It had all been a series of mistakes.  Moving to the new town, making friends, taking up Judy’s dare to bike past the old Alterwerth farm, and then, even worse, taking up her dare to go inside the creepy old place, especially considering the number of women that have been going missing in the area over the last decade.  No bodies have ever been found…

Worst mistake:  going inside the room in the basement.

Rows…and rows…and rows…of murdered fashion dolls lining wall-to-wall shelves.  In the center of the room, the sewing machine and a plastic tub filled with miniature hacksaws, drill bits, fake blood, modeling clay, and several colors of paint–brain-pink, bone-white.

Laid out next to it, a miniature outfit made of delicate black ribbons and lace, all peeks and gaps, with a long skirt and train at the bottom.  A masterpiece.  Sick as fuck.

Where was the doll, though?

The door of the room slammed.

“Judy?  Judy!”

She was gone.

Melanie hears screams, struggles with the doorknob.  It’s locked from the inside.  She fumbles with it, fingers stiff with fear.  Turns the knob.

Something slams into the door, shoving it toward her.

Judy screams, “Oh, God, Melanie, don’t open the door!

Melanie leans against the door.  But whatever is against the door is heavy.  Her tennis shoes squeak on the lino as they skid backward.

The heavy weight slides down against the wood.  A crack appears.  Melanie winces and turns her face away, imagining fingernails scraping for her eyes.

But none appear.  Judy grunts and the weight shifts on the door.  A sick thump on the floor.  A dragging sound.

She peeks through the crack in the door.

Judy, dragging someone in a dark uniform with a gun on his belt.  A cop.  With an upholstery hammer through his forehead.  The hole is bleeding surprisingly little.

“Judy?  What…?”

“Oh my God, Melanie.  That’s why nobody gets caught.  It was a cop all along.  A cop!”

In his pocket is a syringe, capped.  It turns out to be morphine.  But that’s later.  And under his bed is a photo album with the pictures of the dolls inside.  The pages crackle as the plastic sleeves turn.

She recognizes some of the delicate, cross-strapped outfits when they show her at the police station.  She shakes her head.  And thinks, but we only just moved here.  We only just moved here.

 We only just moved here.

I wrote a story about a guy and his serial-killer victim dolls a few years ago that didn’t work out (he wasn’t the killer, it was too complicated), and for some reason it occurred to me that I needed to try to rewrite it from the girls’ perspective.