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Blog of the Bartender

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Response #1: mysticmaggie

Something snapped as I stepped down from the bus. I looked to see a china figurine, its head broken off under the weight of my foot. When the bus pulled away, I reached down to recover both pieces of the delicate doll.

“Hmmm, what’s a doll like you doing in a street like this? Ouch!” The sharp edge of the neck nicked my finger. Stuffing the pieces in my purse, I sucked on my injured digit and headed on the two-block walk home.

Within a couple of hundred feet, dizziness gripped me, sending me staggering into one of the wrought iron lamp posts lining the street. I clung to the lamp until the light-headed moment passed.

“That was odd. Hope I’m not getting that swine flu that’s all over the news.”

By the time I walked in the front door, the dizzy feeling had struck twice more, each time more violently than before.

“Terrific! Tomorrow is the big meeting at work and I’ll be calling in sick at this rate. The boss isn’t taking any chances. No heroics going to the jobsite if someone has as much as a sniffle. So much for making my mark and heading up the corporate ladder. Grace will have to give the report.”

The next moment, I found myself clinging to the edge of the bed with my dress half over my head and shoulders. In the middle of changing clothes the strange feeling had hit again, bringing me to my knees. I crawled up on the bed unable and unwilling to continue removing the dress.

Blackness began at the edge of my vision pulling me into its depths; my breath grew raspy as I spiraled downward. In the distance, a China doll walked toward me, her head held at an awkward angle. I gasped when I recognized the figurine from the bus stop.

It spoke. “I waited for you for so long. It took many days to reach the place where you would find me.”

“Why? Why would you wait for me?” I asked, fearing her answer.

“Remember when you were a child? Remember the figurines and dolls your mother bought you? Remember the agony you put each one through? I am here to collect the toll you owe for their deaths.” The tilted head no longer looked as delicate as it had at the bus stop. The red lips pulled away from sharp, angry teeth in a furious grin.

“I was a child! I was a child with mental problems. If you know of the dolls, you know I could no more help what I did than I could help breathing!”

“It makes no difference. You crushed them, broke off their limbs, and hammered some to dust. There was no compassion in you for helpless creatures and there is none in me for you. The cut on your finger is filled with poison. Even if I wished to do so, I could not save you.”

“Please, there must be something you can do. Help me!”

“Did you not hear the figurines of your childhood begging for their lives?”

“Those voices weren’t real! They were made up by a sick mind. They could not have been real!”

“If that be so, perhaps I, too, am of your mind. Only if you awaken will we know the truth. I do not expect to see you rise with the morning. Farewell, cruel child.”

“Noooooooooooo!” My screams woke me from the nightmare.

I had, indeed, had the swine flu. When I awakened, several days had passed, days full of hallucinations and horror. When I could get out of bed again, I searched in vain for the figurine in my handbag. Did it ever exist? Or, had stepping on it while getting off the bus been a part of my nightmares? I’ll never know for certain. I do know when I enter a store that sells those little creatures, I avoid the counter at all costs. Never will I own another. Who knows if it might turn on me?

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