Last summer, Lara chose the theme Figurines for her blog. This is the result.
What could be more ordinary than an eleven-year-old girl who loves to play with her dolls house? What can turn a hobby into an all-consuming obsession resulting in the girl being held on suspicion of multiple murder?
My investigation into the disappearance of her family lead me to a stand still. Her parents, siblings, grand parents all vanished without a trace over a period of several months. The only constant element was Ellie, but she wasn’t willing to share anything or shed the slightest speck of light as to the whereabouts of her family. Its clear she was the last person to see each of them before they fell of the face of the earth, but still I had nothing to go on.
Whilst she was detained on a hospital ward I had the chance to examine her room again without her interference. I open the dolls house front and see the figurines she had made. Each one representing the family member who’d vanished in surprisingly accurate detail. I carefully pick up the father figure and go over the story of events again as I had so many times before. What was I missing?
Ellie was a normal little girl with a loving family. She had a keen interest in dolls houses, and when she got a deluxe Victorian style house from her father one Christmas; she was over the moon with joy. She spent many an hour building and decorating it with her fathers help and prised it dearly.
Her world began to fall apart when her parents filed for divorce. The once happy outgoing child quickly became quiet and withdrawn as the tension increased. She spent more time with her doll family, as her real one became strangers to her.
Every attempt to get her away from the house was met with a violent reaction. Concerned for her emotional well-being they tried to limit her access to the dolls house. Her father eventually threatened to throw it away. He was the first to vanish. As the family panicked, her reaction was to replace the father doll with one she made in the image of her father. Her mother was disturbed by the way she treated the doll as though it was her father. Talking to it as they used to do before the divorce. With no trace of him the family feared the worst.
In spite of the possibility that her father could be dead, Ellie seamed more her old self with the doll she made, taking it everywhere she went and defending it closely. It was clear the trauma of the divorce had affected her deeply.
The doctor suggested she’d adopted the doll family in place of her own as a coping strategy, and advised she be kept away from the toy house to help rehabilitate her. Mother was determined to carry out this advice in any way she could. She was the next to vanish, and Ellie created a new doll to replace her.
It was now down to her grand parents and older brothers to look after her. One by one they go the same way. All that’s left of her family now is this collection of creepy looking dolls, dressed in clothing she’d made to match what her family would wear, the bodies coated in candle wax to give them a more realistic look, the faces carefully painted to look happy.
The doctor was right, her family fell apart so she made her own, free from the stress and heartache of reality, but that didn’t tell me what happened to them.
All I had left to go on was this house. To give credit where it’s due, she did a remarkable job. It looked just like a real house with working lights, running water, all the luxuries of a comfortable home. Her attention to detail was superb and I could understand the fantasy it gave her of a stable home where everyone is happy and everything is under her control.
She was closer to her father than anyone. His doll received the most attention. I marvelled at how she managed to get the hair in the exact style, how every part of it was in proportion to a real body. She’d coated it in wax and I wondered what she used to begin with, too heavy for a wooden peg or a plastic toy of some kind. It had a strange musty odour mixed with the deodorant she’d sprayed it with.
As I looked at the face I noticed the wax was slightly transparent. I casually stroked my thumb over its face and the wax came away. A trickle of a red liquid seeped from round the edges. I carefully moved it away and found myself looking into the sockets of a tiny skull…
I took the dolls to my friend in the forensics lab. A simple genetics test proved beyond doubt the dolls were her missing family, though how the hell it happened beggared belief.
Only Ellie had the answers, and I was going to have them at all costs.
I arrange for the toy house to be delivered to the hospital. She was so frantic about being kept away from it they had to keep her sedated. The house was put in a room where she can be observed from all angles. Upon seeing it she ran and hugged it, crying with joy. She called to her daddy like greeting him after a long time apart and opened the front. She fell silent and was still for a moment, before screaming as she observed her doll family were absent.
She went into a rage demanding to know where they were. I spoke to her through the speakers in the room and said that I had them, and she could have them back only when she explained what happened to them. With this she quickly calmed down and simply sat in the centre of the floor, silent, staring at the empty house.
She was unresponsive, just sat there. After an hour I dared to quietly enter the room. Dr Evans, my forensic friend, insisted he join me with a powerful sedative, just in case. I carefully sit beside her and try to get her attention. Even showing her the dolls I had in a plastic tub.
She was staring at the house in a trance and nothing could distract her. I opened the tub and was hit with a strong smell of decay. The dolls were decomposing, but even this wouldn’t bring her out of it.
My friend suspected something wasn’t right, and I gently touch her shoulder and gave her a gentle shake. She fell forwards, her head hitting the floor with a crack. She was dead.
She was rushed to A&E who did everything they could to save her, but she was gone, taking the mystery with her. Keeping it out of the media was nearly impossible. The dolls were frozen and locked away and the house was kept in my office at the station. Two days later I get a call, her body was missing from the morgue. I rush over to investigate, she, like her family, had vanished.
Surveillance footage from the morgue was viewed. She was seen being placed into a cubical, then an empty cubical forty-eight hours later. No one touched the body.
I return to my office defeated and exhausted. The house sat there. It felt like it was watching me. I play a message left earlier while I was out; the dolls had also gone…
A light comes on in the house’s living room. I could just see a figure through its window.
I slowly open the front. All the dolls are there, the fathers wax face had been repaired; all of them were looking up at me, then I notice a new one. Ellie, only her doll is in the kitchen pointing to the floor.
The corner of the floor cover was sticking up. I lift it to reveal a secret compartment I didn’t see before, hidden beneath a miniature cellar door. With my heart already pounding I dare to lift the small door, and there I see another doll…it looked just like me. Terrified, I grab it take it outside and set fire to it.
As it burned, so did I. The last thing I saw that day was my office in flames.