The Puppet

Jamie Adams has a perfect life. His career is on the rise with each passing day and he is being seen as the next Warren Buffet. He’s got a house in the suburbia where a beautiful and loving wife waits for him every evening and a son who adores him. It seems that luck is always on his side.
Then, Jamie’s luck begins to change for worse. His speculations start to go bad. Even the safest looking deals get nothing but loss. Most of his clients still trust him but they are more cautious now. Some start to shift business to other places. Jamie is out of ideas. He just can’t find any reason for his run of bad lucks. He tries harder to get out of the situation but the harder Jamie tries, the deeper he gets into problems.
With his career in jeopardy, the last thing Jamie wants is trouble in his personal life. But it arrives, in form of Melinda Hawthorne. Melinda is a close friend of Aria and lives in L.A. Married to the alcoholic, drug addict and unsuccessful painter Ray Hawthorne, Melinda’s job in an accountancy firm sometimes brings her to Jamie’s office. He always treated her as a friend but once, after a long and winding business meeting and an evening filled with too many drinks, they ended up in bed.
That was a long time back and since then, Jamie avoids Melinda to his best. Just a week before Jamie and Aria’s wedding anniversary, Melinda calls. Unknown to Jamie, Aria invites her to stay with them for a while. Melinda gladly accepts. Then she calls Jamie and tells him she is going to stay in her house for a while and she is looking forward to re-ignite the old fire. She says that she couldn’t wait to have Jamie in her arms, especially on the night of his anniversary. When he protests, she threatens to reveal their secret to Aria.
As he hangs up the phone, Jamie could see his perfect world crumbling around him.
A day before her marriage anniversary, Aria receives a parcel. It is addressed to Jamie so she keeps it unopened. Then Melinda arrives with Ray. Aria is glad to have her friend but she also notices that Jamie is tense and not talking much. She attributes it to his recent professional setbacks. She asks Jamie about the parcel. He says that it is a gift for the anniversary. At night, they open the pack. Out comes a doll- a six inch figurine of a woman wearing a black cloak, her face almost hidden. When Aria pulls the cloak, she sees that the doll has hair made up of many small serpents and a hauntingly beautiful face with deep, dark and mesmerizing eyes.
Jamie says that the doll is supposed to bring good luck and even though Aria doesn’t like the doll much, she agrees to put it in the living room.
The next day is their anniversary and early in the morning, Jamie gets a call from one of his clients. A speculation made by him on Jamie’s advice has hit the jackpot. This changes Jamie’s mood and cheers him up. Aria is happy to see the change and they all have a good day.
Late at night, Jamie hears a knock on his door. Aria is deep in sleep and when he opens the door, he finds Melinda standing there. She says that she wants to talk and they should go to the living room. When Jamie argues that Aria may wake up, Melinda says that she had mixed sleeping drug in Aria’s drink as well as Ray’s. Jamie follows her to the living room and there, much to Jamie’s protests, she forces him to make love with her. Afterwards she leaves while Jamie seethes with anger and frustration.
Jamie leaves for work early next day. Aria and Melinda have a good time while Ray spends his day drinking and moaning about how cruel the life and fate has been to him. Aria asks Melinda to stay for a few more days and she accepts gladly.
That night, while in her bed, Melinda hears a whisper. It is Jamie, calling her. She leaves Ray sleeping in the bed and comes out of the room. Jamie stands there in the darkness. Pleasantly surprised, she asks if he wants to have more fun. Jamie smiles and says that first he needs to show her something.
He holds her hands and leads her to the exit door. Melinda follows her. She feels happy, light, as if under the trance of some drug. They exit the house, unaware that a pair of eyes is watching them.
Once outside, Jamie takes her to the back of the house. There is an old tree in the backyard. Melinda asks why they are here. Jamie doesn’t reply; instead, he gives her a rope. Not sure what to do with it, she looks at Jamie. That is when the trance breaks.
Inside, Aria wakes up hearing a faint sound. She looks around. Jamie is sleeping beside her. After pondering for a while, she goes back to sleep.
In the backyard, what stands before Melinda is not Jamie but a woman. Draped in a black cloak, the woman puts the rope around Melinda’s neck. She tries to protest but couldn’t move. She opens her mouth to scream but couldn’t find the voice. And then, a gush of wind blows the cloak away. Melinda’s eyes grow wide with horror as she looks at the face of the woman. Just then, she feels the rope tightening around her neck and something pulling her body upwards…
Next morning, Jamie and Aria wake up as someone bangs on their bedroom door. It is Ray. He looks all shook up, blabbering something about Melinda. They calm him down and then he tells them that Melinda is dead. Her body is hanging by the tree in the backyard.
Soon, the cops arrive on the scene. Detective Martinez asks everyone not to leave the city until he says. Ray protests but Martinez says that there may be some foul play and he wants to be sure.
Aria is concerned about Sean. He seems to have gone in a shell since the death. She is worried that the incident will create an adverse effect on him so she decides to send him to the school. Jamie leaves for work and he looks unaffected by Melinda’s death.
Aria talks with Ray; to try and console him. What she gets in return is bitter slur. Ray says that it is not suicide. Melinda is murdered and it was Jamie who killed her. Aria listens in shock as Ray says that he knows about the relationship between Jamie and Melinda. Aria doesn’t believe him and asks him to leave. Ray says he would, if only the detective allows him.
That night, Aria confronts Jamie about Melinda. He flatly denies having anything to do with her. Though she tries to believe him, something seems wrong about Jamie. He is cold, almost emotionless as he talks. He then goes to Ray’s room but he is not there.
Ray is on the roof with Sean. He talks to him and Sean tells him that he had seen Melinda go out of the house on the night of her death. Startled, Ray asks if anyone was with her. Sean says that there was someone but he can’t tell who. Ray forces him; even threatens to throw off the roof him by holding the young boy’s shoulder. Just then, Aria arrives. Ray releases the boy and Aria accuses him of trying to kill her son. Ray says that he had no such intention and was just trying to scare the boy to get the truth. Aria asks him to leave the house. He says that he will talk to the detective next day and make Sean talk. He will not leave until Jamie is arrested for the murder.
Aria takes Sean to his room. The boy is scared to death and she tries to calm him down. When he gets to normal, Aria asks if he had indeed seen Melinda on the night of her death. He says that he had and then he again goes into a shell. Aria comforts him and asks who was with Melinda. The boy is reluctant to answer. She feels he is really scared of something. Then a disturbing thought comes to her. Was it Jamie? She asks Sean if Jamie was with Melinda. Sean asks her if he says it was Jamie, would it get his father in trouble. Aria replies that hiding the truth is the only thing that can get everyone in trouble.
The boy contemplates. Then, with much hesitation, he says that it was not Jamie. He saw Melinda walking out with a woman. Confused, Aria asks if he is sure that it was a woman. He nods and says that the woman came to his room after Melinda’s death and warned her to keep quiet else she will harm his parents. When Aria asks about the woman, he says that she looked a lot like the doll in the living room.
Aria talks to Jamie about what Sean said but he dismisses it saying that the boy is in shock after seeing a death from close and it is his imagination that is playing with his mind.
In his room, Ray packs his bag while having drinks non-stop. Late at night, he leaves the room and heads for Sean’s room. The boy tosses and turns in his bed, as if having a nightmare. Ray sits beside him and Sean opens his eyes. Before he could make any noise, Ray clamps his mouth with his palm and carries him off the bed.
Ray makes his way to the roof, dragging Sean with him. The boy struggles but couldn’t get himself free. Once at the roof, Ray drags Sean towards the ledge, babbling about revenge. He says that Jamie killed his wife so he is going to hurt him in return. He asks for the last time if Sean will come out with the name of the murderer even though he is convinced it is Jamie.
In her bedroom, both Jamie and Aria wake up by some strange noises. Aria fears something and rushes for Sean’s room. Jamie follows her. In there, they don’t find Sean; his bed is empty. Before they can decide what to do next, the doo of the adjoining toilet opens and Sean walks out. He is somewhat surprised to see his parents. When they ask him if everything is alright, he says that he just needed to go to the toilet and the flush there is not working properly, making a lot of sound.
On the roof, Ray is about to push Sean from the ledge when the boy suddenly grips his hand tightly and pulls him down. Ray loses his footings and he sees that he is not holding Sean’s hand- it is the hand of a woman. As he plunges to his death, he sees what Melinda saw before her death – the face of the doll. The woman and Ray crash on the ground together. The woman gets up and glides through the closed door of the house. Ray remains on the ground, in a pool of blood.
A loud crashing sound startles Jamie, Aria and Sean. They rush out and find Ray on the ground, his ankles twisted and skull crushed. Jamie checks his pulse and says that ray is still alive. They call the medics and the cops. Detective Martinez arrives with ambulance. He doesn’t say much but it is clear that two deaths in a row have made him suspicious.
Martinez arrives next morning. He says that Ray died during the treatment. He then asks Jamie and Aria if they know anything related to a ‘doll’. Dumbfounded, they ask him the reason. The detective says that the only words Ray uttered before his death were – ‘The doll’.
Aria notices that Jamie is not too bothered with the deaths; in fact, he seems relieved. When she asks, he says that he is about to make a very big deal and doesn’t want to be disturbed by the events. He needs all his energy and concentration now. The explanation doesn’t convince her but she keeps quiet.
But contrary to his words, Jamie gets excited as the big day gets close. He sometimes laughs and jokes and at other times, goes into a silence. Aria also notices that he is spending more time with Sean; playing games, watching TV and reading him stories. This strikes as strange to her but the boy is happy and that makes her glad.
One night, Aria gets up to find Jamie not in the bed. She opens the door of her room and sees someone walking towards Sean’s room. She follows but when she enters, there is no one. As she turns, Sean calls her. The boy has buried himself under the sheets. He is terrified. He says that the ‘woman’ was here. She roams around the house every night and he had seen her several times. But now, she comes to his room as well. The boy pleads Aria to stay.
Next morning, Aria finds Jamie sitting in the living room. His eyes are blood red. Apparently, he was up whole night. She asks him if everything is okay and he replies that he was working on the papers of the deal.
Jamie leaves to work. Aria feels uneasy; it was as if someone was staring at her all the time. She wanders in the house aimlessly until she stops before the mantelpiece in the living room. The doll stands there. She picks it up and examines it closely. There is something on the cloak – a small patch of crimson.
Aria thinks for a while. Then she starts up the computer and searches the net with the description of the doll. After a few pages, she hits a site of occult. There, she reads about a pagan goddess who is supposed to bring fame and fortune. There is a sketch of the goddess and Aria is shocked to find that it is very similar to the doll in the living room. She reads more. The goddess needs sacrifice for each gift, it says. The bigger the sacrifice, the greater is the gift. The site also states that to get the ultimate success, one must sacrifice someone very close and dear.
Anticipating something bad, she calls Jamie but he is not at his office. She then calls Sean’s school and they tell him that Sean had left with Jamie. Ominous thoughts come to her mind. Just then, the doorbell rings. Jamie and Sean enter. The boy is laughing and Jamie is in smiles. They tell her that they had a very good time together. Aria asks Jamie what is the matter and he says that he just wants to have some fun with the boy so that he can forget about the recent incidents.
After dinner, they tuck Sean in his bed. The boy wants to sleep with them but Jamie convinces him that there is nothing to be afraid of. Aria then asks Jamie if he knows what the doll is. He says that he just knows that it is supposed to bring good luck. Aria tells what she had read on the website. Jamie makes fun of her saying that he didn’t know she believed in such hogwash. She asks him to get rid of the doll and he says that he will think about it later.
That night, Aria finds sleep hard to come by but eventually falls asleep. Late at night, she wakes up. Jamie is not by her side. She gets out of the room. Jamie is in Sean’s room, standing by the bed. He is staring at the sleeping boy with stone cold eyes. When Aria enters the room, Jamie says that he was just checking on the boy.
In the morning, Jamie and Sean leave and Aria decides to go out and meet some old friends. She doesn’t feel comfortable to be at the house alone. As she picks up the car keys from the wall cabinet, she notices that the doll is not on the mantelpiece anymore. She calls Jamie and he says that he has thrown it in the lake on his way to the office. Relieved, Aria says that she would be out for most of the day. Jamie says that she needs the break and wishes him a good day.
Out on the street, Aria decides to visit the local store and buy something for Sean. When she arrives at the store, the clerk asks her if Mr. Adams forgot something for barbeque. Puzzled, she asks what he means. The clerk says that Jamie was in the store earlier. He bought some items including a butcher’s knife. He said that they are having a barbeque tonight. Oh, and young Sean was with him too.
Alarm bell rings in her mind and Aria rushes out of the store. She calls Jamie but he doesn’t pick up. Driving like crazy, she reaches her home to find the front door locked. She yells and bangs on the door but nothing. She then goes to the backyard. A window to the kitchen is ajar and she climbs in.
The house is wrapped in darkness. She carefully makes her way to Sean’s bedroom. There, a ghastly scene awaits her.
Sean lies on the bed, tied and gagged. Jamie stands with a knife in his hand. His eyes are closed and he is chanting something. And the doll stands at the head of the bed.
Aria screams and Jamie opens his eyes. She leaps at him but he pushes her aside. Then he puts the knife on Sean’s throat. She asks him to stop. She begs him to see reason. Sean is their son… his son. How could he do this to him?
Jamie replies that this is the ultimate sacrifice- the last one. After this, they will not suffer any pain and live happily ever after. He says that they can have another child as they have many years ahead of them but this deal is a once in a life time chance and he must take it. Aria pleads to her but Jamie seems to be a different man- or not a human at all. The boy groans and tries to free himself. This distracts Jamie and Aria takes the opportunity. She hits Jamie on the head with Sean’s baseball bat. Jamie falls down.
Aria frees Sean and they rush to the living room. She picks the car keys from the wall cabinet runs for the door with Sean.
Then they see her – the doll.
The woman stands at the door. Her cloak hides her face but the glowing eyes stare at them. She gestures at Aria to get away from Sean. Aria holds the boy’s hand firmly and turns. She runs for the stairs. They make for the roof.
Once at roof, Aria is out of ideas. She knows that there is no way out of here. She bolts the door and they stand by the ledge. Aria looks for anyone passing the house so she could call for help. But time runs out. With a loud bang, the door opens and the doll appears. She gestures at Sean to come to her. The boy hides behind his mother. Aria shakes her head; she is not giving up her son.
With a blood curling wail, the doll throws her cloak away. Thousands of tiny serpents hiss on her head. With her hands stretched forward, the doll glides in the air towards Aria and Sean. Seeing no other way, Aria embraces Sean and jumps off the ledge.
And she strikes something before hitting the ground. It is Jamie. He has Sean in his hands. Aria is injured. Jamie helps her to stand up and says that she must escape with Sean. He says that there is only one way to get rid of this demon but before he can elaborate, a black shape swoops in. Jamie pushes Aria and Sean away before a dark vortex engulfs him.
Aria and Sean watch in horror as the dark black vortex swirls around Jamie. Then it stops and slowly dissipates. There stands a shape, draped in a cloak. It slowly straightens up and removes the cloak. It is Jamie. His eyes are piercing; glowing with fury. His head has numerous snakes, hissing and writhing.
But there is something else. The face- a bizarre mix of Jamie and the doll- is contorted, as if in a struggle and enduring great pain. And then Aria hears Jamie’s voice. It sounds as if it is coming from a distant place. He says that the only way to stop the demon is to destroy the body it possesses. Then his voice fades out, replaced by wails and growls.
Aria and Sean run for the car. Jamie follows them. They get in the car just in time and Aria starts the engine. Jamie lunges at the car and Aria puts it in reverse gear. Jamie loses his balance. Then he stands up. The headlights reveal that whatever little of Jamie was there is now gone. The demon gnarls and growls and lurches toward the car. Sensing that there is only one thing to do, Aria puts the car in forward motion and the vehicle hits the demon with full force. For one fleeting moment, Aria feels that it is Jamie she is running over. But it is too late. The car crushes the body and rolls on. Aria makes it to the main road and they drive away in the night.

20 days later:
Aria sits in a prison cell when a warden informs her that someone is here to see her. She walks to the visitor’s booth. It is Sean with Aria’s lawyer, Gina McDonald. Aria asks Sean how he is doing. Gina assures her that she is taking every care of the boy Gina tells Aria that police has not found any doll in the house and that they have proof that Aria killed Jamie with her car. They are also probing the possibility that Aria killed Melinda and Ray. It would be better if she pleads guilty to get a reduced sentence. Aria doesn’t reply. She just holds Sean’s hand and sits.
The visiting hour ends and Sean says goodbye to his mother. Gina holds his hand and together they walk away. Aria starts to return to her cell. Just then, something strikes her. She turns. And just for a moment, she feels that Sean is walking away with the woman in cloak – the doll.