Jessie didn't tell her parents that the doll frightened her. She didn't want to seem like a cowardly little baby. She even worked the doll into her toy rotation, playing with it dutifully, then putting it away with relief. This was less for her parents' benefit than for the doll's. Jessie feared that if she didn't play with the thing enough, it might become angry with her, and she didn't want to think about the possible consequences of the creepy doll's anger.
The doll had come with its own name--Lil' Giggles--and it was supposed to laugh when you squeezed it. Mercifully, the noisemaking mechanism had broken in shipping, so Jessie never had to hear the creepy doll giggle. Still, its lips were frozen open, its little rounded teeth bared in an eerie parody of mirth. The thing sported a sculpted tuft of bright red hair that was set back just a little too far on its high bulbous forehead. Its dull black eyes were unnaturally wide, and they rolled when Jessie moved the doll so that no matter how she held it, Lil' Giggles always seemed to be staring at her.
She had tried setting the doll down so that it faced away from her, but she couldn't stop stealing glances at it, fearing that its oversized head would turn itself around so those dead eyes could find her again.
The longer the doll lived in Jessie's room among her lovable and nonthreatening bunnies and bears, the stronger Jessie's fear grew. After a while, she found herself checking the cabinet under the bathroom sink before she used the toilet just to make sure Lil' Giggles hadn't concealed itself among the towels, waiting for a vulnerable moment.
She engaged in lengthy staring contests with the doll, her eyes watering as she fought to keep from blinking, certain that during the fraction of a second that her eyes were closed, the doll would move.
It was during one of these tests of Jessie's will that she learned the true depth of ultimate horror. She was supposed to be trying to sleep, but she had unthinkingly left Lil' Giggles too near the night light, and the blue glow lent the doll's usual pallor a deathly cast. Jessie stared at it from across the room. She felt sure that if she closed her eyes for so much as an instant, she'd feel a cold little hand touch her, and as soon as she looked, she'd see that the silently laughing doll had abandoned its seat near the night light and crawled into bed with her and …
“Eee-hee-hee-hee! Eee-hee-hee-hee!” A high-pitched cackle shattered Jessie's thoughts. She screamed. It had happened! Lil' Giggles had come to life and was cackling maniacally over and over again. Any moment now, it would move toward her. She prayed that Mommy and Daddy would rescue her before the doll could get her.
The maniacal giggles continued. Jessie shrank back into the bed. It was just the opportunity for which the advancing teddy bear had been waiting. Its tiny fangs tore into the back of her neck. Powerless to help its owner, Lil' Giggles did the only thing it could: it kept up its shrill alarm. Jessie hadn't heeded its warning, but perhaps her parents would come before it was too late.
Stephanie Kincaid is a freelance editor and writer who lives in Oklahoma. She has an MA in literature and a weakness for bad horror movies. She highly recommends being very very nice to your toys.