Chapter 35-7: Dead Dolls

Posted: January 23, 2017 in Apocalypse, books, creative writing, drama, Free Online Novel, free zombie books, Horror, horror fiction, killing zombies, living dead, monsters, mystery, novels, serial novels, Survival, suspense, thriller, Uncategorized, walking dead, zombie books, Zombies
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~~~

Summer 1973

Meredith sluggishly sat at the dining room table before a bowl of oatmeal and a glass of orange juice, trying to stay awake. Saturday morning breakfast was not the formal affair her first morning had been. Most of the girls who didn’t have assigned chores that morning were allowed to sleep in and serve themselves from the kitchen after they woke. Afterwards, they scattered to have what Miss Evans called, ‘Free Day’, which consisted of either hanging out in the school room to work on arts and crafts, or just to kick back and read, or go outside and play games with the other girls until lunch. Normally, Meredith would have loved to just kick back and chill outside, but not today. Her head throbbed and she had no appetite. As she stirred her soggy oats with a spoon, she tried to remember how she got back to her room last night. Her memory was foggy. She remembered her excursion to the basement and then finding the strange toy room with the porcelain dolls. But aside from that, she couldn’t remember much else.

That’s not true, and you know it! she thought. Toby was there! Toby spoke to you… through that doll! She didn’t want to think about it. Dolls couldn’t speak to people… and if they could… only crazy people could hear them.

Clementine entered carrying a plate of toast, looking like she hadn’t slept yet as she let out a big yawn and roughly sat down next to Meredith.

Meredith turned and marveled at the black bird’s nest atop Clementine’s head and couldn’t help snickering. “Lost your brush?” she kidded.

Clementine shrugged her shoulders and shoved a piece of toast in her mouth.

“Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed,” Meredith observed. “That’s okay. I’m not feeling great this morning either.”

Clementine didn’t respond.

Meredith tried again. “Want to go outside after breakfast? The fresh air might-”

“Where were you last night?” Clementine barked.

“Excuse me?”

“I stopped by to visit. You weren’t in your bed.”

Meredith began to panic. She took a sip of her orange juice to stall. “I went downstairs to get a drink. Maybe you just missed me coming back?”

“Stop lying to me. I waited for over an hour. You didn’t come back.” Clementine refused to look at her. She shoved another piece of toast in her mouth.

Meredith was getting irked. “Sorry. I didn’t know I had to clear my every move with you first,” she snapped. “I went… exploring.”

Clementine stared at her and finally smiled. “You went to the basement,” she accused. “Don’t deny it.”

Meredith said nothing. She took another sip from her glass.

The dark-haired girl looked like she was about to explode. “Don’t ignore me when I’m talking to you!”

“Stop ordering me around!” Meredith fired back. “Maybe I did… maybe I didn’t. What’s it matter?”

Clementine eased up. “It doesn’t matter,” she said. “I just… I was just upset that I waited for you and you never came back.”

Meredith gave her a puzzled look. “Did you think I took off in the middle of the night? That I ran away?”

“It crossed my mind,” she said. “Just forget it and eat your damn… whatever that is.” Clementine got up and stormed out of the dining room before Meredith could say another word.

Meredith shook her head and said, “Wow…. What a mega bitch!”

“Good morning, Meredith.”

Meredith turned around, startled to discover Dr. Forrester standing at the other end of the dining room with her arms crossed and leaning against the entranceway. She wasn’t wearing her white coat and looked a little too casual for a doctor, dressed in jeans and a blouse.

“I… uhh… hello… Dr. Forrester…” She stood up.

“Candice,” she said with an amused smile.

“Uh…yeah… Dr. Candice… I mean… Candice…”

“Relax, Meredith. You’re absolutely right… Clementine can be a bit of a mega bitch sometimes. But you didn’t hear me say that… just like I didn’t hear you say it.” She added a playful wink.

Meredith smiled and nodded. “Would you like a bowl of disgusting oatmeal? It’s about the only thing I can make.” She looked at the soggy mess and finished, “Honestly, I don’t think I can make oatmeal either.”

“No… I’ll pass. But thank you. I came by to see how you were doing.”

“I’m a little tired, but I’m okay.”

“Trouble sleeping?”

“Well… you know… new place and all. I’ll get used to it eventually.”

“I’m glad to hear that, Meredith. Sounds like you’re starting to like it here.”

“It’s okay.”

Candice ran a hand through her shoulder-length brown hair and yawned. “Excuse me. Apparently I could’ve used a little more sleep, too.”

“You’re very pretty for a doctor,” Meredith said.

Candice flashed her a surprised smile. “Well… thank you… I think.”

“Oh… I didn’t mean it like that. I’ve just never seen a doctor in regular clothes before. I mean… forget I said anything.” Meredith stared down at her feet, feeling embarrassed for speaking out of turn.

“I understand. No worries, Meredith. The word you’re looking for is ‘professional’. Usually we doctors look and act the part, with very little time for anything else.” Candice hesitated and gave her a thoughtful look. “I’m about to go off duty for the weekend but I’d love to take a walk first. Why don’t you join me? Unless you’re bound and determined to finish that delightful bowl of… what are you calling it again?”

“Oatmeal?”

“Okay… sure… we can call it that if you want.” Candice gave her a ‘yuk’ face, putting her finger to her mouth.

Meredith laughed and said, “No… I’m good. I’ll take you up on that walk.”

“Great. I’ll take you out back. I think some of the girls are playing volleyball this morning.”

~~~

The view from the back side of the property was breathtaking. Meredith was awed by how vast the fields were, which seemed to go on forever, reminding her of the dream with the emerald lion.

She sat down with Dr. Forrester at a picnic table as six of the older girls, including Clementine and that know-it-all girl, Claudia, from class, were picking teams. Finch was also there, supervising the game. From a distance he almost looked like one of the girls sporting that long red ponytail.

Meredith snickered at the thought.

“Something funny?” Candice asked.

She nodded at Finch. “I didn’t know he was still here.”

“You mean, Michael?”

“Yeah. I didn’t see him at breakfast yesterday. I thought he’d left.”

Candice smiled. “Michael’s here on the weekends. Among other things, he’s our activities director. All the girls love him and he keeps things light.”

“He was nice to me on the drive over. I was so mean to him.”

“Don’t worry about it, Meredith. Michael’s an easy going guy. He won’t hold it against you. If I’m not mistaken, he’ll be running crafts tomorrow afternoon in the classroom. Michael enjoys helping the girls tap into their creative sides. He firmly believes that the best way to understand ourselves is through what we create. I believe you’ll enjoy it.”

Meredith smiled. “Sounds fun. I think I will. As long as I don’t have to create anymore oatmeal.”

Candice laughed.

The girls started playing.

They watched in silence for a few moments, absorbing the sights and sounds of a beautiful summer morning. For Meredith, this almost felt normal and she relished anything that made her feel… normal… and not some freak standing out in a crowd.

“Meredith,” Candice said. “Since I have you here, I wanted to ask you about last night.”

Meredith turned to look at her. “Last night?”

“You know… when you left your room and visited the basement.”

Meredith was caught off guard. She didn’t know what to say.

Candice laughed. “It’s alright. You’re not in trouble. I just wanted to ask you about it, if that’s okay?”

“How… how did you know? Did Clem tell you?”

Candice gave her an ‘are you serious’ look and answered, “Meredith, nothing goes on in this house without someone knowing about it. It’s part of our job to look after all of you. But how I know is not important. What I want to know is why you went down there in the middle of the night?”

“I… I don’t like secrets,” Meredith confessed. “Clem made it such a big deal telling me that the basement was ‘off limits’, but she wouldn’t tell me why. It drove me nuts. So… I had to find out.”

“Of course you did,” Candice said. “I’d probably do the same thing in your shoes. So what was your impression when you visited the dolls? I assume you found them.”

“Yes, I did,” Meredith admitted, but would say nothing else. “I thought the room was strange… all those toys and those crazy dolls in the cases. Why is all that down there?”

Candice nodded. “Originally, when we first moved into the house, we’d planned on having a room for much younger children than the rest of you. But due to unforeseeable expenses, and a lack of staffing, it was decided that toddlers wouldn’t thrive here, so we moved all those toys into the basement. I think the plan was to get rid of that stuff, but then things got busy and everyone forget about the toys. So we just left them alone. The reason the basement is off limits is more for safety concerns since there’s a lot of stuff being stored down there.” Candice quickly looked away and back toward the girls.

Meredith only saw it for a brief moment, but she was certain Candice was lying… or not telling the whole truth. Besides, none of that explained why a girl doll named Toby spoke with her. Maybe it was all in your head, she thought with concern. Maybe you inhaled paint fumes or something and imagined all of it.

“So… there was nothing else?” Candice pressed.

“Excuse me?”

Candice sighed. “The dolls, Meredith. Is there anything else you can tell me about them?”

“I don’t understand the question.” Meredith could clearly sense Candice’s annoyance beneath her friendly exterior. What does she expect me to say?

“You’re a damn liar!” Claudia yelled, causing the volleyball game to come to a halt.

Meredith turned toward the girls just in time to watch the know-it-all cross over to the other side of the net and get in Clem’s face.

“What did you call me?” Clem looked like she was ready to punch the taller girl.

“Ladies… please calm down,” Finch said, taking a cautious step toward the pair. “It’s just a friendly game.” He stopped and gave Dr. Forrester a worried glance.

Meredith turned to Candice. She looked terrified. “Meredith,” she said, getting up from the picnic table. “I want you to stay right here.”

“Is everything okay?”

“Just… stay here.” Candice was frantically reaching into her purse.

Meredith turned back toward the girls.

“You heard me, bitch!” Claudia nearly spat in Clem’s face they were so close. “You’re a liar… and you know it!”

Clem gave the taller girl a frightening smile. “What are you going to do about it, Clau-di-a?” she mocked.

The taller girl shoved Clem in the chest, knocking her to the ground.

The other girls gasped and took a step back. They were all looking at Finch.

Finch appeared unsure how to proceed. “Okay… enough is enough,” he finally said. “Clem… just… just take it easy now. Claudia, stand down.”

Claudia’s angry expression changed the moment she realized what she’d done. “This is a stupid game anyway,” she said to no one, trying to save face. But Meredith could clearly see it: Claudia was terrified. She turned and headed back toward the house.

“Where are you going, Clau-di-a?” Clem taunted with a sinister little laugh. She slowly rose to her feet. “We’re not done talking yet, Clau-di-a.”

Candice retrieved a small black box from her purse. Meredith watched her push some sort of button on it repeatedly as she started moving toward the girls. She turned back when Meredith started to rise and said, “I mean it! Stay right here!”

Meredith quickly sat back down.

Clem started to follow Claudia toward the house. The other girls quickly parted, allowing her to pass. Finch simply stood there, but cautioned, “Clementine… don’t. Let it go and calm down.”

Clem ignored him and yelled at Claudia’s back, “Where are you going? Turn around and come back, you coward!”

Claudia refused to look back. She actually quickened her pace toward the rear of the house reminding Meredith of a swimmer trying to reach the shore before the shark caught up.

Candice stepped in front of Clem with her arms raised. “Clementine… please calm down.”

Clem stopped, looked into Dr. Forrester’s eyes and barked, “MOVE!”

“Candice!” Finch yelled. “What the hell are you doing? Get out of her way!”

Candice took three steps back from the enraged girl.

Meredith stood up. She had no idea what was happening but the fear was contagious. Without thinking, she yelled out to Clem. “Stop it!”

Meredith’s voice distracted Clem. She looked over at her new best friend, saw something familiar in Meredith’s face, and frowned.

Miss Evans came bursting out the back door accompanied by two big men wearing white shirts. She only saw it for a moment, but Meredith swore she saw one of the men trying to conceal what looked like a gun belt beneath his long untucked shirt.

The big woman signaled the men to stand back and then rushed toward the angry girl.

Claudia was almost in tears by the time she made it to the back door.

“Clementine!” Miss Evans voice carried like thunder. “Clementine, you stop this foolishness immediately!” She stopped ten feet from the girl.

Clem turned away from Meredith and gave Miss Evans a threatening glare.

Miss Evan’s face reminded Meredith of an approaching hurricane. “Don’t you dare look at me like that, child! You stand down this instant… before you find yourself in a world of trouble.”

Something clicked in Clem. She stopped, let her shoulders droop with a heavy sigh, and then looked away from the big woman. “She started it,” Clem added weakly.

“And I’m finishing it… right now! Do you understand me, child?” Miss Evans didn’t even flinch. To Meredith, she was like an immovable stone.

“Yes, Ma’am,” Clem responded, staring at her feet.

Miss Evans put her hands to her side and gave Clem a disapproving stare, shaking her head. “We’ve talked about this, child. We’ve talked about your… temper… and the consequences. Have we not?”

Clem simply nodded. All her anger had dissipated.

“Girls… inside!” Miss Evans ordered.

The other girls who had been too scared to move, suddenly dispersed, rushing toward the house.

The big woman gave Finch and Candice a glance and nodded to them.

They nodded back.

Finch followed the girls into the house.

Candice came back to Meredith. “Time to go, Meredith. I’m sorry our talk was cut short.”

“Is everything-”

“Not now,” Candice cut in, grabbing Meredith’s arm. “We need to let Miss Evans and Clementine have some space. Everything is alright now.”

Meredith could hear the fear in Candice’s voice. She looked back once at Clem who looked like she was receiving the scolding of her life as Miss Evans hovered over her. She could not hear what the big woman was saying but Meredith could tell Clem was not enjoying it.

Meredith looked for the two mysterious men. They had disappeared.

The only thing she knew for certain was that everything was definitely not alright.

~~~

Next Episode 35-8

Previous Episode 35-6

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 35-7: Dead Dolls” Copyright © 2017 Scott Scherr, from the novel, Don’t Feed The Dark, Book Four: Phantoms. All Rights Reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission by the author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

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Comments
  1. nashmcgowan says:

    Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it…….still waiting…….wait for it……lol.

    Like

  2. Lottie says:

    Hello. fantastic job. I did not anticipate this. This
    is a impressive story. Thanks!

    Like

  3. Rachelle says:

    I wanted to thank you for this excellent read!!
    I certainly loved every little bit of it. I’ve got you book marked to look at new
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    Like

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