Through the Lens
Don't look too Deep
Friday 11 P.M.
“You all settled in?” Nick, the nighttime security guard of the Grand Oddities of the Ages Museum asks me.
“Ready for the long night.” I beam as I pat my journal on the desk.
“Alright. My number is on the sticky note in the corner there.” He points to the yellow note on the monitor in front of me. “Call if you need anything and I’ll send someone over. Otherwise, Micah will be in at six.”
“Sounds great. Goodnight and thank you once again.”
“Not a problem, Miss Leeson. Goodnight.”
Nick shuts the door behind him. With him gone for the night I am alone in the museum. Well, that’s not entirely true. I have the cameras I’ll be watching all night. And on those cameras, is the subject that enticed me to drive two hours away from my home. Rebecca. Some people are terrified of her. Some dismiss her as ordinary. Others, like me, obsess over the fact of her existence.
Rebecca is a baby doll with a plastic cherub face and a cloth body. Her yellow dress is faded to an almost white pastel. Her painted black eyes stare forward into eternity. She sits in a white wicker chair encased in bulletproof glass. A black tape guard surrounds the stand her encasement rests upon. On a board next to the tape guard in red bold print reads, “Do Not Touch”. This is meant to keep people safe as Rebecca is no regular toy. She is known to be in the top five most haunted dolls in the country. My mission, the reason I volunteered to spend seven hours alone in the security office overnight, is to document the proof of the paranormal existence present in the doll.
I watch her intently. After ten minutes I write a note, “11:10P.M. No activity present”. In ten minute intervals I will be jotting any activity witnessed. Of course, if any extraordinary events occur outside the intervals I’ll record them along with the time they were witnessed.
12: 45 A.M.
I almost missed it. In fact, I had to rewind it several times to confirm. I fumble in my haste and have to retrieve my pen from beneath the desk. “12:45AM Rebecca blinked”. It should be an impossible feat for something without lids let alone an inanimate object. Yet, I witnessed the disappearance and reappearance of the painted eyes in the matter of half a second. Watching it further slowed down, I see the eyes seemingly fold in on themselves before expanding back out. Indisputably a blink.
It took ten minutes for the novelty of the blink to blend its way back to the boredom akin to watching paint dry. Despite my desire to witness the extraordinary, keeping my focus on a mostly inanimate object for seven hours straight was taxing. I’d find myself fidgeting, humming to myself, daydreaming. It took a lot of resolve to shake myself free from the restlessness and focus back in. During one of those brief distractions, Rebecca took the opportunity to move. I eagerly write the activity. “1:02AM movement. Right shoulder lower.” Rebecca was perfectly propped and should not be able to slump in the chair for any reason. Though arguing that with nonbelievers would be difficult to say the least. I needed more.
I jolt awake to the sound of a bang. I had dozed off. Looking down at my notebook I spot the drool marks that now stain the page. My last entry was 1:40am with no activity witnessed. I pick up my phone that I had most likely pushed off the desk in my sleep. I check the time to find it’s two o’clock. I’ve been asleep for twenty minutes. I ready my pen and look at the screen when two additional bangs cause me to whirl around in the chair. They came from the security office door.
“Hello?” I call out foolishly.
I knew no one was at the museum. There would not be anyone until four hours from now. Maybe it was the building settling? My eyes slowly drift from the door to the monitors. I ignore the goosebumps on the back of my neck. I give a full minute inspection of my subject. “2:00AM No activity present.”. Off to the side I add a note, “three knocks or coincidental noises? Follow up with Micah in morning.” I take the time to rewind the footage to ensure I did not miss out on anything. Sure enough, Rebecca was as still as a baby doll is supposed to be. I add in notes for the intervals missed.
I start writing in my notebook for the recorded interval. I get as far as “No Act” when the phone begins to ring. Archaic as it seems in the modern world, they had a corded phone on the security guard’s desk. I assumed it was a remnant from the older days and was hardly used. I thought perhaps it didn’t even work, but am proven wrong by its sudden melodious breakthrough. I try to ignore the ringing and finish writing my notes. The tone dies down for a moment before starting up again. After five times I resolve to stop the nuisance by picking up the phone and leaving it off the receiver. That should have been the end of the phone troubles. No one could call in if the phone was off the hook. But instead, I’m met by a new sound. Curiosity builds up until I put the phone to my ears.
Humming. That’s what is coming through the phone. But, not just any humming. It is note for note, pitch for pitch my humming. That can’t be right. I think to myself but place the phone back in its place to help ease my mind. Immediately, the phone rings again. Frustrated, I answer.
“Hello? The Museum is not currently open. Is there a message I can leave for you?”
Giggles are the only response I get before the dial tone begins. They hung up. Is someone I know playing tricks on me? It wouldn’t be the furthest stretch of the imagination. My friends are always down for a good laugh. But, they also know how serious this potential article is to me. Would they really waste my time calling me?
The ringing thankfully stops and allows me to refocus on my subject. I give Rebecca my full attention. She does nothing. “2:40AM no activity-” Three loud knocks on the door. This time in quick succession. I scratch out my first note. “2:40AM three knocks. Rebecca is that you?” I look up. On the monitors, Rebecca has her left hand on her mouth. I add her movement to the notes. The phone rings again. Curious more than angry, I pick up the phone silently while watching the monitor. Giggling fills my ears once more. Rebecca has not moved but her hand is still to her mouth. Is she the one laughing? I hang up the phone.
I have been diligent. I have been focused. Yet, the two-letter word causes me to doubt myself. How could I not see it? It’s not like I could have written it absentmindedly. It’s not even close to my smaller than average, neat handwriting. It’s bold and wavey like a child who only recently learned to start writing. “HI”. I draw an arrow from the word and write in the margins “3:00am Rebecca says hello.” I look back up to the monitor to see Rebecca standing upright with a hand on the glass. I add the new position to the notes.
I rise from the chair I’ve been sitting at for the past four hours. I stretch and head down the hallway to relieve myself. I figure the break will do me some good. Refocus me. And, if I happen to miss anything in the five minutes I’m away I can rewind and record. The walk was calming and silent. It did not bother me to only have the dim emergency night lights to guide my way. Everything here, while interesting, is harmless. There are no shadows lurking beyond my periphery. The door to the security guard office is closed but not locked when I return. Just as I left it.
I reclaim my chair and rewind to find nothing new. Rebecca still stands with a hand on the glass. I check the time. 3:08am. I have two minutes until my next data entry. My eyes wander over the monitor. The note. My eyes register the difference seconds before my drowsy brain. A new number is written below Nick’s. 732-3222. The letters are large. The seven and threes are backwards. There’s no words underneath. Strange.
I don’t remember picking up the phone or dialing the number. My consciousness returns only after the ringing begins. It rings three times. I chastise myself for using the museum’s phone. I should hang up. But I don’t. The humming begins.
“Rebecca?” my voice comes out in a whisper.
“Are angels really real?” a voice replies.
It’s a small, fragile voice. As expected for a doll’s voice if they had one. Yet, my mind does not register the voice as unfamiliar.
“I like to think so.” I find myself answering.
“Why can’t I see them?” the voice asks again.
Goosebumps rise on my arms. Familiar. Why is it so familiar? My brain scrambles for the answer.
“They hide themselves for our protection.” I speak once more.
The small voice begins another question but is cut off by ear ringing static. I drop the phone impulsively. When I regain composure, I set the phone back on the handle. I take a few breaths and look at the screen. Nothing changed. My journal has a new entry. This time no words but a drawing. A simple stick figure with wings. An angel. “3:10A.M. weird phone conversation. Ask for transcript from phone company.”
The phone call has left me uneasy. I have tried to decipher it, recall the connection. Nothing comes to the forefront of my mind. I glance at the monitor and the time. I grab my pen ready to jot the next note. Just as I’m about to write, I realize I’ve already written a note. “3:20am Rebecca has the answer.” I don’t remember writing it and not sure why I’d write it. But the note is undeniably in my handwriting unlike the earlier note and drawing. I stare at Rebecca this time.
“What do you have the answer to?”
The doll does not move. The door behind me does. It inches open, silently inviting me to pursue the answer. There is no reason for me to leave the room. Everything I need to know is in the room with Rebecca.
I walk to the gallery. I know where she is. The humming starts. I join in. It’s calming to hum. Angels like humming too.
I arrive outside Meaghan’s room. She stands with her hand outstretched to the glass. Her little fragile hand straining to hold itself up. Her messy long black hair gone with the first round of treatment. Now bald and alone. All alone. I’ve been told many times not to enter her room.
“It’s to keep her safe.” I had been told.
I had been told Meaghan would get better. I had been told that she would get to leave that lonely glass room that she was trapped in. But, day after day, Meaghan stayed inside. She pleaded with me to join her. She couldn’t stand being alone. All I could do to soothe her was hum. Singing was too straining, but she liked to hum along with me on the other side.
I hum to Meaghan now and she hums back. No one is watching me today. They are all too busy. And she’s so lonely in that room. I cross over the warning tape. I enter the door. Rebecca has her hand stretched out. I reach for Meaghan beyond the glass. I need to free her. I frantically pound at the glass with my fists. My knuckles crack and bleed. I feel the bruises forming but I can’t stop. She needs me. I must free her!
I grab what’s not bolted to the ground and ram it into the glass. It shatters, pieces piercing me. I start to bleed but I ignore it. I take Meaghan’s hand.
“I won’t let you be alone again.” I promise Meaghan as I hold Rebecca to my chest.
We begin walking, leaving the cruel isolated life behind. At the threshold of the room, I turn to find Meghan is no longer with me. I look around for her. I shout out her name.
I’m outside the security office holding the doll in my hands. I blink a few times confused. How did she get here? And why am I outside the office? My brain is foggy and I feel cold. I try to recall why I left the office and what has happened since. The phone inside begins ringing.
I enter the office and answer the phone.
“Is Meaghan an angel?” the same small voice from earlier asks.
I know the response. I can’t say it. All I can do is clutch the doll and cry. I remember. The memories of a three-year-old and her sweet, sickly sister. The yearning to bring her home. Not understanding when she finally departed. As I got older, I had convinced myself she was imaginary. My parents thought it was easier to live the lie and never corrected me. But now, was she here? Living inside the doll known as Rebecca? Or was this a temporary possession? Or maybe a lapse in sanity? I do not know and I do not care to know. I cry and talk to Rebecca, to Meaghan. I share everything I can think of, not minding that she can’t answer. I promise not to leave her alone ever again. Rebecca giggles. A sinking feeling hits my stomach as I remember I don't have a twin sister.
Micah Hanesworth enters the security room right on time with his black coffee in hand. He’d been informed that Kasey Leeson has stayed the night to study one of their exhibits. The plain doll had drawn a lot of people to the museum in recent years, but he could never understand why. It was supposed to be haunted by a young girl named Rebecca that died of the Bubonic plague. Micah didn’t doubt the story of the girl, but he had never witnessed anything weird about the doll.
“You’re free to go.” Micah says to apparently no one. “Miss Leeson?”
No one is inside the office. Micah walks to the bathrooms and shouts for her another time. When receiving no response, he alerts Miss Leeson he will have to come inside the bathroom to escort her out. Micah finds the bathroom empty as well. He returns to the office to look for any signs she left early. He finds her open notebook in front of the monitor.
He scans the pages. Entries all the way until 3:50am. At the end of the notes is a simplistic drawing of two small stick people. One with long hair who is frowning and the other with wings that’s smiling. They are holding hands. Micah shakes his head as he fishes his phone from his pocket. He never understood paranormal researchers, but he did need to know where she went.
He saw it when he selected “Nick” from his contact’s list. It caused him to drop the phone. On the monitors, it showed not one but two dolls in the case. They sat side by side in the chair looking forward. Chills ran up his body. He rewound the footage. At 3:20 A.M. Kasey Leeson is seen leaving the security office. At 3:30 she arrives in the haunted doll exhibition room.
Micah watches the researcher climb over the guard tape and put her hand up to the glass. She is muttering and crying. As the footage doesn’t capture audio of anything below theatre whispers, he can only make out the last thing Leeson says.
“I won’t leave you again.”
“You’ll stay with me forever?” an unidentifiable voice asks.
The next frame Kasey Leeson is no longer present, but the second doll is. Micah only looks away to pick up the now ringing cell phone on the floor.
“Hey Mikey!” Nick greets him. “Did Miss Leeson get out okay?”
Micah stares at the monitors. The dolls stare back.
“It’s… complicated. I think you better come in.”
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