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The Good Girl

by digriz 

Posted: 10 July 2004
Word Count: 3036

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Lucinda and Katherine sat dead still, too scared to move. Opposite, the life size inanimate wooden doll sat staring; it’s cold dark dead eyes judging them silently. All three had been sat like this for ten minutes and their punishment was going to continue for another twenty. Katherine, a small blonde haired girl, leaned slightly towards her friend slouching in the chair beside her; Her eyes not leaving the good girl sat opposite.

'I hate that doll, it’s creepy', she whispered, 'One of these days I’m going teach that thing a lesson'. Lucinda replying kept her voice low in the hope that the Headmistress on the other side of the door wouldn’t hear.
'Scares the hell out of me too, everyone in the school hates it. You know you’re in trouble when Madam Ozier tells you the good-girl is governing the detention'.

On the other side of the closet door Madam Ozier sat silently at her desk. A book held softly in her open palm was of more interest to her than the naughty schoolgirls in the closet. She smiled to herself comfortable in the knowledge that Bethany, the wooden good-girl, would give them the scare they needed.

Madam Ozier, an elderly lady, always led by example. She compared everything against the exacting standards she upheld within the school walls and woe betide any one girl who didn’t meet them. She’d been Headmistress at St. Benedict’s school for young girls for almost forty years; her promotion had come when the previous schoolmaster had retired. She had inherited Bethany from him; he had inherited the good-girl from his outgoing schoolmaster.

From what history Madam Ozier knew, the good-girl had resided within the school since it’s construction in 1717, just over two hundred years ago. The doll, Bethany, had been made from the finest oak timber. The same wood from which the school had been built, the same wood that lined the corridors with it’s sweeping wooden arches and immaculate hand carved statues. The order for Bethany to be made had come from the original schoolmaster, he had wanted a model school girl who never did anything wrong, he wanted to use it to set an example for all of the school children who attended his school.

Lucy and Katie sat and took their punishment for the remainder of their detention. They knew they would be in serious trouble if the headmistress caught them whispering to each other. Bethany sat opposite and seemed to give the impression that they should do as she does and that anything else would get them into deep trouble. No matter how unlikely it seemed, Lucy and Katie’s fear seemed to feed the other; they both knew the stories surrounding the doll and the butterflies in their stomachs kept them rooted to their chairs too scared to move.

After what seemed like an age, Madam Ozier swung open the closet door and told the girls to take Bethany to her correct place and that they should then return to their room without supper. The headmistress was also adamant that they should not come out of their room until the following morning for their breakfast and the following days classes. The girls left the classroom, chastised and with one arm each supporting under the arms of Bethany. They followed the main corridor, passing the exquisitely carved stairwell that led up to the their dormitory on the top floor, they continued towards the main school entrance. Bethany’s place was on the wall outside the office of Madam Ozier, she hung from a large iron peg that was inserted into her back when pushed back on to it. The pegs height was exactly the right distance from the floor as to give the appearance of a student standing against the wall waiting to go in and see the headmistress. This wooden monstrosity gave students and teachers the same amount of unease whenever they waited to go in and see the headmistress, regardless of what their business was inside.

Lucy and Katie started to retrace their steps back to the stairwell, casting a cursory glance back over their shoulders towards the doll. Both shuddered but Katie spoke first,
'Is it me or does that thing have a smile on its face?'
Lucy looked back to check,
'Yes', she looked puzzled, 'I’d never noticed that before. I’d always thought that she had a blank expression, it didn’t look like a smile in the closet earlier.'
Katie took the lead up the stairs,
'Trick of the light I suppose. That thing always gives me the creeps; wretched horrible thing.'

That night the girls talked for ages about the doll, the reasons for them getting detention and how they were determined never to go into the closet with that horrible wooden good-girl again, they talked of revenge against the doll and what they’d like to do to it. Perhaps because of missing the evening meal or perhaps because their day had been long and arduous the girls fell into a restful sleep earlier than normal, the whole school eventually wound down to join them.

Lucy shook Katie with more force than was necessary; her sleeping friend woke with a fright. Katie, bleary eyed coughed,
'What’re you doing? What time is it?'
Lucy whispered back,
'Can you hear that noise? It’s been moving up and down the corridor for at least the last five minutes. It woke me up'.
Both girls moved to the door as silently as they could. They held their ears close to the floor, trying to hear the noises clearer thought the gap beneath the door. Lucy reached up and gave the key in the door a twist, the lock gave a satisfying click and both girls felt that little bit safer. They knew that if they were caught out of bed at this time of night, they would get a severe reprimand from the teacher on night duty, no doubt Madam Ozier would also get to hear of it first thing in the morning. They reasoned that if a teacher tried the locked door, at least they would be able to get back into bed before the door was unlocked.

Lucy and Katie listened intently at the base of the door; there were indeed footsteps in the corridor. Not heavy and evenly paced like a teacher, more like a child skipping and dancing or playing hopscotch. One foot. Two feet. One foot. Two feet. The sounds would get closer, then further away. Both girls thought it odd that another girl from the school would do this, every child knew they would be severely reprimanded for being out of their room at this time of night. To them it sounded like the child was wearing heavy shoes, almost clogs, the sound of heavy wood knocking on the floorboards with each clumsy footstep.

After a while they realised the child was singing in a low voice too, almost absentmindedly to herself; neither of the girls could make out the words although the tune seemed familiar. The kind of tune you’d hear from the schoolyard, a skipping rope song. Then there was running and giggling; they both thought whoever this girl was she was brave and didn’t care about the trouble she was going to get in to. To the crouching girls it sounded like the fearless child in the corridor was playing to herself.

Katie whispered first, 'It’s Bethany, she playing in the corridor because no one else likes her or will play with her'.
'Don’t be daft, it’s only a wooden doll, how’s that thing going to dance and sing in the corridor?'
'It does', Katie shivered, 'I’ve heard the older girls saying about that Bethany; how she plays at night, how she looks into our rooms while we’re asleep. She looks for things to get us into trouble with the headmistress, did you know that?'
Now it was Lucy’s turn to shiver, 'That’s horrible, at least we’ve got the door locked, she won’t be able to get in here tonight', she raised her hand and checked the key. The door was still locked.

The girls were shivering, the room had a chill but with their dressing gowns wrapped around them the cold should have been kept out. Their fear, again, seemed to feed each other’s nervousness; neither willing to acknowledge it but both knew they felt the same way.
'Well tomorrow', Katie exclaimed, 'She won’t be able to do it again. We’re going to see to that.'
Surprised, Lucy looked up,
'How do you mean?'
'I mean, tomorrow night we’re going to cut her feet off, lets see if she can play in the corridors then. Maybe she won’t be so scary without her precious little feet.'

Without realising, while they had been talking the heavy footsteps had stopped, so had the singing. The girls realised this and noticed a shadow casting under the door into their room. Whoever it was stood outside the girls room and had been listening. The door handle rattled, both of the girls jumped back onto Lucy’s bed and hid under the blanket, both looking over at the door.

The door rattled again and again. Each time the door shook more violently than before. As quickly as it has started the door handle stopped rattling and the shadow moved slowly away from under the door. They both heard faint giggling as the footsteps moved slowly away down the corridor. Both Katie and Lucy slept restlessly for that rest of that night; they’d both had a scare and would wake up every once in a while thinking they’d heard something at the door.

As morning shone through their dormitory window, they knew they couldn’t tell anyone, who would believe them? Certainly not the teachers and if they told Madam Ozier they would end up in another detention with Bethany for making up stories. No, this they would keep to themselves. They would sort this out tonight once and for all when everyone had gone to bed.
That day passed quickly, the girls were tired but they’d decided to get some sleep immediately after their six ‘o’ clock evening meal. At midnight, when the school had settled down for the day, Katie woke Lucy,
'Get up, it’s time!' Katie was already wearing the darkest dress that she owned. Lucy stirred and got out of the bed slowly. She hadn’t even bothered getting undressed before she’d gone to sleep, she looked in the vanity mirror on her dressing table, gave her hair a few cursory strokes with a hair brush before declaring herself ready. Unlocking the door to their room, Katie slowly inched it open, looking through cautiously for any sign of a teacher or Bethany. Seeing the coast was clear she moved into the corridor with Lucy following closely behind.

The corridor was gently lit with tall candles that lined its entire length at even spaces. The light gave warmth that made the girls feel more confident about their mission. There were dark areas in the corridor but the girls knew how to avoid them. Lucy took down the nearest candle to her,
'This’ll help when we get to Madam Oziers’ office'. Katie was distracted; she was desperately trying to walk silently with the small wood saw and other objects she’d taken from the caretakers’ room earlier that day. The saw was about the length of her arm and was difficult to carry without it wobbling one way or the other. She knew if it caught on a wall or stairwell, the noise would reverberate around the upper floors, giving them both away.

After a careful footed walk down the stairs they arrived at the ground floor, their feet were freezing. They’d agreed not to wear shoes in case the soles had made too much noise on the wooden floors. They quickly moved around the corner to where Bethany was resting for the evening, she was dutifully standing outside the office, back to the wall waiting for the next school day to start. Lucy held the candle high, while Katie took Bethany off the peg and laid her flat on the ground. Katie beckoned to Lucy,
'Sit on it’s chest otherwise it’s going to move when I start sawing'. Lucy, without hesitating sat on the doll facing towards its legs; the candle still held above to give the best possible light.

Neither Katie nor Lucy had reckoned on how hard the wooden legs of Bethany would be. Oak being a very hard sturdy wood meant that it was strenuous work to get them both off. After several minutes of frantic sawing, rest and then more frantic sawing, Katie had managed to remove the good-girls left foot just above the ankle. She held it proudly above her head and smiled like she’d won an Olympic medal.
'It’s your turn now Lucy, I’m worn out after all that. You’ll have to finish the job'. Katie held out the saw to Lucy who promptly swapped the saw for the flickering candle. Her partner in crime being careful to not drip wax anywhere.
'You’ll have to sit on the doll now, she likes to kick and twitch this one', Lucy winked to her friend; the light-hearted joke helped to relieve some of the tension around them. They knew they could get caught at any second; there was no time to spare.

Lucy took longer to get the right foot off, she’d found it hard going at the ankle, and so at Katie’s suggestion she’d moved up to the knee joint and found it easier to get through the wood there. After two or three minutes of frantic work, she finally broke through with one last push of the saw. Lucy sat down in a heap; sweat was dripping from her brow. She picked up the severed wooden lower right leg and threw it at Katie,
'What do we do with these now?'
'That’s what this is for', Katie grinned slyly, 'While I was getting the saw, I found this varnish', she pulled a glass jam jar from her pocket and showed it to her friend, 'If we take the feet up to the woodland out the back we should be able to burn them where no-one will ever know.'

It was cold outside and they’d only made it to the edge of the small wood before they’d had enough and decided to finish their task there. They both dug a small hole with their hands and placed the wooden limbs into it. Katie poured the varnish in to the hole and threw the still lit candle on to it. The feet burned with a ferocity and intensity that neither of them had expected, the wood deteriorating and crumbling quickly. With the feet soon burned into unrecognisable lumps of charcoal, they decided to take the short walk back to the school; their work was done. Happy and tired they both looked forward to getting back to sleep and getting their feet warm again.

The girls skipped and laughed all of the way back down to the school, taking care to not make any noise as they went in through the side doors where they’d made their escape. They quietly crept back to the stairs neither girl caring about the broken good-girl, neither knowing that the broken good-girl was nowhere to be found.

Lucy and Katie got back to their room and closed the door gently behind them. The school clock struck three. It had been a tiring couple of days and both were eager to get back to bed and catch up on some much needed sleep. As they settled back into their beds, sleep soon took its comforting hold and the school lay still again.

Lucy woke suddenly, something wasn’t right. She was in bed but she was unable to move, she could look to either side by moving her head slightly but her arms and legs were fastened tight; something was preventing her from speaking too, she had a handkerchief pushed into her mouth. She looked slowly to her left and saw Katie looking back vacantly; she appeared to be awake but was motionless; she wasn’t struggling and wasn’t attempting to speak. Someone had tied them to their beds and had gagged them, Katie was bleeding from her left leg, Lucy could see the red drips slowly dropping to the floorboards beneath her cast iron bed. Something or someone was in the room with them and had already hurt Katie.

Somewhere from the corner of the room, a corner that Lucy couldn’t see into; a soft voice started singing.
'One, two, Beth is coming for you.'
'Three, four, can’t dance any more'
A dragging sound could be heard coming towards Lucy’s bed, as though a lump of wood was being dragged across the floor. Something fleshy and wet arced through the air and landed on Lucy’s bed, it was a human foot severed at the ankle. The voice continued,
'Five, six, your nasty little tricks'
'Seven, eight, a terrible fate'

The scrapping sound had stopped; Lucy desperately tried to see who was singing and craned her neck as hard as she could. At the end of her bed a wooden doll with vacant dead eyes and an angry expression clung to the rails and was clambering on to the bed. As the good-girl came to rest lying on top of Lucy, she finished her song; the wooden doll almost spat the words as she sneered into Lucy’s face
'Nine, ten, going to walk again.' Lucy felt the wood saw touch the knee on her right leg.

The two vacant school girls lay still and vacantly watched as Bethany skipped slowly towards the door. She was happily singing her song to herself and was trying out her new left foot and right leg. It was almost a perfect fit. She giggled and walked into the corridor and gently closed the door behind herself. She needed to get back to her place outside of her mistresses office and stand duty. It wouldn’t be the done thing to not be there when Madam Ozier arrived in the morning. After all she was the best behaved good-girl in the school.

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Comments by other Members

Nell at 17:43 on 10 July 2004  Report this post
Hi digriz, this is chilling with a truly horror-filled ending. I began by wondering if it was a children's story, but by the time I'd reached Lucy woke suddenly, something wasn’t right.... I realized that I was mistaken. The idea of the life-sized wooden doll is an extraordinary one, but you made it believable, and there's something malevolent about mannikins of all types, from lay-figures to automatons, some ordinary dolls too. You've told the story in a very straightforward way - 'telling' rather than 'showing', and it's possible that it could become even more exciting if you restructured it slightly to allow the reader to draw some conclusions of their own along the way. You could also look carefully at the adjectives and adverbs and decide if all are essential - for example I don't think you need 'inanimate' in the first line as we know she's a wooden doll. Superfluous or multiple adjectives tend to dilute the power of the writing. There are a few 'it's' that should be 'its' ( 'it's' = it is: 'its' is the possessive, forgive me if you already know that). 'Had been sat' ('sitting' is better); also 'Lucinda replying' feels somewhat awkward, I think you could improve on it. There are a few missing apostrophies at 'following days classes' and 'the pegs height'. This sounds like a lot of criticism, but these things are easily fixed, and you have the makings of a really great horror story here. Write on.

Best, Nell.

Becca at 07:13 on 11 July 2004  Report this post
Hi Digriz,
Nell's touched on the issue of 'telling not showing', and I'd agree with her. The parts of the story where you explain what's going on and follow their progress quite closely tend to rob the piece of the tension it needs. You can get rid of a lot of exposition by using dialogue instead. In fact one good way of really giving exposition a good thrashing, or cutting it's feet off, is to do an exercise in writing the piece almost entirely in dialogue with just a few joining paras. Then I think you'll see exactly what exposition really is.
The other thing that could really notch the story up a few rungs is to remove repeated words, or even words that are similar to each other when they appear close to each other in the paras or sentences. These are two examples: '..neither girl caring about the broken good-girl, neither knowing what the broken good-girl was nowhere to be found.' Maybe just making the sentence simpler would get rid of one of the broken good-girls. The other was 'The two vacant school girls lay still and vacantly watched....'
The other thought I had was about the overall shape of the story. I wondered what it would be like if you began it at a different place, like at the leg burning scene, and then filled in the back story from there, (but trying again to not explain anything). It's a terrific story idea, very Robert Aickmanish! I think it's worth working on. I hope my thoughts are useful.

bjlangley at 09:58 on 12 July 2004  Report this post
Hi digriz, I enjoyed this. I have to say, I don't like mannequins or large dolls, always found them creepy, (I think it's to do with the clown doll from Poltergeist) so this worked for me.

The ending reminded me of the sort of horror tale you'd see on 'Tales from the Darkside' or 'The Twilight Zone'.

I think if you were able to tackle some of the exposition in this (something I often struggle with myself) you'd have a really very good horror story here.

All the best,


SamMorris at 15:35 on 12 July 2004  Report this post
Hi Digriz,

I think this is a great idea for an old school horror story chiller. I agree about the suggested modifications that could be made to this, but I think this is a story that is well worth doing a little work on. Good luck with it!


amnesia at 14:26 on 13 July 2004  Report this post
Hello Digriz,
I enjoyed reading this - scary. I agree with Becca and Nell's comments and don't feel I can really add to them but good luck with it. I shall look forward to reading the final draft.


Beeman at 17:29 on 13 July 2004  Report this post
I agree with the comments Becca and Nell made. Recycling words, especially in the same sentance, seems akward and by doing so you miss a chance to make your sentance more descriptive. The only other criticism I have with this story is I felt it was not long enough. As a reader the best comlpiment I can give is saying that I read everything and wanted more, and this was true about "The Goor Girl". You have established several interesting characters, a great setting, and most importantly a compelling plot. This story has a huge potential to be expanded, you could make this as long as you want (think an R.L. Stein novel), but right now "the Good Girl" feels a little rushed. However, what you have is great work, and it stuck with me the rest of the day after I read it. I would love to see this made into a longer, more deliberately paced story.


digriz at 22:33 on 24 July 2004  Report this post
Thanks for all of your comments, all very helpful. I had given some thoughts to reworking this piece but i wasn't sure how. Nell and Becca particularly gave me a few good pointers here.

I can't believe i let some of the bad grammer though. Still, another lesson learned there too!

I will post my next piece in a few days, i've been rather busy with other things lately. I don't get much chance to write at the moment.

TheGodfather at 16:41 on 18 August 2004  Report this post

Harrowing story. Even though I sensed what was going to happen, the fact that it did happen was still frightening. I hate dolls, clowns, and puppets. Scary little things. I agree this could easily end up a book, a good one at that. It could be a whole tale about the old school and include a lot more side action, in a good way. Best of luck with you on this one. It was great fun to read.


A few suggestions:

school walls and woe betide any one girl >> school walls and woe betided any one girl

immaculate hand carved statues >> immaculate hand-carved statues

surrounding the doll and the butterflies >> surrounding the doll, and the butterflies

kept them rooted to their chairs too scared to move >> Dangling modifier here...it says the chairs are too scared to move

following days classes >> following day's classes

Their fear, again, seemed to feed each other’s nervousness; neither willing to acknowledge it but both knew they felt the same way >> punctuation fixes Their fear, again, seemed to feed each other’s nervousness, neither willing to acknowledge it but both knowing they felt the same way.

scoops at 09:31 on 15 April 2005  Report this post
Oh by gum... I have no idea if you're still on-site Digiriz, but I chanced on this story via the Random Read and by the end had my hand clamped across my mouth to stop it falling open in true horror style:-) The whole idea is so dark and menacing and it develops perfectly. Initially I felt you were doing too much telling, but after a while, because it made it more like a children's story, that added to the menace. It's terrific. Shyama

Account Closed at 20:24 on 09 December 2005  Report this post
Just a quickie comment - saw this on random read and was hooked - gripping and dead scary...that whole doll thing....nightmarish...
would love to read more of the same...

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