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Mirror in the Desert: The Doll (part 3)

April 30, 2020

For part two go here

I quickly put my boots on, grabbed my camera, since I lacked binoculars, and made sure I had my knife and pepper spray.  Although what I would do in a gunfight with either of those I didn’t know.  I took what comfort I could in the idea that most gunfights happen in ten meters or less and that most people miss more than the proverbial stormtrooper even in the best of circumstances.

I doubted it would come to that, but a little voice told me I had been wrong in several assessments so far so my current track record was less than reassuring.

I unzipped the tent and stepped out into the night,  It was cooler now, but not cold.  I shivered none the less.  I could still hearing the popping noise of guns going off.  I trudged across the path and toward the lip of the ridge and looked in the direction of the noise.

The first thing I noticed was the light of a fire, and black smoke billowing out of one of the trailers , and more vehicles than before.  I hesitated a moment before lying on the ground.  I didn’t have a tripod for the camera, and with this kind of lens it was going to be hard enough keeping it steady so I could see though it.  Getting wet and a little muddy was the least of my concerns.  I had another set of clothes if it came down to it.

I took a moment to steady myself and adjust the focus for the distance.  There was a running fire fight between the clowns and what looked like a large group of middle aged people in beige khaki pants, and blue flannel shirts jumping out of a fleet on mini vans.  It was as if a bunch of insurance sellers had gotten together to form a gang.  It was an equal opportunity gang, with paunchy women and chubby men running around Everyone was armed, a could see the flash of muzzles as they were shooting, between ducking for cover.

Everyone that is, but one slightly pudgy man wearing what looked like a papoose with a small child in it.  He wasn’t ducking and but stood patiently, unmoving and unperturbed.  I steadied the camera and squinted through it at him.  I was hard to tell, with the lens compression that happens at these long distances, but I swear that the clowns were shooting at him, but nothing touched him.  Now I know people are horrible shots in general, and more so in a firefight when the adrenalin is pumping, but it seemed more than peculiar.

He just stood there calmly as people got shot around.  Not even flinching.  While carrying a child that was dangling in front of his chest like some sick human shield. I wondered if the child had already been hit because it didn’t move.  There was no movement of the legs, no throwing back of the head, no waving of the arms.  Just perfectly still, like the man.  I looked at the child with a sort of morbid dread and realized I wasn’t looking at a child at all, but an old fashioned doll.

A doll with a porcelain face, wavy dark red hair that looked like it could be human, an old fashion off white gown that  tiny feet and hands dangled out from..  It had to be a trick of the light, the distortion of the lens, and my own fatigue and stress from watching some strange carnival firefight out in the desert, but I swear I could see the flicker of some inhuman intelligence in the black, shark like eyes of the doll.  Something old, and malevolent trapped with in that human shaped doll.

I shuddered despite myself and felt a wave of nausea.  The source of it I could not rightly attribute, but I felt it.  What was going on down there, I wanted no part of it.  Some flicker of movement caught my attention.  I pulled the lens back and saw one of the clowns break away from the rear guard of his people and scurried towards the trail I had hiked up earlier in the evening.

He disappeared from sight, carry something heavy and awkward bundled up in his arms.  Looking back at the tableau below me, I saw the man with the doll finally move, his head turned to look in the direction of the escaping jester.

The light caught the doll’s eyes in such a way they seemed to be following the young man as well.

Continued in part 4







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