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I've always hated Christmas. Not as a holiday, don't get me wrong, it's just the stress of rushing around to pick up gifts on some of the most busiest days of the year. When my daughter Emily was seven years old, she was at the doll phase. My wife and I used to find it baffling how she was still into dolls and for good reason, she loved the little things. That Christmas, my wife was in a car accident. I wasn't myself that year. I refused to take time off work, my little girl needed comfort then more than ever, I had to work up the money to give her the best gift I could afford. I realize now that I should have invested time to her, not my job. My wife's parents were willing to look after her whilst I worked, but from their cold stares I could tell that they disapproved of my overtime.
I went out to the biggest toy store in town, all the boxed toys lined on in rows on shelves, taunting myself and all the other eager parents outside the shop windows. I was near the end of the queue when the doors opened, and even after I finally got inside, most of the gifts had been snaffled up from the shelves. Except for the shelves near the back of the shop. I walked over, seeing toys aimed at boys; supersoakers and action figures lined the shelves, except for the far left, where five boxes marked with "Millie Muffintop" in bubble text across the front. I picked one up, there was no clear plastic, so I had no way of seeing the contents of the box. The name seemed to give the impression that the toys were a copy of the popular Strawberry Shortcake toys that my daughter liked. I waltzed over the counters, bought the doll, and went home.
I knocked on the door of my in-law's house, and was greeted by the dull expression of my late wife's mother. We exchanged small-talk before I drove Emily back home. That night, while Emily was on the couch watching TV, I went into her room and opened the box to her toy so I could place it on her bed. I carefully opened the boxing.
Non-existent eyes greeted me.
Hollow sockets where the eyes would have been. I expected the doll further, and I soon realized that the eyes were not the worst part about the doll. By far. The beneath the clothing, lay a bed of slowly decomposing flesh accompanied by an odor I could barely stomach. The doll was made from the skin of what seemed to be a small child. Crude stitching laced the sides of the doll, I threw the doll across the room. It hit the floor with a thud. Much heavier than I would have expected, I came to a horrifying conclusion, there was something inside the doll.
I ran downstairs to get a knife, not because of some Child's Play shit or anything like that, but to cut that thing open. My curiosity had gotten the better of me, and I needed to see the doll's contents. "Daddy, what's wrong?" inquired my daughter in a worried tone. "Nothing, sweetie, just stay down here and watch the TV OK?" I grabbed the knife, and crept back up the staircase. As I opened the door to Emily's room the doll lay where I had left it. Thank God. I shoved the knife into the side of the doll and pulled downwards, ripping open the side of the doll. I pulled out a small box, the side of a squeaker. I shook it, hearing multiple things moving around inside there. I found an opening and I widened it with my knife.
I sat there frozen.
Inside was a picture of a baby. If I had to guess I would say she was around 4 months old. She lay limp, on a messy floor. I clasped my hand to my mouth seeing the red pool around the child. I removed the picture and vomited into my hands upon seeing the proof that this was not some sick joke.
Two small eyeballs.
They sat above the final item from the box. Some form of receipt lay under the eyes. I soon realized it was the kind of note that usually came with these kind of dolls. It read the following:
Hi, I'm Millie Muffintop! Thank you for adopting me as your new little baby girl, I promise to be the best sister ever!
M.M. Season 1: #43