“Millie?” The bear called out softly. “Are you still with me? A decision must be made.”
Millie sat in the stomach of this… thing. It was a monster, really. How it was so intelligent was beyond her but she was past the point of even wondering that. Her life was mere moments from being taken away from her and there was absolutely nothing she could do about it. Reasoning with the bear had proven pointless and it was clear to her that it wasn’t going to be happy until somebody’s life had been stolen away. The girl shifted her weight and looked up at those big, baby blue eyes. How could this thing that had brought so many children joy be so demented and bloodthirsty? His eyes seemed soft and trustworthy but he really was just a cold, cruel machine. An idea came to Millie at that moment as the sound of loud squeals from outside of the shed filled her ears. The bear didn’t seem to take any interest in the noises. A sick, twisted thought came to Millie. It was horribly morbid and wrong but she was well aware of the fact.
The child swallowed thickly and closed her eyes as she gained the courage to speak.
“What if you got to kill two people?” Came her bargaining plea.
The bear was silent for a long moment, almost like he was processing her question.
“But you can only die once, silly! Who’s unlucky victim number two going to be?”
“My cousins.” She blurted. “If you…” how could she actually be offering this up? Her own life was on the line was the excuse that she told herself. Anyone would do this to save themselves.
What a greedy, miserable child she was.
“If you let me go, I’ll give you my cousins.” There was a long moment of silence in the shed, then. The bear was contemplating her offer very carefully. The silence was deafening to Millie as the seconds ticked by. Would she really be able to go through with this?
“This is a trick.” The bear huffed irritably. A creaking noise let Millie know that the animatronic was moving but she wasn’t able to see what he was doing exactly. The robot had crossed his arms and lowered his ears, resembling an angry, pouting child when they’d been told ‘no.’
“It’s not a trick.” Millie insisted. “You can hear them outside, can’t you?”
The robot listened carefully, hearing the children scream and run about outside.
Their giggles reminded him of a different time when he had an actual purpose and something to do with his time. They reminded him of popcorn and ice cream and a tiny blue rabbit with rosy cheeks. He could still smell the popcorn. He could smell these children outside, too. They reeked of eggnog and cookies and all of the disgustingly sweet treats that the Christmas celebration inside had provided them. The spoiled little things were much too loud for the old bear. His days of entertaining them had ended and Baby wasn’t around to keep him in line anymore. While she had something bad inside of her, he himself had always felt empty. Now with this girl in his stomach promising him two playthings to rip apart, he couldn’t resist the temptation. Would she really deliver them to his bloodthirsty jaws like lambs to the slaughter?
“You will bring them to me, Millie?” He questioned in a serious yet bubbly tone.
“No lies, either! I’ll march right in there and kill everyone, even your little ol’ Grandpa, too!” The bear shouted in that annoying voice of his. Millie sucked in a shaky breath as she nodded. When it became apparent that he wanted a vocal reply, Millie hissed out a small, pathetic, “Yes…” And with that, the front of the bear swung open. The light from the shed was blinding and Millie had to raise her hands up to shield her eyes.
“Out! Out! Out!” The robot insisted with a shooing motion with his hand. Millie clambered out of there as fast as she possibly could; so fast in fact that she nearly tripped.
The girl took several steps away from the robot, distancing herself as she sucked in quick, panicked breaths. The bear gave her a wide, ever-toothy grin as he stared at her expectantly.
Millie shifted her weight nervously as the robot let her calm herself. The look plastered to his face reminded her of Cameron and Hayden’s stupid little faces whenever they were excited for their Christmas presents or birthdays. Any time they were getting something, they always had that stupid look on their faces. They… didn’t pretend to be happy, either. They didn’t have to pretend when the world was still so new and exciting to them. The world was kind and the passage of time rewarded them with cakes, presents and parties. Millie sucked in a deep breath, attempting to somehow come to terms with what she had promised this monster. Sure, her little cousins could be beyond annoying but were their lives really worth hers?
“Come on now, Millie!!” The bear laughed maniacally; Millie was just glad she didn’t have to hear that horrendous cackle from the inside anymore.
“I don’t have all night for you to stand around!”
It was clear that there was no time to stall; there was no time to try and form a plan to save her little cousin’s lives, either. She could attempt to run and lock the bear in the shed but that door wouldn’t be able to hold him for long. There was no way that she’d make it out of this situation if that were to happen. She had her doubts that she’d even be able to make it to the door before the bear was on her. It was clear to the animatronic that she was thinking of a way out of it all.
“Now, now…” He stood up from the corner of the shed he was sitting in. He towered over Millie and gave her a serious gaze as if he were one of her parents about to give her a nice scolding. Millie shrunk in on herself as the bear took a step closer to her. He had to bend over to even stand in the shed. The fact that he was so big was petrifying to Millie. How tall was he when he wasn’t crouched over? With a shiver, Millie bowed her head in a fearful manner.
“Millie, don’t be silly.” The robot tried to reason with her. By the way he was speaking it almost made it seem like he was offering her something great.
“We made a deal, remember? It’s very rude to lie…” Any friendliness that had been in his tone had melted away in a heartbeat. He was dead serious and if Millie didn’t get a move on, she'd be dead, too. The girl mustered up all the courage she could and nodded her head, refusing to look into the robot’s eyes. How could she after she’d promised away her own family’s blood?
“Alright, o-okay.” She finally managed to blurt out meekly. The bear took a step back and settled down in his little corner. He gave her a happy giggle and cocked his head sideways.
“Get on with it then, lamb chop!”
Millie left the shed with a disgusted shiver. It wasn’t from the cold outside but rather from the sins she was about to commit. As soon as she set foot outside, Cameron and Hayden stopped running through the yard. They looked at her with interest as they attempted to catch their breaths. Millie gave the boys the best smile that she could manage and took a few steps closer to them. Hayden shot her a questioning look with those big, stupid blue eyes. They looked so much like the eyes he was about to meet in the shed; but the eyes in the shed had always been lifeless. It wasn’t too much longer until Hayden’s eyes would be just as void of life as the bear’s.
“I’ve… had time to think.” Millie began in a sheepish voice. Both Hayden and Cameron stared at her with interest. Millie sucked in a deep breath and continued to speak.
“I’m going to celebrate Christmas this year.” She stated in a rather flat tone. It was a pathetic attempt at a lie but both Hayden and Cameron seemed to buy it. It was always difficult to tell if Millie was upset or just being her usual mopey self. They seemed rather excited that she had decided to partake in the Christmas festivities. The look of excitement and innocence on their faces was making her rethink all of this yet again. She could grab them and run. They could make it pretty far before…“ Really ?” Came Hayden’s excited little gasp. Cameron seemed equally as surprised as his brother did.
Millie gave a quick nod. “And… I got you guys a present.”
“When?” Cameron asked with an inquisitive raise of his eyebrows.
“During my walk.” Came her next lie. That answer seemed to satisfy the boy and his excitement returned. Hayden rushed over to her with a spring in his step. He was bouncing up and down excitedly, clearly eager to get his greedy little mitts on whatever present she’d gotten him.
“It’s in the shed.” She said finally. “You’ll both love it.” That was her final lie and the one that sealed the deal. Hayden and Cameron followed her over to that little shed with wide, excited eyes. The material of their stupid matching elf sweaters sparkled in the dim light of the shed as they stood in the doorway, peering in. Millie clenched her hands together nervously. She was sweating profusely and her hands felt disgustingly Clammy despite the cold.
“Where is it?” Cameron asked as he looked around the shed curiously. He was trying to spot a fancy wrapped box in the piles of junk that Millie’s grandfather insisted on keeping.
“In the back. In the corner.” Millie said without skipping a beat. That was all the coaxing that the children needed to scurry inside. There had to be something seriously wrong with her.
No child should have been able to move their body as quick and easily as she did when they knew the result it would have. She lunged forward and grabbed ahold of the doorknob once they had walked far enough inside. Millie trembled as she locked the door using the key that was still shoved into the lock. Her heart was pounding against her chest and she felt lightheaded and ready to vomit. It was done. She could walk away now and be done with it all...
“Millie?” Hayden called out from inside of the shed. His voice was muffled but it was still too much for Millie. The girl trembled and put her hands on top of her head, pulling her hair as she sucked in deep breaths of the freezing night air. Her breath was causing steam to roll up past her face, reminding her what the bear had said about boiling her alive. How was he going to kill her cousins? The robot certainly didn’t seem against making it a longer, drawn out death for fear of his victim’s feelings. He just wanted to kill something and unfortunately that ‘something’ wound up being Hayden and Cameron. Millie fell down onto the ground then, nearly hyperventilating as she heard the sound of the robot from inside of the shed moving. She laid on her back with her eyes screwed shut, praying that she’d wake up.
Had they not realized that they were locked inside yet? Millie began to sob. Thick tears rolled down her pale face as the muffled voices of Hayden and Cameron came from inside of the shed. She couldn’t tell what they were saying but she wasn’t sure if that was due to her loud sobbing or if they were speaking much quieter than before. The voice of the bear made her jump in surprise even though she was in the (relative) safety of the outside world. There was an exchange of dialog from the shed before a horrendous scream filled Millie’s freezing ears. The adults inside were oblivious to the commotion; Millie could hear the Christmas music blasting from out here.
“ Millie !!” Came Hayden’s scream for help. There was a loud pounding on the door and the sound of a mechanical laugh. “Millie, please let us out! This isn’t funny!” Cameron screamed at the top of his lungs. A loud crash came from inside of the shed. Piles of junk had no doubt been knocked over. There were screams; loud, terrifying screams. Screaming . They were screaming for Millie to help. They were screaming. They were screaming. They were screaming.
They were crying. They were crying out for Millie to help them.
Millie laid there on the ground, shaking like a leaf as her numb skin pressed against the cold ground. The shed was full of so much sound that it was driving her insane. They were crying and yelling; pleading for Millie to let them out. No… only Cameron was pleading, now.
Millie opened her eyes and stared up at the sky. There were a few stars out that shimmered and flickered. It reminded her of a candle about to go out; just like her cousin’s lives were being snuffed out. Was Hayden already dead? Millie was physically unable to move. She wasn’t entirely sure if it was from crying too hard and wearing herself out or the cold outside freezing her to death. She wasn’t sure if she minded death, now. How could she go on living with what she’d done? Cameron screamed out her name one final time and then went quiet as a horrible squelching sound silenced him. It was followed by a snap, a squish and the sound of ripping flesh. Millie couldn’t stand it. She couldn’t stay here any longer. She needed to get inside and away from that horrible shed with the monster that lived inside. With a quick, shaky intake of breath, she stood and turned towards the house. The squelching from the shed faded more and more the farther she distanced herself. The screams still echoed in her head, though.
As Millie walked away from that shed, she heard Hayden scream out for help.
“ Millie, Millie! Cameron’s hurt! Please, please! We’ll be good! I’ll be good! MOMMY!! ”
The bear inside laughed as Millie left her little cousin for dead. It was his life or everyone else’s, now.
As she walked away from it all, a sick sense of relief washed over her. She was safe. It was pure instinct telling her that she had done a good job and gotten away from the danger that threatened her life. In a survival situation under different circumstances, Millie may have been proud of surviving. She only felt guilt, though. Millie felt guilt as the warmth of the house made her ice-cold skin burn. She felt bile rising in her throat; but most of all she felt an ever-growing desire to wake up from this hellish nightmare. Millie felt disgusting. Millie felt ashamed.
As her grandfather caught sight of her and began to make his way over to embrace her in a comforting hug, she felt nothing. She couldn’t feel the guilt as strong as before.
Millie stood motionless as her grandfather asked her questions she couldn’t understand.
Her ears were ringing and her world was spinning. It was like the world around her was underwater. Her vision was blurring and if it weren’t for having caught sight of her grandfather moments before, she wouldn’t have known who was by her side. Millie couldn’t feel her legs as they trembled before she bent over, throwing up all over the floor.