Smiling Doll

by Kimmy
Georgia, United States
genre: Horror

“Found anything yet?”

“Nope, not a thing.” Ryan sighed. His head ached from how much thinking he’d been doing recently. He and his buddy Kai were in a secluded room in front of a huge detective board with a dim light bulb as the only source of light. At the very center of the board were several wanted posters, each featuring missing people and hefty cash rewards for finding them. Ryan leaned against the concrete wall while Kai was seated at a desk cluttered with countless papers and a few smiling dolls. Dollmaking was Kai’s hobby; it was never in Ryan’s interest to pry.

Kai narrowed his eyes. “We have all the clues, and they’re all pointing to that house.” He glanced at his friend. “Didn’t you say you really needed money right now? It’s the perfect chance.” 

The house in question was one that had always given Ryan the chills. There was something about the way it stood out amongst a neighborhood of well-kept houses that was just so off-putting. He figured, though, that he would have to get over that fear eventually. “Yeah, you’re right,” Ryan stated. “Do you want to go now, or…?”

“The sooner, the better.” Kai got up and headed straight for the door, beckoning Ryan along. “Let’s head out.”

It was the middle of October, so the temperatures were beginning to drop. Orange and brown leaves lined the sidewalk as the duo made their way to the ominous house. “Hey, Ryan,” asked Kai. “You said you needed some money, right? What for?”

“College tuition,” groaned the boy. “Loans are expensive, and bills are really biting me in the butt right now. There’s also rent, food and groceries… Long story short, I need some cash, quick.”

“Is that so?” Kai quickened his pace. “I see.”

The house in question was one that nobody inhabited. Without proper upkeep, the walls had turned dirty, completely masking the original structure. Ryan didn’t know if it was the cold or his own nerves, but a sense of dread suddenly washed over him.  “Um… I’m not sure if I’m feeling this anymore,” he murmured, eyes cast downwards. His heart began hammering in his chest and he felt the urge to start running and never look back.

“What, you got cold feet?” Kai paced around him. “I didn’t take you to be that type of person. Well, if you don’t mind me taking the glory for myself, you can head back.” He turned his back to his friend, strutting into the dark house.

“Wait!” Ryan called out. He absolutely couldn’t let his best friend go in there alone, especially since the place was so shady. “Alright, alright! I’ll go with you!”

 Kai looked back, a slight smile on his face. “That’s what I’m talking about. Let’s head in.”

At first glance, the interior was quite ordinary. Rugs adorned the floor and beautiful paintings were hung on the walls. Although everything was smothered with dust, it all appeared to be normal. What could not be ignored, however, was the obvious metallic stench. Ryan made his way past a flight of stairs and into a dining room in an attempt to find the source of the smell. That was when he noticed the bowls filled with red.

“What the…” His eyes widened and his skin prickled with goosebumps. Despite that, he decided to walk closer and take a better look. He was sure of it; those bowls did not contain just any sort of liquid. They were filled with blood. “Kai,” he breathed, “are you seeing this right now?”

There was no response.

“Kai? Kai, where are you? This isn’t funny!” Ryan looked around wildly, searching for his friend in a panic. There was no sign that indicated his presence, though. It was as if nobody was ever there, as if he had come here alone.

Where is he? Ryan retraced his steps, looking everywhere for his partner. It was futile, however. There were no footprints, no handmarks, no laughing and “Oh, gosh, you really fell for it?” to bring comfort or reassurance. Sweat dripped down his face. If he really isn’t anywhere, then the best thing I can do is escape and tell the cops.

Ryan rushed for the door, expecting it to swing open easily. What he found instead was a door that was locked shut and simply refused to budge. You’re kidding. Adrenaline pumped through his veins as he wildly searched for any sort of exit, but there were no other doors leading outside and all the windows were boarded up. No way out, huh? He desperately went back into the house, running about until he came across a staircase.

Is this the only choice I have? He felt a lump in his throat as he tried to calm his nerves. Slowly, one foot made its way in front of the other as he made his way to the upper level.

Ryan had kept his eyes glued to the floor, so when he made it to the top and finally looked up, the uncanny human-like object waiting for him spooked him and nearly sent him back down. “What the…” He held out his trembling hand to examine it. Its eyes were as round as the moon, yet nowhere near as bright; they were lifeless and soulless. There was a noticeable lack of wrinkles and the mouth was curled up into a wide grin. It was flawless, yet so ugly. What is this, a doll? No, it wasn’t any doll. With his somewhat extensive knowledge and human intuition, Ryan determined that this was a human turned doll.

“So you finally decided to join me! I can’t put into words how happy I am.” A door creaked open, revealing a Kai overtaken by shadows. One hand held a gleaming knife while the other was stained with dripping blood.

Ryan could hear his heart pounding in his ears. “Kai, no…” He urged his body to move, to run and never look back. To his dismay, though, he was frozen still. “What are you doing?”

“What am I doing?” Kai chuckled. “Honestly, as my closest friend, I’d have thought you’d figured it all out by now.” He twirled his knife around. “You’re dumber than I assumed.” He leaned in, his gaze taunting yet terrifying. “Maybe I should skin you, too, and make you into a beautiful, perfect statue.”

Ryan’s breath hitched. The thought of him becoming one of those hideous monsters, killed at the hands of his friend, was a nightmare. His body finally moved; sprinting, he ran straight past Kai and through the halls. “Ry-an~!” Kai sang. “Where are you?” In a frenzy, Ryan turned sharply and hid himself in a closet, fearing for his life.

The small room was dusty and smelled off. Even so, he had no choice if he wanted to stay alive. His pulse began to go back down as his fight-or-flight instinct faded away. What is this place? There were no lights, so Ryan was blinded by darkness. He placed his hands on the wall and followed it, grasping on to the slim chance that this may be the way out. An exit was not what he found. He touched human skin. 

Ryan let out a screech before covering his hands over his mouth. Mkay. I’m done for. Loud footsteps thudded over, and Ryan clenched his fists, preparing to die. The door slammed open, revealing a cheery - and horrifying - smile. 

“Ryan!” Light poured in, revealing their surroundings. “Don’t hide from me!” Everything was now illuminated. The two of them were surrounded by a seemingly infinite amount of doll humans. Their postures and stances were unnatural and their skin was discolored. Shock filled Ryan when he realized that everybody who went missing was right here. That’s Analise and Yuto. Over there is Maurice, and to my left is Laila. Their mouths were stuck in unnatural, gruesome grins. They were cursed to smile for eternity.

“What, are you so in love with my dolls that you can’t speak?” Kai kneeled down. “Save your words. You know everything, so I can’t let you live.”

“Wh-what’s up with you, man?” Ryan backed away, crawling like a crab on the floor. “You… you’re a totally different person! What happened to the real Kai?”

The killer giggled. “The real Kai? More like you never knew who I was.” He traced his knife over Ryan’s stomach before stabbing it in. Ryan shrieked. The pain was unlike anything he had felt before. So this… is how… it ends.

“No! I…” Before he could finish, Ryan fell limp. 

“Hm. That’s it? How boring…but he could be the most beautiful of all, couldn’t he?”

 Ryan was the last victim. Kai would continue living as if nothing had ever happened, but the fates of the missing people remain secret… along with their lifeless yet lifelike forms, smiling beyond death. 

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