dolls

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Antlion

"Are you sure this is okay, Miss?"

"Of course it is. Get that lock open."

Doll's fingers, long and fine as needles, dip inside the keyhole once again. She fancies that she can hear the house shudder as she massages its pins, and it's hardly a moment before the door clicks open. Behind her she feels her witch's smile: a vast gash cut into the night's fabric, teeth dripping with the moon's pale blood. Its empty eyes gaze hungrily past her from the sleepy suburban street's every shadow, and Doll thanks her lucky stars that no one's awake to see it.

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"This one isn't everyone"

"I'm sorry you had to see me like that. I never wanted you to know that side of me. I wanted," a drop of blood slides down her perfect teeth, "I wanted to keep you safe."

This isn't when the doll found her in the woods, covered in stolen blood. This is some time after.

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The Pheonix

"Call me Ishmael" the doll said, though its path had never led it to the ocean and it had little regard for water. It thought that it was clever even so, and Ishmael was a better name than the one its witch had given it when he stitched its wings.

Ish (which was what the other dolls called it, and which it held was because they had no flare for the dramatic) was a aeronaut aboard the great ⸢Remembrance of Her Unwilling Blessing⸥. A sky-ship one hundred and sixteen meters from bow to stern, with a wingspan thrice that! The culmination of a witch's craft, powered by banks of witchwork hearts driving it forward and pumping reality away with their every bone-shuddering beat! Vast and powerful, held together only through the unceasing effort of a dozen lobotomized witch-houses ...

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Graveyard Life

The doll wakes up.

This is the first mistake she makes each day.

The second mistake is sleepily grasping for her phone, hands moving in long-conditioned reflex: swipe through the pattern and tap the brightly-colored little icon—

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The Comet

The ground is warm beneath Doll's back as she lies in the fire's ruins, its erstwhile host's half-frozen blood splattered all around her. Her skin is pristine; her witch's wrath was careful when that pitiful storyteller finally turned its teeth on her.

She enjoys the warmth with the same sad hunger as she might regard her last meal before execution, were she a thing which could die. There's precious little of it left in the world, and the false-sun's baleful eye leeches more away with each passing day.

It's finally quiet.

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Entrails

Doll has always hated the subway. Each time she descends into those fetid, intestinal depths her skin prickles and her stomach roils; something deep in her unbeating heart recoils from the trains' steady rhythm.

But it's raining today, so she has to.

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Bone

"Stop touching that!"

"But missssss, it's so much fun, all nice and smooth with those jagged edges, and it's oozing! Look at it ooze!"

"That's fucking gross."

"You're just jealous that no one wants to break your arm!"

"Why would I—ugh, dolls …"

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Blood

Doll rinses and spits just like she's always been told to. Not too aggressively, not enough to drain her mouth of the taste of cold mint; just enough for comfort. Comfortingly routine.

But (of course there's a but) the sink growls at her as she spits.

For a long moment she doesn't realize that she's heard it. Her mind is so far away, yet not far enough to catch her eyes and hold them fast; her gaze sinks down as inevitably as any sunset.

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Light A Candle

Doll stumbles as she rushes home, one fine little foot caught in the cracked sidewalk, stone-teeth gnawing at protective leather. Her bag's too heavy today, rattling and clanking against her bruised hip; each step brings a fresh gasp of pain to her tightly sealed lips. Oh, if only she didn't have to hurry, if only she could take her time—!

But the sun's grasping rim is already teasing against the horizon, so far off across the sea that Doll's eyes can barely see the superheated steam which always veils those nightly indulgences; the sea is reaching up towards it and every clock in the city is about to chime out out the 19th hour's song and there's no time held in wait for her belated need.

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You're Invited!

When doll slips from the confines of her bed-box and stumbles downstairs, there's an odd rectangle waiting at the table: a folded sheet of thick, creamy paper. It's for her, obviously—why else would her miss have put it there, next to her oatmeal and tea?

But doll isn't sure.

"Miss, what's this?"

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