Written By Mark Cusco Ailes
From Second Journey Into the Unknown
Jennifer spent the better part of the week working in the attic, hoping to get an early start on her spring cleaning. This was a chore she wanted to put off, but she knew if she didn’t do it now, it would never get done in a timely manner.
The attic had become a homestead for many unwanted creatures including spiders for which she was deathly afraid. She made her way over to the window, hoping to see some reason for her to stop and go outside on the early April morning. She saw nothing that would distract her from her cleaning.
Reluctantly, she made her way over to some metal shelves and looked over the contents. There were several mason jars full of buttons, a few plastic army men, a few school books, some action figures, and a small brass box.
She stared at the box curiously and dusted the items around it, as if she was afraid to touch it. Actually, she didn’t remember ever seeing the box before today.
After finishing with the shelf, she dusted several stuffed animals that were resting on another one. She continued dusting them, never taking her eyes off of the box. Somehow it seemed to be talking to her.
She heard the phone ring from downstairs, and she dropped her duster to go answer it. But the phone stopped ringing before she could answer it.
“Probably a telemarketer,” she said, knowing nobody was around to hear her.
She made her way into the kitchen to get a glass of tea and to think of a reason to go back to the attic. Her thoughts went back to the brass box.
She decided she would get the box and bring it down to the kitchen to open it. Perhaps there was something valuable hidden inside.
As she returned to the shelf, she banged her right knee against a large, black trunk that she didn’t remember seeing when she was just up there. She stared at it wondering how she could have missed it before. She kneeled down beside it and stared at the years of dust that covered it. She knew that whatever was inside had not been seen in a long time. She reached out to touch it, but suddenly stopped. What could be hidden inside?
She stood back up and went back to the brass box, but she was distracted by a sound that seemed to come from inside the trunk. She turned her attention back toward it as though it was some big mystery. She looked around the room to make sure nobody was there playing a cruel trick on her.
After several long minutes, she kneeled alongside it once again. She began to push the layers of dust aside, realizing this would be the perfect reason to touch it. She drew her hand back. She thought she felt something move inside.
Once again she looked around the room. She was all alone. She wanted to stand back up, but her curiosity got the better of her. This time she put both hands on the trunk and scooted it a few inches across the room to see if anything would happen. Nothing. She continued to stare at it, hoping it would come to life or something so she wouldn’t think she was going mad. Then she felt something move inside once again.
Her heart began to beat faster as she tried to imagine what could possibly be inside. Without thinking, she reached out with her leg and kicked it. She watched for several minutes to see what would happen.
She heard something kick the trunk from the inside. She felt beads of perspiration run down her cheeks as she imagined the worse. Perhaps a rat had gotten inside and was still alive.
She tried to stand back up, but fear kept her frozen in place. She looked around the attic, hoping to find something she could use as a weapon. She was interrupted by another sound coming from inside the trunk.
She couldn’t take it any longer. She forgot about her fear and in one swift motion, opened the lid. Dust went flying into the air causing her to cough.
Once the dust had settled, she peered into the trunk expecting to see a rat or even a cat. Instead, she found a beautiful porcelain doll. She stared at it curiously. She was not expecting to see a doll. She picked it up to see if there was in fact a rat or something else in the box. All she found were photos of dead bodies, a jar of extracted teeth, and several clippings about missing people dating back twenty years.
She immediately slammed the lid to the trunk, not wanting to see those items anymore. She looked back at the porcelain doll. It looked to be in pristine condition. It wore a traditional Native American suede dress. On the front of the dress she noticed a small pocket with a light gold trim around it. She felt the long, dark hair and it almost felt real to her. She was enchanted by its beauty.
She carefully carried it downstairs and took it into her bedroom. She placed it on a chair next to the bed and stood back to admire it. She was intrigued by its mouth. The lips were curled tightly at the corners, as if it had a secret it was keeping.
She left the bedroom to go into the kitchen, leaving it in her bedroom. She was tired now and just wanted to make a cup of hot tea and relax in front of the television to watch the news. This was her routine every day.
She decided it was time to go to bed and made her way into the bedroom and stared at the doll on the chair. “I almost forgot about you.” She smiled at it and got into the bed and turned off the lamp next to it.
Several hours later, she was fast asleep and not aware that her doll was no longer on the chair. Noise of breaking glass echoed throughout the house, and she awoke from her slumber. She turned on the light and listened, not realizing that the doll was no longer in the room. Once again she heard the sound of breaking glass.
She reached under her pillow and pulled out a sharp kitchen knife she kept there for safety and slowly got out of bed. She listened, thinking she might have been imagining the whole thing, but once again she heard noises coming from somewhere in the house.
She slowly made her way over to the door and silently opened it and stopped to listen. This time the house was silent. She waited for a few minutes and decided that it would be best if she investigated. She slowly made her way forward and felt sharp pains running through both of her feet. She fell backward, dropping the knife next to her. She stared at her feet and noticed blood was dripping from both of them.
She glanced back into the room to see if there was a towel lying anywhere nearby. She didn’t see one. She glanced toward the ground near her and noticed that the knife next to her was gone.
She looked around thinking she may have pushed it away by accident, but she didn’t see it anywhere. She looked toward the door and her eyes widened. It was standing there staring at her. She watched as it bent over and ran its fingers through her blood that was on the floor and brought them up to its face. It smeared the blood across its face and smiled. She screamed and tried to kick it, but it moved out of her way.
It reached into the pocket of its dress and brought out a small knife and ran toward her, cutting her right foot with the knife. She tried to kick it once more, but it turned and ran up the stairs leaving small, bloody footprints as it went. She stared at the footprints in disbelief and then glanced up the stairs. Painfully, she crawled toward the staircase and stared up toward the doll that was just standing there watching her.
She tried hard to regain her strength and reached for the knife. She grabbed it and struggled to get to her feet.
“I’ll get you!” she screamed as she began to stumble up the stairs, never taking her eyes off of it. She was nearly to the top when she felt more pain running through her feet. She stared at it angrily. She had stepped onto more broken glass that it had left for her.
She stared down at her feet, and then back toward it. She was just in time to see it trying to slice off one of her toes. She screamed in pain and took a step backward, forgetting that she was standing on the stairs. She fell backward and landed hard on the floor below.
It stood over Jennifer’s broken body, wiping the blood from the knife on its arm. It stared at her broken neck, and then made its way back into the attic. It jumped back into the trunk and closed the lid behind itself until the day the next unlucky victim found it.