Fun with Freaky Toys

So I’m late in emerging from the hectic holiday routine, but very excited to be working on new material in a new year. The re-write of the novel is coming along on schedule, which is pretty cool, especially since I am not cutting corners and making sure it tells the story it needs to tell.

In the meantime, I will share some post-holiday fun. Think of it as looking at the end of 2012 like it’s the carcass of some strange vermin found behind the house you might check out with a flashlight and try to identify over a beer.

And so, though our family doesn’t celebrate Christmas per se, the grandparents do, and I therefore recently found myself in that monstrosity of a locale called Toys Я Us, in the capacity of giving the kids something to play with during the winter. I mean, I try to be a responsible and cool dad, like, on the one hand, turning off the TV sooner than some and reading extra chapters from an old book before bed, on the other, letting the kids indulge in a bit of Halloween candy and plastic Barbies so as not to be too uptight.

And so, this horror writer went toy shopping. Aside from my general revulsion of box stores, I figured this wouldn’t be such a big deal. I mean, just because a person writes scary stories, doesn’t mean that’s all they think about. In regards to fun loving playtime with plastic dolls, I’m as regular as the next Joe Keep-Up-With-The-Joneses. All I had to do is find a helpful clerk and run down my daughters’ lists and we’d be all good.

Here’s how it went:

“Oh, hi,” I said. “Could you help me out here? I’m looking for the disembodied heads.”

“Excuse me?” asked the teen clerk.

“You know, those plastic female heads for putting lipstick and stuff on?”

“And stuff?”

“You know, heads you put on the living room floor…”


“For my daughter, for playing with makeup!”

“Ohhhh, yeah, over here, past the baby aisle.”

“Thanks, okay, but um, these are torsos. My girls want to play with heads.”

“Torsos are very popular.”

“I dunno, they don’t have any arms. You can sorta dress them, but I really think they want to put lipstick and makeup on them.”

“I guess we’re sold out of heads. What about dolls?”

“Let’s see… oh yeah, it’s right here on the list, bag of dolls. My four year old wants a bag of dolls.”

“Well I don’t know about a bag of dolls, but over here we have the Monster High series. They’re like teenagers mixed with vampires and werewolves.”

“Wow, cool, hey the jeans on that one are pretty tight… last time I saw a gal like that at Port Authority she wanted a lot more than $9.99…”

“That one’s a dude, actually.”

“Oops, well, I lived in New York ten years, things get blurry, ya know? Anyway, when I was a kid you could just get a plastic machine gun and be happy.”

“We have toy guns over here…”

“Nah, they’re just gonna be totally unrealistic. Speaking of which, got any bad-ass shoot-em up video games?”

“You mean like Resident Evil 6?”

“Yeah, that sounds good, zombie shoot-em up, hey and I just got my wife into The Walking Dead. She really loves it. Hey, this could be our new date night!”

“I thought you were here getting something for your daughter…”

“Oh yeah, um, right, bag of dolls.” At this point I looked around the detritus of the box store and realized I’d been there among the shelves of overpriced plastic for at least five more hours than I could handle… well, okay, maybe I’d only been there fifteen minutes, but my body was about to implode from a bad case of necrotic boxstorosis. If I didn’t find something fast, I would return an empty handed, shadow of a thing, my toy choice cementing my place among the giving dead—“But wait, look, Jenga? What’s that? A tower of square wooden blocks built to collapse every time? And it doesn’t need batteries? Genius. I’ll take it.”

For more on spooky toys, check out Angelic Knight Press’s Satan’s Toybox series:


For a story about a mermaid who won’t be treated like no rag-doll, check out Slash of Crimson:


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