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I used to work at a toy store.
It seemed like the dream job at the time, since I was always the childish kind of person and money was scarce. I had very few toys as a kid and working there was my way of coping with unresolved childhood issues. Either way, I’m not here to tell you about my life. This story revolves around the thread.
I worked as a personal assistant to the owner of the store, Mr. Chandellar. He was a jovial old man who loved what he did. He treated us all with respect and he paid rather well, to say the least. My only co-workers were Amanda, the cashier, and Todd. He looked after the children while the rest of us did our work.
We were setting everything up for the children, waiting to open at 9:00 AM like we always did. I was checking the inventory, Amanda was counting the earnings we received the day before and Todd was busy organizing the Raggedy Ann’s on their respective shelves.
I looked over at Todd and noticed he was having some trouble, spewing out several curses you would not normally hear in a toy store. I walked over to him and asked what the problem was.
“Hey, you alright?”
“It’s these stupid dolls,” he grunted. “Every time I move one, the other one shoves out of place without me even touching it!”
Not much of a big deal, if you ask me. But Todd had his limits quite farfetched from everyone else’s. “Anger issues” is a bit of a stretch, but “short tempered” didn’t quite do it justice.
“It’s okay, man. I’ll take care of it. You go help Amanda with the register.”
He stomped over to Amanda and I examined the dolls. Indeed, Todd’s problem also affected me. No matter how little I would move this one doll, the one on the far left would shift out of its spot. I examined this Raggedy Ann and noticed someone had sewn a string of white thread to its back. The thread was tense and, as you may have already suspected, its other end was sewn to the doll on the far left.
I laughed at this little practical joke while I cut the thread and put it in my pocket. I presumed our beloved boss had played this little trick on my co-worker. Mr. Chandellar was a child at heart. I related to him rather well.
I stepped away from the dolls and stopped on my tracks as I almost stepped on Mr. Chandellar’s cat, Molly. Molly was a special cat. Her eyes were silver and Mr. Chandellar always said she reminded him of his ex-wife. The cat hated me, though. Or rather, she never noticed I was there. I could’ve trampled her and she would not have been any the wiser.
The cat went on its merry way and Mr. Chandellar walked out of his office. The reassuring smile on his face as he was about to open the doors to the children always gave us a little boost to keep on working. I mentioned that the joke he played on Todd was a beaming success, but he seemed to not have heard me, as he just kept tending to the kids.
After another hard day’s work, I returned to my apartment and figured I would indulge in some pizza and head to bed. My head hit the pillow and I was ready to drift off, but the comfort of my bed was disrupted by something strange and at the same time familiar.
“God damn it,” I thought to myself. I was no stranger to sleep paralysis. I was well aware of the fact that I got it more often than a regular person does. Nevertheless, I refused to look any further into it. Maybe it was fear, or healthy respect for the concept. I don’t know. It was the pizza, it had to have been.
I felt constricted, looking at my ceiling, unable to turn any other way. Fear and anxiety ran over my body as I started to hear whispering. It was several voices at once, condemning me for whatever reason. However, I could only make out one simple word: “No.”
The effect washed away after a couple minutes. But it felt like hours. I jolted from my paralyzed state and struggled to catch my breath. I deemed it unimportant and gave it no actual meaning, as this was a casual occurrence. Still, the whispering was new.
The next morning I was feeling uneasy and decided on walking to work instead of taking the bus. Mr. Chandellar always got to the store an hour early and kept the door open for us. Amanda and I always got to work right after Mr. Chandellar as we occasionally liked to play with some of the toys. I wasn’t the only childish one, you could say.
When I opened the doors, though, there were no toys to be seen.
What I mean by that is, there wasn’t much of the store to be seen at all. There was thread everywhere. It hung from the ceiling, it covered the walls and it was all over the floor.
“What the fuck?” I said out loud.
“Joe?” I heard the voice of Mr. Chandellar echo through the endless thread. “Joe, help me. Molly’s under the counter!”
I ventured into the seemingly unquantifiable thread, taking down as many chunks as I could. I saw Mr. Chandellar hunched over in front of the counter. He was an old man and could not bend too far down.
I crouched and reached under the counter to find molly shaking and covered in sweat. At the mere touch, she scratched my arm until I finally let her go. She bolted towards the arms of her owner and purred as she reached his grasp.
“What happened here?” I asked without hesitation.
“I don’t know, but we cannot open like this. The children will be so disappointed.”
We spent the next two days removing the thread from the place. We would not stop until every last bit of it was gone. The authorities were obviously involved. Somebody trespassed and decided to play this tasteless prank. Although the weird thing is that nothing was stolen. You would think that if those people were so infantile they would do this, they would at least have some interest in the toys.
But no, the place was just as we left it underneath the thread. It seemed like way too much effort for no pay-off at all. We also believed that there had to be a fair amount of at least fifty people to pull such an endeavor in one night.
After we took down all the thread, Mr. Chandellar sent us home. He seemed quite distraught. He was in a mood I had never seen him before. Of course, lost work days meant loss of money. This was an understandable change in Mr. Chandellar’s usually soothed, yet joyful character.
I came home and went straight to bed without eating dinner. I was exhausted from cleaning up the store and all I wanted to do was sleep. I laid on my bed and closed my eyes to enjoy this brief moment of harmony.
Nonetheless, to my discord, I was once again trapped in that horrible limbo between sleep and waking life that had tormented my nights for so long.
The whispers were replaced by actual talking. It was violent, even. I could make out the words, “No,” “Don’t,” and “Now.”
These words were all spoken at the same time at different intervals, which delivered a sense of chaos and unease that had my stomach rumbling with anxiety. It wasn’t until a few minutes passed that a gruff voice emitted the final message in a scream:
My upper body shot up and my spine was as straight as it possibly could be. I spent the rest of the night shivering and drenched in sweat. Sleep avoided me, as did most thoughts that deviated from the nightmare I just endured.
The next morning I walked to the store again as my unease made it difficult for me to sit, let alone stand in a moving vehicle. I arrived at my destination and upon opening the doors I was met with a sight that left me in disbelief and found the breaking point in my nausea.
The thread was back, every bit of it. I could’ve sworn there was even more this time around. Although this time they did leave something different.
In the middle of the store sat Mr. Chandellar, calm as ever, his hands sewn to his chair. Puncture wounds covered his body, but there was barely any blood. He wasn’t breathing. He just sat there with his eyes and mouth open like he was staring at me in awe.
After I finished throwing up, Amanda showed up and I immediately hugged her as she broke into tears. Todd was the last to get to the store. He just looked at the dead old man in complete shock.
Todd was arrested under suspicion that day after the police found out Mr. Chandellar had told him he would inherit the store once his time came. It kind of makes me feel glad I was the last to get hired.
I hung around the place after everyone had gone. After they took Mr. Chandellar’s body to the morgue, after Todd was dragged out of the store screaming for a lawyer, after Amanda kissed me on the cheek and thanked me for looking after her while she was so shook up.
I hung around the place because I kept hearing something, but it was muffled out by so many people talking.
It was meowing.
Molly was still there, and once everyone left, her meowing was so desperate I came looking for her. It was dark and the place was going to permanently close so all the breakers were shut down. I grabbed my phone and turned on the flashlight, taking down some of the thread to make my way through.
Under the counter, I could once again hear her meowing. I figured since Mr. Chandellar had been so kind, I should at least make sure his cat is taken care of.
I pointed my flashlight under the counter and could see her big, silver eyes reflecting the light over to me. I called her over but to no avail. I could not reach her by any means.
“Huh, screw you too, cat.”
I stood up to go get something to reach her with. The little sucker would not best me that easily. But as I did so, I realized I didn’t need it.
Molly was sleeping over the counter.
A feeling of constriction fell over me once again as I felt a sharp object thrust into my leg.
Credited to Jay Faulty
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