they wouldn’t wake up
Until Midnight
CHAPTER
1
Friday and Saturday
On Friday I found her doll in my desk.
Its sky blue glass eyes stared passively at me, as if wondering what it -she?- was doing in my desk. The ruffled shirt was a peachy color and had a few splotches of brown. Gross. The hair was brown and curly, and the skin looked about the same shade of peach as the dress.
“Uh..?” I stuttered, holding it an arm’s length away from my body. “Whose doll..?”
And then she stood up so fast, she knocked over her chair and two of her books fell off her desk.
I always thought of Caitlin as a that quiet girl who sat in the back of the classroom, doing her work quietly and raising her hand quietly and eating her lunch quietly. It never occurred to me she could do anything loud.
“Oh,” she said, rushing over to my desk and dragging the doll out of my hands. “That’s my sister’s doll, I don’t know how it got there...”
“Okay,” I let go of the doll and watched as Caitlin scrambled back to her seat and shoved the doll into her desk. Class resumed with a little bit of tension hanging in the air. I glanced at the clock. Twelve minutes until second period was over. I sighed loudly.
After second period, Clara thundered down the hall and grabbed my arm.
“Hi.” I mumbled.
“Nicole!!” she shrieked.
“Is it Caitlin?” I said, trying to wiggle out of her grasp, but it was like trying to take off a straitjacket with your feet and hands tied.
“Yeah,” she gasped. “How did it feel to find her doll in your desk? Was it creepy?”
She poked at her eyes the same time I rolled mine.
“Were the eyes red? I heard they were red.”
“They weren’t red,” I groaned. “They were blue.”
“Oh.” she stopped short of what she was going to say. “Oh.”
“Bye.” I finally managed to pry her fingers off her arm and dart into my next class.
At lunch, I opened my lunch to find a thermos of pasta and an apple. Clara started to talk to me at rapid-fire speed.
“Did you hear about that game last night? The one on Thursday? Apparently our team was beat, like, 40 to 42 after their worst player scored a layup. You should have heard the noise!”
“I was there,” I said, unscrewing the thermos top and sniffing the pasta inside.
“Oh.” she did her famous pause and continued talking. “How’d you think you did on Mr. Hernandez’s ‘little quiz’?”
“It was okay,” I said, cramming some pasta into my mouth. “Ith fink I coth whon ur toof qweshmumphs ronmph.”
That was meant to be “I think I got one or two questions wrong,” but Clara didn’t seem to mind. She blabbered on, talking about how she thought she did okay, what the answer to number five was, and blah, and blah, and blah.
I tried to listen to my friends, but I’m a terrible listener. My thoughts wandered to Caitlin, who was sitting by herself with the doll propped up on the table. She was slowly eating a tray of school lunch, stopping every minute to stare back at the doll.
It looked peaceful over there, and the table was in the dark corner, so Clara wouldn’t notice I moved. I stood up, grabbed my lunch and hurried over.
“Where are you going?” Clara asked me, holding on to the corner of my sweater like it was the last time I would ever see her.
“Oh,” I lied, “I needed to get some work done upstairs.”
She nodded, let go of my sweater, and started to talk to someone else.
I scooted next to Caitlin, and she studied me.
“Hello,” she murmured, turning her attention back to the mashed potatoes splattered on the lunch tray.
“Uh.” I said, immediately wishing I hadn’t started the conversation. “Uh... how are you?”
“Fine,” she said quietly, her eyes still on the glop in front of her.
Looking closer at her, I noticed how unnaturally pale her skin was. Her eyes: I yelped, and my heart skipped a beat.
They had no pupils.
Just empty blackness.
“So,” I began again, shaken by my discovery. “That doll... belonged to your sister..?”
“I had a sister,” she said firmly, grabbing a plastic fork lying next to the tray and stabbing at the mashed potatoes on the tray.
Out of my peripheral vision, I swear I saw the doll’s eyes flutter. My brain, logical as it was, shooed away the thought: Nah. Dolls aren’t alive.
“And..?” I urged.
I winced at my curiosity. I seemed like a busybody. Like Clara.
Oops. I actually said that.
“She went missing,” Caitlin said flatly.
“Oh,” I whispered, “I’m sorry.”
She shrugged, and her shoulder bones showed through her baggy t-shirt. She gestured at my lunch. “That looks good.”
I willingly handed over the apple in my lunch. She hungrily munched on it. Juice dribbled down her chin, and a little bit of color showed in her sallow cheeks. I smiled despite how creepily that doll was looking at us.
Because I was her only friend, Caitlin invited me over for a sleepover that day at her house. I asked my mother, who asked my father, who said “yes” to my mother, who told me that I could go.
“You sure 120 is her house?”
“Positive.”
“There is no 120.”
“There is.”
We drove around the block, but the numbers only went up to 110.
“I told you, there is no 120.”
“There is! I heard 120.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes!” I grumbled, slouching in my seat. We drove up a small gravel path next to 110. On a hill was a dark silhouette of a large house.
“There it is!” my mother announced.
“Told you so,” I smirked.
“Can I drop you off here?” She stopped the car and unlocked all the doors.
“Okay.” I shouldered my bag and nudged the door open.
“Have fun! See you on Saturday!” The doors locked and my mom backed out of the gravel path, spun the wheel and drove away down the block.
I started down the path, which was very nicely trimmed along the edges but looked like a miniature forest where it wasn’t tended.
In minutes, I faced the ancient porch. The stairs hung off the side dangerously. Carefully, I hopped up the stairs and rung the doorbell. It didn’t work. I knocked on the door, and it swung open.
I came face-to-face with someone. A stranger.
The door locked behind me.

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