Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Duel II Round Four

This round is a picture prompt.

The handpicked crowd of spectators rowdily make their way through the underground passages and into the House Of Horror Dungeon. They sit and eagerly await the arrival of the Devilishly wicked House Of Horror Madam. A loud crash and bang, she suddenly appears in a puff of smoke and slowly makes her way through the crowd, taking her seat on the throne of bones.

“Bring on the contenders!” she calls, her voice demanding and pleasing to the crowd.

Clicking and ticking, the steel doors of two cages rise and the two contenders step forth into the fighting ring.

On the right, new challengers, Sylvester P. Gildersleeve, ready to step up and fight for his right to live. On the left, Jerd,fighting knowledge and wisdom pouring from his body, head held high and ready to take the lead.

Both bow to the Madam and the crowd goes wild. Baying for blood each chant their favourite to win.

Two have arrived. Only one will leave with their life.

Who are you backing?


(You can vote in the comments below)


Forgotten But Not Gone by Sylverster P. Gildersleeve

The more years that passed, the more the anger built up in Baby Dumpling's stomach. The doll sat slumped against the attic wall, where Mary had abandoned her eight years ago. Dust caked Baby Dumpling's synthetic eyelashes. Her hair, once a lustrous blonde, had thinned and turned a dull gray long ago. Her plastic skin had cracked and split. The dress she was wearing – originally a bright pink with white polka dots – was now a faded gray. Baby Dumpling's stomach burned with her fury even as she remembered happier times with Mary.

Baby Dumpling had been given to Mary as a fifth birthday present, and for the next four years the two were inseparable. Mary took Baby Dumpling with her to school. She took the doll on family vacations. Baby Dumpling even sat at the dinner table with Mary, despite father's objections.

It was on a day toward the end of that fourth year that Baby Dumpling first found herself lying on Mary's bed instead of going to school with her. Mary didn't even come upstairs until bedtime, and when she did she picked Baby Dumpling up and tossed her on a chair on the other side of the room. Mary had always slept with Baby Dumpling snuggled up next to her. That was when the fire of hatred first burned in the doll's plastic eyes.

Mary started spending more time with her friends and listening to 45's on her record player than playing with Baby Dumpling. The doll spent an entire year lying face down in the bedroom closet before Mary finally came to get her. Baby Dumpling's joy was short-lived, though, as Mary took the doll up to the attic and left it sitting against a far wall.

And there Baby Dumpling sat, eight years later. From her spot in the attic directly above Mary's room she heard Mary and her parents talking about Mary going off to college. She would leave in the morning. As Baby Dumpling considered this final act of abandonment the hate in her stomach boiled and churned until it became a living, breathing thing. Once the family was asleep Baby Dumpling's eyes glowed bright red, and her plastic hands clenched into fists. She focused all the anger that had built up insider her and struggled into a standing position. A few tentative steps later and Baby Dumpling stood at the top of the attic stairs. Mary didn't hear the faint creaking as the doll made its way down the steps. Baby Dumpling turned toward Mary's room, determined that Mary was going to pay for abandoning her.


Dolly Paranoia by Jerd

“Did you hear that?”

There came no reply.

“Shh. There! Again! Did you hear it this time?”

The questions, voiced by a tiny doll beneath the windowsill, again soaked into the floorboards and knotted beams before inciting any response. The attic was damp, dingy, and strangled by cob webs. This stuff has not been used in years. There are stacks of outdated furniture and books with rotted bindings. There is an old piano, made to look older because of the piled layers of dust and neglect.

The little doll’s plastic eyes clicked each time they maneuvered from side to side. Click…Click… Click... The sound reverberated off every wooden obtrusion and each musty cardboard box.

“I think someone is trying to…” The doll began but trailed off. It looked around the room, this time stretching out its hardened plastic neck along with the soulless marbles it tried to pass off as eyeballs. Clicks were met with the screeches and the whimpers of withering pink plastic.

The words came much softer now, the garbled whisperings of the dry-mouthed and the petrified.

“I think someone is trying to get through the window.” The tiny doll inhaled a quick sigh, as if startled by its own words.

“Pleeeease.” It droned, holding the sound like the somber bray of an untuned violin. “I can hear them climbing the side of the house.” The dollish thing’s voice teetered between coarse and angelic.

“Oh dear! The window is completely ajar. Anyone can just waltz right in. No. No, this cannot be.”

The doll sat silent and unmoving for a few seconds. No words. No Clicks.

The attic gave a tranquil, almost meditative, groan as it stretched out its crossbeam spine. The floorboards creaked – the sound was reverent –, they too wanted in on this structural sing-along.

“Shut up, guys.” Said the doll, practically shrieking at the first word and barely murmuring by the last. “It’s not safe. We shouldn’t make loud noises.” The doll’s arm rotated upward, setting its hand right at its hard colorless lips. The stubby underdeveloped fingers, curled like five frozen night-crawlers, came close but did not make contact with its face.

“There’s something out there.” The words were hot and lingering, wisps of warm mist that were eventually met with and swallowed by the nearby porous wood. The things in the attic simply waited. The attic itself simply waited. A splintery chest of drawers in the darkest corner baited its breath. The antiquated cast-iron stove closed its vents and firmed its footing.

Something was indeed crawling up the side of the house, confirming each handhold and foothold with precision and confidence.

“I can’t take it.” The doll’s words mirrored the resonance of miniature church bells. “I have to look.”

Using a wooden wagon wheel as ladder, the plastic infant ambled to the spot just below the sill. Could its marble eyes take what was just on the other side of the wall, methodically scaling and scaling?

The hairless plastic head finally mustered the courage and peeked over, popping up like and a decrepit jack-in-the-box and resting its chin on the malnourished wood.

It too had reached the window, stopping briefly to stare at the strange little doll before moving farther up the house. Sunlight. Early morning sunlight.

The doll was relieved to relay the message “The Bright is here again!” and the rest of the attic’s inhabitants were relieved to hear it.

But the paranoia and the panic will surely return, as it always does, whenever darkness gives in to the dawn.


  1. I preferred Dolly Paranoia. The first seemed to Toy Story 3-like, though the thought of Buzz butchering Andy brings a smile to my face. I think Dolly Paranoia may need a title change, it reveals too much. Good job by both authors.

  2. I vote for Forgotten but Not Gone, it did seem Toy Story-ish, but on the dark side. A nice twist.

  3. Dolly Paranoia by Jerd is very well written with great visual depictions and eerie connotations. I really enjoyed it.

  4. Forgotten But Not Gone by Sylverster P. Gildersleeve

  5. OK, let's break the tie with a vote for Sylvester.