Estimated reading time — 7 minutes
Three years ago I had been asked by my employer’s to retrieve a particular item but that day I walked away with more than just a mere trinket.
I had been employed for several years at an antique store called “A Moment in Time”, and I liked my work. I got to meet many interesting people and encounter rare items of just as much interest.
Often my elderly employers, a married couple known as the Hudson’s, would send me out to pick up items that had been donated to the store. Sometimes the trip was just a few a blocks away and other times I had to leave the city for the outskirts. In the end my final trip out would take me further than I had ever imagined possible.
The item pick up seemed simple enough: Go to the house, pick up the trunk and bring it back to the shop. But when I finally got the house that day it was anything but simple.
As I drove deeper into the forest and onto the large property the birds stopped singing, the insects stopped buzzing and even the wind seemed to come to a halt. The house had clearly been abandoned and had been so for some time. What was once a gorgeous two-story log cabin on the edge of the lake was now a decaying structure overgrown with wild vines and uncut weeds that blocked out the windows on the first floor. The roof was blackened by a fire and a large gaping hold in the roof that surely allowed the elements to decimate the interior just as severely as the exterior.
Moving through the thick weeds, following what was left of the front walk, I knocked on the door but received no response. I knocked again but there was no denying that no one was in the house. I checked the faded numbers of the house’s address to the information that I had been given, it was the correct house.
As I put my hand on the doorknob it fell from the rotten door and landed on the wooden porch with a loud ‘thud’. The door slowly creaked open on its own. I peeked inside and looked around and saw nothing moving. More vines snaked along the floor like a natural carpet. There was no furniture in the whole house, all that was left was a broken grandfather clock and the long dormant fireplace. I could see that the windows in the distant kitchen area were broken and dirty. There was a single bedroom that was also empty.
Small circles on the dirty floor indicated that furniture had once been in the room but removed, and removed recently it seemed. The adjoining bathroom was a mess, the pipes were no longer dripping as rust encrusted the leaks. The medicine cabinet mirror had been broken. Checking the closets I found nothing but a stray wire coat hanger.
On the wall of the kitchen there was a phone. I picked it up and listened to the receiver but I heard nothing, no dial-tone, no busy signal. Only silence. I hung the phone up.
I called out again but the house remained silent, except for my own footsteps against the warped wooden floorboards. The staircase itself was its own story. The vines engulfed the side of the stairs and wrapped up the banister. Most of the steps were cracked and splintered, other steps were missing entirely. An ominous thought entered my mind; who put the trunk up for donation?
As I ascended the stairs I couldn’t help but feel like someone was watching me. My skin began to crawl with building uneasiness. The second floor was a room all its own, extending the entire width and length of the house itself. The hole in the roof shone a single intense beam of sunlight when the wide tree branches over the house would allow the light’s passage. In the center of this beam of light was a single trunk.
I took a step toward the trunk and heard the rapid steps of a small child running behind me. I froze and looked over my should quickly but saw nothing and all fell silent again. I called out but received no reply.
Wanting to get the trunk and get out of that house as fast as I could, I kneeled down in front of the trunk and checked the lock but it was secured. I wiped the sweat from my face and looked around in a feeble attempt to find some sort of tool to pry open the lock. As my eyes left the trunk the lock began to loudly rattle.
I jumped back and stared at the trunk, my heart pounding hard in my chest. With my shaking hand I tested the lock again and this time it was loose. I removed the lock from the trunk and took a deep breath as I slowly opened the lid.
Inside the trunk I found what looked like scraps of newspaper and a single red velvet bag. I opened the bag and pulled out a porcelain doll. I held it in my hands and studied it, the uneasy feeling returning with a vengeance.
The doll itself seemed so otherworldly. It was a doll of a small girl. She was wearing black and white saddle shoes and white stockings, with a snow white circular brimmed hat on her head. Her dress was snow white as well, reaching down to the dolls knees and half way down her arms. A red sash was tied at the doll’s waist with a red barrette clipped in her hair. Her hair was the deepest black, blacker than charcoal. Her hair reached down to her waist and it had bangs cut just over where her eyes should’ve been. The doll’s face was blank. No eyes, no mouth, no nose. Just a blank canvas that was even whiter than her dress.
I carefully slipped the doll back into the bag and set it on the floor beside me. Slipping my hand back into the trunk I checked it for other items but found only more scrap newspapers, at least I thought they were scrap. I caught a glimpse of a strange picture in the scraps and saw that it was an old article clipped from the newspaper.
The article told of a mysterious fire that happened in the house, how there was no explanation ever given and the case was still be investigated. Another article spoke of mysterious animal deaths on the property. A third clip spoke of a little girl drowning. On and on each article I picked up spoke of one tragedy after another, all happening at the house or its property. The dates stretched back as far as seventy years, and in every photo that accompanied the articles I saw the same name of the person who was reportedly responsible for all the tragedies; ‘Caroline’. As well as the same object: The doll.
I felt a chill go up my spine. I reached for the velvet bag with the doll but my hand only found the floor. I looked down at the bag was gone. A thump from behind caught my attention. I turned around and saw the bag in the middle of the floor. Outlined in the bag was the form of the doll sitting up right.
Now my heart was beating so hard I could hear it in my head. I grabbed the doll, tossed it in the trunk, slammed the lid and dragged the entire thing down the stairs. As I dragged the trunk through the front door the itself somehow slammed shut on its own. It was a struggle to lift the trunk into the back of the truck but I managed to do it thanks to the fear-induced adrenaline.
The drive back to the shop seemed to take even longer than before. All the while I kept looking in the rearview mirror at the trunk in the pickup bed. Whenever I looked away I would hear a bizarre scratching noise, like a tree branch dragging against the roof of a house.
As soon as I pulled into the parking lot of the store I ran in to inform my boss’s of the delivery. Mrs. Hudson could see I was upset, she sat me down and asked me to tell her what happened while Mr. Hudson went to check on the trunk. Before I could even begin my story I heard Mr. Hudson’s weak voice call for help as he hit the gravel of the parking lot. With Mrs. Hudson as my side I knelt down next to him and checked his neck for a pulse, but I couldn’t find one. He was dead. Mrs. Hudson began to panic, so I told her to run back inside and call 911 while I hopelessly attempted CPR.
I looked around trying to figure out what caused Mr. Hudson’s collapse when I noticed that the trunk had been opened. The lid was being held open by the lock that had been bent at an odd angle. On the inside of the lid of the trunk were tiny scratches, almost like claw marks as if something or someone, had been locked inside.
The EMT’s and police arrived at the shop but it was too late, Mr. Hudson had died from an apparent massive heart attack. As the ambulance pulled away with Mr. Hudson’s body and the police took Mrs. Hudson aside for questions, I cautiously approached the opened trunk.
Inside the trunk was the bag with the doll, it was again sitting upright. I opened the bag and took out the doll, small abrasions and dirt covered the doll’s small hands and fingers. They matched perfectly with the marks on the lid of the trunk.
The brittle paper that had been clawed began to flake away revealing the ancient wood beneath. Strange markings marred the wood, like a burned engraving. I cleared away the paper and saw a name: ‘Caroline’. I put the doll back in the trunk and tried to slam the lid shut, but it wouldn’t close anymore.
Unable to cope with the loss of her husband Mrs. Hudson closed down the shop. She died of a stroke two weeks later.
As for ‘Caroline’, the name I had given the doll, I couldn’t get her out of my mind. I would dream of a faceless girl every night and I would hear tiny foot steps running through my apartment at all hours of the day. Whenever I drove by the closed down antique shop I would see her standing in the window starting out, staring with her blank eyes.
I put her ebay along with the trunk and newspaper articles. As soon as she was purchased my nightmares stopped and my apartment was quiet. But the most disturbing image that ‘Caroline’ left behind was the picture I had taken of her when I put her up for auction. At first the image seemed normal and it remained as such until she had been shipped away. I went to delete the now unnecessary photo from my laptop when I saw in the thumbnail that the doll’s face was different.
Her eyes were black hollows and she had painted ruby red lips that were twisted slightly upward in a sinister grin. I clicked on the thumbnail to enlarge the image but when I did the face returned to its blank expression of nothingness.
I deleted the image from my computer, but I couldn’t get her eyes or her smile out of my mind.
Credit To – Katie Averill