Behind These Eyes - Part Ten

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Belle and Kayla had eaten a leisurely dinner at McDonald's, chatting and laughing with some other friends they had run into there unexpectedly. The other group were going bowling, and invited them both along. Even though Belle didn't bowl, she had gone along before, and sat and gossiped as the others played. Belle had deferred to Kayla this time though, and Kayla had said she had to study. The bowlers had left not long after, leaving Belle and Kayla alone to finish their meals.

Belle was naturally a tidy person, although blindness had made it nearly obsessive. If she knew where she put things, she could easily find them again. She ate methodically, tidying away the wrappers as she went, and when she was finished everything was packed into a neat bundle to be thrown in the bin. Not a single sesame seed remained on the table. Kayla, on the other hand, aided by sight, picked at the various options. When she finished, she bundled the hamburger wrapper up into a ball, and shoved it all into the paper bag it had came in. She added Belle's neatly folded wrappers to the bag as well, and was standing to take the whole lot to the bin when she noticed something still on the table.
"What's that, Belle?" she asked.
"What's what?" Belle responded.
"On the table. It's a ..." Kayla bent down to get a closer look, and recognised it, "Oh! It's a little worry doll!" she exclaimed. "I use to have a bunch of these when I was little."
Kayla trotted off to the bin, holding the worry doll lightly in one hand.
Belle had jumped slightly when Kayla had said the words worry doll, but was immediately glad she hadn't reacted more seriously, like the last two dolls she had come across. Of course, she hadn't actually touched it. Yet. But where had it come from? It couldn't be either of the other two dolls, surely. The first one Alyssa had taken back to the beach, the second one - the one that Rudolph had found in the sand - had never even been really found, merely glimpsed, never to be seen again.
Kayla didn't notice how pale Belle looked until she got back.
"What's up Belle?" she asked, "you look strange."
Belle shook herself slightly, trying to break free of her rather disturbing reverie, and gave a little smile, "Oh, nothing." she said, "just thinking."


Mandy put the new worry doll - the one she thought of as the salad doll - in a little plastic bag with the one they had found earlier, the one that had dropped out of Jamie's sock. That one had been a girl doll, with a green dress. The salad doll was a boy doll, with little legs encased in blue trousers. She wondered what had become of the one that Alyssa had found on the beach, the one that had given Belle such a shock out on the deck that morning just after Christmas. Jamie had told her to put it back where she found it. As Mandy hadn't heard anything more about it, she figured that's exactly what had happened. By putting them in the plastic bag and sealing the zip seal, she took a strange kind of comfort and thinking that she was suffocating them. Although they most certainly were not alive - she had never seen one move, or breathe, or walk around - they still had a presence, as though they could move, or breathe, if only they chose to do so. Allowing a shudder of repulsion shiver through her, she put the bag containing the two dolls back into the vanity drawer, pushed them all the way to the back, and shut the door firmly. Out of sight, out of mind, she thought. But what they be doing there in the dark?


Alyssa and Luke were out having dinner as well, this time at the local Malaysian restaurant. Over shared curries and plenty of boiled rice, they had chatted - the subjects ranging from the mundane to the metaphysical, traipsing through politics and popular culture on the way. Alyssa decided not to share her story about the worry doll she had found. Both the worry dolls she had found. That event was still hers. Once she had worked out what it was all about, she would talk to Luke about it. If she ever made sense of it, that is.


Mandy was lying in bed, in that place that only exists in a narrow beam of light between being awake and being asleep. It had been a long day, a long week really, and she was exhausted. She could feel the pull of sleep dragging her downwards, but at the same time she marvelled at the ease with which she was caught in this in between state. She felt happy, content, but could sense a little undercurrent of trouble. She tried to keep her thoughts in the warm spot of sun that existed here, knowing - even in this half awake state - that those thoughts would keep her awake later on. Like a cold draught seeping under the doorway, though, it curled around her chest, demanded her attention.

Mandy attempted to struggle awake, to allow her rational mind to take over, remind her that everything was OK, but the sleepiness had pervaded her being, dragging her down into what she imagined was going to be a troubled sleep. The unease grew, and she imagined she heard a sound. A little squeak, maybe, like a door inching open. She was awake now, sleep had been told to release its clutches, at least for the time being, but her rational mind - the thing that was supposed to remind her that there was no such thing as the boogey man - appeared to have gone on strike. Her heart was hammering in her chest.

She sat up in bed, trying to locate the source of the sound, and suddenly it came again. Where was it coming from? Mandy held her breath, listening, and was giving in to her screaming lungs and snatching another breath when the sound came again. Her eyes latched on the vanity cupboard. There! The right hand door was, ever so slowly, creaking open of its own accord. She watched it warily, her heart still dancing to it's own erratic beat, her burning curiosity the only thing keeping her from screaming.

Creak ...

Another pause.

Cre-eak ...

The time spun out like gossamer thread. And then, suddenly - pop! The door was open, swinging slightly on its hinges. Mandy jumped slightly, but remained where she was, silent. She waited. Just as she was about to give up, go back to sleep, she heard another noise.

Scra-atch ...

This time it was the top drawer within the cupboard. Slowly, ever so slowly, it creeped out on its runner, until there was a slim gap exposed along the top of the drawer. The adrenaline started to pump its poison into her veins, Mandy's heart stopped dancing, and started running, all her neurons were screaming at her to Move! Run! Scream!

She did none of these things. She sat up a little straighter, allowed her breath to come faster, but kept her eyes locked on the little gap created by the slowly-widening drawer.

When she saw the two little heads of the two worry dolls poking out of the top, she finally allowed her better mind to do those things it had been wanting to do. She screamed ...

Mandy sat up in bed. Blinking. She was awake. Her eyes flew back to the vanity. The door was closed. Not a worry doll in sight. A dream. That's all it had been. Just a dream. She lay back in bed. It had been a dream.


Belle was asleep. She had been out with friends, shopping, and gotten home late. Her mother had been panicked and jittery when she got there, wondering where she had been, who she had been with, why hadn't she called. Belle had used her mother's concern to further push her case for a mobile phone, and the stress had turned into an argument. Eventually, they had stormed off to their respective rooms, the argument that had been simmering for months still unresolved. It was after midnight, and Belle, exhausted, had fallen into bed and gone nearly straight to sleep. It was some hours later when she had been woken by Rudolph, who slept on his own bed in the corner of her room, whining softly. She whispered to him, and he came up to the bed and nuzzled her dangling hand. "What's wrong, Roo?" she murmered, and he whined again in response. Belle tried to gather her thoughts, wake up enough to be able to make sense of the situation. She sat up on the edge of the bed, and reached down for Rudolph again. "What is it, boy? What's bothering you? Are you sick?"
Rudolph trotted a few steps away, came back, whined. Belle got the idea and got up to follow him. He wasn't wearing his harness, but he was easy enough to sense in the still of the night. He didn't go far though, only over to the desk, where Belle's laptop sat, closed for the night. He nuzzled her hand, encouraging her to touch the laptop, and Belle frowned when she realised what he was trying to do. "You want me to use the computer? Roo, it's the middle of the night!" She reached over to the bedside clock, hit the button on top, "Three. Forty. Two. Ay. Em." it said in its mismatched electronic voice.
"Not even four o'clock!" she exclaimed to Rudolph, "What is this?" Frowning now, feeling grumpy and tired, she went back to bed. She pushed her legs down under the doona and shuffled her pillow around to the right spot as she scolded him, "Go back to bed, Rudolph".
The laptop was plugged in to the wall, but in hibernation mode. Or so Belle thought, until she heard the CPU whirr into sudden life. Expecting it to die off again, she jumped when it beeped instead. Listening closely, she jumped when the text-to-speech synthesiser suddenly spoke "I had a little dolly. I told it my little worry. But then it went red. And now they're all dead ... " Before it had finished, Belle was screaming. Rudolph barked in unison with her.


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