Little Lynette ran to the end of the garden to see the parade. She was six going on seven, cute as a button, and loved by all. Her mom kept her dark hair in pigtails that flew all over the place when she ran.
The doll was sitting with its back to a fence post. Shiny gold hair, clear blue eyes, pink cheeks, rose bud lips, all framed in a perfectly symmetrical face. A work of art in a blue dress, white pinafore, blue and white striped stockings, completed by shiny patent leather shoes. Lynette reached through the fence, grabbed the doll, and clutched it to her heart. She ran back to her house.
“Look Mommy, look. See what I found. Her eyes close when I lie her down.”
Her mom took the doll. It was perfect, spotless, and smelled faintly of lavender. “Ohh Lynette , you can’t keep it. She must belong to another little girl who has lost it. We will have to give it back.”
“No! No! She’s mine. I love her,” cried Lynette, stamping her feet. “She told me she wants to stay with me.”
“Sweetheart, she can stay the night, but tomorrow we must look for her owner. If we can’t find who lost it, then you can keep her.”
“Dolly says all right. But she told me no one else wants her.”
“Good girl. Now put Dolly on your bed, wash your hands, and help me candy these apples. Everybody will want one at the bonfire tonight.”
“Yes Mommy,” Lynette answered tucking her new doll into bed. “Dolly says we really must keep her.”
As Lynette left to wash her hands, the doll’s eyes opened, turned slowly towards the mother’s back, and glared.
“She was a really good girl for me tonight,” said Lynette’s Aunt. “A little scared about all the commotion outside, but settled down once she got into bed with her new doll. It’s quite beautiful isn’t it. Lynette wanted to know what was going on, so I told her people believe that on the last night of the tenth month, the wall between this world and the next grows weak, so everyone is out making fires and noise to ward off evil. She just smiled and said that Dolly was here and would look after her.”
“Thanks Sis. I am glad you didn’t tell her that this is also the night of the Cataclysm. She doesn’t need to know about that for some time yet. You go out now, have fun, but stay out of trouble,” said Lynette’s mother as she shut and bolted the door.
It was well past midnight when Lynette awoke. The bedroom was dimly illuminated by the light from the largest remnant of the shattered moon shining through the window. Dolly clung like a backpack as Lynette carefully climbed out of her bed. The doll’s eyes were now an icy transparent blue, its rosy complexion chalk white, red lips turned down, and the perfectly symmetrical face distorted with malice. Together, they dropped silently to the floor and crept silently closer to the sleeping parents. The faint aura flickering between Lynette and Dolly brightened as they got near. Streamers of ethereal fire flared between them and her sleeping father. He appeared to inhale the glowing filaments and suddenly sat bolt upright.
Her mother, awakened by the light and commotion, was halfway out of bed before her husband seized her around the neck and crushed her windpipe. Lynette and Dolly stood and watched the struggle. A cruel smile played around the doll’s mouth as it licked its lips They were the last thing Lynette’s mother saw before death took her. At that moment, the aura now surrounding them all momentarily brightened, then collapsed into an intense ball of light that flew silently out the window. Lynette’s father collapsed onto the floor and Lynette and Dolly climbed back into bed.
The next day Lynette’s father was arrested for murder and taken away to jail. Three of Kingsport’s guards were posted inside Lynette’s house to keep order and prevent any looting, but they quickly set about looking for something to steal. In the child’s bed were two beautiful dolls, arm in arm, one with golden hair, the other in dark pigtails.
“Well,” said the skinny one, “I guess I’ll take these for the kids in the orphanage.”