No Death in the Dollhouse

📅 Published on October 3, 2020

“No Death in the Dollhouse”

Written by Reagan C.S.R.
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 6.50/10. From 4 votes.
Please wait...

Deep in the woods, there’s a beautiful mansion. In this mansion, would seem to be a happy home. In the back garden and in the front yard: children play, laugh, and have fun. There is no mother and father, so to speak, just as almost no one is truly anyone’s daughter, son, sister, or brother. Yet so many children and so many adults live here in this happy home. Poor misfortunate souls, taken off the streets and given a home in this lavish estate. When one is sick, there’s always a doctor here to help, no need to ever leave the grounds. The little ones are always taken care of and watched over. There’s always someone to play with, no matter the age. So much to learn, so much to be done. A shrine of inspiration and a place to manifest the will to learn. A stagnant place for any who may enter. It’s a little safe haven in this mansion, even to runaways who need somewhere better to be. The only place some feel they can be. Surely, it is too good to be true. Of course, nothing in this world is free, and even this happy home has a price to pay.

I was born January 5, 1889, in Pennsylvania. My mother was a French Immigrant and my father an Englishman. However, my paternal figure was often out of the picture as far as I can remember, leaving my mother to take care of my two older siblings and myself on her own. He lost his way to alcohol and gambling, so the only times I would see him was when he demanded my mother for more money to enable his habits. Usually, she’d give him lip, and thus he would physically take out his anger on her and force my mother to give him what he wanted. Because she was aware of his abusive habits, she would often have me hide in a kitchen cabinet and keep quiet, telling me to wait there until she came to collect me. I always heard the yelling and commotion, all the same – seeing my mother’s battered and bruised face whenever she finally brought me out.

My eldest sibling, my big sister, Heidi, was my mother’s bastard child from a previous relationship, thus my father didn’t take too kindly to her. I wasn’t old enough to fully understand at the time, but I recall him threatening to send Heidi to a brothel to help “make ends meet.” I don’t know what truly happened to her, but I know shortly after these threats were made, Heidi was no longer around. I still wonder to this day if she ran away, if my father was successful, or if my mother sent her away to protect her. Either way, it was one less mouth to feed.

When I was about eight years old, my father took things too far. As I waited in the cabinet, I heard my mother’s blood-curdling screams until she felt silent like she never had before. Such a proud and strong woman, I never heard her give up the fight. Shortly after her wailing stop, I heard my big brother, Jean-Paul, come home, crying out in horror and causing my father to panic. Next thing I knew, Jean-Paul was the one screaming, my father cursing the fact that he shouldn’t have seen this. I recall my father calling out for me, but I promised my mother my silence. In time, I heard him scouring the house like some burglar before he eventually left.

I stayed in the cupboard that entire night…and a few nights after that, waiting for my mother to come for me like all the other times. However, I couldn’t stand it anymore, hunger and loneliness taking over me, and so I crawled out of hiding and went to where my mother and brother laid just so I could finally understand the complete concept of death. I tried to wake them with my frail voice, but it was all in vain. I can’t remember how long it took me to finally leave my family’s home and all the disarray it was in, but I knew I couldn’t stay forever.

I took to the streets and brought the silence along with me. I had no use for a voice as it was. It didn’t make my mother wake up and it seemed like silence would be my one and only guardian that I had left. The one thing that protected me. That was until one day, when a new guardian had found me, nearly dying of exposure to the elements and lack of food.

His name was Count Wolfgang Dunkelheit, a seemingly charming young man dressed in the finest grey clothes I had ever seen. He was the first person to show me any pity or sympathy or care since I lived on the streets. A wealthy man like him leaned over to feel the forehead of a filthy orphan like me.

“You’re halfway out of your life, you poor, pitiful child,” the tall man spoke tenderly. “Perhaps my doctor friend could help you. I could also give you some food and a place to stay, if you’d like.” He rambled some more but I was shaken from the cold and hunger, I can hardly remember. “I just don’t think you’ll be able to stand another day like this.”

And with that, I let the man scoop me up and carry me to his carriage. He tried asking me questions, like what my name was or where my family could be, but I had the vocalization in me to say. I remember almost playing charades to convey that my name was Charlotte, to which he replied was beautiful. In not much more time, we were deep in the forest and in front of the mansion. The place I’ve called my home for the last sixteen years of my life.

It was like a dream called true, a little fairytale story. It was like the Little Match Girl was actually allowed to have a happy ending instead of the cruel fate set for her. There were adults and children, gardens and beds, food and comfort, anything anyone could ever want or need. But nothing is for free.

These people, the adults who watched over us children, they were using us like lab rats. It started off small, whenever we got injured or sick, they seemed to take things a little out of hand and inject strange concoctions into us that would occasionally make some worse. Sometimes, I believe, one of them would cause fatal “accidents,” posed to be a little mistake that ended up in an injury, sometimes severe. And then there were the games we played, and whenever someone failed one of these activities, they’d have to play what was called the punishment game. The punishment game was always something different, something new. Whatever they needed for their next experiment. We were their little rag dolls.

Whenever a child would disappear, the adults would tell us that they left, wanting to set out on their own or some other excuse. Wasn’t entirely unbelievable, since some of us “children” were around here long enough to be in our late teens or well into their twenties.

All the same, we came to love our home and our guardians. They hid things so well, made us believe it was all for the better.

Wolfgang, or as some of us would call him, Wolf, was my closest friend and companion to me. Though he was older, and supposed to be seen as a guardian figure, I always saw him like an oversized playmate. And aside from him being young of heart, there was the fact that he has never shown signs of aging since we met, it seemed that my views on him worked out well. Often times, Wolf would pamper me, bringing me gifts and showing me special treatment. He often wasn’t fond of the other children, so it was surprising that he grew so close to me, even at a young age. I knew it was foolish, but there was this part of him that deeply and wholeheartedly wanted to trust this man.

One evening, when I was making my way up the stairs and toward my room, one of my pockets got caught on the rail’s banister and ripped it right open, spilling my sewing beads all over the place. Worried about being lectured for leaving the mess, I began to pick up everything that just spilled out. That was when I noticed some of the ones that rolled over the by a corner of the wall were actually sliding under it, almost like it was a door. Upon careful inspection, I say that there was a slight discoloration in the wallpaper right around that area. I felt that bit of wall and gave it a knock, hearing that it sounded my hollow and different from the rest of the area around it. As well as curiosity getting the best of me, I was aware that some of my beads had fallen behind its contents and wanted to make sure I covered all ground, so I pushed and tapped various spots of it, until, finally, I heard the sound of a click and the secret door opened.

I was immediately greeted with a set of stairs, and I reasoned with myself that the reason I planned to descend was to make sure no beads were left behind, but in all honesty, I wanted to know what secrets were held here. Taking a nearby gaslight with me, I traversed downward.

At the bottom of the stairs was a rather small and empty room, though to me it resembled a foyer. The area was very dark, but light from above and my lamp helped illuminate the space just a bit. It had then dawned upon me at that point that I never actually found an entrance to a basement before this, though for some reason, I had always felt quite certain there was one. I looked at the only doors present in the room and felt my heart race. I knew I was far past my business at this point, there was no way my beads fell beyond these heavy doors, but I felt like I needed to know, like something or someone was calling to me from beyond. Part of me hoped the doors were locked, that I could kiss my curiosity goodbye and just go back to things were, but upon tugging on the knobs, I was quickly met with the fact of that was not being the case.

This room was even darker than the last, but I was able to make out shadows of figures that looked like furniture or mannequins all around me. I stepped inside and moved toward them, my heart pounding so loudly in my ears even though the damn thing was in my chest. I approached one of the figures, feeling as though it was calling to me, like it was my destiny, and lifted up my lantern to see just what it was.

Who she was.

Once the light hit the green and glazed-over eyes of a young blonde girl with a darker skin pigment close to Wolfgang’s color, immediately I let out a gasp and fell backward on my rear, shaken by my discovery. I’ve seen such similar lifeless green eyes stare at me before, and for that, I felt frozen all whilst being shaken. It was more than apparent that the girl I just came across was dead as a doornail, only standing because of the pier she was placed upon. It had been sixteen years since I had last seen a corpse, and it would appear that was still not enough time for me to encounter one again.

Suddenly, the sounds of footsteps echoed behind me, approaching.

“That’s it,” I thought. “I’m next.”

I heard an all too familiar voice come out of the darkness and find its way to my ears.  “I guess it was about time you found out.  You have been here for quite a while now.” I looked up to see Wolf standing over me, his mouth curled in a calm and serene smile whilst his observant eyes upon my mortified expression. “Her name is Heidi.” He kept talking to me, extending a hand to help me up that I accepted out of force of habit despite my distressed state of mind. “She would have been your big sister, but…there were some…complications.”

I was now standing next to the children, my frail hand in his firm grasp. He had me. “You’re not going to tell the other children about this, are you?” Though his tone was sweet and gentle like his smile, I could hear the threat in his voice.

I did not hesitate for a moment; I quickly shook my head in agreement. Of course, I’d say whatever it took to not be the next person on a pier.

“Good girl. They wouldn’t quite understand why we need to do this. Not like you do.”  He was very carefully studying my expressions, making sure we were both on the same page, examining me for any lies I might try to squeeze past him. “You do understand, right?”

Once more I did not hesitate and nodded my head this time. He flashed me an elated smile, wrapping his arm around until his hand was on my shoulder, as he began to escort me out of the room. “Come, let’s get you out of this basement.” I felt so powerless. “Tonight is going to be our little secret, alright? You can’t tell my coworkers about this either. They wouldn’t feel so settle if they knew about your new-found knowledge. But I trust you.”

I know I am without a voice.  I cannot speak, and therefore, I think it makes the adults of this home more relaxed around me, since I am not the kind of person who would or could cry out for help – but was this really the sort of secret I could and should keep? Was I really going to let the others keep believing in our happy lie, that we would be able to go whenever we wanted? I now knew of our fate, that we weren’t only lab rats – we were lambs for the slaughter. But if I told, would that mean I’d be next? Would they now keep a watchful eye on me to make sure I did not say anything?

Wolf continued to talk to me, and though I tried to keep eye contact mainly with him, I couldn’t help but find my gaze searching the room, now more acquainted, and thus, adjusted to the darkness. I recognized some familiar faces amongst us. Children who had allegedly struck out on their own. Children like me.

Rating: 6.50/10. From 4 votes.
Please wait...

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Reagan C.S.R.
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Reagan C.S.R.

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

More Stories from Author Reagan C.S.R.:

No posts found.

Related Stories:

No posts found.

You Might Also Enjoy:

Recommended Reading:

Daughters of Darkness: An All-Women Horror Anthology
Dawn of the Debt
The Elevator

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Skip to content