Across the country, across much of the world, the small, local toy store is disappearing. Unable to cope with the discounting practises of the larger chains. Some few manage to get by on charm and on selling ‘wholesome’ wooden toys, finely crafted goods and nostalgia, or by dipping their toes into the collectable market, many more go under. Mr Marjoram’s is an exception to this trend, an old fashioned, single owner toy shop that seems to manage to stay in business, no matter what. Mr Majoram actually owns the shop, though how he bought out the lease nobody really seems to know. It’ll be his until he dies and the old coot shows no sign of that happening any time soon. Meanwhile Mr Majoram’s Toy Shop Emporium remains open for business, three floors of jokes, japes, toys, games and death.
Mr Majoram is an immortal sorcerer with a gift for crafting the supernatural. In exchange for his occult knowledge and for his immortality Mr Majoram pays a tithe of souls, the more innocent the better. He doesn’t like getting his hands dirty himself and so he relies on some of his special creations, animate toys and dolls that carry out his dirty work for him as well as acting as night security for his store. Anyone breaking into Mr Majoram’s shop winds up dead, kept in a freezer in the basement and used to supply raw materials for some of his darker experiments in toy craft. Mr Majoram is charismatic, like many psychopaths, but has absolutely no concern for anyone or anything other than himself; he simply knows how to put up a good front.
The toy shop has three floors an attic and a basement. The basement is off limits to staff and customers, kept locked up and used as Mr Majoram’s workshop where he likes to still turn out the occasional hand crafted toy for special promotions and special customers. The first floor is divided up between storage and the main frontage of the shop. All the latest and most ‘whizz-bang’ toys are kept in here as well as the checkout desk and running demonstrations of train sets, remote control toys and other paraphernalia. The second floor is dedicated to more traditional and nostalgic toys, the toys of yesteryear that are still made to appeal to older generations and for them to buy for their little ones. The top floor is devoted to hobbies and collectables while the attic is closed off and locked up, Mr Majoram’s apartment being there in the converted attic space, up above the shop beneath.
1. The characters are the family and friends at a birthday party and sleepover where one of the presents is one of Mr Majoram’s ‘specialities’. What should be a fun time for all concerned turns to horror as soon as the lights go out and the clock strikes midnight. Then the toy takes on a sinister life of its own, seeking its little victims in the house before reverting to its inanimate state.
2. A break-in was reported at the toy shop but despite signs that people did break in no trace of the burglars has been found, which seems peculiar. Mr Majoram’s strange behaviour regarding the robbery – not letting the police search his premises for example – rings a few alarm bells and some dots are connected. Further investigation may turn up evidence that points to Marjoram’s wrongdoing circumstantially, but it requires a leap of faith to see what he is truly up to.
3. Mr Majoram goes through staff quite quickly, whenever they get too nosy he lets them go – for monetary reasons – and then after a month or two when business has ‘picked back up’ he hires some replacements on.Many of those former employees have their suspicions though and some of them are willing to break into the shop to pursue those suspicions. Once they’re in though, they’re trapped, trapped in a shop full of psychotic toys and their deranged master.
Dolls are more than a little overdone, as are puppets. While these are classics they won’t have quite the same horror value as if you use some other toys as the agency of horror in this instance. Toy plastic soldiers perhaps or more unusual soft toys like snakes or cows.
This story comes from ”100 Dark Places” by Postmortem Studios.
If You like it, check out this book
SYSTEM: any horror
AUTHOR: James ”Grim” Desborough, Postmortem Studios