My sister Karen was a bit of an odd child. When she was eight years old, our dog Champ chewed up her favorite baby doll. My Dad, ever the thoughtful man, held a funeral for Missy the Baby Doll. We stood around a hole he had dug. The little doll was placed in an old shoebox and buried in the back yard. As time went on Karen would lose one doll after another and demand that they be buried alongside her baby doll. Dad eventually built an iron fence around the grave plots and a small gate so Karen could visit her fallen friends.
Eventually, Karen got older and stopped playing with dolls.
I was in high school back then all of this started, I guess I was about 16 years old. Karen was 12. My dad ended up getting a second phone line so she could talk to her friends and the rest of us could use the phone. It wasn’t uncommon for Karen to be up at night talking to her friends on the phone, so I don’t know when these things started happening, but I’ll tell you when I first noticed something was wrong.
Karen’s room was on the other side of my wall. The walls were paper thin and I could hear her talking at pretty much any point she chose to get on the phone. I took to sleeping with headphones on. One night at around 2 AM, I heard Karen talking. I knocked on the wall.
“Go to bed or I’m telling Dad you’re awake,” I said.
She got quiet and I rolled over. The next morning she came into my room with a scared look on her face.
“Did you hear her? Please say you heard her,” she said.
I rolled out of bed.
“What are you talking about kiddo?”
She looked down at the floor.
“Missy came into my room last night. She said she missed me.”
I looked at her puzzled.
“Missy? The baby doll? Yeah right.”
Karen stomped her foot.
“It happened! I’m not making it up!” she shouted.
She stormed out of the room. I rolled out of bed and got dressed. As I was coming home from school that afternoon I noticed her up at her doll graveyard. I walked up to her.
“Visiting Missy?” I asked.
“Somebody dug up the graves. The dolls are gone.”
I scratched my head for a second.
“Relax kiddo it was probably just an animal digging around or something. Don’t worry about it.”
I walked Karen inside the house and poured her a glass of milk. I stirred in some chocolate syrup and sat with her at the table.
“Thanks,” she said and smiled.
That night I could hear two voices in Karen’s room. One was my little sister and the other sounded like a small child. I didn’t quite know if she was talking to herself or what, but I sat up in my bed and pressed my ear to the wall. The conversation went something like this.
The Voice: “Come outside and play with us. We miss you.”
Karen: “I can’t. I’ll get in trouble.”
The Voice: “No one has to know. It’ll be our secret.”
Karen: “I don’t know. It’s dark out there.”
The Voice: “It’s okay. I’ll protect you.”
I heard my sisters bedroom door open and the tiny footsteps creeping across the wooden floor. I got up and poked my head out the door to see she was walking hand-in-hand with a baby doll. I did a double take as it looked like the baby doll was walking on its own. I ran into the hallway.
“Go back to bed Karen,” I said.
She turned around.
“Missy came back!” she said, smiling.
The doll turned hung idly in her hand as she turn towards me. I kept my eyes on the muddy little doll.
“Karen, go back to your room or I’ll wake Dad up,” I said.
Karen pouted and walked back to her room. I grabbed the doll and shoved it in the top of the hallway closet and closed the door. I had every intention of burning the creepy little thing in the morning. Morning came and I checked on Karen to find her bed empty and her window open. I rushed outside to find her curled up in her little graveyard holding Missy. I nudged her with my foot.
“Wake up. We’re going inside.”
She groggily stood up and left Missy on the ground as she followed me to the house. I sat her at the kitchen table.
“Karen, you can’t sleep outside at night. You’ll catch a cold or worse.”
“Missy was keeping me warm. Besides, Champ was with us.”
“Karen this isn’t funny anymore. Champ got hit by a car last year.”
“He came back. Missy said that everyone can come back if we want it enough. Even Mom!”
This set me off. I stormed out to the shed and grabbed a can of gasoline and marched up to the graveyard. After digging out what dolls I could find I poured the gas on top of them and flicked my lighter. The small pile went up in flames as the burning plastic melted into a puddle. Karen shrieked from the back door.
“Noooooooooo! You monster!”
By this point Dad was awake and Karen was crying while I was standing next to an impromptu bonfire in the graveyard he had built for my sister. Needless to say, I was grounded. I went to school and came home to find he had taken the TV and computer out of my bedroom. Karen and Dad went out to dinner that night and didn’t get home until late. I was already in bed.
That night, I heard a scratching at my bedroom door and what sounded like a whimpering dog. I opened the door half expecting to see Champ, but there was nothing in the hallway. I was about head back to bed when I heard a child’s voice from my sisters room echo down the hallway,
“That wasn’t very nice James.”
I ducked my head into Karen’s room to find her fast asleep. I was about ready to wake her up when the voice spoke again.
“All you have to do is believe. Why is that so hard?”
I looked around the hallway, but couldn’t find where the voice was coming from. I wandered into the kitchen when I noticed the back door was open. I closed it and made sure it was locked. I made it to my doorway and saw Missy sitting on my bed.
“Karen believes enough that I could pull myself together. If you believe enough you could even have your mother back,” it said.
“Fuck you!” I said. “I don’t know what you are, but I’m gonna fucking kill you.”
“You can’t kill what was never alive James.”
I picked up the doll and marched to the kitchen. Missy was laughing maniacally at this point. I shoved the doll into the microwave and turned the knob all the way and watched it melt into a puddle, again. Fifteen minutes later the microwave dinged and I opened the door to reveal a puddle of molten plastic and black smoke.
I splashed some water on the tray and carried it to the sink to clean it off. I turned toward the table a second and saw Missy sitting next to the fruit bowl. It laughed again.
“I see you aren’t going to be nice about this. Okay. Two can play this game.”
I looked back and the doll was gone. I spent the rest of the night in my bed waiting for something to happen. By morning, I was so exhausted I fell asleep on the bus. I ended up getting a detention slip for falling asleep in class later that day. Dad was waiting for me when I got home.
Dad asked me to sit down.
“Son, you’re behavior has been a bit erratic lately. Is there something you need to tell me?”
I put my head in my hands.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
“Try me,” he said.
I told him about Karen and the dolls. I told him about the night before and the doll. I even told him about hearing Champ scratching at my door. He kept looking at me until I finished.
He opened his mouth to speak.
“I’m not saying it didn’t happen, but that all sounds a bit farfetched.”
“I knew you wouldn’t believe me.”
He looked down at the floor.
“Now hold on, I didn’t say that. Your sister told me a similar story last night,” he revealed. “I’m gonna tear down that graveyard this weekend and have Father McAllister come bless the property. You can never be too safe.”
“Thanks dad,” I said.
“No problem, son.”
I lay in my bed staring at the ceiling when I heard a voice in Karen’s room that chilled me to my core. It was my mother. Mom died when we were both kids. I remember going to her funeral, Karen was too young to remember her. I didn’t want to think about what was in Karen’s room, but I was worried about my baby sister. I got dressed and crept up to her doorway. From the other side of the door I listened to this conversation.
Mom: “Thank you baby. It’s so good to be back.”
Karen:“I love you, mommy.”
Mom: “Let’s go outside and have a picnic.”
Karen: “Okay, mommy!”
I turned the knob on Karen’s door. It was locked. I knew she had gone out the window at least once so I kicked her door as hard as I could. It didn’t budge. I reared back and tried again, it damn near flew off the hinges. I scanned the room looking for Karen, but all I could see was the curtains blowing in the wind. It was at this point dad showed up right behind me.
“Karen just went outside with something that sounded like mom,” I said, breathless.
“That’s not possible.”
“I know,” I said. “We have to find her.”
We both shot out the back door to see Karen walking hand-in-hand with a woman in a white gown. The were halfway up the hill when my father dropped to his knees.
“Michelle, is that really you?” he asked.
The woman in the white gown turned around. It was a full moon and it was pretty bright on the hill. I could see that her face was rotting and falling off the bone. She was absolutely horrifying to look at. She waved towards us.
“Yes Jim. It’s me. Karen brought me back!” she said.
My dad started running towards the ghastly woman in white as I ran to the shed. I could hear my father and sister talking to that thing as they got farther away. I rummaged through the shed until I found my dad’s old splitting maul and rushed up the hill to catch them.
I watched as my dad kissed the wretched thing like nothing was wrong. Karen smiled and looked up at him. They stood at the edge of the doll graveyard. I was only a few strides away when I heard the ghoulish creature speak in my mother’s voice.
“What are you going to do with that James?”
I shouted at my dad and Karen.
“That isn’t mom. She wasn’t buried in white! Mom was buried in a black dress. REMEMBER?”
Dad shook his head for a moment and looked back at the ghoul as he fell back in horror.
“Who… What… Are you?” he stuttered.
“I’m her mommy. Every little girl deserves a mommy.”
I swung the axe as hard as I could and planted it firmly in the thing’s chest. I pulled the axe back to reveal a black liquid oozing from the creature. At this point Karen was screaming.
“STOP IT! YOU’RE HURTING MOMMY!”
I shouted at the creature.
“You aren’t my mother. She’d never hurt Karen like this!”
The creature opened its mouth and let out an inhuman screech. Karen looked up in horror as she finally saw it for all of its grotesque features. She tried to pull away, but the thing had a death grip on her wrist.
“Now, now Karen, you wanted your mommy. Now mommy wants you…forever.”
I swung the axe hard enough to chop its arm off. Karen fell back onto dad as the thing let out a screech and fled into the woods. I stood next to Dad and Karen in silence before he loaded us into the car and drove us to a hotel. We slept in until check out. Dad and I never really talked about it after that. It wasn’t long after this incident that we moved closer to town.
Karen grew up and went to college. Dad passed away last year. I live with my wife and kids in a decent house on the edge of town.
Just the other day, I found my daughter playing with a muddy old baby doll in the living room. I snatched it up.
“Where did you get this?” I asked.
My daughter looked up with a smile.
“Grandma brought it to me. She said it belonged to Aunt Karen.”
I nailed my daughter’s window shut. Father Perry will be here in the morning.