A collection of short stories, mostly written for 'Screams!'
| Sweet Cheeks
"I wish you'd get rid of that thing," Jane said, eyeing the dummy that was seated on her husband's lap.
"That ain't gonna happen, sweet cheeks," Simon replied, although he used the voice that he kept reserved for the dummy, and Jane had to admit that it's mouth opened while her husband's seemed to remain closed.
"At least ditch it from the dinner table. I can't eat with that... thing sitting there watching me."
"Fine, you win." Simon stood up and lifted the dummy gently. Jane was sure that he whispered to it as he carried it across the room and sat it on a chair.
Uncomfortably conscious of the fact that the eyes of the dummy were still fixed on her, Jane glared at her husband. She'd have to put up with it, even though she really wanted to insist that the thing was removed from the room.
It was creepy as hell, she thought. Just about two feet tall, and kind of chubby like many a toddler, the dummy had the face and features of an adult. It was male, scraggly, with shoulder-length unruly hair. Jane just knew that if it had been able to grow facial hair, the face would have been covered with stubble. Perhaps that would have been an improvement on the lines and gaps of its hinged jaw.
Simon had been the sort of man that, although not really handsome, had taken the time to ensure he was neatly turned out. Or at least he had until the arrival of the dummy. She still remembered how he had brought the thing in off the street after he had rescued it from a dumpster.
"Yuck!" Jane had wrinkled her nose in disgust. "Get rid of it, Simon. That thing is gross!"
"Ah, come on, Jane. I'll give it a clean-up. I've always wanted to have a go at being a ventriloquist." When he had seen that she was about to argue, Simon had added: "I'll keep it in my study. You won't even know that it's there."
And for a couple of weeks, Simon had done just that. He began to spend more and more time shut up in his study, and Jane had heard him chatting away with a strange and slightly nauseating voice. She had pictured the dummy, shuddered and left him to get on with it. Her biggest hope was that her husband would soon grow bored.
Perhaps he would have done if he had not been made redundant. He had come home and shut himself up in his study, refusing to talk to Jane until the following day. The fact that she could hear the chatter coming from inside the room made her furious. She had knocked on the door, persistently, until the voice of the dummy had told her to go away.
That had been a couple of days ago, and since then the dummy seemed to be turning up everywhere. She had even spotted it in their bedroom, and had angrily insisted that if Simon did not remove the dummy from there straight away, she would remove herself from his life.
Her husband had done as she'd asked but since then Jane felt as though both the dummy and her husband were sulking with her. Even the victory over the dinner table was a pretty hollow one, especially when Jane became convinced that the dummy had winked at her from across the room.
"Simon," she asked, forcing her voice to stay level. "Do you love me?"
"What sort of a question is that? Of course I do." And Simon had reached over and picked up her hand in his own.
"Well, prove it then. Please... for me... just get rid of that... DOLL!" Jane hadn't meant to shout the last word, but she could feel its eyes boring into her.
"No." That was all Simon said in reply.
"Fine. If you won't, I will." Jane walked towards the dummy, made a grab for it and felt her arm being pulled back.
"Leave it, Jane. I'm warning you now. Just leave it alone."
"Or what?" She spat the words at her husband, and was still trembling after he had reached around her and picked up the dummy. Just before they both disappeared into his study, Jane was positive she saw the plastic hand lift up and wave.
As she lay in bed that night Jane wondered if she really was being unreasonable. It couldn't really do any harm, could it. It was just a doll after all, plastic and material; if only the thing wasn't so totally creepy.
Jane waited for Simon to enter the room. She knew how it would go. He would say sorry, and she would say sorry, and the issue would be brushed away until it was brought up again. He was taking a long time. No doubt it was his way of punishing her for daring to suggest he got rid of his precious dummy.
Feeling her anger start to rise again, Jane shut her eyes when she heard the light footstep outside the bedroom. Two could play at the game of punishment. She would make out that she was asleep, ignore his apology, and leave him feeling guilty for once. Jane screwed her eyes shut, but then relaxed them a bit.
She felt a gentle pressure on Simon's side of the bed. He would shortly be pulling back the covers, slipping into bed and attempting to make his peace. The covers did not move, but she could feel the pressure changing position on the top of the bed.
"Go to bed, Simon," she mumbled in what she hoped was a sleepy voice.
The movement continued, and then she felt something brush against her cheek. Something cold. Something plastic. Jane tried to push herself into a sitting position but there was a firm pressure on her neck that held her in place.
"Such a shame, sweet cheeks. We could have all got along so well together." It was the voice of the dummy.
"I'm warning you, Simon, I will leave. Get this thing off..." Jane's sentence cut off when she opened her eyes and looked into those of the dummy. It's plastic eyes blinked, once, twice, but that wasn't possible for Simon was right over by the door.
The dummy moved one of its arms, and Jane felt the cold steel of a knife blade. She whimpered in fear, knowing that the whole scene made no sense at all. The arm lifted, knife pointed straight at her throat, and before she had a chance to scream that arm dropped and cut off the sound.