Was it a mistake to bring Lullaby into our home?
I hope not… There’s no way I can send her away now. Not knowing that this “Dollmaker” persona would continue to kill people wherever Lullaby went. After reading her blog, I’ve no doubt of that at all. I can’t let Lullaby run around free either. Not with Trina here. If Dollmaker would kill Jessica, there’s nothing to stop her from attacking Trina if Lullaby would become close to her, or any of us really.
I’m not even sure if Dollmaker is a proper Proxy or something else entirely.
I’d been enlarging the “pond” where the old pump used to be all morning. Aside from empty plastic tubs that I’ve set up to catch rainwater, it’s the only water we have. So I’ve been trying to increase our access to it, especially with Shady away. Can’t creep into her house for a quick shower or fill up some empty jugs with clean water if she’s not around to make sure no one is home. Been reading up on plumbing and masonry at the local library, but there’s still the issue of money.
Even digging through soft mud is exhausting, backbreaking work in the Summer heat. Ron gets sullen when I ask for help, and Sunshine, well, I don’t want to confuse the poor boy. And Trina’s just too small for that kind of project, though she‘s been very helpful in collecting fallen stones from the garden wall and the house since she arrived. She’s such a sweetie.
I heard Sunshine hooting with delight and was relieved enough for the distraction that I stopped digging and looked away to the far corner of the garden. Worried he might have dug up one of the witches bottles (and more than happy to take a break), I set aside the shovel, grabbed my shoulder bag with his snacks, and waded through the overgrown herbs and wildflowers.
“Sunshine! No! Bad!” I yelled when I was close enough to see what he was chewing on. He immediately dropped the clothes with a hangdog expression. By the darkness of the stains, I could see the blood on them was several hours old. Lullaby had been wearing them just yesterday.
I called out for Lullaby, looking all around. Had Sunshine hurt her? But no… aside from where he’d been chewing on one sleeve, the clothes weren’t ripped at all. If he’d attacked her, there would have been a lot more damage. At least there was no body near the stone wall. I called for Lullaby again, and Trina called back from her tire swing that she’d seen the girl “a little while ago” walking towards the road.
Sunshine was starting to get huffy and was inching towards the pile of bloody clothes while I stood thinking. I reached into my bag and took out a handful of treats, realizing he was getting upset at not being rewarded for his obedience. “Sorry, Sunny.” I tossed him one treat and then a second as he shoved the first into his mouth.
I dug out my phone to call Shady, and that’s when I saw her message to check Lullaby’s blog and got the second shock of the day- Dollmaker killed Jessica.
By the time Lullaby showed up, I had the axe hidden near the fireplace, not that I had a chance to reach for it. She took one look at the pile of bloody clothes and flipped faster than a grandstanding chef on the Food Network. Dollmaker was inarticulate snarling rage as she leapt at me with knife drawn. I honestly don’t know where she was hiding it.
All I can say is, I got lucky. I fell backwards trying to grab Shady’s axe, which caused Dollmaker to flail past me and smash her hand into the stone wall behind me. The knife went clattering away, and she wrapped her hands around my neck instead. Even with one hand nearly useless from hitting the wall, she was stronger than I would have expected. At least her handicap gave Sunshine time to get curious about the noise.
His roar of “No! Bad!” was almost cute, but I didn’t have much time to appreciate his new word as he snatched Dollmaker off of me and tossed her into a wall.
The impact pretty much knocked her senseless, not that it made any difference to Sunshine. He grabbed her by her shirt and tossed her into the opposite wall and would have gone after her again, but I finally regained enough of my voice to heard over his growling.
All I had to say was “meaties,” and he was all ears. Gods save us if our enemies ever figure out what his “kryptonite” is.
I tied Dollmaker up and dragged her down into the root cellar. Sunny’s just going to have to find somewhere else to sleep until I can figure out what to do about her. I went outside and told Trina to stay the hell away from Lullaby. The last thing I need is for Trina to let her loose out of pity or get the doll-treatment. Ron was nowhere to be seen, though I could have sworn I saw him in the door right before Sunshine appeared. But then, I was seeing spots by then.
I’m going to go up and look through Lullaby’s things… see if I can get some clue about Dollmaker’s agenda, if she has one beyond “protecting” Lullaby from the finer emotions.
My neck feels like someone tried to use me in a taffy pulling contest.