Trina looked down at the dark stairs below. Basements always gave her the creeps, and this one was chilling. A dankness swirled below her nostrils. “Oh no,” she thought. “This is a job for Taylor, not me.”

“The light switch is on your right. Now, let’s get going.” Trina’s mom gave a slight shove to her shoulder blades, and Trina walked down the dimly lit stairs.

Trina Devon was not a fan of change, and there had been enough of that for a few lifetimes during the six months leading up to her grandfather’s death. The most troubling of these developments being the loss of her — rightful, as she saw it — spot as her mom’s favorite. Her older brother was off at college making the Dean’s List and, suddenly, her mom didn’t have time to listen to the woes of having to take “Music Appreciation” first thing in the morning. As if Taylor getting all-star grades didn’t take away from her much needed attention enough, he was in the newspaper the next week, after saving a little old lady from choking. Maddie Devon swooned over her son after that — her perfect boy who would be a doctor one day. It was like she no longer saw her daughter’s musical talent as unique and beautiful. Everything was about Taylor.

Trina absent-mindedly looked through a large trunk. Taylor gave her a hard bump to the hip, knocking her over. “What’s wrong, runt? Still upset mom’s treating you the way I’ve been treated for twenty years now?” He grinned and winked.

Taylor was right. Of course, he was right. It was almost as if he could do no wrong, but she was the baby and had enjoyed the perks of that position all her life. It was his turn, she guessed. She shot him a half-smile. “Yeah. ‘Cause this kinda sucks.” They laughed.

The trunk that Trina opened was full of what looked to be children’s clothes. It was strange, though, upon further inspection, the style of the clothing looked too mature for a child so small. She continued digging around and her hand came to rest on something hard. Moving all the garments to one side of the chest, she revealed a ventriloquist dummy.

The old doll had not aged well and looked more creepy than the basement, with all of its old furniture draped in sheets and dust. He had a nasty case of what Trina thought would be permanent bed-head. Cracks lined his chiseled face, and his right eye only opened halfway. His brown three-piece suit was made of corduroy and had patches on the elbows and knees. The more Trina looked at the dummy, the more she found that she liked it. “He has character,” she told her mom as she strapped him into the front seat of her car.

Back at her apartment, she decorated a bench and put it in the corner of her bedroom for her new housemate. “What should I call you? No, no, don’t tell me. Let me guess. Teddy?.. No. How about Theo?.. That’s not it either. Charles?.. Oh, I’m close with that one, aren’t I? I know! Charlie!”

During the next few weeks, Trina talked to Charlie, much like someone talking to their cat. She talked about her day and imagined witty repartee for him. It all started out so innocently, but, over time, his banter became filled with thoughts that Trina wouldn’t have on her own — thoughts with innuendo and lewdness. She was perplexed. Where could such nasty ideas come from? Still, she didn’t worry about it too much. Charlie was just a doll, after all. The conversations were only in her mind. Within the next month, her mind shifted, and these ideas didn’t seem as foreign. Three months after taking Charlie home with her, Trina stopped talking to her family.

“The latest victim’s name was released moments ago. Vicki Walker, nineteen, found dead in her dormitory room Wednesday night. Police remain baffled, as all five victims seem to have suffered some form of strangulation, but the method is still unknown.”

Taylor turned the radio off and pulled into the parking space next to his sister’s Corolla. Trina’s car hadn’t moved in three days. Panic overcame him. Could they be reporting the same on Trina soon? He stopped by her apartment before and after work for three days. This time he would not knock. He was prepared to force his way through, but the door was unlocked.

“I got new panties, Charlie. Do you like them?” Trina bounced up and down in front of the doll like a child.

“Oh yes. Did you do what I asked? Everything I asked? I want to hear every detail.” The man’s voice was cold and raspy.

“Trina, why haven’t you returned any of our calls? And who the hell are you talking to?” Taylor came into the room full of steam with intentions of attacking whatever old pervert had his sister modeling underwear for him, but there was no other man in the room. Then he noticed Charlie. Its head turned as if to look at Taylor with the one eye that only half opened and its cracked face. Then it grinned.

Trina didn’t even seem to realize that Taylor was there. She focussed her attention on Charlie. “Of course, silly. I sat on top of her and jammed them down her throat. I brought them back for you.” She looked at the creepy dummy like a puppy wanting her master to love her.

“Get away from that thing!”

“Who’s the dummy now?” Charlie asked Taylor. The doll turned its head back to the young woman wearing nothing more than a pair of purple panties. “Trina, you’re leaving out the details. Why don’t you tell your brother what you’ve done? Leave nothing out.” Charlie cackled.

“Taylor, I’m wearing Vicki’s pretty panties. Do you like them?”

Writing Prompt:

You find an old puppet in the basement of your grandfather’s house, after he passes. You like it and take it home.


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