This is a Love Note.

The Dolls

When she receives two magical dolls for Christmas, a preteen girl is forced to face her fears before evil spirits destroy her family.

Tropes – Grumpy Sunshine, Fantasy, Dream Walking

“Don’t forget this one, sweetie. Open it!” 

Abby’s mother pointed to a shiny blue box with a silver bow. It was the last present under the tree. 

“Oh! I hope it’s the ice skates I asked for!” Her parents exchanged a glance. It was not the ice skates. 

Nestled inside the shiny box was a pair of dolls. A man and a woman dressed like medieval vikings in matching forest green woolen tunics, brown pants, and knee-high leather boots. The man was a couple of inches taller than the woman. He had dusky red hair flowing over his shoulders and bright blue eyes over an unruly beard. The woman’s long sandy blonde hair was braided down to her waist. Her hazel eyes were narrowed in irritation. 

Both dolls were equipped with real, miniature weapons made of metal and wood. Strapped to the man’s back was an unsheathed broadsword about half his size. The length of the blade was carved with an intricate design of interlocking vines and letters in a language Abby couldn’t read. The woman had a similarly decorated axe with a short wooden handle strapped to her hip belt and a long dagger holstered to her left thigh. The dolls were impressive. Someone clearly spent a long time getting all the details just right, down to the scars on their hands, but they weren’t ice skates.

Abby tossed the dolls back in the box and glared at her parents. “What are these for?” 

“Hey! Be careful with those. They’re vintage,” scolded her mother, “I found them in the antique shop downtown. They’re supposed to protect you from evil spirits. The shopkeeper said they’re a perfect pair. Perfectly balanced like yin and yang. You have to keep them together always. Together they can defeat anything. Isn’t that sweet?” 

Her mother rubbed her rounded tummy then adjusted the dolls so they laid hand in hand. 

“Maybe they can help with those nightmares you’ve been having? No need to be scared with these two around, huh?”

Abby sighed, “Sure mom”, and took her presents to her room. She played with the dolls a bit before bed. She had them in an epic fight to the death but she got tired before the battle was over. The man and his sword ended up strewn on top of her dresser, the woman on the floor by her bedside table.

Abby was on the cusp of sleep when she heard someone whisper-yell, “Hey, where are you!?”

“Over here! By the bed!” answered a feminine voice right by Abby’s head.

 

Abby’s eyes snapped open. She heard some rustling from her dresser and reached over her beside table to turn on the lamp. Instead of hitting the lamp, her hand knocked something else over. 

“Ow!”

Abby scrambled to turn on the lamp. On top of the bedside table sat the lady viking with a hand to her head. She glared up at Abby, “That wasn’t very nice.” 

Abby gasped. A doll was talking to her. 

“I’m sure she didn’t mean it, love.”

Abby looked over the edge of the bed. The viking man smiled and waved up at her from the foot of the table. 

“Oh my God!” Abby fell over the other side of her bed in her haste to get away.

The viking man climbed up the table to join the woman. He grinned at Abby as he helped the viking lady to her feet. “Relax, kid. We’re the good guys. We’re here to save you.” 

“From what!?” 

The woman crossed her arms and raised a brow. “From the evil spirits feeding on your dreams. What else did you think was causing your nightmares?”

Abby blinked and blinked some more. Her back was plastered to the wall as far as she could get from this unholy hallucination. Was she already asleep? Maybe this was a new nightmare? She took a step to the door.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.,” said the Viking man as he scratched his nose and eyed the wall of Funko Pops by her desk.

“Why not?” She couldn’t believe she was entertaining a conversation with an action figure. What  a weird dream.

“Because now the spirits know we’re here to stop them. If you leave this room, they might jump to another host, like your mommy or your daddy. And it’s much harder to get evil spirits out of adults. They’re so stubborn.”

Abby glanced between the dolls. The viking man looked relaxed despite the scary warning he gave her. The woman remained silent but gave Abby a hard stare. 

What if this wasn’t a dream? Her mother was 6 months pregnant. Her father said any kind of stress could be bad for the baby so they had to take really good care of her for the next few months. Having evil spirits was definitely stressful. The nightmares were grueling. Abby couldn’t remember the last time she slept through the night. She was tired and restless. Her bones ached. Nothing satisfied her anymore, not even her favorite cheesy mashed potatoes. That had to be because of the evil spirits, right?

“What do I have to do to get rid of the evil spirits?”

“Nothing. Leave it to us.” said the viking man. The woman snorted. He ignored her and continued, “All you have to do is let us into your dreams and we’ll fight them off for you.”

“Let you into my dreams? How do I do that?”

“Easy,” He waved a hand through the air. “All you gotta do is trust us. If you believe we can protect you then we can slide right in and save the day.”

Abby sat on the edge of the bed and thought it over. “But how do I know you can protect me? Do you have special powers? How do you fight evil spirits?”

The viking man released a disbelieving breath. “You’re looking at a talking doll, kid! A viking! What kind of question is that!? Of course we can protect you!” He caught the viking woman’s eye before she could look away. Her jaw was clenched.

“We’ve got all sorts of powers. None of which we’ll need. All we have to do is beat the evil spirits out of you.” He mimed choke holding someone and punching them in the head. 

“Prove it,” said Abby with a raised brow. “I wanna see you fight. Then I’ll believe you can take down the evil spirits.”

The viking glared at her a second before his face brightened, “Fine.” He turned to the woman, broadsword already in his hands. “May the best man win?”

The woman smirked and palmed her dagger. “Don’t you mean the best woman?” 

She dove for his feet before he had a chance to reply. The man jumped back and slashed down his sword. The woman rolled away and kicked the back of his knees. As he fell, she leapt to her feet and almost plunged her dagger in his gut but the man rolled away at the last minute. He rolled off the bedside table and landed on his feet on the floor. The woman jumped after him.

They went back and forth for a few minutes. Leaping, slashing, punching, kicking. They were so fast Abby had trouble keeping up as they flew across the floor. Finally, the man had the woman pinned to the floor. He was looming over her with his broadsword pushing down against her crossed axe and dagger. The sword was a hair’s breadth from her face when the woman kicked up and hit him square in the groin. He fell back with a yelp and then she was on him with her dagger at his throat. 

“That was low, even for you,” he groaned.

“Do you yield?,” she growled.

“Yes,” he hissed.

The viking lady let him up and turned back to Abby. “Was that good enough?”

“Yes! That was awesome! You were amazing!” Abby gushed. The woman smiled for the first time tonight.

“Great,” said the disgruntled viking man, “Can we get this over with? Now that you believe in us, it’s time for you to fall asleep so we can do our job.”

“Okay but what do I call you? What are your names? My name’s Abby.” Abby tucked herself under the covers as the dolls climbed back onto the bedside table.

“My name’s Balthazar and this is Bellatrix, but those names are old-fashioned now. We prefer Bal and Belle.”

“Speak for yourself.” Belle glared at Bal. 

He rolled his eyes good-naturedly and reached up to turn off the lamp. “Alright, time to go night-night. We’ll see you in there, kid.”

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