"Hey, do you have anything for stomach aches?"

Doll, sitting behind the counter, doesn't glance up from her sketchbook. She's been doodling in it for hours, painting with the blood that still hasn't stopped dripping from her gums. She's having fun!

"Try aisle 3. Uh, the one with the big light-up skull. Don't listen to it, it's lying."

The ostensible customer graces her with a mumbled thanks as they turn and walk away. There's something wrong with the rhythm of their steps, a squishy irregularity. Doll ignores it.

It's best not to get involved, her witch always said. Best to fade away until you're needed.

(Doll's not sure if it's good advice. Her witch certainly took it too seriously, and now it's been years since she last saw any of that fragile creature except its helping hands ...)

"I've tried all of these before! None of them helped!"

"This one is sorry to hear that," Doll's mouth says without her brain's involvement. "Would you like—oh!"

It only takes a glance to know that her witch's little store doesn't carry anything near what the customer needs.

It's not exactly that the customer looks sick, though Doll certainly does note the paleness in their cheeks and the ragged darkness pooling in their eyes. Their lips are marred by uneasy greenish-yellow streaks and their hair is falling out—

And also their stomach is gone.

Perhaps "gone" is too weak a word, Doll thinks to herself. It looks like the customer was impaled by a tree and decided to try walking it off. It looks like their abdomen burst open and the rest of their body hasn't realized that it should be dead. It's bloody and disgusting.

"Um, si— err, m'— wait, no, uh. Could you please go outside? We, uh," doll struggles to think of a lie, "we're about to go on break."

Something drips from the bottom of the customer's spine to sizzle on their bare pelvic bone.

"B-but, no, I need you help! I need, I need ..."

The customer dissolves into a fit of coughing. They're making a bit of a mess, spewing out stray bits of fluid all around. Doll can't see the floor from her seat but she can certainly hear it sizzling, and she counts herself lucky for the acrylic barriers her witch installed.

"Uh, this one can't can help you. It's just, uh, well," Doll gestures vaguely towards the customer's stomach, "if none of the potions helped then this one doesn't know what would. Also it thinks you're probably not alive."

The customer looks down.

"... oh. Oh, okay."

"Yeah, uh."

"... what do I do now?"

"This one doesn't know," Doll pauses, "but it needs you to do it somewhere that's not here."

"B-but," the customer looks like they're about to cry, "I don't ..."

"Maybe try the hospital? It's six blocks north. But you need to leave. Now."

Afterward Doll finds that she's not proud of what she did; she could have called an ambulance, could have closed the store and helped them make it, but ...

Maybe Doll's not a good person.

Maybe that's why her witch won't talk to her.

Maybe she deserves the blood in her mouth.