"When do you think he'll be back?" The blond haired doll asked his friend.
"Hopefully soon, Ken. With any luck they didn't find him and he's on his way here safe." An action figure of the Hulk replied. But as both of their eyes gazed up at the alarm clock by their child's bed, they knew that he should have been home two hours ago and worry began to fill their minds. Over on the top of a box flap, another head with golden hair spoke.
"Is he back yet?" the Barbie called softly down to them. Ken moved his eyes slowly and met her sticker blue irises. "Not yet." he answered. Her face fell as she nodded sorrowfully, slipping back in her place with the other toys.
It was dark in the attic, though it was only four in the afternoon. The windows hadn't been washed in years and were so dirty that even the bright spring rays of sun were shielded away. Boxes upon boxes filled more than half the tiny room, making it cramped and uncomfortable, barely leaving just enough space for a small twin bed and nightstand. This was what the toys' child returned to every day. The air was stifling with heat, as the days crept closer to summer and fresh oxygen little. It wouldn't seem where much comfort would lay, but it was the only place the toys knew that the boy felt safe.
Steps that alternated between heavy and soft were heard limping up the steps. The two toys of plastic at the bedside went limp, eyes losing life as smiles pasted themselves to their faces. As the small attic door creaked open, a head full of sandy colored hair followed through it, sporting a darkening black eye and busted lip.
The dolls could still see, though no expressions came through to their exterior. Ken felt like weeping aloud for his child but knew that he was not allowed, while Hulk began to feel rage seep into his already clenched fists.
The teenaged boy had been beaten harshly, again. And even though it was necessary for him to stoop from the slanted roof, it looked as if he wouldn't have been able to straighten if he tried. He continued limping to the bed slowly, stopping just in front of it. His face hardened as much as it could as he began to shuffle around and fall with a painful gasp onto his bed.
The toys on the floor felt his sorrow in downpours. Then, as the poor young man let his sobs of grief and agony into the stale air, all the toys felt crushed by the overwhelming weight of being completely helpless to his needs. It was the curse to all children's dearest things, to watch but never hold nor speak to their beloved owners.
Ken and Hulk exchanged heart wrenched glances as the cries continued for several minutes. Until one last wavering whimper, then silence. The poor boy had slipped out of awareness from the mental, emotional and physical pain of just being alive.
In the sudden heavy silence the toys wished heavily they could began to move.
"Hulk, go get the first aid kit. Barbie, do you think you can get a towel from that box over there?" Ken made himself arise as he said to the toys, determined to do any and all he could for his child. "I'll see about a bottle of water and something for his pain."
Barbie called out, "Be careful!" to him as he hurried, knowing that if he paused for even a moment, his heart, if he really had one, would break all over again in his hollowed chest.
As he ran to the door, he twisted his head back to see one of the race cars helping Hulk to the bedside where the hero mutant's massive arm took the kit in one hand and with the other grabbed the drawer handle to begin climbing to the top.
Ken nodded to himself then bent under the wide space beneath the creaky attic door.
The steps were steep. Ken wondered how the humans did it every day. But nevertheless, he slowly crouched and turned to let his feet dangle as his hand held tightly to the edge of the stair before letting go. It wasn't a long drop but still a feat all in itself. Ken mouthed a silent thanks to whoever was listening for his plastic limbs that absorbed the impact and continued this repetitive ritual down the dim staircase.
Minutes later he was at the door that hid the entrance or rather his exit of the stairs. He placed an ear flat to the floor, listening for sound and movement as well as checking underneath the door for the dreaded pet of his child's terrible foster mother. He crouched motionless, waiting for any sign of life in the hallway. Up above he could faintly hear the deep mechanical voice of the Hulk followed by Barbie's lilting one along with various other squeaks and whirs of many toys fretting over their child.
Ken needed to act now before his child regained consciousness. He lifted his head but kept at his hands and knees as he crawled through the space and poked his head into the hallway. Looking to the left, on the opposite wall was a bathroom and next to it the opening to the living room. Then to his right was the kitchen and pantry and at the end of the hallway, the master bedroom. Where the evil animal resided.
The coast was clear, for now, so Ken took the opportunity and was off to the pantry. As fast and softly as he could, he ran to the door covering it before sliding on his knees and bending backward underneath the wood of the closet until he was in front of the food supplies. He stilled once more, counted to five, and once reassured that all was still clear, he stood and stretched his neck up to search the shelves for a bottle that he would be able to carry back.
He continued scouring each shelf and item before he set his gaze on a packet of mini water bottles on the fourth shelf up, eight hamburger helper boxes to the left.
Ken pushed the sleeves on his designer sweater determinedly before grasping a hold on the bottom wire shelf. He shook it experimentally, before pulling his weight onto it and hosting himself up. Thank god for plastic biceps and triceps. Holding onto a bottle of oil he stood on the shelf and reached for the next one higher up. This went on, the grabbing, pulling himself up, standing and repeat until he was two hamburger helper boxes away. Well, technically these ones were tuna.
He was lucky that the box holding the bottles had already been opened and that one was taken out and placed between the box closest to Ken and the other beside it. When Ken's little plastic thumb and fingers grabbed the neck of it, the plastic crackled as he tried to muffle the sound by crushing it to his chest. It amplified before cutting off as he froze in panic.
That blasted bird had to have heard that. He waited for any sign or sound of the devil fowl. But not a squawk nor wing flap was heard. He breathed deeply and slowly, trying to calm himself down and think clearly. The act was unnecessary, as he didn't need air to function, but it served to relax him nonetheless.
He started down the precarious shelves. It would seem that going down should have been easier than the trip up, but with only the mobility of one arm for his use, this was not the case. He would jump backwards slightly and catch himself on the edge of the next lower shelf, noisily, he thought, but whenever he paused to listen there was absolutely nothing to hear besides what he wished to be the beating of his heart. It might have been what he thought to be his throbbing muscles from exertion, though in truth all he could feel was nothing but the anxiety to get this whole trip finished and himself back to his child's bedside.
Not taking too long, he finally found himself back to ground level. Now to get the water bottle to the stairs safe then go for painkillers. Laying the little bottle on its side, he felt like shouting in relief when it squeezed under the door soundlessly. He picked it up again and ran for the attic door, two steps before reaching it, he rolled it while still running and rammed it under the door, this time with an loud crack as it was crushed through.
This time he knew the bird had awakened.
Ever so slowly, he stood the bottle straight up at the bottom of the first stair to the attic, then he crawled back under the door and crouched in the hallway with his eyes fixed on the open doorway to the bedroom. His first mistake. But when nothing moved in the darkness beyond the door, he crept backwards toward the hallway half bath. He bumped into a wall.
But this wall was made of feathers and could speak.
"Hello, toy." It said around a squawk. Ken froze before he whipped his head up to look into the beady eyes of the African grey parrot. This animal had destroyed countless toys, shredded his child's mattress, and had been wrongly named, 'Mr. Fluffy Feathers.' Ken swallowed and shakily spoke, "H-hey, Fluff. L-long time no see."
The parrot tilted its head and squinted down at him, waiting for his next move. Ken felt as if he was seconds from hyperventilating, when he took a deep breath and elbowed the parrot's stomach deeply, making it reel back and let out a deep and angry cry while he dashed for the bathroom. He pumped his arms frantically, desperate to get behind the door and pushing it shut before the devil recovered.
But sometimes small miracles just aren't meant to be. The parrot was quick to grasp a hold on itself and run after the doll. All the while Ken didn't breath, didn't think, he just acted with a hollow mantra in his head. 'Painkillers to get him better. Painkillers to get him better. Painkillers to get him better.' This helped to make him focus solely on his task of reaching that door before the demonic bird.
He could practically feel the parrot's breath on his frame and time seemed to slow just as he heard a strong flap and a talon scrape up his arm. Only milliseconds before he ducked and rolled under the bathroom door, leaving the bird to smack headlong into it. A pathetic screech came from behind the door as Ken pushed it tightly shut. But he still wasn't in the clear yet and neither was his child, until he got those pills.
He jumped up to the toilet bowl, climbed up it before leaping onto the sink's edge. His right leg slipped and his arms went in a cart wheel fashion comically before he regained his balance and pulled the mirror cabinet open to reveal countless cosmetics and antibiotics, but he spotted the aspirin at first look. He finally breathed out deeply, but stiffened again when he heard one long, solitary talon scratch down the door.
He shivered slightly and grabbed the bottle, careful not to shake it. He movements were becoming rushed. He tried to tell himself to be rational but his body had other ideas, being so frazzled and nervous he trembled as he popped the lid and reached in, grabbing two little white pills. In some part of his scattered mind, he was incredibly thankful they were the right size to fit in his sweater pockets.
Then he put everything back as they were so it was as he was never there. Then he climbed down again, this time the trip easy with two free hands. But when he crept to press his ear to his way out, he heard nothing. This was bad. He took a step back and waited. His breath locked in his chest once more, he counted while deeper in his mind there was an urge to hurry. He was thankful that Mr. Fluffy Feathers wasn't a patient bird. Ken soon heard a soft but eerie screeching calling him.
"Toy...Toooy... Tooy,..Plaay.." It came from the right, probably in the living room. Ken's mind was scattered, would he even survive this? He needed to get this stuff to his child. His thoughts tried for coherency to figure if he would even survive dashing to the other door, but then the bird would probably take to the air overcome him. Ken fisted his hands and steeled himself, this was a price he was willing to pay. But that didn't mean he wouldn't run faster than Hell's furnace.
He crawled once again under the bathroom door and looked around, there was no sign of the parrot's feet.
Damnit, Ken mentally groaned, he was probably perched somewhere along the wall on the many hooks and shelves his owner had put up for his exercise. He shook his head violently and took off for it like death were at his heels. And one second passed before it was. Mr. Fluffy swooped down with a harsh scratchy breath. The bird almost was able to take him away for his own play if Ken hadn't zigged and zagged faster than that pampered, overweight bird.
He kept up this act until there was less than three feet between him and the door to his safe haven. But all those other times when he was able to duck and crawl smoothly underneath, it must have been the nerves and panic or plain miscalculation but he hit his head, with a loud hollow 'bonk' and felt flat on his back, completely though momentarily disoriented.
The parrot took this chance and snatched the toy's small head in one claw and slammed it into the ground, again and again, leaving Ken's vision hazy and dark. Mr. Fluffy reached down with his beak and scraped it down his leg, trying to grasp a hold to rip it from his body. Unable to firmly grab it, he twisted the plastic foot into his beak and swung him harshly in the air, whipping him around, hoping to disconnect something.
But just when Ken felt as if his body was about to give way, the parrot froze, and a key turning in its lock sounded through the still house. Mr. Fluffy was quick to release the poor doll and scuttle back to his cage before his owner could find him loose and clamp his beak again, leaving Ken frozen with a broken smile on the floor just in front of the attic door.
His child's foster mother came in view with her hands full of groceries. What caught his eye were two paper bags with long necked bottles peeking out. He would've if he could've cursed that woman out and given her the scare of her life, but that would only delay him. Her fat feet almost tripped over him. She scowled and hatefully said, "Damn faggot playing with ugly bitch toys." while she kicked him under to the other side of the door. He felt like giving a holler of joy but settled only for slowly stretching to a stand and doing a tiny happy shuffle of his feet.
He patted his pockets, inhaling a sharp breath at finding one pill had fallen. "No, no, no!" He whispered, twisting around to look urgently and sighing in relief when he saw it had only slid to the foot of the stairs. He grabbed the water bottle in one arm, walked over and pocketed the pill with his other.
"Homestretch." Ken assured himself, and started into yet another pattern. This time lifting the bottle onto the step above him then hoisting himself up after it. He felt drained but accomplished.
When finally to the top stair Ken was met by a frantic Barbie doll.
"Oh, thank goodness you're back! He's in so much pain!" Her voice was soft and lilted even in her distress. Ken grabbed her waist and hugged her quickly, trying to summon any strength he had left to give to her. They exchanged looks of concern and fear before Ken took off to the Hulk standing by the bed.
The Hulk was already leaning over to give Ken a boost to put the pills at their child's bedside. As Ken was on the bedside table, he carefully laid them down and looked over to the boys sleeping face still scrunched in a grimace mirroring his pain. Ken looked back down at Hulk, waiting for his slow nod before reaching over and crawling onto the low bed over to their child.
He lifted his hand and ruffled his child's hair back into decency, then he leaned over and whispered into the boy's ear. "Daniel, please wake up." Ken leaned back and looked at his face. The boy was still in a deep unconsciousness. Ken took a deep breath and said louder, "Wake up, Daniel!"
But no matter how hard you can wish and hope, some things are just too impossible. Ken was never able to stand and run to the rescue, the hulk to get the first aid, nor Barbie to watch faithfully atop the steps.
In your last few moments, many things can happen. Some people may have out of body experiences, or flash backs upon happier times. Daniel had watched himself through another's eyes. The dolls that had stayed by his side, his only listeners, he had dreamed that they would rescue him, save him from his lucid nightmare. But as his eyes opened slowly, he heard no rustling of feet or whispers from hiding toys.
As his eyes fell to his drawer side, it was bare of any water bottle, pills or first aid kit. Tears fell from his eyes as his heart fell into a deeper pit. But his body felt numb. He closed his eyes one last time, letting go, ready to leave.
Daniel. Last name unknown.
Aged fourteen. Found November eighth, 2012. Deceased date, November third, 2012. At the time was under the foster care of Mr. and Mrs. Kale Preath. Injuries extensive including two broken ribs, fractured collarbone, broken foot and three phalanges, bruised abdominal, black eye, cut lip and severe claw marks on arms and legs. Cause thought to be bullying at school. Assailants unknown.
"I didn't know he was dead. All I knew was it stunk up there. When I went to look, I just saw him dead on the bed surrounded by those damn dolls."
Quoted from foster mother, Mrs. Kale Preath.