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Drama Sad Horror

This story contains themes or mentions of sexual violence.

Whenever he found one that looked serene... he tried to savor it. Though, admittedly, it was hard to really stay in such a state once he started moving the body. Particularly, carrying the bodies was always the worst part. He'd noticed over the years that it never got any easier, not mentally or physically. Often he'd heard people speculate: the lighter the body the easier the work. But lighter, usually just meant younger...


He didn't agree with their sentiment but he usually just nodded along. 


This particular girl, maybe three days old—lying in the sun, skin drying like a starfish's might—looked serene. She was bruised and bloodied, obviously beaten, though not to the point of complete disfigurement. This was good. A person without a face was a hard sell, Ambrose thought briefly, a failed attempt at humoring himself. He stepped closer, pulling his glasses from the chest pocket of his button up, slipping them onto his nose as he knelt down in front of her. She was blonde, that golden, summery blonde, with fair skin and freckles. Her eyes... he'd have to look at later... they'd closed, probably just before her death. Though, Ambrose noted, she had long, blonde eyelashes as well. Her bottom lip was plump, but split in the middle, and from the blood seeping from her mouth he assumed she was probably missing teeth. A generally easy fix, though costly in time and money... Rome wasn't built in a day, he heard in his father's voice.


He reached his arm out and felt for a pulse on her limp wrist. He didn't know why he did this, he just couldn't stop himself from checking. Maybe he was hoping he'd feel something one of those days, even the tiniest thump of the weakest pulse. But he never did. He pulled his hand away and inspected the body a bit more. The girl was mostly naked, wearing a torn, matted sweater, and just a pair of light pink, blood soaked underwear. Ambrose winced as he noticed the carnage between her legs, running along her thighs. She had chunks of skin, clawed out by fingernails, missing from her hips, and bruises the size of tennis rackets blossoming all over her inner thighs. He took a moment to imagine her suffering. He understood the serene look on her face, an expression that had come with the release of death. She looked beautiful to him... and...


His train of thought was lost when his phone rang, and he jumped to answer it, noticing his father's contact flashing on the screen. 


"Hey," Ambrose said, clearing his throat as he answered the phone. He could hear his father working... the sound of utensils clanging and the hum of the air conditioner buzzing faintly in the lab. 


"Found anything?" his father asked, not sounding very hopeful at all. He almost said it in a sigh, already prepared for Ambrose to disappoint him. 


Ambrose, still staring sadly at the girl just about his age, dead in front of him, swallowed hard. He felt a white, hot pit blaze in his stomach at his father's tone. He'd grown used to the feeling over the years, but every now and again, it still made him do silly things.


"No... nothing," he said simply, clenching his jaw as he prepared himself for what was to come.


There was a long, tension-filled silence over the phone as Ambrose could hear his father slowly peel off his working gloves and set them aside in disapproval.


"Fine," the man said, and then the line went dead. Ambrose, after sucking in a deep breath, slipped his phone back into his jeans pocket, peeled off his khaki trench and wrapped the girl up in it. She was small, so the fabric almost completely encapsulated her, and he was able to carry her in his arms with ease. As he walked back to his car, parked far back in an alleyway, he couldn't help but really feel her weight. She couldn't have weighed more than 115 pounds, but something about her felt heavy to him. His chest felt sunken in, hollowed from the moment he saw her. He tried to take deep breaths, matching his steps, but his lungs refused to completely fill. He'd never felt anything like it. He thought maybe it was the anxiety of lying to his father... But no. He'd done that time and time again. By that age, almost 19, he'd lied to his father so many times he'd lost count. This was a different feeling... not guilt, not anxiety. It felt as though it was just awakening, stretching itself. It's full potential, Ambrose feared, was yet to be reached. 


As he laid the girl in the backseat of his beaten up, silver whatever, his coat shifted and her face was revealed to him once again.


Ambrose's breath caught in the back of his throat as his face hovered over hers, his hand supporting her neck as he was lying her down. He suddenly got the impulse to look at her eyes. He set her down gently, and then removed his hand from her neck, ever so slightly opening up her eyes again.


He had assumed they were blue, but he was wrong. They were brown, milk chocolate brown with little flecks of gold in them to match her hair. For a moment, he could see her in his mind's eye as she would have been. He could see her smiling, he could hear her laughter. He saw the way her eyelashes sparkled in the sun as she blinked, fresh out of a pool, her skin slick with water. He saw her lean into him, felt her kiss, her embrace... Ambrose heard her say I love you, and then saw her crying, her face scrunched with frustration. He smelled her perfume, with notes of jasmine and vanilla. And then he felt her sorrow... each unwanted finger against her body. Each of her screams, hoarse in his throat. Then finally her death, flashing before him like a movie, as the warmth of the sun kissed her on the forehead and she lulled herself to sleep for the last time. 


Ambrose broke from the trance and stumbled backwards, fighting to catch his breath as he landed on the ground, the girl's body still lying still in his backseat. He blinked his eyes furiously, realizing tears were pouring from them, sliding down his cheeks rapidly. He wiped at his face and stared down at his hands, as if wondering if he was even in his body anymore. But he was, despite having just seen the girl's life right there, in front of him, as if he had been living it, too. He swallowed again, gasping, his heart racing in his chest as he tried to rationalize what he'd just felt. He found himself floundering for an explanation, coming up with zilch. He'd never experienced anything quite like that... 


"Hey, Brose!" a voice came calling from down the alley, causing him to jump to his feet. He immediately closed the car door, locking the girl inside. When he turned and looked behind him he saw Zan, another boy around his age. Their fathers were both in the doll business, so the two of them were sort of like friends—or rivals. At least that's what Ambrose's father always told him.


"Hey... What's up?" Ambrose said, trying his best not to seem flustered, though he was still struggling to fully get a breath in. Zan, finally reaching Ambrose at his car, slumped a body bag of his own against the side of Ambrose's vehicle. 


"Dad sent me out to find new specimens, you?" Zan smiled, leaning next to the body bag. Ambrose had never quite understood the boy, who always seemed very happy-go-lucky in nature. He'd grown up watching his father work, and assumed Zan had done the same. Ambrose couldn't imagine being so carefree... not after what he'd seen and heard.


"Yeah... same..." Ambrose nodded, swallowing as he tried to position himself in front of the car so that Zan couldn't see the girl inside. If his father caught wind that he'd found a body—one that looked like her—she'd be sold overnight. He couldn't let that happen, not just for some old, rich, sweatbox of a man to have their way with her...


Ambrose had never thought these particular words in this order, but found himself sick at the mere realization of them: abused in life and abused in death. He wouldn't stand for it. Not this time. There had been too many before. How long had he been doing this? How many precious bodies had he handed to his father to beautify and then sell? Too many. Too many. Far, far too many.


"Boy or girl?" Zan asked then, though Ambrose was, frankly, barely listening.


"What?"


Zan chuckled, and then did exactly what Ambrose was afraid he might. He gestured to inside of Ambrose's car. Damnit. He'd already seen him carrying something.


"Uh... girl," Ambrose said, trying to keep his tone neutral, though his voice came out a bit snappier than he intended. She was already dead, he wasn't sure why he felt such a strong impulse to protect her. 


"Alright, man, jeez. Just asking," Zan said, throwing his hands up in play-surrender before he bent down and collected his own body bag with a groan. 


Ambrose didn't bother himself with a farewell, and hopped into his car as quickly as possible, heading straight for Annora's place. When he showed up, she was already waiting for him on the porch, biting her lip anxiously. He'd called her on the way, but what he'd explained on the phone made such little sense to her she wasn't sure what to say. Still, Ambrose knew he could count on the girl in a pinch. They had that kind of thing; an unspoken understanding.


"I need to use your dad's lab for a minute," Ambrose breathed, already out of breath as he rushed toward Annora with the trench coat-wrapped body in arms. 


The girl, eyes widening, looked down at what was in his arms. 


"Ambrose... please tell me that isn't a-"


"Nora... please. I promise I'll explain everything."


She chewed on her lip one last time, ran a hand back through her shoulder length ginger hair, and sighed in concession, "Fine."


She led the boy through her house until they got to her father's freezer room. Another man in the ever growing doll business. Inside it looked just like a morgue, and there was a big steel table in the middle of the room with a body already on it. Ambrose only glanced at it, and then turned his gaze away when he realized it was a child. A boy no older than ten. He felt sick at the thought the boy was already paid for. Young women were the most common doll you could buy, as in a big city like that one, bodies could be collected from crimes on the street almost daily. But a young boy... Ambrose doubted the morality of how Annora's father had acquired such a specimen, though he was beginning to finally doubt the morality of the business as a whole.


"Don't touch anything," Annora begged, lowering her voice although she knew she was home alone, "my father will kill me if anything is out of place."


Ambrose set the girl's body down gently on the floor and unwrapped her slightly, though he left her bottom half covered. Annora, standing over his shoulder where he knelt, furrowed her brows in confusion.


"Who is she?" the girl asked, noticing the way Ambrose's green eyes swirled with emotion just at the sight of her. She'd never seen him look so soft, so enthralled by something. A pang of jealousy struck her heart and then her cheeks blushed—she was jealous of a dead girl.


"I don't know," Ambrose finally answered, looking up at Annora with that same glint in his eyes. Her blush intensified as her face grew hot, though they stood in the cold of the lab, their breath creating clouds of condensation. 


"So, why don't you just give her to your father? I don't understand what you meant... you saw her life?" Annora went on, kneeling down next to the boy. She stared into the girl's still, brown eyes, searching for whatever Ambrose might be seeing. 


"When I looked at her eyes..." Ambrose started, his hand trailing up to touch the girl's face, her skin growing cold, "I saw her life. I felt it. She kissed me. She cried. I could smell her perfume. I could... I could feel her die."


Annora watched as Ambrose gazed at the body, tears forming at the corners of his eyes. She'd never seen him cry before, and the sight of it made her realize how serious he was. As much as she wanted to question him, and pry for more understanding, she knew she had to trust him. Just this once. 


"What do you want to do?" Annora asked softly, watching as a single tear rolled down the boy's cheek. He explained to the girl he wanted to bury the body properly, so she wouldn't be tampered with. Hearing his idea, Annora supplied one of her own. Her family lived on a far and wide property, full of forest. There was a particularly large oak tree at the top of a hill behind her home, it might make for a good grave marker. Ambrose agreed.


The two of them walked through the weeds together, Ambrose carrying the body and Annora with a rusty shovel, for what felt like a long while. It had been late afternoon when Ambrose left the house that day, and as they grew closer to the oak, the sun grew closer to setting. Once the large tree came into view, they picked up the pace a bit. They wanted to be able to bury her while there was still some light. They reached the spot and Ambrose started digging. He'd made a hole deep enough about half an hour later. The sun, indeed, had set but there was still a lingering glow in the sky. The clouds grew deeper and deeper orange by the second, and soon the light would completely evade them.


"We should hurry," Annora said gently, realizing then too that soon her father would be home, and would expect her to be there. Ambrose nodded and gently laid the girl in her grave. The way the peach colored light made her skin glitter brought tears to his eyes once again. He hadn't known before that day how sentimental he could be or how it felt to be kissed, even if it hadn't really been his lips and hers. He thought idly that he wished it could be him in that hole in the ground rather than her. He certainly deserved it more... far more than she ever could.


Annora, wanting to allow Ambrose his moment, stepped away from the grave as he kneeled beside it. She stood behind another tree and leaned against it, smiling out over the watercolored sky. She had a warmness in her chest, the type of feeling you get when you've done a good thing. She'd never done anything quite like what they did that day, but for whatever reason, it felt like the right thing. The sound of birds chirping, the breeze blowing ever so slightly. It was a beautiful night for a funeral...


Just as quickly as the sun disappeared below the horizon, the sharp, ear-splitting sound of a gun going off pierced the atmosphere. Followed unceremoniously by the thump of a body hitting the ground. Ambrose, buckling under the shot, fell directly into the hole he'd made, lying just next to the girl. Blood poured out of him like a fountain as he laid there, soaking both him and her. His hand shook as he prodded at the wound, and he felt once again, that feeling of not being able to breathe.


Annora screamed, and the birds around them in the trees flew off in a hurry, startled just as she was. She ran to the grave, staring down at Ambrose and the already dead body... lying there... two stages of the same outcome. 


"Ambrose..." she sobbed, trying to reach for him without any luck. She turned her attention to the side and saw her father standing there with his gun, looking confused about all of the theatrics. She could see him walking up the hill in her peripheral, but refused to pull her eyes from the boy as he bled out in front of her.


"... Thank you... Nora..." Ambrose choked out, staring up at the girl with a small smile on his face. He wasn't crying... he was happy.


"No," Annora pleaded, snot running down her chin as her vision was completely blurred by tears. She felt her father's hand on her shoulder as she was pulled back from the grave, fighting against his grip as hard as she could to see Ambrose. She broke away for a second, kneeling once more at the edge, but it was too late. And like the girl, he laid there dead with his eyes wide open. She thought for a split second they looked like a painting, lying there splattered with their own blood.


"Go get me some rope, you brat," Annora's father spat, throwing her down against the ground behind him, his gun dangerously close to her body, his finger still on the trigger...


She scurried away in fear back toward the house, sick as she realized what was to come.


"These two will sell nicely."


She heard her father say, standing with his hands on his hips as he loomed over the grave. Before she could stop herself she forced her legs to run, and keep running until she was far past her home. Though, all three of their fates would still be the same.

April 25, 2023 15:46

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30 comments

17:32 May 04, 2023

Unsettling and creepy and very well written!!

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Brynn Helena
17:33 May 04, 2023

thanks so much derrick!! :)

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David Drake
01:52 Apr 30, 2023

Very cool horror style story! Liked your characters a lot!

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Brynn Helena
01:53 Apr 30, 2023

thank you!! :)

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Jody S
18:36 Apr 27, 2023

So creepy and yet so beautifully penned. The emotions were so powerful and the tale so sad. While this is not the type of story I usually read, you had me hooked and I read it through to the end. Just so well written.

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Brynn Helena
20:06 Apr 27, 2023

thanks so much jody!!! glad you enjoyed it :) <3

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Helen A Smith
16:12 Apr 26, 2023

Hi Brynn What a creepy tale! The pace didn’t let up and you had me hooked. There was such a pain and sadness surrounding the destruction of the innocence of these children. As well as an inevitability - that nothing could be changed and their fates were sealed. What a horrible world they were born into. Well told.

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Brynn Helena
16:16 Apr 26, 2023

thank you so much helen--for reading and commenting!! i appreciate it :)

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Michelle Oliver
12:10 Apr 26, 2023

Hey Brynn Well done on creating a very successful and unnerving feeling here. That ending packs a punch. All three! I am going with the assumption that the father is not very paternal and had no qualms about turning his daughter into a creepy doll too. *Shudder* Can I caution you in the use of ellipses. They disrupt the flow of sentences for the reader. When used right they are effective… when overused they are just… annoying… to read… I know the feeling you’re going for with them, but perhaps check each one and see if it’s really necessar...

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Brynn Helena
13:28 Apr 26, 2023

thank you!!! for both the lovely compliments and the notes, i always love getting feedback. i've heard a couple others comment on the ellipses... i'll do a read through and see how i feel on that front. thanks again! <3

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Kevin Marlow
02:48 Apr 26, 2023

Nice Necro Nostalgia, reminded me of pot-smoke-filled discussions of all the topics off limits yet not beyond the scope of David Lynch or John Waters.

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Brynn Helena
11:21 Apr 26, 2023

as a lover of both david lynch and john waters work, this is such a compliment. thank you!! :)

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John Del Rio
22:02 Apr 25, 2023

Well written. Unsettling. Not grave robbing so much as grave blocking? Selling freshly dead as dolls. It could be any city at almost any time. I will read more of your work.

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Brynn Helena
23:38 Apr 25, 2023

thanks so much!!! glad to hear everyone is as unsettled by this concept as i was when it came to me :)

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John Del Rio
16:19 Apr 26, 2023

It seems like something that can go further. I would read more to learn about the Doll industry

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Brynn Helena
16:23 Apr 26, 2023

i've been thinking about doing some kind of prequel perhaps, maybe where you see a younger ambrose first introduced to his father's work... see how he gets acquainted with zan and nora at school...? there are many more ideas within this universe that i would love to flesh out!!

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John Del Rio
23:43 Apr 26, 2023

Sounds good to me. I would read it for sure

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Philippa Hibberd
19:33 Apr 25, 2023

Nice take on the creepy doll trope! I like Ambrose's internal conflict between wanting to please his father, and realising just how screwed up the industry is. Between trying to see the girl as just another body, and imagining how she was in life, with thoughts and feelings and loved ones. And that tragic ending really hits hard - the line "These two will sell nicely" made me shiver. Now for criticism, if you're ok with it: I have to say all those ellipses, for me, disrupted the flow of the story. A few here and there would be fine, especia...

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Brynn Helena
23:37 Apr 25, 2023

thank you for reading and for the lengthy comment!! i always love to hear criticism as well as praise, thank you for the notes. <333

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J. D. Lair
21:11 May 17, 2023

This was very good! Love me some good horror! The idea of selling freshly dead bodies to the sex trade is definitely unique and the right amount of creepy. Well done!

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Brynn Helena
22:31 May 17, 2023

thank you so much!! i appreciate your comment :)

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Catherine Hudson
20:21 May 04, 2023

I liked how the story kept me guessing in a fun way. Great ending.

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Brynn Helena
22:14 May 04, 2023

thank you!!! :)

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Lulu Herbert
01:46 May 02, 2023

Okay, this is the most incredible story I've ever laid my eyes on. Every word in this story hooked me and i could really feel what Ambrose was feeling. The story was filled with pure, somber emotion, I'm speechless!

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Brynn Helena
02:07 May 02, 2023

thank you so much!!! :)

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Josephine Harris
21:08 Apr 25, 2023

Brynn: Thank you for liking my story. That's what brought me over here. Boy is 'unsettling' the right word. I'm not squeamish but this had me holding my breath. A couple of things: I thought at first that the girl was three days old, not that she'd been dead that long, Also I found the last line unnecessary. Otherwise this story was a really scary place to be. If you ever write a novel of this caliber I would like to read it.

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Brynn Helena
23:37 Apr 25, 2023

thank you so much josephine, for reading and commenting :)

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Mary Bendickson
19:11 Apr 25, 2023

Ooo. What world is this? Good telling but sooo creepy. Thanks for liking my 'Best Basset'. Certainly mild next to this:)

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Brynn Helena
19:13 Apr 25, 2023

i was hoping to evoke a bit of a dystopian vibe!! somewhere in the maybe near future... glad it was unsettling to you... me too. thanks for reading! <3

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Mary Bendickson
19:15 Apr 25, 2023

Sometimes those near future are the creepiest because they foretell something so close to being real. You've been busy. Thanks for reading and liking 'Trampled Dreams' and following.

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