Teddy Bear Abomination


I’ve been saving this one up specially for halloween. This is a follow-up to the story Witchfinder Cuddles although you won’t necessarily need to have read the first to understand and appreciate this one.


“Have you ever seen anything like this before?” asked Mr Prickles.

Bobbo gulped and shook his head.

Blaeberry Hollow was a small hillock with a concealed dip at the top. In autumn, it’s inner slopes would be thick with wild blaeberry bushes, their branches laden with ripe fruit, attracting both bees and local residents eager to be making a fresh batch of jam. The scene the gnome and hedgehog looked down upon now was somewhat different. A small mound of bodies had been dumped there, all teddy bears. Bits of stitching and stuffing hung loose, limbs had been torn off and cast asunder. A severed head grinned up at them, one eye lost, the other hanging by a single thread. The recent heavy rains had been soaked up by the mass grave and so a sour stench now clung to the air. Flies were beginning to assemble.

“Who is that?” said Bobbo, shielding his eyes to gaze across the hollow.

At first Mr Prickles couldn’t see what his friend had meant, then made out a solitary figure standing in the shadow of an old pear tree that hadn’t blossomed in over a decade. It was another bear, he wore some sort of black jacket and peaked hat. Was he looking at them or the stack of severed body parts? Mr Prickles felt a shiver run across him.

“Hey dada, dada! Dada, see what I’ve been doing!” Mr Prickles turned to see his youngest daughter, Clara, running up the hill towards them, waving cheerily.

“No! No, you stay there and I’ll come to you sweetness,” he called and trotted down the slope to stop her from approaching any further and witnessing the horror on the other side. Once he had spoken with her briefly, he adjusted one of the bows in her spines and sent her on her way back towards the house. Turning, he saw that Bobbo was no longer alone at the peak of the hill — he had been joined by the stranger.

“Mr Prickles,” started Bobbo. “This ‘ere is — I’m sorry — what did you say your name was again?”

“Cuddles,” answered the bear. “Witchfinder Cuddles.”

“Witchfinder? We’ve no need for a Witchfinder here” said Mr Prickles.

“Don’t you?” The Witchfinder shot at a glance down at the hollow’s grizzly contents.

“You think this was witchery?” Bobbo asked, looking even more nervous.

The Witchfinder said nothing and only stared down into the hollow.

“I am sure you must have friends or even relations down there,” said Mr Prickles, removing his bowler hat and turning it in his little paws. “But so do we, a good number of those bears were staff from our own household. Good toys; all of them who will be sorely missed. Trust me when I say, we shall not rest until the culprit is found and brought to justice! I am quite certain we will manage without a bear of your particular skill set.”

The wind was beginning to pick up a little now, blowing the bear’s fur back and forth. One side of his face and body was badly singed and in parts had even been repaired with plain sack-cloth.

“No,” said Cuddles after awhile.

“No?”

“No, you do need me and more than you know. No, you will not find the culprit alone and no, I will not just walk away. Every broken bear in that pile is my brother and every single one of their defiled remains is an abomination. I will not rest until the world has been purged of the wickedness responsible. Do you understand me? I. Will. Not. Stop.”

Mr Prickles and Bobbo exchanged an uncomfortable glance.

* * *

Allswell House was located in a rural stretch between Rosy Downs and the River Earnest. It sat in its own, meticulously maintained, grounds with views of the river, nearby fields and, in the distance, Blaeberry Hollow. As well as the Prickles, the old dollhouse was home to the Dorsets, a family of white mice; Olly and Annie Ragdoll and old Professor Hock, a retired clock-cuckoo. The residents were also served by a small battalion of cooks, maids, butlers and gardeners who occupied the cellar and most of the lower floors.

Nearly everyone had been gathered in the large drawing room, observing the Witchfinder with uncertain eyes.

“And I will be speaking with each and every one of you in private,” continued Cuddles, having introduced himself.

“Even the children?” someone gasped.

“Especially the children!” bellowed Cuddles and little Willy Dorset pushed himself further behind his mother and older siblings. “You may find my techniques somewhat… intense, but understand that everything I will do is for your own good. Now — is this everyone that lives in this house?”

No one replied but there came a few dry coughs and eyes refused to meet the Witchfinder’s.

“Who else lives in this building?” Still no one answered so Cuddles paced around wordlessly for awhile, letting them squirm. Then, without warning, he turned and snapped at Willy Dorset: “Tell me who else there is or I’ll cut your tail off!”

“The dolls!” squealed the little mouse. “The dolls in the attic!”

“There are dolls living in this house?” Cuddles turned to glare at Mr Prickles. “And you never thought to tell me? Take me to them.”

* * *

Bobbo and two stoats had to fetch a step ladder and then wrench out the nails keeping the hatchway to the attic sealed.

“You see they’re all quite safely stored away,” said Mr Prickles, still fiddling with his hat. “They can’t possibly have been responsible.”

The hatchway finally came free with a great shower of dust.

“I’ll go first,” said Cuddles, lifting a lantern and ascending the ladder, the others following hesitantly.

The attic smelt of nothing but must. The room was in pitch darkness but when Cuddles swung the lantern around, he revealed rich carpets, polka dot wallpaper. It was all quite homely, there was even a small display cabinet holding chinaware. Four porcelain dolls were assembled around a table laid for high tea. In unison, they turned their painted heads to look at the visitors.

“Would you like some tea?” asked the one pouring from an empty teapot.

“Not today,” said Cuddles.

“Maybe another day,” they collectively replied.

Cuddles looked at the dolls with both discomfort and sorrow. As he continued to look around he saw more dolls furniture crammed into the attic — sofas, a music box, painted bookshelves, all covered in a deep layer of dust.

“This is their house,” said Cuddles over his shoulder. “Isn’t it? They were living here and then you lot came along and took over, pushed them up into the attic. Prisoners in their own home.”

“They’re just dolls,” Mr Prickles replied.

The Witchfinder gritted his gums but said no more. He’d seen enough. It wasn’t the dolls.

* * *

Over the next few days, the Witchfinder grilled almost everyone. He used the reading room and forbade anyone from discussing what had taken place. Allswell quickly became a place of whispers and cautious glances; neighbours grew suspicious of one another.

Cuddles however discovered little. Olly and Annie Ragdoll secretly despised each other, one of the cooks was spitting in the soup and the real reason Mr Prickles was so troubled by the loss of their serving bears was that Rafferty the head Butler had also been his lover. None of it made things any clearer though.

Frustrated, Cuddles headed out to inspect the surrounding fields and lanes, stopping to grill local farmers. He’d spent an entire afternoon at Bobbo’s little cottage, listening to the old common (or garden) gnome waffle on while he sat, his fishing line cast into a small pond clearly devoid of fish. Bobbo had been the one to find the bears and though he went into great detail about near enough everything, offered no further insights. It was growing dark by the time Cuddles set off back for the dollhouse.

As he strode along between two rows of holly bushes, he became aware of another sound, mirroring his steps. Something was pursuing him stealthily. Something large. In the gloom to the right, Cuddles caught a flash of keen eyes and then the fox was upon him, pouncing over the bushes. The Witchfinder was prepared though and rolled deftly aside before leaping atop the great red beast. From beneath his hat, Cuddles produced an old pair of sturdy, wrought iron scissors and held their point against the fox’s throat.

“Name yourself villain!” snarled the Witchfinder.

“Why don’t you come down from there and we’ll talk?” the fox replied coolly. “Face to face like reasonable men.”

“Reasonable men attack from the bushes do they?” said Cuddles but got down anyway. “Know that I can cut you up from anywhere fox, even if it’s inside.”

The fox looked him up and down, shrugged and sat himself down on his haunches.

“I’ve seen your tracks all over these hills,” said Cuddles. “You wouldn’t happen to have stopped by Blaeberry Hollow lately?”

“You mean where the stash of dead bears are?” replied the fox. “Relax, it wasn’t I responsible for that bit of business. I only like to tear apart things with a heart beating inside of them.”

Cuddles lowered the scissors. The whole thing had seemed too calculated for a fox’s simple mind.

“I’ll tell you this though, I do get around this area an awful lot you know. I see all kinds of things, all sorts of people who don’t see me watching.”

“So what are you saying? You know who killed the bears?”

“Hmm. Perhaps.”

“What is it you want in return?” Cuddles asked.

“I think I’d quite like to eat you.”

“I thought you didn’t eat us teddy bears.”

“I’m feeling adventurous. I’m curious to know what you might taste like now.”

“Okay we’ll make a deal,” replied Cuddles, after some calculation. “You tell me who did it and I’ll let you try and eat me.”

“Try?” The fox raised an eyebrow. “Very well, challenge accepted.”

The fox leaned in and whispered into Cuddles’ ear all that he had seen.

The Witchfinder frowned.

The fox licked his lips then curled them back to display two rows of flawless fangs.

The Witchfinder tightened his grip on the scissors and opened the blades.

Both lunged forwards.

* * *

“Oh whatever is the matter now?” said Muma Dorset, scooping up one of her wailing daughters. “Have your brothers been telling you ghost stories before bedtime again?”

She stepped out into the hall, then froze. The front door was open and a trail of wet paw-prints led inside.

“Frank!” she called her husband, following the trail around the corner.

She gasped as a bloody figure, draped in entrails and clumps of ginger fur, pushed past and up the stairs. Following behind, being dragged by a fistful of spines was Mr Prickles, sobbing as he went.

“What are you doing?” called Olly Ragdoll, pursuing them. “Where are you taking him?”

By the time the Witchfinder and Mr Prickles had reached the top of the house, most of its inhabitants had gathered behind in an anxious huddle. The hatch to the attic hadn’t been fully sealed again and the ladder was still in place. Cuddles dragged the hedgehog up the rungs before forcing him into the darkness beyond. Then the Witchfinder slammed the hatch back in place and set about hammering nails into the wood as Mr Prickles could be heard whimpering from the otherside.

“You can’t do that! You can’t lock him in there with the dolls,” protested Mrs Prickles. She and her three daughters had pushed to the front of the crowd.

“Yes I can!” Cuddles bellowed for all to hear. “He is the culprit. He is the one that tortured and murdered the bears.”

There came a series of gasps.

Mr Prickles muffled voice could be heard now: “No! No I don’t want any tea! No tea! Not today!” Then his paws came scraping desperately against the wood.

“Please… please let him go,” said Mrs Prickles.

“Why? He murdered all those bears. Why should I let him out of there?” answered Cuddles.

“Because it wasn’t him,” said a voice. It had come from the Prickles’ youngest daughter, Clara. “It was me.”

Cuddles nodded solemnly at this.

“And it was me,” said Lucielle, the middle sister.

“And me,” added Symphony, the eldest of the Prickles girls.

Mrs Prickles lifted her hands in shock, taking a step back from her offspring.

Cuddles looked at each of the juvenile hedgehogs in turn. Not one of them conveyed an expression of remorse or any other emotion. They just stood there in their pink dresses, bows and ribbons arranged perfectly in their spines.

The fox had been right.

“Why?” Cuddles asked them.

The three of them took turns at answering, finishing each other’s sentences.

“It was the butler…”

“…Rafferty.”

“We knew what he was getting up to with our father…”

“…and we didn’t like it.”

“He was betraying our mother.”

“…betraying us.”

“The bear had to be dealt with.”

“He had to go.”

“We plotted to do away with him…”

“…but how to avoid the finger of suspicion from falling on us?”

“Or worse, our parents.”

“So we killed all the bears in the house.”

“One after another we poisoned them or stifled them as they slept…”

“…then we dragged them to the hollow and tore them apart.”

“At first it was just to form a distraction from the real nature of the crime…”

“…but then…”

“…then we found that we grew to like it.”

“We started to track down the other bears in the area.”

“One by one, we murdered them…”

“…with our bare hands…”

“…and in the moonlight we laughed merrily as we ripped them apart.”

By the time they had finished, all three hedgehogs were smirking. They also stood alone now, the other residents of Allswood having rapidly drawn themselves away from these innocent looking monsters.

“Understand that you are confessing to the murder of all those bears,” said the Witchfinder carefully. “To the genocide of my brethren. And that I have sworn myself to the harshest method of vengeance upon those I would find responsible. No matter their age, their gender or race.”

All three nodded, the smiles on their lips unflinching.

“I suggest that the rest of you might wish to leave the room now,” said Cuddles. He removed his hat briefly, taking out his trusty scissors from beneath.

Title image courtesy elwillo

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Published in: on October 31, 2011 at 10:57 AM  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hah. I missed Witchfinder Cuddles – back then things were very very busy and I wasn’t able to spend as much time reading as I’d like (I still don’t have that much time, but that was near the end of my last semester) – but I had to go back after reading this. It’s a pretty brilliant concept.

    • Good to hear you enjoyed both of Cuddles’ outings. I’m planning to make a trilogy of sorts of this – toying with calling the third one “Something Wicked This Way Rattles”.

      • I imagine you could do an entire themed anthology on this character and world concept. The title of the next sounds quite right for a story of this flavor, by the way.

  2. Oh I did like this! Cuddles reminded me of a furry “Hercule Poirot” and the story and the girls admission somewhat like an Agatha Christie story – except for the ending of course where Cuddles is taking the law into his own paws!

    Very good, very enjoyable read!

    • Thank you Helen, happy to hear you enjoyed it. You might want to check out my other story “Witchfinder Cuddles” which explains how Cuddles got his burns as well as showing some of his other, even darker sides!

  3. I love the mixture of horror and stuffed animals here. And it sounds like Cuddles is not one to mess with, huh? Great story!

    • Thanks Chuck – it’s a combination that works surprisingly well isn’t it? And yes, nobody messes with the Witchfinder Cuddles.


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