Book Of Darkness

The Horror Stories From The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games


Sophie Duncan and Natasha Duncan-Drake


Published by Wittegen Press

Smashwords Edition

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each reader. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favourite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Wittegen Press Giveaway Games 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Sophie Duncan

Copyright © 2012 by Natasha Duncan-Drake

Artwork by Sophie Duncan and Natasha Duncan-Drake

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

ISBN: 978-1-908333-42-1

Wittegen Press Giveaway Games 2012

During July of 2012 Wittegen Press gave away one short story, or story part per day.


Every morning a new short story was available at:


Each title was available for download for one day only.


These titles have now been compiled into a selection of anthologies. This anthology contains all the horror stories written for the games.


The anthologies available are:

Myriad Imaginings: All The Stories From The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games

Half Of Everything: Stories By Natasha Duncan-Drake From The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games

The Other Half Of Everything: Stories By Sophie Duncan From The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games

Book Of Darkness: The Horror Stories From The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games

Supernature: The Paranormal Stories From The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games

Romantics: The Erotic Romance Stories Fromt The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games

Beyond Our Horizon: The Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories From The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games

Bright Young Things: The Young Adult Stories From The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games




Sophie Duncan

This story is horror.

Author's Note

BFF was published 14th July 2012.

BFF began life thanks to a conversation between me, my sister, her husband and three of our friends. We'd been watching the ghost story, 'The Woman In Black', and had then begun discussing what we found creepy. Matisse, one of our friends, mentioned she used to live in an old Victorian house that she shared with a bunch of other people and that she hated going up the stairs at night, because the were gloomy and the owner of the house had things placed on each landing that freaked her out. One was a doll.

Rik, another friend, then mentioned he used to visit someone who had a house full of dolls. We all agreed that we found the fixed faces of dolls creepy. However, Rik went one better and mentioned one specially made doll that was a little girl crying against a wall. If wanting a doll like that wasn't odd enough, when the doll was pulled away from the wall, it had no face, because, as it was designed to lean into the wall, it didn't need one! That idea stuck with me and, coupled with the spooky stairs, both made their way into BFF.

I'm not a horror writer as a norm. I find the genre a challenge, but this story formed on a very long journey from Canterbury, Kent to Newcastle Upon Tyne. I started with the tag line, actually, 'Marie is Debbie's best friend. Marie has blond curls and a cutie-pie face; she always smiles and her eyes are the best, brightest blue. Marie knows best and Debbie always listens to her advice.'

Dolls, along with clowns, top my creepy list and I channelled some of that disquiet through Karen. It was actually quite cathartic!



Karen dumped her book bag on the floor, leant on the sink and stared into the bathroom mirror. First day at a new sixth-form and already she had coffee down her specially purchased shirt. Grabbing a paper towel from the dispenser, she sighed, wetted the stiff paper and dabbed at the stain that splodged across the sophisticated blue stripes. So much for her cool image; coffee all over the table and floor in front of half the populace at St Augustine's College for Girls, even the year-nines had been sniggering when she'd walked out to the nearest toilet.

"Don't worry about it," a bright voice surprised Karen and she glanced up to see a short, dimply girl smiling at her in the mirror. "They'll have forgotten all about you by lunchtime and you got the stain quickly, so it'll wash out."

The optimism was blinding and Karen turned round to get a better look at its owner. The girl, who was all of five foot nothing, bobbed on her toes under Karen's scrutiny, but her perky smile was backed up by two short, thick bunches sticking out one from either side of her head and a bright red jumper that was far too joyous for words.

"Hi, Debbie Reynolds," the girl finally stuck her hand out and gabbled on, "and yes, Mummy did name me after the film star; she loves all the old musical movies - me, her and Marie are always sitting down and watching Singing in the Rain."

Karen took the offered hand if only to get the girl to stop talking. Not that she wasn't grateful for the company, but Debbie was gushing.

"Karen Hooper, not named after anyone."

Debbie giggled, quickly dropped the handshake, shoved both her hands behind her back and wiggled in time with her laughter. In the end, Karen gave her a bemused smile: it hadn't been that funny. Eventually, Debbie seemed to notice she was being over the top, bit her lip, smirked and then said, "So, you're new here."

"Just moved to the area," Karen replied, leaning back on the sink.

"I'm an old hand here," Debbie added and, with what Karen thought was a hopeful shrug, offered, "I can show you around if you like."

Apart from making a spectacle of herself in the canteen, Karen hadn't managed to connect with anyone. Most of the girls seemed to be like Debbie, having been at the school since year seven, so she took the bone being thrown at her.



Karen noted a few amused looks when she turned up in the library for her free period with Debbie, but the girl turned out to be quite sweet, if a bit childish, so Karen couldn't tell if it was just the coffee incident or her new friend that caused the whispers. Still, Debbie was helpful for charting out where all the classrooms were and most of the information she imparted was useful.

Karen went home that afternoon, more or less glad that she'd met a new friend. Nothing dissuaded her of that idea until the next morning when she was heading in through the school gates and an arm slipped through hers. Since Debbie had turned out to be quite touchy-feely, Karen looked across, but was shocked to find a tall, slender girl who was gliding effortlessly and wearing just the right amount of makeup.

"Hello new girl," her accoster curled her lips at Karen, but the gesture did not reach her kohled eyes.

"Hello," Karen replied, trying not to sound intimidated as another girl she didn't know, equally as coiffed, took up position on her right side and she sensed more girls behind her.

"A piece of advice," confidence-encapsulated told her, "you don't want to hang around with Dolly Debbie."

Karen came to a halt then, which miffed her new acquaintance, but Karen didn't like being told what to do, especially not by someone who had been sniggering at her only the day before.

"Dolly Debbie?" she checked, just to be sure.

"Oh, so she hasn't shown you her doll, yet," the other unnamed girl laughed and flicked her long, carefully highlighted hair.

"She carries it in that pink back pack," the tag team continued. "Positively monstrous, it is."

It didn't take a genius to work out that she'd picked the odd ball as a new friend, but the attitude in front of her brought Karen's hackles up. She wasn't dumb enough for an out and out confrontation, even if 'bullying was dealt with harshly at St Augustine's', she'd learnt popularity contests could be just as painful, so she smiled blandly.

"Oh, well, thank you for that information, ladies," Karen replied, gently unhooking herself from the lead girl, and with a nod, backed off and finished, "I'll take it under advisement."

As she'd hoped, her non-committal response generated confusion rather than animosity and she was looked at with half-polite, enquiring smiles.

"So, what -?" the second-in-command began, but was smacked on the arm by her friend and given a withering look.

"You'll see me around," Karen added for good measure, but continued in her mind, 'but not if I see you first, bitches.'

With that, she turned and walked off, head held high. However, as soon as she had ducked round the corner of the first school building, she sagged against the wall and puffed out her tension. She hated school politics: it had taken her years to get it right at her old school and learning all the new cliques to be avoided was just too much like a whole other set of exams, as if she didn't have enough this year.

"Well done," Debbie murmured conspiratorially and Karen shot a foot in the air as she found the girl's smile an inch from her face.

Debbie stood back quickly, startled by Karen's reaction, but the tension break was just what Karen needed and she laughed. Debbie looked forlornly perturbed for a second, but then Karen reached out and patted her on the shoulder.

"God, you shouldn't sneak up on people like that," she informed her friend, leaning in just a bit. "You nearly gave me a heart attack."

"What did those witches tell you?" Debbie sounded unsure for the first time since Karen had met her.

Karen glanced over her shoulder at the baby pink backpack there and she didn't have to say anything else, because Debbie's face hardened.

"Mummy gave her to me when I was three. Marie's my friend," the girl announced defensively.

"Whatever floats your boat," Karen replied with a shrug and then straightened up. "Quite frankly, dolls are better than bitching about people who are different from you."

Debbie brightened considerably at that, although she didn't smile as widely as the Debbie-Special and Karen saw a thousand cruel comments clouding the girl's eyes.

"Come on," Karen decided, leading off, "I've got double periods all day. Let's grab a coffee first and I'll try not to tip mine down my front this time."

Debbie didn't giggle, which was telling, but she did at least smile and fall in beside Karen, who took that as positive: sod the mean girls!


"Do you want to come to mine?" Debbie's question distracted Karen from the way her skirt was riding up her tights as she walked towards the school gates and freedom.

She blinked at Debbie for a second, not sure a few hours in two days was really enough time to be friendly enough for home visits. However, then she spotted bitch-number-one, name 'Camilla' according to Debbie, staring at her open-mouthed and that sealed things. Slipping her arm through Debbie's, she smiled, nodded and decided, "Why not."

Debbie beamed. Karen was glad: in truth, she'd been worried about the girl all day, since the incident with Camilla had taken a long time to fade from her normally bright eyes. Karen had no idea what bitch-queen and her clique had put the poor girl through, she was the perfect target, a little odd, somewhat clingy.

Karen wanted more than anything to get a look in that back pack, which Debbie protected from all bumps and scrapes, but no amount of eccentricity demanded the ghosts in Debbie's eyes. Still, Debbie'd more or less recovered from whatever memories Camilla had returned to her that day, and so, not letting her new ego-boosting project see the popular princess, Karen headed out of the gates.


Karen's mouth hung open as, after a short bus ride, she found herself staring up at a mansion.

"Do you like it?" Debbie checked when Karen failed to step up the paved driveway.

Karen shut her mouth and blinked at her friend for a moment. Then she remembered her manners and replied in awe, "It's so big. My house could fit in here four times at least."

Debbie smiled shyly.

"Daddy was in The City before he was taken away," she explained.

It was an odd expression, but Karen got the gist and immediately offered, "Oh, I am sorry."

"Don't be," Debbie shrugged and they started walking up the drive. "It was a long time ago, I was only a toddler, I don't really remember him and Mummy and I are very happy together."

Karen followed Debbie up to the pristine, white door with Grecian pillars either side, which only worked as decor because the whole place was so huge, and then into the lobby. As her eyes adjusted, her chin threatened to hit her chest again, but she clamped her jaw shut and just stared: it wasn't the parquet floor, nor the way chintz took up every available place, it was the fact that she was being stared at by at least a dozen pairs of eyes, unblinking, dead eyes. The hallway was filled with dolls: tiny, delicate china ones; prim, lacy Victorian ones and one sitting on a chair in the corner that was the size of a small child.

"Mummy and I give homes to dolls in distress," Debbie explained in her usual over-excited manner, oblivious to the fact that a chill was running up and down Karen's spine.

The only reason Karen did not turn on her heel and march right out of the house was the puppy-dog way in which Debbie was looking at her.

"Come on, you can meet my friends in my room," Debbie announced and bounced towards the stairs.

The door closing behind her did not help Karen's sudden attack of the heebie geebies, but it left nothing for her to do except follow Debbie. Another half dozen fixed faces greeted her from alcoves in the stairwell as she went up, except for the even scarier dolly that didn't look at her at all, because she was facing the wall, hands up either side of her head and looking like she was crying: Karen kept close on Debbie's heels.

She was more or less in control of her reactions by the time she followed Debbie into her bedroom, but she hovered by the door, because every inch of shelf, table, chair and even the head of the bed was covered with dolls. Debbie shrugged off her precious back pack, threw herself on her bed and then unzipped it. Finally getting a look inside at Marie brought Karen further into the room and she wasn't disappointed. Karen's first glimpse of the mythical Marie was of a mass of bright blond curls flowing out of the bag. As Debbie gently cradled the pretty crown out of the bag, a perfect bisque, cream face was revealed with eyes of such an intense blue that they almost shone. A stiff, but elegant body followed clothed in a pristine, white dress of fine lace and cotton, and finally a pair of real-leather, if Karen was not mistaken, boots finished off the outfit.

"Isn't she beautiful," Debbie breathed, holding the doll up in her arms like some kind of proud mother. "Her hair is real, so I have to keep it brushed nicely for her. Being in the bag isn't very nice, but it's the only way I can take her to school."

Torn between admiration for the craftsmanship and wigging out over the whole anthropomorphic thing Debbie had going on, Karen just managed an awkward smile. That seemed to satisfy Debbie, however, and, with exaggeratedly careful movements, she placed the doll on her pillows in the middle of the other creepy collectables. Thankfully, the girl then pulled books out of her bag and asked, "You want to work on that maths' homework together?"

Karen reached for her own book bag and nodded: at least it was something else to focus on.


Almost two hours later, Karen fled in the nicest way she could.


Karen sat on her bed, her only safe island in a sea of dolls. Her room was awash with them. Every face from Debbie's house that had been etched on her memory by their lifeless stares now looked up at her, arms held out in a mockery of supplication.

"Karen, help us," they whispered all at once.

Karen put her hands to her ears as the plea hissed around the room again and the shudders ran up and down her body.

"Go away," she moaned, fear soaking every fibre as she couldn't help herself, she looked into each set of dead eyes one after the other.

"Karen, help us," the beg came again in a hundred feminine voices.

"I can't. Leave me alone," she dismissed helplessly as she tore her eyes away from one dark-brown set only for attention to fall on the scary crying doll.

The little Victorian girl was still facing the wall, head covered, but her voice jumped to the front of Karen's mind, a small, frightened sound.

"Please help me, I don't know where I am," the doll told her and slowly the bonneted head turned. "I can't see."

Karen froze, her heart beating through her chest as she realised the bonnet was empty. Nothing but a flat, white plaque sat where the doll's face should have been. A perfect, chintzy body reached out to her, topped by soulless blankness. The scream ripped out of her body and Karen woke up as she slammed her face into her pillow. She scrabbled away from her mattress, breathing hard and staring round her room, desperately checking for the nightmare dolls.

No Dolls.

Gasping and shaking, Karen lay back down and stared at the ceiling. Slowly, as her brain began to let go of the horrifying images, she started to ponder how to let Debbie down gently.


Next morning, the second to last person Karen wanted to see was Camilla, but there she was, all five foot eight of her willowiness practically waiting for Karen to walk by, and what was worse, all her cronies were with her. Karen put her head down and planned to walk right by. However, Camilla had different ideas.

"Got out of bed the wrong side this morning?" the girl's disdain hit Karen harder than it should have and she stared at Camilla, knowing her rough edges were showing.

Camilla's gaze widened and then her lips twitched with amusement.

"Oh no, Debbie took you home, didn't she?"

Camilla's mirth was the last thing Karen needed, but she'd woken up three times in the night with nightmares until she'd decided to surf for the rest of the night and that had left her defences very frail.

"Did she show you her dolly collection?" Lucy, Camilla's lieutenant, joined in with glee.

"Yes," was all Karen could say, her voice thin and she could hear her own fear.

Camilla's face straightened then and Karen wasn't sure if she saw genuine concern there.

"Oh my god, she really freaked you out, didn't she?" Camilla pushed.

For a second, Karen was tempted to confess all, but then a triumphant smile knocked her back a step and she could only stare weakly as Camilla crossed her arms and announced, "Well you can't say we didn't warn you."

Before she did something she'd regret, Karen turned and walked away, shoulders hunched this time and she could hear the sniggers and bitchy remarks as she left. Totally the wrong time for Debbie to do her usual magic appearing act and Karen skidded three paces back when the little bundle of exuberance bounced up to her.

"Stay away from me," Karen snarled and, before the hurt puppy look could get to her, dashed away.


Karen spent that day and the next alone, well except for the victorious smirks from Camilla's little gang and, at first, hangdog looks from Debbie, but then they morphed into angry stares. That would have been bad enough, but in one free period in the library, Debbie sat herself just within Karen's eyeline, placed the back pack on the table in front of her and proceeded to hold an angry, whispered conversation with its contents. In the end, Karen had not been able to stand the accusation in Debbie's glares every time she looked her way and, even though it was against the rules, she had left the library and then the school.

Friday was a relief, because Camilla seemed to have become bored with taunting Karen and Debbie was nowhere to be seen either. The only problem was, Karen couldn't find her maths homework, nor her textbook, that she could not afford to replace. She hadn't checked on it since Tuesday, but it was due on Monday and she'd been hoping to finish it during her last free period. However, her answer to its location came when she opened her locker at the end of the day. A note fluttered down to the floor. Karen bent to pick it up and in scratchy writing, she read, 'You left your homework at my house. If you want it, you'll have to come and get it. Debbie.'

Karen was sure she'd taken the work home with her, but then again, by the end of the visit, she'd been so flustered by all the dead attention that she could have forgotten her whole bag and not noticed. Slamming her locker, Karen swore and considered her options: it wouldn't take her more than a couple of hours to redo it, but without the textbook...

A hurried trip to the staff common room and Karen discovered that there were no loaner versions of that text book. By that time, all her classmates had gone home, so no chance of borrowing from them, so that left only one option. Karen's heart sunk through the floor, but there was nothing for it but to get on the bus and head to Debbie's house.


Karen stood at the gate of the mansion staring, but not for the same reasons as the first time she had seen the big place. Instead of wonder, now she was uncomfortable and trying to gather the courage to face Debbie and her menagerie. However, the choice was taken away from Karen when the door opened suddenly and Debbie stood there, arms folded, eyes blazing.

"Your books are inside, you can at least come in and explain yourself," she challenged and then was gone back into the atrium of horrors.

Karen had to kick herself and tell herself not to be such a baby before she could actually work her legs enough to move forward. Then she hurried to the inevitable, charging into the hallway and coming to a winded halt when she was faced with Debbie glaring at her, Marie clutched firmly to her ample bosom.

"It's the dolls," she blurted out before she ran out of courage.

The wrong thing to say would have been putting it mildly, because Debbie face twisted into someone Karen did not recognise and she barked, "How dare you?"

"I'm sorry," Karen stammered, but still glanced round at the frozen faces that gave her such nightmares.

"Sorry?!" Debbie began to pace. "I thought you were different."

"I can't help it," Karen tried to explain, but Debbie was looking down at her doll and didn't appear to be listening.

"I had to give her a chance," Debbie growled at Marie, who just continued staring out into space. "I know, you were right."

"Look, can I have my books, please?" Karen tried to move things along: she'd done the right thing, she'd apologised, but she did not want to spend more than the time she had to with Dolly Debbie.

Debbie did glance at her then, still pacing and spitting fire from her eyes.

"It's all so easy for you, swanning in, playing with people," Debbie accused.

"My books," Karen repeated, trying to stay as calm as she could.

"In the kitchen," Debbie finally answered, hunching over and turning to the wall as she waved at the corridor that ran behind the stairs.

"Thank you," Karen tried to stay polite as much to stop herself from panicking as from any sense of propriety.

She headed down the magnolia passage, coming out in a large, clean kitchen of wood and steel. A quick glance around the empty surfaces told her quickly that her books were not in view, so she turned to ask Debbie for directions. However, she took a rapid step backwards when she was faced with a twisted missile coming at her, arm raised, holding a pad of cotton wool in her hand.

"There's no going back now, Karen," Debbie screamed and then leapt at her.

Karen put her arms out, but Debbie barrelled into her, pushing her backwards into the island that stood in the middle of the room and, taken completely by surprise, she fell onto it, half turning reactively. Still, Debbie had speed and anger on her side and Karen barely had time to struggle before the cotton wool slammed into her face. Nose and mouth covered, she breathed in once and something sharp and powerful hit her senses. She coughed, but it was far too late and, confused and frightened, Karen felt herself go weak. However, blackness descended before she hit the ground.


Karen came round to the sound of Debbie's agitated voice.

"I know, I know, but she has to be awake."

Opening her eyes slowly, Debbie pacing swum into view in front of her. No longer the school girl Karen had known, Debbie was wearing overalls and her hair fell around her face in messy tangles where she was running her fingers in and out of it. The girl was not pacing in front of Karen, however, she was pacing in front of a sofa. Marie was immediately recognisable sitting in a place all of her own, curls perfect, smile implacable. However, then Debbie paced across the room again and revealed the place next to Marie.

The figure in that place was sitting bolt upright, as primly as one of the dolls but in a faded dress, eyes just as blank, but because they were hollows in dried skin that was the opposite of the doll's rosy cheeks. Faced with a long-dead corpse, Karen screamed and tried to get away. She twisted up against what she was half lying, half sitting on, but her wrists and ankles strained under unforgiving grips that cut into her skin and forced her to flop back into place. Gasping with panic, she pulled at the restraints, but the tight constriction of cable ties held her fast and the heavy chair in which she was tied, although it trembled with her efforts, did not give.

Debbie came to a halt and just stood staring at Karen until the prisoner's brain caught up with the futility of her actions and then she froze instead. Only when there was silence did Debbie turn to Marie and she smiled.

"Yes, but she'll understand soon."

Then the vision of crazy actually looked back at Karen and told her, "They were all like this to start with, but now they're my friends."

Karen glanced around the room as Debbie did and shrunk back in horror, because, arranged around the windowless room in a terrifying mirror of her nightmares, was Debbie's entire compliment of dolls. Even the worst of them all, the faceless little girl, sat facing her from a shelf, arms reaching out, anonymous blank plaque staring out from her bonnet.

"You shouldn't be afraid of my friends," Debbie told her with a nasty little smile. "You'll be one of them soon."

"I'm not a doll!" Karen whimpered.

"Neither was Alice, Katy, Eloise," Debbie replied and began pointing at individual dolls.

However, she stopped before introducing her fourth scary companion and turned to the sofa. Her smile spread across her face as she looked down at Marie, who grew more sinister the more Karen looked at her. A whisper Karen couldn't quite hear made her shiver and it echoed in her head, chilling her to the bone.

"Yes, I'll explain," Debbie giggled and then turned back to Karen, still smiling maniacally. "You see, Karen, Marie taught me how to make my friends."

Karen stared at the cutie-pie, unmoving face and the whispering grew.

"She's a doll," Karen moaned, scared and disbelieving of the madness she hadn't seen in Debbie before.

"She's a very special doll," Debbie gushed and picked the prissy thing up into her arms. "Mummy gave her to me."

Debbie looked at the corpse: Karen tried not to follow her attention.

"She's been in the family for generations, ever since Great Great Great Grandfather Polkinghorn made her. He was a toymaker. Since then, Marie had been passed down from mother to daughter and she is our truest friend," Debbie hugged the doll to her, closing her eyes and spinning around.

It was so childish that Karen would have laughed, but that would have been the end of her sanity.

"That isn't strictly true, though," Debbie stopped and frowned, "Marie isn't just my friend, she's my Great Great Aunt. You see, she had tuberculosis, they called it consumption then, and she was dying. Grandfather Polkinghorn couldn't bear to lose her, though, she was his favourite daughter and so he made a dolly in her image. He even used her own hair and a drop of her blood in the paint for her cheeks. When she died, he gave the dolly to her sister, my Great Great Grandmother, Millicent. What he didn't know was that Marie hadn't wanted to die either, and she had become the doll. Auntie Milly soon found out, though, and Marie told her what their father had done. It was a few years before she could find out if the method would work again, but when her best friend tried to tell on her and Marie, Milly didn't have a choice, she had to stop her. Jacqueline was our first doll."

Debbie waved over to the large, child-sized doll sitting on her very own wooden chair.

"You're mad," came out of Karen's mouth before sense could stop her.

Debbie spun away from her, shoulders hunched. She put Marie down and just stood there looking down at the sofa. For a moment, Karen hoped she had cut through the surreality of it all, but then Debbie sniffed.

"That's not a nice thing to say," the girl snarled without turning, but her head came up. "They called Mummy that before she married Daddy. He called her his living doll. She was very beautiful."

Fear crawled further up Karen's spine and she began pulling at her bonds again: she didn't want to hear the rest of this story.

"But he found out about Marie and he didn't like her," Debbie carried on, oblivious. "Mummy had to put him out with the rubbish."

"Oh god," Karen moaned, pulling hard at the arms of the chair as they rattled under her attention.

"We were watching Singing In The Rain when she started acting funny. I couldn't put her out with the rubbish like Daddy, though," Debbie murmured, her hand brushing over the hair of the corpse.

Nausea welled up Karen's throat and she choked back bile.

"Debbie, please, I didn't know, I'll be your friend," she begged as, slowly, Little Miss Batshit-Crazy turned round.

"I know you will," Debbie replied and pulled a large pair of scissors out of her overall pocket.

Karen barely recognised the girl who stalked up the side of what was some kind of barber's chair and circled round where Karen couldn't see her.

"Debbie, what are you doing?" Karen asked nervously as she lost sight of the other girl.

The only response was a grab at her long hair and Karen screamed as her head was pulled back against the chair.

"Just relax, Karen," Debbie told her, an upside down, even expression appearing in Karen's view. "I need your hair first."

"No!" Karen yelled, straining away, but her release came at the slicing sound of blade to hair and she flew forward, only her bonds stopping her flying out of the chair.

Her head felt lighter, cooler and then she realised her hair was no longer over her shoulders. It was just one more horror in it all, but she wailed for her lovely dark curls as Debbie walked back past her, ten inches of it clasped in her fist. Karen began to struggle in earnest as Debbie crossed to a table on which was lying a bisque baby doll head, bald except for a hessian skull cap.

"It will take me days to finish you properly, but a few strands will do for now to complete the ceremony," Debbie told Karen and smiled as her before concentrating on what she was doing. She laid out Karen's hair, examining it carefully before selecting some and laying it over the hessian.

Karen could watch her no more as panic took over from anything else. She pulled at the bonds, not caring how they dug into her flesh, drawing blood, all that mattered was getting away. Her own heartbeat sounded in her ears, but it was the faraway whispering that was getting to her and it was getting louder. She was so intent on wiggling her wrist against the cable tie that when the half-made head appeared under her nose, she screamed and reared away. Debbie backed off a bit, a flicker of disquiet crossing her features, the most normal expression Karen had seen since the nightmare had begun.

"I know you're not very pretty yet, but that will come," Debbie told her petulantly, stroking the thin strands of hair back over the doll's head. "Now, I just need your blood. Heart blood is best."

Debbie lifted the scissors out of her pocket again and Karen screamed anew. Yet, all that came back at her was the whispering and she heard her name. Karen tried to crawl away as the scissors descended towards her chest, points glistening. This was it, life or death and, with an almighty wrench that sent pain shooting up her arm, she ripped up the arm of the chair. The old metal unit came away from the seat whole and Karen swung her arm and weapon straight at Debbie.

The chair part was heavy and smacked Debbie across the face. The girl went flying backwards, landing on her mother in a cloud of dehydrated detritus. The scissors bounced off Karen's shirt, slicing a hole in the cloth and her skin as they went, but Karen ignored the sharp pain as they landed in her lap. Hastily, she reached for them and glanced nervously over at where Debbie was groaning and barely moving.

Hastily, Karen grabbed the scissors and went for the ties. She had her other wrist free when Debbie moaned loudly and moved more definitely. Heart in her throat, Karen bent down to her ankles. Debbie opened her eyes, blinking and frowning. Karen cut the tie on her right leg, her hand trembling so much she had to steady herself with her other hand. Debbie sat up with a start, growling, and desperately, Karen scrabbled to her left leg. She cut the tie just as Debbie threw herself off the sofa, mother crumbling behind her, and Karen raised the scissors defensively.

Karen didn't have time to get out of the chair, nor free the wrist that was still dangling the chair arm, so her defence was weighed down as she tried to stop the tumult that hit her, fists and nails flying. Debbie smacked at her face and tried to claw at her eyes, completely oblivious, it seemed, to the blades in Karen's hand.

"Bitch!" she snarled, pulling at what was left of Karen's hair and leaning in, teeth bared.

Karen flexed and pushed upwards: she was quite a bit bigger than Debbie, but the tiny girl still posed a weight as she climbed on top of her. She turned away as teeth tried to close on her ear, smashing her forehead into her assailant's face with considerable force. Debbie's head flew back with the impact and Karen was seeing stars as well, but the way Debbie shifted meant Karen had time to lift her heavy arm and her weapon. There was no more time to think and survival kicked in. Karen raised the scissors and brought them down hard into Debbie's torso.

Debbie screamed, falling back off Karen and staggered away, hands going to where the scissors were sticking out of her rib cage. She smashed into a line of dolls. Bisque and china fell left and right, smashing against floor and furniture and the whispering in Karen's head grew yet again, this time with something near sighs.

Karen pushed herself off the chair, disoriented and uncoordinated, but, as Debbie fell into the pile of broken toys, Karen knew what her target was. Marie was still sitting on the sofa, stiff, fixed smile and sickly blue eyes staring into space. Karen stalked over to the doll and reached out.

"No," whispered in her head and Karen blinked a few times as her fingers closed round the vile thing's arm.

She picked it up, the whispering forcing its way to the front of her mind, confusing her thoughts with the touch.

"Best friend," Marie offered sibilantly.

For a moment, Karen wanted to take the doll to her breast and hug her there and she froze, conflicted by her hatred of the evil thing.

"Marie," Debbie moaned weakly and Karen turned, doll in hand to look down on her attacker.

Debbie reached up towards Karen, hand shaking, blood dribbling from her mouth and all Karen could do was stare. Yet, as she looked, Karen realised, it was not to her the murderess was reaching, it was Marie. Anger took over from the whispered promises in her head and, lifting the doll above her head, Karen then smashed it down to earth as hard as she could.

"No!" Debbie gurgled, straining from her collapse, but it was far too late, Marie hit the ground and that bright, perfect face smashed into a thousand pieces.

A moment later, eyes that were wide with horror went blank and Debbie slumped onto her broken brethren. Hand going to her lips in shock, Karen stifled a sob and she staggered backwards, away from Debbie. She wanted to scream and run and fall down in a heap, all at the same time. Yet, the whispering was still there, in her head and, as she wavered there in the sea of dolls, Karen could hear it.

"Release us, please," the dolls whispered to her. "Free us, Karen."

Karen looked slowly around the room, at each fixed face and each pair of dead eyes, even the little blind girl. This could have been her fate and protective rage burst out of Karen in a scream. Taking hold of the heavy bar still dangling from her wrist, Karen swung at the first line of dolls, scattering their precious bodies and smashing them to pieces.

The sighs filled her mind as she ploughed on, swiping at every pretty little head in sight and the horror of so many lives cut at her. The tears began to roll down her cheeks as, moment by moment, the sighs took over and the pleading grew less. The faceless doll flew across the room as Karen caught her with the chair arm, smashing against a wall and Karen recognised the sound of that little breath of relief from her nightmares.

Gritting her teeth, almost blind with tears, Karen finished her work, ending up facing Jacqueline. The child-size doll looked up at her, the first and the last, one and a half centuries of imprisonment.

"Goodbye," Karen murmured and lifted her arm.

"Thank you," whispered in her mind as Karen swung and Jacqueline's cold, hard head shattered into dust.


"This is sooo creepy," Lucy breathed excitedly as she leant on the garden wall next to Camilla and watched police officers walking out of the house with clear bags of what looked like broken china and hair.

"I know, it's too scary!" Camilla agreed with her for once, eyes bright with excitement. "Did you see the picture of Cuckoo Karen on the TV when they took her to the loony bin, all her hair was cut off?"

"Looked like a scarecrow and said the dollies had told her to kill them," Lucy sniggered.

"And Dolly Debbie, living with dead mummy for six years," Camilla gushed. "It's disgusting, no wonder she went nuts too."

"Yeah, and it's not as if we didn't warn little miss new girl," Lucy added, trying to sound as brash as Camilla did.

Camilla glanced at her, narrowing her eyes and Lucy shrunk a bit, not really knowing what she had said wrong.

"Come on," Camilla announced to her gang, "this is too nasty."

Camilla turned and flounced off. Lucy would have followed her, but someone said her name. She turned and looked around. No-one was in sight. But, then, there it was again, a little whisper that she almost couldn't hear, "Lucy. I'll be your best friend."

Lucy glanced away at where Camilla et al were walking away. She had to go.

"I won't make fun of your hair," the voice told her and stopped her moving off.

Lucy stood on tiptoes and looked over the wall. There, in the flowerbed, was a doll. She had the most beautiful blond hair and she smiled up at Lucy with the brightest blue eyes. Lucy smiled back. With a quick check that no-one was looking, Lucy nipped round the end of the wall and picked up the doll.

"Hello, Lucy, my name is Marie. I'll be your best friend in the whole world."

Lucy kissed the doll on her golden crown and smoothed the curls that she'd disturbed.

"We'll be friends forever," she promised.



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About Wittegen Press:

Wittegen Press is a small independent publisher of eBooks based in the UK. We publish on many eBook sites. To see our whole catalogue please visit our website.

About Tasha

Tasha was born and raised in rural Kent, England where she still lives with her husband Rob, just down the road from her twin sister and sometimes writing partner Sophie. Tasha has been writing since she was a pre-teen and chose to take it up as a full time career when her company downsized and made the whole software engineering department redundant. After setting up Wittegen Press with her sister as a brand for their books she has not looked back, publishing novels, novellas and short stories in a wide range of genres.

Before taking up writing professionally she was very active in the world of fanfiction and still believes it is a wonderful creative outlet, even though she doesn't have very much time to play anymore. She likes to maintain a lively presence online and welcomes new friends, readers and writers alike.

For more information about Tasha's books and where to find her at places like Twitter, please check out her profile at Wittegen Press, linked below.

About Sophie

Sophie was born with the writing bug in her blood, boring her primary school teachers with pages of creative writing and killing her first typewriter from over use when she was thirteen. She began publishing her work on line while at university where she discovered the internet and fanfiction. It took another decade for Sophie to realise her long-time dream of releasing her own original fiction.

Also by Sophie Duncan: Death In The Family


Leaving a good London school with solid prospects, Tom Franklin has the world at his feet. Yet one thing has always haunted his perfect life: his dreams. When Tom discovers that the nightmarish images of dark places and even darker instincts are in fact repressed memories from his early childhood, he must face the heritage from his birth-father, a savage vampire known only as Raxos.

Realising his memories are his only hope of controlling his awakening instincts, Tom returns to, Coombedown, the sleepy, Cornish village in which he was born, unknowing that the night-breed in his veins will lead him into danger.

"Death In The Family" is a young adult, paranormal novel.

This is the first story in the "Heritage is Deadly" Series.


Also by Natasha Duncan-Drake: The Chronicles of Charlie Waterman


Charlie is an ordinary 18 year old whose whole life it turned upside down when he is attacked by a two inch cat figurine. Magic was not in his plans, but he soon learns reality is not quite as straightforward as he thought.

There are seven great spirits: Cat, Dragon, Horse, Dolphin, Wolf, Hawk and Spider and these spirits seek to maintain the Balance of Existence. As their agents travelling to multiple worlds they call on seven young people to be their Questors. These Questors are granted the Spirits' powers and use them to prevent the forces of Chaos from destroying life.

The Chronicles of Charlie Waterman is a set of YA style novels designed to be exciting, light reads for a crossover audience. They are filled with magic, adventure and a well developed sense of fun.


Also from Wittegen Press


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