Chapter 35-8: Dead Dolls

Posted: January 26, 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, walking dead, zombie books, Zombies
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~~~

An uncomfortable tension lingered throughout the house after Clementine and Claudia’s fight. All the girls were unusually somber and distant during dinner. No one had seen either girl since the volleyball game, leaving too many questions hovering unanswered. Finch tried his best to get the day back on course, but even he wasn’t his usual jovial self.

After Dr. Forrester escorted Meredith back into the house, she’d converted back into ‘professional’ mode, showing a surprising amount of cool detachment when she’d announced that she would be available to anyone who needed counseling, but not until she returned on Monday morning. Then she’d departed the home without another word.

Counseling? Meredith had thought.

Miss Evans made a brief appearance later that day, but volunteered nothing, only wishing the girls a good night before disappearing herself.

When Meredith couldn’t stand the awkward vibe any longer she retreated to her bedroom and waited for Clem to show up for one of her nightly visitations. It took several hours but Clem finally showed up an hour after bedtime, looking like someone had just killed her favorite pet.

Meredith smiled and said, “I saved you a plate from dinner. Meatloaf.”

Clem stared at her for a moment as if trying to understand the strange girl’s language. She finally said, “Thank you. May I sit down?”

Meredith nodded.

Clem collapsed on to the bed beside Meredith, lying down on her back and staring up at the ceiling. “I really hate this place sometimes.”

Meredith laughed. “Sounds like your day sucked the big one. At least you found your hairbrush. Your nest looks much better than it did at breakfast.”

Clem gave her an incredulous look and then caught the joke. She smiled. “Sorry I was so bitchy with you this morning. I’m glad you were here tonight.”

“I’ve been waiting for you to show up. Figured you might need a friend right now.”

Clem covered her face with her hands. “I think I freaked everyone out today. I’ve never seen Miss Evans so… furious with me.”

“Who were those men that came outside with her? They looked… mean.”

Clem gave her a puzzled look. “Men? What are you talking about?”

“Miss Evan came outside with two men dressed in white. It looked like… well… it looked like they had weapons or something.”

Clem gave her a blank stare. “I don’t know, Meredith,” she finally said. “I believe you saw them… I just didn’t. I was… not myself today.”

“What was up with Claudia?”

“She’s just a stupid bitch who doesn’t know when to shut her fucking mouth.”

Meredith was caught off guard by Clem’s swearing. She turned toward the door half-expecting Miss Evans to come in with a bar of soap.

Clem started laughing. “I’m sorry. I keep forgetting how sensitive your ears are.”

Meredith crossed her arms in defiance. “I’m not… sensitive,” she said, and then whispered, “Fuck that Claudia bitch!”

This just made Clem laugh harder as she rolled over on her stomach and tried to quiet down.

“What’s so funny?”

“You… but that’s okay. I think I haven’t laughed that hard in ages. I needed that.”

Meredith, shaking off the laughter at her expense, shrugged her shoulders. “Well… I’m glad you’re feeling a little better… but knock it off!”

Clem waved a hand in her face. “Okay… okay… I surrender!” She sat up and took a deep breath. “Thanks for waiting. I didn’t know if I’d scared you away or not.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well… most of the other girls tiptoe around me, especially when I lose my temper like that.”

“Why would they be afraid of you? Fights happen. I’m sure you and Claudia will work this mess out… right?”

Clem ignored the question and turned toward the small window. “This room is really depressing. You should move into my room. When Miss Evans cools down, I could ask her… that is… if you want to.”

“That would be great! But… what about the other girls you share the room with? Would they mind? I don’t want special treatment or any-”

“I have my own room,” Clem snapped, not meaning to be so harsh. “I mean… there used to be three of us… but the other two girls are long gone now.”

“Where did they go?”

“They left a long time ago. What’s it matter to you?”

“Calm down!” Meredith said. “I was just curious. You don’t have to bite my head off about it.”

Clem looked at her hands. “Sorry… I’m just feeling a little defensive today. Miss Evans tore into me pretty good. I don’t mean to take it out on you.”

“That’s okay.”

“Do you think the fight was my fault, Meredith? You can be honest with me. Everyone keeps looking at me like I did something wrong… everyone except you.”

Meredith smiled. “Well… I remember Claudia pushing you to the ground.”

“That’s right,” Clem said, feeling vindicated. “She did push me first… that whore!”

Meredith giggled and covered her mouth. “Sorry… you caught me off guard with that.”

Clem laughed. “Just… don’t say ‘whore’ or I’ll never stop laughing. I love you, girl, but you swear like someone trying on a new word that doesn’t fit… at all.”

“I do not!”

“Okay!” Clem raised her hands in surrender.

“Why did she call you a liar?” Meredith asked, wanting to change the subject.

“What was that?”

“I heard Claudia call you a liar right before she pushed you.”

Clem tensed up. “I don’t know what that crazy bitch was talking about.”

Meredith gave her a scrutinizing look. “Come on, best friend, no secrets… remember?”

Clem looked agitated, but gave in. “Fine! Before the game started she was bragging about some long lost older brother that was going to come here when he turned eighteen or something. She kept going on and on to the other girls about how much her precious brother, Charlie, loved her and missed her, blah, blah, blah… She said the only reason she was here was because Charlie had to wait another year before he could become her legal guardian and take her away from all of us losers.”

Meredith gasped. “She said that in front of all of you?”

“Yeah… the dumb whore bitch said that. But I knew she was full of shit. I’d already looked into her pathetic thoughts a long time ago and I knew exactly how she came to be here.”

“What do you mean, ‘looked into her-’”

“Her parents were fucking drug addicts!” Clem continued. “They used to pimp her out to strangers for drug money. There was never any damn brother! Claudia’s so fucked in the head that she’s convinced herself that some guy named Charlie, who was actually one of her parents’ regular customers, was some older brother that loved her… oh… and he loved her alright… loved her again… and again…”

“Stop it!” Meredith was covering her ears. “I don’t want to hear this anymore!”

Clem was shocked into silence. “What’s wrong?”

“Those things… those nasty things you said… there just… awful!”

“But it’s all true!” Clem defended. “I saw it! Buried deep in her mind! But whores like Claudia are easy to pick, and I saw all her dirty little secrets.”

“What do you mean, ‘pick’?”

“That’s what I do, Meredith. I can unlock mental doors within people and find out who they really are. They try to hide from themselves, like Claudia does; they put up all these barriers in their minds to keep the bad stuff away… but I can get into those rooms… I can pick the locks.”

Meredith didn’t know what to say.

“What? Why are you looking at me like that?” Clem shifted uncomfortably. “You can do things, too! Like when you delivered that message to that boy from his dead father. We can all do things. That’s what makes us so damn special! That’s why this place is so… ‘special’.” She spat the last word out with contempt.

A horrifying thought crossed Meredith’s mind. “What did you say to Claudia?”

“What? It doesn’t matter what I said to that stupid bitch!”

“Did you tell her? Did you tell her all that nasty stuff you just told me?”

“She was lying to everyone.”

“Just answer the question.”

“No. I won’t. Not until you stop looking at me like that!”

“You did, didn’t you? You ‘picked’ that girl’s mind like tearing at an old scab. Then you ripped it off and watched it bleed when you told her those awful things!” Meredith was furious. If Clem really possessed such a frightening ability, if she could invade anyone’s mind and pull out their deepest, darkest secrets… she suddenly felt vulnerable… and she knew exactly how Claudia must have felt.

“Why are you… why are you so upset with me?” Clem was confused. “I didn’t do anything to you! I would never do anything to hurt you!”

“But you hurt Claudia when you told her who her parents really were… who Charlie really was… that’s just… wrong!”

Clem looked like Meredith just slapped her hard across the face. She started to cry. “I didn’t mean to… really, I didn’t. She was just… she was such a bitch… and I… I just wanted to hurt her a little.”

Meredith sighed and eased up. “You can’t do that to people, Clem. Sometimes the past is… horrible. We all carry a lot of pain from our broken, messed-up lives. That’s why we’re really here. If we had people who loved us, we wouldn’t be orphans. No one deserves to have all that… ugliness… thrown back in their face.”

Clem nodded silently. “You’re right. What I did was wrong. Can you forgive me, Meredith?”

“It’s not my forgiveness that matters.”

“It matters to me.”

Meredith smiled. “Yes… I forgive you. But only if you apologize to Claudia.”

Clem stared back defiantly. “Fuck that! I won’t! She’s always been mean to me! She belittles me in front of everyone!”

“But you crossed the line, Clem. You must know that. How would you feel if someone ‘picked’ your memories and did that to you?”

Clem’s face suddenly changed–her fierce eyes barely contained behind a mask of stone making Meredith extremely uncomfortable. She let loose a wicked smile and calmly said, “I would kill anyone who did that to me. I would kill them from the inside out until their eyes bled.”

Meredith wanted to be anywhere where she wasn’t alone with this… evil person. She wisely didn’t say that out loud, but Clem could see it anyway.

“You’re afraid of me now… aren’t you?” Clem asked, looking back down at her hands.

“I… I think you should leave,” Meredith managed to get out.

Clem nodded. “Sure. We’ll talk tomorrow.”

“I don’t think so.”

Clem looked at her. “We’re still best friends… right?”

Meredith didn’t answer.

“I’ll… I’ll apologize to Claudia. I don’t want to… but if it means we can still be friends… then I will.”

“I think you need help, Clem. Maybe you should talk-”

“This is all her fault!”

Meredith shook her head. “This is no one’s fault, Clem.”

She looked at Meredith, tears of frustration and heartache breaching stone. “Claudia did this… that fucking bitch! We were just fine until… and now…” She got up and wiped the tears away as she bolted for the door.

“Clem! Wait!” Meredith stood up.

Clem stopped before the door, her back turned to Meredith. She spoke softly but clearly over her shoulder. “I’ll make her pay for this. That’s what I’m going to do, Meredith. Then you’ll see how much I love you.”

Meredith was out of words.

Clem opened the door, exited, and gently closed the door behind her.

Meredith climbed into her bed, feeling emotionally drained, and buried herself beneath the blankets. I need to get out of here, she thought, closing her eyes to keep the tears from falling.

She mercifully began to drift off into sleep, recalling familiar words she’d heard her first night:

You’re not safe, Meredith. None of the girls are. This place is bad… very bad.

~~~

Meredith is back in the grassy endless field. The storm is much louder. The winds are howling fiercely. The sky is frightening; dark ominous thunderheads hover so close as though they will fall upon her at any moment. The rain is falling erratically as gusts of wind spit it into her face.

“Meredith!”

She spins around, wiping rain from her eyes.

It’s the young man, Toby… or what’s left of him. A thin, pale figure stands directly in front of her. His deteriorated shirt has been blown away by the wind exposing his frail frame. She can see his rib cage penetrating ancient flesh. The dead skin around his face is stretched thin. Most of his black hair is gone. His eyes are sunken in so deep that she thinks they’re gone. He raises a bony arm toward her and like before, he speaks without moving his lips. He speaks within her mind. “Not safe… no time… not safe.”

“What?” she attempts to shout, unable to project her voice over the deafening wind. “I don’t understand?”

“Place… bad… pay attention, Meredith. Pay special attention to the man behind the curtain. That’s where the truth is.”

As before, the emerald lion roars. It sounds like it is all around her.

She turns just as it pounces toward her with its sickening, hateful yellow fire for eyes.

Meredith screams and ducks down.

The lion bolts past her and jumps on Toby.

Meredith turns back.

Two more lions have joined the first, attacking from behind Toby.

She tries to move but her body feels like a large immovable stone. Meredith can only watch in horror as the three emerald lions rip what’s left of Toby to pieces.

She screams but no sound escapes her mouth.

Each lion snatches a piece from the carcass and they run off, forgetting all about her.

Meredith senses something behind her.

She turns around and discovers the little porcelain doll with the head too big for her small body, standing in the grass. It speaks to her through frantic images assaulting her mind.

“What do you mean?” she shouts at the doll. “What do you want to show me? I don’t understand!”

Suddenly, the little doll’s facial expression changes into a sinister scowl. It opens its mouth, revealing bloody razors for teeth. She tries to move away but she can’t.

The doll’s face begins to crack like an egg. Pieces fall away until the true face beneath reveals itself.

Meredith tries to scream again.

It is now her face…

~~~

…Meredith woke up surrounded by children’s toys, her throat so sore that her scream was cut off. The muscles in her back and legs were sore and stiff from sleeping on the carpeted basement floor. She painfully got to her knees and started to panic when she realized where she was.

How… how did I get down here?

She looked up toward the doll cabinets and gasped when she saw that the one on the right was empty, the glass door left hanging open.

“Toby?” she whispered.

And just like the horrible dream, she knew exactly where it was.

Meredith slowly turned around and froze.

The little doll with the wild hair and gentle eyes stood three feet behind her.

“Shit!” Meredith hissed, forcing herself to her feet and backing away from the doll.

Toby didn’t move.

She waited there for what felt like eternity, just watching the doll, expecting it to charge at her the moment she looked away.

“Calm down, Meredith,” she told herself. “It’s just a stupid doll. Someone’s played a mean prank on you… that’s all this is.”

She backed away a few more steps, until she reached the hallway.

Toby didn’t move.

She took a deep breath and mustered up the courage to turn away. Meredith moved quickly toward the stairs. All the while she imagined hearing little doll footfalls chasing after her. She nearly stumbled as she raced up the steps, her heart racing in her ears. She opened the door, exited, and quickly slammed it shut behind her.

The house was dark, like the first night she snuck down to the basement.

I couldn’t have been down there very long, she reasoned. Meredith tried to remember what happened. Her head began to throb with the worst migraine imaginable. Why can’t I remember?

No longer desiring to stand between the creepy basement and the rest of the dark, silent house, Meredith only wanted to reach her bedroom, bury herself beneath the blankets, and sleep the remainder of the night with Clem’s flashlight on.

~~~

Next Episode 35-9

Previous Episode 35-7

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 35-8: 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. Gylion says:

    Jesus. She’s got more that a few screws loose.

    Like

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