It’s not easy sorting through a deceased family’s members things.
Especially when there’s a good chance a lot of those things are potentially cursed and dangerous.
Even more so when the deceased family member in question didn’t sort them in any particular way.
After last week we’ve all managed to arrange to stay here while we sort through these things. Again, Grandma didn’t sort them in any meaningful manner. We found glass orbs that grow strange plants in the same box we had our old marble runner in, and underneath antique dishes was a detached arm that tried to suck the life out of the dumbass who stole its ring. I can’t say what was going through Grandma’s mind when she stashed these things up here. Maybe there’s a method to the madness. Maybe the least dangerous things are up in the attic and the worst things are out in the barn or cabin.
Honestly though, given what we most recently uncovered, I’m not even sure if we can rely on that. If Grandma had a way of sorting her things, she took it with her to the grave.
Monday morning it was me, Heather, Haley, and Laura up in the attic. We’re making a new set of rules- then, the only rule was no one sorts alone.
“Where are those freakin’ marbles?!”
The twins had set up the marble run the day before and they was desperate to find the marbles that went with it, as the glass orbs clearly were not our childhood marbles. Haley ripped open another cardboard box and cheered loudly as she lifted up a cookie tin that hadn’t had a cookie in it for probably decades. “Found it!” She said as she pried it open, the oh so familiar sound of marbles rattling together filling the air.
I was just sorting through a box of books- and no, not very interesting ones, mostly just old romance novels- and was more than happy to put that down to look at the marbles. Now those were the marbles I remembered. Heather picked one pure black one up before tossing it to me. “This was your favorite, right?”
I barely caught it in time. “Black Lightning!” I turned it round and round between my fingers, those memories of racing marbles down the track more clear than ever. “Your favorite was a green cat’s eye, right?”
“And Haley’s looked like a pearl… Haley? You good?”
Haley didn’t say a word, only removing a board from inside the box and gasping. “Oh my god, guys, look!”
I got up off my stool and peered inside the box, Laura hovering right behind me to get a look. In foam insets shaped to their form and all held down with leather straps were seven porcelain dolls. Haley was clearly in awe, reaching down and undoing the straps to lift out one of the dolls. Almost four inches in height, this one had a frilly red dress with matching bonnet over blonde curls, vacant blue eyes staring blankly at Haley’s joy filled face.
“Am I the only one who doesn’t like the fact they were tied down?” I pointed out.
“It’s not like it’s a mummy’s arm, Grandma probably just wanted them to stay in place so they didn’t break,” Haley pointed out, brushing her fingers across the doll’s pink cheeks. “I love porcelain dolls.”
Heather shook her head. “You can have them. Just be careful.”
Haley rolled her eyes before smooching the doll on the forehead. “I’m calling this one Macy,” She decided.
I heard the scratching of Laura’s pen in her little book. “Seven… porcelain dolls… all white with rosy cheeks, two blondes, two brunettes, one black haired and two redheads… each with a different colored dress… huh. Hey, can you move Doll Orange and Doll Green out of the way, Heather?” She asked.
Heather nodded and did so. That unsettling feeling in my stomach only grew worse when I saw there was a final foam insert, only this one was empty and was meant to hold a doll easily twice the height of the others. “Yeah. Again. I’m not liking where this one’s going,” I said.
Haley wilted as she continued to run her fingers through the doll’s hair. “At least let me take them down to my room? If they start floating or their heads go 360, we’ll just lock them up again,” She said.
“I’ll keep searching for the missing doll,” Laura said, pocketing her notebook. “Be careful, okay Haley? I think the local hospital won’t like it if we have another family member grotesquely injured with little to no explanation.”
“Fiiine. But look how adorable they are!” Haley lifted the doll up next to her face. “It’s not gonna hurt me!”
… Well, okay, she wasn’t wrong. But Christ, that feeling in my stomach was not just because I’ve seen too many horror movies.
Haley had taken the dolls down to her bedroom and had spent the day naming them, combing their hair, and trying to find any sort of branding on them so she could find out who made them. Nothing came of that, there was a tag on the back of one of the dresses for a ‘Madly Cadly’s Toy Kingdom’, but I couldn’t find anything on Google for them, so we went to bed that night not assuming much of anything.
Course, the next morning Sawyer came home from the hospital, down one arm but thankfully still alive… and he was the unlucky one to have stepped on the dead mouse in the kitchen.
I was still sleeping on the couch as the bedroom I’m hoping to be moving into shortly has a serious bat problem. Guano, guano everywhere. This was slightly helpful as I was the first to wake up to Sawyer swearing.
I was up and walking into the kitchen before I was even properly awake. Azalea was white as a sheet, staring at the squashed bloody corpse before she fell back into a chair. Sawyer had taken off his shoe and was now smearing gory mouse bits all over the linoleum.
I just blinked, wiped the sleep dust from my eyes, and said, “Please tell me you’re cleaning that up.”
“I’m gonna need a hand-” Sawyer pressed his lips into a firm line before giving me a dirty look, “Don’t even think about it.”
I did think about it, but I had the tact to hold my tongue and instead fetch the cleaning supplies from the laundry room.
Sure, the mouse did seem really bloody, but I figured Sawyer had put all his weight on it and really smashed the thing. He tried to blame Kass for killing the mouse but I took one look at my snoring dog before I proceeded to laugh my ass off. Kass is a Labrador/Rottweiler with a few more breeds thrown into the mix and is truly a gentle giant. She literally brought me a baby rabbit once, holding it in her mouth before setting it on my lap perfectly unharmed. She wouldn’t kill a mouse.
Sawyer is doing all right, by the way. He’s quiet and he’s definitely struggling getting used to being left handed. His sister’s yet to leave his side, she always was super protective of him when they were kids and it seems this just jumpstarted that big sister instinct again. But we’re all doing what we can to help him, and he’s not even seemed pissed at the arm, although I did catch him staring at it now and again.
Don’t worry, I’ll keep an eye on him still. Make sure he’s okay.
That afternoon it was Heather who dragged me into the twin’s room, ignoring all my ‘why’s’ and ‘I’m supposed to be helping Rory and Neptune up in the attic today’. She threw open the door and just pointed inside, her lips pressed into a firm line. I looked inside and saw Haley sitting on the bed with a sheepish expression. I glanced at the floor and saw the dolls.
In a circle, facing inwards.
Their hands touching.
And with a small bloody blob of flesh that I can only guess was a mouse’s heart in the center of it all.
“… You’re lucky we’re too old for the ‘I told you so’s.”
Haley twirled her hair while she explained. “When Heather and I went out this morning to pick up some groceries for our stay here, I left the dolls alone. We haven’t been back in here until now. I don’t understand, why aren’t they moving now?”
“Maybe they can’t?” I picked the one in the orange dress up. “Family meeting, let’s bring the dolls into the living room.”
I explained it all to the cousins as we sat in the living room, Haley shrinking a little more in her chair with every sentence that left my mouth.
When I was done, Azalea picked up the doll in the indigo dress and shrugged. “We just smash them then, what’s the big deal?” With that, she lifted the doll in the air and threw it to her feet before anyone could object. The smashing of porcelain intermingled with Haley’s horrified screech.
Ashley sputtered for a moment, watching shard of white ceramic spin on the floor before she yelled, “Are you actually out of your fucking mind, Azzy!?”
Haley dashed up to the dolls and gathered them up in her arms before gingerly picking up the damaged one. Half of its face was now in pieces on the floor, the other half cracked and would clearly fall apart when touched. I saw a tear fall from Haley’s eye before she burst out sobbing and ran back into her bedroom with her dolls.
Heather was glaring daggers at Azalea, who crossed her arms. “What’s the big deal? It’s a haunted doll, we need to break them or destroy them or they’ll be cutting us up next instead of mice,” She said.
Laura knelt down on the ground, picking up the splinters and fragments. “If Grandma didn’t break them, she probably had a good reason,” She said softly, plucking up one of the glass eyes. “That, and Haley loves dolls. And she really, really misses Grandma.”
“Well, she’s not the only one,” Azalea said, her jaw clenched and her arms wrapped tightly around herself.
Sawyer surprised all of us by resting his hand on his sister’s shoulder. “When she comes out, you probably should apologize,” He said.
Azalea caved at the speed of light, nodding while Laura got to her feet and hurried to Haley’s room, carrying those bits of porcelain.
I’m not sure what Haley did with those bits of porcelain, but she didn’t leave the room for the rest of the day. We all gave her her space. Yes, we did all acknowledge these dolls were haunted as fuck, but these are Grandma’s possessions we’re going through. Maybe breaking them isn’t the right way to go around it.
Well, now I know that for sure. Again, I’m so glad I have parked myself on the living room couch, because around midnight I woke up to a loud rattling followed by a crash.
I scrambled to my feet and ran into the kitchen, getting a nasty feel of de ja vu as I flipped on the light.
The arm and its box were now on the ground, the source of the crash. Blood was streaked on the floor as it continued to drag itself along with its fingertips. Oh, and the dolls were everywhere. The red, blue, and yellow dolls were up on the counter, each clutching pins in their tiny hands. The rest were on the floor. The indigo doll was propped up against a cabinet, but its face looked mostly whole, minus several spiderweb cracks spreading through its head.
I knelt down beside it and it definitely made my stomach turn when I saw that the cracks were all sealed over in blood. A good poke did reveal that the blood had pasted together the doll’s face, it had been repaired. I glanced down at the doll next to it, the purple one, and saw that its fingers were smeared in red.
I picked up the arm, grimacing at all the pin prick pokes still beading blood up and down its skin. “Guess you guys don’t use super glue?” I deadpanned before setting the arm back down on the counter.
The hair on my neck stood right up before I turned around to see who was behind. Or, well, what was behind me.
It was another doll, this one twice as tall as the little ones scattered about my feet, sitting on the table. Its dress was all the colors of the rainbow, its raven hair cascading down its back as it smiled at me. It was truly a beautiful doll, but with ram horns curled behind its ears and its cherry red eyes staring at me, it was impossible not to be a little disturbed. I swallowed before I hesitantly picked it up, unable to avoid shaking my head as I saw that it had hooves instead of feet.
“Little on the nose there, aren’t you?” I asked.
The doll didn’t respond. But I had a feeling it wouldn’t.
I woke up Haley after gathering up the rest of the dolls. She was pretty happy to see that the indigo doll (she’d apparently named it Victoria) was in one piece again, but she was not happy with how’d they’d chosen to do so. I heard her talking to them, scolding them, as I closed the door behind me.
She’s been working with the dolls all week. Each one has a name now, each one is wearing brand new clothes and some have gotten new hairstyles. At breakfast yesterday she explained how they only move as long as no one’s watching, and as long as no one does something stupid like break them, the most we have to worry about are possibly finding dead mice and the occasional bloody pentagram painted on the floor for ‘Lily’, the big doll.
I’m concerned Haley’s gotten a little too attached to the dolls, but so far she seems to be right. Maybe the fact that she’s taking good care of them is appeasing them? We still don’t know where Lily came from or where she was stashed all this time. It doesn’t help she apparently tends to disappear from time to time. The little dolls are happy to stay in the box home Haley outfitted for them, but Lily’s got a mind of her own. I’ve seen her on top of the cabinets and nearly crapped myself when I found her under the TV stand during a hunt for the remote.
Either way, if I wake up to a doll in my face one morning, there’s no stopping me from throwing that little bastard into a wall.