There were dead children everywhere. Hanging from the ceiling. Lying on the floor, sitting in chairs. I had to hold on to the wall not to fall. I turned around. There was no door. The door I’d come in through was gone.
He was standing in the shadows on the other side. The Puppet Master.
What is this place? I could hear my voice trembling.
These are my dolls, he said. I could see his face now. He was smiling. -My children.
But they’re real! They’re… Dead.
Not dead, he said. Just… beyond. Don’t worry, they’re not suffering. They’re living the play every night as if it was their first, as if it was their life. Isn’t it beautiful? They live one life after another. They’re privileged.
I looked at a child hanging from a pole, his hands tied over it. He turned his head, looked at me. His eyes were empty. The one in the chair moved. I backed away. Another got up from the floor. One fell from the ceiling. They came closer. I picked up a broom stick to defend myself, but couldn’t hit any of them. They were just kids. They pulled my clothes and arms, climbed up on me. I fell to the ground, children covering me completely. Everything went black.
I’m standing in my town, talking to my wife. My wooden body moves as destiny decides. The world is made of paper as it has always been. There are faces, people, looking at me. Laughing. Applauding. I don’t know who they are, but it doesn’t matter.
I just want to play my part.