The Haunted Toy Store… Canto 22

Canto 22 – The Puppets on the Wall

The puppets in the workshop were all hung up by the strings on the workshop wall.  There was a triple row of pegs to hang them from and they were basically all there.  All hanging from strings and all in their bare wooden forms without costumes or wigs.

Shandra woke up with a start.  She shook her wooden head awake.  Sawdust flew out of her ears.

“Mark!  Mark?  Are you here too?”

“Yeah.  To your left.”

Shandra turned her wooden head to see Mark smiling at her.

“You been awake for long?”

“No, Shandra.  You woke me up by calling my name.”

She would’ve smiled back at him, but her face was made of wood and was fixed in a frown.

Below them both and to the right they heard a female voice crying.  It was weeping softly.

“Who is that down there?”  Shandra roared.

“That’s the Gingerbread Witch you burned up on stage,” said the mouse puppet directly on Shandra’s right.

Shandra glared at the mouse.  It turned its little gray head away.

“So, what you cryin’ about down there, Wicked Witch?”  Shandra growled.

“You burned me,” replied a shaky little voice.

“But it weren’t real… was it?”

“Everything that happens on that stage is real.  Mr. Mephisto controls reality.  How you think we all got to be puppets?” said the mouse angrily.

“I was just a runaway girl whose parents never looked for her.  Mr. Mephisto promised to find a foster home for me when my punishment as a puppet is done,” sobbed the witch puppet.  “Now, when he puts me back in my real body, I will probably be horribly burned all over my body.”

Shandra’s little wooden tummy immediately turned to ice… well, it felt like that anyway.

“I didn’t know…” Shandra started to say.  But then she got angry.  “Why didn’t you defend your little timid self, then?”

“I couldn’t.  You are so forceful and scary.”

“Wait a minute,” said Mark, “you are saying all the puppets here are being punished for something?”

“Yeah.  Running away from home is a sin that the Devil punishes.”

“I was a runaway too,” said the mouse.

“I ain’t no sinner,” growled Shandra.

Mr. Mephisto was suddenly there laughing.  “You burned poor little Dierdre here.  You put a hit out on Poppa Dark.  You are definitely a puppet for a reason, little girl.”

“I’m gonna run away from here,” declared Shandra.

“You can’t.  Your arms and legs only work on stage,” said Mephisto.

“You wouldn’t leave me here alone?” asked Mark meekly.

“No, of course not.  What did Mark do wrong, by the way, Devil Man?”

“He ran away from loving parents to be with you, an evil influence.”

“So, we are in Hell, then?”

“No.  More like purgatory.  But for a reason.  The angels in Hell are fallen angels, but still angels made by God.”

“Are you sending me to a home all burned?” whined the witch.

“You came here in 1925, Diedre.  You are 103 years old now.”

“But you control reality, Devil Man,” Shandra said.  “You could put her back as a child… and not all burned up, either.”

“That’s right.  I could.”  Mr. Mephisto grinned.

“So, why are we really here?” Shandra asked.

“Because God is a just god.  Some will earn redemption.  And some will get the punishment they deserve.”

“And what if we don’t believe in God?” Shandra growled.

“Well, whatever…  He definitely believes in you.  For good or ill.”


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Filed under ghost stories, horror writing, humor, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

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