red right hand by withdiamonds: the wicked little things mix by naiad
Resting in the dark, safe and secure, the doll bided its time.
Blue light flickered across the room as the television jumped from one image to the next.
JC hadn't even noticed the sun go down.
"No, man. That's not going to work for me. "Uhuh. Uhuh. Right. But see, this is the problem. The choreography's done and the dancers have been hired; there's absolutely no way we can cut back on the buses and I'm not willing to scale things down any more." JC pinched the bridge of his nose and let his head fall for a moment. The light pricked at the back of his eyes, a thousand tiny pins pressing into his brain. "Eric," he said. "Just handle it, okay. I'm done compromising."
JC tossed the phone on the desk and slumped against the couch. He'd gone from stressed to full blown headache in the space of ten seconds. The light from the television flashed more rapidly and JC pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes for a moment before straightening up and scanning for the remote. He was going to kill the TV, mellow on the sofa, and wait for Lance.
The remote was on resting on the coffee table. JC scooped it up, looked at the TV, and dropped it again. Still poised to turn the television off, he barely registered the small crack that signalled the batteries popping free of their case.
They were back.
The motherfuckers were back, dancing and smiling on his TV screen, seducing millions of children until they were the latest craze. Again.
Maybe they already were the latest craze?
JC shivered, the chill travelling from his head to his toes, slithering along his spine. He jerked forward and jabbed the television off. One deep breath, and then two and three, and his heart was beating its normal rhythm. He sat gingerly on the sofa. His head pounded, sharp stabbing and vice-like squeezing combining into an amorphous throb threatening to empty his stomach. He wriggled down until he was lying comfortably and closed his eyes.
Patterns of blood are dotted across the ground and JC can't shake the thing latched onto his ankle. Its grip is solid as he swings his leg wildly and bats futile hands at the thing's head. Everything is muffled. They're caught in a bubble of echoing silence until JC feels another horrible tug on his leg and hears the monster say, "Daddy."
Warmth suffused JC's back and he curled his spine into it. A deep chuckle reverberated against him and he pressed back even further, not bothering to open his eyes.
"Hey," Lance said close to his ear before dropping a soft kiss just below it. "Are you sleeping some more?"
"Mmm." JC moved his head in an approximation of a nod. Sleep still clouded his brain, but he was alert enough to be wary of reigniting his headache.
Lance shifted behind him and JC felt a weight drape over his calves and ankles. The oxygen in his lungs disappeared and he sat up, knocking Lance to the floor. "Fuck!"
"'C?" Lance looked at him, confusion wrinkling his brow, and JC reached a hand down to pull him up.
"Sorry." He kept his voice calm; bit back the breathless shudder he knew was waiting to escape.
Lance didn't release his hand. Just sat next to him on the sofa and crowded into his personal space. "Are you okay?"
JC shook his head a little to clear the fuzz and pull himself together. "Yeah, man. Just…a really crazy dream, nightmare, I think." He laughed. "Fuck. It must have been fucking insane. All I remember is this thing hanging off my leg, calling me 'Daddy'… and blood. Huh." JC paused and frowned. "There was blood splashed everywhere."
"Sounds like one hell of a dream." Lance rested a hand at the base of JC's neck and stroked his hair. "Is there something you want to tell me?"
Lance tilted the corner of his mouth into a sly smirk. "Daddy?" Is there something we need to talk about, JC?" He was grinning now.
JC had started shaking his head even before Lance finished speaking. "No. No. Uh, well, not yet, anyway. It was… I dunno, dude. Creepy. I think it might have been a doll. Oh!" JC jumped up and scanned the floor. Lying just under the coffee table was the TV remote and its ejected batteries. "The TV was on and when I went to turn it off there was a commercial for those weird squashed up dolls that were everywhere when I was a kid." He shuddered. "Man, I hated those things. They were hideous and terrifying."
"And that's what was grabbing your leg?" Lance grabbed JC's hand and pulled him to sit across his lap. "A doll?"
JC smacked Lance's leg. "Fuck you. It's not nice to mock a man's childhood trauma."
"It's childhood trauma now?"
"Yeah, man. Don't you remember those things?" JC waved his hands in front of Lance's face to illustrate his point. "They were about this tall, and kind of chubby, and," he scrunched his hands, "their faces were all smooshed up."
Lance grinned. "Smooshed? JC, are you talking about Cabbage Patch Kids? Oh, my Lord." He dropped his hand from its soothing place on JC's neck and bent forward laughing. There was no attempt to hide it; JC felt every snort reverberate through his body.
"Asshole." JC stood and yanked Lance up with him. "Come on. I'm hungry."
The doll waited - patient, prepared.
Two weeks later JC had mostly forgotten his horrendous nightmare. His lingering childhood antipathy for ugly little dolls had been pushed to the far corner of his brain. He didn't interact with children often, only seeing Briahna occasionally, once a month if everyone happened to be in the same town for any extended period of time, and Lance's niece and nephew even less. Children's toys were not a part of his world; he could cut them out of his life completely if he wanted, and he did want.
Of course, that didn't stop him from being ambushed.
It wasn't his fault. Tour promo had kicked into high gear and he was spending hours flying around the country or sitting on his phone; in between, he was rehearsing and working out. He barely had time to breathe. So when he slumped into the sofa in the waiting room of radio station number 3956, WX Whatever, he didn't even notice the small TV running in the corner.
That changed in the space of sixty seconds. One moment JC was comfortably relaxed against the arm of the sofa, the next he was staring in disturbed fascination at the TV. It was some kind of talk show with a wild free-for-all of a segment on the 'hottest toys for Christmas' and there, right in the middle of all the high pitched chatter, was a Cabbage Patch doll. It was staring right at him.
JC blinked a few times; then looked again.
The doll winked.
JC lunged at the TV, falling over the sofa's edge, and clapped his hand across the screen. Then he pulled his hand back slowly; he needed to know.
It grinned and winked again.
None of the presenters or guests seemed to notice. They were still lifting items and waving them around in a way JC just couldn't fathom. How could they not see the doll was alive?
It lifted its arms towards the screen and its mouth began to move.
Nobody did anything. Nobody noticed.
JC slammed his hand against the power button, chest heaving, and scrambled from the room. He leant against the wall, tried to pretend that he hadn't just seen a toy come alive and wink at him.
Someone coughed and JC opened his eyes.
"Five minutes, Mr Chasez."
JC nodded. "Okay. Thanks."
The doll waited.
Lance's voice was tinny and echoing. They both spent a fortune on having the best stuff, phones especially, but the connection was always, always crap. JC ground his teeth.
"JC, you can't be serious," Lance said. "You think Cabbage Patch dolls are alive?" He wasn't even trying to hide his scepticism.
JC huffed. "I know it sounds crazy, but I also know what I saw. It knew I was there, Lance. And I didn't say I thought they were all alive -- just the one on USA Today or whatever." He sunk into the soft leather of the car seat and tilted his head back. "Something weird's going on," he sighed.
"You're on the ten o'clock, right?" Lance said.
"I'm coming to pick you up." There was rustling in the background, papers being shuffled. "Okay?"
"Yeah. Okay." JC closed his eyes and concentrated on banishing the image of orange wool hair and beady blue eyes.
"And don't watch any TV," Lance said.
The airport was deserted, only a skeleton crew and the disembarking passengers left inside the gleaming white walls. There were people talking, but very softly; the squeak of their shoes was louder, echoing through the empty space.
Lance was standing off to the side. He fell into step beside JC, resting a hand on his shoulder as they walked. "The car's right out the front, waiting for us."
JC nodded. "Okay."
When they were comfortably secluded in the back seat, JC rested his head against Lance's shoulder. "Thanks for coming to get me."
"I wanted to come," Lance said. He turned his head and pressed a gentle kiss against JC's brow. "I'm worried about you, JC. Even when things were their most crazy, I've never seen or heard you freak like you did today."
"I didn't freak."
Lance picked up JC's hand and twisted their fingers together. "You had some kind of panic attack because a Cabbage Patch doll on the TV winked at you," he said, his voice flat, deliberately calm. He tugged at JC's hand. "Tell me you wouldn't be worried too?"
JC sighed. "Of course I would be. And I am. But I know what I saw, Lance." He rubbed his thumb across the back of Lance's hand, tried to reassure him that he wasn't having some kind of nervous breakdown. "I don't understand it, but I saw it."
"Maybe someone slipped something in your drink?"
"I don't think so."
Lance squeezed his hand. "Then what else could it have been? Dolls don't just wink at people. They just don't."
JC lifted his head and looked at Lance as he kept talking.
"You've been doing non-stop promo for the last two weeks. You're exhausted. It was probably just a trick of the light."
"I am tired," JC said, tilting his head back down and making a decision. "You're probably right. I just need a decent night's sleep and some down time. Maybe better glasses."
Lance laughed. "If you ever actually wore yours, I'd agree. I know this is overstepping, but I don't care. I've asked Eric to clear the next few days, tell everyone you've got the flu. He'll reschedule the important stuff."
"It's all important," JC murmured, but this wasn't a battle he wanted to have right now. "But it's okay. I know you're just worried."
He was falling, the weight around his legs dragging him to the floor. JC tried to hold himself up, but it didn't help. His hands scraped along the wall searching for a window ledge, a picture frame, anything. There was nothing. He fell and he couldn't see. It was dark where it hadn't been moments before. There was nothing left but the heavy press of small bodies against his legs, warm liquid trickling along his ankle and the murmured sounds of 'Daddy.'
JC rocked awake. He heard a muffled grunt as his elbow struck Lance's stomach and he sucked in a deep breath and turned. "Sorry," he said.
"What on earth, JC?" Lance sounded exhausted and JC felt a tiny stab of guilt. He leant down and kissed Lance's stomach.
"Sorry," he said again. "Bad dream."
Lance curled his fingers in JC's hair and guided him back down until they were curled together again. "Another one? That's the fifth nightmare this week."
"I know." JC sighed. "I'm starting to think they're real, Lance. Memories, maybe."
"Maybe we should get you some sleeping pills?" Lance stroked the tips of his fingers along JC's side. "You need proper sleep. And maybe you should call your mom. I'm sure she'll make you feel better, and she might know why you're so freaked out."
JC rolled over. "I'll be fine," he said and leaned in for a kiss. "And yeah, I'll call my mom."
The doll in the dark smiled and whispered, 'Daddy'.
JC's cell rang as he was leaving the house. He glanced at the screen, flipped it open and sat on the front steps.
"Hi, mom. How are you?"
"I'm good, honey. What about you?"
"Great. I'm great."
His mom laughed. "You always were a terrible liar. Lance said you haven't been sleeping?"
JC sighed and cursed Lance for being the perfect son-in-law. "I was actually going to call you today."
"I'm glad," she said. "Tell me what's bothering you."
"Hang on a second, mom. I'm going to go back inside." JC let himself through the door, made his way to the sofa and curled up in the corner. "Okay. Sorry."
"That's all right; it gave me a moment to make a sandwich."
JC laughed. "You're going to think I'm nuts. Lance does."
"I'm sure he doesn't. Now tell me what's going on."
So JC did: the nightmares, the panic attacks, and his conviction that at least some Cabbage Patch Kids were alive.
When he was done, his mother said, "Oh, dear," and that was all.
"Mom?" JC felt his chest heave and he forced himself to breathe deeply. "Mom? Please say something so I know you're not about to have me committed."
"Oh. Oh, honey, I'm sorry." She sounded rattled, and that, more than anything, freaked JC the hell out. "I was just remembering when you first came to us. You were so scared of dolls. And then those Cabbage Patch Kids came out and you used to swear black and blue that they were alive; that they wanted to eat you up."
"Huh," JC said.
His mother continued. "I thought it was just that you had an active imagination and your father and I decided to let it run its course, but then I took you Christmas shopping in 1984."
JC picked at his fingernails with his thumb. "1984? What happened?"
"Those dolls were so popular that year. They were everywhere. When we got to the toy store, there was a giant display of Cabbage Patch Kids – a wall really."
JC felt a wave of nausea roll over him and he shivered.
"As soon as you saw it you started to get upset, pulling on my hand and crying, but we had to finish our shopping…" She drifted off.
"What happened, mom?"
"There was a stampede."
"The dolls." JC knew it.
His mom laughed. "No. The shoppers. Everyone rushed for the dolls at once. There were so many people and we got swept forward with them. I lost you for a while." Her voice shook slightly. "It was horrible. I didn't know where you were, what had happened to you. I was convinced that you'd been trampled."
"But I wasn't?"
"No. I found you when the crowd thinned and moved towards the registers. You were curled up on a shelf, in an empty space between the last two dolls. Another shopper had found you in the surge and put you there to keep you safe." She paused for a moment again. "Oh honey, you were terrified. There were tears just streaming down your cheeks, but you didn't make a sound. Not even a peep."
JC's skin crawled as his imagined himself as a child, wedged between two of the most hideous dolls in the known universe. "I was okay, though?"
"Not right away. But Christmas came soon enough and we managed to distract you. Eventually you grew up and forgot all about dolls." She laughed again. "Well until now, anyway."
"Right." JC said. "Until now." He felt sick again.
"I'm fine, mom, but I'm going to go. I'll talk to you soon, okay. I love you." JC closed his phone and pushed himself off the sofa. He really hated those fucking dolls.
The doll smiled. Soon. Soon.
JC waited until Lance went out for a meeting, then booted up his computer. Google search terms: cabbage patch dolls, alive, zombies, and nightmares.
There were more than ten pages of hits. His mouth went dry and he swallowed.
He wasn't imagining things. He couldn't be. JC slid the mouse to hover over the first link. He stared at it for a moment and swallowed again. Then he tapped the mouse button and started reading.
A weight landed on his shoulder and JC leapt out of his chair, his feet tangling in the base and pitching him forward. A second hand wrapped around his bicep and prevented him from landing on the laptop screen.
"Whoa, JC. It's just me." Lance steadied JC and guided him away from the chair. "What are you looking at? You were completely lost in your own world." He leant forward, peered at the screen and read aloud, "Zombie Encounters Message Board…and the History of Cabbage Patch Kids."
Lance slammed the laptop closed. "How long have you been here, JC?"
JC winced and lied through his teeth. "Not long."
"Liar," Lance said. "You've been here for hours - probably since I left. Your eyes are red, JC. And you smell." He grabbed JC's hand and tugged him along the hall. "Come on. I want you to have a shower and then we're going to talk about this."
"I'm not a kid, Lance." JC stopped walking and pulled his hand free. "Something weird is going on and I can't sleep and the tiniest noise makes me twitch. And I need to work out what the fuck is going on so I can finish my promo run and go on tour without worrying about a creepy-ass toy hunting me down or the possibility that'll I'll have some kind of, I don't know, public episode and get committed." He ran his hands through his hair and sighed. "I'll have a shower, sure, and we'll talk about this, but you're going to listen to me because I'm not imagining things and I'm not crazy."
He left Lance in the hallway.
JC can't move. His legs feel like lead and his arms are useless by his sides. He tilts his head back and tries to scream. All that comes out is a tiny croak; there's no power in his voice, his diaphragm feels feeble. It's dark again, and there's a faint metallic scent surrounding him. Rivulets of thick, warm liquid are running down his face, dripping off the end of his nose, rolling under his jaw and creeping down his neck. Small hands grasp the back of his knees. They're pulling themselves up his body.
His eyes flicked open and JC gasped as water struck his eyes. He didn't even need to be asleep now. The fuckers had started fucking with him while he was awake.
JC wrenched the faucets closed and grabbed his towel, a litany of insults on repeat in his head.
He walked out of the bathroom and stopped in his tracks.
There, sitting on their bed - his bed - was a god damned, motherfucking Cabbage Patch doll. Lance was sitting right beside it.
"What the fuck, Lance." JC couldn't stop himself from shouting; his heart was still racing from the waking dream in the shower. "I've been freaking about these things for weeks and you've got one in our house!"
Lance held out a hand. "Calm down, JC. I spoke to a therapist-"
"You what?" JC said as he yanked open the closet and pulled out a pair of sweats. "I'm not crazy, Lance."
"I know you're not. But a lot of people have phobias, JC. It's nothing to be ashamed of, and I wanted to know what I could do to help. So when Chris mentioned-"
"You talked Chris." JC started pacing, keeping well back from the bed and the box that Lance now had on his lap. "Great. That's just great. I guess I can look forward to being the butt of every joke next time he visits." He looked at the doll in the box and took a step backwards. His back hit the wall.
Lance put the doll on the bed and took a step towards JC. "I didn't tell him what it was. I just asked if he knew anyone who dealt with phobias - you know he's been seeing a therapist for a while, I thought she might be able to make a recommendation."
"And you were just going to make an appointment for me?"
"No." Lance finished crossing the room and curved his palms around JC's shoulders. "I just wanted to find out what I might be able to do to help. The doctor I spoke to suggested exposure therapy and since I already had the Cabbage Patch, I thought that might be a good place to start."
JC tensed and an ache radiated from his jaw. "What do you mean, since you already had the Cabbage Patch?"
Lance brushed his thumb against JC's skin. "I bought the doll three weeks ago, JC. It's a Christmas present for Leighton."
"Three weeks ago?" JC stepped to the side and walked away from Lance. "So, right about when I started to have these freaky nightmares then?"
"Doesn't that seem like a weird coincidence to you, Lance? I suddenly develop a 'phobia' at the same time as you buy one of these dolls and hide it here."
Lance had picked the box up from the bed and now he held it towards JC. "Of course it's a coincidence. Look. It's just a doll. It doesn't wink, it doesn't talk and it doesn't move." He thrust the box at JC and JC caught it for a moment before letting it fall to the floor as if it had burnt his hands.
JC's foot twitched and he resisted the urge to stomp on its head. "Get rid of it," he said. "I'm not staying here if that's in the house. It's been horrible enough already." He shifted away from the box on the floor, keeping his eyes on it the whole time, and then he looked at Lance. "I'm going to get us some take-out; make sure it's gone before I get back."
It was time. The doll began to move.
JC woke with a jolt and the sensation of something sitting on his chest. He sucked air into his lungs as fast as he could, making no effort to calm his breathing. His heart was pounding and goose pimples covered his body; it felt as though his skin was shivering all on its own.
The panic subsided slowly. And then, as his breathing finally returned to normal, JC heard a sound.
A scuffle on the carpet.
It was quiet, but it was there, rhythmic and terrifying. JC pushed at Lance's shoulder.
The sound got closer and this time JC heard a whispered, 'Daddy.'
He shoved Lance harder, rocking him back and forth and hissed, "Wake up. Wake up, wake up, wake up."
The scuffling was louder now. Close.
Lance finally stirred and rolled towards JC. "What?"
"There's something in our room." JC said, and then heard it again.
"What the hell." Lance sat up. "Oh, my God."
Still lying and not inclined to look, JC asked, "What? What is it, Lance?"
Lance didn't answer. He just sat there with his mouth hanging open as the scuffling got even closer, even louder.
"Daddy," it said again and JC felt like his brain was about to explode. He sat up next to Lance.
"Fuck," he said. "Oh, fuck. I knew, I mean I didn't know, but I knew. But I don't think I believed, not really believed. Shit. I mean, fuck. It's really real. Tell me it's really real, Lance. I'm not hallucinating or dreaming this time, right. Because…" JC took a breath that stung in his chest.
Lance nodded. "It's real."
They sat, side by side, naked with a sheet pooled at their waists, and watched as the Cabbage Patch doll Lance had bought for his niece shuffled clumsily across their bedroom. Its mouth was moving constantly, but sounds only emerged occasionally. And it was always the same. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy.
"How is it talking?" JC leant forward. "They're not anatomically correct, right? So how the hell is it talking?" He sucked in another deep breath.
"I don't know," Lance said. "But I'm kind of freaking out right now."
The doll got another small step closer.
"You're freaking out? Imagine how I feel!" JC snorted. "Maybe you just need a little exposure therapy to deal with your phobia. I guess it's just lucky you didn't get rid of it like I told you to."
Lance hit him on the shoulder. "Very funny. I'm sorry, okay. I was wrong, I should have believed you etcetera etcetera, now what the hell are we going to do?"
Lance's eyes were wide, the way JC knew his own were. "I don't know, man. I've just been having nightmares, I don't know how to kill it."
"Yes! Kill it. We have to kill it."
"It's tiny, and slow." Lance reached to the floor beside the bed and pulled up his shorts and t-shirt. "I can take it."
"But you're going to take the time to get dressed first? Look how close it is, Lance!"
The doll shuffled some more. It was only two feet away from the foot of the bed.
"I'm not fighting a doll naked, JC. Who knows what it could do." Lance stood on the bed and watched the doll for a moment. "Maybe I should wait 'til it's closer, take it from the high ground?"
JC stood next to him, carefully keeping the sheet wrapped around his waist. "It's tiny, what could it possibly do." He was cold, but he could feel the sweat rolling off his neck. "Just get rid of it. Please?"
Lance looked at him and then pressed a quick kiss to his lips. "Okay," he said, and jumped off the bed.
The doll didn't stop coming.
Lance ran towards it, arms outstretched. When he got close, the doll propelled itself forward and latched onto his ankle.
JC howled in outrage. "Hey!"
It bit Lance's ankle and JC saw a thin trail of blood run down onto Lance's foot. The doll bit again and Lance screamed. He bent down to pull the doll off, but as he did the doll put on a burst of speed and scuttled around to the back of Lance's leg. Then it began to climb.
"Daddy," it said as it clawed its way up.
"JC," Lance screamed. "Help."
Mesmerised by the trickles of blood on Lance's leg, it took JC a moment to react. "Coming, coming." He hitched the sheet tighter and higher around his waist and looked around frantically. The bedside lamp.
JC stumbled across the bed before falling to his knees and lunging the rest of the way across to the lamp sitting on the bedside table. He wrapped his hands around it and pulled hard enough to unplug it as he stood again. The bed bounced; he wobbled slightly, and then regained his balance. When he looked up Lance was turning in circles swatting at the doll that was still climbing steadily.
JC lifted the lamp over his head and aimed.
Lance caught his eye. "What the hell are you doing?"
"Using the lamp," JC said. "I'm going to hit it on the head."
"Daddy," it said.
JC took aim.
"No," Lance shouted. "JC you suck at throwing things. You'll probably just give me a concussion instead. Besides, I like that lamp." Lance had lifted his leg up and finally caught a hold of the doll on the back of his thigh. He tugged. It bit his hand. "Argh! Fuck!" He tried pulling it off again. "Hurry up, JC."
Dropping the lamp onto the bed, JC looked around again. His eye caught the edge of something purple sticking out of the bedside drawer. He knelt again and tugged it out. "I've got something. Hold on."
Lance and the zombie doll were on the far side of the bed. JC checked the floor next to him and then stood. He crept around the bed slowly. Lance was still slapping and grasping at the doll; his hands were covered in his own blood. His eyes caught JC's and widened as JC held up his weapon.
JC crept closer. When he was close enough, Lance turned so that JC could reach to hit the doll on the head.
One blow did nothing. The damned thing was like a limpet. JC hit it again and again and again. Eventually, with a little help from Lance, it fell. It lay on the floor, still and blissfully quiet. JC bent over it and hit it a few more times, all his weight and fury behind each swing. Then he stood up and pulled Lance close to him.
"Are you okay?"
Lance shook his head against JC's neck. "No, not really," he said as he looked up. "JC?"
"Hmm?" JC rubbed Lance's back with his free hand.
"Did you just kill a Cabbage Patch doll zombie with a 12 inch purple dildo?"
JC nodded and smiled properly for the first time in weeks. "You said you liked the lamp." He kept his eyes on Lance, refusing to look at the doll. "We're getting rid of that thing tomorrow. It goes back to the store and they can put it straight into the dumpster for all I care. And we are not staying here tonight."
They came back the next morning.
The doll had finished its life propped in a sitting position against their dresser, JC's final blow having driven it through the air to land against the polished wood.
JC inhaled and exhaled as Lance pulled the curtains open and sunlight hit the small body. Looking at it now it seemed small and pathetic - like it wasn't capable of leaving bloody welts all along a grown man's leg.
One eye was missing, nothing but tiny dip left; the shadow cast by the door almost creating the appearance of an eye-patch. Its hair was loose. The blows JC had delivered to its head had broken the fastenings and now the woollen hair was wild and matted where Lance's blood had dried. Its shoes were still in the middle of the floor. Stuffing was exploding out of the seam at its neck and at one of the shoulder joints.
"Are you ready?" Lance asked.
JC nodded and together they stepped forward and quickly dropped a towel over the body. They stepped back again - waited.
Nothing happened. The towel didn’t even so much as twitch.
They sighed with relief and grinned at each other. Lance bundled the doll up in the towel and dropped it in the trash bag JC was holding out. As soon as it was in, JC knotted and re-knotted the opening, making sure it was securely closed. "Let's go," he said. "The sooner this is done, the sooner we have our house back. And the sooner I feel normal again."
The mall was nothing short of insanity. They drove around the parking lot for forty five minutes before Lance shouted with triumph as he spied someone leaving.
When the car was parked, they both leapt out and JC jogged around to pull the bag from the trunk. He swung it backwards and forwards as they walked directly to the store, practically bouncing on his toes.
Lance smiled. "You're in a good mood."
"You bet your fucking ass I am," JC said and hoisted the bag high. "We're getting rid of the tiny freak zombie. C'mon."
Pushing through the door, JC stopped to the side and waited for Lance. "Where do we go?"
They glanced around until Lance grabbed JC's arm and pointed. "There."
The woman at the returns desk was pale, with wild eyes and hair that was doing its best to escape the twist at the nape of her neck. She was twitching her way through every return and JC felt sorry for her as they waited in line and watched what seemed like hundreds of people fabricate ludicrous reasons so they could get a refund. When it was their turn, JC plopped the bag on the counter and said, "We'd like to return this. There's no need to give us our money back. It just wasn't what we expected and we don't want it. Please toss it in your dumpster."
He turned around and walked away before the woman behind the desk had a chance to close her mouth. "Thank God that's over," he said to Lance. "Let's go reclaim our bedroom."
The dolls in the display blinked.