Wendy sat up, the foul smell of the sewer hitting her harder, making her sick to her stomach. Then she found that her uniform had been removed from her body. Now she wore a lovely, warm vest and skirt of brown and a white shirt with a high collar. She never thought she would be so happy to be wearing the style of her old life…the old life she had tried to escape only to find something much, much worse.
Then she remembered what had happened and leaped to her feet.
“The Convent…Mother Rose…’
“Burning,” Alice said. “It’s been burning all night.”
“And that thing…that monster…”
“It stopped screaming an hour ago,” another girl—wearing a blue college style dress— said. She put her hand on Wendy’s and stared wide-eyed at her. “But that could mean anything…Anna says she heard something further down in the—”
“Shhh,” Alice said. “Don’t even say something like that. It’s gone. It has to be.”
But Wendy wasn’t so sure. Whatever that thing was, it was not bound to the rules of this world. It had devoured Mother Rose, but its hunger would never be satiated. She wondered if she knew that because of the uniform that had bonded to her or if perhaps the thing had linked with her before her rescue.
“And what about the town?” she asked.
“It’s chaos,” The girl in blue said. “The Constabulary is forcing people to stay indoors and they have released the hounds to hunt for us. Apparently, The Doll Maker is eager to continue his work.
“That thing isn’t a man…” Wendy said. “Whatever it is…it’s not a man.”
“No,” Alice agreed. She pulled a sack out from behind her and opened it. It was full of the special orbs used by the sisters of the Convent. “But these might hurt him nonetheless.”
“No,” Wendy said. “We have to run away. We have to escape over the wall and—”
A hand shot out and slapped her. The other girls gasped and Alice grabbed the hand of the girl in blue.
“Lizbeth! How dare you—”
“She’s no hero!” Lizbeth hissed. “She’s a coward. What did you expect? All she did was run away…and we thought that was brave? We’re fools.”
Lizbeth stood up and walked to the exit of the overflow pipe that looked out onto a foul lake far below the hill where the Convent had stood. The other girls began to whisper and Alice silenced them.
“That’s enough. Wendy needs her rest. We can discuss—”
“Show her,” Lizbeth said, turning around and glaring at Wendy. “Show her what is happening.”
“Lizbeth…” Alice began.
“No,” Wendy said. “Show me. Whatever it is…I want to see.”
Alice looked from Lizbeth to Wendy and then back again. She signed and stood up.
“Very well,” she said. “But it isn’t pretty.”
Lizbeth, Alice, and Wendy walked through the sewers, covering their noses and clutching an orb each. The orb was warm in Wendy’s hand and she knew that if she were to know how to use it properly, it would fill the dark tunnels with light.
But perhaps it was best she didn’t see what all was down here with them.
Lizbeth stopped at a ladder leading up to lid with three holes that let light pour down on them.
“I’m warning you now,” Lizbeth said. “If you see this and still want to run, I will hate you forever.”
“I can live with that,” Wendy said. Then she climbed the ladder and lifted the lid just enough to see the hell that had once been her town.
The square had been turned into a bonfire. On the great fountain that had once been such a lovely site were the bodies of all the dolls in the town. Their bright and colorful dresses had been torn away, revealing their wooden joints and fingers. Their mouths open in a silent scream as flames consumed them.
Impaled on the top of the fountain was the lifeless body of dear Oona. Wendy had to bite her tongue to keep from screaming. She remembered how Oona had helped her flee…helped her become a symbol of hope
Constables and their dogs—large, hairless things with razor sharp teeth and large red eyes—dragged more dolls, some in brilliant blue fairytale dresses and others with light green ruffled dresses. They weren’t screaming…they weren’t resisting at all. They simply smiled and waved goodbye to one another.
“They are us…” Lizbeth said. “Thirdborn…just like us.”
“Except that one…’ Wendy said quietly. She was looking at her dear sister, who had been tossed on the pyre too late. She was looking directly at Wendy as the flames melted her hair and clothes from her body. “She was second born…and I caused this to happen.
“And you still want to run?” Lizbeth asked.
“No,” Wendy said. “No…we end this.”
Just then, a familiar roar filled the sewer. All three girls looked back and saw hundreds of large eyes fill the darkness of the tunnel.
“Oh god…” Alice moaned.
“Run,” Wendy said. “ Run now…”
But Lizbeth chucked her orb into the darkness and struck the creature, the ball exploding as it did. And in the moment of light, the three saw to their horror, the remains of twenty-seven girls in its many mouths.
“No!” Lizbeth screamed, grabbing her own sack of orbs and charging forward. Alice tried to stop her but was too slow.
Wendy grabbed Alice and pulled her toward the ladder, her own bag of orbs still around her shoulder.
“We have to climb.”
“But she’ll die!” Alice cried.
“She’s made her choice!” Wendy shouted.
As if agreeing with her, Lizbeth gave a warlike howl and began to throwing orb after orb at the thing waiting in the dark. And as Wendy and Alice burst out of the dark and into the blazing main square, she heard the howl cut off suddenly followed by a violent and terrible eruption that shook the ground beneath them.
I am so nervous with Wendy, Alice, and the monsters. But let’s admire the clothing in this chapter first.
The story has progressed to the climax. The creatures, the hounds, they must confront so many difficulties. God bless them.
To be continued.