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(A short story of 2254 words)

China Dolls


by Gill James

Tom keeps on seeing them. But are they real? What do they want with him?

The china dolls, that’s what Tom called them. And this one was the scariest he’d seen yet. The abstract pattern painted all over her looked like Chinese writing and was in threatening red with the odd streak of yellow and a few lines of black. The Welsh cap was almost pointed and the bustle was a bit bumpier than usual. If she’d been human she would have had a huge bum. But it was the eyes that really freaked him. None of them had eyes, actually. There weren’t any features on their faces, though you could see clearly where the eyes were supposed to be and you knew they were looking. This particular babe’s were burning holes in him.

He’d started seeing them about a month ago. The first had been in the self-checkout area at his local supermarket. She’d been kind of gentle with the hint of a pale blue willow pattern. He’d thought it was some sort of art-work but then its head had swivelled round as he’d made a mistake scanning his pitta bread. Then there was the one at the Albert House car park. She was covered in navy polka dots. After he’d bought his ticket she followed him back to his car. The one at the library had seemed officious. The criss-cross olive green and mustard pattern reminded him of tweed. She’d not moved when he’d put his books down on the counter. Seconds later, though, when he’d checked back to make sure that she was still there, that he wasn’t in fact going mad, the books were all stacked neatly on the returns trolley.

Now this one was watching him as he filled in his tax return...

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