A good story, like anything worthwhile, takes time to create. While you may get all the essentials out in one glorious evening of ink-sloshing, paper-bending, coffee-swilling fun (the plot, the characters, the point, all that jazz), the finer details still need work. You have to edit, and editing always takes more time than the initial piece did (where did that elephant come from? And why is he angry?). As it is, I currently work labor jobs to pay for silly things like housing and food, while I would much rather be creating worlds and plotting the next way to scare my readers – to make them think, and feel, and stay awake at night.
To that end, I've created this page. I will use all funding to pay for living expenses, gradually cutting back the hours I do at my normal job. If I can make enough, I can turn writing into my full-time job, allowing you more content, and myself some peace of mind.
Why would I pay for work I've never seen?
Well, that's a fine point. I will post one story at the end of this, free, gratis, completely available for you to read, and you can judge me on my own merits as a writer. If it isn't your cup of tea, then I thank you for your time, and wish you well. If you do enjoy it, I hope you will consider becoming a patron of my work.
So what do I get by becoming a Patron?You get the satisfaction of helping to create literature... Wait! Come back!
Alright, you also gain access to an exclusive feed for patrons only. Therein, I will keep people appraised of what I'm up to, what stories I've had come to mind, snippets of story basis's, random videos and the like. It will also allow you to post comments, pictures, videos, etc. that you would like to share. And that's just the dollar tier.
Right, so where's that story?Yes, of course. Here you are. I hope you enjoy it.
This tale is from my first book of collected short stories, entitled "A Glimpse into Madness"
It is titled:
The Night the Dolls Came
The chill winter wind blew from the east, trying with all its might to blow away the small town full of tiny, twinkling lights that lay in its path. It shook the windows in their frames in Susie's bedroom. Her young mind conjured up a collection of monsters that were trying, desperately, to break in and gobble her up, then they would go for her sisters. Her parents would awaken the next morning and lament not installing better windows. Another violent gust hit the house, sending tremors through her treasured porcelain doll collection on its high perch.
Susie squirmed lower under her blankets and shivered. She watched the shadows dance on the walls and listened to the howls of ghosts long dead coming out of the chimney. Her eldest sister had told her all about them last Halloween – how the house was constructed on an old cemetery, and how, try as they might, they could never locate thirteen of the bodies. Her mother said the sound was just the wind, but she knew better. After all, her sister wouldn't lie, and parents were always making up lies so as not to scare her.
She steeled her nerves and got out of bed. Her bladder would not allow her to remain idle any longer, and she dared not wet the bed again. It had been months since the last time, and she took it as a point of pride when she awoke in the morning to dry sheets.
She got to the bathroom down the hall and used the toilet. The seat was cold, which she hated, but she knew that if she took too long, a vengeful spirit would emerge from one of the mirrors to drag her off, and her family would never see her again. She finished as quickly as she could and avoided looking at any of the mirrors as she washed her hands in the moonlight. She caught a glimpse of one mirror, on accident, as she was leaving, and could have swore that an old crone was glaring out at her through stitched-shut eyes, with her bony arms resting on her decaying hips.
Susie ran down the hallway and dove into her bed. She burrowed her way from the bottom of her blankets to her pillow, then crawled around in a circle three times, just as her dog did, to get comfortable. It never seemed to work for her. She was just beginning to wonder why her dog did it at all when one of her porcelain dolls fell from its high perch and landed with a crack on the wood floor. Susie started, and stared at the fallen doll, watching for any movement. The shadows on the walls continued to dance, and the windows still shook in their frames, but nothing else stirred.
Slowly, she leaned herself towards the foot of her bed, then crawled to the edge. She stared at the doll intently, not even blinking, like a cat unsure if what it saw was predator or prey.
Then the doll slowly lifted its cracked head and looked at her, its dead eyes staring as only dolls can. Susie tried to scream, but fear had stolen her voice. Instead, she turned and threw her blankets over her head, certain that they would protect her. She tried not to breathe as she listened to the doll's tiny footsteps run back and forth in the room.
"Su-u-u-sie," a small, sweet voice called out from the darkness, "where did you go?"
Chills ran down Susie's spine. "Go away," she said, trying to keep her voice steady. She felt a tug on her blanket and immediately regretted saying anything. The doll was on the bed with her, walking above the covers, getting closer with every passing second.
"Su-u-u-u-sie," the doll called to her. She felt the weight of it on her leg, making small steps up to her stomach. "Su-u-u-u-u-sie."
In a flash, Susie flung the doll off of her, throwing her blanket to the foot of her bed with the effort. She reached down and pulled the blanket back over her head as quickly as she could, only then realizing that she never heard the doll land.
She listened for any movement in the room, eyes shut tight, but even after several minutes, she heard nothing. What if it's hanging from the ceiling? She thought of the old brass chandelier that hung in her room, and imagined the doll there – pictured it staring at her bed with its porcelain smile, frozen forever in forced pleasantry. Would it wait for her?
Slowly, carefully, she pulled the blanket from her face. She opened her eyes, and gasped. Before her lay a sea of pale dolls. Every flat surface of her room was covered in them, and all of them were looking at her, sitting, waiting in menacing silence. She wanted to run, but where could she go? The doll with the cracked head sat on her bed, at her feet. It laughed, cheerfully, and said, "Susie! There you are! Let's play!"
And then the moon went out.
There was a rustling in the darkness. The air moved around Susie as she sat, unable to budge. Even in the midst of absolute terror, she felt a solemn guilt when she noticed that she had wet the bed, despite her earlier journey. Tears fell hotly down her face, more out of shame than out of fear.
And then the moon lit up, and the dolls were gone. Along with her shelf, and her toy chest, and her bed.
At first she was elated that she had not, in fact, wet the bed but had wet the floor, instead. Then she began to wonder where exactly all of her belongings had gone. She looked around her bare room until her eyes fell upon a standing shadow. It was smiling at her through darker lips and a single smokey grey eye. She wished she still had covers to hide under.
"Don't be scared," said the shadow in the voice of a small boy, no older than she was, "I chased them away. I couldn't stop them from taking your things, though." His voice was full of sympathy and remorse.
"Thank you," Susie replied, quietly, and meant it. "What's your name?" she asked.
"Jacob," replied the shadow. The windows rustled and shuddered in their frames. "A horrible night, isn't it?"
Susie nodded. "What happened to the moon just now?"
Jacob shuffled his shadowed feet and looked at, presumably, the floor. "That was me. I had to distract them. I'm sorry if it scared you."
As far as Susie was concerned, if he was sorry, everything was alright. "What are you?" she asked, unable to resist the question any longer.
"Just a shadow," Jacob said, and chuckled, "What else could I be?"
"You could be a demon," Susie replied, sure of herself.
"You've met the closest thing to a demon in these parts. Besides, demons are...pointier."
Susie conceded with a nod. "But where did you come from?"
"Oh, I've always been here. I have to be, there's nowhere else to go."
Susie looked at him, curiously. "Are you real?" she asked, innocently.
"Of course I'm real. Are you?"
She glared at him. "It's not polite to ask someone if they're real or not," she said, as haughtily as she could manage.
"But you asked me first," the shadow pleaded.
"That's different. You're in my room." Susie was sure this was the proper way of doing things. Almost as an afterthought, she continued, "And besides, you're a boy. It's okay to ask boys that kind of thing."
"Gosh, I didn't know that. I'm sorry."
Susie nodded, curtly, certain that some unspoken protocol had been observed. "Can I hug you?" she asked. Jacob seemed to demure. His head fell low, and he started to fidget.
"I don't think you can," he said, finally. "I'm not all here, you see." He shuffled on the wall just above the floor, then lifted his head with a jolt, and said excitedly, "But if you really want to do something for me, you can... that is, if you want to, you can..." he faltered.
"What?" Susie asked.
"...You could give me a kiss," the shadow said, finally.
"Is that all?" Susie laughed, then stood up and walked to the wall that Jacob was splayed against. She stood up on tip-toe to reach, and kissed him on what she assumed to be his cheek. Jacob smiled, broadly.
"Thank you," he said. His tone grew suddenly lower, "Uh-oh, I've got to go. It'll be dawn soon, and the sun will chase me away."
"Don't be silly. Everyone knows that the dawn only scares away bad things, and you're not evil, Jacob."
The shadow hung his head once more. "You don't know that," he replied.
"Well, you can't go," Susie said, "I forbid it."
"I have to. You don't understand... I can't see the sunlight. Never again." Susie could hear the tears that Jacob was shedding, even though she couldn't see them. "I'm dead, Susie."
A chill crept across Susie's body as he spoke those words, and the cold pit in her stomach told her that what he said was true, but she refused to believe any of it. Then she, too, began to cry. "Will you come back?" she asked.
"I can't, not for a long time. I could only come tonight to save you. It's just the way things work."
Jacob began to fade as the sky outside Susie's window grew lighter. She reached out and tried to hold his hand, but all she felt was the cold wall, and when she pulled back, only her own shadow remained. "Goodbye," she heard Jacob say from somewhere perhaps far away, but it could have been the wind.
Susie went to the center of her room and sat down. "Don't go," she whispered, sadly, and whatever beings there were who answered the pleas of small children ignored her. She went right on crying straight through the morning's twilight.
The sun peeked over the distant hills to find her slumped in the middle of her empty bedroom floor. She blinked at the rising dawn through red eyes and faded complexion and wondered what kind of life it was that would allow the sun to rise after such a night.
She rose and opened her bedroom door, automatically heading for her parents' bedroom. On her way she passed the bathroom, and once again she saw the old crone in the mirror. She stopped and went inside, still afraid, but no longer caring. The crone twitched her sewn eyes at her like a short eclipse of cold stone in a cloudy sea from the world behind the glass. "What's wrong, girl?" the crone asked, bluntly.
"Jacob went away, and the dolls took my bedroom, and I don't know what to do," Susie let out a sob that shook her small body.
"All that?" the crone tsk'd. "Stop crying, girl. Crying will get you nowhere at all." Susie did her best to stop the flow of tears. "Good," the crone continued, "Now, it's a shame about Jacob, he was a nice boy, but then he's not really gone, is he?"
Susie shrugged. "I don't know. I guess not. I mean, he said he was always here."
"You see?" The crone smiled, and it was not an evil smile. "As for your bedroom, you just have to tell the dolls that it's yours, and you want it back."
Susie blanched. "But they're so scary! They'll take me away, I know they will!"
The crone let out a laugh that sounded like sandpaper rhythmically rubbing against wood, and her brittle frame shook. "If they try to take you away, just tell them Mary has claimed you already."
"But... does that mean you're going to take me, instead?" Susie asked, meekly.
"Oh yes, in time."
Susie hung her head in defeat. Quietly, she began to sob.
"But not today." The crone said, slyly, then winked at her, and faded away, leaving Susie staring in awe at her own reflection.
Susie stood in the hallway for a long time, deciding what to do. She marched back to her bedroom with more confidence than she felt. The dolls were waiting for her there, impervious to the morning light that shown through her window. As a group, all of them turned their heads to her, with the cracked-headed doll in front. "Su-u-u-u-sie," it called in its sweet voice.
"I'd like my room back, please," Susie said.
The dolls all giggled in unison. "We like it. We're going to keep it." The cracked doll stood up. "We like you, too, Susie."
"You can't have me, and you can't have my room," Susie said, indignant.
"Why?" the cracked doll giggled.
"Because Mary claimed me already."
The dolls looked around at each other, their beaded eyes questioning the matter, weighing what might come of it. Then, one by one, they all began to vanish in whiffs of white smoke. After a few moments, only the cracked doll remained. It looked up at Susie, and said, sadly, "We just wanted to play," then fell limp to the ground.
As it hit the floor, Susie's furniture all appeared back in its rightful place, as if it had never left at all. Susie smiled and crawled into bed. As exhaustion took her, she wondered if, one day, she would be taken by the old crone in the mirror, and what kind of world it was that she lived in, but, she decided, that was for another day, and peacefully fell asleep.