Back in those days, I never really liked my little brother Philip. I mean, it’s not like I hated him…I just thought he was obnoxious, like most little brothers are. He was always going through my stuff and stealing and hiding it. It used to be the thorn in my side. Now I miss it.
Anyways, one day, Philip came running up to my room. He was obviously overjoyed about something; he had a big grin on his face and he was jumping up and down. I told him to calm down and asked what was up, and he said he found something really cool in the basement. This was a bit strange – Philip was terrified of the basement…he wouldn’t go down there unless you paid him. Nonetheless, I followed him down there. Now, I admit it: the basement creeped me out too. The lone lightbulb would flicker occasionally and the shadows would bounce off the crates, almost like they were moving.
Philip stopped at a random pile of boxes, and he picked up a plain cardboard box and said excitedly, “Look inside!” So I lifted the top flaps back, and inside there were two dolls. They were a dull gray color and completely featureless, no clothes, no distinguishing features, they didn’t even have faces – except for a single black line running across the head where the mouth should have been.
“Play with me!” Philip said. I hesitated, but I complied with him, and we played with the dolls – jabbing them at each other, with Philip saying dumb things like “I shot you, you’re dead!” Eventually I looked at my watch and realized we had been playing for a full hour. I told him we should stop playing, but Philip insisted that I keep playing with him. I glanced at him, then did a double-take. Philip was completely still. Usually he was jittery with that energy all little kids have, but he was completely still, and his face – stoic and expressionless. His eyes were frozen in place, staring right into mine. His mouth was contorted into a frown – very unusual for him. I blinked, and Philip was back to his normal self.
“Play with me?” he said again.
“Um…sorry, but I’m tired,” I lied. “I think I’ll go take a nap.” I turned my back to him and walked upstairs. From what I heard, he went back to playing with the two dolls.
I was a bit unsettled by that, but I shook it off and went to bed. For the following days, whenever we would come home from school, Philip would head down to the basement to play with the dolls, and I would join him occasionally. I didn’t spend much time with him. Philip would spend literally all day down in the basement with the dolls; he would only come up for dinner and bedtime.
One Saturday I had nothing better to do, so when Philip came up to ask me to play, I voluntarily obliged.
“I call the big doll!” Philip said as he ran down into the basement.
“What do you mean?” I laughed. “They all look the same.”
I figured that was just another one of his little kid-isms, but the Philip took the dolls out of the box again, and that’s when I noticed – true to his word, one doll was slightly larger than the other.
“Let me see that,” I said.
“It’s mine!” Philip protested. Typical.
“I swear I’ll give it back,” I promised. Reluctantly, he handed over the doll.
I examined the doll closely, and I noticed something odd…faint lines had appeared on the doll…not random scratches, but as if someone had drawn them in. They almost looked like the outline of clothes.
I admit that did kind of creep me out, but I still played with Philip. It went on as usual, with Philip saying his random phrases (“You’re up to maximum damage!”). But I noticed something weird about Philip. He wasn’t moving as much as he usually did – he seemed stuck in one position. Only his arm to control the doll and his mouth to talk seemed to actually move. I asked Philip if he was okay.
“Play with me.”
“Philip, I asked if you were okay,” I said, a bit irritated.
“Yes,” he said.
“…Philip?” I said.
“Play with me?” he said.
He asked “Play with me” again, but this time he shook the doll in his hand in sync with his words.
“Yes,” he again said, but this time the doll was motionless…only he said the word.
At this time I was very concerned, so I rushed upstairs to where Mom was and told her something was wrong with Philip. Concerned herself, we both went downstairs and…Philip was playing with the doll, acting like his normal self again.
“He’s just playing,” my mom said.
This went on for a couple of more weeks. I stopped playing with my brother altogether. In fact, I barely even interacted with him at all. I never knew what went down in the basement those days. I tried not to eavesdrop. I felt like I didn’t want to.
Eventually my curiosity got the better of me. One Friday afternoon, when Philip went down into the basement as usual, I creeped over to the basement and creaked the door open. I watched Philip take the same box and pull out the dolls. He regarded my doll and tossed it aside. Then Philip took his doll. This time I noticed it was substantially larger than before. I could clearly see color on the body where clothes would be. I saw an adult man’s face vaguely etched onto it. I even saw a couple of threads protruding from the top of the head where hair should be.
Still holding onto his doll, Philip grabbed the doll I used…by the neck…and examined it for about five minutes. I was about to leave when Philip spoke.
“He doesn’t like us anymore,” Philip quietly muttered. “But at least we have each other.”
Philip then set his doll down. But the doll managed to stay upright…on its feet. Like a real person. I barely managed to hold a gasp back in my throat.
Then the doll turned its head, and whatever its face was stared right into my eyes.
The thing stepped forward three times, not moving its body, but its eyes still fixed on my face. I screamed and slammed the door shut, and ran upstairs to my room and locked the door. I didn’t come out.
Eventually, when clock struck 11:34, I heard a knock at the door.
“Who is it?” I said.
I didn’t respond.
“Hello?” the voice said.
“I’m not talking to you, Philip,” I choked, starting to tear up.
At first, silence. Then –
“Play with me.”
“No!” I shouted at the closed door. “Forget it! I know what you’re – no, I don’t know what you’re up to! I don’t want to see you again!” At this time I completely broke down and started sobbing.
“Please, play with me.” This time Philip's voice was clearly full of sorrow, like heartbreak.
Reluctantly, I staggered over to the door and opened it.
Philip was standing at the door. He was completely pale and what looked like blood was leaking from his mouth. The expression on his face was of complete sadness, like a pet had died. He turned around and started to walk downstairs.
I hastily followed him down. Philip walked straight into the basement. This time he didn’t turn on the light. He just disappeared into the darkness, like he was absorbed by. I groped for the light and switched it on. The light’s glare flooded the basement, and I noticed the lightbulb was slowly swaying back and forth. My heart pounding, I slowly worked my way down the stairs, getting a growing feeling of dread. I arrived at the foot of the stairs. Something caught my eye to the left.
On the floor was the box our dolls were kept in. And there, perched over it, was…a creature. It was about three feet tall, wearing a dark red shirt and pants. Its skin was a dull gray…like one of our dolls. In its grasp was my doll. The creature turned the doll over in its hands and cocked its head from side to side.
I screamed and tripped back in my haste. The creature turned its head…all the way around. It had a fully developed face and a tuft of gray hair. It started to slowly walk backwards towards me, its head still turned to look at me. It stopped about a foot away from me. I was petrified.
The creature then bent its arm behind its back and showed me my doll. It was dirty and decrepit, with stuffing and threads sticking out. Where the eyes should have been were two little X’s.
The creature then opened its mouth…rather, where its mouth was ripped open until its head was divided in two, absent a single sinew. It let out a deafening yell that made my head rattle. I quickly got to my feet and kicked at whatever that thing was. It flew back into a pile of boxes. I turned to run up the stairs, but in my path was…Philip, naked, suspended in midair, his head hanging limp to the side. His eyes were popped, blood and fluids leaking down the face like tears. His mouth was stitched closed. But his body…it looked like the body of one of the dolls, absent of features. It shuddered slightly. The creature appeared over Philip’s shoulder and looked right at me. Its head unhinged and it spoke.
“I’M PLAYING WITH HIM NOW!” it screamed. “NOW PLAY WITH US!” It then stuffed my doll in its mouth and started chewing on it, laughing maniacally, with little chunks flying out of its mouth. At this I passed out.
I remember waking up in the hospital. My mom had explained that my little brother was found dead in the basement, and I had fainted at the sight of him. I tried to tell her about the creature and the dolls, but she just put her hand on my forehead and told me to get some rest.
To this day I still don’t know what happened. I don’t know why, I don’t know how. I remember I could have saved him. Whatever they were just seemed to vanish into thin air.
But the police said they didn’t find any dolls.
I wonder when they’ll strike next.