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It was January, 2002. I, Josh, was 5 years old. The early 2000s were all I could remember of my past. I remember going to school on the first day of kindergarten and seeing a big “2000” on the calendar. The year 2000 was when I also when I started receiving “Coop” magazines in the mail, little variety magazines, similar to “MAD” magazines but meant for children. They had all sorts of activities and puzzles and stories and comics, but my favourite section was the last few pages which was the merchandise shopping page.
The merchandise page was full of stuffed animal characters that you usually saw in the comics in the magazine (my favourite was “Coopy”, the main protagonist, a chicken who always helped the farm animals from danger), cool gadgets and props from the stories and comics.
I used to sit for hours reading the descriptions of every item over and over; I read the prices and counted change to see if I ever had enough to buy anything. After about 4 weeks of fishing nickels, quarters and dimes from the couch I finally had $10.50, enough to buy the Coopy doll I wanted so badly.
“Coopy, the main character in Farm Animal Adventures, is now available as a plush toy! Help him fight evil, and maintain love throughout the entire farm. Coopy will love you forever. Only $10.29” Coopy was a yellow chicken, with big eyes and a tiny beak. His head was also big, and his body resembled more of a human’s body than a chickens. He also had wings, a few feathers on the top of his head, and had an internal structure similar to a puppet off the “Nightmare before Christmas”.
I cut out the order form, filled it out, and brought it out to the post office down the street. And what do you know; 4 weeks later we receive a package at our doorstep.
A brown cardboard box. Taped up unnecessarily, there was almost half an inch of tape thick. The box said “Joshua Patrick” written in sharpie on the side. I found this strange because I don’t remember giving my name on the order form. I carried it into the living room, and I got a box cutter and attempted to cut the tape. But the countless layers of tape were too strong. At the time, I really didn’t understand why it was taped up so bad.
At the time, I didn’t understand.
After I stabbed it a few times with the biggest, sharpest kitchen knife I could find, I managed to get a big slit in the box, and from then on I just ripped it open. Inside it was an object that was wrapped. But not in wrapping paper or bubble wrap, it was wrapped in cloth, tied with a bow tie. I cut the bow tie myself with scissors, and the proceeded to unwrap the old ragged cloth from the object that I presumed was my Coopy doll.
Although I was only half right.
What I saw was a Coopy doll that had been burned; most of the hair was burnt off, and the eyes were warped and melted. It still had the same shape of what the doll had looked like, but it had its structure exposed in areas and its plastic shell was warped and black as night. Any feathers were disintegrated and any cuteness this thing had was gone. I quickly ran to my dad with the doll in my hands and showed him the poor excuse of a doll.
“Oh my God, Josh what the fuck happened?” he yelled in a panic.
"I didn’t do anything; my doll was burned when I got it!” I said as I began to tear up.
“Doll? What the fuck are you talking about, that’s your baby sister for Christ sake!"
I looked down to my hands, and I saw a bloody, charred mess of what was my sister. I instantly dropped it in shock.
“Oh my God!” I began to scream and cry. I had absolutely no idea of what was going on.
“Josh, how did this happen!”
“I don’t know, I don’t know!” I began to cry and scream harder.
“Josh, I need you to fucking explain, how did your baby sister end up like this!” my dad began to sob helplessly.
“I don’t know, all I did was order a Coopy doll from one of those Coop magazines a while ago and then I got the package and I opened it and my doll was burned! And now Susie is burned and I don’t know why!” I was still screaming. The fear I was in was incomprehensible.
“What are you talking about Josh?”
“What?” I said with unease.
“What do you mean, Coop? Those magazines you used to get last year?”
“Yea, but we still get them, don’t we?”
My father’s eyes widened as his face became flushed out of colour. “Josh, we haven’t received a Coop magazine since February last year.”
“Yes we… wait what?” now I stopped crying and focused fully on my father.
“After their company building burned to the ground in early 2001, we haven’t received one since. What you are saying is impossible.”
“But I ordered a Coopy doll last month… remember?”
“Josh you’ve had a Coopy doll since you were 3… and was that when you said I was going to the post office? Because you walked out of the house with an envelope, I found you on my way to the grocery store staring at the post office. You were practically unconscious; I had to nudge you to make you get in the car.”
“I was sending the order form for the doll…” right now we had no idea there was a charred baby on the floor in front of us. We could only see the confusion in each other’s eyes.
Right then, mom walked in the door.“Hey honey, is every- Oh josh! Your doll! What happened to it?" She asked as she was rocking back a Coopy doll in her arms.