's 2015 Horror Write-off:

" Pediophobia "

Submitted by J.D. Stroud

February 11th-

Hello Journal, I’m going to call you journal because that’s what you are and I don’t really want to think of something else or pretend I'm talking to a real person. Because I’m not. I’m writing in a little book, not talking to another individual. Well, I guess technically you’re a Star Trek: Into Darkness notebook that I got for my birthday two or three years ago and never wrote in until now but that doesn’t make you less of a journal. You are not a person.

I am a person. I don’t like writing or reading very much but I’m doing this because Scott says its a good way to sort through your thoughts and stuff, and I have a lot of thoughts. A lot of thoughts. Anyway I’m tired of writing right now so the end.

February 18th-

Journal, today I got a black eye. I hate my mom. My mom isn’t the one who hit me, that was Tory Faddass because he likes to punch things and he sees me as the type of thing its ok to punch. It’s my mom’s fault though that no one likes me except Scott. Scott only likes me because he’s the best guy ever born and he has the power to like anyone no matter what. Even the “doll kid.” He even told me not to be mad at Tory. “He feels like he has to act that way, Stu. His last name is Faddass. Can you imagine?” That’s what Scott said, and he was right I guess. He even went and talked to Tory and then Tory came over and said he was sorry and gave me a Magic the Gathering card. It doesn’t make my black eye less noticeable though.

February 20th-

Dear Journal, my eye is a little better now. I kinda like the way it feels. I keep touching the edge of my eye socket. It feels cool, that kind of tender achy hurting feeling that feels a little bit good too even though it hurts too. I don’t hate my mom, I just wrote that because I was upset. But I hate what my mom does.

She always liked dolls, which is fine I guess. I guess I didn’t really care or notice or anything until it was too late. Dad must have been the only thing keeping her from following her dream. Don’t get me wrong, Journal. I’m glad she’s happy. What I don’t like is what makes her happy. I don’t like dolls. My mom fixes dolls. Our house has a big sign in the front yard that says “Van Twiller Doll Hospital.” She’s been doing it for almost a year now. I keep wishing she would just stop and get a normal job, but thanks to the stupid internet she actually makes good money. People send her really fancy antique dolls from all over. Heirlooms and stuff. One time we got a doll from Johannesburg. I was kinda expecting it to be black but it was super white. Its hand was broken off. I guess there are white people living in Johannesburg. I looked it up in the thesaurus which says there are.

But I hate being the doll kid. People assume I play with dolls and stuff which is dumb and obviously wrong. I don’t like dolls at all. I hate that I know what taffeta and bisque and mohair are. No one else knows that, not even the girls. I wish my mom liked something cool. I don’t like dolls at all. They creep me out.

March 3rd-

Dear Journal, my eye is completely better. I went over to Tory’s house yesterday. His parents are actually super nice and he has a super cool black bike. He got mad when I asked why he never rides it to school but then he forgot about that while we played Wii. He is not actually that bad. I liked visiting his house but i feel bad because he asked me if I want to sleep over and of course I do but I don’t like to say so because i can’t have anyone over to my house. Who would want to sleep in the doll hospital?

Why do they even call it a doll hospital? That’s so dumb. Just call it a doll fixing shop or something. I can’t have anyone over because then they would see my mom’s workshop. She has like a hundred dolls in there. She actually shampoos doll hair and stuff, and makes videos to teach other people how. I wish my mom wasn’t a weirdo. I wish that there weren’t glass bottles full of shiny little blue eyes sitting around. I also wish that there wasn’t doll hair all over the place. Did you know that they actually used to use real people’s hair for that? It’s so gross. I guess that’s why you have to shampoo it. I wish our house didn’t smell like weird glue.

March 6th-

Journal, it’s morning right now but it’s Saturday. Scott might come over later I don’t know. I’m mad at my mom because I found a doll in my room last night. She said she must have just set it down but I’ve told her so many times not to leave doll stuff in my room. I hate yelling and fighting but I just get so mad. But then we watched Goonies and she scratched my head which made me feel better.

March 7th-

Scott didn’t come over yesterday but today we went to a movie. It was E.T. and they were showing it at the old nickelodeon which smells like dust. I actually kinda like that smell. I have actually never seen E.T. and I found out I hate that movie. E.T. is super fake and obviously a puppet. I don’t like puppets because obviously they are just another kind of doll.

Scott gave me a book. He is so weird. But its a really cool book. I knew it would be because he’s the coolest person in existence so of course its a cool book but still. 

March 10th-

Pawn of Prophecy is my new favorite book and I already got the next one in the series. I like Garion the best but Belgarath is my second favorite. I will write all about everything that happens later. I didn’t sleep much because I was up late reading. I’ve never stayed up to read before but that’s just because Pawn of Prophecy is not at all like other books.

Something weird happened though. Late at night I thought I heard people talking, but the TV was off and mom was already asleep. It sounded like old men’s voices. There was no one there anywhere though.

March 12th-

I looked up hermit crabs in the thesaurus. They are decapod crustaceans. I was most interested in their shells. Hermit crabs don’t have their own shells. They have to live in other animal’s shells.

I finished Queen of Sorcery today.

March 13th-

I found out that Tory actually gets made fun of even though he punches things. He told me that he doesn’t mind though because after he hits someone then it doesn’t really feel bad to be made fun of. I don’t believe him though. I think he doesn’t ride his super nice bike to school because he doesn’t think he looks cool on it. I think he thinks that people would laugh if they saw someone named Faddass riding a cool bike. We played Magic the Gathering at recess. Scott and I read to each other from Magician’s Gambit after school and then I went home.

I thought I heard someone following me while I walked home but I didn’t see anything except a little shadow jumping behind a fence. I looked but there wasn’t anything there. I guess it was a dog or a cat.

March 14th-

Last night I heard some voices again but there was no one there still.

I’ve been thinking about how some types of dolls are hollow. If there were something like a hermit crab that wasn’t a hermit crab, that was shaped like a person instead of a crab, a doll would be the perfect place for it to live.

March 15th-

Mom got another super fancy doll today. This one has a name. It’s “Marcy”. It has spidery little cracks all over its face. I really hate this one. I am even more creeped out by them than before. I sometimes feel like they’re staring at me. I sometimes just look and look at one and scare myself because I start thinking about how it would be if it blinked or something. Or what if I saw one’s chest going up and down like it was breathing?

It’s getting harder to sleep at night because I can hear those old man voices.

March 16th-

Pediophobia is a fear of dolls, Pediophilia is a love of dolls. I looked it up in the thesaurus. Also, pupaphobia is actually a fear of puppets. Apparently there are a few people that are actually afraid of dolls. My mom is definitely a pediophiliac. I think I might be sort of a pediophobe. I keep thinking Marcy is in a little bit of a different place from the last time I saw her, even when there’s no one around to move her. The other dolls are starting to be like that too. I think they’re watching me maybe.

March 18th-

Last night I slept over at Tory’s house and it was almost great. We did a lot of fun stuff but then when we went to bed at like midnight (!) I couldn’t sleep even though I was tired. I thought I heard something at the window and I went to look. There was something about the size of a big dog running around in Tory’s yard. Tory doesn’t have any pets. Also, I only saw it for a second but the way it moved was really creepy. It didn’t move like a dog. It might have been white but it was hard to tell.

I didn’t tell Tory about it but I told Scott about it today. He said it sounded creepy and that maybe we should investigate. I said we should because nothing is as scary when Scott’s around. Maybe I’ll tell him about the dolls next.

March 19th-

Journal I am so freaked! There’s definitely something going on around here. I found Marcy in my room last night, sitting in the corner and watching me with her messed up face. I got so mad I almost cried but then I got sorta scared. There were also two more dolls, a blond one with a blue dress and a red-headed one with a white lacy bonnet propped up in the hallway on either side of my door. It was like they were waiting for me. I know that my mom didn’t do this because she actually got kinda mad at me! Like I would take her dolls! She said, “Stu, these are extremely valuable and fragile and they are not for playing with!” I slammed my door right in her face! I don’t play with dolls! I hate dolls!

March 20th-

At school today Tory finally rode his bike! Me and Scott told him he looked awesome and he was happy all day long. No one made fun of him at all, and Abigail even told him she wished she had a bike that cool. I sure wish I did. I am almost done with Castle of Wizardry. It was a good day until I had a weird thing happen on my way home. It always gets weird right when I’m alone.

I was walking by the place with the fence when this dry sounding voice came from behind it (the fence). “What’s your name?” it said. I asked who was there and I heard some scuffling but when I went to look behind the fence it said “Don’t! Tell me your name instead. I want to know your name and your favorite color and everything about you.”

Well of course I got scared and so I ran away.

March 21st-

I can’t do this anymore. The dolls are definitely alive. They move around. They keep coming into my room. Last night I dreamed that Marcy actually opened her cracked up mouth and said something. Her voice was deep and grumbly like the ones i’ve been hearing. Little chips of powder and plaster fell on my floor when she talked. She said, “Soon, Stu, Soon.” When I woke up and looked, the flecks of powder and plaster were actually there on my floor. My heart is hammering while I write this. I am going to tell Scott.

March 22nd-

Scott was sick today. I didn’t know where else to turn, so I told Tory. He didn’t believe me at first but then he saw how scared I was. He said he’d come home with me. I could tell it made him feel brave but I didn’t care how weak I looked. I just wanted to be safe. He’s gonna sleep over later tonight. Mom said it was ok. She was really happy.

Im back because something else happened. I heard the dry crackly voice again. “I heard you talking to someone Stu. I know your name now Stu. What is your favorite color Stu? Some night soon i will come and ask you myself.” I went outside and by the window there are these gross little white hairs like something was shedding. I know its the dolls somehow. Hopefully Tory being here will make them be quiet.

March 23rd-

It didn’t work. Tory and I had a blast but then when I went to sleep I heard all of these old man voices outside the door, whispering and whispering. Soon and Beware and stuff. I’m so scared. I almost woke Tory up but I knew it wouldn’t matter if I did. They would just be quiet and pretend they cant see or move or talk, like they do when Mom’s around. I hate dolls. I’m afraid I won’t be able to write in you anymore Journal. I’m afraid I won’t get to start Enchanter’s End Game. I’m afraid I won’t get to see Scott again. I have this feeling like something really bad is going to happen soon.

March 26th-

Dear Journal, the bad thing happened.

Scott was still sick. He has strep or something. Tory and I hung out but I was so tired we had hardly any fun. The dry voice kept finding me and talking at me from behind things. Inside the coat closet at school, or from underneath a car, or from behind any old open door. “What’s your favorite color Stu? I like red, Stu, and white. What’s your favorite game, Stu? Who is your best friend Stu? Is it Scott? I know Scott’s name too. I know his favorite is green. But I don’t love him Stu, I love you Stu.” I cried at lunch and Betty Crant sniggered at me so Tory punched her in the mouth and got in a whole bunch of trouble. I told him he shouldn’t do that because Scott wouldn’t like for us to hit people, but secretly it did make me feel a little better. We got vanilla cokes and I paid for his with my own money, which made me almost feel completely better. Except then Tory had to go to his piano lesson and I had to walk home alone. Something with a little kid’s shadow but that wasn’t a little kid dove behind the shed in our neighbor’s yard. It said, “I cannot wait Stu. I cannot wait until tonight.”

I went in my room and locked the door after checking to make sure there were no dolls around. As soon as the sun went down, I heard them scratching at the door with their little hands. Then I heard the dry voice at the window. I had forgot to lock the window.

“Oh Stu Stu I’m so happy at last finally here we are,” it said, and it opened the window and came in.

It looked like a big huge rabbit, as big as a great dane or a wolf. Except it came in butt first, and it used its big powerful legs in a weird way, like a rabbit that was walking backwards instead of hopping forwards. Then I saw that even though it looked like a rabbit from one angle, it wasn’t like one at all really. Its back legs and stuff were fine, but then it sort of just emptied out like it didn’t have anything inside of its front half. It was just a big rabbit pelt with empty eye holes and yellow teeth clacking together as it dragged its limp body in through the window. It was like a piece of roadkill from a nightmare. The dry voice came from the rabbit’s empty head. 

“Now, Stu, you will tell me your favorite everything and come inside of me, and we will love each other forever and ever.” I wanted to scream but I couldn’t I could hear the dolls scratching and whispering in their old man voices. The thing loped over to me. Its shadow was a little kid shape.

It started wrapping its raggedy, filthy ears around my legs, round and around so that you couldn’t see my skin at all. I was crying. I could feel my legs disintegrating inside of it and getting pulled in, like they were knitting into its matted, dirty white fur. I was getting absorbed into it, and I could feel its dry voice inside of me, finding out everything I was and trying to take that too. I realized that part of it was all empty so that it would have a place to fit me, that once it got me inside of it it would use me to make its front paws move, and my eyes would have to look out of those two empty holes. I was so scared, I was so so scared. I saw something move in the corner.

It was Marcy. She was really moving. She stood up and scuttled twitchily over like a bug. I knew at that moment that they’d been waiting for this. Waiting for the thing to come.

Marcy made a noise with her deep, raspy voice, like she was clearing her throat. I realized that the doll voices didn’t sound much like the rabbit thing’s voice at all. Its voice was just dry and withered up. There voices were more like people’s.

The thing stopped eating my legs. It actually slipped off of me like an old sock. I was surprised that my feet were still there. The skin was just a little wet. It twisted itself around so that its sack head was draped on the floor where it could see Marcy. Marcy is a big doll. She was opening the door. There were a lot of shiny blue and green glass eyes in that hallway. Hundreds and hundreds.

I don’t know how I knew, maybe because it had been trying to pull me into itself, but I could actually see that the empty rabbit head had an expression on it. The expression was shock. “Stu, Stu, what is this?” it said. Its dry voice was very scared. The dolls were coming into my room now. Even the really broken ones. Even the doll parts. The jars of eyes, the broken off legs. The silky hair.

“Stu, you are a little boy. Little boys do not have dolls! Little boys are too sweet for dolls! Why?! What is this?!”

I didn’t know what to say. I guess the rabbit thing didn’t see the sign in the front yard.

Marcy looked right at me. “I am sorry Stu,” she said. “That this creature managed to touch you with its hungry soul.” I just nodded. The thing was trembling in the corner, and all the dolls were starting to sing a little song while they closed in on it.

I shut my eyes and listened until it was over. I heard a lot of skittering and scuttling, and when I opened my eyes again there were no dolls in my room at all. There were just some dirty white hairs on the carpet, like something had been shedding.

April 10th-

I looked it up in the thesaurus, apparently hermit crabs are really important for keeping their ecosystem in check.

I’ve been thinking a lot about dolls. I guess its good that some people, and some things, are pediophobic. I guess some things have a reason to be. But I don’t. 

I’ve been helping Mom with the dolls. She’s thrilled. We sent Marcy back to her home in Amsterdam the other day. And you know, I thought it would be scary to see a doll wink on its own. but when she did I wasn’t scared at all.

I told Scott about everything that happened, he says he believes me but he can’t get his head around it. And he’s pretty much the smartest person ever, so that’s saying a lot.

He doesn’t know that I left Lucinda in his basement while he used the restroom. He doesn’t need to. She’s a really hardworking one. She’ll do fine by herself.

I’m going to Tory’s house tonight. I’ve got Shelley zipped up in my backpack. He’ll never notice her as long as she stays in the garage.

You can’t be too careful.

I’m almost done with Enchanter’s End Game.