Another awesome Photo-Prompt Flash Fiction challenge from the fantabulous Nicole Pyles at: World of My Imagination!
Rules are simple: The photo below and all five words must be featured in the piece that is to be no longer than 500 words.
Factory Dock Comedy Sign Riddle
Thank you again to Leanne Sype, Nicole Pyles, and Carrie Sorenson for hosting the Photo-Prompt Flash Fiction Challenge every week. I truly missed it while I was away, and am looking forward to once again getting my unique weekly dose of stretching my imagination while at the same time confining it into the random box handed down by our hostesses. To my fellow “hoppers”: I am looking forward to reading you fine work again. It was always fun. Great to be settled now and have my internet connectivity sorted, and continue on with the good life.
I answered my first online dating message with trepidation. I wasn’t sure I was ready. It had only been a year since the divorce. Yes, a year’s a long time, but when put on the scale against twenty-two years of marriage it didn’t seem that long at all.
Whatever, Walt, just hit “reply” and write something nice to—what’s her profile name?—”The Doll Collector”.
My reply earned an offer for a date; my second in forty-five years.
Dolly (that was her real name) was pretty and a little plump—just the way a woman should be—and had a sweet vulnerability. Those hours we spent sipping cocktails were the best I’d had in years.
“Can you give me a ride home later, Walter?” She’d taken a taxi to the cantina.
In the gray matter between my ears—the ol’ thought factory we call a brain—zero red flags popped up. I was the USS Arizona idling in to dock in beautiful Pearl Harbor—seemed like a great idea, right? Who knew everything would get blown all to Hell? And I do mean THE Hell—I’m talking the Divine Comedy here!—and Dolly gave no sign whatsoever. She was (if I may quote Winston Churchill) “… a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”
At her door I accepted an invitation for a “nightcap”.
Dolly’s decor was odd. There were dolls everywhere—hundreds of them! Not Barbies or that kind; these were those old baby dolls with eyes that closed when you laid them down.
In her living room I had a feeling of being watched. Gooseflesh rose up on my arms. Dolly was making a drink while I stood in the living room feeling increasingly uncomfortable. The dolls were looking at me, like paintings of people do; their eyes seem to follow you everywhere.
Then I saw her weirdest display yet; a glass-covered alcove in the wall with doll heads stacked inside. I knew right then and there that those heads were the source of my paranoia.
Dolly brought me a cocktail. I took several large gulps hoping it’d calm me.
“How is it?” She nodded to my drink.
“Great.” I tried to smile.
Dolly didn’t return it. “How do you feel?”
What an odd question.
“I feel … actually, I feel … really … sleepy.” I yawned.
Dolly smiled then.
I only remember returning to consciousness and having no feeling in my body.
I couldn’t move anything but my eyes. I was standing, or propped up, looking at Dolly sitting on her couch in her living room. She was smiling at me; this odd, satisfied smile.
Then I realized that there was glass in front of me, and it hit me…
No, no, please no!
…I was in the display case—the Doll Collector had, by some hellish, sorcerous means, torn my soul from my body and imprisoned it here—with many others—inside one of the doll heads.
Divina Commedia indeed…
It’s nice to be back.