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“But it has no landscaping. We’d have to put in all the landscaping ourselves,” Anna pointed out reasonably. They stared at it a while longer.
It appeared quite large from the road, set back several hundred feet and placed neatly at the crest of a hill. It had probably been built in the early 20th century after the elaborate Victorian model. The detailing was reminiscent of an age long past. A narrow turret rose from the roof, intercepting the clouds. A bay window with brown glass peered at them from a corner.
“At least we would get to do it exactly how we wanted it,” her father responded as he turned the ignition off. Without the hum of the motor, all Anna could hear was the construction from inside the home.
They made their way up the long driveway which curved elegantly around the left side of the hill. The wind blew some of the dust from the yard into their eyes. As Anna peered around, she was astounded at the desolate nature of the house. The entire hill it sat upon was light brown powder. Not a shred of vegetation grew, not even weeds.
“Maybe it’s like Mount Gilboa. It has been cursed. Nothing can grow,” She suggested over the soft pat of their feet on blacktop. Her statement elicited no reaction.
“It looks like it might rain?” She intoned, but still received no statement from her father, so she became quiet again.
They were almost to the house when a door swung wide open, creaking horribly in the process, and a little girl ran out. She was barefoot, wearing a gray-blue prairie dress covered in a little white apron. Her outdated appearance was in stark contrast to Anna’s stylish clothes and her father’s crisp sports coat.
“Hello! Hello, there!” The girl called. She ran towards them. Anna judged her to be around thirteen. It was difficult to tell because she was tall, yet had the face and inflection of a child.
“We’ve been waiting for you. Thank you for coming!” She said when they met. She shook their hands with glee, and led them up to the house.
“I’m Lydia. Please, come in! Don’t mind the construction workers,” she implored. She took Anna’s hand and pulled her inside.
And there were construction workers. Maybe 30. All working on a different aspect of the great living area, all wearing dusty construction helmets. The hum of the power tools was nearly deafening.
Anna took in the room. It was big, rectangular. On the left side lay a massive fireplace. It’s carvings were innate and implied a somewhat gruesome tone. A hard hat labored over the facade, maybe repairing it, maybe removing it.
A man, probably in his early 40’s was standing near the center of the room. No hard hat, gray clothes.
“Thank you for coming out. Please let us show you the house,” he said. He seemed exhausted, bags drooping under his eyes.
And Lydia was pulling Anna by the hand again.
“Come! I want to show you my room!”
Lydia is a doll, Anna concluded as she was tugged towards a wall. It was a purely literal observation. Lydia’s face was that porcelain sheen that was indicative of a doll’s face. Her eyes were lined with little black lashes, perfect length. Her hair seemed to be braided out of satin. Her limbs were thin, seeming to operate on hinges. Everything about her was so perfect. So doll-like.
“Here, see, you just touch right here and…. voila! Look, isn’t that exciting!” Lydia exclaimed as the wall opened to an incredibly narrow, winding staircase. It was metal— a stark contrast to the wooden nature of the rest of the house. “Come on, it’s so fun!”
“No, I think I’d like to stay down here, sweetheart…”
“No! Come with me!” Anna had no choice but to be led up the stairs. Lydia took her hand and walked her up. They weren’t particularly long, but the barely 12 inch diameter made Anna feel terribly claustrophobic. And when she finally did reach the top, she had to stoop terribly to make it through the door.
“These are my dolls. Do you like them?” Lydia asked.
Anna had initially only been able to focus on the tight nature of the room, if it could even be called a room. It couldn’t be more than six feet high, and maybe not even that wide. Its panelling matched the wood motif, but it had a plaster ceiling with a slowly spinning fan and bulb.
But then she saw the dolls. Now, Anna had never been a huge proponent of dolls, but these had an especially horrifying look about them. All female with faces carved in a pleasant but tense state. Maybe they only looked stiff and rigid because they were wood, but their expressions, save for the complex individual features, were identical.
“Aren’t they just exquisite?” Lydia implored. Anna felt herself oddly drawn to them, yet disgusted at the same time. She walked to the far wall, gray and short. It appeared to be a loft. Anna peered over the edge. Below, she could see all the workers with their power tools, working on the ornate wooden finishes. All had protective masks, faces concealed entirely. As Anna peered over the edge, she felt an uneasy feeling overwhelm her.
“I think we’re ready to go,” she said, still peering over the edge. Then she felt it. Free fall. She couldn’t move her arms, her legs. She wanted to open her mouth to scream, but it was solid, shut. The weirdest thing was she should have hit the floor. She had been falling for ages.
Finally, she hit the hard floor. Wood on wood, breaking. The shattering she felt was unbelievable. She couldn’t move anything. Everything was unmovable.
She heard a distant pit-pat, little footsteps coming toward her. Then standing above her was a giant. Giant Lydia.
“She broke!” the huge Lydia yelled. It was a muffled sound to Anna.
Anna saw the construction workers, masked men crowd around her. They removed their masks to reveal their faces. Or lack thereof. What were they? Contorted, disgusting features, creatures without eyes, creatures with only eyes. Each was different, equally hideous. Again, Anna wanted to scream, shriek. But her mouth wouldn’t move. Nothing would move.
“Can you fix her?” Lydia pleaded. They replied in grunts. Maybe it meant yes. Maybe it meant no.
Regardless, the power tools came out. The pain was agonizing. Anna couldn’t imagine what they were fixing. They were drilling into her face. They were reconnecting limbs. It was terrifying and agonizing.
Then it was over and Giant Lydia picked her up.
“Don’t you just love dolls? Don’t you just love being a doll?”
As Lydia was carried up the metal staircase, which now seemed cavernous, she realized what had happened.
She was a wooden doll. She was part of the collection.
Was this place cursed like Mount Giilboa? Absolutely.