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An Island and a Doll
Michael sat on the beach, watching the waves crash onto his feet. Long ago, he travelled those waters, sailing from continent to continent. Ever since his wife died, he had taken to the seas, running from the gloom that tried to catch him. But then he found this little paradise. Fruits were always ripe. Beautiful weather. Fantastic beaches. And no people.
A nostalgic smile crept onto Michael’s face. After his wife passed, he was sick of people. An introvert at heart, she was the only person he could be around. He remembered arriving at this island, expecting to find pesky locals who would blabber on about their ways. But the wind was the only thing that wailed on his sanctuary. Michael knew he had found a perfect place.
He began to walk along the shore. Sand wiggled through his toes as his feet sank into the damp shoreline. He gazed out at the vast ocean. His boat was tied to a nearby rock in case he ever decided to venture the wilderness again. But that was not going to happen anytime soon.
“S***!” Michael swore to himself, his foot throbbing from whatever he had stepped on. He looked down and saw a plastic doll. Curiosity overcame him. He picked it up and observed it. She had strands of blonde hair on her head, although most of it was gone. A tattered pink dress with polkadots was barely attached to her. A child, somewhere else in the world, had probably mourned the loss of their friend. He had to take care of the toy for them.
Michael walked over to his boat and placed the doll in it. Maybe one day, if he ever went back home, he could find her a family. After rescuing the doll, Michael went into his jungle, gathering fruits and foods. It would soon be nightfall. Michael was very excited for that; judging by the past week, tonight would be nearly a full moon. Every month, he treasured watching the large pale orb hovering just above the horizon, lighting up the ocean along with the millions of stars.
He ate a delicious meal of bananas and pears, and then waited until the sun was down. Finally, the show had begun. He jogged over to his beach, a child running to a Christmas tree, and stared awestruck at the moon. It was beautiful, so beautiful. The waves crashed right under the pale light. As Michael stared, his smile faltered, being replaced with confusion. What was drifting in the distance? He squinted. Was it... a boat? He panicked; he didn’t want any company. But then, relieved, he noticed that it was drifting away from the island. With nobody captaining it. Surely, it couldn’t be... He looked over to where his boat was--where it had been. Nothing was there.
He ran over to where his boat had been floating just hours ago. Could he just be looking in the wrong area? No, no, there was the rope that held it in place. He looked closer at it. What looked like teeth marks had unevenly severed the rope. Michael whipped his head around. What animals could have done this? He had never seen any predators on the island before. His eyes scanned the treeline for signs of life. Then his gaze locked on a figure. A small face. A girl, maybe ten years old, stood between two trees. Staring at him. Grinning wickedly. Her pink dress was littered with holes and tears. Her feet were bare. Her head had only a few wispy blonde hairs. She laughed, a high pitched cackle that echoed through the night. Then, she turned and ran into the woods.
Michael did not sleep that night. Had he been hallucinating? That was a very hopeful thought. Maybe he was dehydrated. He had been on this island for a long time now; maybe his mind was tired of being alone. But all the same, he knew that this was no illusion. Illusions don’t cry out into the night. And dolls don’t come to life. Rather than sleep, Michael crafted a weapon in case the girl showed up again. He sat on a boulder, his back to the ocean. Eventually, orange filled the sky; daybreak. His stomach growled, making him realize that at some point he would be forced into the forest. Now was as good a time as any.
Michael cautiously approached the tree line, his spear at the ready. He burst into the brush, but found himself alone. He forged deeper into the woods, yet still no one joined him. He began to feel relaxed, believing that he must have imagined last night, when he came upon a tree with a strange marking on it. Something--or someone--had crudely carved some words into it. RIP Alice Ja... He couldn’t make out the last name. An arrow had been carved below that, pointing to the right.
It led to another tree, with an arrow pointing down to its roots. Michael bent down and picked up a soaked piece of newspaper. “Bornesville Mourns Child Drowning.” Michael could make out most of the story below it. “Tragedy struck the town as Alice Jacobs (9) disappeared into the Pacific Ocean’s wake on Crystal Beach. Authorities were only able to recover what her family confirmed to be her favorite doll. In commemoration, the family decided to send the doll back to the ocean so their daughter could be with it.” The rest of the article was too water-damaged to read. Michael dropped the paper and slowly backed away. This was undoubtedly the girl he had seen.
Where had this newspaper come from? It was no coincidence that it showed up with the appearance of the girl. As he backed up, his heel met something hard. He spun around and found the plastic doll that he had stepped on yesterday. In fear, he thrust his spear into the thing’s chest, piercing it all the way through the center. Maybe now, he could know peace.
Satisfied with his work, he collected more food for his meals and went on with his day. At night, he made sure he was on the beach, instead of in the forest with that demented doll. He sat on the beach, watching the treeline wearily. His vision started to blur as he drifted off.
Michael woke with a start. He could not afford to go to sleep in the open. He heard a rustling sound ahead of him. His hand shot to his spear and instead met bare sand. It was gone. He stood, defenseless, as the girl walked toward him. She wore the same twisted smile, had the same murderous look in her piercing black eyes. But her dress had a large hole through it that extended through her entire body.
“Why did you do this to me?” she said. Her voice was raspy, one that had been tainted by years of saltwater. Her question was pitiful, but her grin grew wider as she said it. She dragged Michael’s spear in the sand behind her. “I only wanted a friend. Why wouldn’t you be my friend?” She cackled wildly, making all the hairs on Michael’s neck stand up.
“Please... get away from me! I never meant to hurt you! What do you want?”
“I want a friend. That’s why I’m here. But to do that, I’m going to have to kill you.” She lunged at Michael with the spear. He dodged her first stab, but she was too quick. She brought the butt of his spear into his chin, knocking him to the sand. She pulled a doll with no features out of her breast pocket. Slowly, she bent down and sliced Michael’s wrist. Michael tried to move, but the girl pinned him down. She wiped his blood against the doll, and immediately it grew his features.
“Excellent... now, I won’t have to be alone. Only one more step...” She looked into Michael’s eyes, and thrust the spear into his throat.