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Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Dweller

'The Dweller' is my contribution to this month’s Friday Frights. The theme: Demonic Toys. Previously published under my real name by Angelic Knight Press in the anthology Satan's Toybox: Demonic Dolls, this story is longer than the flash fiction normally posted but when I tried to split it into three parts I just couldn’t decide where each installment should end. So I’m posting the full length story.






The Dweller
by Quinn Cullen

Dan and his best friend Buck, a German Sheppard, were frequent visitors at the local landfill, an awesome scavenger hunt territory. They were treading through heaps of rotting waste, narrowly avoiding stepping on the motionless crows and seagulls strewn about. Under normal circumstances, those obnoxious foragers pillaged the dump for something to eat. Tonight was different. An unnatural stillness had settled in the area as dusk cloaked the small Kentucky town of Flatgap, where Dan lived with his parents, John and Sarah, and younger sister Lexy. Although a hard worker, due to the current recession Dan’s dad had found himself without employment. He was trying to provide for his family through odd jobs offering meager wages while Sarah, a homemaker, was now working at the local hospital scrubbing floors and cleaning restrooms. They were poor, but considered themselves fortunate to have, scanty as it was, any means of income. And if the love they shared as a family had a monetary value, they would be the wealthiest family in the area.

Buck started barking and growling, thrashing his head from side to side, as if he was trying to fend off an enemy. He then grew listless and darted ahead of Dan, who also sensed something was wrong, and as his eyes adapted to the diminishing daylight, he inspected his immediate environment, confident his trusted sidekick had not meandered too far away.
Anxious to leave, Dan summoned the dog. He was struck by an overwhelming urge to vomit. Despite the shady canopy of early evening, the temperature remained a stifling eighty degrees Fahrenheit; it did nothing to reduce the rancid stench tainting the weighty humid air.
“Buck!” He called out a second time.
Preoccupied, the canine did not hear him. Dan rushed toward him, crushing a fragile bird carcass on his way.
“Something is very wrong here, boy. Let's go. Now.” Dan's hands shook as he clipped the leash to Buck's collar. He tugged on it, but the dog ignored his master's command and continued to claw at the earth. “What's up boy? Did you find something?”
The dog yelped and dropped his find at Dan's feet.
“Are you hurt?” Dan looked in Buck's mouth but did not see anything. He picked up the mysterious item swathed in a baby blanket. “What's this? Just like Christmas morning,” he jested, unwrapping Buck's discovery.
Azure glass eyes, imbedded in a dirt covered porcelain face, framed by matted golden curls stared back at him.
“Way cool. This is the best thing you've ever found. Lexy's gonna love her.” He stroked Buck's head. “Good job, boy.” Buck whimpered again and scurried away.
“Wait for me,” Dan shouted, rewrapping the doll in the blanket. When he caught up to the dog, he examined him from head to toe. “I don't know what's wrong with you, boy. You don't look hurt. Why do you keep crying?” He knew very well that Buck could not answer. Dan examined the dog once more, then hurried home.
Strutting into the kitchen, Dan brimmed with pride. “Ma, look what Buck found,” he shouted. “Lexy will l…o…v…e… her.”
Sarah took the doll from Dan and examined her with a frown. “Yes, I believe she will, and fortunately I think she'll clean up nicely.” Smiling, she glanced back at Dan and Buck and shook her head. “Look at the two of you. You are quite the pair. You're almost as filthy as this doll. You had better wash up. Dinner is almost ready. You can give this to Lexy later.” She handed the doll back to Dan.
When Dan returned Lexy sprang at him. “You have something for me?”
“How'd you…”
“Lexy hears everything, you know that,” Sarah laughed.
“Can I give it to her now, Ma?”
“Yes, I suspect she won't settle down if you don't.”
Dan darted out of the room.
“Whoa, slow down, little man,” John uttered and stepped aside as Dan nearly ran into him.
“Sorry Dad.”  Dan frowned. Now fifteen years old, he hated when his father called him “little man” and John, who had called him that since birth, used the term of endearment even more for that very reason. “I'll be right back. I have something to tell you, Dad.”
“I'm not going anywhere, little man.” John kissed Sarah on the cheek. “Smells good, Ma.”
Hurrying back, Dan handed Lexy the doll. “She needs to be cleaned up a bit.”
“A bit? That's putting it mildly.” Sarah grimaced.
“Oh Danny, she's beautiful. She has rosy cheeks, I'll call her Rose. Yes, Rose is a beautiful name for a beautiful doll,” Lexy chirped, hugging her tight. “Mommy, can I…”
“After dinner dear.”
“Oh, okay,” Lexy sulked. She sat down, the doll still snug in her arms and shoveled heaping spoonfuls of spaghetti into her mouth.
“Don't eat so fast, Lexy. The doll will still be here when you're done, don't you worry,” Her mother scolded.
“Dad…Dad…you'll never guess what happened,” Dan stuttered, as he sat down next to his father.
“Calm down and maybe you'll be able to tell me,” John laughed.
“They're all dead, every single one of them.”
Dan had aroused his father's curiosity. “Who's dead? What are you talking about, little man?” He shifted nervously in his chair.
“The crows and seagulls at the dump, they're all dead. Weird huh?”
“Yes, that is weird.” John rose and stepped away from the table, cell phone in hand. “Ben, are you busy?” he asked, speaking into the phone. “Good. Meet me at the landfill in one hour. There's something odd going on there.” John pocketed his phone and sat back down. “What else can you tell me, little man?”
“Will you please stop calling me that, Dad? You know I hate it.”
“Sorry little…Dan. It's a habit that will be hard to break, but I'll try.” He smiled.
“Thanks. Not much more to tell though, just dead birds.” Dan responded between chewing mouthfuls of his dinner. “And they were like glass or something. They broke when I stepped on them.” Dan shrugged. “It was really creepy. Oh, and Buck found the really cool doll Lexy's holding.”
“I don't want you to go anywhere near that place anymore. Do you understand?”
“Yeah, I'm not stupid Dad. I don't want to go back there anyway. Like I said, it was creepy.”

Arriving at the landfill, John and Ben inspected the area. Bird cadavers littered the ground everywhere.
“Exactly as the boy described,” Ben acknowledged. “They are made out of porcelain.”
They rummaged around for a while and as the two men started to leave, Ben spotted something out of the ordinary.
“You’ve got to see this, John. This is peculiar.”
“What is it?”
“It seems to be a satanic sacrifice alter and grave site. I came across a few of these during my travels as a missionary. It’s odd that there would be one here in a small town dump.”
 The men were mystified and examined the gravesite closer.
“What the hell is this?” John asked and held up what seemed to be an ancient scroll.
Ben gazed upon the artifact in awe. Having studied ancient literature and alphabets, he recognized the primitive text.
“It's written in Theban.”
“What is Theban?”
“It’s a centuries old alphabet, also known as the witch’s alphabet. Finding this here is bizarre.”
“Can you make sense of it?”
“Let's bring the scroll back to your house. I'll see what I can do.”

The men had just stepped onto the front porch when they heard Dan scream. They ran as fast as they could into the house.
“Dan where are you? What's wrong?” John shouted. He heard Dan crying in his bedroom and opened the door. Tears' flowing freely, Dan was sitting on the floor with Buck in his arms.
“Buck's dead. Just like the birds.”
John stopped a foot shy of where Dan sat on the floor. He stared at Buck. “What the hell?” he uttered, exasperated. “Move away from the dog, son.” Dan did not budge.
Though John was not mad, he was motivated by fear, and he shouted crossly, “Come away from Buck, now.” He grasped Dan's arm and pulled him away.
Sarah and Emily, Ben's wife, came running.
“Take Dan, Lexy and Sarah into the other room.” Ben instructed his wife.
Once they were alone, John and Ben began examining the dog. Mystified, John poked the porcelain-like dog.
“What in God's name could have caused this?” Everything was happening so fast John felt as if he'd been thrown dead center into a firestorm.
Ben knelt down next to Buck and stroked his head. “Poor boy, he's hard as a rock. I've never seen anything like it.”
Together the men carried Buck into the back yard. They placed him in a potato sack, dug a hole and laid him in it. After they filled the hole back in with dirt, the others joined them, as an inconsolable Dan said a few words about his best friend.
Sarah gave her son a hug and kissed him on the forehead. “That was beautiful Dan. I'm sure Buck loved it.”
“Do you really think he heard me, Ma?”
“Yes sweetie, I believe he can hear and see everything you're doing. He was your best friend. Best friends never really leave one another. It's getting late and we're all upset and exhausted, let's get you and Lexy to bed.”
Once the children were sleeping, Ben started translating the ancient writing on the scroll. He glanced at John. “John, join me on the porch for a breath of fresh air.”
John and Sarah had been friends with Ben and Emily for a long time and knew them well. Sarah could tell that Ben had found something distressing in the scroll. Before the men could leave, she spoke up.
“No. What's wrong Ben? Tell me, please.”
“Well…if I'm reading this right the news is bad, very bad.” He hesitated and looked at John, who nodded in return.
“It's okay Ben, tell us.”
“It appears a curse was placed on an object…”
Without hesitation Sarah uttered, “The doll!”
“What doll?” Ben asked, concerned.
“Dan gave it to Lexy. Buck dug it up in the dump. I'll go get it.” Sarah started to leave the room.
“No Sarah, don't touch the doll.” Ben placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. “The curse affects all who touch it.”
Sarah frowned. “But I've already held the doll. What are you talking about, Ben?”
“All of you, please sit down.” Ben held the scroll in front of him and began to read. “Once of flesh and blood, I am the evil which dwells within this doll. All who touch her, of porcelain shall be. This is my curse, my gift from the depths below that I bestow upon thee.”
Sarah gazed into John's eyes, tears filling her own. “Dan and Lexy touched the doll.”
John ran and checked on the kids. Both were sound asleep safe in their beds. Upon returning, he turned to his best friend with despair in his eyes. “What can we do, Ben?”
“Honestly, I don't know. Some people think that if you don't believe in a curse you take all of its power away, but Buck was just a dog. And the birds at the dump, not one of them understood about the curse and they’re all dead in spite of their ignorance.” His shoulders slumped. “I just don't know.”
Fearing for her children's lives, Sarah was hysterical. “We have to do something! John we must save the children!”
John pulled Sarah tight into his body. “And you, my love. We'll think of something, I promise.” He hugged her.
“Sadly, that's a promise you might not be able to keep my friend,” Ben whispered, his grief heavy in his voice.
“Ben, what about the old woman that lives down by the river bend? It’s rumored that she practices voodoo. Perhaps she would be able to help,” Emily suggested.
“It’s worth a try. John and I will pay her a visit.”

Located by the water's edge, the shack was in such a state of disrepair that it appeared abandoned. Ben tapped lightly on the door, afraid it would come off its hinges if he knocked any harder.
“Go ‘way,” a cantankerous voice sounded from the other side of the rickety entryway.
“Abigail it's me, Ben. Please let me in. I need your help.”
A tattered curtain hung in a window near the door. It was pulled aside and then the two men heard the dead bolt slide, the door opened a tad, and the old woman peered out of the tiny opening. Her eyes were covered with a thin milky film and it was a miracle she could see anything at all. She smiled; her few remaining teeth were broken and discolored.
“Enter.” She opened the door wide. John and Ben stepped inside and the door shut with a slam behind them.
“Who's your friend?” Abigail asked, eyeing John suspiciously.
“This is John. His family is in danger, threatened by an ancient curse.” Ben handed Abigail the scroll.
The old woman shuffled over to a cluttered table. She swiped her arm across the top, its contents scattering on the dust-covered floor. Her spectacles perched below the bridge of her nose, Abigail started to read. She read it once while ogling John, repeatedly chanting, “Oh my.” She then reached into her apron pocket, pulled out a frayed handkerchief and wiped the moisture beading on her weathered brow, still chanting “Oh my.”
“Abigail, what do you think? This curse appears to be real. Can you help us?” Ben asked. “The lives of John's wife and children are at stake.”
“Is the cursed object in your possession?” she asked, squinting at the writing on the scroll. Despite her outward appearance, she spoke well, and with authority.
“Yes, John's daughter has the doll. Why do you ask?”
“I need to hold the item in order to feel its energy.”
“But if you touch it, you will die,” John responded.
“No matter, I must.”
John was bewildered by her response. Either she didn’t believe him or she was totally fearless. On the other hand, he wondered did she in fact have a secret wish to die. Either way, her lack of respect for the supernatural amazed him.
“No, John, I do not wish to die,” she countered.
Dumbfounded, John stared at her.
“I'm sorry. I did not intend to unnerve you. The ability to read minds is one of a multitude of talents I command. By holding the object, I will be better able to sense what sort of energy or entity dwells within it. Voodoo, my magic, is the most powerful in existence, and the deadliest. I believe what you and your family have encountered is a type of lesser magic, a form of manipulative magic that, if practiced correctly, can be almost as deadly as voodoo. An experienced practitioner of lesser magic can create change with his or her will. They also possess the ability to control people in the most subtle ways. Curses and hexes are forms of lesser magic.”
“Please tell us before it is too late for my family, how do we end the curse?” John begged for the lives of his loved ones. What would he do without them? He could not survive in a world in which they did not exist, this much he knew.
Abigail threw her well-worn flannel wrap over her shoulders and headed toward the door. “The clock is ticking gentlemen. Take me to the doll.”
Without anyone telling her, Abigail knew where she would find the doll. She snuck into Lexy's room, retrieved the doll and joined the others in the kitchen where they were anxiously waiting.
“This doll is very powerful,” she said, with a tight grip on it. “She does not want me here and will do her best to make me leave or try to kill me if I do not obey her.”
“How do you know that?” Sarah asked.
“This doll is not cursed. She is possessed. The moment I picked her up she started communicating with me, cursing and threatening me. She senses my power and is worried about why I am here. I must perform an exorcism to expel the entity inhabiting the doll. She will fight against me, for she does not want to vacate the dolls body. This spirit is evil, thrives on death and sadness. I'm not sure I can do anything to help, but I will try.”
Sarah was frightened. “Who is in there?” she uttered.
“That is something I need to find out, whomever or whatever it is commands immense power and is extremely angry.”
“But what about the scroll and the burial site?” Ben asked. “What does all that mean?”
“I don't know for sure. It is possible that the scroll and burial site were created by whoever stumbled upon the aftermath of something horrendous, a previous carnage and could not explain what took place. Perhaps lacking an explanation and in an attempt to warn and scare off anyone who found the doll, they might have fabricated the story about a curse to protect them.”
This being more than he expected to have to deal with, John was becoming more confused. “So if it's not cursed, why did the birds and Buck turn into porcelain?”
“My guess is that the entity is having fun carrying out what the scroll describes, toying with its victims if you will. As I've said, it has vast powers.”
“But it's just a doll,” Sarah argued.
“A doll possessed by a demon. Demons have the influence to manipulate places, objects and persons using the material power of the universe which leaves them vulnerable to infestation.”
“So what do we do now?” John asked.
“Not we. I must do this on my own. My skill as a voodoo priestess should be enough to protect me, but the spirit would easily kill any one of you or take up residence in one of your bodies. It would gain physical strength residing within a human being. One thing you can do is fetch me some holy water, but hurry, the exorcism must be performed at midnight. That does not leave much time to prepare.”
John's face revealed his worry. “The nearest church is too far away, we'd never make it back in time.”
“Don't you remember? Father Samuel moved, he lives only three streets away from here,” Sarah pointed out, as she darted out the front door. “I'll be right back,” she shouted over her shoulder.
Sarah returned shortly, not only with the holy water, but also with the priest. When Abigail explained the situation to Father Samuel, he withdrew, becoming silent and still. When he finally spoke, it was in the form of a request.
“I've performed several exorcisms, Abigail, on human beings. Allow me to perform this one. You may assist me if you wish.”
The exorcism would not be an easy task and understanding the priest was more competent than she was, Abigail agreed. Father Samuel ordered everyone, with the exception of Abigail, to leave, to stay with the children. With Abigail by his side, Father Samuel began.
“I rebuke thee! I rebuke thee! I rebuke thee! I abjure thee and summon thee forth from this doll.”
A distant moaning became audible as Father Samuel repeated the chant. It became louder with each recital. Then, a resounding voice bellowed, over-shadowing the Father's chants.
“You dare to challenge me priest, how foolish a mortal you are!” The brash voice echoed.
Abigail reached out and took the priest's hand. “Strength in unity,” she whispered.
“Who are you?” Father Samuel asked, in a steady voice.
“Ha! That is none of your concern. Leave now, while there is still life in you,” the spirit commanded.
“Again, I ask you, who are you? You are imprisoned in the body of this doll. Who condemned you to this fate?” The Priest persisted, questioning the entity.
The spirit grew restless, tired of the interrogation and thunder rumbled in the distance as lightning flash across the evening sky.
“It is a fool who believes himself capable of fooling me. You cannot defeat me. I am a powerful disciple of Satan, stronger than thou.”
“I beg to differ. Jesus is my strength. His power is channeled through me.” The Father said with confidence. Father Samuel sprinkled holy water on the doll and the earth trembled beneath them. The walls of the modest house cracked, mounds of plaster falling to the floor, but the Priest did not falter.
“I rebuke thee! I rebuke thee! I rebuke thee! Vacate this doll, return to the fathoms from which you derived. I rebuke thee! I abjure thee and summon thee forth!”
A scream stemming from Dan's room reverberated throughout the house.
“Hurry please! Something is happening to Dan,” Sarah hollered, hysterically.
John ran into the kitchen; grabbed the doll and shook it fiercely. “Stop, do not hurt my son. Take me instead!” he begged.
“Why would I do that?” the entity taunted. “I will inflict more pain and agony by taking your children from you. First your son, then your daughter shall be mine.”
Father Samuel snatched the doll from John. “Go to your son now,” he said, with authority.
As he left the room, John prayed, “God, please don't let anything happen to my family.”
Father Samuel stared at the doll he held in his hands, its power waning. Before beginning, he laid the doll on the kitchen table and sprinkled holy water on it once more. The entity groaned, its brash voice slowly fading.
“I'll check on the children.” Abigail dashed out of the room.
The Father acknowledged Abigail, and then led with a prayer after making a request of his own. “Dear Lord, give me strength.” He inhaled deeply and continued. “Lord Jesus, I ask you to protect this family; John, Sarah, Dan and Lexy, from sickness, from all harm and from accidents. If any curses, hexes or spells are upon them, I declare those curses, hexes or spells null and void in the name of Jesus Christ. I now address any evil spirits sent against them. I rid said demons of their responsibility in the name of Jesus Christ and send you to Jesus for him to deal with you as he sees fit. Then Lord, I ask you to send your holy angels to guard and protect John, Sarah, Dan and Lexy.”
When Abigail returned, she watched from a distance as the Father recited the prayer a second time. A large gust of air blew into the room, knocking over the chairs and causing the window curtains to fall to the floor, followed by a gentle breeze: a calming aura settling in the entire house.
“You've done it Father, the spirit is gone.” Abigail smiled in relief.
A short while later, the Father, Abigail, Ben and Emily said their goodbyes. Abigail was the first to leave. She opened the door only to immediately slam it shut again.
“Father, I don't think the spirit has given up,” she said, in a quivering voice.
Father Samuel opened the door and came face to face with Buck. Staring back at him, Buck's coat was now entirely black, his eerie eyes glowed crimson and he was growling, saliva trickling from his fangs. His physical body appeared almost translucent and emitted a foul odor. Although Buck's mouth did not move, all heard him clearly, as he spoke in a dour tone of voice. “I win.”
The possessed dog lunged at the Father. As its powerful jaws closed around his throat, the Reverend fell to his knees, landing on the front porch. His fate sealed and prepared to meet God, the Father closed the door behind him and shouted, “Abigail, you must continue, do not stop until this spirit has been sent back to Satan. The demon does not have endless time; it must strike while the dog’s decaying corpse is still workable.”
Then the beast from hell ended the Reverend's life. Stunned, Abigail and the others stared at one another.
Dan came running and as he tried to open the front door, he shouted. “Let me out! Buck needs me.”
John grabbed him and held him back. “That is not Buck. Don't be fooled, the demon is using him to get to us.”
Dan sobbed and held up his right arm. Frozen in place, Dan could not bend it at the elbow. “Let me go to him, Dad. Look at me. It's too late. I will soon be just like Buck,” he cried. “He can't hurt me now.”
“No!” Abigail shouted. “Take the boy back to his room. I will defeat this demon. I'm sure of it, and once it is gone, all shall return to normal.”
“Will Buck be okay? Can you bring him back to me?” Dan asked, hopeful.
Abigail peered out of the window overlooking the front porch. Buck sat on the Father's chest waiting; staring at the door gloating over his kill.
“I'm sorry Dan, although I have the power, I will not bring the dead back to life. If I did, there is no telling what quality of life they would have. Now let me be, I have a job to do,” she announced firmly.
This being a battle she could not afford to lose, Abigail hoped she would be strong enough to defeat the demon. She murmured softly as she gathered all the supernatural strength that she could to summon the forces of the material universe to aid in her quest. She used John's cell phone to call her younger twin sisters, Ruth and Karin; together they would be a force to be reckoned with. As young children, their friends called them the simian witches. If they had only known how right they were, about the witch part anyway.
“Come to me Abigail,” the demon taunted, its voice sending shrills up her spine. “Come to me now or I will come inside and get you. I do not believe you want me to come in there, do you Abigail?”
Thanks to the Father, Abigail knew that the demon’s time was limited. “I have a plan,” she whispered to the others. “But I will need the doll.”
 Sarah nudged Lexy forward. She did not want to lose her beautiful doll and started to cry, but even so, she handed Rose to Abigail. Abigail tucked the doll under her arm and smiled at Lexy.
“Thank you my child. Your sacrifice might just save everyone.”
“You're welcome,” Lexy sniffled.
Horrified, the others watched as the brave old woman opened the door and disappeared outside. As she approached the demon, Abigail recalled her last encounter with an evil spirit. She'd barely survived the incident, which robbed her of almost all of her vision and damaged her left leg beyond repair; hence the shuffling when she walked. With her crucifix hanging around her neck and a large bottle of holy water in her hand, she neared the evil one.
“You have no power here,” the demon mocked.
“We shall see,” Abigail said and sprinkled some of the holy water on the dog. A deafening squeal erupted from deep within the chest of the canine as blood oozed from the lacerations the exorcized water left in its wake. Abigail pressed the cross against Buck's fur. As it charred his pelt, she repeated the same words Father Samuel had recited, but the spirit fought back and although Abigail put up a valiant fight, the demon was stronger, draining her life force with ease. The struggle for domination between the super powers diminished as the demon gained ground. Abigail grew frailer; praying her sisters would soon arrive. She desperately needed their help. Combined with Ruth and Karin, there would be a better chance of sending the evil spirit back to the fathoms of hell.
Her sisters hadn't arrived yet, and Abigail believed all was lost. Saddened by her failure, she said a prayer and prepared to die. But before she surrendered her soul to Satan, she attempted to bargain with the evil one.
“Can you not be satisfied with conquering me? Take my soul and let this family be. You have proven your superiority.”
“You jest,” the demon laughed. He was ready to act, when suddenly the decomposing dog dropped to the ground. Laughter rang in his ears as he tried to stand, but could not move. The demon struggled to make Buck's body obey him and attack the intruders, but was unsuccessful. Angered, never having been rendered helpless, the evil one wailed, its cry echoing throughout the neighborhood. “Release me or suffer my wrath,” the demon shouted.
“You're in no position to threaten anyone,” Ruth responded. She glanced at Abigail. “Sorry we're late sister. We were derailing a witch-hunt in Salem. Will they never realize that we cannot be defeated?”
“Oh thank goodness. Where's Karin?”
“Right behind me.” Ruth said, and smiled at her big sister.
“Hey sis!” Karin skidded to a halt right before crashing into Abigail.
“I never thought I would say this about my insane little sister, but I am so happy to see you.”
“We can't let you have all of the fun.” Karin giggled.
Karin approached Buck. “Well what do we have here? This demon doesn't seem too scary to me.”
“All joking aside, we need to get to work. A very frightened family is depending on us to save them.” Abigail said, seriously. She held up the doll. “This is the vessel we must use to send the evil spirit back to where it came from.”
“No problem,” Karin replied. “Whatever you say big sister, we're with you.”
The sisters banded together, grasped one another's hands and went to work to dispel the evil spirit dwelling inside of the dog frozen in place on the ground. A purple haze descended from the heavens, engulfing the sisters as they performed the voodoo ritual commanding the evil one to take up residence within the doll’s body once again. Their recital grew louder and louder as they forced the spirit to obey them. The demon did not go willingly, moaning and thrashing as it fought against the sisters, but together they were a great deal stronger and the evil one could not resist.
The moment the spirit returned to the doll, Abigail smashed the beautiful porcelain faced toy on the ground, and as she did, she pooled her powers with her sisters once again and cast a spell of containment, trapping the spirit within it, and set the doll on fire. As the doll was reduced to ashes, a gut wrenching scream pierced the air, followed by stillness as the purple mist lifted and the sister's slumped down on the ground, grinning widely.
“Our job here is done,” they said, in unison.
The front door opened slowly and the family emerged, followed by Ben and Emily, all scanning the area for danger. But there was none.
Dan walked up to Buck as he lay lifeless and stroked his head. “I'm sorry boy,” he said, noticing he could now bend his right arm. He glanced back at his mother and father. “Look, I'm all better!”

     



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