Not really sure who will enjoy this one and to be fair if you do enjoy this I worry ‘cos I think it’s some pretty dark shit. I hope no one reads the sparse stories I post for a happy ending because I don’t think I have written one yet.
Despite the blazing hot weather and bright sunlight outside the inside of Marvin’s Mannequins was kept relatively dark, with the majority of the light being produced by several large lamps that hung over the displays that lined the edge of the shop’s interior. Despite the size of the shop the centre of the room was kept clear of all furniture, allowing for any viewers to move freely with no fear of anything prohibiting their progress. The Displays that did feature in the room were high wooden cabinets that reached from the floor almost all the way to the high ceiling, the frames polished to a dark mahogany hue while the thin glass pains were cleaned to the point where one would not believe that they’re were there without reaching over and touching them, an act made impossible by red velvet rope that surrounded each cabinet, keeping viewers of their contents just out of arms reach. The shop itself smelled slightly of bleach and other such cleaning products, not so much that it disturbed any potential views but just enough that it could be noticed. Of course no one that entered would ever comment on where the smell came from, the immaculate presentation of the store front was enough to tell anyone that the proprietor spent copious hours making sure it was always ready for visitors. Today however the shop had been kept rather quiet. The sun and the warmth outside had diverted peoples attention from the shopping district and out of town to the beaches, parks and anywhere else where the children could enjoy the outside while the parents would idly chatter amongst themselves, leaving Marvin’s Mannequins to sit in silence.
That silence however was broken by the soft jingle of the bell above the door, followed by the thud of boots on the solid wooden floor as someone entered, bringing with them a warm breeze of outside air which was quickly cut off by the careful closing of the door. Hayley was a regular of the store, often finding any reason to venture into town to peer into it’s displays and over the months since the store’s opening she had struck up a friendship with the store’s proprietor. With pale skin but dyed black hair and dressed in all black, complimented by black makeup, Hayley fulfilled the stereotypical gothic young woman look to perfection as she smiled a small smile to herself and walked to the first cabinet. At just 5’5 Hayley wore her heavy platform boots to boost her height, boots which now thundered loudly across the floor as she crossed the room to gaze at the display.
Inside stood a porcelain doll. Her long blond curls hung over her tiny gingham dress which covered delicate white stockings the attire finished off with small black shoes. Hayley’s blue eyes stared into the doll’s glassy hazel ones which in turn stared right back. In Hayley’s opinion the eyes that had been crafted for this doll, and indeed the eyes of every doll in the store held more life and emotion that those of most the people’s she knew. The eyes of these dolls seemed knowing and intelligent to Hayley and when appreciated with the small smile that each doll wore they seemed to radiate some strange love that Hayley had often could only be the love and attention of the creator that he had poured into each of their creations. Hayley walked around the room in silence except for the thumping of her boots as she always did upon her visits, stopping to gaze upon ever doll she saw and appreciating them all for everything they were worth. Just as she finished examining a doll dressed in a very vintage 50’s style attire a voice called out from behind her, causing her heart to skip a beat as she jumped.
‘Back again Hayley?’
Hayley turned to see a tall but slender man in a scruffy apron with unkempt blond hair with grey streaks standing behind the counter. He looked through his thick glasses at her and smiled warmly.
‘I should have known it was you from the way you stamp around in those big boots of yours’
‘Mister Richard, You scared the life out of me’ replied Hayley with a smile, one hand clutched to her chest.
‘I am sorry about that, but then again so do your boots every time you step into my shop’ replied the man with a chuckle
‘And I’m sorry about that, I’ll try to remember not to wear them next time’
‘Oh don’t be silly, don’t change the way you express yourself just on my account. And for the thousandth time it’s Marvin’
‘I’ll try to remember that one as well’ replied Hayley.
‘So who is it you’re examining today my dear?’ asked Marvin, absent mindedly pulling out a cloth and swiping a spot of dirt off the handle of the door he had just appeared out of.
‘Oh, just all of them, as always Mis… Marvin
‘You keep coming in here and one day you may even buy one.’ Joked Marvin
Hayley looked down sheepishly at the very large price tag that sit in front of the nearest doll.
‘Maybe one day I will, when I win the lottery maybe.’
‘Or maybe one day you come in here enough and I’ll feel charitable and just let you have one’
‘That’ll be the day Marvin’ replied Hayley with a small laugh of her own
‘Maybe, but for now have one of these’ he said, offering Hayley a small box with the lid of, revealing a row of small dark chocolates.
Hayley hesitated, she had been growing increasingly conscious of her weight recently, well ever since her rough breakup with her ex boyfriend.
‘Oh Hayley, It’s just one, I won’t tell if you don’t’ smiled Marvin
Hayley managed a half smile and took one of the smaller chocolates, popping it gingerly into her mouth as marvin returned the box to behind the small desk that stood by the door to the basement.
‘I take it by your hesitation that things still aren’t going right with Josh?’
Hayley swallowed hard.
‘Things are exactly how I want them to be, I don’t want anything to do with him.’ She replied quickly
‘Oh Hayley, the eyes around you can see the truth, as can mine. You can’t fool an old man’s eyes.’
‘I just…don’t want tot talk about it.’ Hayley replied
‘Than I shan’t talk.’
Marvin inspected the sad look on Hayley’s face for a moment before smiling as a light bulb turned on in his head.
‘I know something that will cheer you up, Have you ever wanted to see how these dolls are made?’
‘Hayley looked up from the doll she had been examining and looked at him Marvin.
‘Well it would be interesting’
‘The how about I show you my workshop downstairs? I have been working on something that I think you will really like’ Marvin said, his tone almost bursting with excitement.
‘Well…OK then’ replied Hayley who couldn’t help but get swept up in the wave of Marvin’s overwhelming excitement.
Opening the door behind him Marvin beckoned Hayley into a long corridor that lead to a long staircase leading down. Leaving the semi dark of the storefront and entering the brightly lit back of the shop gave Hayley a sudden head rush but she battled on through it and followed Marvin to the staircase. Steadying herself on the wall Hayley carefully followed her friend down the steps making sure not to miss any in her chunky boots as she descended. At the bottom she found Marvin bouncing on the balls of his feet in front of a wooden door with a small wooden sigh nailed to the front reading Where the Magic Happens which had clearly been a product of the Disney company.
‘After you my dear’ he said through a broad grin that threatened to separate his head in two.
Hayley opened the door with one hand while the other gently massaged her head through her hair, the rush had been replaced by a slow spinning sensation that was starting to turn her stomach slightly. As the door opened Hayley saw a room almost as large as the store front up top but with only a small workbench pressed to the back of the room behind what appeared to be a hospital gurney. There was a smell of burning plastic and looking around Hayley saw what looked to be coffins stood up along the left wall with a table and chair sat in the middle of the room with the majority of the lighting pointed towards them. Hayley tried to take a step forward but her legs gave up underneath her and she fell forward twisting slightly as she went only to find herself caught by the surprisingly strong hands of Marvin who slowly lowered her down son that she was lying on her back on the cold concrete floor. The light above her was blocked out by the blurred face of Marvin himself appearing above her. He said something but the words were just a muffled mess and the more Hayley tried to strain to hear him the darker the room got and the fainter Marvin became.
Hayley awoke briefly as she was placed carefully onto the gurney but she quickly passed out again. She awoke again as she felt her boot being tugged from her foot. Through the deep throbbing in her head she managed to hear Marvin tut and pass a comment of which she only managed to partly hear
‘…eally that short? Well I guess it won’t matter in the lon…’
But then Hayley’s passed out again briefly. The next time she awoke Hayley felt her dress being pulled carefully down her thighs. At this she tried her best to struggle, to call out for help but the best she could muster was a slight wobble as tears started to form in her eyes. Marvin ran a hand over her calf and up the inside of her thigh before stopping himself and making another comment, this time Hayley didn’t make it out. Marvin then caressed her belly slightly before chuckling.
‘Maybe the chocolate was too much’ he said before turning to see the tears running down Hayley’s face ‘Or maybe not enough for you. But oh well, this should keep you out for the duration’ before he disappeared out of Hayley’s sight. Trying her best to turn her head achieved nothing for Hayley and she was suddenly struck in the neck by a stinging sensation followed by a hot feeling that spread quickly through out her shoulders and up to her head.
‘Night night Hayley’ came Marvin’s voice again
Hayley finally woke again some time later, she couldn’t tell how long she had been out but she seemed to be sitting up and her throat was dry and her stomach was rumbling with hunger.Terrified Hayley tried to open her eyes but found them stuck shut, as if something was gluing them closed. Her fear intensified as she realised it must have been Marvin. Hayley tried to scream but she found her lips were sealed as well, this time by something on the outside of them that was keeping them shut, worse was that her entire body had been glued into place and the more she struggled she felt whatever it was tearing painfully at her skin as if it was going to literally rip her skin off of her. Hayley’s heart was racing as she struggled and tried to thrash and scream, tasting blood as the skin on her lips was eventually ripped away from what was covering them and she managed to let out a moan of fear and agony as blood filled her mouth. And then she hears hurried footsteps, followed by Marvin’s voice.
‘Hayley HAYLEY! Relax! It’s OK, stop struggling before you ruin everything.’
Then Hayley felt something wet and cold but soft being pressed to her eyes, and then whatever was gluing her eyes closed slowly softened and Hayley managed to wrench her eyes open. Looking blearily around Hayley saw that she had been sat at the table that stood in the middle of Marvin’s ‘workshop’ it was impossible to move her head but she could still look around with her eyes, not that it granted a much better view. All Hayley could see was the far wall with the three black coffins propped up against it. She tried to struggle again and again found her skin in agony but there was the smallest amount of movement from her arm though the motion, as small as it was, felt like razor blades slicing underneath her skin.
‘Hayley STOP! NOW!’ came Marvin’s voice again and he moved into view.‘Look be careful, You’re still setting. Any movement now and you will ruin everything.’
Baffled and terrified by what he was saying Hayley tried to scream. The face she had known for months, happy and benevolent seeming was now pale and strained, there were bags under his eyes as if he hadn’t slept in days and his eyes were darting around the room as if looking for something that was just beyond his vision.
‘Oh but I suppose you want to know what I mean’ Marvin continued, ‘Well no use hiding it now. I did say I was working on something you would like.’
And Marvin moved away, reappearing next to one of the coffins. Hayley strained her arms and, through the pain she felt her right arm move a little more. Marvin was beyond noticing, he had opened the coffin and, though his body was blocking Hayley’s line of sight he was clearly straining with something heavy. Hayley watched in terror as he dragged whatever it was backwards to the table and then with one last burst of effort he turned the thing around.
Clutched in his arms was a huge doll, only slightly smaller than Marvin himself and unlike the smaller counterparts upstairs with their childlike figures this one was clearly a full grown woman. The proportions were perfect and the eyes staring back at Hayley were more real than any she had ever seen Marvin create before, but again unlike their upstairs counterparts these eyes had none of the love, rather they contained more terror than could possible ever be replicated in anything man made. Held in Marvin’s arms was a real woman, covered somehow in a bizarre porcelain mould that had trapped her essentially inside the doll body and with a sudden horrified realisation Hayley realised that this must be the same fate that had befallen her and she too had been transformed into one of those things.
‘Beautiful isn’t she? Not as beautiful as you of course but how could she be? She was only a prototype for the process I have been working on. What do you think? Oh I know you can’t talk but I know what you’ll think. You’re in love with what I have done for you. You’ve been immortalised. You’re a beauty that will never age. Oh There were a few broken eggs to get here but it was all worth it for you Hayley. You were my inspiration.’
Marvin continued to ramble his mad motivations, his words seeming like a thick black sludge that flowed into Hayley’s ears and filler her head with horror. She had to get out of here. Her eyes, the only part of her not covered by the mixture were spilling tears which to her horror Marvin mistook for tears of joy.
‘Oh Hayley I knew you’d love it. You loved my dolls so much and I just wanted to give that love back to you, for you see, I love you Hayley. Ever since you first stepped into my store and I saw you’re countenance I knew I was in love. The way you looked at my dolls I knew we were kindred spirits and I knew we would have to be together, This way there is no reason for you to ever lose your radiance and we can share each other always.’
Marvin propped the human doll he was holding up against the table and to Hayley’s horror he approached, one arm moving out of view and Hayley could only imagine it creeping over her cheek as his face moved closer to hers. Desperate Hayley screamed as best as she could through her porcelain mask, the sound coming out as a muffled cry that was loud enough to stop Marvin in his tracks.
‘Hayley No you have to be careful!’ cried Marvin who’s voice was filling with panic, increasing crazily in pitch.
Despite the agony of her skin tearing free from her muscled Hayley tried to free her arms, trying to force Marvin away and with a final crack like breaking glass her Arm moved at the shoulder, flying forward and managing to collide with Marvin’s face. As she did this Hayley saw her arm. It was a solid pale pink, shiny and inhuman as if someone had covered her in a thick, solid layer of cling flim. Cracks had appeared where she had moved and there was no blood pouring from each crack, flowing freely down her arm and onto the table top in front of her. The sight of her own arm coupled with the horrified squeal from Marvin filled Hayley with a greater desire to escape. Fighting through the slicing pain Hayley managed to force her legs to the floor with another loud crash and staggered to her feet. The table shifted as she bumped into it and the doll that Marvin had propped up fell forward, stiff as a board, colliding with the floor with a shattering sound. Hayley had no ability to move her head but she could only imaging the terrible mess that lay inside the girls porcelain coffin.
Marvin screamed a high, childlike screech at this but Hayley was already desperately trying to manoeuvre her mostly static body away and in the direction of the door. One leg was completely unmoving and the other was only free at the hip, meaning that Hayley was dragging herself along the floor in a torturous two step. Her breathing was heavy, every ragged breath pulling more blood down her throat and into her lungs and the tears in her eyes were almost blinding her. It was a small miracle that the door to the workshop was open and despite Marvin throwing himself in her way he seemed unwilling to touch her as if any attempt to restrain her would lead to her breaking into a thousand pieces. Indeed when Hayley made it to the door he moved out of her way begging and pleading with her to stop, horrified that he may nudge her into the doorway and break her.
As she exited the door Hayley found herself with a final obstacle. The stairs seemed to be insurmountable. She was completely unable to mover her knees but she knew she had to escape. Desperately raising her leg as high as the agony would let her she tried her best to get her one movable leg onto the bottom step. Tried to get into a position to make some attempt at a hop upstairs. Alas it was not to be. Hayley felt herself falling backwards. With no way to stop herself she fell slowly backwards. The world seemed to slowly rotate around her as she felt herself falling, almost in slow motion to the sound effect of another scream from Marvin. Hayley didn’t feel the impact. As soon as her head hit the concrete floor the porcelain covering her body shattered, ripping away from her and taking chunks of flesh with it. There was a blinding white flash of pain and Hayley was passed out. Waking just one more time Hayley found herself lying numbly in the lap of Marvin who was weeping over her broken body. Wishing for it all to just end Hayley passed away, the last thing she heard was the lamenting of Marvin as he raised a shard of smashed porcelain from the floor and held it to his wrist.