Toys in Cross: Her Only Friend


I burned the doll, though not soon enough.

Sabine Mont Bleu was a quiet and lonely child, one of several who had come to Cross shortly after the end of the Great War. She rarely spoke, and when she did, it was only in halting English. The family with whom she stayed could converse in French, but they often complained that she would only speak when forced to.

Some thought it might be after-effects of the war. Sabine had lived in German-controlled territory, and no one quite knew what she had gone through. She was, in fact, more than a trifle mysterious to the townsfolk, though I knew her story to be sadder than the people of Cross could comprehend.

Her father,five older brothers, six uncles, and both grandfathers had all died fighting the Germans. Sabine’s mother had died of a broken heart, and her aunts had vanished during the war. Some said they died at the hands of the Germans, but I know they were caught in an artillery barrage launched by American forces near the war’s end.

Sabine had arrived with only a few clothes and a doll that should have been left in France or thrown overboard on her trip across the Atlantic.

The doll was malignant and foul, and I pressed Sabine’s foster family to allow me to remove it from the house.

They refused. It was, they said, the only comfort the child had, and on many a night, they could hear her whispering to it in French. When I asked if they were sure it was Sabine and not the doll who was whispering, they laughed and said good day.

It is my hope that they did not know it was the doll who convinced Sabine that they were responsible for the annihilation of her family.

Early one morning, well before dawn, the fire brigade was called out. When the engines rushed to the scene of the blaze, they found Sabine standing outside, weeping and clutching the doll while the house lit up the sky.

When I arrived, Sabine was unconscious in the arms of a female neighbor. The doll, wearing a broad smile, lay on the ground close by.

I took the damned thing and hurled it into the fire. The explosion that followed shook the town and set Sabine to screaming.

She hasn’t spoken since.

#horror #monsters #supernatural #death

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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