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Miranda had been visiting the local Dollar Store in Dayton, Ohio, for the past fifteen years or so, from a time when she had collected necessities for her father until she ended up being a parent herself. A lone one at that; her dad had ran off with some other lady and never called, not even for their young daughter, Debbie. Miranda felt that, maybe just a little bit, Debbie had changed in his absence. They had been close for a good few years before something in him snapped, and all he left was a note.
"Dear Miranda + Debs.
I am leaving. I have found someone else, and I will never come back. I love you both."
If there could have been a better way to sugar-coat it, this was not it, but life goes on and Debbie was always the most important thing in Miranda's life anyway, it's not like she seemed too distressed, more indifferent. Until the age of twelve, Debbie had barely left the house except for school, but now was her time to try and go shopping on her own. Who knows, she might meet some new friends along the way.
"Debbie, have you still got the list I gave you?"
"Yeah, mom." Still dressed in her school outfit, Miranda's proud little daughter sauntered into the kitchen, looking for her things. Then she gave her that questionable look as if to say "Can I go now?". Miranda understood it and nodded. Debbie grabbed her backpack, list and with the cash in hand she left the house.
Miranda watched her daughter from the window before returning to the kitchen. This silence was somewhat comforting, it made a change, maybe that's why she really wanted Debbie to go to the Dollar Store instead, just to get some peace and quiet. I'll just sit here and wait, she decided to herself, Debbie won't be long, will she?
Debbie had found pretty much everything on the list with ease and good pace, having gotten used to knowing where everything was thanks to frequent trips to the store with her mom. She also felt older doing this, and more independent. Luckily all of the goods were light and easy to carry even in three bags, and getting home wasn't a great trek. Although, it was certainly going to be different this time.
An old lady stopped the girl in her tracks.
"Excuse me, dear, would you like anything?"
Margaret, Marge, something like that... someone she had seen before selling cheap toys and games at her stall, which she had moved away from to confront Debbie.
"I don't have money left, ma'am, sorry, I was just shopping for my mom."
"Ah, yes, Miranda isn't it? Such a nice lady. Tell you what, I'll give you this, no charge!" The woman held up her hand and trudged back to the stall, searching for an item. Debbie just wanted to go home, but a free gift from an old lady? Should she?
"It's no trouble, really, ma'am-"
"Nonsense." The lady returned with a little toy that looked like some sort of red flower-shaped wand, a simple plastic piece of fun, nothing special or dear to anyone.
"It's called Evil Stick, because it is evil to all that is dark, it is the real good in this world. It is magic, my little girl."
"There's no such thing as magic, ma'am!" Debbie laughed it off.
"You would not think so." The lady edged uncomfortably closer to the girl. "But this wand, you see, this wand can bring back your father."
Debbie dropped her bags, and stared back at the lady. For what seemed like years they exchanged glances, before Debbie grabbed the bags with numb fingers and stammered her way out of the conversation.
"I-I have to... I h-have to go now... nice speaking to you."
"Certainly." As Debbie turned on her heel to get back home, the lady slipped the wand into one of the bags carefully.
Miranda heard the door slam and was instinctively rushed to the passage, only to find her daughter looking perfectly well with the shopping in hand.
"Oh, well done, darling." She kissed her on the cheek and grabbed the stuff, taking it into the kitchen and unloading the contents. Debbie, meanwhile, said nothing until she saw her mom take out the wand toy. Glaring, she grabbed it and ran away.
"Debbie? Debbie, where are you going?"
Locking her bedroom door shut, Debbie dropped the wand toy on the floor before closing the curtains and dimming the light shed over her by keeping only the small lamp in the corner alight. Ripping the packaging of the wand open, she grabbed it and inspected every part. She tried waving it, and as it shook the grip began to vibrate and typical magical sounds played out of built-in speakers. The base of the flower-shape at the top of the wand was so dark and shiny you could see yourself in it. Debbie noticed her own reflection as she gazed into it's ambient void. The time was about four o'clock in the afternoon.
Miranda had called Debbie several times to come down for dinner, but she wasn't hearing nor seeing any sign of her daughter, and it was getting ridiculously late to eat now so Miranda decided to go to the bedroom and knock - still nothing. The tension rose and her chest pounded harder and harder, because every one-way communication to her daughter was another reinforced suggestion that Debbie was in danger, and Miranda would not allow that to happen. She had lost too much. So, she kicked the door open to break the lock, and found her daughter sat on the rug staring into the wand, motionless and blank-faced.
The time was now about eight o'clock at night.
Miranda slowly crouched beside Debbie, taking notice of the trance-like state the poor girl was in. She asked her daughter's name again, to no avail. Matters seemed to take a turn for the worse when Debbie took her eyes away from the wand, dropped it and lifelessly slumped to the side, unconscious.
Miranda screamed for her precious girl and tried to wake her, but she was interrupted by the sound of knocking. Debbie then awoke again, and looked at her mother.
"Debbie? Debbie! Wait there, don't go anywhere, you hear me?" Unsure of what else to do, Miranda burst out of the bedroom and ran down to the front door, hoping that whoever had come would be able to help her, simultaneously dialling 911. She swung open to Debbie's father himself, who looked extremely confused. His car had crashed into the lamppost beside the driveway.
"Harry? What the hell has happened!?"
"I-I don't know, I was just... I was driving to Montana, then-"
"Yes, yes, sorry, it's 41 Marl Daniels Drive, that's it, yes, it's my daughter she's acting strange and passing out. Just hurry up...! Oh my god, Debbie-"
"What's happened to her?"
"Like you care." Miranda ran back towards the stairs, but Harry zoomed right past to her surprise, and when he got to the bedroom, seeing Debbie must have triggered something inside him as his whole attitude had now changed completely. He slammed the door shut and spoke to Miranda outside of it, she could not see Debbie and her anxiety was now getting the better of her.
"How did you find her?" he asked quickly.
"What, why does it matter!? She could fall unconscious again! What are we going to do!?"
"Again?" Miranda glared and clenched her fists. "Just listen to me for a second, alright? What was she doing?"
"I-I don't know, I just... she was staring at this toy, this wand-like thing, I never asked her to buy it from the shop, I-I don't know..."
"A wand?" Then they heard sirens outside. "The ambulance."
Two women quickly came into the house, and Miranda called them upstairs. Leaving the parents outside, the medical team had a look at Debbie, who Miranda could just about see had fallen down again, and Harry could've sworn he saw blood. The staff then covered Debbie's body, and lifted her downstairs over the sound of Miranda screaming. Harry held her back from the medical team, strangely feeling the same pain she was, which felt kind of rich for someone who had abandoned his family so abruptly. He didn't feel like he was meant to be caring right now, it was as if something had made him. How did he even get here in the first place!
"I want to see her, I want to see my baby!" Miranda shoved one of the doctors and clutched Debbie's lifeless hand, which was hanging out of the covering. The poor mother cried out painfully, crashing down beside her daughter.
"What are you doing...?" she moaned through a waterfall of upset. Harry came to her side and grabbed her shoulders, trying to calm her as she lurched forward.
"Check her pulse, Miranda." They did it together, and surely enough it was confirmed by this that Debbie hadn't fallen unconscious this time. She was dead. Miranda and Harry followed their daughter into the back of the ambulance, and headed towards the nearest hospital.
The next morning, Debbie's parents said their goodbyes to each other, albeit briefly, because Harry knew that explaining anything was unnecessary right now given the circumstances. He would come back another day and tell her everything, even if she wouldn't believe it, but for now she had to be with Debbie, while he suddenly felt like leaving all over again. Whatever this was, it needed time and he wasn't ready, not even Miranda was ready for this. With that, Harry took the toy wand with him to save Miranda some sentimental agony, and wandered uptown...
then he halted at noticing the familiar-looking old lady at her funny stall, with a rack full of the 'Evil Stick' toys hanging at the very front. Maggy.
"Well, if it isn't a sight for sore eyes, Harold." said she, grinning forcefully.
"Still here after all these years? Sorry I never paid you back that money, 'grandma'."
"Ah, you have one as well?" Maggy had spotted the re-packaged wand in Harry's grip. "Open it."
"You should open it."
Harry inspected the toy. He felt a little inclined to humour Maggy even though there didn't seem to be anything to actually open. His eyes were caught by the black film, however, that covered the top base of the wand, and so he tried to get his fingers on the edge of the black film several times before finally succeeding in peeling it back, only to reveal a truly terrifying image. It was an image of Debbie, smiling with jagged monstrous teeth and gaunt pale eyes, cutting her wrists whilst lying over a blue carpet. A picture from the autopsy, but it could not have been possible for the picture to even exist in the toy before the incident had actually happened. Harry dropped the toy. The frail woman carefully picked up the toy and put it back with the others while the man stood there, dead still, confused and horrified.
"I know what you're thinking," said Maggy. "But there is always a price to pay. That's what happens when you get something you can't have."
Someone representing the Dollar store passed by the stall one day, bought most of Maggy's goods, and the toys went back on sale again.