The Arabella Doll story reminds me of how as a kid I used to have some dolls that had come into the house as part of one of those ‘get a box of toys for 50 cents’ kind of things that you get at garage sales.
The dolls were slightly faded and weird with age, and they were the kind of dolls whose eyes would open and close when moved this way or that.
My room had a closet with no doors and these dolls were always set up in a line inside the closet because I didn’t like to play with them, they gave me the creeps. Sometimes at night as I was falling asleep I’d suddenly snap wide awake when it seemed like one of the dolls had blinked. It made me wonder, maybe the garage sale people had gotten rid of the dolls for a reason…
Everybody but Penny that is.
She had never liked the doll very much. It sat on the shelf in her grandmother’s house surrounded by eerie black and white pictures, and it gave her the creeps the way Arabella Doll seemed to follow her every move with it’s dark eyes.
Even worse, the doll always had a grin on it’s face like it knew something or was waiting.
When Penny inherited the doll she wanted to open a window and just throw the thing right out, but she knew she couldn’t. Her parents were still very sad about her grandmother’s death and they’d be upset if they asked about the doll and she couldn’t produce it.
So she had to keep the doll, for now. Her plan was to wait a month or two and then get rid of it.
In the meantime she hid the doll in a dusty little crawlspace that was under the stairs, and just for good measure she piled some old boxes on top so that no one would accidentally discover it.
While closing the door tight Penny breathed a sigh of relief and did her best to forget all about the creepy doll.
In fact it worked quite well. It wasn’t until a week later that she thought about Arabella Doll again.
A SHUFFLING UNDER THE STAIRS
As Penny was falling asleep one night she suddenly heard a noise from downstairs.
Then came the sounds of something like light footsteps running fast across the wood floor downstairs. ‘Could have been the cat,’ Penny thought to herself. But she pulled the covers up to her face just in case, making sure she could still peek out and see the hallway.
You see, Penny had always been a little afraid of the dark and so she liked to sleep with the hallway light on and her bedroom door open a bit. Now her eyes were glued to the spot where the top stair met the hallway.
She didn’t see anything, but instead heard a soft, whispering voice, like a child’s voice singing an eerie song. The voice said,
“Penny, I’m on the first step Penny…”
At this Penny gasped and there was a noise of little feet running away across the wood floor.
THE FIFTH STEP
As soon as the sun started to rise she ran to her parents room and confessed everything: her long time fear of Arabella Doll, the hiding of it under the stairs, and most of all what she had heard that night.
Her parents didn’t believe she’d heard anything though and they were angry that she would mistreat such a gift from her grandmother. But they saw that she was genuinely scared.
“You can’t throw away your grandmother’s doll,” they said, “but you can keep Arabella Doll on a shelf downstairs for now. Maybe you’re just feeling guilty about what you did and that’s why you had a nightmare about it.”
She did not let herself go to sleep that night. She lay in bed with eyes glued to the hallway again and listened. Soon enough a voice could be heard.
“Penny, I’m on the fifth step Penny…”
Despite herself Penny gasped in terror and then heard the sound of little feet scurrying down the stairs and across the wood floor.
She didn’t sleep at all that night either.
Penny pleaded with her parents to let her sleep in the safety of their room for a while but they would have none of it.
She knew that she had to do something, she hadn’t slept in two nights and surely wouldn’t be able to stay awake anymore.
So Penny did something she’d never done, right before bed she switched off the hallway light and closed the bedroom door tight. Arabella was just a little doll after all, in the dark she might not be able to find her way and surely she’d never be able to reach the doorknob.
Despite this, Penny tried to force herself to stay awake. But no matter how hard she tried her eyelids kept closing and she finally drifted off.
The next thing she knew she had snapped awake. Was there a noise? She leaned towards the hallway and listened.
“Penny, I’m on the top step Penny…”
The voice was very close now! Horror gripped Penny as she realized her mistake: if Arabella Doll could open the crawlspace door then she could probably open the bedroom door too.
With shaking hands Penny moved the covers off and slowly walked towards the door. She knew that once she opened it she had to run as fast as she could to her parents room, they would save her and finally see for themselves that this was not a dream.
But all they heard was her screaming.
Her parents ran out and frantically searched for her and to their horror they found her body on the wood floor at the bottom of the stairs.
They guessed that she had sleepily been going to the bathroom without turning on the hallway light, and had fallen down the stairs by accident causing her to break her neck.
And not too far away Arabella Doll was found propped up against a wall, smiling.