Tag Archives: The Haunted Toy Store

The Haunted Toy Store… Canto 15

Canto 15 – Dolls with White Wigs

Dora McMaster had been carefully studying the doll that she thought she had somehow made and forgotten.  She seemed especially interested in the white-haired wig the doll wore.

“This wig on the doll…  Did you know that it is made with real human hair?” Dora asked Brittany.

“No, I did not.  It is the only thing that isn’t like my own daughter.  She has black hair.”

“Molly had black hair too before…”

“Before what?”

“The news came about her father, and both she and her mother took sick.  Apparently high fever, or something like it, turned Molly’s hair ghost white.”

“That’s strange.”

“Yes, and stranger still that I don’t remember ever making a white wig before.  But I have been planning to make one for the doll who is supposed to be Molly.  To remember her as…”

“…As she was before you lost your chance to save her.”

“Yes.  But where did the doll-maker who made this wig get white human hair?  And why put it on my creation in Aunt Phillia’s horrible store?”

“Is it dyed, perhaps?”

“No.  It contains strands that still have black roots, and the color all seems natural, just like Molly’s own.  But it couldn’t be made from Molly’s hair… not after the fire.”

“You will make the Molly doll with white hair?”

“Yes, of course… but where to get white-colored human hair to make such a wig?”

“Mention her own white hair,” said Molly to Brittany in a voice Dora apparently couldn’t also hear.

“You have some white hair on your own head the same color as that,” said Brittany.

“Why, yes… I do.  It will take time to grow out enough to use it without making myself bald,” Dora said, giggling to herself.

“Why do you have white hair?” Brittany whispered to the doll.

“Not here.  We will talk later in private.  I can show you at the witching hour.”

Brittany nodded to herself at the doll’s answer.  She didn’t much like how demonic and spooky the doll seemed.  But the doll was also so like Hannah, and endearing enough to make it necessary for Brittany to know everything.  In a ghost story, it is the unknown thing that scares you the most.  And it could only be a good thing to make the unknown a little more known.

Dora had taken out the pieces of a doll’s skull cap and began singing softly to herself as she began to sew and prepare the cap to have human hair added.

“Dora?  Would it be all right if I step out in the yard for some air while you do that?” Brittany asked.

“Certainly.  And thank you so much for the inspiration.”

Brittany took the doll with her out onto the veranda in the back of the house opposite the flower garden.

“Okay, Molly.  I need some answers.”

“Honest answers?  Or do you prefer to be lied to?”

“Honest answers, of course!”

“About what, then?”

“Why did you bring me here?”

“You mean to Dora’s house?”

“I mean, this time… this place… this world?”

“I paid the toy man to get my momma back again.”

“What?  What does that have to do with me?”

“The toy man said that if I chose you to play with, that could help me get momma back.”

“Play with me?  What does that mean?”

“I don’t know all the details… yet.  But you are alive… and my momma is not.  I need to use you to make her alive again.”

Brittany stared at the smiling porcelain face.  The creepy smile chilled her to the bone.

Leave a comment

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

The Haunted Toy Store… Canto 14

Canto 14 – En el Mercado de Dallas

Rogelio was definitely in la Tierra de los Muertos, the Land of the Dead.  The general scene around him was black.  The ground, the sky, the distance… all darkest black.  The buildings, trees, and other physical features were painted in with lots of shades of gray, the sparse highlights being white.  Rogelio himself was still naked, riding the skeletal horse with white bones and flesh of nearly transparent gray.  He could feel the leather saddle under him as if he was naked, but he did have a semi-transparent appearance of grungy, homemade clothing, and a nearly transparent gray cowboy hat that looked beat up and droopy all around.

“So, this is what Texas looked like in your day, before cameras were invented?” he asked Steven. Mainly to test if Steven was still there in his head.

“Of course not!  We had cameras then.  Just not around here.  And what you’re seeing is the long-dead world of the past through inadequate living-human eyes from the present world.  Nothing that lived then is still alive in the here and now.  So, all you can see is the bones of the dead world.”

“But this is Dallas?”

“The outskirts…  It was a big city for the time, but much smaller than the Dallas you live in.  We’re headed for the place I first met her… the Mercado.”

“The marketplace?”

“One of them, yes.”

“And you mean you met Yesenia there?”

“No, I mean Imelda, the girl I fell in love with.”

I continued to wonder at the people I saw as we entered the mercado.  They were all skeletons of varied colors with only the merest gray outlines of the clothing and hats they wore.  There were many cowboy hats like mine and many more Mexican sombreros.  There were also three civil war kepis that were probably confederate, but you couldn’t tell by the gray color because all clothing was made of lines of gray.

I dismounted from the horse outside of what was obviously a general store.  I mean, of course, Steven made me dismount.  I felt kinda funny walking around naked wearing only ghost clothes, but when anybody looked at me, they weren’t looking with human eyes, but only the dark eye sockets of their colored skulls.

And then I saw her.  It was Yesenia naked, dressed only in what was obviously supposed to be a fancy hooped skirt.  She was with a bright pink skeleton lady similarly dressed in what was likely an expensive hooped skirt.

Steven made us saunter over to the display box of mangos where Yesenia was looking at the ghost-gray produce.

“I bet those mangos aren’t near as sweet as you, hon,” Steven said.

“Don’t let mama hear you talking to me, gringo.  I am not allowed to speak with the Americanos from England.”

“Ah, but you do seem to speak English.”

“I do.  Father taught me.  It helps our business that I can speak it good.”

“What’s your family business?”

“Vacas y caballos… ah, I mean, cows and horses.  We have a ranch out west of town.”

“My name is Steven.  I herd for Bill Davies’ Bar W Ranch, to the East.”

“How old are you, Steven of Bar W?”

“Fifteen.  How old are you?”

“Fourteen, but soon to be having my quinceañera.”

“Oh, wow!  That’s going to be a big day for you, huh?”

“Oh, yes.  I wish I could invite you.  But mama won’t allow it.”

“What’s your name, pretty lady?”

“Imelda Dolores Gonzalez.”

“Where are you staying tonight, Imelda Dolores?”

“At Zuniga’s Inn down the street.”

“If you are awakened at midnight, it will be me.”

She looked at us and blushed in the most heart-stabbingly beautiful way.  I knew in an instant that Steven was completely in love with her, and he was capable of doing really crazy things about that love.

The pink skeleton that was obviously Imelda’s mama was coming back out of the store.

“Run away quickly so we are not discovered!”

“Midnight, my lovely… remember!”

“Perhaps.” That beautiful blush returned to her face.  Steven made my legs run back to the horse.  We mounted and Steven waved our cowboy hat at Imelda/Yesenia from a distance.

Leave a comment

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

The Haunted Toy Store… Canto 13

Canto 13 – The Doll’s Bargain

The owl-guy had demanded that Maria work for another half hour dusting toys that apparently hadn’t been moved even an inch in five decades.  And when she was done, the toys seemed to have accumulated the exact same amount of dust as they had possessed before she started cleaning.

Stan had spent time talking and prodding the weird old man all the time Maria had been working, and then when it was over, the private dick wouldn’t even tell her what they had been gossiping about.

She went straight to her room, her laptop and her cell phone, as soon as she was home.

Mom was no help.  She had gone to bed the moment that she had drug herself home from work.

And then… the phone rang.


“Ma-Maria?  C-can I talk to you… please?”

“Who is this?”

A little girl was crying into the phone on the other end.

“Hannah?  Is that you?”

“Yeah… you said I could… call you?”

“Of course, I did.  But what’s the matter?”

“I have to tell you something.  Something terrible.”

“What is it?”

“It’s something terrible… that I did.”

“What did you do?”

“If I tell you… You will never forgive me.”

“Yes, I will.  I promise.”

“You can’t.  Daddy won’t forgive me if I tell him.”

“Please, Hannah.  You can tell me.  And maybe I can help you tell your daddy in a way that will make him forgive you…”

“Really?  You would do that?  For me?”

“I promise.  I like you, Hannah.  You are a nice little girl.”

“No, I’m not.  I made a deal with a Lonely One.”

“A Lonely One?”

“She was a ghost… err… something… inside a really cool doll.  And she… she was…”  Hannah dissolved in tears, unable to finish the sentence.

“You can talk to me, Hannah.  You can tell me anything.  I wish you were here right now.  I could hold you… hug you.  Make you feel better.”

“The doll was made of hard white stuff.  And she was beautiful… She looked just like me… but her hair was all white.”

“And the doll did something?”

“She asked me for something.”

“What did she want?”

“She asked if she could play with my mom.  She said if I just let her play with Mom for a while, she could make Mommy love me better…  She said…  But she lied to me.”

“What was the lie?”

“She was supposed to give Mommy back to me.  But when… when she was done playing her tricks, Mommy was sleeping on the floor and couldn’t wake up.  I let a monster play with my mom.”

“She tricked you, Hannah.  You didn’t do anything bad.  She did.  It was not your fault.”

“But, can your daddy get my mom back from the ghosts?  I mean… the Lonely Ones.  She said they were not ghosts, but Lonely Ones.”

“Stan is a very good detective.  He’s solved cases nobody ever thought he could.  If anybody can get your mom back, he’s the one who can do it.”

“You promise me?”

“I can’t promise for sure.  But if he can’t do it, then nobody can.”

“Thank you, Maria.  I love you,” Hannah said in a tiny, strained voice.

“I love you too, Hannah.  Hang in there.  I’m gonna tell Stan.  Then we’ll figure out these Lonely Ones you are talking about.”

Maria spent the next half hour listening to the little girl cry over the phone.  She tried to comfort her whenever she was given the chance, but it was mostly just being there to listen that mattered.  Maria was crying too by the time she went to the living room to tell Stan.

Leave a comment

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

The Haunted Toy Store… Canto 12

Canto 12 – The Interview with the Ghost Owl

“So, somebody’s going to pay you for all of this?” Maria asked in the car before they reached the toy store.

“The Merriweathers want their boy Mark back.  They are going to pay me the standard investigation fee for every day it takes to find him.  Of course, I have to find him to earn the money,” Stan answered while turning the corner in his run-down little Ford Fiesta.

“What about Rogelio’s parents?”

“The cops told them that he’s a probable runaway.  They didn’t seem interested in paying to get him back.  The dad says that if Rogelio ran away to be with Yesenia, then he’s following his heart.  And if he’s been murdered, they are not anxious to find that out.  Of course, no body has turned up for either of the missing kids.”

“And the little black girl?”

“To be honest, I got a real bad vibe from that stepfather.  They call him Poppa Dark, but his real name’s DeAndre Rork.  He doesn’t like answering questions.  And he’s probably the killer, if my instincts are right.”

Maria shivered as they turned into the parking lot near the toy store.

“Two dollars for the rest of the day,” said the attendant.

Stan grumbled something about wishing for an empty parking meter as he fumbled in his pocket for change.  Then he handed it to the attendant.

“Park in F13.”

Stan and Maria parked and went into the toy store.

The man behind the counter looked to be old… the indeterminate age sort of old.  He had white hair, a wrinkled white face, and glasses that made his eyes look huge, a magnifying effect.

“Eule Gheist?” Stan asked.

“Yes.  I’m still me.”

“We need to ask you a few questions.”

“The young lady still owes me a few hours of cleaning.”

“I finished picking up the mess I made that day, trying to open that door, I mean,” Maria said defensively.

“How about dusting the shelves where the wood goods sit?  That could count as another of your hours.”

Maria gave Geist a pouty-lip look, took the feather duster from him, and headed for the wood goods.

“So, Eule, how many toys did you sell today?”


“And how many have you sold this week?”


“This month?”

“Again, none.”

“Not a very profitable business, it seems.”

“Mr. Mephisto is a collector of rare antique toys.  We are not in business to sell toys.  He is a billionaire, and he uses this business as a tax-write-off.”

“Hmm.  How much do you make working here, if I may ask.”

“I make nothing.”

“Then how do you live?”

“Quite well for a barn owl that was made human by magic.”

”That’s just a tale you tell kids, right?”

“If that’s what you choose to believe.”

“A barn owl?”

“What the Latinos call a Lechuza.

“Sure they do.  Did the police ask you about a boy named Mark Merriweather?  Or a girl named Shandra -Johnson-Rork?”

“Yes.  They were in here, apparently right before they decided to disappear.”

“Did you see where they went?”

“Not where, exactly, but I know they left with a dark gentleman.”

“Did you tell the police that?

“Yes.  It seemed to be exactly what they wanted to hear.”

“Wait a minute… did you say a black man?”

“Of course not.  He was dark of personality, not skin color.”

“Did the police verify that too?”

“Of course not.  They heard dark and accepted that as what they wanted to hear.”

“So, what do you mean by dark?”

“Like the devil is dark.”

“Are you saying the devil took them?”

“Something like that.”

As Stan was pondering that, Maria came back to the front of the store with a decorated paper skull like the one she had told him about before..

“This is the one Rogelio was talking to,” she said, showing him the decorative thing.

“Eule?  What do you know about that?”

“It’s cursed.  It’s also a family heirloom.”

“Can we borrow it to study it?”

“Help yourself.  But don’t damage it in any way.”

“Because it’s valuable?”

“No.  Because it’s cursed.  And it can take revenge.”

Leave a comment

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

The Haunted Toy Store… Canto 11


Canto 11 – The Safe House

“Where do you expect me to go in this world that isn’t even in my… time?”

Molly looked at her with those creepily lifelike glass eyes.  “There was a place I could safely go when I was alive.  Let’s go there.”

Brittany was in a fog as the doll guided her down one street and then onto another.  They kept going past all those clunky-looking old-time cars with lumpy and rounded body parts, like out of a black-and-white gangster movie.  The ladies all wore dresses with big shoulders and puffy sleeves.  The men were mostly older and mostly all wearing those old-time hats like Indiana Jones or something… “fedora” was the word stuck in Brittany’s mind.

“This house!  This is Dora McMaster’s house.”  The doll pointed at an old Victorian-style house with a rounded, tower-like structure on the left side of the front of the house.  The whole thing was painted slate gray with black trim.

Brittany knocked at the door, rapping half-heartedly with her knuckles.

The door opened, and a woman with a bee-hive hairdo and reading glasses answered the door.

“Oh, hello.  How can I…?”  The woman swallowed audibly as she saw the doll.

“Is something wrong?” Brittany asked.

The woman held her right hand in front of her mouth.  “That’s Molly’s doll…  But it can’t be.  I haven’t even finished painting the face of it yet.”

“You… you made this doll?”

“No!  That isn’t possible.  Come in… I’ll show you why.”

Brittany followed the woman into her home.  Through the entryway and into a sitting room where there were hundreds of porcelain dolls, only half of them finished.  In the center of the room on a worktable stood the hairless head and upper torso of the very doll that Brittany held in her arms.

“This is the doll I was making for poor little Molly.  It is a portrait of her.  I made it myself, and shared the design with no one, although I do have the mold for the head in the basement next to my porcelain kiln.”

“You’re a doll-maker?”

“Yes, and if you have stolen one of my designs, I am not happy about it.”

“You have to tell her lies to make sense of it,” said the doll.  “She will never understand otherwise.”

“I can’t lie…” said Brittany aloud.

“I should hope not.”

“You obviously made this doll.  It looks like my own daughter Hannah, which is why I bought it.  She somehow must look exactly like your Molly.”

“Well, if that’s the truth, then that doll must have my mark on it.  Show me the back of her neck.”

Brittany handed her the doll.

Mrs. McMaster’s eyes bulged as she spotted her own signature in blue porcelain glaze at the base of the doll’s neck where the ball joint fit neatly into the neck socket.

“I apparently did make this doll.  Did you come here to buy new clothes for it?”

“I don’t want any new clothes,” said the doll to Brittany.  “I prefer to be nude since the fire.”

“I don’t really have any money right now.”  That, at least, was not a lie.  “But I would like to learn more about this Molly who looks like my Hannah.”

“Oh, of course.  But, may I ask…?  Where did you get this doll?  I don’t remember making it or selling it to you.”

“Um, Aunt Phillia’s?”

“Oh, that explains a lot.  That old devil’s toy store never sells anything that I didn’t give them for free.  I still don’t remember making one for anyone whose daughter looks so much like poor Molly Beeman.”

“Tell me more about Molly…”

“Ah, the poor little thing…  She would come around here looking so lost and forlorn after her daddy died in the North Africa campaign.  The Germans killed him with artillery.  He was in Tunisia with the 1st Armored Division.  Molly’s mother took it too hard and went off the deep end…”  Dora’s eyes filled with tears.  She suddenly seemed to have lost the ability to talk.

“Something terrible happened?  A fire perhaps?”

“I could have saved Molly if I had known…  Oh, she could’ve lived here with me…  Such a precious little thing.”

Dora was openly weeping now.  Brittany put a hand on her shoulder.

“Molly died in a fire?”

“Yes.  Her mother burned their house down with Molly in it… on purpose.”  Brittany hugged Dora as the doll maker wept.

“Did the mother die too?”

“Not in the fire.  They called it murder.  She was hanged before the month was out.” Brittany’s stomach felt cold as the truth sunk in.  The porcelain doll seemed to be cuddling against Mrs. McMaster’s shoulder as the poor woman wept.  Was this thing of porcelain also a thing of evil?  What did it want?  And what was it doing to them?  Brittany intended to learn.

Leave a comment

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

The Haunted Toy Store… Canto 10

Canto 10 – Rogelio and Steven

Rogelio found himself standing naked in a dark, night-time alley.  A horse was tied up to a hitching post nearby and eating oats out of a wooden bucket.  But the horse, though moving and apparently alive, was nothing but the skeleton of a horse with a ghostly outline of mane, flesh, and saddle overlaid upon it.

“What have I gotten into?”

“I paid the toy man the usual fee, and he gave me you to play with as the toy I need for this,” said Steven, apparently from inside his own head.

“What are you?  Are you a ghost possessing me, or something?”

“We don’t use the word ghost, actually.”

“Spook, then?”

“If you must know, we call ourselves the Lonelies.  Or, as you will soon see, the Bones of the Lonelies.”

“What are you if you are not ghosts?”

“We are the ones left alone when we died.  Those who died a terrible, lonely death.  Or were cursed.  Or simply did not have the love during life that life owed us.”

“How sad for you.  But what do you need me for?  And why am I standing here naked in an alley with a horse made of bones?”

“I need your body to do what I must do.  Just as Imelda needs the body she is playing with.  But we don’t need your clothes.  In 1875 nobody wears impractical crap like that.  And everybody is dead in my time compared to your time, so all you can see of them is their bones and the memory of their flesh.”

“Like the horse over there?”

“That’s Blue, my horse.  We’re gonna ride him to the quinceañera.”

“What quinceañera?”

“The birthday celebration of the girl I have to kill.”

“Kill?  What do you mean kill?”

“Don’t worry.  I will explain it before we go. That’s just a simple time-ride on old Blue.    I will show you everything that happened.”

“That’s why Yesenia and I are both here in the flesh?  You’re going to kill her?”

“I must kill Imelda.  But Imelda is using the living girl to relive the quinceañera celebration.”

“You have to let me go.  I won’t help you do that!”

“You can’t go anywhere until I am done with you.  And I will not be done with you until I stab Imelda to death once again.”

“You’ve done this before?”

“Hundreds of times.” Rogelio was suddenly sick to his stomach. But he couldn’t throw up.  Steven was in complete control of his body.  He was, apparently, merely along for the ride.

Leave a comment

Filed under horror writing, humor, novel, NOVEL WRITING

The Haunted Toy Store… Canto 8

Canto 8 – The Slink

On the car ride home, Maria worked up the nerve to ask her stepfather a few things.

“Why did you lie to those people, Stan?”

“I didn’t lie.”

“You were pretending to be that woman’s friend.  You never met her before.  How is that not a lie?”

“I only said I knew Brittany from her charity work.  When I researched her, I found that information about the charities.  So, that was exactly how I knew about her.  I can’t help it if he interpreted my words differently than that.”

“So, you really want the man and his little girl to think of us as friends and call us?”

“We need to listen to anything they have to say.  If we are going to learn anything about why this woman was struck down in this way, it will come from what they want to talk about when they want to talk about the incident.”

“But why bother at all?  It doesn’t really have anything to do with the case we really want to solve.  We need to find out about Rogelio and Yesenia.”

“Strange things have been happening in and around that toy store for a long, long time.  I have a suspicion we will need to find out how more than one of those things happened in order to figure out what your boyfriend is caught up in.”

“So, what do you really think happened to Mrs. Nguyen?”

“I don’t know anything for sure yet.  You have to be open to anything as a possible clue.  Once you find some things out, you follow those leads and try to eliminate them as paths to the answer.  You eliminate all the false paths, and the one you are left with is the one that will lead you to the answer.”

“It makes you sound like Sherlock Holmes.”

“It should sound like logic.  In fact, it is the methodical application of logic that Sherlock might’ve called “ratiocination.”

“What ratio-whatsit do you already have about Rogelio?”

“Well, you said he seemed to be hearing voices in his head before he disappeared.”

“Yeah.  He seemed to be talking to a papier-mâché skull.  You know.  One of those Day-of-the-Dead Mexican holiday things.”

“Did you hear it say anything?”

“No.  It was just a toy on a shelf.”

“But was it really?  Do you know for sure he wasn’t talking to someone, somehow?”

“Like how?”

“A miniature radio?”



“Be serious!”

“I am.  At the start, you don’t throw out any possibility.  It is the weirdest ones that make it hardest to find the real answer.  You can’t discount anything without evidence.”

“Okay.  I see your point.  I hope it’s ghosts, actually.  That would be more fun than a miniature radio to contact Yesenia in the alley.”

“Yes.  We might want to see if we can eliminate the radio thing first.”

“You going to that toy store to check on it?”

“We are going.  I need your eyes and ears and brain there too.”

So, it was settled.  The investigation had a new lead to track down.

Leave a comment

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

The Haunted Toy Store… Canto 4

Canto 4 – The Marionettes

Shandra was waiting for him with a paper bag full of peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.  She was running away from home.  There was no other choice about it.  They were never gonna beat her ass again like that, whether she deserved it or not.  And she was eight now.  She could damn well take care of her own self.

But Mark mattered.  She was gonna need him to run away too.  Through all the darkest times in first grade, Mark sitting next to her in Miss Immelmann’s class was the only reason she was still alive.  You don’t let go of somebody like that once you find them.  And he claimed he liked her too, didn’t he?  Enough that when she asked him, he showed her his little pink mushroom cap of a dick.  And he didn’t ask to see her little black coochie in return.  That was like love or something from a white man.  Even if he was just a little boy.  And when she asked him about running away together after school got out, he said yes, didn’t he?

But where the hell was he?  School was over three hours ago.  And still no sign.

And then he was there, pedaling up on his shiny silver bicycle.  He was wearing that blue jacket of his.  And a baseball cap covered his wavy blond hair.  That beautiful blond hair.  Shandra loved how it felt when he let her comb it with her hand.  And he smiled at her as he used his bike chain to secure his bike to the lamp post on Mockingbird Lane.

“What took ya so long?”

“Mom asked too many questions.  I had a bad time sneaking out.  I didn’t tell her about you or the plan or anything.”

“That was smart of you.”

“You aren’t mad are you, Shandra?”

“Well, sure I am!  I worked hard making all these sandwiches to bribe you with.  I used all Poppa Dark’s peanut butter, so he’ll kill me if the cops catch us and take me home.”

“You didn’t have to bribe me.  I said I’d follow you anywhere, and I meant it.”

“Well, we are gonna need food on this journey.  We ain’t never coming back home again if we can help it.”

“Where are we going to run away to?”

“Well, I ain’t figured that out yet.”

“Let’s go in that toy store and look around while we think about it.”

“That’s the Haunted Toy Store, Mark!  Nobody goes in Aunt Phillia’s Toy Emporium unless they want to disappear from the face of the earth.”

“Well, we are running away to Europe or Mexico or somewhere…  Maybe it’s a good place to start laying low so the cops don’t know where we are.”

“Yeah, they would never think of finding a kid in a toy store.”  She frowned at him and let that last statement sink into his little, thick head.

“…But, a haunted toy store.”

“Good point.  Let’s go.”

She took him by the hand and, carrying the bag of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the other hand, she led him into the store.

The spooky old guy at the counter grinned at them and blinked his owl eyes.

“We’ve been expecting you.”

“What?” said Mark, sounding shocked.

“How did you know we were coming here?” Shandra said sharply.

“A little mouse told me.”

“Oh, yeah?  Did he say why we were coming here?”

“He said you were trying to escape from a bad situation, and he knew this shop specializes in helping out in such situations.”

Shandra was a bit stunned by that.

“You know what marionettes are?” said the creepy guy.

“Puppets,” said Mark.

“Puppets controlled by strings.  Some people are like that… controlled by strings, I mean.”

“Yeah, so?” challenged Shandra.

“So, go see the marionettes.  That will be of help to you.”

Shandra led Mark by the hand around the corner to where the marionettes hung on their strings.  It was a wall full of creepy, round-headed people with big, round eyes.  They were staring down at Shandra and Mark.  There were kings and queens, goofy-looking idiots with buck teeth, spindly men with bushy beards and what were probably soldier’s uniforms, ballerinas, clowns, flowers in flower pots with leafy arms and big-eyed faces on their blossoms, lots of ridiculous things like that.

“They are telling us to look at the big trunk there on the floor,” said Mark.

“I didn’t hear them say anything,” said Shandra.

“They want us to get into the trunk.”


“They say they will help us find a new home.”

Shandra didn’t want to believe a word of it at first.  She didn’t hear the wooden heads say anything at all.  This weren’t no fantasy movie with magic and junk in it.

“They say it’s the only way,” Mark pleaded.

So, only because they were desperate to escape the city…  And Mark seemed to think it was a good idea.

The trunk was big enough for both of them to sit in it if she faced Mark and put her legs over his legs.  They both leaned towards each other, and the lid came down by itself.  The lock clicked as if someone had turned a key.

“Uh-oh,” said Shandra, “We’re screwed!”

Then the lock clicked again.

“So, Mr. Mephisto, how about these?” said the creepy guy who ran the store.

“Ah, perfect!” said Mr. Mephisto, lifting the two puppets, Mark and Shandra, out of the trunk by their strings.

Leave a comment

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