“Hey, Tiana! Look at this creepy doll!” Eliza laughed and threw a big doll at her friend.

Tiana yelped and slapped the doll, then bent down to pick it up. It was about a foot and a half tall, made of cotton or some other soft material. Dusty red and tan strands of yarn hung from the head as hair. Big, black buttons stared into empty space, with a smile made of thick black stitches. Her nose was a red felt triangle. Her dress was pink, with a big red heart sewn onto the front. There were some reddish-brown spots on the dress by the heart, but Eliza didn’t want to consider what they could be.

“Don’t you like her shoes?” They were black felt sewn to look like Mary Jane style shoes, with frilled white socks.

Tiana rolled her eyes. “Don’t throw creepy old dolls at me.” She turned the doll around and looked at the back. A plastic ring hung from a thread. On the hem of the dress, there was a label that read, ‘Big-Heart Helena! Pull her string and she’ll tell you where your heart is!’ Curious, Eliza pulled the loop.

A sweet voice said, “Look under the floorboards in Mommy and Daddy’s closet!”

Tiana and Eliza stared at each other, bewildered. Tiana pulled the string again. This time, it said, ‘Your heart was in your chest…’

Eliza clapped her hand over her mouth. “Whoever made that is seriously messed up.”

“Red spots in the kitchen, a doll who claims you got murdered… what’s next? A dead body?” Tiana shook her head and tossed the doll to Eliza, walking down the attic stairs. “The Kylers were so creepy. Their daughter disappeared fifty years ago, they died in a double suicide ten years later, and they have the world’s creepiest doll rotting away in their attic.”

Eliza clutched Helena tightly and followed Tiana. They looked around the house to find a place they hadn’t been before. There was a hall with three doors: one burgundy, one white, and one navy blue. They went into the white door.

Inside was a four-year-old girl’s dream bedroom: a large white canopy bed, a closet that could be easily reached by a four-year-old filled with beautiful dresses, all kinds of toys, and a bookshelf with plenty of easy-to-read and funny books.

Eliza hopped onto the bed and spread out, keeping Helena close. “I’m going to go to bed.”

Tiana rolled her eyes. “I’m going to check out another room. Are you coming with?”

Eliza shook her head. Tiana walked out, closing the door behind her. Eliza closed her eyes for a moment. “Helena, where did people poop in this house?”

She pulled Helena’s string. The same sweet voice replied, “Look under the floorboards in Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom!”

Eliza burst into laughter. “They poop under the floorboards! Watch your step, everyone! They poop under the floorboards!”

The door flew open and Tiana was glaring at Eliza. “What are you DOING?! You’re sitting here, laughing like a mad man!”

Eliza’s cheeks burned. “I… I, uh, asked her where everyone pooped, and she, uh… said everyone pooped under the floorboards…”

Tiana facepalmed. “So you’re talking to a doll? That’s just… I expect more out of you.” She sighed and walked out.

Eliza looked down on the bed. It had a soft cream colored blanket on it, but faint spots of red remained. They looked faded, as if years had passed since the stains were made. Eliza swallowed and got up to follow Tiana.

She had gone into the burgundy door and was rooting around in a large chestnut dresser. Eliza’s jaw dropped. The room was painted a royal purple, with gold lining and a soft cream floor paired with a dark red carpet. The bed was even bigger than the one that had been in the first room. Elaborate paintings hung on the wall.

“Wow! This place is so… fancy!”

“Perhaps elegant might be a better description?” Tiana pulled out a huge diamond necklace from a drawer. Her eyes were shining as she thought of how she might go about selling it.

Eliza went into the walk-in closet and looked around. There were at least one hundred different outfits, every single one of them unique and extremely elegant.

The floorboards seemed slightly out of place, and a crowbar rested in the corner of the massive closet. Eliza clutched Helena’s arm tighter, remembering the doll’s words. Tiana was distracted by a different part of the room. Eliza grabbed the crowbar and loosened the floorboards, then was about to lift them up when Tiana suddenly called her name.

“What is it, Tiana?” Her exasperation disappeared quickly. Tiana’s face was pale, but not as pale as the face of the little girl she held by the collar.

The girl seemed to be about four or five years old, with short black hair, big green eyes frozen in fear, a small black-and-white polka dot dress, Mary Jane shoes, frilly socks, and a bloody hole in her chest where her heart was supposed to be.

Eliza stared for a few moments, then turned away and opened up the floorboards, dreading that her suspicions had been true.

Under the floorboards was a bloody mass, moving up and down in rhythm to an unknown tune.

A heart.

Helena spoke on her own this time. “Let’s put your heart back into your chest!” As if in a trance, Eliza took the heart and stuck it into the hole in the girl’s chest.

The heartbeat became faster and faster. Helena spoke again. “Your heart is in your chest! But what’s in your heart?”

The girl dropped to the ground, then slowly rose, her back to the shaking girls. Her head slowly rotated around to face them, the fear still clear in her eyes. She opened her mouth to talk, but instead vomited blood and insects.

Tiana and Eliza screamed. Eliza threw the doll to the ground and ran out of the room. Tiana shut the door and Eliza slammed her body against it.

Finally the vomiting stopped. The entire house was filled with a rotten stench.

“Mommy and Daddy wouldn’t play with me.” The voice was soft and pleasant.

Eliza opened the door, her hand covered in blood and shaking. “W-what?”

“Mommy and Daddy wouldn’t play with me.” The girl took a step closer to Eliza. “Will you play with me?” The fear was gone and replaced by a new emotion. Tiana wasn’t sure what it was, but Eliza thought it was blood lust.

“No.” Eliza slammed the door and blocked it with her body.

Tiana winced slightly. “Did you have to be so rude?”

Suddenly Eliza screamed and she sagged to the ground slowly, her chest being torn open until she finally fell away from the door. A dagger’s blade was sticking out, covered in Eliza’s blood.

The girl stared at Tiana, her eyes filled with fury now. “Play… with… ME!”

Tiana screamed and ran away, looking for an exit. There was a window. She closed her eyes, then jumped out. Her landing was shaky and her ankle hurt, but she didn’t care. All she wanted was to leave the house and never, ever return.