Childhood Is Where It Begins

By: Lana Abdole

doll

Little kids and their toys have always been creepy when combined into a scary story. It’s just abnormal for something that’s supposed to be pure to become something evil; it adds to the fear factor. It has been a topic of debate for psychologists whether fears are innate or not.  Some believe as babies we don’t fear much, we learn to fear things. In first grade I still hadn’t been exposed to the genre of horror, until one day at recess while we were all sitting around the sand box, my friend told a story:

Sarah and her mom were at the store looking for a new toy for Sarah’s birthday. They were in the doll aisle looking at the life like dolls. Sarah’s eyes fell on one particular doll “Mommy, I want that the one” she says. The doll was a toddler-sized doll, with braided, blonde hair and it wore a yellow sunflower dress. Her mom looks at the doll and notices something strange in comparison to the others, “but honey that one only has three fingers”. “But I want that one” she whines, stomping her foot down. Her mom sighs, but agrees. As they were talking they didn’t notice the slightest twitch of the dolls hand.

Sarah played with her doll all day, and right before she’d go to sleep she would tuck the doll into the crib that was kept in the basement. Sarah failed to notice, every morning, that the doll was never in the same position as the way she left it the night before. Sarah’s mom noticed that items around the house weren’t as they were before she went to sleep, but she just thought Sarah might’ve moved things around and didn’t think much into it. As the days passed, Sarah grew bored with the doll, as all kids do, and left it untouched in its crib.

One night down in the basement, when everyone was asleep, the doll sat up with a haunting smile. It hopped over the crib and made its way upstairs to the living room area. She goes into the kitchen and grabs a knife. She walks towards the stairs that leads up to the bedrooms. As she begins to climb them she starts to sing in a sing-song voice, “I’m on the first step, I’m on the second step, …” and it continues on until she reaches Sarah’s door, “I’m on your doorstep” then it walks over to her bed “I’m sitting on your bed.” Right as Sarah is somewhat conscious and about to scream, she stabs her in the chest. Then slices off two of her fingers and somehow attaches them to her own hand.

The next morning Sarah’s mom is taken over by grief at the site of her daughter. Her clothes bloodstained around the chest and her hands crusted with blood. The doll was nowhere to be seen.

I can assure you, after I heard this story, I never owned another doll again. For me, since this was my first taste into the genre of horror, kids stories have always been the scariest kind of scary stories. Hearing these type of stories when you’re a kid is terrifying because it takes something you’re attached to, like a toy, and makes you fear it. It makes things that aren’t supposed to be scary, scary. That’s why movies like Chuckie, The Sixth Sense, and stories similar to those, are such successful scary movies.

Stories similar to the one above are online here and here.

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11 thoughts on “Childhood Is Where It Begins

  1. Wow that is quite the creepy story! Since Chuckie was the first horror movie I watched as a child, I find things with possessed dolls especially terrifying. I also find the notion of innate vs learned fear very interesting. Being an Evolutionary Anthropology major, I’ve been taught in multiple courses of fear being instilled in us innately to ensure our survival (i.e. Fear of snakes, fear of heights, fear of loud noises, etc) over our evolutionary history. However, the fear of say dolls I cannot see being adaptive in anyway and thus it is especially fascinating how movies and stories could have such an effect on people!

  2. I’ve heard a story similar to this, and the part where the doll counts the stairs is what always gets me. It adds much more suspense to the story. It’s also scarier for Sarah since she knew the doll was coming but couldn’t do anything about it. I think dolls play a huge role in horror today, and I think it’s mostly because the way those dolls looked back in the day is considered creepy today. They have less defined features and some seem to just have soulless eyes that are always watching you, whereas dolls today are much more feminine and “pretty.” This story was scary to me because of the doll, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s the reason why.

  3. I found your comment about whether fear is innate or learned very interesting. I think we are born with specific fears towards things like unknown faces or the dark. However, other fears are very much learned. As you discussed, fear towards a doll can only arise if you have been exposed to a traumatic experience or a scary story resonated with you. I think this can explain why each of us has different fears towards different things. For example, I am terrified of spiders for reasons I am not even aware of. I could have been born with this fear or had a scary experience with them as a child. On the other hand, my sister is terrified of snakes. Interestingly enough, I think each of us having different fears is beneficial because we can help each other see the other sides of things. Imagine a world where everyone was terrified of a single thing; this single thing could be medicine. Think about how detrimental this would be to society.

  4. Before I even got to the end of the post, where you referenced Chuckie, from “Child’s Play” that was immediately what I thought of. I pictured the scene (I’m pretty sure it’s from the first film, not one of the following ones) where Chuckie is coming up the stairs and we, the audience members can see him coming to get Andy who is not going anywhere. I haven’t seen this movie since I was probably 11 years old, but this is always one of the scenes that has stuck out to me. I think like zombies, people find discomfort with something that is almost human, but not quite human enough to understand. Dolls are fake humans, and with a demonic doll, we’re unsure of their capabilities.

  5. I found this story to be extremely horrifying, because I also share a fear of dolls. This story had me considering what made me become so scared of dolls. I never had a traumatizing experience with dolls, none of my dolls have come to life, or tried to talk to me, or would move around. For me the fear of dolls originated from watching movies such as Chuckie, and shows that include creepy dolls such as, Pretty Little Liars. What makes dolls so scary is that they are supposed to be so innocent and a symbol of childhood. Taking something so innocent and turning it into a monster twists people’s worlds and makes them question everything. It is the same idea as using children in horror. Children are supposed to be perfect, moral, beings. Everyone trusts children to never do harm, just as children trust their dolls.

  6. I found the story you were told to be especially horrifying as I just saw “Annabelle” this past weekend. I agree that there is something about dolls that make for an incredibly creepy story. Dolls are supposed to be safe and what we play with as we are children. They also represent our “babies”, when playing house, and therefore should be innocent as babies are. I believe this is why scary stories with dolls are so creepy.

  7. Children’s horror stories are usually precautionary tales, warning them against something dangerous or frowned upon. However, in the case of dolls, the creepy thing is that there usually is not a moral in the story (unless it’s don’t buy dolls or don’t neglect your dolls). The doll is just a sinister object that for some reason is driven to commit evil acts – I actually just watched the movie Anna Belle, in which a doll acts as a conduit for a conjured demon. The irony is that these dolls must have been cute and adorable in the past, but now because of all the horror movies that have been made about dolls, we associate the soulless stare or the engulfing smile of a doll as an omen of evil.

  8. This story actually reminded me a lot of a particular doll that my mother had at home that I was terrified of, which I had completely forgotten about until now. But I was fearful of this doll without actually hearing any children’s horror stories or actually seeing Chuckie, I just believed that it moved about throughout the night! It is so interesting to see how such a playful toy can be turned into a something innately evil though. I can’t imagine there being any social outcries to make dolls seem like a socially unacceptable thing to possess. I think it’s also strange that they’ve never tried to make the more popular dolls (barbie’s in particular) something to be fearful of. And I am curious to know if Toy Story and similar movies were written to affirm that toys are actually an essential part to childhood rather than innately evil.

  9. Wow I haven’t heard this story in so long it was kind of exciting to re-remember it. Dolls are absolutely terrifying to me and I can probably attribute that to the fact that I watched Chuckie/Child’s Play movies since I was like five years old. I remember in school in first and second grade I always thought he would appear out of the drain in the class bathroom. It’s weird that dolls are so terrifying because they’re so small and weak. Physically and mentally we could overpower them easily, but we’re not expecting to have to because they’re our dolls, our friends. Their smallness and quietness and the fact that they can hide in plain sight make them pretty much built to be assassins. I also feel like the horror of dolls is similar to the horror of clowns. Both have painted on faces that display happiness even when they’re disemboweling you. When sadness comes into our lives we rely on things that make us happy to overcome it, like toys and clowns. When those things bring horror, there is no safety net to fall back on, especially for children. The balance of good and bad is essential for the survival of the human race, and turning innocence into evil brings the terror of sure destruction. I never really played with dolls at all, perhaps this is why.

  10. This is a scary story, especially for a young child to hear. I will never forget the first scary story that my friend told me at a sleepover in third grade. I think that we come to fear things as we grow up and are exposed to television shows, movies, and many new experiences. I find dolls very creepy because their eyes are always open and mine are kept in shelves, so it appears that they are always staring down at me. This story makes me want to move them completely out of sight. Lastly, this also relates to the movie Orphan and it is so horrifying because she appears to be a young girl and you wonder if it’s possible for someone so young to hold so much evil.

  11. I remember hearing this story as well and being terrified by it. There were a few other similar stories that managed to stay in my mind as well. I wonder whether it is the stories themselves that were scary or the age that we heard them at, because the feeling i got from hearing this was definitely stronger than what i feel watching a horror movie today. It was the feeling that every time i got into my bed, i had to be conscious of what might be underneath. Children play a strong role in horror on both the viewing end and as characters.

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