The House That Stole Toys
by Mike "corpsemonger" Wasion
The boy cowered.
Why did he even bring a ball into the woods?
There wasn't anything better to do in the woods than throw a superball around?
It was stupid.
It was senseless.
It was what eleven year old boys did.
He backed up against the cold wall, pressing and pressing as if he could press through it, get farther away from what he was seeing.
But he couldn't. He was going nowhere.
Light spilled in from a broken stained glass window high above, dimly illuminating the once ornate dining hall.
And the things for which the boy had no name.
There was a wall of them, stretching into the darkness, stretching into forever.
Making sounds he didn't know things could make.
Making sounds he KNEW nothing should be ABLE to make.
It was of this very thing that he was certain....what he was seeing should not be real.
When he finally convinced himself that it was, he'd wet himself.
That seemed like a lifetime ago.
They splashed forward like a slow motion wave of putrescent flesh, writhing and undulating, and screeching and gnashing, one snatched an errant bird from the air and devoured it in a single, wet movement; some did crawl and some did walk like broken marionettes, some slithered and some seemed to float, and some moved in ways that could not be described.
They were not what science said could exist, nor anything that God could ever love, nothing He ever wanted to move about the face of His Earth.
But they were here, now.
And they moved ever closer to the boy, moved, while he could not.
A sickening nest of ropey tendrils, the color and texture of raw meat, slid out across the marble floor from somewhere within the throng of abominations, and bled as they did so.
They whipped in the yellow puddle at the boy's feet, and nipped at his shoes, but went no further.
The things before the boy stopped.
All he could do was stare. There ws nothing else TO do.
And in those detatched moments, images flashed in the boy's head.
The dead dog he and Tommy Willis had found in the woods about a month ago, when the weather started to get warm. It had been there for awhile.
The pictures of infected eyes and eyelids that adorned the walls of his mother's optomologist.
These were the only things his mind could compare to what he was seeing.
Before any of these thoughts could take seed, something flashed out from inside the mass of twisted flesh and splintered teeth not twenty feet away from him.
Small, no bigger than a silver dollar, and round like the moon, it bounced slowly toward the boy, splashing in the blood left by the tendrils as it went.
As if someone had flipped an invisible switch, it stopped in front of the boy, and bounced in place.
It was his ball.
His stupid, rubber ball he decided to bounce off of trees instead of run around, or wade in the stream, or chase chipmunks or ANYthing that would take him anywhere except this house.
His stupid, quarter machine superball that bounced off of a high pine and crashed through the window of THIS house, this rotting, enormous building he would never leave again, his stupid rubber ball that seemed to keep bouncing just a few feet in front of him no matter where he chased it....now it just bounced wetly in front of him as if it were laughing.
Suddenly, from the dead center of the seething clutch of monstrosities, movement.
Something large this time, as big as a man or bigger.
It rose up as if plucked slowly from the lower abomintions by some unseen hand, and descended toward the boy. As it came further into the shaft of light, it became clear that it WAS a man, a tall thin man in a stained white coat.
The creatures at his feet cooed and mewled and growled in seeming adoration. Some reached, some bowed.
As he glided, motionless toward the boy, something fell from the shadows of the unseen, impossibly high cieling, one on either side of the pale-coated form.
Things that looked like giant, pink versions of the pictures angry old Mrs. McCleery always held up outside of the free clinic.
They fell in loud, moist snaps, supspended by frayed nooses that should've broken their necks if not torn their heads clean off, but apparently caused them only to spit a thick wad of green fluid with each drop.
Closer he glided, and more they fell, snapping in time with the bouncing of the hateful little ball.
Hovering a mere ten feet in front of the boy now, he could finally make out details of the impossible phantasm before him.
Unlike the others, this one looked like at one time he could have been normal.
A straw-like parody of hair, black at the tips, and dandelion seed white at the roots, resembling a tangle of quills more than anything, sat above eye sockets as dark as a world without a sun.
From within the sunken pits glared a set of eyes that looked like nothing so much as the yellowed handiwork of some shoddy taxidermist.
The man's mouth was fully two times the size of any normal mouth, filled with far too many jagged teeth, and far too narrow at that.
His skin the color of bleeched leather, his overlong fingers baring thick, yellow nails that could slash a throat at the flick of a wrist.
He looked like the funhouse mirror mockery of a middle school science professor, the nightmare vision of a drug store pharmacist stretched and twisted beyond belief. A thick layer of dust covered every inch of his body.
"Another friend!", the man hissed like an old woman gargling broken glass, a horrible smile polluting his corrupt face.
The boy's mind would not allow him the sweet release of madness...instead, a flood of detatched questions momentarily stemmed the tide of white hot panic.
Who are you? What are you? Why is this happening? How is this happening?
The thoughts crashed together into one unintelligible thought, and no words could form.
"Wh...", the boy managed to spit before lapsing back into silence, and stepping closer to sheer insanity.
"It's so lonely here in the summertime," The Doctor said. "No one comes to visit us. We have no playmates. While you run and play in the sunlight, we're here. Always. Here. Always. Here. We need playmates."
The Doctor gestured to the endlessly bouncing rubber ball. His free arm snapped back as if with a mind of it's own, and from behind him came a lite shuffling sound.
An old teddy bear stepped forth. A battered toy car. A GI Joe.
The boy recognized the toys.
Randy's bear. Thomas's car. Mickey's soldier.
Randy Allen. Thomas Ginder. Mickey Denton.
The three kids who went missing last summer. Everyone assumed they got kidnapped, or went missing in the woods...he went to school with those kids, still saw their families all the time. Mrs. Denton still lays all of Mickey's other G.I. Joes out in his room so they'll be waiting for him when he comes home.
The toys stood there wobbling by The Doctor's side.
The boy opened his mouth, but before he could repeat his formless, all-questioning sound, The Doctor answered all of his questions just as simply.
"We play", said The Doctor with a soul-lacerating smile.
With this came another shuffling sound. Heavier this time, but just as uncoordinated. Just as empty.
From the writhing shadows behind The Doctor came three small figures.
Broken, and bleeding, and bloated and sad, came the three missing boys.
Their soulless, lifeless little faces stained with expressions that can only be earned by seeing things no one ever should.
The Doctor slapped his hands together, a look of empty glee on his face.
"We'll have to teach you our games!"
From out of the sea of horrors stepped a trio of seeping, reeking, formless figures, who grabbed the three children immediately. They pulled and twisted untill the sound of bones popping were so loud the boy thought his ears would explode.
Falling into a heap, the three twisted frames stuggled feebly to move.
Something....HORRIBLE emerged, a giant swollen thing, nothing more than transluscent red skin, and folded fat and razored, splintered teeth, and it slithered, dripping over to the three young boys.
One by one, it grabbed them with it's veiny tendril arms, and bit their heads and hands clean off.
Somehow, impossibly, the three boys stumbled to their feet, and teetered helplessly, headless, the shredded stumps of their wrists rubbing together, trying to find their hands.
"We'll teach you our games. The boys will help."
MY EARS ARE ON FIRE!!!
"We play every day. The boys don't play the same anymore. We need new playmates."
"...We'll teach you. You have all the time in the world to learn. You never have to stop playing. Always. Here."
And as The Doctor put his hand on the boy's shoulder, the boy could no longer hear what he was saying. Deafened by the sound of his own screaming.
. . . . .
The girl ran down the trail, mid-day light breaking through the trees to illuminate her auburn hair.
She couldn't let it get away.
It was her favorite kite. Yellow like the sun, with an orange tail to match the freckles on her soft skin.
The gust of wind was strong, but not THAT strong....it had to be right around here.
She came to the end of the path and entered a clearing. Set back at the end of the clearing, was a gigantic, old, house.
The lake beyond it sparkled the brightest blue.
Staring in awe at the giant building, something caught her eye.
The orange tail of her kite, resting inside the open front door.
As she ran toward it, the wind picked up again.
The tail of the kite rustled, as the wind whipped through her silky hair.
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