Friday, 3 February 2012

Friday Flash - The Puppet

Marsha sat at the computer, the black type dancing in strange shapes before her tired eyes. She shook her head and forced herself to concentrate.

“Mummy, I don’t like the toy Daddy got me.”

Marsha looked up from her work. A small figure stood in the doorway, a teddy bear dangling at her side.

“Nancy, Mummy’s working.” Marsha pointed to the computer. She glanced at the clock – forty minutes of peace, and she was sure to meet the deadline.

“But Mummy –”

“It was very nice of Daddy to get you that puppet.”

Marsha thought of the puppet her husband brought back from Germany. The black-clad figure looked more like a praying mantis than the jester it was supposed to be, all spindly legs and tiny head. Its black pointed cap was surprisingly sharp. Marsha shivered the first time she saw its painted grin, an expression that brought Jack Nicholson to mind. She’d been unsure about giving it to their five year old, but Hal insisted.

Maybe I’ll speak to him about it when he gets home, she thought.

“I don’t like it. Can I sit in here with you?”

“No, Nancy. I have work to do. Why can’t you play in the sitting room?”

“It’s in there.”

Marsha peered over the top of her spectacles at her daughter. Nancy stared back, her blue eyes wide, her pudgy hand clutching the paw of Mr Patches.

“Nancy –”

“Look what it did to Mr Patches.”

Nancy held up her teddy for inspection. Stuffing poked through the burst seam down his left side, and one of his blue patches flapped free from his belly, held on by just two stitches.

“What happened?” Marsha remembered her niece, Kayla. She’d started destroying her things to get attention. Am I working too much? Am I neglecting my own daughter?

“I was playing with Mr Patches and the bad toy said he’d hurt me if I didn’t play with him instead. I hid behind Mr Patches and the bad toy hurt him.” Tears welled up in Nancy’s eyes. Marsha stared down at the teddy – she’d have to ask her sister to do a repair job.

The phone rang, its electronic chirp breaking the silence. Marsha jumped. She snatched up the receiver.

“Yes?”

“Marsha, it’s Peter. The meeting’s been brought forward by twenty minutes. Can you get me the report in the next ten?” Her boss’ harassed tone mirrored her own frustration.

“I, er, yes, of course I can.”

“Mummy –”

Marsha waved Nancy out of the room before scribbling down Peter’s last minute changes to the report. With one eye on the clock, she fell to her task.

Ten minutes later, she pressed ‘Send’ on the email and sat back in her chair. She let her gaze dance around the room, ignoring the clock now that the deadline was met.

A squeal from the next room disturbed her relaxation. Remembering Nancy’s earlier behaviour, she jumped up from the chair and hurried into the sitting room. Mr Patches lay discarded on his back, more stuffing poking out from the burst seam. A single shoe, spattered with child-friendly paint, lay on the floor beside him.

“Nancy? Are you alright?”

Silence. Marsha picked up the teddy and stroked his threadbare fur. She looked around the room, even pulling out the sofa to check Nancy’s old hiding place. She snatched up a pile of blankets in the corner, but Nancy wasn’t hiding under them. Other than the bear, the room was empty.

Empty, except for a spindly black shadow dancing along the wall.

33 comments:

Allie Slater said...

Gah! - a creepy piece. Dolls and puppets have always made me feel a bit uneasy.

I wonder if the father knew about the puppet, seeing as he insisted his daughter have it? And if he did know, why would he want to give it to her? Very interesting!

Carrie Clevenger said...

[shivers] Nice horror shot here Icy. Your creativity is endless.

Peter Newman said...

Why are some toys so darned creepy? And why do people still buy them for their kids?

I think they should do some research to test for links between creepy toys and disturbed adults.

Good story btw.

Nerine Dorman said...

Eeeeek! A perfect horror short!

Sulci Collective said...

And they call it puppet love! If the puppet is anything like the picture here I'm not surprised nancy found it terrifying. War of the puppets, I love it.

marc nash

Laurita said...

Very creepy. Puppets always are, especially the shadowy kind

Tony Noland said...

Ooh, scary, creepy & terrifying - everybody's nightmare. I think the unreasonable boss and the shifting deadline are EVERYONE'S nightmare.

The puppet was scary, too.

ganymeder said...

Oooooooh no! But you must realize, I now want backstory! :)

John Wiswell said...

Camera pans back and the shadow is from Marsha playing with her puppet. She finally figured out how to work it and loves it now! That's the ending, right?

tom gillespie said...

Perfect snap of horror.. loved it..
I'm a sucker for puppets. dolls and creepy toys.. My daughter loves them!!

David J. Avila said...

Very nice.

Bevimus said...

Oh! Super creepy! That's gonna give me nightmares...

cindyvaskova said...

Chills up my spine! Very nice!

D. Paul said...

Icy,

Very nicely done. Very creepy while mixing in the Mom's own fears as well.

All the best,
Paul

Tim VanSant Writes said...

What a wonderful bit of creepy.

And can I guess for those of us wondering about what really happened? Only the shadow knows! [sorry]

Janet said...

Shudder ... creepy! Mom's gonna regret she thought her job was so important, I'm betting!

Sonya Clark said...

Gah! Kill it with fire!

Excellent story!

Eric J. Krause said...

Very creepy! Very cool! Some of those puppets and dolls that are meant to be children's playthings are the creepiest things imaginable. And if they come to life, well...

daniellelapaglia said...

Ugh! Creepy dolls! This one didn't have quite the atmosphere I'm used to getting from your stories, but the creepy factor was definitely high.

storytreasury said...

Very very creepy! The mother will regret sending the girl to the other room.

Helen said...

Oh that's so creepy, one puppet you'd want to cut the strings too!

Nice build up of tension in this Icy. I liked the story line it appealed very much to me. ^__^

afullnessinbrevity said...

*looks around the shadows, turns the lights right up and cuddles his blanket*
Adam B @revhappiness

mgideon said...

Creepy-ass puppets! I like the tension here. Poor parents. Nothing but regret after shushing a child who's explaining the boogeyman.

Katherine Hajer said...

I like how the description of the puppet isn't overly laboured, and how poor Marsha has it coming at her from all directions when she makes the wrong call. The horror of being rational in the face of the irrational.

Liminal Fiction said...

My anxiety grew as the story progressed and I found myself hoping the kid would be ok. The puppet's sharply pointed hat was particularly scary. This was one of my favorite horror flashes.

FARfetched said...

Creepy evil puppet indeed! Loved how the tension built through this.

Mummy screwed up. I've gotten plenty of work done with a child playing quietly in the same room. I'm also wondering was Hal was thinking, insisting on giving this thing to their kid.

Steve Green said...

I always find toys like this scary, the violence always seems so much more horrific because it comes from such an unexpected source.

W. J. Howard said...

How we love torture our children with demonic toys. Nice and creepy!

jackkholt said...

Nancy's the new Puppet Master, right? Nice work.

theothersideofdeanna said...

This gives me an extra chill because I'm so terrified of puppets, (due to a nightmare at 7-years-old that felt very real to me). Excellent creepy tale Icy!

Aidan Fritz said...

Creepy! I love the way you turn up the pressure with the call from her boss.

brainhaze said...

Shivers up my spine - and I know exactly what type of puppet you are refferring to - from countrie afar and handmade but creepy as hell. Nice work Icy - I will make sure I never own one after this

Craig Smith said...

Poor Nancy, it can be so hard balancing work and family life. Great story and suitably spooky :).

And thanks for the comment on mine. All feedback is welcome. Will keep a better eye on my commas.

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