NOTE: Night of the Living Dummy and all other Goosebumps properties are copyrighted to R.L. Stine, Scholastic, and Parachute Press. All rights are reserved to the mentioned people/enterprises listed. I am in no way associated with these people/enterprises nor is the following fanfiction being sold for profit/distribution.

Finally, after waiting for what felt like an eternity, Peggy had been admitted into a room at the hospital and was conscious. I took the soonest opportunity to see her, but not before stopping by the gift shop and getting her a candy bar & a magazine. I didn't bother with flowers because I knew she was indifferent to them. She was the kind of person who preferred to get something practical she could find some use for, even if only for reading trivial gossip and stuffing her face.

I strolled down the surreally sterile white corridor towards Peggy's room and knocked before entering. She was sitting up in bed, glancing blankly at the TV, though her eyes expressed some irritation about the situation.

"Hi," I greeted her, showing off my offerings

She stared at me in silence before blurting out in a deadpan manner, "Everyone says hi."

I placed the magazine & candy bar on the tray and commented, "Getting a bit lazy there, quoting names of Bowie songs instead of actual lyrics."

Peggy rolled her eyes at me, but her face strangely lacked much expression. "Hey, it counts because he says it in the actual song."

Raising my arms in supplication, I sat down in the rather stiff chair by Peggy's bed. She grabbed the remote and muted the TV for the moment before leaning into her mattress & pillow and letting out a sigh. Once again, I noticed how still her face was. It unsettled me greatly. Peggy's face was always so animated. This was way out of character for her.

I decided it best to not call attention to this and instead opted to ask, "So, how are you doing? Have the doctors said anything?"

"…My face is stiff," Peggy answered rather grimly. I felt the lead weight dropping down into my stomach. Despite I was doing my best not to show it, Peggy's eyes told me she could read me like an open book. She futilely attempted a more optimistic tone. "But the doctors say the effects may be temporary. They swabbed some of that spray off my face and are running tests on it in order to figure out what it is. But I swear that these doctors are bloodsuckers because they have drawn blood from me at least three times. Either that, or they love poking people with needles."

The attempt at a humorous tone fell flat however. My mind kept racking around the reason as to why they needed so much blood for tests. Was there something seriously wrong with Peggy?

I shook it off and forced myself to giggle. It fooled neither of us but we didn't address that fact. A change of conversation came instead. "So, have your parents been contacted about what happened?

Peggy nodded in response. Even her movement was clunky. I repressed a shiver for the time being. She then said, "They'll be by in a little bit. Don't be surprised if they want to see the dummy at all and take it down to Linda's shop to confront her about it."

Part of me wanted to balk at this, but she did the right thing by telling them. Something was seriously wrong about all this, and it was best to take action. Not to mention it was a chance to get that horrible dummy off my hands. All it had done up to this point was cause trouble, and I hadn't even had it for more than a day!

But all the same, I wanted to get to the heart of the matter myself instead of leaving it up to the parents.

"I don't blame them," I assured Peggy, "But I think I am going to pay a personal visit to Linda myself in this case."

Peggy shook her head and commented, "I want to swear she set this up on purpose."

I gave her a very inquisitive look for a long moment. She then added, "It's almost like she wanted to make sure you would get that dummy. I mean, that box had already been opened ahead of time. The panels of lid were just folded over each other. And she decided to bring it out once we told her why we were there. It seems fishy to me, Jen."

My stomach sank further down. Peggy was right. It all felt too perfectly aligned to ever be coincidental. I don't think any of us wanted to believe, but this really did appear to be a setup. I was so sick from thinking about it, that I could have puked at any moment. Not being able to sit down anymore, I stood up and started heading for the door. I had to get out of there. Everything was getting to me. The dummy, the nightmares, the incident this afternoon, the wooden nature of Peggy's face, the oppressively sterile atmosphere of the hospital, the suspicions that Linda may very well have set us up. It was piling on too fast and I had to escape.

Before leaving, I turned to face Peggy who watched me like a hawk.

"Whatever the case may be," I began to say, "I am going to get to the bottom of it. This should have never happened."

Peggy acknowledged my departure with another rigid nod. "Just let me know what you find out, ok?"

"Of course," I told her before darting out of there.

On my way through the parking lot, I stopped by the spot I had parked Peggy's car into earlier. While I was not planning to drive it anymore, I still had the keys and wanted to pull the dummy out of the backseat. If I was going to confront Linda, I wanted some viable proof to show off. But dread would be the only thing to take with me. The dummy was no longer sitting anywhere in the car!

Freaking out, I ran to the nearby bus stop and took it downtown to where Powell's Shop of Obscure Wonders was located. But it was only more dismay I encountered, along with a sense of hopelessness. It was only 4 o'clock, but the store was already closed for the day. There was a sign on the front door that read:

Store closed until further notice due to urgent matters.
We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to see you
again in the near future.