The Dummy's Finale

1

In Which Amy Kramer Encounters A Ghost

A long, cool breeze rushed through fifteen-year-old Amy Kramer's hair, pushing it off her shoulders and making it swim beyond her shoulders.

"Are you sure about this?" asked a voice and her head whipped to the side.

Next to the sidewalk stretched a huge forest that kids liked to play around.

She squinted passed the leaves and made out the figures of two middle schoolers, one with sandy hair and the other with bright blue curls.

"Dude, come on," whined another voice as the blue-haired boy shook something in his hand.

A matchbox, Amy realized slowly, stepping closer and thanking that it had rained the night before so the boys couldn't hear her. At their sneakered feet lay a crumpled heap, breathing slowly but otherwise unmoving.

Could it have been an animal?

At the thought, she picked up her pace to a hurried jog, her softball bag hitting her hip with each step. Blood pounded in her ears as she struggled to find her voice.

"I dunno. There's a reason this thing's here. Maybe it's evidence to a murder," the blond muttered, looking uncertainly at his friend.

The blue-haired boy snorted with laughter. "Don't be a wuss," he said firmly, giving his friend a light shove.

She froze when she spotted the black-clad body, the wavy brown hair.

Could it…?

"Hey!" she called, stumbling as her sneaker caught on a tree root. Her bat clattered out of her hand noisily and she scrambled for purchase.

The boys stared at her, wide-eyed and then they took off, leaving the matches behind.

Mud squished loudly beneath her feet as she shook her head at them with a heavy sigh. "Stupid kids. Let's see who this little guy is." She crouched down, gently rolling over the figure, and froze.

His face was chipped and cracked, almost unrecognizable if not for the freckles across where his nose would've been and the waves of auburn hair.

Her stomach twisted painfully as she stared at Slappy's bruised form.

He looked horrible, his suit cut into pieces, his paint peeling and chipped.

"Don't…" His voice was weak and raspy as he jolted up jerkily, like his joints no longer worked properly, waving his arm out lamely.

"Don't," he breathed again, his good eye cracked open. "Don't…touch me."

His chest was heaving, beads of water clinging to his jaw and sunken cheeks as recognition lit up his porcelain face. And then his visible eye rolled back and he fell forward, collapsing to the ground in a motionless heap again.

Amy stared vacantly at his back.

How the hell did Slappy find his way back to her town?


Sara was working on her latest masterpiece when Amy came in, cradling the unconscious living doll in her arms gently.

After wrestling with her maternal instincts and better judgment, her instincts won and Amy proceeded to take him home.

"Is that you?" Sara's head peeked out of her studio room, a paintbrush tucked behind her ear.

Her eyes twinkled and Amy shrugged off her muddy softball bag into her sports bin. Toeing off her boots, she muttered something like a greeting and rested Slappy on the counter. His eyelids fluttered as he slept soundly.

"Amy, how was—what is he doing back here?" Sara's voice reached a feverish pitch, making Amy's head pound with an impending migraine.

"Slappy," was all she said as she rummaged about in the drawer to find a screwdriver and scissors.

"I know that," Sara hissed, wielding her palette knife like a sword against a mighty opponent. "Why is he here?" she demanded loudly.

Amy quietly closed the drawer. "I have a migraine, try to keep it down," she said.

"Amy!" Sara came stomping in but didn't move passed the fridge.

"I said shut it. He needs help." Amy fixed her older sister with a glare.

"Couldn't he have gotten help at the bottom of a ditch? Preferably in Alaska," Sara grumbled, scowling at Amy.

The younger of the two rolled her eyes at the older's antics and turned away. "Grow up," Amy muttered as the garage door creaked open.

"Let's see what Mummy and Daddy have to say!" spat Sara as she spun on her heel and stalked away.

Amy shook her head sadly at her sister's attempt at coming off as posh and sophisticated, even going so far as adopting an English lilt.

Mr. Kramer stepped in, his brow furrowed at his older daughter's incoherent babblings until his eyes landed on the dummy lying on the table. "Amy," he choked out, his voice strained, "What's this?"

Jed peered around his father's arm and grinned. "Dude, it's Slappy!" he yelled, ready to charge forward, but Mrs. Kramer grabbed the back of his football uniform and yanked him back.

Scowling, Jed swung his arms and pulled against his mother's grip.

"He needs help," Amy stated calmly as she lifted him up, brushing off a streak of flaky mud from his round cheek.

"Mental, you are," Sara muttered darkly.

"Amy, sweetie, don't you remember last time he was here?" Mrs. Kramer's voice could have been called soothing but her eyes held a bit of panic and horror.

"I do. Two middle schoolers were going to burn him so I decided to take him back here," Amy answered, wrapping Slappy up into her chest. His chin dug into her collarbone, little hands resting against her hips.

"Amy—"

"For once, please, just leave be," she pleaded as she scooped up her things and squeezed past her family.

"This is going to bring trouble, Amy," Sara told her fiercely but her eyes didn't even stray to the ventriloquist dummy in her arms; they stayed on Amy's the entire time.

"Doesn't matter. Trouble is my middle name. Also, that accent is offensive and sucks," Amy replied.