the doll and the Choir

author's note: sorry for posting two very dark pieces in a row. we promise we have some lighter stuff in the works. it has just been a dark time lately and writing horror is a great way to deal with those emotions for us.

cw: captivity and manipulation by supernatural monster, dismemberment, damage to a toy.

it happened again, while you were sleeping; one of the beasts got into the castle. he prowled into your nest corner, he reached his withered proboscis out, he wrapped his bullet teeth around one of your fingers (this time, a pointer), and he bit clean through the porcelain with a sleep-ending crunch. you scrambled awake and grabbed a sharpened broomstick, chasing the beast until he squeezed his way down a drain in the butcher's kitchen, out of your reach.

you didn't feel any physical pain, of course. but you're now down to just seven fingers, and your daily tasks around the manor are becoming increasingly difficult to accomplish, just from a practical perspective. more pressingly, your body was not meant to sustain this many cracks, or to lose this much ceramic; you experience daily spasms of uncontrollable emotions in recent weeks. a violent anger, a sinking hopelessness, a fuzzy separation from reality, a swarm of manic thoughts, a dread so thick you can only lie on the cold floor.

you are at your limit.

you decide to confront the Choir about it. it's Her mansion after all; and She said She cares about you. at breakfast time you see Her talking between Herselves at the long table. some of Her are noisily devouring plate after plate of elaborate and luxurious meals; others tell jokes to each other that you can't really get; Her laughter in response to Her jokes sounds like a barrage of shrieking fireworks and you want to cover your ears but you resist because you need to look presentable right now.

She fills you with terror; how much larger She is than you, the way She can surround you, kettle you in. the sounds of Her hundreds of voices overwhelms your ability to think. your skin crawls when you see the wet stains on Her clothing (caviar and truffle oil and marbled beef fat and mimosa and...). and She is even more intimidating now, when offering time approaches. Her usual cherenkov blue glow fades, and is replaced with feathery pitch-black light, a darkness so bright that hurts your eyes and shrouds the room in shadows. at these thirsty times She is far quicker to anger.

you take a deep breath and begin to speak.


the Choir does not seem to notice or acknowledge you. She keeps on eating and chattering

"Miss?" you repeat, a bit louder. "so sorry to interrupt You, but-"

the conversation stops abruptly. knives and forks squeal to a stop on plates, a few wine glasses are shattered by clenching hands, and every one of Her faces turns to look at you. the Choir speaks in unison.

"Sweetheart," She creaks, "I am a little busy right now, can it wait?"

"Miss, it happened again." you show her your hands, with your freshly missing finger.

She giggles, clearly day-drunk. "You are going to have to be more specific, darling. You know I cannot read minds."

"Miss, one of those trunk monsters got in again. he bit off another finger." you wiggle the stump of broken porcelain to demonstrate. "Miss, it's getting hard to do my duties around the manor. i was wondering if... if You could help. maybe fix the cracks, or attach new fingers, or-"

"What are you talking about, sweetie?" the Choir gave you the glare, the one which makes you feel so small and helpless, seeing Her tower over you. "I am helping. Helping you all the time. Where would you even be, without me?"

you open your mouth to speak, but She puts a finger over your lips and shushes you. the Choir continues, "I am the only thing standing between you and those beasts. You need me. This is all you have left."

"Miss, i feel like i'm breaking. like-"

"Oh, you must be confused again", She interrupts, stroking your ceramic face and tilting your chin up with a finger. "That's my little one, always getting its little thoughts mixed up..." She shook Her heads and tsked. "I know it's easy to let your fears of those scary beasts get the best of you, but you must be brave. I know what will cheer you up! How about you go and make me another one of your little offerings? I am ever so thirsty, little one."

the Choir picks you up effortlessly (you know better than to fight it), and carries you to the altar, grabbing one of your stuffed animals from your nest, and a knife along the way. "Go on then..." Her hundreds of voices croon. the darkness emanating from Her bodies is so bright now that the only things in the room which can still be seen are those in your shadow, blocked from the dark light.

you look down at the stuffie in your hands. she's one of your favorites; so soft and comforting. her glassy brown eyes look up at you with an embroidered smile. your hands tremble, tears well up. you don't want to do this. but you know better than to fight the Choir, you remember Her last outburst.

"i... freely offer this... sacrifice to the- to the Choir" you start. "may She live long, may Her table scraps nourish me." She hands you the knife, and you take it, and dig it into your stuffed friend, wincing sharply as you rip her open. "with Her shining ideals, She... loves me and provides for me, a castle of protection when... when the only other option is death."

you reach into the stuffie, and pull out a fistful of fluffy filling. you gingerly place it into the offering bowl and set it alight with the blue candle on the altar. the polyester innards of your soft friend dissolve into toxic plastic smoke, which the Choir eagerly breathes in, dozens of noses sniffing hungrily at once.

the shadows recede, replaced again with that familiar light blue, comforting you, despite your better judgment. twelve of Her hands reach out to stroke your painted face, run through your tangled hair, straighten your dress, caress your ceramic skin. you hate the overwhelming sensation of it all.

"Good girl." says the Choir. "You made the right choice. I'll make it all better."

She shuffled off to Her bed chambers, and, aside from notes under the doors requesting you bring Her tea, you don't see Her again for weeks.

you sew up the wounded stuffie as best as you can, despite your missing fingers. she never really was the same after, always looking flatter, sadder. you try to fall asleep again, despite the braying of the beasts outside the window.

minimalist art depicting a group of blue beings crowded behind a figure on its hands and knees, with a stuffed animal and knife in front of it. in the background, red tendrils are visible outside a window