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Creepy Dolls

“He’s been bad. He’s been a very bad little man.”

 

The tiny hand grasps onto my leg. I scour the darkness for the source of this intrusion into my bedroom. I recoil in horror as my eyes finally rest on the tiny face. They are drawn to the frown set below the beady, plastic eyes. As those two icy circles turn and stare into me, I hold my breath and pray that this nightmare will finally come to an end.

 


 

Ever have a random memory from your youth that gives you pause? It comes as an epiphany that completely recontextualizes something that perplexed you as a child. Two examples spring to mind. One night, my parents came in and woke up my brother and me. They were laughing uproariously and gathered us into the living room at one in the morning. They made us dance and sing while my father absentmindedly strummed the guitar. The next day the incident wasn’t mentioned over breakfast and in fact was never brought up again. It was only yesterday that I had the stunning realization that my teetotaling parents had gotten wasted and used us for their cheap, drunken amusement.

 

Then of course there is the other incident that, due to recent events, has made me reevaluate a phantom memory from my youth and cast it in a new and horrifying light.

 

I had a friend when I was in elementary school. When I moved to Rashosha, WI, we quickly became friends due to our undying enthusiasm for gaming. I had a Genesis and he had an SNES. So, it was a very fortuitous pairing for the both of us. Soon after being introduced, we were spending many a lazy Saturday at my place playing Sonic the Hedgehog.

 

He was a very strange kid. He had an alarming intensity about him. His eyes were always wild and distant. In addition to this, he was also prone to fits of incredible rage if his character died in a game.

 

 

He was a menace on the playground. He was prone to scrapes and fights at the drop of a hat over benign disagreements. This concerned me somewhat, but I never had a friend with a Super Nintendo. My misgivings with Edgar were overruled by my excitement. I was very eager to head over to his place and finally play Mario World.

 

Eventually, one bright Saturday morning, I rode my bike over to his house smiling the entire way. I knocked on his door barely containing the anticipation of being able to play Super Mario World for the first time.

 

His mother answered the door and gave me a brief tour of the house. It was a humble home. I remember thinking how tiny it was, but it had a very kept and comforting interior. That is, except for the basement. I descended the stairs to find Edgar alone in the cavernous room. It was cold and sterile. The grey concrete served as a stark contrast to the rest of the house.

 

His mother pulled me to the side and discreetly said to me, “thanks so much for being his friend.” This struck me as very strange. Her hand left my shoulder as she turned and climbed the stairs with a smile beaming from her face.

 

Edgar was oblivious to my presence as I approached him. He was so engrossed in Mario that he barely paid me any attention. I was in no way offended by this. Gaming was first and foremost in our lives. Everything else was secondary. Even when his dog, Lady, came down the stairs and licked his face, he didn’t break his gaze from the screen. He just grabbed the dog by the muzzle and dismissively pushed her away.

 

We spent the afternoon taking turns on his SNES. Though I didn’t think it was possible, after hour 4 I became bored with the game. I asked him what else he had to play, and he told me to check the closet. He indicated a door on the other side of the room. I walked over and opened it. The interior of the closet was rather large. Inside was a shelf with various video games on it. It was difficult to read the titles. I flipped on the light. My eye was immediately drawn to the back corner. I stared at it intently for a good 10 seconds. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Perplexion gave way to fear.

 

“Uh… Edgar.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“What is this in the back corner of your closet?”

 

“Oh, it’s just Mr. Checks.” He said this as if that was supposed to mean something to me.

 

“Um… Okay… Why is it chained up?”

 

“That’s just so he doesn’t get out again.”

 

You see, in his closet was an old tattered baby swing. Inside that swing was a doll. It was just a fairly unremarkable little guy with a scruffy beard. It was caked in dirt and grime, but his slight and pink smile poked through. This was of course a little off-putting. But what gave me the most pause was how it was tucked away into the back corner. The multitude of chains that encumbered it only made matters worse. There was something really eerie about that to say the least.

 

“Uh…”

 

“Yeah we wouldn’t want him to get out again.” He said this was a dismissive laugh.

 

Though every fiber of my being screamed that this was odd and terrifying, he was so nonchalant about it. His confident and cavalier demeanor put an abrupt end to my misgivings. I grabbed Turtles in Time off the shelf and returned to play some more. Mr. Checks was quickly forgotten.

 

That is until I slept over there a few weeks later.

 

A late night gaming session led to Edgar crashing on one of the couches. I wanted to switch games and made my way to the closet. It was pitch black in that corner of the room. I stumbled my way over and opened the door. I turned on the light and jumped backwards. Mr. Checks still sat in his “prison” (that’s how I came to envision his current situation at the time). Its eyes were trained on me. The slight smile beneath them sent shivers down my spine. I didn’t have Edgar’s oddly calming voice to tell me that this wasn’t something to be concerned about. I reached for a game with my back to the doll. I turned around quickly and saw those same dead eyes watching my every movement. It was in the exact same position that it had been weeks prior. But the way the light hit the rusty red chains and the enigma of his imprisonment began to get to me (I told myself that I would definitely inquire more about him in the morning). I inched towards him. Reflexively, I grabbed the dolls head and turned it away from me. This brought some relief.

 

That is until I finally noticed it. Mr. Checks was not alone. My heart lept into my throat.

 

Another doll, this time a woman, was in the opposite corner of the closet. She was just as unremarkable as Checks. Just a generic doll of a lady in a summer dress. She was chained as well to a small chair. Her eyes stared daggers into me. I quickly backed out of the closet. I kept the light on and periodically would look towards the illuminated closet.

 

I could swear I heard chains rattle at one point in the night. Even now, I try and tell myself it was all a dream.

 

I woke up to a voice screaming my name. Hands shook me violently. I opened my eyes to see Edgar standing over me with an aggressive yet vacant look on his face.

 

“Jack! Get up!!! Time for breakfast!!!”

 

As I sat at the kitchen table with his family, we ate our eggs and bacon in silence. Eventually, I felt compelled to speak up.

 

“So… I said hi to Mr. Checks last night, and I think I met his girlfriend,” I said with a nervous laugh.

 

Edgar’s parents dropped their utensils. They stared at me with a look of horror. His mother finally spoke up.

 

“Yes Mr. and Mrs. Checks were very bad, and they had to be punished for it.” Her head sank downwards.

 

“He’s been very bad… He’s been a very bad little man…” His father put his arm around Edgar’s mother as she repeated that statement.

 

Before I knew it, I was unceremoniously ushered into the car and drove home.

 

Edgar and I remained friends for the next year or so. During this time, I never once was invited back to his house and the subject of Mr. Checks was never brought up again. We went to different schools shortly after and drifted apart.

 

So, last month the memory of this long forgotten incident came to me in a very abrupt way.

 

I was in my bed. I felt a hand grasp onto my leg. I stirred from my slumber to touch my wife in kind. I turned to see that she was no longer there. As soon as this realization hit me, I heard it.

 

Chains began to rattle. The sound was subtle at first, but then built to a crescendo. I slowly looked down. Mr. Checks was staring at me with those same dead eyes I had pushed to the back of my mind these long years. However, something was different this time. His mouth was agape. I stared into the blackness. A new sound filled the air. Emanating forth from his wide open mouth was a noise that I couldn’t place at first. It was a low growl followed by a hissing sound. Suddenly, I felt hands grab the flesh of my neck. I looked to my right to see Mrs. Checks. She appeared the same as before with one significant change. Her mouth was no longer pulled tight into a subtle (if ominous) grin. It was wide open. She began to growl as well. When she began to emit an ear piercing bark, I finally woke up.

 

The dream shattered me. Memories of Edgar and his strange closet came flooding back. As I evaluated the whole thing with my now adult brain my blood began to run cold. Why the fuck did that kid have two dolls chained up in his basement? His parents clearly knew about it as well. What exactly was going on there?

 

Throughout the month I was consumed with this mystery, and after the fourth night in a row of that same horrifying dream, I decided to take my first steps in solving it. I got in touch with Edgar through Facebook. He quickly accepted my friend request. We traded messages back and forth for a week or so. It was small talk at first, just playing a little catch up. I bided my time before I asked him the question I was dying to ask.

 

A few days ago, I felt it was time so I finally inquired. What exactly was Mr. Checks about?

 

It took him a few hours to respond. This concerned me since our conversations had been going at lightning speed prior to this question. Maybe I would never get an answer to this enigma.

 

Finally, he responded.

 

Are you sure you really want to know?

 

Absolutely.

 

Why don’t you come over, and I’ll tell you all about it.

 


 

Butterflies rose up in my gut as I knocked on the door. The sense of anticipation coursed through me. I began to think about how this was such an eerie parallel to my first time standing in front of this house. However, it would not be his mother answering the door this time. This was the only thing I could be certain about in this endeavor (he had informed me he was the sole inheritor of his childhood home after the deaths of his parents and sister.).

 

These thoughts all scattered as I saw Edgar standing in the doorway. Age changes us in so many ways, but the one constant is always the eyes. Hidden beneath the gangly mat of hair that comprised his beard and the bags beneath were those same indelibly blue eyes I remembered. Always darting around randomly, alive and manic as they surveyed their surroundings.

 

I entered and remarked in my mind how well my memory served me. It was exactly as I remembered it down to the cabinet of China in the dining room corner. However, it was now caked in years of dust.

 

We made our way to the kitchen, and he offered me a beer. I accepted. We sat at the table, and I began to speak.

 

“So, yeah I’ve been having this really crazy dream about Mr. and Mrs. Checks for weeks now, and I was just really curious about the whole thing. If anything, it’s been a good excuse to get back in touch with you.” I offered my beer for an impromptu cheer. He didn’t seem to notice or care about my gesture. His eyes became focused on mine.

 

“Yeah they’re still chained up, but they’ve been getting out lately, and they are pissed!” He said this with such sincerity that I chuckled to myself, assuming this was a very dry joke.

 

“Yeah…” I cleared my throat. “What’s was the deal with them? Why were they chained up in your basement?” I nervously took a sip from my beer.

 

“Well I was a very troubled kid and my parents, God rest them, tried everything.” He proceeded to get out of his chair and pointed towards the basement. I followed him in that direction as he continued to speak.

 

“When Sprinkles wouldn’t stop hissing at me, I grabbed him by the neck and twisted it. I felt bad about it, but then I realized that it was just the doll, Mr. Checks, that my Mom keeps in her room. He killed our cat, not me.” My heart sank. As he continued to speak his eyes became animated once again. They surveyed the stairway as we descended, all while taking furtive glances in my direction.

 

He chuckled to himself. “I didn’t really believe it you see, but my parents were all too eager to play along. They told me that if Mr. Checks was locked away the bad thing wouldn’t happen again. They were in such denial.” The basement felt cold. The concrete of the floor echoed our footsteps throughout the vast emptiness.

 

“The next week, Lady, began to bark at me. She just wouldn’t stop. Before I knew it, I had stomped her head into the concrete of the basement floor. Jack!!! I still have the SNES hooked up. We should play some Turtles later!” The horror within continued to grow. I stopped in my tracks. He noticed that I was no longer following him. He turned and motioned towards me. While I debated my next move, his icy hand clasped onto my forearm and pulled me in the direction of the closet.

 

“You must think I’m some kind of monster. After Mom locked up Mrs. Checks, I never killed another animal again.”

 

I breathed a slight sigh of relief. He opened the closet door and darkness greeted us both. He reached for the switch. Nothing in the world could prepare me for what the light revealed.

 

The closet was now littered with dolls. I estimated at least 40 in varying states of decay and grime. All chained up. All turned in my direction. My knees buckled and I nearly fell to the floor as my mind revealed the implications of this.

 

“Well, as you can see I’ve been very busy over the years and who am I to eschew tradition? It’s my way of honoring my mother, God rest her. It’s the least I could do after what I did to her. She’s right over there. She’s smiling now, but she won’t be later. Why don’t you say ‘hi’ Jack before she gets all ornery?”

 

He pointed toward a doll with stringy, grey hair.

 

I stumbled backwards. That is when my senses finally returned to me. I turned around and began to rush toward the stairs. Edgar called out to me.

 

“Jack!!! It’s the damndest thing. I couldn’t believe it at first, but lately, they keep getting out. And they are not happy. I think they know why they’re here and they want something… They want revenge… on me… on anyo-” I no longer heard what he was saying as I had already escaped his house and made a beeline for my car. I peeled out, pulled out my phone, and dialed the police.

 


 

The scratchy voice shatters the darkness.

 

“He’s been bad. He’s been a very bad little man.”

 

The tiny hand grasps onto my leg. I scour the darkness for the source of this intrusion into my bedroom. I recoil in horror as my eyes finally rest on the tiny face. They are drawn to the frown set below the beady, plastic eyes. As those two icy circles turn and stare into me, I hold my breath and pray that this nightmare will finally come to an end.

 

“And you’ve been a bad little man too.”

True horror sets in when I realize I’m asleep no longer, and the doll continues to crawl up my leg.