For days, I hadn’t been receiving mail… But the flag was finally up! I got mail! I burst out of my front door and opened the mailbox. Inside was a small parcel and a letter attached to it. I opened the letter, anonymously sent…
Hasn’t it been a long time since we have talked? You should be about 20 years old already, right? Anyway, I got a new house full of these intricate little details that will allow you to find me. (I still remember the time when you told me how much you wanted to play an adventure game when I got a new house.) Remember, I am in the last room. By the way, there are a lot of rooms, and in every room, you will find clues that will help you move to another room. Please come visit me anytime today.
– Your Best Pal
I had a best pal. Her name was Lucy, but she moved to Australia five years ago. It was even more curious that the letter was sent by my “best pal” from the address of my school. Rumour has it that she had, in fact, come back to start a strange paranormal business really close to our old school. I knew there was something to do with making china dolls, but I couldn’t seem to remember it all. So I decided to set off at once, but before that, I needed to open the parcel. It was packed really tight, as if something would break.
I opened the parcel carefully and found a china doll inside that looked just like me. A little me? How scary is that? Beside it lay a small note: Bring me, it said. I was hesitant, but I did as I was told. I got into the car and looked back into the box and found that the doll was standing up. I never stood it up before.
As I neared my old school, I realised that there was a small hut at the back of the school. The doll was pointing at it. That had to be my “best pal’s” new house. Behind the looming, gothic tower of the school, the hut seemed eerie. I didn’t even want to get any closer than I was to this house. The tower was exactly how I left it when I graduated: the gargoyles still as magnificent, the stained glass windows still as shiny, the doors still as tall. But something in the air just made everything off. I never remembered the hut being there, but it seemed really old. Two eyes stared at me from beside the hut. What was it?
Anyhow, I made up my mind. I had to go in there to investigate. First, I had to check whether the small but quite handy, tactical knife my dad gave me was in my pocket. We never went anywhere without it, for we were looked upon as allies with the enemies in the civil war.
I opened the front door as slowly as possible, trying not to make a sound, but the door gave a chilling creak, and bats flew out into the warm summer air. As I stepped into the hut, I realised that it was very dusty but well furnished. I picked my way through what seemed like a never ending hallway, but there were no rooms on either side of the hall. Only pictures with ghastly creatures all staring down at their intruder, in this case, me, hanging everywhere and anywhere you could imagine. At last, the moment that I had been waiting for, a door appeared up front. When I reached out to turn the brass knob, I heard a deafening crash behind me.The main door was locked! Oh, why did I have to walk into this trap? How was I supposed to leave now?
A gust of cool wind blew past me, and the box I had brought with me opened slightly, just wide enough for me to take a glimpse at the doll trying to get out. On its back was a small note — never saw that before — it told me to let the doll lead the way. How is the doll supposed to lead the way? I thought. Just then, the doll jumped out of the box with a clank and pushed open the door to my first room. It was surprisingly big, only a bit smaller than a ballroom. On the far side of the wall, there was an engraved riddle and two doors. The riddle said, “In one room, there is a blazing, hot sun that will burn you to ashes; and in the other, there is a fearsome dragon that will eat you alive. Which door would you choose to open?” Both were very bad endings, but the sun always sets, so… I’d have to wait until sundown.
It was not a long wait, in fact it was only a few minutes before the room with the sun became dark. The sun was actually artificial, made by the brightest lights you could ever imagine. I eased open the door, avoiding the spot where the sun had just been. I darted to the door standing wide open on the opposite side of the place where I was just standing. Suddenly, a figure stepped out into view. It was a doll, a life-size china doll! I gasped. He wore an outfit for riding, his eyes gleamed.
“Come and choose your horse,” the doll taunted, “You will race with me. The person who arrives to the door first wins, and gets a pass to leave this room.” He smirked.
There were two horses, one with three legs, and one with a crooked neck. Their coats were rough, and their eyes were glazed over. How was I supposed to win? I got my strategy ready and decided to use the horse with a crooked neck, since I only had to ambush the dolls horse by riding my horse a bit slower than his. Once the race started, I reflected a light from above against my knife to catch my horse’s attention. Then, I rode the horse a bit slower, and plunged my blade into the doll’s horse’s back legs. It slowed to a stop.
“You evil woman!” the doll screamed, “You outsmarted me! You will pay for this!” And with that, the door appeared in front of me, and I stepped into the next room.
I was in a library. There was a book sticking out of one of the shelves, and I took it down. I opened it, and it turned out to be a box full of letters. I found my name on all of them. They were the letters that I wrote to my friend while we were on vacation. I flipped to the last letter — It was addressed to me! I opened it up carefully, not wanting to make even one crease in the paper.
We are sending this to inform you about something that you should have known about us. We are spies for our nation. Since the war has started, we want you to know that we will be on a mission for our country. Because your best friend’s (who I think is called Lucy, correct me if I am wrong) parents are allies for the opposing country, we may have to kill them. I am sorry for having to do this, but Lucy’s parents wanted to keep the leader who persecuted people for no reason.
– Daddy and Mommy
Was that why my dearest friend had decided to stay and start this business? Was she really this mad to not even think of talking to me about this whole thing? Ah, now I remember the rest of the rumour: She was supposedly making dolls that would suck up all the strength and the soul of someone just for sacrificial purposes. Now that was not how I remembered her to be like. I moved to put the box back in its rightful place. As I pushed it into position, the whole shelf moved, opening the way into the next room.
It was a warm room, with a small brick fireplace, and new leather seatings. My doll plunked onto a nice cushioned seat, leaving me to sit on the hard wooden chair, but when I sat down, I fell through the chair. Was this a hallucination created to make me go crazy?
Then the doll spoke. “I see, you have found out the truth to this room, but no, you will not go crazy. You’ll only lose your strength to me!” How did the doll know what I was thinking about? “With every room that you escape from, you will lose a tiny bit of your strength that I will take in. That is why I am able to talk to you right now… By the way, to escape this room, you will have to find the key and gather all the strength you have to pick it up and leave the room. If you don’t use up all your strength, then you won’t be able to see your folks again… It’s your choice, use your strength and try to save both yourself and your folks; but if you stay in this room for too long, all three of you will die!”
With that, the doll picked itself up and disappeared into the fireplace. The fireplace! That had to be the door for me to escape from this room. Though if I were to exist for a second in this room, I might use all my strength. I had to find the key first. I scanned the room and found a small penny coloured thing glistening on one of the shelves. It was the key! I picked myself up and ran to the closet, using all my strength and focusing it on the key. It floated upwards. Now all I had to do was to guide the key to the lock and open the door. I slowly brought the key to the fireplace. Then I found the keyhole right on top of it and pushed it in. It turned automatically. All at once, a cold wind blew from behind me, sending me plummeting into a candle-lit room.
There were bodies lying everywhere in the room, from adults to teenagers, even babies! Dolls were sticking out of their mouths. Their eyes were rolled back, deep into their skulls, and they stank of rotting flesh. The dolls all stared at me with their glistening marble eyes, their mouths curled up to form evil smiles, triumph reflected in their well-polished pointed teeth. A shiver ran down my spine. I was confused, whoever did this to these young people must be a cold blooded person! A door banged open, and a bruised and cut couple were dragged out. Both had looks of anguish in their eyes. Their looks rang a bell in my mind. They were my parents.
A voice rang out of the darkness, “Finally, we meet again! Though this time, we meet not in a happy mood, but in a vengeful spirit. Your parents killed mine, leaving me with no food, no shelter, no nothing. So I had to rely on the souls of these people to survive. It was a hard life at first, but I grew used to it. Soon after I got settled in with these corpses, I realised that I will only have the strength to revive my parents when I find the family that took my childhood away from me.”
I screeched, “You’re going to kill my family? What did we do? I don’t think that my family would ever want to kill someone’s parents. They care for people rather than kill them!” I said urgently. “Please don’t do anything to them! Please!”
“Charlotte, patience,” she said tauntingly. “Going on. At such an early age, I had to find my way around, but I was soon able to get the help of my faithful servants. Listen Charlotte, it is I, Lucy, who seeks revenge upon you and your family.”
As she said that, she stepped confidently out of the shadows. Her long hair tumbled around her shoulders, and her black cloak swept the cold stone ground majestically. Her lustrous gleaming eyes shone with a hint of power over everyone. A knife glistened and glowed from underneath the cloak, her long fingers wrapped tightly around the handle, “Long time no see, Charlotte.”
I couldn’t take it anymore. I stepped forwards, advancing towards Lucy, my tactical knife held tight in my hands.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Not so fast, Charlotte!” said Lucy, stopping me in my tracks. “There are consequences to this. You can try killing me, but if you don’t succeed, your doll will suck your soul out of your body. Remember, your strength is already running out! Also, the reason why I didn’t want to tell you the thing about my new business is because you would have most definitely disagreed on it. Adding on, it would allow you to know exactly how to avoid having your soul sucked out of your body.” She ruefully smiled at me and said, “There goes your parents!”
Then, unexpectedly, she pulled out a doll that looked exactly the same as my dad, but just as she was about to make the doll suck up my dad’s soul, I hurled myself against her, sending the doll flying through the air and crashing to the floor, shattering into a million pieces.
“Don’t you dare do that!” I said.
A sleek, black cat leaped out of the shadows and stalked into the candle-lit room. The two eyes looking at me from beside the hut must have been this cat.
“Cat! Get that wretched creature away from me!” Lucy said.
At last, I found Lucy’s weakness: cats. I picked the cat up gently and stroked it. Protect me from her will you, I thought to the cat. If I didn’t see incorrectly, the cat winked at me.
Interrupting my thoughts, Lucy said calmly, “Daydreaming again, aren’t you, Charlotte dear?”
“Don’t call me that!” I shouted angrily. “You have no right to call me that, Lucy!”
“Oh, really?” and with that, she pulled out another doll.
Every detail on it was matched to what my mom looked like. Just then, the cat tensed and leaped in a perfect arc into the doll, wrenching it from Lucy’s grasp, and flinging it into the air. The cat landed meekly and sat staring at Lucy, while calmly licking her paws. Job done, the cat seemed to say. But Lucy still had the power to kill me! I realised that with every blow that Lucy received, the more cracks appeared on the dolls lined up behind her. I had to destroy all the dolls. Punching each of the dolls, I noticed that Lucy was staring helplessly at me, her arms hanging limp at her sides. I almost felt sorry for her. No! I had to be persistent.
As the last doll was destroyed, Lucy slowly disappeared, screaming, her hair tangled, her cloak stripped to pieces, and her eyes glazed over. I defeated her! I wanted to scream out loud, but I knew I had to keep quiet, because Lucy still had other dolls in the hut, and they were still alive, and they might want to avenge their master.
“Dad? Mom?” I whispered.
My dad grunted in answer, trying to pick himself up. Suddenly, a doll came running out with a knife and dug it deep into my dad’s stomach. Then it moved on to my mom.
“No! Don’t do it!” I screamed.
I lunged myself forward, but something grabbed me from behind. It was the little me!
“Let go of me! Let go of me!” I screamed, landing a blow on its head.
It shattered into a million shards. But I was too late to save my mom and dad. They were both dead, and the doll had left. I screamed, crumpling onto the floor, sobbing as the echos of laughter rang through the room. I found a small note clenched in my mom’s hand when I looked up.
I know that even if you see us today, we will not be able to be with you, as we have another mission to accomplish. What you see in front of you is the sheddings of our human bodies, but next time you see us, you will still recognise us. Just to remind you again, we did not die when we got stabbed.
Mom and Dad
There was still a ray of hope to see my parents! So I decided to keep myself healthy and safe until I saw them again. I darted to the nearest exit, picked up the expectant black cat, and pushed open the door. Nothing had changed. My car was still there, the sun still hung low in the sky, and the wind was still blowing. When I eased open the hut’s door once again, it was only a small shed full of gardening tools, and nothing else, not a single piece of evidence that Lucy’s hut once stood there.
Ten years later, the school was closed down. There was supposedly a haunting in the school. There would be a lady heard wailing in the shed. Archeologists dug deep down into the Earth and found that there were bodies of long lost relatives, and there were pieces of china pieces in their mouths and scattered on the floor. The walls were cracked, and there were candles everywhere, all burned out. Many people believed that this was a sacrificial chamber, but they did not know of any reasons why there would be china pieces in their mouths. Only I knew why. I am currently 31 years old, and have started a family, but I have not told a soul — except for you — about the incident in Lucy’s hut.
Please go to the basement at 12:00 AM sharp today. You will find out why.
Dad and Mom
To be continued