida.”
“Yes. I think that would be best for her. She’s been in my facility for over a few months now, and I’ve seen improvement.” I hesitated. Maybe, bringing her back to this house was a mistake. Maybe, it had undone all the treatment that she received. “I’ll check on her,” and I pulled myself away from Mrs. Waters.
“Thank you,” but she remained sitting on the floor, crying quietly. “I don’t know what I’m going to do,” and she stared at that box, forgetting that I was even there.
The staircase was dusty, angry at my footprints. They just wanted to forget whatever happened that night. The babysitter had falling down the stairs. It was a miracle that she didn’t break anything or snap her neck. She just blacked out while the girls were upstairs, screaming, and nobody could explain the strange claw marks along the banister. Something had made them, and nobody wanted to know what. But one girl knew, and she paid dearly for it.
The hallway upstairs was dark. I found a light switch on the wall nearby, and I was blinded for a moment by the piercing light. There were four rooms up here, and at the end of the hallway, one door was covered in yellow, police tape, screaming: CAUTION. I didn’t want to remove it, but I knew that Mrs. Waters wouldn’t do it. The family that would soon take over this house would not want to find it here. The tape gave way quickly, but I didn’t know what to do with it. I finally shoved it into my pocket, and then I realized that my hand was now resting on the doorknob.
The door slowly opened, revealing nothing but darkness. A cold breeze slapped at me from a nearby shattered window. Funny enough, the bed was made, but she never got the chance to sleep in it. Finally, I brought myself enough courage to turn on the lights, and there it was on the floor, a small pool of now dried blood. Nobody knew how or why it was there. They just knew that it was hers, and after all this time, her body was never found. The police just stopped looking for her, and the only one with answers had jumped out of that window a few days later, breaking her leg, being rushed to the E.R. and then committed to my facility. I tried to help her. I thought that I had helped her, but I know now that coming back here was a mistake. And it was quiet next door in her room. I prayed that she was still alive.
“Alex?” I stood outside her bedroom door. “Alex?” I knocked softly, trying to quiet the alarm sounding at the back of my head. “Alex, it’s Doctor Leif. Can I come in?”
When Mrs. Waters brought Alex home, she refused to go upstairs. She slept on the couch. She barely spoke. She made sure that she ate her food and took her medicine to avoid being brought back to the facility, and she made eye contact with her mother, letting her know that she was still there. But she didn’t want to talk about it, and when pressed about it, she would scream in response. Her mother then informed her that they were moving, and she seemed okay with that. That was until her mother brought that box downstairs, making the mistake of writing on the side: Dolls and Teddy Bears. Then, she left Alex alone, another mistake, and the dolls and teddy bears were destroyed. And Alex ran upstairs into her room, locking the door.
“Alex, I don’t want to call the police, but I will. And if I do, you know what will happen, and I don’t want that to happen. Do you?” I raised my voice another notch, hoping that she would recognize my serious tone. “Okay. I’m calling the police. I hate to do this, but…”
The door opened. Alex quickly retreated to the corner of the room near the closet. She leaned against the wall and pulled her knees up to her chin. She refused to look at me, and it looked like she had been crying. Luckily, her windows were intact.
“I wouldn’t do it again,” she said, and I was surprised at how strong her voice was. “I just wanted to be left alone.”
“You really scared your mother,” I said.
“Is that why she called you?”
“Yes.” I reached for the desk chair nearby. “You mind?”
“No,” Alex said, staring at her feet. “She didn’t do it.”
“Who? Didn’t do what?”
“The babysitter. She didn’t kill my sister.”
My heart jumped in my chest. Alex didn’t know. Yes, the babysitter was being investigated as a person of interest in her sister’s disappearance, and she did associate with a rough crowd. Her boyfriend was notorious for dealing drugs, and it was his drugs that she used to overdose on. That was a few weeks ago, and it was all over the newspapers and television. But somehow, Alex didn’t know, and I shouldn’t tell her.
“She’s gone. Isn’t she? Just like with my father,” and Alex rested her head against the wall. “He couldn’t take it either. I heard that he just got into his truck and took off. Nobody knows where he went. My mother doesn’t, and I know that he’s never coming back.”
“You don’t know that,” I said.
“Yes, I do. He’s gone. The babysitter’s gone. My sister is gone, and nobody believes me. You never believed me,” and I flinched at her tone. “It’s too crazy to believe, which is why I got locked up.”
“You jumped out of your sister’s window,” I said.
“I just wanted to forget that night. I keep seeing it in my head. I keep hearing my sister’s screams.” Alex fell quiet for a moment. “She’s not dead.”
“Alex,” and she looked at me. “Where is she? If you know where she is or who took her, then…”
“She can’t come back.” Alex started to cry. “You don’t understand, and if I try to explain it again, you’ll lock me up.”
“Alex, you’re not crazy. You’re hurting, and I can help you.”
“She became the doll. See? That expression right there on your face? I’ve seen that too many times, so go ahead. Lock me up, but I’m telling you the truth.” Alex glanced at the bedroom windows nearby.
“Okay, Alex. Let’s say for a moment that you’re right. How did your sister become the doll?”
“It bit her.”
“Yeah. The doll was alive, and it attacked her and me. It threw the babysitter down the stairs. I killed the doll, but…” More tears fell down her face. “I’ll never get that night out of my head. Will I?”
“Go ahead, Doc. Lock me up. I’m crazy,” and Alex raised her arms out toward me as if I was going to arrest her.
“Alex, you’re not crazy.”
“Are you sure about that? Didn’t you just hear one word that I said?”
“I heard everything, and I still believe in my last assessment.”
“That you need to leave this house, and you need to put that night behind you. If your sister is really gone, then she’s gone, but would she want you to punish yourself like this?”
“No,” Alex whispered. “She wouldn’t. I never hated her. She was just always there.”
“Younger siblings are like that. They look up to you to help them find themselves.”
“I couldn’t protect her. I couldn’t save her. Maybe, I should be punished. Maybe, I should be locked up in a mental facility, but she wouldn’t want that. She always told me that I was a good person, even when I was really nasty to her. She loved me,” and Alex cried harder. “I couldn’t save her.”
I remained sitting in the desk chair. I watched Alex cry hysterically, reminding me of her mother downstairs. Alex had refused to cry for so long, and it was finally coming out. It needed to come out, so I waited until she was done. It took a long time.
“Now what,” Alex asked.
“You start over,” I said. “Forget that night.”
“If I can’t?”
“Then, put it in a box. Lock that box. Bury that box.” I watched Alex nod in response. “Your sister would want you to live, Alex, so live. Live for her,” and I finally moved toward Alex, helping her stand up. “Let’s go. I don’t want you staying in this house.”
“You’re going to lock me up?”
“No,” and I put an arm around her shoulders. “I’m going to take you and your mother to a hotel. Okay?”
“Okay,” and Alex rested her head against my shoulder.
A few hours later, I was home, and I was spent. Whatever Alex and her family had gone through was beyond tragedy, and I had questions. I still could not believe what she had said because it was insane, but I knew that Alex was not crazy. So, what the hell happened? What happened to her sister? There were no answers. Just darkness and that awful scent of death, so I ended the night as I always did with a glass of red wine and the news.
A top story was playing. Parents were murdered. A little girl was missing. The police were leading a bloody male teenager over to the back of a squad car. Another girl, around Alex’s age, stood near an ambulance with a blanket around her shoulders that an E.M.T. had probably given her, and that girl had the same stare that Alex had. And the cameras and their lights and the microphones were all pushed into her face, and everyone was asking questions, the same questions that Alex was asked.
The girl finally raised her head up toward everyone. Her eyes searched the hysteria that surrounded her. She cast one glance over to her brother now in custody. Then, her mouth opened, but for a long time, nothing came out. It was like she was trying to find the words to say just like Alex did. Then, she said, “It wasn’t my brother. It wasn’t me. It was the porcelain doll. The doll killed my family,” and my glass of red wine fell to the kitchen floor, shattering into a million pieces.