Charlie McCarthy’s Baby


#flashfiction

 Mary walked into the nursery gently rocking her baby. Her little angel gurgled as she lost her struggle with wakefulness and closed her eyes to dream baby dreams.

“Finally,” Mary said.

She looked over her shoulder with a smile at her husband, Jake, who stood in the doorway.

“She’s finally asleep,” she whispered.

He gave her a shell-shocked smile.

They both showed the signs of days with hardly any sleep. A baby with colic was no fun for new parents and neither of them had managed more than 2 or 3 hours of sleep at a stretch for the last week.

Mary placed the gentlest of kisses on her daughter’s brow as she placed her in the bassinet.

“Sweet dreams Deirdre,” she whispered.

Mary turned away and jerked, startled, as a small man’s shape came into view seated on the rocker.

“Why did you get that stupid doll?” she whispered to her husband as she walked to the door.

“It’s not a doll,” he said, barely audible. “It’s a ventriloquist dummy.”

“Well it’s hideous.”

Mary pulled the door part way shut as they moved into the hallway.

“Honey, it’s a Charlie McCarthy. I had one like it when I was a kid. It’s a classic.”

“Well I think it’s creepy. Those eyes give me the willies. Do you want your daughter to be terrified in her room with that thing?”

Their voices faded as they moved down the hallway.

“She won’t be afraid of it. I found it in a cool antique shop, it was a steal. You know, I used to be pretty good at ventriloquism when I was a kid. I wanted something I could entertain Deirdre with.”

“Well in the morning I’m getting rid of it.”

“In the morning we’ll talk about it,” Jake said.

The sounds of the whispered argument were silenced by their bedroom door clicking shut.

Soon the only sounds in the house were the ticking of the hallway clock, baby Deirdre’s burbling and Jake’s snores echoing down the hallway.

The rocker creaked and shifted forward. The ventriloquist dummy slid forward on the seat and dropped to the floor. It did not collapse to the floor but stood on its legs and then stretched like a sleeper waking after a long sleep.

Pops and creaks came from the tiny body as it stretched. After a moment it looked around the room, its huge eyes clacked as they shifted back and forth in the wooden head. It crossed the room and stood over the bassinet.

Deirdre cooed in her sleep and shifted.

The Charlie McCarthy doll tilted its head as if listening then looked down at the child.

“They won’t love you like I will Deirdre. Once I’ve taken care of them you’ll have a new daddy who will love you forever and ever.”

He reached behind himself and into the cavity in his back where the ventriloquist would normally place his hand and removed a curved, serrated knife.

“Sleep my angel. Daddy has work to do.”

The doll slipped out of the nursery, heading toward Mary and Jake’s room.

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