It was June 15th, 1995 and it was my 13th birthday. Just hitting puberty the few years before. Being 13-years-old was a whole new chapter in life. I had all of my family and closest friends at my party. They were all smiling – just radiating pure happiness and joy together as a group in front of me. I closed my eyes and blew out the bright candles on my beautifully decorated cake, and made my one birthday wish.
My grandma Pat handed me a medium-sized box wrapped in balloon pattern paper. As I ripped off the paper and opened the box, my wish came true right in front of my eyes. I had wished to receive the same marionette doll my grandma Pat had given me; I first saw it in this old antique store just a few days earlier with my mother.
The doll had short, black hair, hollow black eyes, a white button-up shirt with a black diamond accent along the collar, black slacks, and some shiny, brown shoes with the initials ‘S.W.’ on the bottom of the right shoe. The dolls face was emotionless, but I absolutely loved it. I didn’t know how to properly work a marionette doll, but my grandpa showed me how. He had a huge collection of marionette dolls at his ranch – he started collecting them around my age. I spent the rest of the evening trying to learn how to use the marionette doll with my grandpa. Everyone eventually left and I was alone in my room getting ready for bed. The doll slept in my bed with me that night – it was a great birthday.
It was the weekend now and I wanted to have a sleep over. I invited my best friend Isabelle and her friend Amber, whom I didn’t really know that well. We were all sitting on my bed talking to each other and my doll was sitting in the corner in my pink rocking chair by my closet doors. Amber looked over towards the doll and started to laugh.
“What is that hideous thing?!” I was silent for a moment before I responded.
“It was a birthday gift from my grandparents.”
“They sure have bad taste in gifts for girls! That thing looks like an ugly boy’s toy. I would have screamed if I got that for my birthday!”
I scoffed at her remark and said under my breath, “Good thing it isn’t yours then.”
The pink rocking chair in the corner slowly started to rock out of the corner of my eye but when I looked over at the doll, it wasn’t moving. My mouth was hanging open at the sight I had just saw. Isabelle and Amber looked at me like I was crazy, I didn’t say a single word to them. I was so upset that my own best friend couldn’t even stand up for me when her friend insulted my birthday gift to deliberately hurt my feelings. I asked my mother if she could drive them home because I was in no mood for company anymore.
We all piled in the car. Isabelle and Amber sat in back chatting with each other quietly and I sat up front, silently, with my arms crossed. When my mom and I returned home, it was around 9 p.m.. I immediately ran upstairs to my doll, whom I honestly felt bad for.
“I’m so sorry she insulted you! I didn’t know she would say something like that,” I blurted out to the doll. I kissed the doll on the forehead, tucked it into my bed next to my pillow, changed into my pajamas, and went to sleep.
I woke up to a cool breeze on my face and a man’s faint whisper in my ear telling me to wake up. I looked at my bedside clock and realized it was nowhere near being day time. The doll was no longer beside me in my bed tucked in, but he was in the pink rocking chair in the corner, just staring at me. I was absolutely frozen with fear and I didn’t know what to do. Another faint whisper went past my ear saying the same thing as before, “wake up”. I didn’t want to be awake – I was too afraid!
The chair began to rock on its own and I shot out of my bed and ran into my parents bedroom – I was hysterically crying. My father didn’t budge, but my mother woke up in a panic.
“Shelby, what’s wrong?! What’s wrong!” I couldn’t even talk because all I could do was cry. I was terrified to go back in my room alone.
I said to my mother frantically, “The marionette doll was whispering to me and rocking in my chair across the room!” She looked at me with a confused face and slapped her palm on her forehead.
She let out a deep sigh and said, “Honey, I think you have just been watching ‘Chucky‘ much too often. Dolls can’t talk or move on their own and you know that! You just had a nightmare. Go back to bed, Shelby. We will see you in the morning.” She kissed me on the cheek and I slowly walked back to my room with my head hanging low. I knew my mother wasn’t ever going to believe me, but it was worth a shot to try to tell her. As I entered my room, the doll was tucked back under my blankets on my bed, untouched. Maybe I did have a nightmare and my brain was playing tricks on me. I climbed into my bed and quickly fell back asleep.
The next day felt a bit odd, but I just shrugged it off. The phone on the wall in the kitchen started to ring and I ran to pick it up. It was my friend Adonis, he said, “Heyyy, uh.. Shelb? Do you want to go to the park or uh.. somethin’?” He was a really awkward kid who had a giant crush on me, but we were semi-friends and he was pretty good company.
“Uh, sure, Adonis. I’ll meet you there in about ten minutes?” I said to him.
“Hah, yeah. See ya soon, Shelb!” We hung up and I went upstairs to change.
Ten minutes later
I decided to bring my marionette doll to the park with me because I thought Adonis would think he’s pretty cool. Adonis was five minutes late, but he looked like he had just freshly showered… or he sprinted here and is really sweaty? Either way, he was glistening! He ran up to me.
“Hey, Shelb! Cool doll!” he said in an excited tone.
I blushed a little and said, “Thanks! It was a birthday gift from my grandparents!”
He looked down at the ground and looked slightly upset.
“What’s wrong?” I said.
“I feel bad for not remembering your birthday… but, happy late one!” he said quickly.
“You don’t have to feel bad, Adonis. It’s just a birthday! What do you want to do here, anyways?” he looked around for a few moments and looked at me with wide eyes.
“I know where we can go! I know of this abandoned barn off of this mile road in the forest!”
I looked at him suspiciously and said, “Abandoned barn? That doesn’t sound very inviting…”
He was quick to respond, “I promise you it’s the coolest place you’ll ever go! It has all of the things a farm should have and a lot of old farming tools! It is kind if a long walk, but it’s worth it! C’mon, Shelb, I’ll show ya!”
We started to walk into the forest. After a mile, we got to this long, dirt road that looked like it would take forever to go down. We walked for yet another mile until we got up to this huge, faded red barn. It had definitely been abandoned for a long time. With my doll in hand, we entered the barn. The big barn doors creaked and moaned loud when they were opened, but the inside was much cooler looking than the outside.
It was stocked up full of decade old hay bales, racks of rusted pitch forks, muddy shovels, rakes, empty horse stalls, and some dry rotted 50 lb. bags of dog food in the corner. The floor was covered in broken up hay straws, and the place smelled horribly of dust and old horse feces. We climbed up this ladder to this platform at the top of the barn where the pitch forks and shovels hung. I found myself staring off into space running my finger slowly over a rusted prong on one of the pitch forks.
“Uh… Shelb?” Adonis called. I was unresponsive for a few moments until I finally snapped out of the trance I was in. I heard a faint whisper rush past my ear.
“Do what?” I said out loud, looking at Adonis confused.
Adonis looked at me as if I had five heads, “Who are you talking to, Shelb?”
“Adonis, stop messing around with me! I know you just whispered in my ear! I am not in the mood to play games!”
He looked absolutely frightened while speaking to me, “Are you feeling alright, Shelb? Should I walk you home now?”
We started to walk back to my house and I felt a sense of relief as soon as we got off the dirt path and back into the forest. When I returned home that evening for dinner, my parents decided we would go out to eat. I brought along my doll, per usual. We went to this pizzeria down the road from us called Big Rounds. We picked a booth to sit in and I sat my doll down at the table while we all went to get our drinks. Our pizza arrived to the table about twenty minutes later and everyone dug in. Shortly after we started eating, my mother exclaimed that I stop kicking her legs from under the table.
“What? I didn’t kick you?” I said innocently.
She looked at me and rolled her eyes, “Yeah and I suppose the doll did?”
My father laughed at her response and I sat there staring at both of them, livid. I discontinued eating my dinner and pushed my plate away from me. We eventually left and I just wanted to be alone. I immediately went up to my room and slammed the door behind me, launching the doll on my bed. I was changing into my pajamas as I felt a rush of cold wind go past my face and through my hair. The whispering was back.
“You have to do it…” is all it said. At this point, I wasn’t afraid of the voice anymore, I just didn’t know where it was coming from or why.
I picked up my doll and shook him around saying, “Do what! What do I have to do!”
It was silent. I had given up trying to understand what I needed to do and went to bed, throwing the doll to the floor.
The next morning, I couldn’t find my doll. I thought my mother had taken him after I went to bed. I went into her room.
“Where is he?” I said quickly.
“Who, Shelby? You’re such a weirdo sometimes, you know!?” she responded. I walked back into my room to see the doll sitting in the middle of my bed, unscathed. I was a little taken back by the sight, but it was less surprising now. I had accepted that something inhabited my marionette doll – something to make it move and talk.
A couple of hours later
I called Adonis to see if he wanted to walk back down to the barn with me – he gladly accepted. We were almost to the dirt path when Adonis pinned me to a tree and forcefully tried to kiss me by shoving his slimy tongue into my mouth. I pushed him away immediately and spit on the ground.
“What is wrong with you, Adonis?! What did you do that for?!” I exclaimed. Adonis started to cry and run on the mile path in the direction of the barn, so I had to chase after him. It was very hard to run full speed and hold a marionette doll at the same time. Once I reached the barn, Adonis wasn’t there. He must have been hiding from me. Before I opened the barn doors a gust of wind almost pushed me over with a loud man’s voice saying, “Kill!”
I ran into the barn up the ladder and grabbed a rusty pitch fork from the hanging rack. As I was coming down the ladder I saw Adonis in the corner of the barn behind the hay bales. He was sobbing and repeating the word “OK” over and over again to himself. A sense of dread and fear came over me as Adonis turned around to look at me. His eyes were black and hollow just like my dolls eyes were. I screamed and drove the pitch fork in my hand right straight into his forehead without a second thought. He fell over silently and I dropped to my knees, exhausted from the adrenaline that was pumping through me.
When I looked back at Adonis, his eyes were back to normal. I realized that my imagination had taken over and I had killed him for no reason at all. I had no choice but to bury him in a pile of hay in one of the empty horse stalls. I didn’t feel any remorse, as a normal person should if they killed someone. I felt relieved and numb at the same time. I wanted to do it again. So bad… I had to run home quickly in my blood stained clothes before my parents got home from work. The blood lust felt all too real for me. I killed Adonis and I wanted to kill again. It was like I needed to kill to feel okay again.
It was such a rush! It feels like I’m an addict that needs their next fix to be sane! Was the doll manipulating me? Or was I just truly maniacal? As I was running up to my room, I stopped dead in my tracks and felt a tap on my left shoulder. The creepy man’s deep whisper swept past my ear, “Again…” is all he said.
I finished going up to my room and I placed the doll in my pink rocking chair. I got undressed and threw my clothes in the wash, along with some old, dark towels and other dirty clothes. I could hear the house phone ringing downstairs – ring, ring, ring, ring, ring… Growing very annoyed with the ringing, I stormed downstairs to answer it. It was Isabelle; she wanted to know if I would come to her slumber party tonight at 7.
“Oh! Uh, yeah! I’ll be there a little early. Is that alright?” I said.
Isabelle quickly responded, “Duh, Shelbs! Just please don’t bring that doll with you! The other girls will want to go home – it is kind of creepy. Sorry… See you soon!” She hung up the phone, and I went back upstairs to my room and slammed the door behind me.
I started talking to myself, “What do people have against my doll? Just because he’s old doesn’t mean anything is wrong with him!” My door slightly opened when I said that and I could feel my throat get tighter from my fear. I shouted, “Who’s there?! Whoever you are, you aren’t welcome here!” My door slammed quickly and it was silent.
I started to feel sluggish and sick, but I wasn’t going to miss Isabelle’s slumber party for anything. I started to pack my over night bag and paused when I remembered that Isabelle told me not to bring my “creepy” doll along – I was infuriated all over again.
“He’s not creepy!” I shouted to myself as I shoved the doll to the bottom of my bag. As I was getting dressed I could feel myself sweating profusely, which was unusual for me. My stomach felt like it was on fire and I felt like I could pass out at any given moment. My mother knocked on my door and opened it, slightly poking her head inside the door way.
“You ready, kiddo?” she said in a soft voice.
I stuttered, “Y-yeah, I’ll be down in just a sec.”
I quickly stuffed my clothes and sleeping bag on top of my doll and tied up my bag, throwing it over my shoulder. We got in the car and buckled up. When we are half way to Isabelle’s house, my mother looks over at me and asks if I’m feeling alright.
“Yeah, I feel great! I’m excited to see my friends…” my voice trailed off as I stared out the car window. When we arrived to Isabelle’s house my mom kissed my cheek and sent me on my way. I hopped out of the car and ran up Isabelle’s drive way. Once I got up to the front door, I waved good-bye to my mom and she sped off down the poorly lit street.
To be continued…