The fire brigade led to paperwork. The police also resulted in paperwork. Who knew that burning down a house you owned, a building standing on the grounds you owned, could be so damn complicated? Daniel should have known. Had he thought about it for more than thirty seconds, he would have known. Patient he could be, he also could be reckless. It was hardly the one million pound question on a game show. You can’t go around burning down houses, even ones you own, without questions being asked.
A mountain of paperwork and questioning led to one single question that Daniel did not want to answer. Why? He could have answered. “Well, you see. The house is haunted, and I had a terrifying experience there, as you are undoubtedly aware. So after discovering it would cost too much to bulldoze it, I thought I would burn the fucker to the ground. That was the plan. I think it was a mistake though”. He could not even claim it was an insurance job; heck, that would have been something. He had not insured the bastard, reckless and impulsive, not his best traits. Instead, he just clammed up and said nothing or next to nothing. He wanted the grounds but did not want and could not afford the house’s upkeep. It was the best that he could do. It was nothing good; it was hardly even adequate, but it was something, and they had let him return home in the end. Further enquiries pending.
A white cloud had formed above the house; it went unnoticed by everyone. It was not a cloud formed by vapours of water; this was created from the mists of despair. Trapped for so long by the trickery, the skulduggery of the man Johnson and the woman who it would not name. Trapped for what had felt an eternity, but now it was released, now it could be free. Now it could play its own game.
Grant placed the china doll outside his bedroom door and returned to bed. He lay his head back on the pillow and returned to counting sheep. He was twelve, nearly thirteen, and that doll still scared him. The dead glass eyes that reflected the light back at him, or the cracked white skin revealing nothing underneath. Something about it gave him the heebie-jeebies. His parents had told him not to be so silly. He did not care about silliness, he only cared about what he felt, and the doll frightened him.
It had been so long, imprisoned for what was a timeless moment. Years could feel like minutes, but seconds could last decades. Years may have passed in this world, but it was ageless and impossible to guess for them. That may have been why it did not understand the feeling at first. It was a feeling long forgotten, lost in the ages of death and dust. It was a hunger, not for food, but for something else. It needed something more, something innocent.
Greg pulled it off and dropped the condom down the toilet, plop. He flushed and then cursed when the thing didn’t disappear. “Bastard“. It was a cold night, and he felt the chill on his nipples. They hardened as he thought about it. Now he would have to wait for the damn cistern to fill. The only thing that Greg hated more than condoms were children, so it was a sacrifice he was willing to make. He loved Grant, his son, of course. He just hated the idea of having another. Molly had floated the idea in her own unsubtle way; he was having none of it. He enjoyed the screwing but not the screaming. He’d once been young, dumb and full of cum. He was now older, dumb and still full of cum. Molly would have added that he had all the stamina of a virgin teenager at a brothel. Greg didn’t think of it that way. He’d had his fun, and that was all that mattered to him. Second flush and the bastards were gone. Ha, so long fuckers, enjoy purgatory. He turned his back on the toilet, forgetting to shut the lid. Greg left the bathroom and looked at Grant’s door. He saw the doll sitting outside, shuddering, he returned to the master bedroom.
Greg walked into the bedroom and looked at Molly. Molly was lying on the bed as she had been when he had left to use the toilet. Left breast exposed and smoking a cigarette. Her nipple poked from the areola, poking up, just saying hello. Unless? Unless she was still horny. They did look good enough to eat… No, Greg thought. He had jacked off that morning and screwed her tonight. That was enough for him, and besides, that doll had stolen the mood. He never once gave a thought to what Molly may have wanted. She flicked the ash into the ashtray without looking. Some of it missed and scattered on the bedside table. “He’s put that damn Doll outside the door again”, Greg said as he crawled back up into bed. “The thing gives me the willies”. Greg laughed at this, his humour… Maybe he had gotten older and dumber. He lay back and scratched his balls. Molly stubbed out the cigarette and shuffled over; she placed her head on Greg’s chest. “Your mother bought it for him, you know I can’t stand it either”, Molly replied.
“Can’t we just get rid of it?” Greg asked her. He knew the answer already. They had been over it a few times before. “If we give in to him on this, then where does it stop?” Molly answered. “Next thing we are checking under his bed for monsters, He is almost thirteen for goodness sake”.
The cloud hovered and waited. It knew that its moment would come. It was learning, learning everything anew. It had to be wary, it was still young and could not risk anything going wrong, but it also had the confidence to strike. An arrogance built up from years of waiting. It watched the car thief with eager interest. Could a thief be of use to it? Maybe it thought. Could it even use the thief? Yes, it thought. It made its way, floating upon nothing, so it was behind the man. The man paid no attention. He was fixed upon the crime he was committing. The cloud pounced and was absorbed into the man. Like water on a sponge, it seemed to just pull the cloud inwards, in through his thick black jacket and into his body.
Further still, tunnelling deeper and deeper. Deeper than just the flesh and bones of the human. It was looking for something hidden deep within. His essence, his soul. And, it had found it, and now it would consume it. The man stood gormless, dumbstruck and in a trance. He lurched forward, smashing his head upon the car. The thief lifts his head and stands as the blood dripped down his forehead, a tasteless stream made its way to his mouth. He slams his head repeatedly into the car, one final hit and the skull cracks open. The thief’s body falls to the floor, blood seeped from the head, depositing itself down a nearby drain. Trying to escape the clouded demon. The cloud left the body lying on the floor; it had served its purpose.
It watched the windows as the lights went out, plunging the house into darkness. Its time had come. Entering the house would not be a problem. In times gone by, they would have used caution and tools of the trade. Now it could just drift under the doorway, the smallest of gaps providing an opening. Besides, had it needed it, it now knew a thief. Had the door not been wooden, it would have found another entrance; it always would. It always could.
The house inside was clean and tidy without being fastidiously neat, everything had a place, and everything was in it. The cloud looked around, looking for something it could use. Reckless it was not, and careless was something it would never be. It had not been rash when it was one; now it was seven. The souls of seven combined as one. There was nothing it could see in the porch or front room, so it floated towards the kitchen.
A knife sat alone on the kitchen side holds its interest for a moment; can it lift it? It is not so sure. It could control the thief, but a human is a different thing. This was mental and wooden. The wood had once held life but no longer. It looked at the blade and handle, taking its time, concentrating all its energy upon it. The cloud coiled outwards with tiny finger-like tentacles of cloud. The knife wobbled in the block as the wafts tried to grasp it. It can do this, for it is legion; for it is many. The knife suddenly shot from the block. The whiskers from the cloud followed it at speed like the smoke in a wind tunnel. It had to concentrate everything it had on controlling it so that it stopped before it can clatter and fall to the ground. It willed the knife back to the kitchen side. It floated on the misty cloud across the kitchen and back to the work surface. It needed something more familiar, something it had more in common with, something it could relate to. Something that it could understand from its past. The cloud drifted from the kitchen, making its way up the stairs towards the bedrooms.
Like the downstairs, the upstairs landing is clear of clutter and mess. The only thing in the hallway is a single doll propped against the wall. It took a moment for it to recognise what it was looking at. Its first thought was that a small child was looming on the landing. Had it been able to speak, it would have said “oh” as it realised what it was seeing. This was perfect; it thought to itself as it hovers the hallway. Better than perfect, it is excellent. It let itself be pulled into the doll; it is as if the child’s toy is taking a drag on some virtual cigarette. The white smoke being inhaled through every crack on its body. Then the doll twitched, and the head fell forwards. Slowly at first, it finds its feet, wobbling but steadying itself with an arm against the wall. This came naturally to it; it felt natural. The arms and legs moved freely, the stuffing long past its use-by date easing any resistance. The head lifted and bobbled from side to side as the doll moved and made its way along the hall.
The master bedroom door creaked open, a quiet squeak, but a noise none the less. The doll made its way into the bedroom, a lightness of foot as it stepped on the plush carpet. It could feel every touch, it had not realised it before, but it had lost all sense of feeling. It was curious how it had not missed that feeling, only noticing that it was gone. It thought about the knife, was that why it could not handle it? It lacked feeling as it had lifted it, unable to judge how hard to pull to release it from its block? Everyone used little things in life and could not realise how important they were until you had them no more. It seemed likely, it would have to experiment in the future. For now, it had other plans.
Greg and Molly lay asleep, unaware of the doll creeping the room, and why should they be. Molly drempt of life without Greg. They had married shortly after leaving school. Schoolyard romance blossomed into young adult love. And that evolved into unexciting normality. She loved Greg, sometimes. Most of the time… Greg’s dream is of a life where he can do what he wants, when he wants, carrying Molly as an accessory of sorts. Something to be there when he needs it, but not when he wants to have fun. Grant barely registered with either of them.
The doll snuck to the side of the bed and arched its head backwards. Two wisps of cloud escaped its enamel mouth, drifting upward to the ceiling and then back down, a single puff for each human soul, the rest for the doll. It wanted to watch and experience. The ultimate entertainment, coming soon from CSC Entertainment, is yours for the new super low price of only one human soul. The bodies contorted for a moment, bellies rising in the air held aloft by their neck and feet, and then lay still, breathing stopped, and they are motionless. Then Molly sat up suddenly, a flash of action, and she was upright. In one motion, no arms needed. She just lifts her upper body with ease. She rolled over and straddled Greg. Greg lies unmoving, still and dead. Molly tried to stimulate him, trying to wake him from his eternal death. She ran her hand down the front of her body, sliding it down between her legs. Writhing and squirming as she did so, Greg sprung (haw-haw) to life, grabbing her by the hips as they twisted together, as he grows into her.
The headboard crashed against the wall, hitting it so hard that the ashtray fell from the bedside table, smashing in pieces on the floor below. Ash flailing in the air. Butt flopping up in the air on the bed and butts down to the ground below it.
Grant wakes. He was startled at the noise. He was shaken from his dreams, unsure of what is real or still a waking dream. The darkness lifts from his vision and mind as the next bang hits. Bang! Once again, a continuous rapping of noise. Rhymic. The banging, the squeaking of the bed, and the groaning mixing, eventually formulating the festival known as fucking. Like many his age, Graham has heard his parents making love. He is not sure what this is, but is it, unlike any lovemaking he has heard! Crashing, banging, squeaking and moaning once more.
Grant moved towards his bedroom door. He took it slow, not really wanting to know what lies beyond. They were screwing, so what? He’d – unfortunately- heard it before. Why did he feel the need to look, the need to peek at what should be unseen. The feeling deep in his belly that something was wrong. He opened the door gingerly and looked into the hallway, flicking on the light as he did so. It never occurred to him to look down, to look at where the doll had once been placed.
Had he done so, he may have lived to tell his tale, the story of his parents death. As he walked the hallway, he felt every bang on the floor and walls. Vibrations flowed from his feet, up through his body and eclipsing in his head. Every squeak screamed stop, yet every groan and moan seemed to egg him forwards, pushing him toward the door of the master bedroom. Hey Granty Wanty, wanna go peek? See ya first set of boobs that you can remember? He stood before the door with a hand outstretched; he placed a hand upon the door and pushed.
Grant stepped into the bedroom. He repeatedly blinked, trying to give his eyes time to adjust to the darkened room. The room seemed unnaturally dark. The light from the hallway should have been shining through. He blinked some more, knowing deep down that it would make no difference, yet still, he tried. One of the bedside lights suddenly switched on. Molly had leant over and flicked the switch. She still straddles Greg, but the first thing Graham noticed is the colour. Red, a blood-red that would forever be burned into his mind. Molly leant forward toward Greg and bit him on the chest. She lifted back up, pulling and ripping at his skin, yanking it upwards with her teeth. It sounded like Velcro ripping. She chewed on the skin, eating some and spitting more. The sheets soaked up yet more of the blood.
Grant stood flabbergasted, unable to move, not knowing what to do. Greg looked over, eyes dead and white. He smiled at his son, licking his lips as she did so. Grant could see the blood-red lips, discoloured by the blood of life. Grant just stared, stupified by it all, his immature brain unable to take it all in. Molly flopped back, her head by Greg’s feet. She lies there. Grant can see where chunks had been ripped from her breasts, chewed or eaten; he does not care. She patted the bed as if inviting him to come and join them. There was no emotion in her face, her eyes white and dead like his fathers. Grant finally released, something gave both up top and down below. He pissed himself and, at the exact same moment, started to scream. A curdling scream rising from the pit of his stomach. Grant turned to run, and that was when he saw the doll standing, watching him. Looking straight at him, head at an angle that would have been impossible before.
The doll looked at him, and then the mouth cracked open. Porcelain shards imitating teeth, an opening where there should have been just painted lips. A selection of gravestones inside its mouth. All small, all white and all ceramic. Its left arm reached up and pointed at Grant, smiling, pointing, and staring. Instinct took over, and Grant ran for the door. He could not stay here in this blood-soaked sexual bedroom from hell. He made it through the doorway, but then he felt pain deep in his ankle just as he thought he was free. Grant collapsed on the floor and looked down toward his foot. The doll had bitten into his ankle, and it was now shimmying up his leg. The blood flowed freely from his ankle to the floor. He struggled to free himself, but the toy doll was too strong, too unnatural with its grip. He kicked at it with his good foot but missed it completely. It crawled the length of Grant, all the time holding on as he tried pushing away using his uninjured leg, trying to escape. Digging his foot into the ground to push himself backwards. The doll was relentless. It just crawled and worked its way up, the fingers of the thing like little spikes digging into Grant’s bony immature leg. It reached Grant’s neck and bounded for it. Its teeth quickly ripped into it. Fingers like needles piercing the skin around it as the doll held tight. Thankfully for Graham, the rip severed the carotid artery, and death came quickly. His body lay limp on the floor as the banging restarted.