P&M Haunt: Precious Pearl by Kat Daemon

Posted by on Oct 31, 2014 in PM Haunt: The Haunted House, Writing | 2 comments

P&M Haunt: Precious Pearl by Kat Daemon

Boys and Ghouls!

Welcome to the Pen & Muse Haunt!

The Haunted House looms before you, threatening to swallow you up. It’s larger up close, isn’t it? You know that you shouldn’t really be here. In fact, now that you’re here, you want to leave.

 

But you chose to come inside. Even though you knew something felt a little off. All you can really do now is try…try to stay alive.

You can see the live list of participants and their post dates on this link.

Good luck. You’ll need it. Muahahahahaha!

Pen-Muse-HauntedHouse

 

 

Precious Pearl

by Kat Daemon

When my dad told me we were moving from Manhattan to Maine, I thought he was joking. When he started packing, I went into denial, and spent a lot of time bumming cigarettes and skateboarding in Central Park. When the moving truck pulled up, blocking our narrow street, and pissing off the neighbors– I began to think this moving shit was the real deal.

It was an attempt to run away from all the hell that went down here two years ago. I was sixteen then, and my dad didn’t seem too worried about me. It was Pearl he was worried about. Pearl had found mom, hanging from the planks in our apartment. That’s what happens when you live in a Manhattan loft… too many planks, making suicide that much more convenient. Pearl was six.

Mom was always sad. She called it demons. I called it selfish. I knew she had shit, but why the fuck didn’t she seek help? She was paranoid of the shrinks, said they’d just put her in some sort of chemical straight jacket. Maybe, but then at least she’d still be alive. I hated that my dad didn’t force her into a hospital. He said, “Birds don’t belong in cages.” I told him they don’t belong six feet under either.

The day of the move I slunk down in the passenger’s seat of our new-used fire engine red Ford SUV. Dad bought a car, because “we were gonna need it” out in Bumblefuck, USA. I missed the sway of the subway already.

Pearl sat in the back, buried with our bags of clothes, pillows and anything else we could squish in beside her. We could have fit more, but Pearl argued that Amy needed a seat too. Amy was her American Girl doll. She was holding it when she had found mom, I don’t think she’s ever let it go since.

So down the road we drove, Pearl holding hands with Amy, my dad forcing a smile so tight I thought his face might shatter, and me blasting Korn in my earbuds as we left the coolest city in the world for a house we’ve never even seen, in some state that averages about one hundred inches of snow per winter.

My name is Elliot Asher, and my life is officially over.

 

 ****

 

The house was what nightmares were made of. A thick wall of trees acted as a makeshift fence. I wasn’t sure if it was keeping people out or us in. The grounds were covered in leaves. It looked like a rusted brown carpet. When the wind blew, the carpet moved, and it creeped me out. Then there was the actual house. Smack in the middle of that heavily wooded area, it would have been the perfect spot to place a cemetery. Nothing breathing deserved to be here.

It had a big old porch with front steps which looked like they would ether crack or sink if you stepped on them. The windows were enormous and covered with so much dust you couldn’t even see inside. The paint was faded, blistered and peeling like a bad sunburn. The shutters hung crooked, sad and heavy. That was just the outside. The inside was even worse. Maybe back in the eighteen hundreds this place was a dream, but all that was left was rot, creaks, and shadows. Dad said the house needed us, the way we needed it. We could heal it, and it could heal us. I think he wanted to fix all of the scars the way he couldn’t fix mom. Correction– the way he wouldn’t.

 

  ****

 

Guess who became the house repairman? I struck up a deal with dad, and told him over the Summer before we moved that I wasn’t ready to go to college. Dad didn’t push me. He said a year off might be good for me. Way to be the parent, dad. We only had the one car, and he needed it for work–which was a joke!

Dad was a writer, that’s one of the reasons we moved here, he could write anywhere. But his agent lived here, and he would often go to her place where he could bounce ideas off of her. She was about fifty, but looked ninety. A skeleton in blue eyeshadow and a lavender wig. I was happy she wasn’t hanging around our house. All we needed was a corpse sitting in the living room, laughing the way only a heavy smoker can.

So without a car, I couldn’t look for work, but the house needed fixing. See the way I found a solution? Dad paid me to restore the place. I wasn’t exactly a brilliant carpenter, but youtube can teach a chimp to hammer a nail. It gave me something to do.

 

  ****

 

When I first saw her in the attic, my heart nearly stopped. Pearl had set up a tea party for herself, and Amy, but there was a new guest invited to the table. I sat on the floor and got a better look at the creature.

“Pearl, where did this doll come from?”

“She’s not a doll. She’s my friend. Her name is Rose.” Pearl hated when you referred to her toys as toys… they were all real to her. A little too real.

“Okay, where did you find Rose?”

“Mommy left her here for me.”

The word mommy said so casually, with such warmth, by the child that found our mother hanging by silk scarves, caused me to feel very cold.

“What do you mean, bud?”

“She was up here in the attic. She is a gift from mommy.”

“How do you know that she’s from mom?”

“Because mommy used to have Rose. She lost her once, that’s why she was so sad. But she found her, and sent her to me, so I can be happy.”

“So this doll–”

“She’s not a doll!”

“Sorry. So she looks like Rose?”

“She is Rose.”

“How do you know?”

Pearl sighed and placed a chipped china cup in front of me and filled it with tea that smelled an awful lot like apple juice. “Rose told me.”

 

 ****

 

When dad came home from a book signing, I attacked him at the door. “Did mom have an old scary doll?”

“What?”

“An old doll, with a porcelain head that has cracked paint like a mosaic, the kind where the eyes can blink closed, and hair painted on it’s head and a tattered ivory dress?” I said giving as many details as possible in one breath.

“Elliot, I haven’t even taken my shoes off yet.”

“Dad, I need you to think. Did she have the fucking doll or not?”

“Hey! Watch your language! Why are you acting so nuts?”

“Me? Nuts? I think I’m the most normal of the Asher household.”

Dad gave me a look and walked into the kitchen to put the kettle on. I wished he drank beer. I’d love for a moment where Pearl went to bed and he handed me a cold one and treated me like an equal. What was the obsession with tea in this house?

I tried to be as patient as possible while he made his tea with all the precision of an ancient ritual. I drummed my fingers against the counter while he stirred in his honey, he didn’t seem to notice my unease. He never does.

“You haven’t answered me.” The words came out through gritted teeth.

Instead of answering me, he just asked me another question.

“Did you scrape the cracked wood off the back door?”

“Yes, and I stained it.”

“Look who’s ahead of schedule. Good job, sport.”

Sport. I clenched my teeth. “Dad. The doll.”

“Right, let me think. I never saw a doll.” I felt my shoulders relax for the first time. Pearl had a very vivid imagination. I was letting this house and the crisp Maine air get to me. Of course there was never a doll.

“But she did tell me her grandmother had given her one, and she lost it. What was it’s name? Something like a flower. Lily? Daisy?”

“Rose?” I croaked.

“That’s it! Rose!” he grinned wide. “Wow. I haven’t thought about that story in years. Why did you bring it up?”

 

 ****

The doll didn’t freak dad out as I had hoped. He assumed mom had in fact told Pearl about it when she was alive. Pearl found the thing in the attic and wanted to believe it came from mom. That’s it.

He sounded so convincing, I almost believed him.

I went back to scraping, staining, and restoring. Dad went back to writing and promoting. Pearl spent more time than was healthy in the attic. At first I thought it odd. I mean she’s eight. She should ride her bike and skip hop scotch, not exist behind sheets and shadows. I tried to coax her outside, but she said Rose was afraid of the forest, and it’s best if they stayed indoors. I was going to argue with her, but the kid had no friends. If this was how she passed the time, then who was I to take it away? I went into her room to collect her laundry, and that’s when I saw Amy, her American Girl, her most prized possession, abandoned on the floor.

“Hey, look who I found!” I said peering into the attic, Amy in my arms.

“Amy needs to stay downstairs. Rose is shy and won’t talk to me around her.”

“Pearl, Amy is your favorite. You really don’t want to play with her because Rose doesn’t like her?”

Pearl looked at Amy and bit her lip. She wanted to hold her. I could feel it. Then looking at Rose she said with such determination I almost forgot she was a kid, “Amy needs to stay downstairs. For good.”

“Pearl, this is silly. You can play with both dolls.”

“No, I can’t. Rose won’t like her. She’ll leave me. She’s all I have from mommy and I can’t lose her!”

The kid was frantic. Tears were streaming down her round cheeks. Sometimes I forgot about all she had seen in that loft. All she held in. It was just a stupid doll. A stupid doll which magically appeared in a creepy house that was controlling my sister.

God, I missed the city.

 

****

 

It was later in the month during dinner when the shit hit the fan. Pearl had become obsessed with Rose and wouldn’t leave her side. I was staring at the corpse doll who now had its own seat– the seat that would’ve been mom’s– at the dinner table. The light reflecting off of its shiny shellac surface. The cracks in her cheeks creating a road map of how old it was. The left eyelid that hung slightly lower than the right. The pursed pink lips that didn’t belong on a doll. It was all too much.

“I’m not eating with this thing staring at me anymore.” I shouted and lunged across the table faster than Pearl could think. I opened the pantry that was too high for Pearl to reach and shoved Rose inside. The screams from Pearl were blood curdling. Dad looked like he was going to jump out of his shirt, his face pale at the thought of upsetting his precious Pearl.

“Elliot, please! She can’t be in the dark! She needs me! Please, you’ll make her mad!” Pearl choked through her hysterics.

“Elliot, give the doll back to your sister.” Dad coaxed.

“No, it’s weird. She abandons Amy for this thing that looks like it should be buried, it has a freaky hold on her.”

“She’s from mommy!” Pearl was wailing now.

“I just want one meal where I don’t have to look at that thing!” I shouted.

“May I be excused?” Pearl sobbed.

“No.” I said ticked off that she was so weak over a stupid doll. She couldn’t go her entire life shielding herself with a toy.

“Elliot, one more word out of you and you’re grounded. Of course you can be excused, honey.” My spineless father conceded.

After the slam of her bedroom door upstairs, I didn’t feel much like eating. I started clearing the table and doing the dishes by hand because the house from hell didn’t come equipped with a dish washer. My dad started scraping plates and handing me dishes in silence. After a few minutes he began to dry.

“I know it’s a hideous thing, but it comforts her. You need to back off a bit. She’s only eight.”

“Dad, I know you think I’m crazy, but there’s something not right here. A doll appears in a creepy house. A doll that looks like something mom had. Pearl becomes obsessed and spends ninety percent of her time in a dusty attic. It’s not normal.”

“We grieve in different ways…”

I handed him a knife to dry and looked back in the sink. Then onto the drying rack.

“Where’s the third knife?”

“You only washed two.”

“I know. Where’s the third?”

Dad glanced under the table, and shrugged. You probably only put two on the table when you set it before.

“No, we had steak. I’d put three out.” Then the fear washed over me as I realized where the knife had wandered off to. Abandoning the dishes, I took the stairs two at a time and turned the knob of Pearl’s door. It was locked.

“Pearl!” I cried, pressing an ear to the wood straining to hear her. I heard sobs.

“Pearl, I have Rose.” I lied. “Open the door.” Silence.

Dad was behind me. “Elliot,” his voice cracked between syllables, “kick the door down.”

The rest happened so fast. I started slamming my shoulder into the door, it took four times until finally, the lock gave and the door flew open, revealing Pearl sitting in mom’s old rocking chair twisting a knife into the palm of her hand. Tears running down her face.

            I had done this.

I ran forward and grabbed the knife. Pearl looked at me, as if I had pulled her out of some trance.

“Rose was hurt, so I had to hurt myself. Just like mommy.”

Her eyes looked dead. Mom always said she had demons, now I knew she really did have one.

“Dad call an ambulance!”

I grabbed a nearby shirt off the floor and started placing pressure on the wound.

“No signal, I’ll drive her into town myself.” When he went to pick Pearl up she started biting and kicking like a wild animal. Her screams were not her own.

“Dad, she’s possessed. You have to go get help. I’ll stay with her.”

 

****

 

It took a few more minutes of coaxing before dad left, but I convinced him that she needed stitches and perhaps professional help, the kind mom never got. Dad nodded, the tears glazed over his tired eyes, unable to believe he was going through this again.

I ran downstairs and grabbed the demon doll. Against my better judgement, I presented her to Pearl. It immediately calmed her. I was able to wash her wound now, while she sang to Rose a song I didn’t know and apologized for crimes she didn’t commit. After half an hour I was able to get her into bed and breathe as she drifted off to sleep. The thing still tight in her tiny arms.

The blood was seeping through the gauze and I paced, wishing dad would return. I went to the window, and allowed the impossible to sink in. Was this doll what had really plagued my mother? Would it steal my sister too? I looked out the window down the road, no lights. Just black night and the howl of trees as the wind weaved through the leaves.

“C’mon, dad.” I strained my eyes once more down the road, but nothing was coming. With a heavy heart, I turned to look at Pearl again, and found she had left her bed. That’s not all she had left. Rose was lying on her pillow.

“Fuck!” I grabbed at my hair and scanned the room before running down the stairs.

“Pearl!” I yelled.

“Pearl!” No answer.

I ran through every room, but couldn’t find her. Why did dad buy such a big fucking house? Then it dawned on me, the attic!

I darted up the stairs as fast as I could, sure I would find her there, but it was empty. The only thing was the sheer curtains blowing from a window that had been opened. I ran to the open, terrified I’d find her on the ground below. She was down below, but she was alive. She was walking out toward the open road. I looked down the road and saw my father, followed by an ambulance flying down. OMG! He doesn’t expect her to be out! He’ll never stop in time!

My heart felt as if it would burst as I forced my body to run faster than it had ever moved before. I found energy I didn’t know I had and made my way down to the road, where I called out to my sister one last time.

She heard her name and turned, it was her, not the possessed child, but my sweet sister, I could tell by her eyes– her eyes that filled with horror as I pushed her out of the way and felt the bumper of the red Ford SUV make contact with my body.

 

Kat Daemon Kat Daemon grew up in New York where her imagination always seemed to get the best of her. When she’s not hanging with demons, she’s usually armed with a strong cup of coffee and dreaming up her next tormented character.

She is the author of the The Darkness Saga. Book one of the saga,Taming Darkness, the story of the world’s most infamous fallen angel and the one woman who was able to hold temptation over him, is available now.

You can find out more about Kat and her books at www.katdaemon.com

2 Comments

  1. Fabulous! I love creepy dolls… well, okay I don’t love them they scare the crud out of me. Nice story. :)

  2. Thanks Kathy! I grew up with a house full of porcelain dolls. They were always watching…

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