Somewhere in America
A Horror Short Story
Teddy – Part Three
Frozen in place Mr. Phillips listened to the faint music. It was almost hypnotizing in its effect. Slowly, as if drawn there against his will, he began to walk to the door, expecting it to open at any moment. A faint light shone through its crack, flickering now and then.
“I’m just drunk.” He whispered to himself as he edged nearer and nearer to the door. “I’m just drunk. That’s all. Just the wind.”
Through the door he could hear the sound of slowly creaking wood, back and forth, back and forth. He grasped the handle and pushed it open, stepping inside.
The music stopped. So did the creaking. It was right at the tail end where the words, “out popped the weasel,” came. Only they didn’t. It stopped just before “weasel”. The silence enveloping him was unnerving. Even the wind outside seemed to have stopped completely.
He couldn’t take it. He wanted to run to the little box. To yell at it, “say ‘weasel’! Say ‘weasel’, dammit!”
But he didn’t. Something stopped him, some voice in the back his mind telling him he had no place here, no authority.
He looked around, shaking with a mixture of anger and fear. Everything was as he had left it. The dresser, upright again with its contents carefully placed back in its drawers. The stuffed animals laid neatly on the bed, as if waiting for their friend to come back.
Except…. Except for one. Her teddy bear. He had put it with them…. but now It was gone. Frowning, he looked around for it, finally finding it sitting on that strange rocking chair of hers. The one that went from side to side instead of forward and backward. He could remember her sitting there with the bear, rocking slowly as she sang, the window open. Her mother had been behind him as they watched her, completely unaware of their presence. She had had such a beautiful voice. He could almost hear her singing now, the soft silvery voice of a little girl, so soft and-
No. She was gone now. The sounds in his mind quieted as he stared at the empty space beside the bear. But how had the bear gotten there? And how was it rocking? It just sat there facing him. Almost as if it was staring at him. But it must have been the chair rocking. Nothing else would have made that sound.
He made a face at it but it continued to stare at him impassively. A shiver ran up his spine.
Glancing around more he saw the open window. That was the cause of all this. He sighed with relief as he closed and latched it. “Must have been banging in the wind. Gusts pushing the rocking chair.”
He laughed, feeling queerly like he had just done something sacrilegious. Well, so what? He could if he wanted to. He laughed again, louder. Then again.
Now he felt more at ease. What was wrong? So he hadn’t cleaned the stairs like he thought. So what? He walked around the room looking at the various objects, all neat and tidy as he’d left them for the investigation.
His uneasiness returned when he came to the stuffed animals. Especially that little doll with the child’s face and white porcelain skin. It even had eyelids. Hadn’t it been turned the other way when he walked in? It seemed to be staring at him now with its painted eyes. They all did. Was it guilt? He wondered. Is that why he felt that way? It had a little smile on its face as it stared up at him. One of those unnatural ones which didn’t quite make it to the eyes the way only a doll can do.
His breath caught in his throat as he stared at it. He was sure it had just blinked. Sure of it! But it just sat there now staring at him. Teeth shaking, he reached out and picked it up.
“Mama,” it said. He dropped it to the ground, eyes wide and stepped on it, stomped on it, until it was a broken pile of porcelain. Then he saw the little tag. “Talking ma-ma doll”. He took a deep breath, calming himself.
Quickly leaving the doll he turned back to the room, ready to exit, when something across the bed from him caught his attention. Something he hadn’t noticed before.
Squinting in confusion he walked past the bed to the bear. Their was something on it. How hadn’t he seen that before? He bent closer.
“No!” He whispered, tripping, so quickly did he try to back up. He landed on his butt in front of the bear, its eyes still on his. He looked at its arm. Blood clung in little wet droplets to the nappy fur. It was on his head. Around his neck. He reached out to it, his finger connecting with the wet liquid, still warm. Very slowly the bear turned its head to face him.
“No… No…” He was shaking his head spasmodically, his whole body was shaking. His breath misted in the air. It was so cold in here. “No… No!” He screamed. “N-”
His heart stopped. Cold sweat ran down his face. “Who said that? Who said that?!” He yelled, turning in circles in the center of the room. He was on the verge of crying.
I’m cracking up, he thought to himself. “There’s no one…”
“Over here, daddy.”
“No… Please God, no,” he whimpered quietly, covering his face in his hands as tears welled in his eyes.
“I can’t do this!! I cant-”
Very slowly he stood up, turning as he did, his eyes shut tight.
There was a light laugh, silver tinkling on a windy day. “Daddy,” said the voice from just in front of him.
He opened his eyes, slowly. He was facing the mirror. The one on her little vanity. His daughter stood there, staring at him with large unblinking eyes, a slight smile on her face. But she was inside the mirror looking out.
All about her was darkness and mist, slowly rising and falling, swirling here and there. In the background he could barely make out faint shapes in the darkness, darker areas moving with a life of their own.
“Hi, Daddy,” she said, waving a hand at him awkwardly, her joints stiff. Her neck was titled at an odd angle and she seemed to be straining to keep it upright.
He couldn’t speak. He wanted to scream but he couldn’t breathe. It felt like the air was being emptied from his chest. He was suffocating.
She stood there, staring out at him as he fell to his knees, grasping at his throat, that same smile she always wore. Only it wasnt… There was something about her face. Something off. It was too white. Too white and too stiff. All of her motions were.
“Daddy,” she said, blinking her eyes. Her whole face stayed still as her eyelids closed and opened again.
“No….” He mouthed.
“Daddy, are you okay?”
Very slowly he shook his head.
“Well then come here, Daddy. I’ll help you.” Her smile didn’t change. It didn’t even move as she spoke. It was as if it was painted on. The words just came out.
He edged toward her, his chest on fire. Kneeling down in front of the small mirror he bowed his head, the tears he’d worked so hard to hold back pouring forth now in a torrent.
“I’m sorry,” he said in barely a whisper, “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay daddy. I understand.” He could feel her hand on his head, her fingers running through his hair, ice cold to the touch. He raised his head to her. She was so close now. One arm was extended to the surface of the mirror, stopped as if by a pane of glass. But he could still feel it.
“It’s okay, daddy,” she whispered. He saw the tilt in her head then, the sharp bump on the side of her neck. “You can help me, Daddy.” She stared down at him with her unchanging expression.
“Yes. Yes,” he mouthed.
His lungs opened.
Her eyes seemed to grow larger, darker. “Good.”
Beside him he heard the creak of the rocking chair as something soft and furry slid off of it.
This is concluded in: Somewhere in America – Teddy – A Horror Short Story – Part Four