Its been a little quiet for me in writing land. There’s lots of things happening right now, so please don’t let it run you off. I’m still doing my thing, I just needed to focus on a few projects first. Many of you will enjoy one of them in particular… (visit StoryDam.com for a sneak invitation!)
At any rate, as a good faith gesture, this post was a weekday feature over at Studio 30+ a little while back. I decided to bring it over here for everyone else to read. Hope you enjoy it!
It was the average off-season family vacation. There seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary, no real frills, and much quieter than any of them imagined. The mother and father were enjoying shedding away the toxicity of metropolitan life. It had been almost two years since they last got away, even for a long weekend. A full week was exactly what they needed to decompress and rediscover themselves—each other.
The daughter, on the other hand, was bored nearly to tears. She missed her friends, her computer, most of all her phone, left behind under duress. Her parents had insisted. “It will give your thumbs a much needed break” claimed her father, sarcastically. For her, barely into her tweens, a week was a lifetime. Especially when forced to walk around with her parents, stopping at every little shop and boutique. Hearing the same “this is just darling” and “well, would you look at this” over and over again from them started to grate on her spine like nails on a chalkboard.
On their fifth day, they drove around the sleepy little village, noting for the fiftieth time that the sidewalks seemed to be rolled up during this time of year. They slowed as they came to one of the village’s three stoplights and scanned the surrounding area, looking for their next destination. Ahead, approximately a quarter mile, stood a large wooden barn with a faded sign reading ‘This and That.’
“Look, honey, an antique store. Want to take a look? Nothing else is open right now. We’ll eat lunch afterward at that café we saw on the way down here.” said the father.
“Sure, why not? Maybe we can find some stuff we can resell back in the city. I’m sure this place doesn’t get much business. We’re bound to find some good stuff way out here.” the mother replied.
They parked the Avalon in the empty gravel parking lot and walked to the front door. Peering through the hazy glass, they couldn’t tell if it was open or not. There were few lights on inside, giving the shop an eerie feel. He tested to door. It was indeed open.
They were greeted by a raspy, barely feminine voice from a back room that told them to have a look around and let her know if they needed anything. After thanking the unseen shopkeeper, they started toward one side of the heavily partitioned, overcrowded store.
“Sarah, if you want to look around on your own; go ahead. Please be careful, and do not break anything. A lot of this stuff is very old and probably very expensive.” her father told her.
She sidled through the displays in front of her, casually picking up trinkets here and there or rubbing a finger along a rusted lid. As she rounded the corner of the last booth, she was met by a haggard face that made her squeal slightly.
“Oh, dear! I’m sorry, sweetheart. I didn’t mean to frighten you.” The woman lightly grasped Sarah’s wrist. “Are you okay, dear?”
“I’m fine. You startled me, is all. I’m okay.” Sarah made a mental note to use more lotion. The woman’s hands felt like leather.
“I’m sure you aren’t interested in all of this up here, pretty thing. Why don’t you head back over that way? There’s a couple of booths that came from an old estate in Louisiana. Story is they had a girl about fifty years ago your age, a nasty little girl, from what they said. She passed away suddenly and unexplained, like. Maybe one of them witchcraftin’ folks down there put some kind of spook on her? You reckon?”
“Oh, I don’t believe in all that. That stuff is just made up for movies. I watch scary movies all the time. They don’t bother me.”
“Well! Brave girl, you!” she grinned, big and nearly toothless. “Alright, then. It probably is a bunch of rubbish. Go on and take a look. Maybe you will see something you like.”
Sarah picked through the girls things carefully. Most of it was old books and dingy clothing. A mostly chipped tea set sat atop a distressed writing desk. She thought to herself that she was glad she didn’t have to live the way this girl had. ‘I would have gone nuts,’ she murmured. A pile of dolls caught her eye. They were old and well worn. They all had smooth, porcelain faces and tattered hair. The dresses matched the ones hanging in the armoire she rummaged through a few minutes prior.
One was different. A plain, cloth doll was nestled behind the rest, out of view. There were crossed stiches where eyes should have been. The mouth, a plain line, was obviously hand sewn, but a darker color than the eyes. It had a single v-shaped stitch over the left chest. She assumed it was a heart. ‘This is weird,’ she thought. ‘It looks…like a voodoo doll from the movies!’
She reached down and picked the doll up, immediately feeling a tingle run through her body. She dismissed it. Suddenly, she found herself curious—negatively curious. ‘I wonder,’ she thought. ‘No, there’s no way.’ Still, her haunted curiosity swelled. Slowly, deliberately, she grasped the left leg of the doll and quickly bent it, forward and up, out of normal range of motion.
“I knew these things weren’t real.” Sarah discarded the doll back into the pile and shivered lightly, goose bumps raised on her arms. She glanced at the doll once more then went to find her parents.
Six hundred-fifty miles southwest, in a small town near Alexandria, Louisiana, the seventy-three year old former maid of the estate next door lay crying and writhing in pain on her kitchen floor—her leg broken and misshapen.
Love it? Hate it? (Gonna have nightmares?) Leave your comments below!
Voodoo doll graphic retrieved from https://www.giantbomb.com/voodoo-doll/93-827/