Monthly Archives: May 2017

Chapter 17

Mark drove like a maniac, his car scampering across the road like a drunk puppy. The wheels barely could keep their footing on the ground he was swerving so quickly through the streets. When he got to the house, he could see Kelly was standing at the base of the house, her hands in the air, her body drenched in sweat. She was trembling from head to toe, “Coralina, wake up. This is your mother. Wake up!”  Her hands were outstretched as if she was prepared to catch Coralina.

Coralina was standing exactly where Mark had stood just the other night. Her eyes were shut, and her arms were spread out in the shape of a cross. Her toes were on the edge of the roof, one step forwards and she would fall to her death Kelly was terrified to move. But Mark was all action, grabbing the ladder from the garage as quickly as he could. He shouted to Kelly, “keep talking to her.”

Kelly had tears streaming down her face from the terror raging inside her. Kelly let out a sharp “No!” as Coralina swayed suddenly forwards.  But she didn’t fall, instead just rocking back until she was still again. He got the ladder and climbed up it in a frantic rush. And he grabbed Carolina, screaming, “I’ve got her! I’ve got her Kelly.” He sat her down next to him on the roof and he burst into tears. Kelly didn’t climb up the ladder, but he could hear her shouting from below.

“Can you carry her down the ladder? Let’s get her off the roof.” Kelly still sounded terrified, like her eyes and heart had not been fully convinced of Carolina safety yet.

“Okay, just a minute. She’s not awake yet.” Said Mark. He carefully picked up the girl holding her tight hugging her to his chest. She barely responded, but eventually started hugging him back. “Coralina, hang on tight and I can get us down.” He wasn’t sure she is awake or not but her grip tightened significantly. Slowly and carefully he climbed down the ladder with her on his chest squeezing him. When he got to the bottom he handed her to Kelly. Kelly let out a terrible scream.

Coralina was covered in blood. It was smeared across her neck, and down the front of her light pink nightgown. Mark was startled, even horrified to see it. “But she was fine up there!” He ran his fingers frantically through his hair, staring at her.  She was blinking and rubbing her eyes. Coralina was the next one to talk, “daddy you are bleeding.”

Kelly turned to stare at him, and then back at Coralina.  She turned to Mark, “Your nose is gushing blood.”

The third stage.

Chapter 16

It was only 4 AM, but he got into his red truck and turned the key.

The engine screamed, reluctant to start up at such an early hour. But eventually, it rumbled to life. He drove immediately to Mr. Vladimir’s house. There were so many coincidences happening he couldn’t deny that something was going on, and he wanted a better explanation. If this dollhouse was cursed, and Mr. Vladimir made it, then he should know how to stop it. So he drove and he sat in the perfect driveway the expensive house. Then he turned off the truck and wondered what the hell he was doing there. He had questions, but it was more than just he had questions, he had problems. How many stages until he started killing?

He had broken a bone, he was having nightmares and sleepwalking – but there were more stages before he murdered anyone. Wasn’t crying blood next, then fury or something?

If this dollhouse was cursed, by a witch, then where was the witch? He didn’t particularly believe in the paranormal, but he didn’t have to. If he could convince the witch to fix the damn problem for him, then this would be over.

While he sat, trying to make sense of this situation, he heard shouting from inside of the house. And he stood and waited, rolling down his window and straining to hear the words.

“How many families must you ruin mother! I know you are mad at dad, but now innocent people are caught up in this curse. It’s disgusting! You can’t stay here any longer.” The could hear Mr. Vladimir’s voice carrying out into the night. He saw some lights flicker, as of the two of them were striding through the house turning lights on and off as they walked. He didn’t hear the lady replied, not with words, but with a painful screech. The front door clattered open, and out snarled an old lady. She was carrying a bag that looked awfully like Mary Poppins bag, a cloth carpet bag. Her hair was silver, and chaotically sticking out everywhere. His eyes were wide as he stared at her. She didn’t even seem to notice them, hopping in her own yellow car, and squealing down the road. Mr. Vladimir never came outside.

After she squealed away he turned his truck back on. And he followed her down the road. Surely, if there was a witch, it was her. He wasn’t following very closely, because he wasn’t totally sure what he was doing. Was he about to confront her? He kept her in his sight the entire time. It was an easy task, because at four in the morning there were not many cars on the road. He followed at a leisurely pace so as not to be too suspicious. She was driving out to the woods, a place had been many times with his wife, with his child, and with his own father. It was one of his favorite places to hunt. The woods were thick and full of animals to hunt, deer, rabbits, and apparently witches. When she turned onto a scraggly dirt road he pulled over and turned off his truck.

He was 100% certain if he followed her down that road she would know he was following her, and he was already concerned that she suspected. But it didn’t matter, there were only a few cabins down that road. And if he wanted to find her later it wouldn’t be hard. Especially not for an expert hunter like him. He wished he had brought his rifle.

Did he really intend to shoot her?

The thought sobered him. And his cell rang. The noise pierced his ears and quickened his heart. It was only 4:30am, why was Kelly calling? He answered.

She said, “Where the fuck are you? Coralina is on the roof, I need your help.”

Chapter 15

Mark awoke in a cold sweat, he knew he had been dreaming but he wasn’t sure of what.

He was certain he wasn’t in his bed.

In his hands was something cold, slowly growing warm with the warmth of his own fingers. It was familiar.

He felt foggy like he wasn’t fully awake, but he wasn’t fully sleeping.

He swallowed twice and fidgeted. There was something pressed tight against his eye, and he could see Kelly laying in bed in front of them. For a moment he thought to himself he had just gotten out of bed and was standing at the end of the bed staring at her. His finger felt strange, itchy or something. There was tension all through his body, and he was almost trembling with the effort.

He sniffed, slightly wondering if he had a cold. And then he blinked, sweat rolling into his eyelid. Then he adjusted the rifle against his eyes again, aiming it at his wife.

His finger was resting, but he had this feeling that if he shot now she would never even wake up. At least he thought that’s what he is waiting for… Her to wake up.

She fidgeted slightly, and he were was reminded instantly of a fawn in the forest. And how he wouldn’t shoot the mothers and babies, but if a male walked by just pull that trigger like it was nothing. She turned to slightly, and her exposed breast was pointing at him. One pull of the trigger, and then she’d be gone.

He could almost envision the bullet piercing her ribs. There was something amazing about hunting, something carnal and human about it. Sweat was dripping as he blinked a couple of times and reached up with one hand rubbing his face. He opened his eyes and he realized he was pointing a gun at his wife.

Terror shuddered in his heart. He dry heaved twice, but, at least it couldn’t have been loaded. He never left guns loaded. How did he even get it out of the gun safe, in his sleep? Did he turn the combination lock in his sleep? His mind was buzzing. He quickly checked the gun, and two fat bullets were in the gun.

And he nearly shit himself.

Chapter 14

Maybe she was tired after cooking all that food, but his wife went to sleep, sound and steady. He wasn’t particularly sure. Mark was wide awake though, his mind buzzing with the idea of a curse. He crawled out of bed though, and sat at the dining room table dollhouse was sitting in the living room just on the other side of him.

He looked at the two books he had checked out. One was titled Comphrending Curses. The Comphrending Curses book, was the one with Kevin’s tight scrawl, and the girly writing of a teenage girl wildly in love.
The other was a thin yellow paperback entitled, Modern Witchcraft. The yellow book was particularly faded, and discolored. If this book was modern, it had been modern eight or more years ago. As he thumbed through the pages he noticed a bookmark. It said, “Owl always read” and had a picture of and owl on it. Standard library bookmarks.

He flipped through it again pausing at the bookmark. There was Kevin’s weird scrawl, and the perfect neat handwriting with teenage girl on the side of the page. He looked at the passage, and it was written about like a dictionary. It said Abel’s curse: this curse tends to be attached to an object. It requires the blood of a witch, and a passionate incantation. This incantation is not available at this time. This results in a cursed object. Anyone who invites the object into their home, and activates it, will receive the seven symptoms of the curse.
broken bone
crying blood

Mark compared to the seven symptoms on the list to the one that were written on the slip of paper. They were similar, nearly the same – somehow this felt more ominious than if they had been totally unrelated to eachother. Bone snap- broken bone. Crying blood- Blood cry. That was next. What would it mean?

Underneath the symptom list – was a small notation in italics. This curse has no known cure at this time. To destroy a cursed object see page 98.

The girl’s writing on the side said, “All is lost.”

And Kevin’s reply: Fuck you.

Quickly Mark flipped to page 98. The book was terse and useless. Destruction of accursed object: destroying a curse that object is not known at this time. It appears to be more difficult than anticipated.

And in Kevin’s scrawl he wrote – things that do not work; fire, dismantling, eating, hitting with the car, leaving at a thrift store, leaving on the porch, no known way to get rid of the dollhouse.

And in the perfect, girly font – she wrote: I have tried, I have failed.

Mark wondered if he should add anything to this book.

The second book, entitled Comprehending Curses. And it was hard back, leather, and worn. One of the pages fell out when he turned it. He carefully slid it back in place, and flipped forward. There was a bookmark in place. This one said, “I love books” and had a picture of glasses. The first thing he saw was Kevin’s script on the side. “Tried it. Don’t bother.” With a small, neat arrow pointing at a sentance. This book was written in big solid paragraphs, not in easy dictionary format like the other book. It would be easy to loose his place in the sea of words on the page. Mark had never been a good reader, anyways, so he would have never found what he was looking for without Kevin’s helpful note.

To get rid of a curse you must cleanse your soul. You will need the branch of a young sapling, oak, a virgin’s blood. Place the blood on the branch, and whip your skin until the blood between the virgin and the cursed has mixed. Incantation: I’m not worthy. I deserve to be cursed. So I beg for mercy.” This must be recited twelve times while facing the equator.

The girl wrote
I am a virgin. This sounds idiotic. If my blood could save me, I wouldn’t be so filled with fury right now. Three stages left for me. But I’ll kill myself before I ever get to the last one. I can’t risk it.”
There was no way Mark was going to hit himself with a branch.

He was he was sure if he was just getting spooked, and freaked out – or if something real was happening. Something… Otherworldly. He didn’t believe in God, or demons or ghosts. So strange to sit here and read a book about a witch and spells. The closest he had ever felt to something godly, was when he pulled that trigger and dropped the buck. While his father cheered. There is something magical about standing in the forest, becoming nature. The wait, and then righteously taking the life of something delicious. The most feral, human thing he could think of. The most godly.

Reading about curses made no sense. His broken finger, and his violent nightmares, even the terrifying sleepwalking, it still seemed unreal. Like he was staring into a fantasy world. How could Mark come to terms with the idea that he was truly cursed. Maybe if he got to the next stage. But then he’d only be one stage before the girl, and she, she would rather kill herself than get to the final stage.

He turned and looked at the dollhouse, and it just looked like a toy. He didn’t feel ominous or real or scary. Mark turned back and looked at the book. He wondered if it was hogwash. He flipped through Comprehending Curses and he found Abel’s curse.

It took him a while he was flipping through pages kind of mindlessly, it wasn’t totally sure what he was looking for. There it was on one of the pages that slightly loose. Abel’s curse. He wasn’t sure if there had been a bookmark here at some point, but what stopped him was he saw Kevin’s scrawl. Here is the curse. Don’t curse any other objects!
The girls handwriting was suspiciously missing. Had she killed herself? And there was the curse, written out with explicit instructions on how to create a cursed object that cause someone to go through the seven stages. As soon as he stared at it he felt the urge to test it, but he didn’t have the blood of a witch. Unless he was a witch and never knew. But as he stared at it his stomach started to drop harder and harder. Until he was sure, just absolutely sure it was hanging outside of him between his legs.

He didn’t look down, because he didn’t want to know. What if it was true? What if he was going mad?

What if he ripped up this page and then no one would ever be able to make Abel’s curse again? And he stared at the curse and felt almost compelled. And with a quick terrified motion he slammed the book shut. Grabbed both books and shoved them under the couch. When he ran up the stairs and climbed into bed. Curled up tight to his warm wife. He closed his eyes and desperately prayed for sleep.

Chapter 13

He drove himself to the nearby grocery store. He was definitely not going to go to the ER, or even the doctor. It was just a broken finger after all. It hurt like fuck, but the bone wasn’t jammed through the skin. “Fuck fuck, fuck.” Mark muttered as he carefully pulled on his finger. A loud cracking pop happened, and then it straightened. The pain lessened immediately, even as the swelling increased.

He couldn’t decide if this was coincidence – or if something else was going on. That crazy old man had messed with his head. Could this dollhouse have a fucking curse? Mark swallowed his disgust, what kind of father would bring home a fucking cursed object? At the grocery store he got a finger splint, and wrapped his finger tightly to prevent it swelling further. He’d broken a finger before, so he had a a pretty good idea how to take care of it. Now he was perpetually flipping people off with his right hand. Good, he was pissed anyways, and subtly flipping off the entire world seemed fitting. When he climbed back into the car he considered where to go next. He couldn’t quite go home yet, since it was still a little too early.

Curiousity took the best of him and he decided to stop by the library before he went home. He threw back painkiller. Maybe he could find out if there was any book about this curse, and the weird fucking note. His mood was sour, and he wasn’t even sure he believed any of it anymore. Sleepwalking and a broken finger could be one hell of a coincidence. Plus, his finger hurt, and he didn’t really give a shit. He looked at the little scrap of paper in his hand: Abel’s curse. Sounded like the world’s dumbest prank was being pulled on him.

He went into the library and he almost went to the computer to try to figure it out himself, but he barely knew how to use those things. So instead, he asked the librarian who was sitting at her desk annoyed. “I’m trying to look up something called Abel’s curse, do you have a book on it or anything?”

She frowned. “It seems like every few months someone’s asking me about the Abel’s curse. Did you get a dollhouse?”

“What?” He said, completely embarrassed. She knew about the dollhouse? Or was this just a coincidence thing? Did Vladimir tell all his customers they had the curse? Maybe just like to freak people out. Mark coughed, and then said, “Do you have any books about it or not?”

The librarian rolled her eyes. She came back with a stack of books 10 minutes later. “Good luck.” She said.

He took the books to the nearby table. They were already bookmarked, which made flipping to each section easy. Four books, four sections about the Abel’s curse. Two of these books were almost exactly restated from one another, and they didn’t include much information at all. “Abel’s curse is a curse upon an object that contains seven stages ending in death. Typically the death includes murder and suicide.”

The text between the two books was nearly identical. It seemed strange him the two books would even bother mentioning the Abel’s curse. It was virtually no information, useless. He flipped open the third book, and it didn’t particularly have much more information. But there was a hand written scrawl next to the section, “I already have sleepwalking, a broken leg and the bloody nose. Is there any way to stop it?”

The handwriting was in young girlish scrawled. It looked like the kind of thing that should be covered with hearts, and funny little notes to a boy. There was a drop of blood directly below the note. Possibly from a nosebleed?

Underneath her note was a second note in tight tiny capital letters. “I have sleepwalking and a broken toe.” This one had a name written directly underneath it, Kevin.

His phone buzzed, and his pocket. And he realized time had been flying. He was late now, and Kelly was surely getting frustrated. “I want to check this two books out,” Indicating the one he hadn’t even looked at yet, and the one with the handwritten notes.

“Do you even have a library card?”
“I… I guess I’ll need one.” He said. He filled out the forms, his broken finger causing his writing to look even more terrible than normal. Subtly, he checked his nose to see if it was bleeding, but it was not. Eventually, he managed to check out the two books.

“Look, I don’t know what you guys all have been getting into. But make sure you return these books on time.”

Grabbed the two books through them in his truck and drove home. By the time he arrived Kelly was in the middle of making dinner. She had made his favorite, spaghetti with actual meatballs. And the whole loaf of garlic bread, fresh bread that she had baked herself. And a side salad. It was a feast.

“No chicken nuggets?” He said.

“I just want to give you a taste of what life would be like if you let me stay home. I want to stay home. I don’t want to go get another crappy job.” She said.

He felt a longing inside his soul to give his wife exactly what she wanted. But the reality was that they couldn’t even eat like this now. Much less when she stayed home, there would be less money, less food, more Ramen. But he tried to enjoy the feast. But in the back of his mind he was wondering when he could look at those two library books more closely. Abel’s curse, had he caught it?

Chapter 12

He drove to a park, and sat and opened his lunch box. It was just a sad looking peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Mark stared at the kids playing at the park, and thought to himself that he should be either at work or playing with his own children of the park. He was an idiot, sitting here by himself. And yet, and yet he kept looking at this note. It was strange that he was sleepwalking. He had never sleepwalked before, not in his entire life.

But strange didn’t mean dangerous. Coincidence did not equal being hunted, or cursed or whatever this was. It just wasn’t the same thing.

There was a young girl playing on the monkey bars. But otherwise the park was empty, it looked like she must’ve walked there by herself. She had absent parents, and he knew the feeling. He knew what it was like to take yourself to the park because your parents wouldn’t do it. And how you go to the park, because there was nothing else to do. And because leaving the house was better than staying home. Safer than staying home.

He thought about one of the times he had gone out hunting with his father. And his dad got drunk, like he always did. And they would sit in the quiet, it was one of the few times he and his dad really got along. Because they didn’t say anything, they just sat and waited for something to come along so they could kill it. Anyways, this time, since his dad was too drunk to aim anymore, he told Mark to shoot the buck. He vividly remembered lining up the gun, while his dad dozed. A large buck wandered into view, and he took his time, holding the gun exactly straight. Sweat pouring down his face. The intense desire to chicken out was running through his frightened little seven year old body. But then, with a snort, his dad woke, and gently clapped his hand on Mark’s shoulder. “Pull the trigger.” He hissed, in a slow, slurred, drunken noise.

The gun fired loud. He’d never forget the way the gun pounded into his shoulder. He got it. The buck fell. And for a rare, special moment, both son and father were happy together. He still liked hunting, it was one of the few delightful memories that he and his dad shared. He had already taken Beth and Caralina many times, trying to recreate his happiest childhood memory with his own kids.

He mindlessly munched his sandwich as he remembered, and a big black form caught his eye. He looked up, and a big black dog was running toward the playground. It looked like a pitbull, and it was running like it’s tail was on fire. His teeth were bared and he was barking. And that little kid, the one who had nobody was climbing across the monkey bars. The dog was going for her. Mark hopped out of his truck quickly, and started to run forwards towards the girl on the monkey bars. She was struggling to hold herself in the air as the dog came closer, and he was about to see her be mauled. Mark let out a scream of terror, “look out!” He said. And he tried to jump over a little park bench.

But he floundered, his toe catching on the back of the bench and he collided into the ground. He was back on his feet in a heartbeat, trying to race for the girl. He was too late. She looked at Mark, then dropped, landing on her feet. The enormous black dog immediately knocked her down. She let out a squeal, screaming. And Mark charged towards her, but the dog just licked her face.

Mark’s heart was pounding as he absorbed the scene. He wasn’t hurting her. Fuck that was scary. Mark turned and limped back to his truck. He’d skinned both his knees when he fell in his leg was hurting. But when he turned to open the car door he realized his middle finger was twisted at the wrong angle. It was only then that he realized he had broken it.

Frantically he checked the note:

Bone Snap: The second stage.

Chapter 11

Mark was so furious in the morning, that he decided not to go to work. After all… If she didn’t have to go why did he have to go?

Instead he went out and had a cup of coffee, then walked around the hardware store. No he didn’t stay home… He didn’t hang out with his family, even though that’s what he wanted to do. Because he didn’t want her to know that he was that angry. It might be confusing to some, but to him he was making perfect sense. She didn’t have to work he didn’t work.

After he wandered along through the lumber aisle for a while, he decided he would go and talk to the dollhouse guy again. He had been waiting until it was a respectable time to stop by. This time he didn’t call first, and maybe that was poor idea. He drove up to the giant perfect house, again he felt out of place with his ratty old truck grumbling from every direction. His brakes let out a particularly loud cry of complaint, just to make him feel like an idiot. He almost turned around and drove back home to talk to Kelly and to apologize for their fight. He knew that she didn’t like cleaning hotel rooms, it was disgusting. She did deserve a break she’d been working so hard.… It’s just that he had been working hard too. And his job sucked too.

But then he thought about his father destroying his favorite toy. Beth and Coralina had it just as bad, that dumb little table wouldn’t even click shut without the table leaf in place. That was his fault, and his responsibility to fix it. He was not going to let them down. So he got out of the truck, to talk to the crazy man, and knocked on the door. Mr. Vladimir opened the door not two minutes later. “Hello.”

“Hello, this table leaf didn’t fit. Remember? We traded them a few days ago. This time I brought the broken one, so we can get the right one.” Mark said, nervously.

Mr. Vladimir frowned, “okay.” And he gestured a both walked down the hallway to the large room that had stored all the parts in. He pulled out two thin long boxes again. Mark handed him the perfect brand-new table leaf, and he carefully filed it back into place. “Let me see the broken one.”

“Here.” Said Mark, “it split in half, I barely even touched it.”

The man took the splintering piece of table and looked at it. The room seemed to grow instantly cold or, as his eyes grew wide with surprise, and a lingering hint of uncomfortable fear. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Said Mr. Vladimir. “Where did you get this dollhouse?”

“The thrift store.” Said Mark. He was almost embarrassed to utter those words loud, because he didn’t want Mr. Vladimir to realize just how desperate his times were. He couldn’t imagine that Mr. Vladimir had ever been inside a thrift store. Ever.

Mr. Vladimir froze with fear as he stared at the table leaf in his hand. He slowly closed both boxes of table leaves and slid them back into place. And then he turned and went into the back. His movements were stiff, like a man experiencing great shock. Then he came back with the box that was about as large as a shoebox. He carefully opened it. There was a bad energy in the room that had not been there before.”Have you been sleepwalking? Did the nightmares already start?”

“Sleepwalking? How did you know I was sleepwalking?” Said Mark, totally surprised.

Mr. Vladimir didn’t say anything further but opened a shoebox. Inside were exact replica pieces of Mark’s dollhouse. The same tiny little figurines made out of wood, a few pieces for the stairs, and even tiny books. He quietly sorted through the pieces with a grim look on his face. Not a few minutes later he handed Mark a table leaf that perfectly match the splintered one in his hand. “I’ll have to keep this broken ones I can make another.” He was hoarse when he said it. “I’ll have to make another.” He muttered to himself, and made the sign of the cross.

Then Mr. Vladimir closed the shoebox. And he turned and he put it back on the tall shelf in the back. When he came back he was holding a folded piece of paper. “You have it. The cursed dollhouse. And I’m sure you don’t want to hear anything more, but… This paper will explain how long it will take before you kill everyone. I’m afraid I can’t let you stand in my home any longer, lest it happen here. Never come back.” And with a coldness, Mr. Vladimir walked Mark out and locked the door behind him.

Mark was completely baffled, holding the table leaf in one hand and a folded piece of paper the other. He got into his truck at the table leaf in his coat jacket. And then he slowly unfolded the note.

At the top it said the Seven Stages of Able’s Curse.

Night walk
Bone snap
Blood cry
The slaughter

Chapter 10

That night was another nightmare. This time he dreamt that he was stuck in the dollhouse, as strange little wooden doll. He was locked inside the secret room behind the bookcase. He was waiting, waiting indefinitely for someone to notice the little book that was sticking out and pull it. So he could escape, so could take care of Beth and take care of Coralina. And maybe, maybe just maybe take care of Kelly too.

But he was still angry with Kelly for losing her job, for putting more financial stress on the family. He didn’t like it, he wanted to have good things happen to them. And here, he would spend his life trying and she… She would just sit there and do nothing! Is that what they come to? The dark little room around him was closing in, and the panic about money started to swallow him.

He waited in the dark and hoped that someone would pull that little book so he could get out of this little dark tiny room. He could feel the panic rising in his throat, the need to scream. And he started to reach out his hands in all directions tapping things, maybe he could find the latch from the inside? Why hadn’t he thought of it earlier! But his hard wooden stick hands wouldn’t behave themselves.

A long sharp, needle dug into his eye. He almost screamed, but he realized it didn’t hurt. He was made of wood. But it was sticking out from his eyes so far it bumped the wall across the little room. No wonder why he couldn’t see in the dark with the giant metal needle stabbing through his vision. He tried to pull on it with both of his wooden hands but he had no grip, it didn’t budge. Carefully he used his thick wooden hands to tap around the room in every direction. He had to keep swinging his head toward the center of the room to prevent the needle from bumping a wall. It was like a coffin, four sides short ceiling. He knew he was standing up, but he couldn’t didn’t even have the room to sit. His wooden legs didn’t bend anyways, so what could he do?

Finally he resorted to screaming for Kelly. To no avail. then screaming for Coralina, and then finally screaming for little Beth. “Please please let me out! I’ll be a good boy. I promise.” He said, the words on foreign lips. But the words – they felt familiar. As if they were words he had said and screamed a thousand times. How long had he been stuck in here?

And then the door cracked open just slightly, and then it swung open in a big whoosh. In the outside was cold, like the air from a refrigerator. And it was right out, his eyes could not get accustomed to it. In fact his eye was hurting badly. He reached up to touch it and he felt the giant needle once more. He tried to pull and pull and then suddenly pop it came out.

He blinked twice and opened his eyes.

He was standing in front of his truck. The light from the truck were on and shining in his face. In the truck was very slowly rolling towards him. It scared him so badly. His eyes burning from the bright lights. He pushed on the truck with his hands and try to slow it down, and then turned and ran around the side hopping in the truck and popping it into park. The keys were in the ignition, but the engine wasn’t turned on. How had he come outside, gotten in the truck put the key, and popped it into neutral and turn on the lights- how had he done this in his sleep?

And then stood in front of it, so that it would have run him over.

What kind of sick and twisted brain did he have? With a shudder, he went back to bed. It was only two in the morning.

He almost woke up Kelly and ask for her to hold him. Because the fear was brewing inside his belly, and marinating in his mind. But he was still so angry with her for not even trying to get a job, that instead he rolled his back to her and fell asleep.

Chapter 9

Even though he was really determined to drive down and fix the annoying splinter – the table leaf problem right away, it turned out that he just couldn’t get it done. He ended up being asked to stay late at work, to help make up for having left early the day before. They also received their next large delivery, and he was going to be hanging the siding on the house soon. Framing was wrapping up, and the next step was waterproofing. It was boring, he had done this so many times it barely felt like work anymore. It was the kind of thing a zombie could do, no brains needed

Since he was working so late he ended up driving straight home so he could have dinner, with his kids. He wondered for the millionth time if they noticed his efforts to be a good father. He joined them at the table, but both girls were just finishing up their bowls of cheap soup. They giggled together and ran off to play with the dollhouse, long before he even got started on his own soup.

“How many jobs did you apply for today?” He asked, while eating his chicken Ramen soup.

Kelly wrinkled her nose, “about that, none.”

Mark paused, mid bite with the noodles hanging off his spoon in a big splattery mess. And he glared at his wife. “What?”

“I was thinking I’d take a day or two to myself before I started applying for shit jobs again. You know how it is – I just… I just don’t…” she paused, midsentence. And ended up looking at her fingertips. She did never did intend to finish that sentence. And Mark, uncomfortably stared at her.

“Take a few days? Like a gap year? We can’t let you take a few days. You’re not a kid. We have bills.” Mark said and then he shoved a bunch of hot noodles in his mouth. Chewing them down with frustrated, tasteless enthusiasm. It was like they were falling apart at the seams, like his truck.

Beth came running over, her little four-year-old eyes looking bright as sunshine. She tugged on his sleeve. “Did you get the dollhouse table?” She asked. A full sentance, his nearly mute child asked a full sentance. And the question was about his utter and unrelenting failure. The splinter in his hand.

Mark bit his tongue so hard he thought it might slice it into two pieces. It was threatening to bleed even as he sat there., “Sorry baby, probably tomorrow.” His stomach flipped over, that’s the kind of shit his dad would do- promise to do stuff and then never get around to it. He just couldn’t live like that. He didn’t want to be a bad father, he was trying to break the cycle. He was trying so hard, but it wasn’t working.

“Okay.” Said Beth, seemingly completely unfazed by his lack of solving her problem. And she skipped her little blonde hair back to the dollhouse, and continue to play with her sister, Coralina.

But Mark was hurt, and sick to his stomach. It really pissed him off to let her down. He’d have to fix it tomorrow. He turned and stared angrily at his wife, letting his emotion poor out in one single, angry sentence, “get a job.”

And they both went to bed silently again.

Chapter 8

Kelly woke up earlier than normal and was making waffles. He woke up his normal five am time, shocked to see Kelly awake, and out of bed. The first thing that she did, was shove him. So he did the thing that he did, and grabbed her butt so hard that she nearly hit the ceiling. It was one of the many ways that they played rough with each other. He loved his wife, and her silly ridiculous behavior. She pulled the frozen waffle from the toaster and placed it on a plate for them. Then she dumped some syrup on top. “I thought you’d be hungry.”

“Why are you even awake?” He said scarfing bits of waffle between putting on his shoes and socks.

“I wanted today to start off well.” She said, hesitantly.

And he knew, before she even said the next sentence. He knew there was some big trouble. “Tell me.” He said short, and sharp. “I have to go to work soon, blurted out.”

“Well you know how Emily is.” And Kelly paused.

Kelly had this infuriating way of starting in the middle of the story. And Mark had no time for that, both because he had to leave for work any minute now, and on top of that, Emily was her boss. “Shit. Don’t tell me.” The waffle was no longer edible. He couldn’t even force the frozen half warm waffle down with even of waterfall of syrup.

“Fine I won’t,” said Kelly and she slammed her dishes in the sink.

“The truck, its brakes are squealing! The engine is probably gonna blow any minute now. And you,” he pointed with his fork, “you lost your job! How could you do that! We need that money.”

“I don’t even believe that dollhouse cost only five dollars. I think you’re a liar. Maybe if you stop spending money on ridiculous toys for children because you’re all caught up in ‘am I a good dad’ all the time. We don’t even need two incomes. You make fine money.” She said furiously. But she was lying, and they both knew it.

But he didn’t want to fight to stood up and he stomped out.



There was no drumming on this steering wheel today, his nightmare would have probably given him a foul mood no matter what happened this morning, but Kelly losing her job was no joke. And now! She would get to stay home all day with Coralina and Beth. And he would have to go to his shitty job, and build shitty walls, for stupid houses that he never got to live in.

This time, he remembered to grab the broken table leaf and the wrong size one, so at least he could show the crazy old man which kind he needed. It wasn’t until lunch time when he sat down and ate his peanut butter and jelly sandwich, that he wondered how he had climbed on the roof. He wasn’t naturally a sleepwalker. It seemed so surreal and so strange, that he probably would’ve forgotten it entirely and dismissed it all as dream – except that it took him forty-five minutes to figure out how to get off the roof. He still had no idea how he got up there in the first place.

Surely he only dreamt about the dollhouse being haunted because Mr. Vladimir was acting so weird about it the whole time they talked yesterday. Then again – he’d never sleep walked before.

Kelly would have another job in a couple of days, she was usually pretty quick to apply for a new job. Plus the job it sucked, and they both knew it. She’d been doing hotel maid work for a while. So she was constantly covered in blood and semen and who knows what else from other people. It was disgusting, and he didn’t like Kelly working disgusting, shady jobs.

But he couldn’t just let her stay at home and play with kids. That wasn’t good for either of them.

Especially not their finances, and he wasn’t kidding when he thought that that truck was going to be undrivable soon. Sure he could drive Kelly’s minivan around a little bit – but they were still making payments on the minivan, and it was a piece of shit too. What were they going to do?

He didn’t know, he didn’t know at all. But, he was definitely going to drive down and see if he could get Mr. Vladimir to give them the correct table leaf. Then at least that horrible feeling of a splinter stuck in his hand would go away.