What is a puppet?
A question that many can answer. Something that only oblivious children would ask. When they ask, how do you answer?
Simple. A puppet is a doll. Nothing more than a toy. However, these kinds of dolls are special. They are mindless, nothing but toys, and yet they can come to life. You can use your own dexterity to give them some. You can use your own life to incarnate their lifeless bodies.
Who am I? I am just another human. My name is Deborah. I have one more question, before we can continue with our story.
That question is simple. Similar to the first, but more specific.
What is a marionette?
Even some adults can’t answer this. Such a strange word, because this toy is special. A marionette is a kind of puppet. They are manipulated not by rods or by springs, but by string. By small threads, pulling on their hands, their head, and their legs. A hand, a living force, pulls on those strings from behind the stage. Though the marionette moves, the user is the one in full control.
Keep this in mind, please. Be sure you know exactly what these words mean.
As for my story, it is quite tragic. I suppose I should start when it all happened. Long ago, when I was only five years old, I was merrily skipping about my home. My mother and father, quite rich from their business, allowed me to live in a luxurious manor. The manor was very large, having three stories, with sleek red walls and polished wooden floors.
My parents were busy, but always there for me. It was comforting to know that they were close. When I found that I reached a twisted point in my life’s path, I was able to turn back and find guidance and understanding with them. I loved them dearly for their support.
That day, when I was skipping through the halls, was a very different day. I was looking for my toy. My favorite toy, to be precise. It was a small marionette. A little girl with a blue satin dress, little black shoes, violet eyes, and shiny blonde hair. I called her ‘Mina.’
I had lost her that morning, and I could not find her. I had decided to go to father to see if he had seen Mina. I was always losing her, so mother and father would usually pick her up and keep her until I came looking for her.
The door of father’s office was closed, when I found it. However, I heard a strange sound coming from the other side. It made me very curious. As a child, I did not know what a lot of things were, so I wanted to learn what these unknown things were. With this childish curiosity in mind, I slowly opened the door.
What I saw was very strange.
Father was sitting in the chair behind his desk. His head fell limply on his shoulder. His dark hair, usually slicked back and tidy, was now a frizzy mess. He was sweating bullets, and his arms fell loosely against his sides. One was on the arm rest, the other hanging over the side of the chair. His eyes were white, with red veins bulging. Spit was frothing at his mouth. His body twitched in the strangest manner.
“Father?” I inquired, stepping toward him.
He slowly raised his arm. My mind filled with dread when I realized that in his hand was a small gun. It was aimed at me.
I shrieked at the sight, then began stepping back, but fell in the process. I did not know what to do. I simply sat there, crying and screaming.
The next thing that happened made me all the more horrified. He twisted his arm backward, putting it to his own head.
He pulled the trigger, sending pieces of his own head flying from his body. All that remained was half of his skull, attached to his neck by only sinews and spine, and one eyeball falling out of the socket. He dropped the gun, and went limp. I could only scream louder. My body was paralyzed by fright.
It was like a horror scene was playing. The door slammed shut, the windowless room’s lights shattered, and any sounds from outside became silent. The room was pitch black.
Regaining some sense, I got up, running to the desk. I felt around, shoving things off and knocking them over as I did so. I finally felt a small box. A box of matches, which father used to light his cigars. I took one, sliding it against one side of the box, and got a small flame to light. I looked in panic at my surrounding. The room was still dark. I couldn’t even see the ground. All I could see was the skin of my pale hand, and some strands of my dark hair in front of my eyes. I slowly stepped forward, still crying from everything that happened.
The strangest, and scariest thing of all was what I heard next. It was a voice. Not my father’s, nor mine, but one I had never heard before. It was so quiet. I could barely hear it.
…A tragedy… So much tragedy…
I took a slow step forward, only to have my foot suddenly hit something. I bent down, picking up what I had hit. It was none other than Mina, my favorite little marionette. I began crying harder, holding the puppet tightly.
“Why?…” I asked her through my sobs. “Why did…”
Why… the voice spoke. Why did he do it… Why… Why… Why did he do it…
“Who are you?” I asked, now more afraid of this voice’s mockery. It didn’t even sound like it was asking questions. It was just repeating what I had to say in such a blank, lifeless way.
Who… Who am I… Who am… Do you know why? Why he did it?
I remained silent. I did not want to answer. I was too afraid.
“What?” I asked, wiping my tears away. The word confused me very much.
His strings… Everyone has them…
“Strings?” I repeated, still not knowing what it meant.
Everyone has strings… invisible ones… They control your limbs… Your hands, your legs, even your own mind… Everyone is like that marionette you now hold… Everyone has strings… Everyone has them…
I did not reply, but glanced down at Mina. She simply stared back with empty glass eyes.
Sadness pulled too hard…He did not want his strings anymore… So he broke them…
“I don’t understand,” I said.
He broke them… He broke his strings… He took control, and broke his strings… Can you promise me?
“Promise what?” I asked.
Promise me… you won’t break your strings…
Just hearing that made me frightened. I ran to the door, shoving it open. I only continued to run. I ran, and ran, and ran. I could not stop. I did not want to lose my strings. I did not want to break mine. I did not want to, because I saw what happened when you broke them.
For so long, I remained silent. The policemen had taken father away. Mother had never stopped crying. When I asked her about it, she shoved me away. All I had were the maids and my toys. All toys except Mina. I no longer found comfort in that damn doll. She haunted me, and the sight brought back those awful memories of what I was forced to witness.
So days turned into months, and months into years. With some help from my mother and few others, I managed to begin forgetting. It was a horrible thing, yes, but those memories began to sink into the darkest recesses of my mind.
Finally, I was so close to reaching the age of seven. The night before my birthday was full of tension. As my mother led me to my room, I continued to speak and ramble, picking her for hints and clues as to what she had planned for me.
“Haha,” she laughed at my eagerness. “Calm yourself, Deb, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow.”
“Awww, but I can’t!” I exclaimed, bouncing from the excitement.
“You should find a way,” said mother. Her voice was smooth and comforting. It made me slightly calmer.
I practically dived into my bed, still giddy and restless. Mother tucked me in, placing a small teddy-bear next to me.
“Remember the birthday rules,” mother spoke. “the day starts at seven; no earlier than that.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because if we left the schedule up to you, then we’d be up at the stroke of midnight,” she responded. “Even you need your sleep.”
“Alright,” I sighed, looking at the roof. Mother chuckled lightly, then left the room.
It took me forever to fall asleep. When unconsciousness did come over me, it didn’t last very long.
I slept until midnight. I woke up, anxiously pacing about the room. After a few minutes of this, I retreated to the bed, and fell asleep once more. I continued my slumber until three o’clock in the morning.
When I woke up again, I flinched after seeing the large shadow on the wall. I pulled the covers over my head, cowering beneath them. When I heard nothing, I slowly pulled them back again. I realized that Mina was on the windowsill. The angle of moonlight made her shadow much larger, and more ominous. I got up, and put the doll in a small toy chest.
“I don’t remember leaving you out…” I murmured. I ignored it, though, and went back to bed.
By the time dawn broke, I followed the usual birthday routine. I woke up early and waited in my bed. Once the clock struck seven, I sprung out of bed and ran to my mother’s bedroom. I jumped onto the large bed.
“Wake up!” I chimed. “It’s my birthday, mother, wake up!”
I realized that she was not there. I glanced back, looking at the door to her bathroom. I ran into the bathroom, almost slipping on the sleek beige tile. Mother was standing at the counter.
The cabinet was wide open, and the white counter was littered with spilled creams, pills, soaps, and other such things. The mirror was cracked, but it still reflected the blonde-haired woman, wearing a white dress, who stared at it. The mess was confusing, but then there was something that made my stomach churn.
Seeing her made so many memories flash before my eyes. I could practically hear the sound of a gunshot…
Mother’s eyes, once crystal blue, were completely white. They had rolled back into her skull. She was frothing at the mouth, like a savage dog. It made me scared. I ran to her, grabbing her hand and pulling on her arm.
“Mother?” I asked. “What are you doing? Come on, it’s my birthday! Let’s go celebrate! Come on… let’s go.”
She did not move. I released her, stepping back. She continued to stay motionless.
Suddenly, though, she slammed her head against the edge of the counter. Blood flew into the air, and began dripping down her face. I screamed, and stepped back. I did not know what to do.
“Stop! Stop! Stop!” I cried. “Stop!”
She did it again. There was more blood, along with a loud ‘crack.’ A few teeth fell into the sink.
Again, she slammed her head against the edge. Her forehead was deeply indented, and a shard of her broken skull was poking through her shredded skin. Her nose was hanging on by mere skin. Her teeth, visible through her gashed lips, slanted inward.
“Please!” I continued to cry. I ran forward, pulling hard on her arm. “Stop! Mother, stop!”
No use. My effort did nothing. She did it again. After this time, she fell to the ground, letting blood pour from her savagely beaten head. The front of her skull was completely burst open, allowing brain matter to gush and ooze out. One of her eyes had rolled away, hitting my foot.
I screamed louder, and ran away. However, I felt my foot squish the missing eye, and I came crashing to the ground. I could not move after realizing this. I had tripped over my mother’s own body part. I laid there, crying and screaming.
That damn voice. It was speaking again. It was burning my own brain. I could only sit there and sob, though.
“Why?!” I cried.
Why… the voice mocked. Why… Why did she…
“Why…” I spoke, barely able to speak. “Why did she do it?”
Why… Why did she do it… Do you know why?
“NO!” I screamed in response.
…Grief pulled too hard… She did not want her strings… She broke her own strings… She broke them…
I cried harder. It was the second time, and I couldn’t bear it. Against my will, I glanced back at my mother’s corpse. What I saw made me scream louder. Sitting in my mother’s exposed brains was Mina. Her glass eyes were looking right at me. I hurriedly got up, running away.
As I ran down the halls, I heard the voice say one last thing before becoming silent.
Promise me… that you’ll never break your strings…
I screamed again, letting out the wail of pure agony that was building inside me.
For so long, I lived with no parents. No one but the maids were there to raise me. I stayed away from them, though. I kept myself away from anyone. I didn’t want to grow attached to anything. I did not want to see their strings break.
Unfortunately, my birthday came again. This day brought no excitement. Now it was just a horrible reminder. That day, I had turned sixteen years old.
No presents or party, I sat in my dark room. I was at the edge of my bed, with my knees to my chest, and eyes glaring at the wall. The sight made me shake uncontrollably. Nailed into the wall, with a knife through her little chest, was Mina. Her satin dress was still stained with dark crimson colors, and I had cut off her strings.
Every day, I watched her. I watched the little beast. Sometimes for a few minutes, and sometimes for days on end. This item, once precious to me, was now stained with the blood of my dear parents. I couldn’t stand it. Every time I tried to throw her away, though, an undistinguished force stopped me. My own strings prevented me from doing it.
That was the other thing. Throughout the years of grief and anger, I realized something so obvious. Every day spent staring at Mina taught me something. Each hour acted a very brief hint. And I had kept staring until all the hints came together.
I had learned that there were no strings attached to anyone, and yet at the same time, the strings controlled almost everything they did. These strings were forged by emotions. They controlled us; controlled everything we did. Only happiness and joy could temporarily break the strings, and allow us to act freely. Strings of darkness, dark instinct-controlled emotions, are what held our souls captive. They were what manipulated us. We were the marionettes, while darkness held the paddle at the other side.
I felt these strings take control, myself. Strings of fear made me run away, strings of anger made me stab Mina, strings of grief made me isolate myself, and strings of sadness made me cry over the memories I tried so hard to repress.
However, I know how to break them. I knew how to control my own strings. The problem was that acting freely made the strings try harder to pull me back. The stronger the strings, the stronger the memories. When memories like that exist in your mind, it’s hard to have faith. You need lots of mental strength to take control, but my damaged mind was weak. It was weak from the impact of dark memories.
Those awful memories. I was trying to shove them away at that very moment. The memory of being five years old, and having to watch my father blow his brains out. Then the memory of being seven, and having to watch my mother beat herself to death. Those awful memories stained my mind. They tainted my train of thought. They refused to let go. Each day, those strings got tighter. Whenever this happened, I could hear the marionettist speak to me. The same words, over and over again. The same verse, forever stuck on replay.
Promise me… you won’t break your strings… Promise me… you won’t break your strings… Promise me… you won’t break your strings…
“Stop it…” I groaned, clutching my head.
“Stop it,” I growled. I was sick of hearing it. After all this time, my limits were finally being reached.
The wretched voice got louder. The strings were so tight, that they were practically suffocating me. These strings were new, though. They were not strings of anger or grief, nor fear or sadness. These were the suffocating wires of insanity.
…you won’t break your strings…
“Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!” I cried, falling to the floor.
“What do you want?!” I screamed, hitting my head against the ground. “Just shut up!”
Promise me… you won’t break your strings…
“I promise!” I hysterically yelled. “I promise I won’t! I won’t break them!”
After that moment, everything turned dark. I heard nothing, smelt nothing, felt nothing, and saw nothing. All of my senses had been dismantled. I was left in pure nothingness. I slowly sat up, still caught in this empty trance.
When it did come back, nothing was right. Everything smelled like rotting flesh. My skin felt like it was being poked by countless needles. I heard countless whispers, accompanied by moans and muffled screams.
What I could see was worst. The ground was moving, though I was still. The walls were rippling. The roof was swishing like water. The colors were all off. Some bloody red, some orange like fire, and some black or gray, like cinders.
I looked down at myself. My hands shook, and the skin on my arms and legs split open like countless zippers unzipping themselves. It was happening to my neck, my face, my back, my torso- as if my whole body was being skinned.
I watched the back of my shaking right hand. I watched it closely, as the skin began to split. When it did, I saw a glassy eye staring straight at me.
I began screaming hysterically, as the other hand did the same. A glassy eye was on both of my hands. They moved, looking directly at me.
Suddenly, something shot out of their dead pupils. I screamed harder when I realized that they were thick black strings. They coiled around my neck, muting my voice. They slithered about my skin, coiling around my wrists, knees, and ankles. I struggled, but it was hopeless. I fell to the ground again.
My body went completely numb. I couldn’t move. It was like my mind was alive, seeing and hearing all of this, and yet my vessel was dead. I laid limply on the ground, feeling the burn of constricting wires about my joints and neck. Nothing happened. I could only stare at this blur of hellish color and pattern.
Suddenly, though, something began pulling at me. One of the strings was being pulled up, lifting my arm with it. Next, I felt the one around my neck lift me up. This one hurt, though. The tension suffocated me, and yet it was not enough to kill me. It was just means of torture.
Now I stood with one arm extended. I was looking directly at Mina. My stomach churned upon having to look at the doll. Her dress was now black, and her glass eyes were gone, as tar oozed out of the sockets.
The strings pulled again, moving in precise patterns. They forced me to walk forward. I felt the string around my extended wrist squeeze tighter, making me sprawl my fingers. Another squeeze made me clench my fist, and grab the hilt of the knife that was buried into the toy. I was forced to yank it out. Doing so made Mina fall to the ground, and caused her porcelain body to shatter.
The strings forced me to stand with the knife raised, as if ready to stab something. Along with doing this, the marionettist spoke once more.
Promise me… you won’t break your strings… You promised… You promised you wouldn’t… Now your strings can never break… Your strings are unbreakable… Your tainted strings can never break…
I wanted to scream again, but I couldn’t.
…Now I control your strings…
This is what happened to me by making that damnable promise. I never broke my strings, nor was I able to regain control of them. I had sold them. I gave them to the marionettist- the darkness within me. A darkness designed through grief, forged with anger, created among sorrow, and fueled by fear. An untamed darkness that lived within my very soul, and yet I could not control.
Now I was doomed to be this mindless puppet for eternity. I would be forced to do the bidding of the darkness, seeing only hell until the day I died. There would be no cure, either. A mind can be broken, but not even the best therapy or medicine could fix it. Not when it is completely shattered. All that was left of it were these strings of insanity.
I left that room for the last time. Leading me deeper into hell, I mindlessly followed the will of my unbreakable strings.