Yes, English Language people. I'm looking at you.
This means that I have people actually reading this. Which makes me feel somewhat obliged to frequently post what I originally promised. In an ideal world, I'd update this frequently and the updates would be of amazing and incredible quality, causing people to run around in the streets screaming "OH MY GOD THAT WAS BOTH AMAZING AND INCREDIBLE".
...Well, more or less anyway.
However, realistically, I probably won't update regularly, or frequently. I will probably only update when the mood takes me (or someone mentions they've been reading my blog... yes, I'm looking at you, English language people) and these updates will probably be a load of rigmarole (meaning utter rubbish. It's a funny little word).
This next story is one I've had rattling around for a while. When writing it, I was reminded of Katy Towell's very own Skary Childrin, who can be found here: http://www.skary.com/. If, like me, you enjoy the macabre and gothic, you'll probably enjoy it too.
And yes, most of the stories I post here will be in the horror/thriller/gothic genres. Those are my preferred genres to work in, they being both easy and interesting to write (for me anyway). If it's not your thing, you're welcome to read something else.
For those of you left, enjoy this latest story, Arielle. ((...If you can...))
This little tale comes, like all things dark and dusty and best left undisturbed, from the attic. Going through some of the boxes that we keep up there, I came across a small wooden box I hadn't seen before. Inside were baby photos, rattles... and a ragdoll. For some reason, I didn't want to touch it. Maybe it was because it looked old and fragile, and was best left alone if I didn't want to break it... or maybe it was the glint in it's button eyes that unnerved me. At that instant, the solitary lightbulb flickered off for an instant- and back on again. I looked back down at the doll. Had it moved? Or was it my imagination?
Either way, it was a while before I went back into the attic again.
Arielle was a good little girl. Everyone said so.
She was pretty too. She knew that because whenever she went for a walk with Nanny May, people would stop, kneel down to her level and exclaim “Oh, what a pretty girl!” Then Nanny May would nudge her with her foot and Arielle would whisper a “Thank you.”
Arielle tried her hardest to be good. She tried not to bother the grown-ups, played ever so nicely with her toys, and drew lovely pictures. Yet people hardly ever noticed her, and her efforts were in vain.
Nanny May, despite her name, was one of the nastiest people you could possibly meet. She used to be the cook in a prison, but was sacked when the prisoners revolted against her cooking and against her. She hated children, and she hated little Arielle most of all.
She would not look after Arielle. She would not give her nice food. She would not comfort her when Arielle had a nightmare, or when she was scared by the monsters in her wardrobe and the ghosts in the attic. She wouldn’t read Arielle a bedtime story, and whenever Arielle cried or made a fuss, Nanny May would slap her around the face. But Nanny May was clever. She was careful that when she hit Arielle, the bruises would fade quickly. She was also careful to be nice and sweet to Arielle whenever her parents or any other grown-ups were near.
Poor Arielle didn’t understand why Nanny May was so cruel. Nothing Arielle could say or do would make anything better. Arielle would be quiet whenever she heard Nanny May come up the stairs. Arielle would try and hide, but Nanny May knew all the hiding places. And then, as a punishment, Nanny May would lock Arielle in the cellar, where no one could hear the screams or cries of a four-year-old.
One day, when Nanny May and Arielle were having their afternoon walk in the park, Arielle requested to play on her own in the playground. Since there were other people about, as the park was very busy in the afternoon, Nanny May smiled sweetly and said “Of course, flower. But be careful!”
Arielle ran off, and Nanny May reclined upon a bench, and took out a formidable book entitled “Bleak House”. Arielle made sure she wasn’t looking, and then made her way to the sandpit. It was her favourite place in the whole park. There was never anyone else there, as most of the children preferred the swings or the slide. Arielle scoffed at these week-minded children. The sandpit was the most treasured place in the playground for her. There she could make up her own worlds, make her own friends and discover new and exciting things.
As she made her way down, she stopped suddenly. There was a boy in the sandpit.
Arielle wasn’t good at making friends. The other children usually ignored her, as she was considered an oddity by most. Children- especially small children have an uncanny knack of knowing when something, or someone is wrong. So they stayed away from Arielle. She didn't mind, not really. She was a solitary child by nature, no brothers or sisters to shatter her peace. But sometimes she looked at the other children playing together happily and wondered what it would be like to have a friend.
As the boy kept playing in the sandpit - her sandpit! - Arielle felt the beginnings of a tantrum grip her, as her face slowly turned scarlet and her little fists clenched and unclenched. And then the boy turned to look at her, and smiled.
All at once, Arielle felt the anger in her mind ebb away, to be replaced by a feeling of comfort and happiness. Although the boy did not speak a word, as Arielle played with him, sharing her fantasies, she felt the happiness swell inside her. Finally, finally little Arielle knew what it was like to have a friend.
When it was time for Arielle to go home, Nanny May closed her book with a snap and stood up. The playground was deserted. The only person in sight was Arielle in her sandpit. Nanny May smiled grimly. They were late going home, which gave Nanny May an excuse to be even nastier to Arielle. As Nanny May strode over towards Arielle, the child stood up suddenly, as if she was aware of Nanny May. She turned around slowly, her cheeks flushed and a wide smile on her face. She looked at Nanny May and giggled. Nanny May was shocked, though she didn't let it show.
"Come on, you little brat! Don't make me hurry you..." This threat was usually sufficient to convince Arielle to break into a run. But this time Arielle took her time, walking at a leisurely pace. "Well!" said the angry nursemaid, but before she could say anything more, she noticed what Arielle was holding tightly in her left hand.
It was an ugly doll, crudely stitched together out of different materials, with mismatched buttons for eyes and a lopsided stitched grin.
The nursemaid found her voice "And what on earth is that thing?!" she exclaimed. Arielle looked up and smiled a secret smile. "He's my friend," she said happily. She stroked the doll's head. "His name is Mister Buttons."
Nanny May wanted to tell the child to leave the doll behind, but a sinister look in the doll's button eyes stopped her... Or was it her imagination? Nanny May disapproved of imagination, but she sincerely hoped that it was.
Aware of the doll's glare, she said nothing to Arielle, just took her hand and walked her home.
From that moment on, Mister Buttons and Arielle were the best of friends. They would draw pictures, tell each other stories, and play together endlessly. And Mister Buttons would protect Arielle from the monsters and ghosts. For a short while, Arielle was perfectly happy.
Nanny May stayed away from the child and her doll. Nanny May would never ever admit it, but she was scared of the little sackcloth doll. Whenever she went anywhere near Arielle, the doll's button eyes would suddenly become a lot more menacing and Nanny May would have the inexplicable urge to run.
And then, little things started happening. The dog next door which frightened little Arielle with its growls and barking was found whining and scratching at it's owner's door whenever Arielle came near. The boy across the road who pushed Arielle over when she was on her bicycle vanished under mysterious circumstances, and was never seen again. Arielle herself became even more secretive, often talking and singing to herself in her playroom, surrounded by untouched toys. As long as Mister Buttons was near, Arielle was content. And in that, Nanny May saw a chance to terrorise the child again.
Arielle was sleeping, having put herself to bed. She clutched Mister Buttons in her sleep, the doll close to her cheek. The nursery door creaked open, allowing a chink of light to creep through. A shadowy figure paused at the door, then stepped silently into the pitch-black room.
Nanny May allowed a sneer to cross her face. It would be all too easy to steal Arielle's one source of happiness away from her.
But as Nanny May reached over to take Mister Buttons, Arielle's eyes fluttered open. They were cold, black and shiny. Just like buttons.
Nanny May tried to say something threatening, but all that came out of her throat was a frightened whimper. She backed away from the child, and ran for the door, which slammed shut. Nanny May cried out in fear, and tried to turn the doorknob, which had stuck fast. She pounded upon the door and screamed for help.
All the while, two pairs of dark, button eyes watched her from the other end of the room.
Nanny May turned slowly around to face the two figures in the bed. Arielle sat up and smiled at Nanny May. So did Mister Buttons. To Nanny May's fright, their smiles were perfect mirrors of each other. Arielle climbed out of bed, dragging Mister Buttons by the arm.
Nanny May was visibly shaking by now. She turned around and screamed again, pounding at the door in a desperate effort to get out.
"No one can hear you." said Arielle sweetly. "Mister Buttons made sure that everyone was asleep."
Nanny May looked in terror at the doll's misshapen hands that were stained red with something other than dye.
Arielle came closer to the terrified nursemaid. She produced two black buttons from her pocket and smiled ever-so-sweetly again. "Mister Buttons has been teaching me how to sew. Do you want me to show you, Nanny May?"
Arielle then picked a needle from the selection offered by Mister Buttons. "He's very clever you know," said Arielle earnestly. "He's been teaching me all sorts of clever things. Isn't that right, Mister Buttons?"
To Nanny May's everlasting horror, the sackcloth doll nodded it's overstuffed head by it's own accord. It then produced a needle of it's own, which it wielded like a spear.
"Come on Mister Buttons. Let's make her all pretty, just like we did with all the others."
The last things Nanny May saw were two needles being threaded with thick, yarn-like thread. And two black buttons coming closer, and closer to her eyes.