For the last few weeks you’d visited the train station, there was always the same doll sitting there, a book in one hand, holding a sign in the other. Elegant handwritten cursive identified it as ownerless. Every day, it was at the same location, never moving away.
For the most part, the other travelers never paid it any mind. Humans never did pay much mind to dolls, after all; if they weren’t being actively used for something, they were just objects, scenery blending into the background of the din of life and activity that was the station. You noticed, though. Every time you swiped your boarding pass, you’d see it out of the corner of your eye, watching it slowly track nearby passerbys, silently pleading to be taken with them. You had never seen it speak; you weren’t sure if it could.
Eventually, you built up the curiosity to wander closer to it, inspect the doll and its belongings. You could feel it leering at you, an uncomfortable amount of attention as you quickened your pace to avoid it. Maybe you should just leave it be. It was someone else’s problem. But… you could have sworn, as you walked away, that you heard something. A voice, calling out in the distance, calling your name. You couldn’t see anyone calling for you, though. Maybe another passenger with the same name. It had to be. The doll hadn’t made a sound.
Weeks turned to months, the doll’s place unchanged through it all. You were shocked that the authorities had never come to take it away; maybe they were cautious of it too. Surely an inquisitor would eventually remove it, though. Dolls couldn’t just be left out like that.
“Hey, you!” A voice broke your concentration, making you blink as you looked around for the source. “Yeah, you! Over by the doll!”
You blinked more, looking at the doll with confusion. Others passed you and the doll by, seemingly unaware of the voice you were hearing.
With hesitation you approached the doll once more, inspecting it suspiciously. “Are… you talking to me?”
“The doll isn’t, idiot. I am.” You couldn’t quite place the source of the voice; it was clearly coming from the doll, but the doll was silent, staring intently at you.
“I’m… not sure who you are?”
“I’m the book.” You blinked again, looking at the book the doll had been holding all this time. A thick and intricately bound tome, clearly magical in nature. “Well, I’m *in* the book, anyways. But you can hear me, which is a good start.”
“I’m… just going leave now, okay?” You started to back away, before the book objected sharply.
“Hey! I’ve been stuck here for Eve knows how long, with a doll that won’t recognize me as its Miss anymore. You gotta help me out.”
“You were its owner?”
“I was its Miss; there’s a distinct difference, but I guess to some random uninitiated, yeah sure, I was its owner. I got into a disagreement in my coven, now I’m stuck in this book. I need someone to get me into a better situation.”
“I don’t mean to be rude but I’ve, yaknow, I’ve watched shows like this. This is a trap, right? That’s the cliche. I’m gonna take you home and you’re gonna steal my body. I’m just gonna leave now.” You once more began to back away, only to once more be stopped.
“I’m not going steal your body! I swear it, okay? Witch’s word, can’t go back on it. You know that much at least, yeah? I do, however, need someone with a magical connection to ground myself and animate this book so I can use my own magicks again.”
“Well then you really don’t need me, because I’m not a witch.” It was true; you were the least magical person you’d ever met. “Like, I’ve never used magic in my life. Never been around any witches or warlocks or anything of the sort.”
“Well, you can talk to me, which means you’ve got some sort of connection. I don’t need you to actually, know anything, you just gotta take me to a leyline and I can do the rest.”
“Do I get anything out of it?”
“You get access to awe-inspiring eldritch abilities, probably.”
“Ten thousand bucks out of my savings account when I can access it again.”
The voice in the back of your head said this was a bad idea, that there was no way this would end well, but ten thousand credits and a witch’s word did sound pretty nice…
You sighed and picked up the book, the doll beaming at you with an inhuman smile as it stood up and took its place at your side. It’d be fine. This all would be fine.
“Thank you, Miss,” the doll murmured into your ear. “This one will serve Miss, forever.”
Fine. It’s fine.