Dolls

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Chapter One



“I’m sorry,” she said, tears rolling down her cheeks. “I couldn’t help you in time.”

“No, don’t go,” he begged.

“I’m sorry.” Then she stopped moving, her eyes turned glassy and her skin turned porcelain.

“No!” he screamed, holding her lifeless body in his arms.


I felt a disturbance in the air. Another Doll’s life was up. My tears were falling by themselves.

“You’re crying again,” Nick pointed out. I smiled.

“Yeah, another clock has stopped ticking.” I wiped away the tears, but they just wouldn’t stop. Nick looked at me, then he silently wrapped his arms around me.

“I’m sorry you have to go through with this,” he said.

“It’s not your fault. I volunteered.” He snorted. “I did volunteer. They told me what I could do, and I said I would do it.”

“You were tricked, they didn’t tell you about this.” He wiped away one of my tears and looked at it. “I hate seeing you like this.”

“I know, and I’m sorry about that, but I feel like I should do this.”

“I know,” he sighed.

After awhile my tears stopped but we didn’t move apart. Everyone walked around us, paying us no mind, it was like we weren’t actually there. Well, to them, we weren’t. Nick had a power, he could make himself unseen by anyone and anything, and he could make anything he wanted invisible too.

Finally I sighed and pushed away from him.

“Thank you,” I said.

“No problem.” He smiled, one side of his mouth lifting up.

“Thanks for making us invisible too.”

“I don’t want to get in trouble.”

Nick and I work together, we’re not allowed to be close, in fact we’re not even supposed to be seen together outside of the job, but since I’m special they give me some slack.

“Nick, I really should go,” I said, glancing around, just because I got slack, it didn’t mean Nick did, he just wasn’t fired because he was the only reason I was there.

“I know,” he said. He looked sad and I reached up, placing my palm on his cheek.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, I promise.”

“If anything happens call me,” he said.

“You know I will.” I looked around, and then quickly kissed him. “You be careful.”

“You too.”

I turned and walked away, not looking back, even though I really wanted too. I went home, and right to my room. My mom and I didn’t acknowledge each other, we never did. The first thing I took out was a notebook, I rifled through all the full pages until I got to the most current one, then I wrote the date down. That notebook was where I recorded each death of a Doll.

I was tired, worn out, I rested my head back against the headboard. A death was always hard on me, Nick tried to make it as easy as possible, but he couldn’t do much. Nick was special to me, he was closer than a boyfriend ever could be, the only time my mom talked to me was when she complained about us. Nick was more than a boyfriend, without him I would be completely lost. If I didn’t have him I would have given up long ago, I would have embraced the darkness that envelopes my heart, that shadows my thoughts. Nick was my savior, my angel.

I must have fallen asleep, because what I was experiencing could only be a dream. I was watching it like I would watch a movie, and I was helpless. We were in the office, right next to the wall of windows, and it all happened so fast, the window shattered and the room was filled with smoke, I knew that the me in the dream was blind by the smoke, but I could still see everything clearly. So I watched as the strangers in black took Nick away, I screamed and screamed but no one heard me.

I shot up in bed, my eyes wide, my mouth open in a silent scream. My head whipped around wildly, still trapped in my dream. I relaxed slowly, realizing that my dream was over, but I couldn’t get the thought out of my mind, Nick was going to leave me, whether he chose to or was forced to. I slowed my breathing down and relaxed my muscles.

The clock said it was 3 A.M. I sighed. There was no more sleep for me, and even if there was, it would just be more nightmares. I grabbed my sketchbook, then I closed my eyes and let drew. I hated this part of my job, but it had to happen, I drew the Dolls, they made them, and I gave them life. There were only two of us, so we were worked hard. I hated making the Dolls, they were used for things I didn’t even want to think about, weapons, sex slaves. My employers think that if it wasn’t born, it doesn’t have feelings, but they do, they fall in love, they feel pain. I feel the same thing they do, its painful.

When I finally opened my eyes again I had filled ten pages full of drawings of new Dolls. I felt tears spilling out of my eyes. I looked at the clock, it was late enough that I could go to the Company now. I got dressed, throwing on casual clothes. I tossed my notebook and sketchbook into a bag and went downstairs. My mom was still in her room, I grabbed an apple from the fruit basket, but I knew I probably wouldn’t eat it.

Even at five in the morning the streets were filled. I hated contact with anyone, whenever they touched me a sick feeling spread throughout my entire body, it made me want to hurl. I swiftly made my way to the Company, avoiding everyone I could. I made it there and sighed, as much as I hated the Company, it was filled with people I loved. Nick was only one of the few people I loved.

The Company was pretty full, I went right to the elevator and went to basement one. That was the planning floor, the only floor I would ever go on. Nick was there, he looked at me, his eyes asked if I was okay, I nodded. I went to the President’s room.

“Hello, Aubrey,” the President said, his voice froze the blood in my veins. I stood by the door, frozen. “Please, do come in.”

I cautiously walked forward and sat on the edge of the chair furthest from him.

“Must you always act so frightened?” he asked, his voice held an edge of taunting though.

“You know why you scare me, Sam,” I said, the fact that I used his name meant nothing, it wasn’t even his real name, as far as we knew.

He smiled, his sly little smile and I shuddered. I put my sketchbook on the desk.

“Take the drawings,” I said, I wanted out, I slid them over to him and stood up. I was to the door when I turned around. “Another one died.”

“How can you call it dying when they never lived?” he asked, resting his chin on his folded hands.

“Easy,” I said. “Because to me, they are living. I actually care about them, unlike you.”

“Oh, I care, I care very much.”

I scoffed at him and then I turned and left him, gently closing the door behind me. Nick was by my side instantaneously.

“You okay?” he asked, under his breath, handing me a paper. The paper was my schedule for the day.

“Fine,” I answered.

“I wish I could be with you when you faced him.”

“I know.”

We both went our separate ways, again, not looking back, so badly I wanted to run into his arms. I knew better than that, though I wished I didn’t. I wished I could just throw everything away and be with him.

“Aubrey.” Selena, one of the few people I trusted.

“Hello, Selena,” I said, smiling at her.


“You really shouldn’t think about him here,” she warned. My face was startled. “I can see it in your eyes when you think about him, and I know I’m not the only one. You know why you have to keep it a secret.”

“I know.”

“His life would be in danger if anyone found out.”

“I know.” It came out louder than I meant it to and heads turned. I ducked mine and went into the small room I was allowed. “Please, can you just drop it?”

I curled up in the chair I kept there, it was something from my house, it was the chair my father sat in while he smoked his cigars and read the paper to me. Selena sat in the couch, that was all that was in my little room, aside from a small little table with a phone on it, I kept the phone unplugged.

“Aubrey, I feel so bad for you,” she said, after a couple of moments of silence.

“Why?”

“You were forced into this.”

“I feel worse for you, you chose to do this, not realizing what you were getting into, and now you can’t leave without a threat on your life.”

“I still feel bad for you.”

“I know.”

We chatted for a little while and then sat in a comfortable silence, which was then broken by the most cheerful person in the entire Company. Ms. Candy, yes that is apparently her name.

“Howdy, y’all,” Candy said, smiling and sitting down next to Selena.

“How are you Candy?” I asked.

“Just fine,” Candy answered. “The question is how are you?”

“I’m just fine. Nothing wrong here.”

“Really, you seem awfully tired today.”

“Another one died yesterday.”

There was a knock on the door. “Excuse me,” Nick said. “May I come in?” I smiled at him. This room was the one place I was safe in the entire Company.

“Of course Nick, darling, but all the seats are taken,” Candy said. He smiled, he walked over to my chair, picked me up and sat down, putting me on his lap.

“I’m just fine here.”

I snuggled closer to him, I always felt safe. I yawned.

“You need sleep,” Nick said.

“I’m not tired,” I mumbled, but my eyes drifted shut. Here, in my sanctum with my friends I was safe. I let myself nap. Nick woke me up a little later, Selena and Candy were gone. “What time is it?” I asked.

“Eleven o’clock,” he answered. Standing up and putting me back in the chair. “As your schedule says, in ten minutes you have to go down to the machinery room.”

I sighed and stood up.

“Great. My favorite part of the day,” I said, stretching. Nick wrapped his arms around me, I rested my head under his chin.

“I know you hate it, I promise I will find a way to get you out of here,” he promised, his voice hard.

“When you do that, don’t forget to free yourself too, or I’ll have to come back and get you.” I looked up at him, a small smile on my face. He smiled down at me.

Once again we parted with a small kiss, he went off to do his job, I went off to do mine. Sam was waiting for me, the new Dolls lined up and lifeless. I took a deep breath and went up to them.

“Do your thing, then you can do whatever you want for the rest of the day,” Sam said.

I went to the first Doll, she was beautiful, like a fairy, but then they all were. The process of giving them life wasn’t complicated, but it was confusing. I literally breathed life into them, I gave them a part of my soul, at least that’s what I thought. When I stepped back they all looked like Dolls still, but that was because it took some time for it to work.

I said before, there were two of us… Breathers. The other one made the weapons, they were all men, mine were the sex slaves, women.

“I’m going back to my office,” I said. I turned and left before he could see the tears that wetted my face. I hated it, I hated the Company, I hated my existence. As soon as I was in my “office” I curled up in the arm chair. I wanted Nick but didn’t dare go and find him. Some people thought Nick had it easy, all he did was deliver messages throughout the building, they said that since his father found the Company he got off easy. I knew differently. His father hated him, despised him, he hated the fact that Nick even worked at the Company, one slip up form Nick meant the end. Although it was a mutual hatred, Nick would rather live with his mother, the only reason he didn’t was because of me.

“Don’t blame yourself,” a quiet voice from the door said. The other breather, Isabel Montgomery, she lived here, her parents had abandoned her.

“You have it off worse than me,” I said. She came in and sat gingerly on the sofa. She was so small, even though she was only a year younger than my 16. She was around 5’2” and had curly blond hair, her eyes were wide and blue.

“No, because mine only feel one thing, and that is pain. Yours are real people, they feel love, and jealousy and fear.”

I laughed, it was a humorless laugh. She smiled, but there was sadness hidden behind it.

“You have to make so many more than me too,” I pointed out.

“Yeah, it really wears me out, but the difference between us is, mine come back to me a lot sooner than yours does. So you have more out and about at the same time.”

“True.”

She stood up.

“Try to relax,” she said. “If I see Nick I’ll tell him you’re okay.”

“He won’t believe you,” I said, smiling.

“He’s too smart for his own good.”

“Yeah.”

“Bye.”

She left, closing the door behind her. I sighed. I really, really hated my job. I relaxed all my muscles and let myself fall back into a light sleep, I knew the slightest sound would wake me. The door creaked and my eyes shot open.

“Sorry,” Nick said. “I was trying to be quiet. But its closing time.”

“Do you want to come to my house?” I asked, my voice hushed.

“Okay, I’ll be there in an hour.”

We rode in the elevator together, standing next to each other, our hands brushing. He didn’t get off at the lobby, he stayed on. I smiled and got off. I knew he was going up to his father’s room, he did that at the end of every day, I never knew what they talked about, and I never asked.

My mom was in the living room, watching TV, I mumbled hi and went to the door at the end of the hall. I unlocked it and then went into my room, leaving the door slightly open. Nick would come in through that door and sneak into my room, he did it all the time, and my mom had no idea. I went over to the bookshelf and pulled off a book, I laughed at the cover, it was one of those shoujo romance mangas. I stretched out on my bed and read it.

It made me laugh more than once, it was about a girl, who meets the new transfer student and its love at first sight, but they have trouble being together because the popular girls didn’t want that. If the characters thought they had problems they should try living my life.

“What’s so funny?” Nick asked, sneaking into my room.

“This book,” I said, holding it up so he could see it.

“Why are you reading that?”

“Because it was on my shelf.” I put it to the side and wrapped my arms around Nick. “I missed you.”

“I missed you too.”

We sat in silence, enjoying each others company, but then he pulled away.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, there was something in his eyes, almost fear.

“My dad is starting to suspect something,” he said.

“Don’t worry, if we have to, we can run away.”

“I don’t want you to have to leave all your friends.”

“What friends? The ones at the company? They would be more than happy to come with us.”

“I know we can run, but you don’t realize what my father will do to keep his Company. He will use your mother to get to you.”

“Believe me, my mom can handle herself.”

“I will only run if there’s no other choice.”

“I still think it’s the easiest move.”

“It is, but then we would have to be constantly running. When I finally get to be with you, I want to have a house and a roof over our head. I want to be able to get a job and support our family. I don’t want to run from place to place avoiding my father.”

“I understand,” I said, taking his face in my hands and making him look at me. “I want to be with you too, so bad that I forget little things like that. For me, as long as we are together I can be happy.”

He looked at me, and smiled.

“I know, let me worry about things like that. You just wait for me, okay?”

“Of course I’ll wait for you, I’ll wait for until the end of time.”

“Thank you.”

I leaned forward and kissed him, this kiss was more passionate than our other kisses. I could feel his love for me.

“Nick promise me something,” I said, later that night when we were laying next to each other in my bed.

“Anything,” he said, he was tracing the lines on my face.

“Promise me you won’t do anything that will take you away from me.” His hand stopped and he looked at me.

“I promise I won’t do anything that would hurt you in any way. You know that being apart from you hurts me just as much as it hurts you.”

“I know,” I sighed. I curled up, closer to him, loving the feel of his body next to mine.

“Have happy dreams,” he whispered, his breath tickling my ear. I was asleep within seconds, and for once I had a good dream.

Chapter 2



When I woke up the bed next to me was empty, I knew Nick had left and it made me feel empty inside. I went through my daily routine, the only difference was that today I didn’t have to work. I only had to go in four times a week, or if I was called in. I didn’t know what I was going to do with the day.

I got dressed, today it was a hoodie open over a t-shirt with some character from some movie, my jeans were loose and fell past my feet. I tied my shoes and left, my mom was no where to be seen so I figured she was at work.

I walked around the town, it wasn’t huge, but it wasn’t small. There were a few local stores where the employees knew all the customers by name, but that was just because the same people went every day. Today I decided to go to my favorite place in town, the diner. The diner was local, run by an old man and his kids. They offered to give me a job once I turned 15 but I had to turn them down, I had already been working at the Company.

“What’ll you have today, Aubrey?” Kyle, the eldest son asked.

“Um, just a cup of coffee,” I said.

“You don’t eat enough.”

“I eat enough for myself.”

He just sighed and poured a cup of coffee for me.

“If you want anything don’t be afraid to ask,” he said.

“I know.” I sipped my coffee and looked around the diner, today it was filled with strangers, people I had never seen before, but that didn’t surprise me.

I observed them, the people in the diner, who had no worries, and what little worries they had, were nothing. I watched a couple argue, their faces inches apart. I watched an old man read the newspaper not paying attention to the world around him, then there was the business men who couldn’t put their phones down for one minute. The women crying over a breakup, the women looking for a new man to scam. Even though everyone here were strangers, I knew them all. They were all the same, every person in the world. Thought they had it rough, but they never realize there are people worse off than them somewhere in the world.

Kyle refilled my cup and I quietly thanked him. I looked at the counter my elbows were resting on. How easy it would be, to walk out of this diner and not stop, just keep walking. But running away was out of the question, it was admitting I was a coward, and that was something I wouldn’t stand for. I finished off my coffee paid and left. I didn’t know where I was going, I just knew where I didn’t want to be.


I ended up in a park, filled with screaming little kids and their worn out parents. There was an abandoned swing set away from all the commotion, I sat on one of the swings and swung forward and back, my mind lost in thoughts. I was remembering my life before the Company, it seemed so long ago.

I was barely 14 when I met Nick, we had bumped into each other at school, it wasn’t his looks that made me look twice, it was what was hidden in his eyes. I ended up saying something stupid and we laughed, after that we ended up talking a lot. I remember the day we first kissed, we were at this very park, I was on this swing and he stood in front of me. He walked forward so that he was standing with his legs surrounding mine. Then very slowly he leaned forward, giving me a chance to pull away, I didn’t even think of it, instead I leaned forward to meet him. It was magical, like the movies, I saw fireworks, I heard angels sing and when we pulled apart we both had an idiotic grin on our faces.

I hung my head back, my hair getting in the gravel, but I didn’t care. Oh how I wanted to go back to that time. But nothing ever lasts forever. It was a couple of months after that kiss when the company recruited me. Nick’s father wanted to meet me, so Nick reluctantly brought me to his families home. His father had a porcelain doll resting on a bay window. I went up to it and rested my hand on its cheek, something passed between us and its life was instantaneous. It moved its head on its own and smiled up at me, it couldn’t talk since its mouth was stuck in a smile. His father witnessed it all and got me into the company, I hadn’t known what I was getting into. Nick joined soon after, and his father wasn’t pleased.

I sighed. Nick was there right now, at the Company, at the Hell that we had to live through. I wanted to run to Nick right now, but I didn’t. I stayed in the swing and let my walls down, the walls I made to keep my emotions in, and strangers out. I felt tears wet my eyes, but they weren’t my normal tears. I wasn’t crying over a death of a Doll, I was crying over a loss of a time I could never get back. I stayed there until the sun was high in sky. Finally I stood up. I went to the only place I could think of.

I stood outside of the company, there was no way I was actually going inside, if I did I wouldn’t get out for the rest of day, but I still stood there and just watched everyone go in and out. I recognized almost all the faces, I just couldn’t give them names. I sat across the street on a bench. I felt lost, like I no longer had a life, I lived for the Company, and that scared me. The only joy I got in life was when I was with Nick or one of my few friends, and even then the joy didn’t go deep.

I stood up abruptly, a few pigeons flew off startled but I ignored them. I was done. I stormed into the office, ignoring the looks I got, I went right up to the reception desk.

“Where is the President?” I asked, well ordered.

“His main office,” she answered, not looking up, she knew my voice from the few times I had to talk to her.

“Thank you,” I said. I didn’t wait for the elevator, it would take too long. I raced up the stairs to the top floor, I wasn’t even winded when I threw open the door to the Presidents office.

“Why Aubrey, what can I do for you?” he asked pleasantly.

“You are going to keep your mouth shut while I talk,” I said, I stood in front of him, my palms on his desk. Now that the walls were down there was no putting them back up again, and truthfully, I didn’t want to. “I’m going to make a deal with you. If you stop treating the Dolls like nothing more than machines then I will continue working here, but if not…” I trailed off.

“My dear Aubrey,” he said, his smile was not kind. “You don’t realize that they are nothing more than machines.” I barked a laugh.

“Only to you, Sam,” I said. “But to me and Isabel they are a part of our soul, they are a part of us. And every thing they feel, we feel too. So sending them off to be abused by men, or shot down in battle hurts us just as much. I’m done with it. So you can stop treating them as tools, and start treating them as people, or I quit.”

“You’ll quit?” He quirked and eyebrow, obviously not believing me.

“Yes, I’ll walk right out this door and never come back.”

“I must say, I’ve never seen this side of you before. It is quite interesting. But sadly, I can not agree to your requirements.” I turned and started walking to the door. “But what you must be forgetting is if you leave then who will cover your job. There’s only one other Doll maker, so with you gone, she will have to work twice as much, just imagine how that must feel.” I stopped and gritted my teeth, of course he would play dirty. I turned back to him and smiled.

“What you seem to be forgetting is that they would listen to me,” I said. “If I said let’s all leave this place and never come back, they would all listen.”

“Do you really want to put so many lives in danger? Are you that selfish?”

I took a deep breath and looked directly into his eyes.

“I guess I can put up with you for a little longer, its not like you are going to live long anyways. Besides without me you would be lost. You know as well as I do that if you pushed Isabel that far she would snap, whether she went crazy or just comatose, we don’t know, but then you would be left with no Doll makers.”

“That is where you are wrong. You are too caring, you would come back before that happened, both you and I know that. So you can quit, if you want to. But I’ll be waiting right here for you to come back, and you will. So are you really going to quit, or are you going to stay?”

“Nothings is going to be the same, and nothing is going to change, at least I can say I tried,” I sighed. He smiled, he knew he had won.

“Be sure to come into work tomorrow with new ideas.”

I glared at him.

“If I feel like it,” I said. I was at the door and he said something that had the blood freezing in my veins.

“If you don’t come back then I will take my anger out on my son, and you don’t want that do you?” I made myself keep walking, ignoring him, but that struck the deepest. I couldn’t let my selfishness cause problems for Nick, no way would I let that happen. I would never put Nick in danger.

Selena was down in the lobby when she saw me she stopped what she was doing.

“What are you doing here?” she asked. “It’s your day off.”

“I know, I was just trying to make things better, although I’m pretty sure I failed. Things are going to be worse, a lot worse.”

“What did you do?”

“I threatened him, said I would quit if he didn’t treat the Dolls better, he threatened my friends.” I closed my eyes. “I hate him, why can’t he just die already and give this business to Nick so we can demolish it?”

“You don’t really wish for his death.”

“You’re right, death is too kind a thing for him. He should have to feel the same thing Isabel and I have been feeling since we got here. He should have to feel the pain of each and every person he has ever hurt.” Selena put a hand on my arm, I looked at her.

“I know how you feel, but we’ve just got to wait it out until the right time, and then together we can all leave.”

“Maybe,” I said.

“It will happen, one day.”

I nodded, not believing one word she was saying.

“I’m going to go home. See you tomorrow.”

“Bye.”

I left the building and didn’t look back, I wanted to do what I told him I would, I wanted to never go back. I would never do that though, not with what everyone else would have to put up with in my absence. So I settled for leaving and not looking back.

Chapter 3


My house was empty, and for once, that didn’t make me happy. What I needed right now was company. I paced in my room, I couldn’t believe I had just done what I thought I did. It was out of character for me, but it felt good. Even though it didn’t do anything it felt good to stand up to him.

I just couldn’t calm down, all my bottled feelings were now out and now I had to share them with people, next would be my mother. I heard a door close and knew she was home, I took a deep breath and went out into the hallway, my mom was moving around the kitchen.

“Mom,” I said, my voice wasn’t loud but it still made her jump. She turned to me, surprised that I was talking to her.

“Yes?” she said, she couldn’t hide the surprise in her voice.

“Can we talk?” I asked. She nodded, I motioned to the kitchen chairs, she sat in one and I sat across from her. “I feel like we don’t live together. I feel like ever since Dad left you have pretended like I don’t exist.” She opened her mouth to interrupt but I held up my hand. “Just let me talk, then you can. I know I remind you of Dad and you don’t like that, and I’m sorry, but I can’t change who I am. I never brought this up before because, well because I was afraid. I was afraid it would make you hate me, plus I used to keep all my feelings locked behind walls. I know you love me, you just don’t know how to show it, I would like it if we can at least start eating a meal together, even if it is late, and maybe if we can share things with each other, I feel like you aren’t a mom to me, like you are just a stranger sharing a house with me and I don’t like that.”

“Honey,” she said, her eyes were bright with tears. “I don’t think that. You do remind me of your father but that’s not why I never talk to you. Ever since you started that job of yours you’ve been even more distant and I was afraid to approach you. I don’t know what you’re going through, I don’t know how to help you, but I knew I couldn’t ignore it, I just didn’t know to bring it up. But whenever you were with that boy-” I stared at her shocked, she knew about Nick. “-you were happy, or as happy as was possible for you. I figured he could do more for you than I ever could. So I let you be. I knew I wouldn’t help you, I would just cause more problems. Never once have I wished for you to be any different than you are, sure I have wished that you made different choices in your life. I’m sorry for whatever I made you think, I love you so much.” Now I had tears in my eyes. It was good to know that my mom loved me, I really had been worried that she hated me. People always said I took after my dad.

“I love you too Mom,” I said, my voice thick with unshed tears. That was when her tears started falling, mine did too. I wasn’t used to this, crying because of my feelings. After we cried, we decided to order pizza and watch a movie. My mom asked me questions about my job, I had to be very vague, she asked me about my relationship with Nick, I told her about how he was practically my whole life, she smiled and said she knew how I felt. I asked her how she met dad, she smiled.

“It was just a normal day, I was out walking around, you know I met your father in New York City. A stranger man came up and approached me, I had my hand in my purse right next to my pepper spray, but he didn’t do anything, just asked me if I could show him to The Metropolitan Museum, I smiled and said I was heading there. So we walked together and talked, I learned he was from the west coast, I told him I had never been there. His eyes were bright as he described the clear blue sky and the white sand. We ended up walking around the museum together and then going and getting lunch. He was going to be in New York for a month, after that month was up I moved in with him in California. We were married soon after I got pregnant with you. But after awhile your father decided he didn’t want to live with us anymore, so we divorced. I took you and moved up here.”

“Well if I do say so myself you did rush into things.” She looked at me. “You did, a month after meeting you move to the other side of the country. I mean come on.”

“I guess I felt like I would loose him if I didn’t act quickly, I was young and in love. He was leaving and I just tossed it into a conversation, I laughed quickly to hide it but it got him thinking. I don’t know if he actually loved me or not.”

“I think he did, but since you rushed into the relationship you didn’t know if it would work or not.”

“I think he just wasn’t the one.” She had a funny look on her face. “But I can tell its different for you and Nick. You could probably go get married right now and you would never divorce, never even mention it, in fact I don’t think he would ever look at another girl, its like he only has eyes for you.” I smiled.

“Yeah, and I only have eyes for him.” My smile fell from my face. “But that’s not always a good thing.” She looked at me, her eyes asking all the questions. “His dad doesn’t like me much, well no that’s not it, his dad loves what I bring to his company, its his son he doesn’t like. He thinks Nick is a failure and not fit to be the heir to his company. It drives me crazy, everything about the President drives me crazy, in fact I talked to him today. Tried to get better things for me and my friends, but it didn’t work out to well.”

“At least you tried.”

“Yeah, at least I tried.” We sat in silent for a little while, admiring Will Smith in the movie.

“This is nice,” my mom said. I smiled again, that was also something I wasn’t used to, smiling so much.

“Yeah, we should do another girls night, and we can invite friends, you would like mine. Candy is awesome, she always brightens up a room.”

“Candy?”

“Yeah, she insists being called that. We make jokes that its her stripper name, and that might not be too far off the mark.”

“I would like to meet your friends, how about we do it next week?”

“Sounds awesome, I’ll tell them about it tomorrow.”

We chatted about small little things after that, then I yawned and my mom shooed me off to bed. I didn’t know if I wanted to go to sleep, I felt like if I did then I would come back as the girl I used to be, my own disguise against the world.

I decided to stay up for a little while. I took out my journal, the one I got when for my tenth birthday from my dad, just because he left it didn’t mean he hadn’t tried to mend things, I just ignored him, when he tried calling I told him to stop, that Mom didn’t need him, and we were better off without him, he stopped sending gifts then too. Now I felt a little guilty about that, I decided I would call him before work tomorrow, or maybe after, or maybe even during, it didn’t matter.

I studied the cover of the journal, it was a brown leather like material, it had flowers decorating it, they were pink and purple, the vines were a bright green. I opened it to the cover, it had a this book belongs to thing with a blank line where you were supposed to write your name. I filled it out.



This Book Belongs To: Aubrey Brennan


I turned to the first page, I loved the feel of a page before you wrote on it, so smooth and new. A blank page, a new life. I poised my pen above the paper, and began writing. Today, I began.



Today, I guess you could say I became a new person today. All walls fell down. I faced off to my boss, I reunited with my mother, and now I’ve decided to talk to my father again. I feel like I have a new chance at life, for once in my life, I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I know that this new person is here to stay, I wonder if my friends will be startled, I wonder if Nick will like it. There’s only one way to find out. Tomorrow will change the way I see life, it will change my life for good, I can’t wait.


I closed the book, I didn’t want to fall asleep, for fear that I was wrong, for fear that the new me would go back into the small room I had kept it locked in. My eyes were having trouble staying open and the yawns were so big I thought I might dislocate my jaw. I sighed and turned off my light, then I rolled onto my side and curled into a ball.

Chapter 4


When I opened my eyes I expected to feel different, I didn’t in fact everything looked brighter, clearer, like before I had been seeing everything through a fog. I took a quick shower and got dressed, my mom was reading the paper a mug of coffee in front of her on the kitchen table, she lowered it and smiled tentatively at me, maybe she thought I would have gone back to the way I used to be during the night too.

“Hey Mom,” I said cheerfully, smiling widely at her. My mouth still felt weird smiling, like it wasn’t supposed to be there.

“Hey honey,” her smile grew bigger and lost its tentativeness.

“You’re really pretty when you smile, Mom,” I said. “You should go out and find yourself a guy.” And she was pretty, her hair was a mousy brown that would normally look really plain but with her it looked stylish, she had it hanging around her face in loose waves, it was fell to around her chin. Her eyes were a warm chocolaty brown and here eyelashes were long. With her business suit she looked professional and older than she was, but in casual clothes she looked 35 to her 39. “You are pretty.”

“Its too much work to find a guy,” she said. “He has to find me.”

“Mom, if you think that way you’re going to die alone with your 50 cats. Maybe after work today you can go out with some co-workers,” I hinted.

“You’re not going to bring that boy over are you?”

“Even if I did we wouldn’t do anything. Our relationship isn’t like that.”

“Well, I haven’t hung out with them for awhile, okay I will. You can find something for dinner right?”

“Maybe I’ll hang out with my co-workers after work too.” I looked at the clock. “Speaking of work I’m going to be late, bye Mom.” I gave her a quick hug, grabbed my jacket and ran out of the house. I didn’t know why I was looking forward to work, I just was.

I got in and smiled at the receptionist, she looked startled, but smiled back. I was the only one in the elevator, I hummed a tune I had heard on the radio one day, when the doors open everyone froze, they were watching me as I made my way to my office, a smile on my face and still humming. I saw Nick look at me, eyes filled we questions, I smiled at him and then went in my office. There was a phone sitting on a little table, I plugged it in and dialed my father’s number. A little boys voice answered.

“Hello,” he said.

“Hi is this Curtis Samson’s house?” I asked pleasantly.

“Yes,” the little boy said, I smiled.

“May I speak with him?”

“Sure.” He held the receiver away from his mouth. “Daddy!” Then he was back. “So who are you?”

“I’m Aubrey,” I said.

“Oh, you’re my sissy.” I was surprised that he knew about me. “Daddy says your very busy and that’s why you can never call or visit.”

“Daddy’s too nice.”

“Why?”

“It’s true I was busy, but I was mad at Daddy and that’s why I never called.”

“Were you mad at me too?”

“No.”

“Then why didn’t you call me?”

“James, give me the phone,” I heard Dad’s voice, it was laced with love when he talked to the little boy. I felt tears spring in my eyes and I quickly wiped them away.

“But I’m talking to Sissy,” the little boy, James said. I smiled.

“Sissy? Can I talk to her? I promise that she’ll call again soon,” Dad said. I heard the phone switch hands. “Aubrey?”

“It’s me, Dad,” I said, the tears were falling freely now.

“Oh, Aubrey, I’m sorry for upsetting you so much.”

“It’s fine now. How come you didn’t call to tell us about your new kid?”

“Well I figured you wouldn’t pick up, and even if you did that you wouldn’t listen.”


“That was probably true.” We both lapsed into silence. “I’ve missed you.” My voice was barely above a whisper, but I knew he heard me.

“I’ve missed you too. I’ve got six years of birthday and Christmas presents piling up in my closet. Mary keeps telling me to just send them to you, but I was too afraid of what your reply would be.” I smiled.

“You kept buying them for me all these years?”

“Of course, I love you, and your mother. I really am sorry for leaving you. It’s just that…”

“I understand Dad, Mom doesn’t blame you either. In fact I’m trying to get her to start dating again.”

“It’ll do her good. What have you been up to lately?”

“Well, I’ve had a job for a couple of years. I work for a company that makes dolls. I also have a boyfriend, he’s really nice, and I’ve got some great friends. But I want to hear about you, my life is boring.”

“Hold on a minute, a boy? How long has that been going on?”

“Well, since before I got my job, so around when I was 14. But as I said, he’s really nice.”

“He’s not making you do anything you don’t want to, is he?”

“Of course not Dad, I can’t say I missed that part of you.” I was smiling.

“It’s things like boys that made me happy Mary had a boy.”

“Tell me about him, and Mary. You weren’t married to her when we last talked, on, what was it, my tenth birthday?”

“Yeah, that year when you told me to stop sending you things.”

“Sorry about that.” I winced, remembering how mean I had been.

“I understand, you weren’t mad when I first left, it just took you a couple of years.”

“Yeah, and it took me another couple of years to realize how childish that anger was.” I could practically hear him smiling over the phone, I knew the eyes would be crinkling around his blue eyes. I got my looks from him. Last time I saw him he had had dirty blond hair that was beginning to fall out and the most beautiful blue eyes on earth, I could understand why my mom fell for him, he had that California look to him.

“Thanks for realizing that.”

“No problem. But you were going to tell me about James and Mary,” I prompted. I really was curious about my step mom and half brother.

“Well, James is just like you were, except he’s a little boy. He’s 4, just turned it a month ago. He has adorable dimples, those are from his mother, and whenever you see those dimples you know he did something. Mary is perfect. She helped me through a rough time, a year after we got married James came along. I thought the only way my life could be perfect was if I had to you and your mother with me, so I’m glad you called. My life is now whole.”

“I’m glad I called too.” My eyes strayed to his chair. “Are you still smoking?”

“I quit, it made me smell bad, and when we had the baby, I just kind of stopped.”

“That’s good. I have you chair still.”

“Do you? I was wondering where that went, it just vanished after you guys left.”

“Well I had a lot of good memories in that chair and I was young, I felt like if I left it behind I would lose you completely.”

“You know you would never lose me.” I could tell he wanted to give me a hug, and I wanted to give him a hug too.

“I know.” There was a knock on my door. “Oh sorry Dad, I’m at work right now, I’ll have to call you later, maybe we can arrange a time for me to visit.”

“That sounds fun.”

“Love you, talk to you later.”

“Bye.”

I hung up at the same time I said come in, Nick came in followed by Selena and Candy.

“Who were you talking to?” Candy asked, perching on the edge of the couch.

“My dad,” I answered, giving Nick a big hug, then I leaned against him, he kept his arms around my waste. “I went through some life changes yesterday and now I’m fixing my life.”

“Then what are you still doing here?” Selena asked.

“Well, I actually almost quit yesterday, but the President plays dirty.” Nick’s arms tensed when he thought of me alone with his father. I patted his forearm. “I got nothing out of it.”

“You do seem different,” Candy said, studying me.

“Oh yeah, seeing you guys made me remember. My mom and I decided to do a little girls night next week where we gather around the TV with pizza and just talk. You guys want to come?”

“Sounds great,” Candy said. “I would love to meet your mother. I spend too much time with teenager’s nowadays.”

“You do realize I am 25,” Selena said.

“Yes, and I’m 35 but you don’t hear me yelling that out to the clouds.” I giggled, and every froze, which made me giggle again. “I must say I like this new you, I no longer worry about you going out and committing suicide.” I was still giggling.

“You know I would *giggle* never commit *giggle* suicide. I have you people to worry about,” I said, I took a deep breath and stopped my giggles.

“That’s good,” Nick rumbled in my ear. “Because if you committed suicide I would have to too, and I’m not planning on dying anytime soon.”

“Don’t get all lovey-dovey on us,” Candy complained. “There you go, flaunting your relationship to people who don’t have it.” She sniffed. “Trying to break an old woman’s heart.” I bit my lip to keep from laughing again. With a light knock on the door Isabel came in.

“The President wants to speak with us,” she said in her bell like voice. My face hardened.

“Let’s go.” Nick released me, although I could tell he didn’t want to and Isabel and I went to the Presidents office. He was causally lounging behind his desk, when he saw me he smiled.

“I was worried you wouldn’t come into work today,” he said, still smiling, his smile no longer sent chills down my spine.

“Of course I came,” I said, smiling my own ice cold smile. “I just can’t get enough of this place, it’s like a second home to me.” My eyes were narrowed. His smile never wavered.

“I called you two here because I’ve got new Dolls that need life,” he said. “But these are different than normal.”

“Well I can tell that,” I said. “I didn’t design these.”

“Of course you didn’t, you are both needed to bring life to these Dolls.” My eyes narrowed dangerously.

“Why?”

“Well, they are different than usual.” He stood up, he was still smiling that damned smile. “Come with me.” He left the room and we had no choice but to smile.


Chapter 5


We followed Sam down to the machinery room. The first room was empty, he paused outside the second door, as if giving us a chance to prepare ourselves, then he opened it and waited for us to enter, he followed behind us and closed and locked the door, that had me worried. He then flipped the switch, and showed us, a regular Doll.

“I don’t get it, its just a normal Doll,” I said. The President actually laughed, well more like snorted.

“That’s what you think. But its not the outside that matters, it’s the inside.” He opened a hatch, normally the dolls were hollow, but not breakable, this one was filled with complicated wiring and things I didn’t understand.

“You made a robot?” I asked, my voice confused. Isabel gasped, I took her hand and squeezed it, she knew what it was, now I was curious.

“Not a robot, a bomb,” he said. I became furious. He made a human skinned bomb. I was speechless with rage. “I know, you are speechless. It’s the next best weapon. Forget those Dolls you are already making. This will be your top priority. We already have 20 ready.” My eyes narrowed and my fists clenched, but he just kept talking. “It’s the greatest weapon. A bomb disguised as a human, who would have guessed. And unlike suicide bombers, you don’t lose anyone.” My teeth gritted. “It’s the prefect weapon.”

“SHUT UP!” I exploded, what else could I call it. All my anger just flew out of me. “I told you to treat them better, and what do you do? You make a freaking BOMB! Do you realize what that will do to us? And 20 of them? That will practically kill us. Are you really so greedy that you are willing to lose both of your money makers? What is wrong with you?”

He stood frozen, shocked. I was panting from my rant, and glaring at him. I wanted to rip the guys eye balls out, and his balls off, the only thing stopping me was that Isabel had thrown her arms around me and stood in front of me.

“Don’t Aubrey,” she said, her voice low enough that only I could hear it. “He’s not worth it.” I breathed in deep through my nose and out through my mouth.

“You’re right, he’s not worth it.” I didn’t lower my voice, I let him hear it. I glared at him. “The only reason you are alive right now is because of this little girl right here. You do realize that you are so close to pushing me over the edge. When I finally fall, I’m taking you with me.” I grabbed Isabel’s hand and yanked her to the door. “I am going to stop you, and I am going to destroy this building from this floor up.” Then I unlocked the door, yanked it open and pulled Isabel up to my office. She sat down on the couch, and I sat down in the chair.

“It’s good to finally meet the real you,” she said, her voice was always quiet. I looked at her quizzically. “You always were hiding behind walls. I’m glad you finally freed yourself. But I’m worried you’re going to do something you regret.”

“I know, and I have to thank you for being down there to stop me, if you weren’t I might have actually killed him. But I can’t believe he wants us to make a bomb. Who does he think he is? The king of the universe? I beg to differ. It makes me sick that a man like that fathered Nick.”

“I make you sick?” Nick asked, coming in.

“Of course not, your father is another story though.”

“What did he want from you anyways?” My fists clenched at the thought.

“He had a new Doll for us, one that I didn’t like. I kind of blew my top and stormed out of there with Isabel, which means we’re going to be called back soon to give life to the Doll.”

“You don’t have to go,” he said, his voice was so low I almost didn’t hear it.

“I know, and I don’t want to go.” I looked at Isabel, she looked so much younger than 16, curled up on that big couch. “But if I don’t then he’s going to push Isabel until she becomes a walking vegetable.”

“The President wishes to speak with you,” Clara said, she was one of the many workers here.

“Okay,” I said. I turned to Isabel. “Are you ready to end the world?” She smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes.

“Let’s go,” she said. We left and went right back to his office. Nick watched me go, his eyes tight with worry. I didn’t even knock I just entered.

“Wow, that was fast,” I said. I leaned against the wall farthest from him, his usual smile was gone, his face was calm but his eyes were irritated.

“If you pull a stunt like that again I will fire you,” he threatened.

“Have we not had this conversation before? You can’t fire me, you need me. Besides I would quit before you had the chance.” The muscle in his jaw twitched and I had to hold back a smile. “But you called us here to go and breathe life into your new bombs. So lead us there.” He was momentarily stunned by my cooperation. But then he shook his head and stood up.

He didn’t say anything as he led us back to the locked room. Neither did I, Isabel was silent at my side, I could feel the fear rolling off her in waves, she was afraid of the new Doll. Sam opened the door for us and once again waited until we entered before he followed. This time he didn’t lock the door.

“Get to it,” he said, his smile was back in place.

“Why do you need both of us?” I asked, Isabel let out a tiny gasp. “I’m sure just one would be sufficient enough.”

“One would be enough to give life to them, but it will be incredibly hard on you when they die. That is why we need two, it evens out the pain.” I smiled.

“I can handle it, let Isabel continue with her Dolls, maybe mix it up so she makes a few of mine too, and I will make these bombs and still continue with mine.” He contemplated what I was saying.

“Isabel, go back upstairs,” he ordered. For once she didn’t obey. She planted her feet and stared him down. It was a rather humorous image, a 5’ 2” girl glaring at a man who was at least eight inches taller than her. He wasn’t fazed. “Go now.” I gave her a little push to the door.

“It’ll be okay,” I said, my voice quiet. She looked at me, her eyes filled with worry. “Just go.” She listened, she left. I heard her footfalls speed up, she was running, and I knew who she was running to. I turned to the President. “Look if we don’t hurry it up, you are going to get in trouble.” He stepped back and allowed me to step up to the first Doll. I took a deep breath and breathed it out right to the Doll. I went faster than usual, and with all 20 by the time I was done I was light headed and dizzy on my feet. I could hear at least two sets of footsteps pounding down the stairs.

The door flew open, Nick was glaring at his father, but when he saw me sway and begin to fall to the ground he rushed to my side. He took me in his arms.

“What did you do to her?” he demanded, he was glaring at his father again. Candy and Selena were at the door, arms crossed, blocking any form of escape. I could see Isabel hiding behind them, her eyes were worried.

“I did nothing, she did this out of her own free will,” the President said, shrugging, I could see him inching toward the security button, obviously Isabel saw it too, she pushed pass the two at the door and stood in front of the button, her head barely covered it.

“Bull-shit,” Nick said. “She would only do something like this if it would help someone else. You did something that made her choose to do this.” I took a deep breath.

“Nick calm down,” I said, my voice was weak and I hated that. “I chose to do this.” He looked down at me, his jaw was clenched and his eyes were hard. Then he looked up at his father.

“Leave,” he ordered, Sam didn’t have to be told twice, he turned tail and ran, Selena and Candy glared after him, then they rushed to my side, Isabel stayed off to the side, I looked up at her.

“Isabel,” my voice was a whisper, she had to bend down to hear. “Don’t blame yourself, it wasn’t your fault.” I could see it in her eyes, she was blaming herself. “I chose this, yes its true I did it to protect you, but I also did it for myself. Before that last Doll is dead, this Company is going to be destroyed.” Selena and Candy nodded. I looked up at Nick. “Nick, take me to my office.” He did as he was told, he stood up and swung me into his arms, then he strode to my office. He laid me gently down on my couch.

Selena stood just inside the door.

“You really are an idiot,” she said. I smiled.

“Of course I am.”

“What were those Dolls?” Candy asked, she was standing behind the couch by my feet.

“Walking, talking, bombs,” I said. Candy gasped, Selena’s eyes widened and Nick’s narrowed, Isabel’s tiny hands turned into fists, and then she exploded.

“HOW COULD YOU DO THAT!” she yelled, then she lowered her voice, but it was still laced with rage. “What were you thinking? You can die! You are aware of that right? I can tell he is planning to send those bombs off to other countries and they are going to go off all at once. That is going to kill you. But you don’t care, do you? All you care about is other people! Worry about yourself for once in your life.” She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself, my eyes were wide in shock. Then she said very low and dangerously. “If you ever do anything like that again, I will kill you.” She looked up at me, her eyes were narrowed and the blue had hardened into crystal.

“Okay,” I said, my voice calm, I smiled. “I promise not to do anything that will end in my death.” That made her smile and her eyes melted back into the two blue pools.

“But really, what were you thinking?” she asked.

“I was thinking that if I didn’t do something quick we would both be stuck nearly dead, in a room filled with bombs. I knew you would run off and get help, besides I want you to have as little pain as possible.” I swung my legs off the couch and stood up, testing my legs. I was still a little light headed but that wouldn’t go away until I ate. “I believe Nick and I have some unfinished business with his father.” I took Nick’s hand and pulled him out of the room and into the elevator.


“What are we doing?” he asked.

“I figure its time for Sam to get a stern talking to.”

We went up to the top floor, people looked at us curiously but they never said anything. We were alone when we left the elevator. I went right up to his door and opened it, he was sitting behind his desk, just like he had been yesterday, he even smiled the same smile.

“I figured you two would come and tell me you were eloping together,” he said.

“Close but not quite,” I said. I stood in front of the desk, Nick followed me. “We did come to discuss some things, like who your heir is, and our relationship.” I took Nick’s hand. “You see, I love your son, and I think he should get what’s best for him. I know you were never planning on having him as an heir, but he would be so much better at this job than you are.”

“You are really bad at negotiating,” Sam said.

“Oh, I’m not done yet,” I said. “He would be better at running this, you and I both know this. But you aren’t letting him do anything besides pass messages around. I think if you gave him a chance to see you working he might just become a little like you.” Nick looked at me sharply, but I ignored him. “The only reason he is here is because of me, so you have to give him another reason, like promises of running the business. He has a gift for finding Breathers. He found me, and Isabel, and you need more.” I winced, I felt a pain, a Doll died, but this time I didn’t cry. “You know why you need more. Because my time is almost up as a Breather. A Doll died again, she was only a month old.” Sam looked surprised. “Yep, they’re dying faster and faster. So imagine, how long do you suppose those bombs are going to last.”

“That’s why you offered to do it yourself,” he said, I could see things clicking behind his eyes.

“Yeah, I say they have a week, maybe two tops. Which means I only have another couple weeks working here, and that means you lose your son, and three other employees. You don’t want that. So let’s make a deal. I’ll keep making Dolls for as long as I can, if you promise not to fire Nick and make him into your heir. What do you say?”

He never had a chance to answer, something smashed through the window and then there was nothing but smoke. I had a brief sense of déjà vu before Nick’s hand was ripped from mine. A scream ripped from my throat, but a hand clamped over my mouth. I knew what was happening, the strangers in black were taking Nick away, and just like in my dream, I was helpless.

Chapter 6


I was pulled into the hall, by none other than the President.

“What the hell just happened?” I screeched. “What did you do to Nick? Give him back!” I began clawing at the President, he didn’t try to restrain me, he was breathing deep. “Where did they take him?”

“Shut up,” he said. I shut my mouth and glared at him. “Go back to your office, I have no reason to tell you anything.” I grabbed him by the collar and put our faces very close together.

“Listen to me, if Nick is harmed in any way then I will do the exact same to you, only I will make it hurt ten times as much.” My voice was low and I didn’t sound like myself.

Security rushed into the hallway and pulled me off of him, I glared at him.

“You are going to regret this,” I said. Then I shook their arms off of me and went back down to the basement. I walked past Selena’s desk and tapped it twice, I did the same with Candy. Isabel was still in my office so I didn’t have to find her.

“What’s the emergency?” Candy asked.

“We have to destroy this business.”

“What happened?”

“Nick is now missing. Some men came and kidnapped him and the President won’t tell me anything. I’ve had it with this Company, it’s going down.”

“How do you plan on destroying it?” Selena asked.

“Easy, show the world what it really is. But first, we have to keep those bombs from leaving this building.”

“Why?” They looked worried.

“He has to rush getting them out of the country. They only have about two weeks before they die on their own, and by then it would be useless. So he’s going to rush.” I looked at Candy. “Do you think you can keep them from getting shipped off?”

“Of course, that is my job.” She turned and left the room.

“Selena, I’m going to need you to do some research for me.” I went over to her and whispered in her ear.

“That’s going to be hard to get.” She smiled. “But not impossible.” She left to go do her job.

“Isabel, you’re going to help me out him,” I said.

“How?” she asked.

“We’re going to call our Dolls back, in the middle of a press conference.”

“Who’s calling the press conference?”

“Selena said she would do that before her research. Let’s go get ready.”

I brought her to my house and I found something she would look good in. She was wearing just a black skirt with a pink button up shirt, her shoes were just a pair of flip-flops a little too big for her. I found a dress, it was just black and it went to about my knees, I just threw on a pair of boots, the only reason we were dressing up was because we were trying to look professional, like we knew what we were doing.

We headed back to the Company and true to her word, Selena got most of the major news papers and news stations there. I smiled and went up to them, they started asking question. I stopped right in front of the doors, a couple of steps higher than them, then I turned and faced them.

“Thank you all for coming here,” I said. “I have worked at this company for approximately two years, and I’ve had enough of it. Do any of you guys even know what happens here?” Everyone was silent, then someone got the guts to ask. I smiled. “We’ll show you.” Isabel and I clasped hands and reached out with what was left of our soul. I could feel each Doll responding. Soon I could see them, they were all coming. I even called one of the bombs out. The Dolls surrounded the news people, together we had about 50 Dolls. “These are called Dolls.” I waved my arm out including every single Doll. “Maybe you’ve heard of the website? You order a Doll and it will do what you want. Maybe you didn’t believe it. Citizens aren’t the only people who order Dolls, did you know your government does to.” I heard a commotion in the building, the security guards were coming. With a quick thought out some of my Dolls came and blocked the door. Isabel spoke up.

“I am the creator of those Dolls, the ones the government orders. You don’t see many of my Dolls out there, because most of them are out at war. You may not think that’s a bad thing, let things that have no hearts go and die in place of real people. But every time one of my Dolls die, I feel the pain they felt. So even though no one loses their life, a soldier loses a friend, and I lose a tiny part of my soul.” She fell quiet. I smiled at her.

“Now our President, we know him as Sam, has made a new weapon that he plans to sell to other companies.” I motioned the new Doll forward, he came willingly. “You see this Doll. Its different from the others, its practically a mindless robot. it’s a bomb in human skin.” That caused a reaction. There were some mad voices and some disbelieving. “You don’t believe me? Want me to blow it up right now and kill us all, plus everyone in the surrounding buildings? All I have to do is say one word and he will do it.” They quieted down to a low murmur. “Today in the President’s office, his son was kidnapped, by who I don’t know, he wouldn’t tell me. I decided I would stop working here, I decided it was time for this company to be revealed. Maybe you guys don’t think it’s a bad thing, maybe you like the idea of Dolls, if you do, then I must say, you are sick.”

“What exactly do you do?” someone asked.

“I give life to the Dolls. It’s a very simple process, just breath life into it.”

“So anyone can do it?” a different voice asked. I laughed.

“No, very few, and even if you could do it, you wouldn’t want to. The Dolls life source is a piece of our soul, a piece of our life. The more Dolls we make, the closer to death we get. I’ve been here so long, I’ve made so many Dolls that I can tell I don’t have much left in me.”

“Does that mean you are close to death?”

“Far from it. We go into a vegetation state, I’ve seen it once before. The Breather before me was pushed too far. He became brain dead.” I could see the memory. It was my second day here, I watched as they wheeled him away, I hadn’t realized what had happened before it was too late. “I was willing to let that happen to me, to protect my friends and family. You see the rule of this company, once you enter it, you can never leave it.”

“This company is my home,” Isabel said. “The people in there are my family, and every day I have to see them do things they don’t want to. Today this girl right here, gave life to twenty of those bombs, she nearly died, and I know when those bombs do go off she will die. You guys might not care about the life of one person, but it won’t just be one person. The number will rise through out the years unless you do something to stop it. We are powerless, but you are not.”

She looked at me and I nodded,





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