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Mr. Bones

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A close approximation of the doll.

Halloween is probably my favorite holiday. I dress up in a homemade costume, I hand out treats, and I am the life of any All Hallows' party.  Although I eagerly participate, I refuse to decorate for Halloween. It's my mom's fault.

See, when I was about fifteen years old, my mother worked at a local hotel. She was a night-shift restaurant manager there. Since she was also a kleptomaniacal pack rat she took decorations home with her often. Shortly after Halloween she brought home this ugly decoration. It was a plastic skeleton, dressed in a top hat and tails. The skeleton was about the size of a three-year old child. It was painted a dim ivory, the color of old bones.  She shoved the ugly thing in my face.

"Isn't it the greatest? Come closer and check it out!" Mom said excitedly. When I got closer, I shrieked as the stupid thing spoke. Well, to be more accurate, it screamed at me. With glowing redness in its empty eye sockets.

"BOO! EHEHEHEHEEEE! Happy Halloween!" 

Turned out the skeleton had a battery pack in it that powered two red LEDs and a speaker hidden in its skull. Real funny, Mom. Scare your kid out of ten years of her life.

I asked her to take the batteries out of the pack. She did so, snickering at her joke, and placed the skeleton in a display alcove directly across from our front door.  

As the months passed, she dressed Mr. Bones (yes, she named the stupid thing) in different accessories for the holidays. Indian headband on his top hat for Thanksgiving, a fake white beard for Christmas,  a glittery bow tie for New Year's. At random, she would put the batteries in again to give me a scare when I got home from school.

"MOM! Take the batteries out again!"

"I didn't put them back in honey!" She was laughing as she said it, which gave proof to her lie. I hated her pranks.

My mom left me home alone a lot at night. It came with her job as a night manager. I dealt with it by playing video games or reading as late as I wanted and eating junk food I had hidden in my room.  That didn't always help, though, as sometimes I got this feeling. I would say it was just paranoia, but anyone who has experienced it would never say "just" paranoia. That makes it seem smaller than it feels. Your mouth goes dry, and no amount of drink makes it feel better. Your stomach keeps doing this strange roll to the side. Your breath becomes shorter and all you can think about is how stupidly easy it would be for someone to get into your place and make short, bloody, violent use of you.  

I decided to take the batteries out of "Mr. Bones" once and for all during one of these fits. I didn't need the stupid thing shrieking at me while I was like this. I took out the batteries and decided to clip one of the wires to make sure. As I picked the skeleton up and turned it over, it occurred to me that the decoration was a bit heavy. It felt heavier than plastic should be. I knew the hands were plastic; the little bony hands were obviously made from a bad mold, as was the skull.  After I clipped the wire, I opened the tuxedo shirt and felt the "ribs." It didn't feel like plastic. It felt colder, and a little like stone, a little like wood. There were strange grooves in the area where the heart would be, on a normal person. Notches, like something had been forced there.

I had never felt bone, but those ribs felt like how I imagined bone would.

I quickly buttoned the shirt back up on the doll and flung it into the alcove. I was going to head up to bed, NOW, and tell Mom about this in the morning. Maybe we could take the doll to the police, or give it a proper burial. I turned to head up the stairs.

"Boo." It was said quietly. Not screamed this time.

My head whipped around. Light came from the eyeholes of the doll's skull, beaming red at the ceiling.  After I had clipped its cables and taken out the batteries and what the fuck?!

I didn't wait for an answer. I ran up the stairs to my room and locked the door. I left all the lights on and refused to come out until morning.  My mother promised she'd take care of the doll. I never saw it again after that; I don't know if she took it to the cops or just threw it away.

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