Short Story: Puppet Show

20/09/2014 at 2:01 pm (Horror) (, , , )

puppet showKamil decided to go to the park despite his mum telling him he’d be wasting his time. The puppet show would’ve been finished by the time he’d strolled in to town after the shopping trip.

Car after car jammed solidly in the Saturday afternoon traffic, making Kamil think that each vehicle’s occupant was doing their damnedest to ensure he’d miss the show. If that was their intention, they’d succeeded.

“You’re a bit old for puppet shows now though, aren’t you, Love?” his mum chided. He couldn’t be bothered to argue the point, just for her to miss it entirely. He loved puppetry. He enjoyed everything from the setting up of staging to the building of puppets and props. He could make his own cast and put on his own show. The way the story would be performed and how it looked would be down to him and him alone.

It clearly was too late when he reached the spot where the puppet theatre had been set up. There was a large, green tarpaulin laid out in front of the small booth, which was decorated in striking black and red swirls. The front of the booth read ‘Mr Fallowmoor’s World Of Adventure’, with a selection of what were presumably characters from the show. There was a frog, a witch, the devil, a ghost, a bear and a rabbit. They looked oddly put together. On the rabbit, one eye was lower than the other. The Witch had one large ear and one small.

The scene was somewhat desolate as it appeared that everyone had gone home. The puppeteer was also nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he’d gone for a drink somewhere? The feeling was exacerbated by the chill that whisked through the air, the darkening clouds shrouded the sunlight. The world had taken on a greyish hue.

Kamil trod across the tarpaulin as it crumpled under his steps. Its edges rustled slightly, picked at by the wind. He reached the booth and peered over the small stage. All he saw was darkness. An incredibly deep darkness, considering the booth was only tall enough to accommodate one person.


The sound came from inside the booth.

“Huh-hello?” Kamil spoke nervously into the blackness below.

There came another sound, like a kind of animal scrabbling amongst paper. Kamil tried to peer deeper into the dark, straining his eyes for shapes or sign of movement, but there was nothing.

Pulling back from the booth, he walked round to the back of it. The same twisting, curving black and red design followed all around the box and over the curtain at its rear. He couldn’t decide if they were supposed to be tails or flames, or maybe exotic tendrils from a distant jungle. The colours seemed more vibrant than before, scarlet arcs emblazoned on a deep, black patina.

He pulled back the curtain, only to expose more of this black nothingness. Logically, the light coming through from the stage should be coming through there too, but there was only the dark. The unreal situation enflamed his sense of curiosity.

“Weird.” It was the only word that came to mind. Somehow acknowledging the bizarre situation out loud offered some comfort. He crouched a little as he stepped tentatively through the curtain, hoping his eyes would focus on even the merest detail.

“Hello?” A small voice, as timid as his own trickled through the dark.

“Hi,” said Kamil. “Is someone there?” As soon as he said it he felt stupid at asking after such an obvious fact.

“Hello?” the voice repeated. Kamil couldn’t quite make out if it was a male or female voice. It was child-like, but croaky. “Can you get here? Can you?”

“Are you okay? Are you hurt?” Kamil asked. It was hard to tell how far into the dark the voice was coming from. He began to walk further into the booth, although it became clear it was no mere puppet theatre.

“Please, please come here. Please.” The pathetic, emploring voice spurred him further.

He felt the sensation that he was walking downwards, as though on a ramp. With a shudder he took another step, then another. Kamil felt as though he’d left his mind at the threshold of this impossible booth. Again, he continued to step forward, downward. The walls, which offered no detail or texture narrowed. The cotton of his hoody brushed against them.

“Where are you?” Kamil called. He was aware of the shakiness of his own speech. He was not only nervous of his claustrophobic surroundings, but of what he might find when he reached whoever it was calling out to him.

He found himself having to turn slightly as the space around him closed. He stepped to one side, crab-like, his head bumping a little against the featureless wall behind him.

He stopped. “What the hell am I doing?” he spoked through ragged breath. He stretched his left arm out into the direction he was heading. He could feel the wall narrow even more. He suppressed the panic that was beginning to push its way into his throat, preparing to manifest itself as a scream. He breathed slowly. The way he’d been taught. The way Mr Garvey had shown him when he’d panicked on the trip to Bath.

Breathe in.

Breath out.

He could smell the scent of varnish mixed with old paper and mildew. His stomach churned slightly. ‘Don’t be sick, don’t be sick,’ he told himself.

“I can’t go further,” he called out to the voice. “It’s too narrow.”

“Just a little further, please.”

“I can’t. I’m sorry. I should get help. I’ll get a fireman. They do this stuff.” He looked upwards, back to where he’d originally started. There was nothing but blackness now.

“Please, you’re here, you can do this. Come here, please.”

He pushed on, through the narrowing gap, his arm outstretched. His fingers could feel the ends of the walls. Encouraged, he pressed on. Despite the uncomfortably tight quarter he found himself in, he was sure he could make it through the space. The only thing was he wasn’t sure he should. Would he be able to get back through again?

Again, the voice gave a plaintive call to Kamil. If someone was hurt he’d feel horrible about leaving them.

With a final push he squeezed his body through the gap.

Expecting to find a floor level to meet the sloping ground he’d been walking down, Kamil was shocked to feel himself falling.

The fall only lasted for a moment as he was met with a soft landing of a bundle of cotton, rags and old paper. The smell was stronger here, which made Kamil repeat his mantra of ‘don’t be sick, don’t be sick.’  He hadn’t hurt himself, but he was feeling very uneasy as he pulled himself up from the debris underneath him.

There seemed to be at least some light streaming through the room he’d found himself in. He looked around the boxy room, which he guessed to be around about twelve feet square. He stood, but because of the height of the room he had to bend his back slightly.

Small blades of yellowish light poked their way into the room at odd angles, picking out details here and there. Dust motes and airborne fibres lifted and fell, illuminated in the sickly coloured beams.

Kamil gathered his senses, breathing through his mouth to abate the smell as best he could. “Hello? Are you down here?”

The was a furtive rustle, followed by a movement that was caught briefly in the light. It was small, like an animal. He stared at the dark corner that was hiding the  thing, whatever it was.

“Hello?” he called again.

Kamil watched something rising up into a beam of light. A rabbit? No, a glove puppet of a rabbit. That meant that someone was sat there, unseen, in the dark with him. He shivered as he swallowed down his nervousness.

“Hi. Are you okay? Are you hurt?”

The rabbit glove puppet turned from side to side, replicating a shake of the head. “No, not hurt,” spoke the small, husky voice. “I do need your help. Yes, I do need your help. And I can help you.”

“Who are you?” Kamil stared into the dark. He could make out a human figure, perhaps in a dark suit, sat hunched in the corner.

“Pipsy,” the voice replied.

“Pip-Pipsy,” An incongruous smile played across Kamil’s lips. As fearful as the situation was, the ludicrousness of it was somehow funny. “I’m Kamil. What do you want?”

The human figure shifted a little, moving into the light. Kamil could quite clearly see a pair of wide eyes. The yellow light also picked out a map of furrowed brow lines, which knotted in tension.

“A new friend.” The glove puppet’s finger arms moved slowly as the words were said with a chuckle. “We can be friends, can’t we?”

Kamil’s heartbeat raced. He realised he had to get out as soon as he could. In his mind he berated himself for his curiosity and stupidity. This guy was clearly mental.

“Sure… sure, w-we can.”

Kamil pushed himself against the wall, as far from the man as he could get.

“So, how do I, um, we get out of here?”

“You don’t want to leave do you? You’ve only just got here.” The voice was deliriously singsongy.

“It’s probably for the best. I have to get back.”

“You want to know about the puppet show, though, don’t you? I could teach you. I’m a good teacher. Would you like to learn?”

“I-I was thinking more of a college course, or…”

That chuckle again. It froze Kamil to the spot. He felt the bile rise to his gullet.

“Please, I just need to go.” He couldn’t help the whimper that tainted his voice.

He watched the scruffy, threadbare rabbit as its body was animated by the person operating it. Kamil realised he’d been addressing the puppet instead of the operator and felt ridiculous again. He looked across to the intensity of the eyes almost protruding from the furrowed brow, deciding it was better to appeal to the actual human than Pipsy the rabbit.

“Look, I don’t know what this is about. I’m sure you’re really good at teaching puppetry and stuff and I want to learn, honest. But I can’t, we can’t be here. You have to see that, right? Let me go.”

“Don’t bother talking to him.” Kamil’s attention was drawn back to the puppet. “He can’t even speak.”

With a lurch, the man pushed himself closer to Kamil. The boy gasped as light painted across the rest of his face. Beneath the bulbous eyes and high cheekbones was nothing. That is, nothing that resembled a nose or a mouth. In the place of those features were five columns of skin that connected the middle of his face to his chin where his nose and mouth should’ve been. Behind them lay the same pitch blackness that hung about them. No teeth, no bone, no tissue.

Kamil’s vision was blurring from the tears springing up in is eyes, the only reaction his body allowed him as he shut down in fear.

“You don’t want to be scared of Mr Fallowmoor.” It was no trick of ventriloquism. Kamil realised it was the puppet who was speaking through its own unmoving mouth. No sound issued from the man at all.

Through kaleidoscopic, tearful vision, Kamil watched Mr Fallowmoor begin to stand, supporting himself with his left hand. The puppet remained held up by his right.

“Mr Fallowmoor is tired now. He’s done. You will be Mr Fallowmoor. You will be loved.” Mr Fallowmoor had now brought Pipsy to within inches of Kamil’s face.

“No, no…” Kamil said in desperation, pushing himself against the wall as hard as he could, half hoping it would break away behind him, leading him to escape.

Kamil cried out as Mr Fallowmoor grabbed his right wrist, pulling his hand up before both their faces.

“Now, the lesson begins,” said Pipsy.

“Wait, what are you doing?” Kamil was panic stricken, completely rooted to the spot in fear. He watched with terror as the puppet lifted from Mr Fallowmoor’s hand without the need of being pulled. Independently, the ragged, plush rabbit wrenched itself free with a grotesque squelch. It left no hand behind. Instead, there was only a raw stump that stopped at the wrist.

Kamil could no longer even speak. His mind was shouting at him to fight. Punch. Kick. Run. Do something. Do anything.

Stop this.

He didn’t move at all. The boy watched dumbly as the rabbit puppet hauled its body by its pathetic, stumpy arms from Mr Fallowmoor’s sleeve, across his hunched shoulders and along his left arm. Along to the hand holding Kamil’s in an unbreakable grip.

“My new home,” Pipsy giggled as Kamil felt the plush of the rabbit’s finger-arms touch his hand.

Kamil screamed as he felt the searing pain shoot from his wrist.

Then there was no light at all.


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