Our flash fiction challenge this week at Terrible Minds was to either use one of these five titles (below) or to create our own title using words of these titles, but NO EXTRA words.
“The Monkey’s Pageant.”
“The Black Lighthouse.”
“Bright Stars Gone To Black.”
“Plastic Dreams & Doll Desires.”
I had started one with the title of Bright Stars Gone to Black but I lost interest so made up my own title called “The Plastic Dead”. I’ve had two colds over the past three weeks, so I’m a little foggy in the head. Hope you enjoy.
The Plastic Dead
It was the dragged out, guttural mrowrrr that woke her. It was a sound so threatening that Julia felt it in her stomach. She sat up to face the dark bedroom. The cat growled.
“Bubbles,” Julia whispered. “Come on up here.”
The cat growled again, hissed.
Julia flicked on the bedside table lamp. At once, she could see the tortoiseshell cat sitting on the floor in the corner of the room, staring up at something on the dresser. She watched Bubbles’ hackles rise as she growled once more. Julia glanced up at the dresser. Other than an old plastic doll and her jewellery box, there was nothing to see.
“Is it a spider?” Julia whispered, feeling her own stomach tense. She glanced at the empty right side of the bed. She wished Jared wasn’t working nights tonight.
The cat jumped onto the dresser but kept its distance from the threat, though she maintained eye contact with it.
“It’s a doll, Bubbles. What the hell’s your problem?”
Julia climbed out of bed and stepped towards the dresser. She set her hand on the cat’s back, felt the rigidity, felt the quivering, felt the vibration of another growl. Bubbles did not acknowledge the calming pat or the stroke.
“Bubbles, look…” Julia grabbed for the plastic doll, wrapped her hand around it. She’d had it for twenty-five years, since she was a kid. She’d had the cat for ten. For God’s sake, it’s not like the doll was unfamiliar.
She picked it up, but as she carried it towards the cat, it hissed and jumped onto the bed.
“Stupid cat, look.” As she drew the doll towards the cat, her hand froze. Those eyes—there was something eerie about them in this light. They were no bigger than sunflower seeds, but they could be those of a real human being. She stared, noticing that the glassiness to them looked not as glassy as it did moist.
The cat was still hissing at the doll.
Unnerved, Julia struggled to tear her eyes away from the doll’s blue gaze. As she did, the impossible happened. Before she saw it, really registered it in her head, she felt the pain of its teeth. The doll had bit her finger. But it couldn’t have. It was still sitting in her hand as immobile as it had ever been, staring up at her with those dead eyes. Yet there was her finger, dripping blood, a chunk of skin the size of a pea gone.
Julia’s reaction was to chuck the doll across the room. It smacked against the closet door with a bang. The cat’s eyes followed it to the ground.
The baby began to cry in the next room.
Quivering, Julia watched the cat, because Bubbles seemed very aware of whatever was happening. When her eyes lifted from the doll and trained on the empty corner by the ceiling, Julia mimicked her, failing to see what Bubbles could see. Then the cat jumped off the bed and began to paw at the door.
The baby’s cries began to falter, and then he grew quiet.
Cradling her injured finger so that the blood did not soak the carpet, Julia glanced at the baby monitor to ensure that Evan had gone back to sleep. The cat was still pawing.
The voice came from the baby monitor in a whisper so severe that it turned her head.
The green lights illuminated to the top of the monitor, indicating that the voice was not in her head, but rather coming from the nursery. The lights disappeared, and then reappeared when the word “Evan” was spoken.
Julia dashed to the door and yanked it open, coating the handle in blood. She and the cat had the same destination in mind. When Julia thrust open the nursery door, she flicked on the light and watched the cat jump into Evan’s crib.
Nothing in the room seemed out of place.
Neither had it in her room, yet the doll had bitten her.
Julia approached the crib. Evan was wide awake, but did not look up at her when she leaned over him. Instead, he stared into the corner of the room above his crib, in the same direction that Bubbles was looking.
Heart thundering, Julia followed their gazes.
Clasping to the walls with two hands and back to the ceiling, leaning over the crib and panting, was a black shape, little more than a dense fog. Yet she could see what resembled eyes, wild and shifting. She could see the shape swiftly rising and dropping, as though panting. Julia’s words caught in her throat, she could only feel for Evan and grasp his six-week-old arm.
The cat hissed.
The shape, suddenly reminiscent of a young girl, extended from the wall nearly four feet so that what could be a face was only inches away from the cat’s. It emitted a sound like a scream heard through static, so loud that Julia had to cover her ears. Evan began to wail. The cat jumped out of the crib and scrambled out of the bedroom.
The shape turned to Julia, uttered a shorter scream, and leapt from the wall towards the window. It sifted through the joints of the sliding panes and disappeared into the black of night.
Julia grabbed Evan so quickly that she forgot to cradle his head, and backed from the room, shaking so badly that she knew she would have to put the baby down to avoid dropping him.
He was still crying, screaming, inconsolable. She tried to whisper soothing words as she retreated to the kitchen and flicked on the bright fluorescent lights.
“It’s okay,” she whispered. “It’s gone now, okay. Shhh.”
That was when the patio door, the window, the living room windows—every window in the house—exploded. The sound of shattering glass was ear piercing. The only thing Julia could do was hunch over her son and pray they avoided any flying shards.
Cowering on the floor now, listening to the thick silence that had overcome them, feeling the cool air sift into the house, Julia shuddered, holding Evan close to her, so close that maybe he couldn’t breathe.
The phone rang. She let it. The machine answered, her cheery voice expressing that the caller had reached the Walton residence and that they should leave a message.
At three fifteen in the morning, she didn’t know who she expected to be on the other end of the line—maybe Jared?—but she had not expected the dry, raspy voice.
Like a little girl singing a song, it came, “…The plastic dead, we’re in your head, and red in the bed is the blood that you shed, where only we tread, we shred. We are the dead…”
© Lindsay Mawson, 2012