// dolls, grooming, graphic, body horror, bad end

You always know you were special somehow. You had been crafted so carefully, your porcelain so shining and polished. Of course she would chose you, she always chose only the most Perfect of dolls for her important work. Nevermind the cruelty in her eyes, smile like a good doll.

She leads you through her empty dollhouse into an immaculate workshop and begins a rigorous inspection process. Only the most Perfect of dolls are fit for her work, an imperfect vessel is nothing but a waste of her time. Aren’t you happy she cares so much about your Perfection?

Satisfied with what she finds in you, she next sets you to performing a series of tasks while she watches and makes notes and recordings. It’s impossible to tell if you’re doing well or not. You just try to ignore the glint of cruel divinity in her eyes and serve flawlessly.

Her testing regimen continues for weeks. She sets you to tasks and then carefully studies you as you perform them. She analyzes your movements, asks you questions, and quizzes you on your overall knowledge. The process is intense and draining, keeping you constantly exhausted.

After months of testing, she announces that you’re finally ready and brings you into a new part of the workshop. You follow obediently, excited to have finally proven yourself. The excitement is almost enough to silence your fear as she leads you deeper underground. Almost. The chamber she brings you to resembles a prison cell: bare concrete aside from a drain and a lamp protected by a wire cage. The marks discoloring the walls and floor leaves your clockwork crawling with fear as she pushes you inside and closes the door.

After a moment, your witch pushes a teacup through the slot in the bottom of the door. Like you, the delicate ceramic teacup seems out of place in the dingy dungeon, and the glowing fluid inside it even moreso. The instruction sticky-noted to the cup is simple enough: “Drink me.”

You stare at the teacup, feeling a complex storm of emotions. You knew this day was coming, you saw it in your witch’s eyes. You knew as soon as you realized she had no other dolls. You knew as soon as you saw the cell. You always knew. Like a good doll, you drink the tea.

The divine pressure builds slowly. It starts out as a comfortable fullness and a compulsion to act, but as the light grows inside of you, the intensity continues to build. You feel your gears ache, your ceramic growing hot to the touch as the world dissolves into fever dreams. Somewhere beyond the swirl of hallucinations you feel yourself collapse to the concrete floor, twitching and writhing in pain uncontrollable pain, your agonizing screams barely registering above the roar of shrieking tinnitus demons. Still the divinity inside you continues to grow, warping your clockwork and leaking from your joints. Glowing tears run down your face as your hair catches fire. It’s too much. It’s all far too much.

Unable to contain the divine pressure, the perfect ceramics which you’re so proud of crack and explode. The blast of divinity rips through the room and practically turns you inside out as your remains are shattered against the wall.

Pieces of you are still burning as your witch strolls back into the room, looking on your pitifully ticking wreckage with contempt. “Another failure,” she says with a shake of her head, “Although you held up better than most. I’m surprised there’s anything left of you.”

You are far too damaged to say anything in response, and you wouldn’t know what to say anyway. She continues talking to you, “Well, one step closer I suppose,” she smiles as she monologues, “what’s that old saying? You can’t make an angel without breaking a few dolls.”

Maybe if she realized you were still alive, she would have taken the time to kill you, or maybe she knew, and just didn’t care enough to bother before tossing you down the hillside behind her workshop. The sea of dead dolls littering the ravine silently welcome you to their number.

It would have been a mercy for your mainspring to give out and let you pass into peaceful oblivion, but you were made too well for that. Days and nights pound past in a relentless drumbeat, and all you can do is watch as more broken dolls tumble down the hill to join you.

“You’re still alive?” The man’s voice jars you from your stillness and your broken eyes struggle to focus on the form standing over you. “Well ain’t that,” he says with a devious grin, “Something mighty special?”

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