Jason the Toymaker by Kristantyl

I don’t have many memories left from my past. The faces of my real parents were like faded masks in my mind. I only had some remains of my childhood, faceless names and total darkness. At the age of nine, something happened to my family. The trauma was so deep that it made me forget most of my life. I only had the shred of a memory related to my best friend. He was the only one who was there for me my whole life. It was an image stuck in my mind along with the melody from a music box. Among the black holes of my amnesia, I caught a glimpse of his honey-colored eyes and his dark mahogany hair. I remembered his friendly smile… but nothing else. All the rest disappeared in the dark, so did he.

The memories went back to the orphanage where I was born. Some awesome parents, Maddalena and Steven, who adopted me and gave me a feeling which I had forgotten, the warm feeling of having a family. They raised me in their house until I turned fifteen. My amnesia led me to examinations and psychological check-ups, which year after year were slowly starting to fail. It looked like I wouldn’t ever get my memory back. This fact left me distraught, On one hand, I wanted to know what happened, but on the other… an odd feeling of anxiety suggested I shouldn't wish for it. Obviously, there were some unpleasant consequence to my trauma. It was some sort of paranoia, as if I was being persecuted by something. The specialists told my parents it must have been linked to a particular memory, which was continuously blocked from my mind. Neither the cause, nor what happened was exactly clear but despite my efforts, I couldn’t focus on it.

I felt like I was being observed, not by people, but by the stuffed toys in my room. It was stupid, I know. At the beginning, they were simply toys, but time and time again, their big round eyes seemed to stare at me. Since I was little I thought the stuffed toys in my room were alive and sometimes I tried to prove it: I spied on my room from the hall with the door ajar, I then turn away and suddenly turn back and never took my eyes off them, not until I felt a burning sensation from not blinking my eyes.

Time after time, the stuffed toys were the ones staring at me. It almost looked like they wanted to test me and I couldn’t bare it anymore. The thought stuck in my mind at times, it seemed to me that they moved their heads turning their little faces towards me. At other times, they made noises in my room. This couldn’t be true, obviously. Why did this thought persecute me? Why did I hate those stuffed toys? In spite of everything, why didn’t I get rid of them? I could have presented them to other children, or thrown them in the rubbish. One day I tried, really, I did, but when I took one of them in my arms, a strong sense of anxiety and terror stopped me. I always ended up putting them back in their places, on the furniture, my bed, and the shelves. This caused me to have to take tranquillizers.

There was only one toy I took with me at night, despite my age, I couldn’t separate myself from him and felt a familiar affection from him that started long before my amnesia. I found him in my wardrobe at the orphanage and from there on out we became in separable. It was a sweet bunny with ears as long as him, on one side it was red and the other side was a caramel color. He wore a black waistcoat, with two long sleeves that draped down to the point of his feet and dashed an elegant collar that dawned pointed tips at every edge of the fabric, a black button donned the center and wore a stylish frilly eyepatch over his little left beaded eye. It was funny, but he looked like the only stuffed toy that was harmless. Ever since I was little when I would slip under the sheets and fall asleep almost instantly among the creaking old walls he's slept by my side just like that night.

I was standing still in the darkness, unable to move and couldn’t understand how I ended up there, surrounded only by the distilled silence. Something slimy grabbed my wrist and held me so tightly that instant pain shot right through me. A set of white nails slowly penetrated my flesh. I watch them cutting through my skin, making me bleed. I screamed and cried, but a laugh bellowed out, covering my desperate pleas. “She belongs to me,” a voice whispered to me. Within that dark abyss, two green sparkling eyes appeared before me, they were a few inches away from my face. “You are only a hindrance to me”. He laughed amused by my pain while he pierced the flesh under my nails with needles. He ruined my body with rusty tools...on the contrary; he said he was going to fix me all up.

I noticed an open door, the only thing I could distinguish from the darkness. My eyes blurred by the pain. I saw a glimpse of people standing still gazing down at me. The image of that door got closer, in order to show me their vacant expression, despite the grimaces plastered on their faces. I saw that they were not real people. They were dolls and in some way, I felt a strong sense of nausea overcome me just by staring at them. There was something about them, that made my stomach, maybe it was their extraordinary and macabre resemblance to real people. “She belongs to me!”.

With that, I woke up, my eyes wide-open my heart beating so hard I could feel it pounding in my head. I stood up then sat back down when I couldn’t breathe. I rubbed my eyes, and realized that I was sweating. The bunny fell, landing upside down. I leaned down for him and put him back on the bed. My breathing returned to normal, but the image of those needles, dirty with blood and those terrifying dolls remained embedded in my mind. I never had such a nightmare like that before. The feelings were so terribly real. I still felt those claws making a hole in my flesh, but I was relieved that I woke up. The door squeaked; it was my mother coming in the room. As soon as she saw my exhausted face, the smile on her face faded away. “Honey, are you okay?” “Yes, I only had a nightmare. Now everything is alright”. “Well ok, Daisy came to visit you, I told her to wait for you in the living room”.

With that, I got out from bed. I was dressed poorly and I didn’t want my best friend to see me that way. While my mother closed the door, I ran over to my wardrobe and took out an ordinary dress. In the space of a few minutes, I came out of my room neat and ready. In my haste, I was out of breath. “Finally!” exclaimed Daisy smiling. I met Daisy at middle school and ever since then we were inseparable. She was a kind and generous person; she was always welcome in our family. My parents appreciated her good manners, but what I loved bout her especially was that; she never asked me anything about my past. I was able to tell her about my amnesia in complete confidence. The day was nice and sunny so we laid down in the garden, under an old tupelo tree. We talked while sheltering from the sun in the shade of the tree. I brought some colored pencils and blank sheets of paper and we both started drawing. Daisy felt tired immediately. She started picking daisies; put them in her blond braid while she gossiped about Luisa, a girl who lived for being the center of people’s attention. While my friend was talking, I listened to her and kept on drawing without taking my eyes off the sheet of paper. “Who’s that?” she asked me suddenly, noticing the drawing. It was as if I fell asleep in that exact moment, I battered my eyelids in front of the sheet of paper and felt rather confused about seeing a drawing repeated several times on the same character. “I don’t know”.

I did not have the slightest idea of who he was. The clearest drawing showed a man wearing a black jacket with an extravagant and voluminous fur on his shoulders. He had a beautiful, happy smile and two yellow eyes that was covered a bit by his fringe. He wore dark clothing and in his hands, he was holding a little blue case resembling a music box. “Maybe I saw him in an illustration book”. “Oh ok, let’s have an ice cream,” said Daisy, changing the subject of our conversation, seemingly not very interested. "Ants are coming under my skirt!” On that same night, I had another nightmare and this was worse than the previous one I had before. I dreamt about that dark figure again, who brutally tortured me and kept saying the same phrase over and over again: “She’s mine”. I woke up at 2 a.m. breathing rapidly; I curled up feeling the wall behind my back. I put my hands over my face and breathed in deeply. “It was a dream, just a dream,” I whispered.

Then I looked over at the bunny next to me, which was looking back at me with his black eye and with an irritated glance, I threw it on the floor. Since the moment, I started sleeping with that thing. My dreams had turned into meaningless nightmares! I turned around to rest my legs and in that moment, I touched something with my foot. I elevated my gaze and noticed a doll sitting on my bed. At first I was frozen in place, all I could do was stare at her; I didn’t understand how she had appeared there. My mind started thinking back to my parents, who had given her to me as a present. Perhaps, I didn’t have a real thing for dolls, and to tell the truth, her presence in my room bothered me. It was a peculiar doll made of wax with unusual characteristics. She had a headdress of flowers flowing through her hair and only few locks caressed her cheeks. She wore an embroidered white laced dress with a black ribbon tied to her waist. Her arms were unusually long; she had long tapering fingers that were not normal.

What caught most my attention was a rose in the center of her mouth as if it was supposed to silence her. I looked at her closer and scanned her under the moonlight. I touched her face and realized there was something wrong. I kneeled down and tried to get an even closer look at her, then I heard something. A sort of subdued sound… like a wheeze. It was coming from the doll. I began screaming and let her fall to the floor while standing up in horror, trembling violently, pushing myself to the wall, screaming for my parents. Suddenly everything turned surreal. The wall next to the door enlarged, like there was a bubble between the paint and the cement. Slowly some cracks appeared and increased in number. The paint fell in pieces, landing on the floor and revealing a blue door.

I hadn’t the slightest idea of what was happening. These things exist only in books, or in our imagination, but in my astonishment, I felt something was going to come out that door. From the door, I see the same black hands I had witnessed in my nightmares. “Aren’t you happy about Daisy coming to visit you?” said the monster, standing on the threshold of the door, “I didn’t like her either, you know? She screamed a lot”. Daisy? What she had to do with it? I looked around confused, looking for the presence of my friend that obviously was not there anymore. My eyes landed on the doll. That blond hair and face made of wax looked strangely familiar. I held my breath, a nightmare; it must’ve been another nightmare. I rushed over to the doll and turned her face in my trembling hands. I put my ear over her chest and heard another sound along with that horrible wheeze, the pounding of a heart. “Daisy! Daisy!” I cried desperately. It had to be a nightmare. Something like this could not have been happening.

I realized my parents were next to my room according to the sounds I heard, they must have heard me screaming, but the monster blocked the entrance. He pulled the door shut, blocking it in it's setting, deforming the wood. My parents started punching on the other side, and I didn’t know what to do. It did not look like a dream, it was perfectly clear; it was more real than those nightmares of darkness and torture. My heart was beating so fast that it started to hurt, I felt the sweat on my forehead and the doll trembling in my hands, which I couldn’t keep still.

The monster stood at the entrance, not moving from it. In the half-light, I could see his evil smirk, as if he was waiting for my reaction. I unbuttoned Daisy’s dress, who looked imprisoned under the tons of wax and I started to dig, trying to set her free. I dug, and dug and dug, while her moans became more intense… until I felt something wet under my nails. I looked at my hands, covered with blood. Her skin must have been mixed with the wax, and the digging was not helping her at all. That thing that supposed to be Daisy was suffering, her wheezes were bloodcurdling, but her expression was still that of an impassive doll. I trembled with horror. I had to repress a retch, and suddenly I felt my arm being grabbed.

“My splendid Maggie, you’ve ruined your doll!” Exclaimed the monster his whitish eyes sparked with a pale green light. “You even threw Mr. Bunny on the floor, but I forgive you. You must return to the place where you belong: By my side!” “Who the hell are you?!” I shook like mad trying to set myself free, while my parents were trying to break down the door. The expression of that creature was filled with astonishment. “I am Jason the Toy Maker” he exclaimed, “Your faithful friend, the only one you could trust!” At hearing that name something moved in my memories, like an electric shock had run through my body. My father succeeded in breaking down the door and turned on the light. When I finally saw him, his face primed a bomb that exploded, setting my memories that were buried deep in the corners of my mind all those years free.

I remembered the day we met for the first time. The toys that seemed to bloom from his hands, I remembered his friendly smile… that gradually turned into a sharp and sadistic smirk. That day he showered me with his exasperation, he expected me to give him more attention because in his arrogance he believed he deserved everything from me. When he grew tired of me, he showed me what he really was. He revealed he eliminated all the people that surrounded me. He kidnapped my friends turning them into his ‘Toy Dolls’ and I was bluntly stupid to always admire them! Rushing home was useless, because the blue door reappeared at the center of the living room. He massacred my parents; he took his revenge by taking them away from me, and almost got me too. I managed to escape his clutches running as far from him as I could. No matter how far I ran the smell of blood and that of decomposed flesh still lingered in the air.

“It was you!” I was possessed by anger and I started hitting him, “You killed them!" I kept hitting him, but Jason was smiling, as if it was tickling him. He didn’t have any remorse for ruining my life! He was a possessive beast who concealed himself from my childish eyes behind an angel’s face. He was able to give me everything and at the same time terminate everyone around me. He was fiendish! “Of course it was me, my splendid creature! Mr. Bunny even showed it to you” he smiled with self-evident truth, “I made many toys for you and I can’t wait to introduce you to Mereanda, but you can call her Mandy if you like”. Suddenly something hit him in the head shattering it into pieces.

My father had a wooden club, he aimed a blow at the monster’s head, but it was the wood that broke. Jason’s smile turned into an infuriated scowl and he increased his grip on my wrist. He turned around and when my father saw Jason’s face, he opened his eyes wide and my mother covered her mouth to conceal her screams. My father didn’t waste time, trying again to set me free. The club broke in half with one blow to the toy maker’s face causing him to let me go. We ran out the room and quickly rushed to the entrance. My father opened the door, but instead of the garden path in front of us, there was Jason’s workshop. “Maggie, I give you one last chance” Jason said calmly, walking down the stairs, “After which I’ll dye the walls with the blood of all who surround you."

We run to the kitchen, hearing that monster’s laugh follow us and once we were in, we could still see through the windows, the toy maker’s little factory. Now I was desperately sure it wasn’t a nightmare. The terror overwhelmed me, and Daisy’s blood on my fingers was more real than anything else I have felt. I turned around, “Where’s dad?” My mother grabbed a knife, and got closer to me holding me tightly in her arms. She called out to him with a trembling voice, “Steven!” and with a sigh of with relief we saw him coming into the kitchen, “Hurry up, before –”. My mother’s voice blocked. Just like me, she stared at dad’s pale face. He was walking slowly, with a fixed look at and his eyes wide-open. Suddenly he fell on the floor and behind him appeared Jason’s frozen smile. The toy maker looked at me with crazed eyes. “Dad’s battery decreased, it should be recharged!”

Jason revealed a giant mechanical key and drove it into my father’s back, already stained with blood; he turned it with force and twisted my father’s backbone. At the second turn, I shouted, covering my ears to block out the sound of the breaking bones, but I couldn’t take my eyes off my father’s body contorting itself like a snake. “Go away, be gone! Leave my child alone!” My mother held me tight to her chest and despite the terror and the tears, she shed; her face resembled one of those lionesses shielding her cub. “Silence, woman! It’s not you who I want to talk to!” growled the furious toy maker and in the end, he pointed his white claw at me, “Come with me, my sweet friend. We will have fun together, we will be back laughing like we did before.” “No, you’re just an insane psychopath! I don’t know what kind of monster you are, I really don’t have any idea how you could exist in this world, but one thing is for sure! You must disappear forever from my life!” At the sound of my refusal, Jason’s face clouded over and his eyes sparkled with fury. He started to rave, to contort himself and jerk his head as if he went over the brink because of me.

“I don’t understand…” he growled quietly, “I don’t understand!” he screamed, grinding his teeth, his face became more terrifying, “I was the only one who stayed by your side when your parents preferred working rather than staying with you! I was a loyal friend, while the ones surrounding you only looked for you when they needed you! ” He came closer, “I gave you all my attention, gave you loads of toys and never made you lack for anything! I always aimed for your own good, and that’s why I destroyed everything hurting you!” His screams were so loud they resounded off the walls, while my body shook in horror at every sound. “I got rid of all the people that saddened you, because I wanted you to be happy and to be my side. I looked for you for so long. You even forgot me?! I was a true friend, but you turned your back on me!” Suddenly his furious face relaxed, but not his previous insane smile, “After doing everything for you, there isn’t another explanation, there is really something wrong with you.” He instilled it on me with an accusatory look, “You really were a very bad little girl, so I have to fix you up…” “W-what?” I trembled with my voice.

“You heard me well, you little ungrateful! I will fix you up so you’ll be good.” He sniggered, “You’ll become a very beautiful Toy Doll!” My mother, who was paralyzed by Jason’s tirade, suddenly awoke and pointed a knife at him, “If you even dare graze Maggie, I swear I will kill you!” Jason looked at my mother with a challenging gaze and slowly came closer. The knife was trembling in my mother’s hand while the toy maker gave an inexpressive guise. She couldn’t stand the tension. She pushed me behind her and hurled herself on him. My mother stabbed him in the heart and the monster opened his eyes wide, he made a contortion of pain, corrugating his dark eyebrows and my mother smiled triumphant. “Just kidding!”

In that, moment a smirk reappeared on Jason’s face. He opened his arms with nonchalance, without even taking out the knife from his chest. My mother was shocked and stood still for a few seconds, but she was possessed by exasperation and started stabbing him again several times, trying desperately to make him react somehow. The disgusting sound of the flesh pierced by the knife could be heard clearly, while the shirt was ripping but Jason kept his balance perfect. “That’s enough now” he commented bored and straight after he hit my mother in the face making her fall violently to the floor, “I’ll be in trouble if you scratched it.” I quickly went to my mother helping her to her knees; the side of her face was already swollen. My eyes leaped to the Toy Maker, I was waiting for his immediate revenge, but was petrified when I glimpsed what he was doing.

He unbuttoned his shirt and drove his nails into his chest, close to the injuries he received from the knife. He sank his claws into his flesh and slowly started pulling on the opposite side. The wound appeared as a little rip in the center, which enlarged as the flesh shredded like paper. A thick, black liquid dripped to the floor. It was not blood. Even if it was, it must have been something rotten. Something sparkled in his exposed rib cage. “Probably you forget how much I care for my splendid music box…but luckily, everything is alright.” He took his hands off his exposed chest and covered the hole with his shirt, hiding the music box that started to play from inside him. He then came closer and I wanted to scream, to beg, but the horror I had witnessed left me completely paralyzed unable to do anything which left me squeezing up with my mother. It only took a yank from the toy maker to tear her out of my arms. He took her up without effort and pushed her into his chest to prevent her from wiggling out of him. He clenched his arm around her neck, while the other arm broke the hand that stabbed him.

“Now I’ll show you what happens to those that try to hinder me, mom”. He slowly bent her arm in the opposite direction. She cried from pain, trying to get herself free, but that monster was strong enough to bend her limb and make the bone come out. My mother sank her nails in his blackish flesh, which flaked apart producing a nauseating smell, but she could not set herself free since his grip was wrapped so tightly. “Alright, I’ll come with you!” I shouted with all the voice I had in my body. Jason raised his stare and gave me a serious look. My mother was becoming paler due to the pain and blood loss. She needed my help, but there was nothing I could do, but hand myself to the toy maker.

“You can take me with you, but leave my mother alone,” I said with my trembling voice, “After all we’re friends, right?” I tried to smile convincingly, despite the fact I was trembling from head to toe and my eyes were filled with tears. Jason smirked he was downright satisfied and pleased with his victory. “Excellent choice, Maggie” At that moment, his arms took back their usual color. His lacerations coterized in a few seconds and he was back to his usual appearance. His face returned to its normal state… but I already knew what he concealed behind those amber-colored eyes.

It seems Jason accepted my surrender, but before leaving my mother, he took a little red mouse out of his pocket. It was unmistakably a toy, one of those with a winding key. He grabbed my mother by her jaw and pushed it into her mouth. “What’s wrong, mom? Did the mouse take your tongue?” he laughed amused, pushing her away from his body. I suddenly saw my mother’s eyes, they were wide and full of fright then there was a light followed by an explosion. She fell on her knees, her jaw, nose and eyes beat into a bloody pulp. She fell to the ground a stain of blood spilling from beneath her body. Blood and pieces of flesh landed on me, but I was paralyzed in front of my mother’s corpse, while Jason couldn't stop laughing. “W-Why did you do that?”. The toy maker’s overwhelming shadow covered me as he bent down to me, his face, spoiled by a rift in his flesh wrought by the club. “Because I’m not your friend anymore, you little shit. Now I’m your creator” he then grasped me by my arm, and dragged me towards him. “Now… Let me fix you up”.


Art by Kristantyl.