Black crepe swathes every surface and orifice of Edwin’s mansion.
What use wealth when you’ve lost your heart’s gold? He thinks, clenched in sorrow, in his study staring at the snowy gardenscape.
Dora’s funeral had been a bleak and bitter affair; his beloved only daughter. Wandering the rooms Edwin comes to rest in the nursery, where an array of teddy bears and dolls huddle together as though in grief.
“Dolls,” he murmurs.
He thinks of the machines at his factory, their cogs and gears, their steel guts and engine hearts and breaths of steam.
He knows what he must do.
The basement stinks of sweat, burning oil and grief. Noises emanate all times of the day and night. Groanings, whirrings, clickings; the maid leaves food trays outside and trots away, skirts flurrying.
Edwin stands before a life-sized metal figure; it has no face, its alloy arms stretch out as if begging.
Inside its framework copper wires create a crazy maze of arteries carrying charge not blood. A small vial of that vital fluid is waiting, ready to anoint its heart, at the moment of resurrection.
Sweating Edwin labours long into the damned nights.
“Soon, my dear heart. Soon.” He mutters.
“Dorabella, be my queen. Dorabella, walk with me. Take my hand, dance and be free.”
The candles cast shadows on Edwin and his partner, as he twirls her around the ballroom. Her velvet skirts, hand-sewn, swish and whirl. He places his sweaty cheek next to her chilly china one, tracing her rosebud lips with his finger.
All he can hear is the tick tick of the clockwork parts, mimicking her heartbeat. She is his most magnificent creation.
In the mirror he glimpses them waltzing, imagines Dorabella’s lips move, her eyes blink.
Hears her whisper, “Daddy, I am here. Hold me.”
Alyson lives in the UK; her fiction has been published widely in print anthologies – DeadCades, Women in Horror Annual 2, Trembling with Fear 1 &2, Coffin Bell Journal 1 and Stories from Stone and in ezines, most often on the Horror Tree site, Siren’s Call and The Casket of Fictional Delights. In May 2019 Night of the Rider, was published by Demain, in their Short Sharp Shocks! E book series and reached the amazon kindle top 10 best seller lists. Her work has been read on podcasts (eg Ladies of Horror), shortlisted in competitions and published in charity anthologies. Future work will appear in anthologies from Things in the Well, Mortal Realm and Twisted Wing Publishers.
She performs at open mics, teaches, edits and hangs out with her dog on the moor in all weathers.