Duo grinned and pushed the doll in front of him. He could barely contain his excitement, practically bouncing in his chair as she looked it over.
Hilde smiled, biting her lip. It was a pretty doll, porcelain, dressed in a dark red Victorian dress. She looked it over. He had given it to her lying down across him palm, and she righted it.
She shouldn't have been startled when the eyes popped open. After all, a dozen dolls had been designed that way. But they seemed to open just a tad too early, just before she twisted her wrist to pull the doll upright. And they seemed to stare at her. Pierce her with a hateful glare.
It was ridiculous, certainly, but that was the very first impression she got, and it wouldn't leave her.
"I-it's beautiful, Duo..."
Duo's smile shrunk, just a bit. "You don't like it, do you?"
"No!" She said, then bit back the vehemence. She couldn't stand to watch his usual smile collapse. "N-no, I do... I just... It's so beautiful, Duo. Thank you." She leaned in and kissed his cheek, softly. As she leaned back, the smile began to return.
At home, she placed the doll on her dresser and stared at it, critically. In the light of her bedroom, it didn't seem as bad, just a normal doll. She chuckled and shook her head. Silly, to give all of that credit to a doll. She dressed for bed and lay down, snickering at her own reaction. She looked over at the doll, facing toward the wall at the foot of her bed. Duo was right. It was pretty.
She couldn't say what woke her, but when she looked up, the first thing she saw was the doll. It was sitting where she'd left it, on her dresser. Staring at her. She shook herself, scolding herself for rehashing that same old ridiculou-
She sat bolt upright. She'd faced the doll toward the wall at the foot of her bed, straight out in front of her dresser... hadn't she?
Then why was the doll looking to the left, at her?
There was a knock, and she jumped a little, then slipped on her robe. She peeked through the little peephole in her door.
Duo grinned back at her in a fish eyed view.
"Oh ho, I see..." She muttered, opening the door. "I don't know HOW you did it, Duo Maxwell, but that was a very funny trick. Oh, ho, ho."
Duo frowned, confused. "Thanks! I try... what trick?"
"Turning the doll to look at me. I know I looked a little shocked last night, but-"
Duo blinked. "Hilde, I just got here..."
"It's no use denying it, Duo-" She started, then stopped. It didn't add up. Sure, he COULD have... but she'd like to think that if he'd taken the trouble to sneak into her tiny apartment, he'd at least stay for a kiss... or more..
"You... didn't sneak in?"
Duo shook his head, then furrowed his brow. "You OK?"
Hilde cast a glance back at her dresser. "I... I don't know."
She had almost forgotten about the doll when she returned home. She didn't even bother to fix it before she left, but hurried Duo out of the apartment. To his credit, he only teased her for 5 minutes when she finally got around to telling him what had happened. She shut the door softly, sighing. Duo could be unnerving, annoying even... but damn, the man could kiss.
She glanced toward the bed, smiling, looking forward to crawling into the warm covers and having nice happy dreams. She started to walk over to the closet, stripping off her jacket to hang it up.
That jacket fell from numb fingers.
The doll was now facing toward the door, toward Hilde. She KNEW she hadn't moved it, hadn't even given Duo a chance to see it, let alone move it on her. She hadn't touched it.
She bent down and picked her jacket up off the ground, never taking her eyes off the doll. Whatever she expected it to do, it didn't, instead staying stone still, facing the doorway.
She moved to it, turning it to face forward, toward the wall opposite the dresser. It didn't move back. The more she stared at it, the sillier she felt for expecting it to.
In the bed she chuckled, closing her eyes slowly. Living alone was playing tricks with her head. She'd be fine tomorrow.
She drifted off to sleep slowly.
I want to play.
A whisper in the darkness, low and whispery. It seemed to pierce through the peace of Hilde's sleep like a cold pin, hardly noticeable, but there.
Come play with me.
Hilde clutched her pillow, unable to swim up the rest of the way to wakefulness. She knew if she could wake up, it would be nothing, but the voice pursued relentlessly, pulling at her.
You will play with me.
She awoke, eyes wide, panting. She couldn't focus on anything in the moonlight for a little bit, and that made it take longer for her heart to stop hammering. It crawled up into her throat when she finally could focus.
The doll was looking over the edge of the dresser, looking as if she might topple over at any time.
Hilde jerked back, Bumping against the wall with a tiny shriek. The doll didn't move, still on it's front, facing down, and now she could see the legs had splayed as if it had fallen over.
Hilde put a hand to her chest as if willing her pounding heart to slow. "You frightened me!" She picked the doll up, kneeling on the bed to place the doll back in a sitting position. She realized she had spoken to the doll as if it were a real person, then, with a shiver, remembered the dream. It had seemed so real, so vivid. And the voice was down right eerie.
"Play with me, huh?" Hilde smiled wanly at the doll. She softly stroked the doll's hair. "Don't you know, honey? I'm too old to play with dolls."
The intercom buzzed, and she moved from the dresser to answer it. "Who is it?"
"It's me, Hilde! I'm on my way up!"
"Wait, let me get dressed!" She knew he wouldn't. Any chance Duo Maxwell could get to see her tits he'd take.
By the time he'd gotten upstairs, though, she had already slipped on the oversized sweater over her jeans. As usual, he looked disappointed and sheepish at the same time. "Are you ready, or what?"
Hilde laughed. "Let me get my shoes on, baka!" She slipped into them and walked out ahead of him.
As he closed the door, he looked back. "Hey, that's cute! Turning her to face the doorway!"
"What?" The door closed before she could look. "Oh, ha ha ha, Duo."
Hilde trotted down the stairs, but Duo looked at the door, confused.
"Good night, Hilde..." Duo kissed her one last time before backing away.
"Good night, Duo." Sure, she'd said it seconds to late, but he heard her, she knew. She watched him move to the car from her stairway, then unlocked her door.
The doll wasn't on the dresser.
Her heart froze, and she cast about in the moonlight. She turned on the light, and her heart caught in her throat.
The doll was on the bed, on it's back, tiny hands folded on it's chest, her feet crossed as if she'd been waiting.
It was staring at the ceiling, it's eyes open.
Hilde backed against the door, heart pounding, a whimper gurgling from her throat. She stared at the doll for five full minutes before rushing forward, opening a drawer, and throwing the doll inside.
Was it her imagination, or did the drawer rattle for a little too long after she got it closed?
Hilde sat huddled on her bed, staring at the drawer as if expecting it to burst open. Nothing happened.
She closed her eyes and breathed, deeply and slowly, forcing herself to be calm. It was just a doll. And a small doll at that, not big enough to do more than touch her shin if it could stand on it's own!
But it couldn't. It was just a doll.
She kept telling herself that as she dressed for bed. She kept repeating it as she drifted of to sleep.
But she made sure not to pull that doll out of the drawer.
Hilde frowned. Something was not right. As she struggled from her sleep, she could feel it, that sense that something was just... wrong.
Something cool and smooth pressed against her cheek, tickled her ear. She woke, slowly, and turned.
The doll was there, in bed with her. It was on it's back, laying against her cheek, eyes closed as they were designed to be. Her heart began to pound, and she glanced up at the dresser, careful not to move too far. The drawer wasn't opened. She looked back at the doll. And this time she did shriek.
The doll was now facing her, eyes open. She never felt it move, but it stared at her with the painted eyes that seemed alive. She could almost hear it again.
You will play with me.
With a howl of terror she flipped the doll behind her and scrambled out of the bed, hitting her knee on the floor. A hard crack resounded behind her, and a rational part of her told her that the doll's face had hit the wall and probably shattered. Still, she scrambled in fear. Without standing she crawled to the phone, spinning as soon as it was secure in her hand and bracing herself in a corner of the room, she hit the speed dial. Duo's number sounded rapidly, but blood was rushing in her ears too much for her to hear more that a tinny report.
The doll was sitting up, a light crack above it's eyes making it look menacing. It sat motionless, staring.
"Hello? Hello? Ah, geez, a prank caller..."
"Duo!" She had to force her voice around her dry throat. "Duo, wait!"
"Hilde? What's goin' on?"
Instead of speaking, she began to sob, forcing her words around them. "Please, Duo, come get the doll... oh, god, please, just come get it, take it away!"
She knew she was panicking, but she also knew, somehow, that the doll was going to drive her insane.
"Please, Duo... please."
"Stay right there, I'm coming right over!" The line went dead, and Hilde began to breathe heavily. She clenched her fists, dropping the phone, and stared at the doll.
Was it closer? Was any of this really happening?
She wouldn't take her eyes off of the doll long enough to find out.
She didn't know how long she had stared at the doll, but heard the knock. It startled her, and she screamed.
"Hilde?!" Duo banged on the door again, and she rushed to it, flinging it open. She must have looked like a mess, her pajama's wrinkled, her eyes red, but she flung herself sobbing into his arms. It wasn't until she could feel his arms tighten around her that she began to calm down.
"You wanna tell me what this is about, Hilde?" His voice was soft, concerned, but she felt embarrassed still.
She pushed away, looking up at him, into his eyes. "I'm not crazy."
"Hey, I'm not say-"
"I'm not." She cut him off, looking back at the doll, it hadn't moved.
"Hey, it's cracked..."
She swallowed and looked up at him. "Duo... I'm going to tell you something.. you have to promise me not to say anything until I'm done."
Duo looked down at her, confused, but looked her dead in the eye. "OK."
She told him, everyhing, the eerie voice, the way it always seemed to stare at her, where she'd found it this morning that prompted the frantic call, and, to his credit, he didn't say anything, until she had finished and sat staring at him for a short time.
"So, you're saying it moved?" He still looked confused, moreso when she nodded. "Man.. I thought we'd destroyed all the Mobile Dolls in space."
"THIS ISN'T FUNNY, DUO MAXWELL!!"
Duo held up his hands in defense. "Hey, hey, I'm just trying lighten the mood!" He stopped short, seeing her eyes brimming with tears ad overflowing with terror.
"Take it back, Duo! Please, just... take it back where you found it!"
His face saddened, but he nodded. "OK, Hilde... I'll take it back..."
She sobbed, once, I relief, and kissed him on the cheek. Duo held her until she was ready to move on. "Hey... let's go get some dinner or something. When we come back, I'll take that mean nasty dolly away, OK?"
Hilde reluctantly agreed. They ended up staying out not just for dinner, but for supper as well, and it was nearly 11 o'clock when Duo brought her home.
When they returned, the doll was in the same position that she'd left it in. Duo walked over and puicked it up, holding it gingerly in his slim fingers.
"You sure about this?"
Hilde nodded. With a sigh, Duo walked to the door. He turned one last time, and she kissed him.
"I'm sorry, Duo..."
"It's OK... See you tomorrow?"
Hilde smiled and nodded. Duo stepped out and watched her close, then lock the door.
She didn't watch him leave, or she would have seen him drop the dool in the trash can at the bottom of the steps.
For the first time since the doll was given to her, Hilde was sleeping soundly.
It lasted an hour.
At first the sound was quiet. A rustling, a small thud. Then the latter repeated, followed by a dragging. Again, and again.
Hilde opened her eyes, listening., The sound was ouit of the ordinary.
She bit her lip and closed her eyes. It was probably just a someone moving some furniture outside. She really should complain, but her bed had felt so good...
She sat bolt upright. It was the same voice, the same as in her dream.
Hilde... why were you so mean, Hilde?
She wanted to scream, but couldn't.
The noise continued closer.
All I wanted was to play, Hilde...
The noise stopped. It was close. Hilde waited, holding her breath.
*Tap... tap... tap...*
Her heart hammered in her throat. She knew what it was, but it was impossible! Duo had taken the doll!
*Tap... tap... tap...*
You were mean...
Hilde stood, approaching the door slowly. She'd open it, and see that no one was there, and this was a nightmare.
She flung the door open, and as she suspected, there was no one there. She breathed a sigh of relief and started to close the door.
"All I wanted to do was to play."
The voice was soft, almost eerie, a little girl's sad and angry voice. And it was right below her...
She felt the tug on her leg, but only caught a flash of the doll's face before she pitched forward, screaming.
They found her the next morning, crumpled at the bottom, dead of a broken neck. Next to her was the tilted garbage can and a cracked, smiling doll.