Pretty Dolls

Mary lives an isolated existence in the middle of a forest. Her only company is her widowed father and her friend Molly, who her dad insists isn't real.
Her father behaves strangely sometimes, such as telling Mary stories where her mother was a queen or bringing home strange women he calls "pretty dolls".
One day the horrifying truth comes out.


1. Pretty Dolls

  My home is surrounded by miles of dark forests. When I was younger Dad would tell me that's where the fairies from my stories lived. I kept a careful watch out of the corner of my eyes whenever I ventured out there to play with Molly.

  Dad insists to me Molly isn't real. When I tell Molly that she smirks and replies, "He has no idea."
  Molly doesn't like my father. She scowls when I talk about him and refuses to speak to me. 
  She ignored me for three days once. I was so starved for companionship that I begged her to talk to me. It taught me the meaning of the phrase "so close, yet so far away." Eventually she apologized for her torturous behavior and we never spoke about it again.

  Sometimes weeks will go by without Molly being there. I miss her dearly the whole time. She never tell me where she goes. She just looks at me funny and says it's a place she hopes I'll never see.

  My dad is a tall, some would say giant, man. He has to duck to enter some of the rooms of our house. He has blonde hair the color of wheat that he tells me he got from his mom. His eyes are light brown like mine that he calls whiskey. Dad is very athletic. He jogs regularly through foot trails he slowly shaped in the forests and lifts weights he keeps in a spare bedroom.

  Molly is older than me. Which is not saying much, considering I am ten. She has red hair and grey eyes. Her face is spotted with freckles. She says she went to college. When I ask her why she stopped, she gets really quiet and sad. I don't ask why anymore.

 I live in my home with only Molly and my dad for company. Dad tells me it's for protection. That the outside world is dangerous and cold. I can't help but quietly yearn to see it for myself. 

 Molly tells me about this thing called television. She saids it's like a computer. She also saids most people have one and it's where you can watch videos broadcasted by satellites. She tells me they are much clearer than the black and white movies my dad lets me watch on a projector.

 The books I read are old. That's why I talk the way I do. Molly tells me I sound very mature for my age. 

 My dad hates any fiction written before the 1950's. He tells me it's because standards of writing have changed. That the plots are cliche and unoriginal and characters are simple and flat. Since I have no other opinion to go on, I'm forced to think he is right.

 We have no phone at my house, except for a cell phone that belongs to my Dad. We have a computer, but I'm not allowed to touch it. My dad saids it's for his job. 

 My dad lets me listen to records from his teenage years. It's a strange contradiction of his. That, for someone so protective, he would let me listen to rebellious lyrics of AC/DC or Aerosmith.

 The house we live in is his childhood home and is located in what he tells me is the state of Kentucky. He has pointed it out to me numerous times on a map. We are in what is called the United States of America. I don't tell Dad that it looks like just a bunch of lines and shapes to me.

  His family is buried in a small cemetery in the backyard. His mother died from cancer and he doesn't talk about his father. I sometimes sit in front of the crumbling stones on the weed covered ground and wondered what they were like.

 It's one of my more stranger habits. Sometimes, when dad is one of his more protective moods, he doesn't allow me to explore the woods. The only thing remotely fun is a simple swing attached to an oak tree. Even the swing gets boring after a while.

 I simply find myself fascinated by the fact that those people once lived and breathed. That they had hopes and hurts. That they dreamed.

  Molly says I'm strange for thinking of things like this.


 Sometimes Dad gets into "moods".Molly avoids visiting me during them. 

 He's just wrong.

 His smiles hold sharp edges like broken glass. His eyes are as cold as the snow I play in during the winter. He has an energetic attitude that frightens me. He is not my Dad.

 Ironically it's the only time he tells me about my mom.

 He says her hair was the same auburn as mine. That her eyes were blue like the summer sky. He saids she was tiny and made him look like a giant with his tall 6"2 height. That is something I can believe since I've seen her photo.

 He tells me she was the queen of a small kingdom. She had to run away with him because he was a simple knight. He says she was attacked by monster who wanted her gold.

 I didn't believe these tales. I never voiced my doubts to my dad. The coldness in his eyes scares me. It makes me want to break down and beg for my dad to come back.

 After a day or so, he returns back to normal. He hugs me and laughs with me again.

 The only times we aren't alone is when my father brings home women. They were all different. Some were blonde, some had dark skin, some had green eyes. They never speak and when they catch a glimpse of me their eyes go wide. They always seem to be crying.

 Dad would tell me not to worry about them. They were just, "pretty dolls".

 After a few days they are gone and Dad never speaks of them again.

 I don't need Molly to know there's something not right about this.


  The only time my dad has ever been mad at me is when I ignored the Cellar Rule

  The rule being that under no circumstances am I allowed to go in it.

  This made me curious. I speculated wildly about what could be in there. Treasure? Pictures of Mom. 

  Molly warned me time and time again not to go in there. 

  "It's a bad place Mary." She said solemnly.

  A thought occurred to me then. 

  "Is it where you go when you're not with me?" I asked, looking into her eyes.

  "Yes." She smiled sadly at me. "Don't go in there." 


 One day when she wasn't with me, I decided to forgo the warning. 

  I felt bad about defying my friend, but I felt a compulsion I couldn't ignore.

  I crept up to the door like it was a wild animal that could pounce at any moment. I carefully placed my hand on the knob. I held my breath as I gently pushed the door open.

  A foul smell hit my nostrils. Before I could open the door even further, I was grabbed roughly by my shoulder and spun around.

  My dad stood there. He looked menacing. His eyes were cold and angry. He was shaking from his fury.
"I told you not to open this door." He calmly said. His tone was wrong for his appearance. It was like the ice I could see in his eyes.

  I was terrified. I opened my mouth, but no words would come out.

  He dragged me down the hallway by my arm. I scrambled to keep up.

  He opened the door to a small closet and tossed me in. 

  "This will teach you to disobey." He said in that same cold voice.

  He slammed the door in my face.

  I rushed to try the knob, but it was locked.

  It was dark and small. I felt like I was suffocating. I screamed but he never came.

  Eventually, after I cried myself dry and screamed my voice hoarse, he unlocked the door.

  He gently put me into bed that night saying, "I'm sorry I had to do that Mary. Next time, when I tell you something you need to listen to me."  

  The next day the cellar received a shiny metal lock. Molly berated me for being so stupid.


  The day my life crumbled is normal enough.

  I am sitting quietly in the library. Molly  beside me. She suddenly looked up and smiled.

  It wasn't a nice smile.It had a fierce and bitter twist to it.

 Then I hear a loud crash. The sound of feet and voices carry from below.

  Suddenly Dad was standing in the doorway. 

  He walks calmly towards me and pulls me into a tight hug. He pulls back slightly and said, "No matter what happens or what they say, I have always loved you."

  He kisses my forehead and takes a step back.

  Men in black swarm the room. Some had jackets with the letters "FBI" in bold yellow writing. Some in heavy armor.

  They look surprised to see me but swiftly turned their gaze to my dad.Their guns were pointed unshakably.

One man is clearly in charge. Around Dad's age, with black hair and hazel eyes.

  "Mr. Hall, you are under arrest for over  thirty counts of kidnapping and murder." He calmly states. His voice seemed to echo around the room. It seems to turn my reality to dust in seconds.

  "Dad?" I turn and question with disbelief in my voice.

  He won't meet my eyes.

  "It'll be okay Mary." He said with a sad smile.

  I couldn't believe him for some reason.

  I am quickly ushered out of the room as my dad is read his rights.


  Later, the man who arrested my dad told me his name was Agent Alvaro. He said I could just call him Mario. 

  "But I don't want to hear any jokes about saving Princess Peach." He said as a joke.

  I had no idea what he was talking about, but I nodded in agreement like I did.

  Mario told me my dad had done a very bad thing and that he was going to have to answer for it. 

  He told me that nobody was aware of the fact I even existed. 

  Somehow every trace of me was wiped from the system. 

  He asked me questions about the women my dad brought home.

  He looked disturbed by Dad's name for them.

  One name stopped me in my tracks.

  "Molly Gardi" it read in big bold letters. 

  The picture that went with it sent a chill through me. 

  It was my Molly.

  I didn't tell Mario or anyone else this discovery.

  Not even Dad believed in her. Nobody else would either.


  I found out my mom had a whole family and that they were semi-wealthy. I was sent to live with one of her sisters.

  She was a nice woman that insisted I call her Aunt Lena and her husband Uncle Dean.They had two sons named Sam and Gabriel.

  It was from her and the other adults of the family, in their hush conversations, that I learned what my dad was.
"Monster" was said often. "Serial Killer" was another. 

  I used what Sam taught me about the computer and learned my dad had taken and killed women. He had tortured them and buried their bodies in the woods of a park.

  I learned that those "pretty dolls" were his victims.

  I learned my mom had been a beauty pageant queen and that she ran off with my dad right out of high school. She was killed in a mugging when I was three.

  After her funeral dad took me and retreated into isolation.

  The internet is such an informative place.


I never saw my dad again. 

Nobody was willing to take my to his trial or to visit him in incarceration, no matter how I begged.

He was killed in a riot shortly after his sentencing.

He was buried beside my mom.


  I inherited everything from my parents. Including the "Hell House" as it was dubbed by the media. No doubt a play on words from my last name "Hall".

  I was hounded at all hours for years. Everyone wanted to know about the girl who lived with the monster.
I wonder what they would say if I told them I missed him.

  The man who taught me to read and write. The man who read me fairytales and listened to records with me. The man who told me stories about his mischief in high school. 

  He was a horrible blight on mankind who slaughtered tons of innocent women.

  But he was also my dad.


  As the years go by, the news slowly fades. It is referenced to as new cases come along. I get the rare offer to appear on a crime show.

  I return eventually to my childhood home. For all my yearning to explore the world, I am scarred by the attention my father's arrest brought. 

  I never go in the basement, though it has long been purged of anything horrifying. I had anything of my father's moved there.

  I go to school online, I'm an English major. It seems fitting. My knowledge of classic literature has endeared me to my English teachers everywhere.

  I make regular trips to town and am greeted warmly by the folk there. I get some strange looks from people, but the majority leave me be.

  There is a boy who asks me to lunch whenever I see him. I politely declined. I don't want anyone to know how broken I am. But who knows? Perhaps one day I will accept.

  I still see Molly. She is the constant of my world. I don't tell anyone because they would just say I am crazy. That I'm traumatized.

  It seems that I can't escape the ghosts anymore.

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