The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Jenna wasn’t alarmed when she first saw the new doll her stepdaughter carried. She merely asked where she’d gotten it, and Sophie had told her Nana, her mother’s mother, had given it to her during her last visit. She didn’t begin to wonder about it until Sophie started acting strangely. She’d hear her conversing softly only to find her alone when she entered the room. Alone, except for the doll. Sophie began shooting her guilty looks from under her bangs every time Jenna interrupted one of these “conversations.” The child began to haggard and startled at the slightest noise. Pete hadn’t noticed, of course, and insisted Sophie was fine. It was probably allergies and she always took a while to settle after a visit with his deceased wife’s family.
Jenna wasn’t scared at all until the day she heard whispers in Sophie’s room. She rounded the corner and stopped abruptly. Sophie wasn’t there, but the doll sat on the bed, smiling in Jenna’s direction.
“’Scuse me,” Sophie said as she brushed past Jenna in the doorway. Jenna’s heart skipped a beat.
“Soph, can I talk to you?” Jenna asked. Sophie nodded and made to scoop the doll from the bed. “Um, no. Alone.” Jenna stared pointedly at the doll. Sophie glanced at it as though asking permission before reluctantly preceding Jenna into the hall.
“What’s going on, Sophie?”
The child peered down at her socks. “What do you mean?”
“You don’t look like you’re sleeping very well, and sometimes I hear you talking to your doll.”
Sophie glanced up, her face filled with alarm. “Can you hear what we’re saying?”
“No. Why?” Jenna’s heart was racing, fear rolled off Sophie in waves.
“She doesn’t like you,” she whispered.
“Why?” It never crossed Jenna’s mind it might be strange to be asking a doll’s motives.
“Because you aren’t my mother. But that’s okay. I like you, Jenna. I love you and I don’t want you to be hurt,” she cried, flinging herself into Jenna’s arms.
“It’s okay, Soph.” Jenna consoled the little girl. “I’ll take care of this.”
An hour later she waved goodbye to Sophie as she left for a playdate with one of her friends. For the first time in months, the doll was not in her arms. And the smile on Sophie’s face was all the proof she needed. Entering the bedroom, she sat on the bed, and fixed her gaze on the doll.
“It’s time you and I had a chat, dearie. This house isn’t big enough for two witches and I was here first.”
Fiction © Copyright Stacey Turner
Image courtesy of Marge Simon
More from Author Stacey Turner:
Metamorphosis occurs every day as caterpillars become sweet fluttering butterflies, tadpoles become gorgeous frog princes and chameleons become one with the beauty of nature – but you won’t find any of that here.
The transformations you’re about to witness are unnatural, sometimes gruesome and deeply psychological. They will make you question reality and take your mind places it was never meant to go.
Cover art and design by Greg Chapman
Terrifying Tales of Transformation from Greg Chapman * Roy C. Booth & R. Thomas Riley * Terri DelCampo * Dave Gammon * Nancy Kilpatrick * Rod Marsden * Jo-Anne Russell * M.J. Preston * Stacey Turner * Tina Piney * Suzanne Robb * Franklin E. Wales * Donna Marie West * Suzie Lockhart * Cameron Trost * Daniel I. Russell * Simon Dewar * Amanda J. Spedding * Ken MacGregor * Erin Shaw * Gregory L. Norris * Nickolas Furr
About the Artist, Marge Simon:
A writer-artist since the mid-1980’s, Marge Simon has illustrated numerous poetry collections for Sam’s Dot Publications/Alban Lake; as well as multiple print magazines. She illustrated covers and interiors of every issue of Niteblade (Rhonda Parrish, editor). Currently she illustrates for Lorelei Signal, Carol Hightshoe, editor. Check out her art galleries at www.margesimon.com
Marge is also one of the Ladies of Horror who writes for this challenge.