Creepy doll sitting on window sill.

Photo by Anna Vonkeman

(A half-truth, half-fiction based on real accounts and some fabrication)

On a dark, chilly night in Madison, South Dakota, Angela Behrends went out to her garage. The wind was howling, and the moon was a faint glimmer through the angry, leafless branches of the trees. A shape looming up out of the darkness suddenly caught the art professor’s eye. A lumpy black garbage bag that she had never seen before was sitting outside of her garage. She stepped closer and stared into the eyes of what lay on top of the bag: a pale, smiling doll with brown hair in a single curl on her forehead.

            The smiling doll startled Behrends, but she took pity on it and brought it inside, leaving the rest of the contents of the mystery bag to be discovered in the daylight when she was feeling more comfortable. It turned out that the entire bag was full of old dolls, but Behrends left them outside, unwilling to face ranks of these pallid creatures in her home. But the other dolls were not a threat for long – they soon came to ruin thanks to rain pouring in through a tear in the bag. The lone survivor, watching her fellow dolls perish through Behrend’s window, smiled tragically through it all.

            Eager to get this creepily cheerful character off of her hands (“She probably has survivor’s guilt,” Behrends noted) the art professor passed her on to Kelly Macleod, DSU’s theater director. Macleod saw her vintage appeal and thought the antique doll would make a good prop for future plays, despite her disproportionately tiny arms and the dent in her head. The theater director set the doll on a tall chair outside of her office in Beadle Hall, ready to welcome all visitors with open (albeit small) arms.

            However, that’s not the end of the story. People walking their dogs on campus late at night have reported seeing a small, pale face at various windows in Beadle Hall, turning its head as its gaze follows them down the sidewalk. A tutor at the Writing Center (on the first floor of Beadle Hall) reports that she finds small footprints in the dust on the windowsill when she comes in for work every Monday morning. And the English professors have been missing books from the lowest shelves of their bookcases, then later finding the books under the vending machine in the basement. Despite much investigation, the identity of the culprit is as yet unknown –and she’s probably smiling about it.