Uncanny Valley

It was the little things. The way her face shape just didn’t look quite right in the mirror. or how she found herself feeling quite blank most days. she wasn’t depressed, she just felt like she physically couldn’t generate any personal thoughts or opinions, and the ones she could didn’t feel like her own. there was something about her mother’s face. it looked like her, but there was something very wrong about it. the world around her was the same, but everyone in it seemed so blank.

sometimes she would see strangers with smiles that were wider than what should have been possible. but when she would turn her head to look at them, they would suddenly return to a blank, vacant-eyed stare. she knew things had been normal. she could remember it. her thoughts and feelings. her emotions, her passions. the connection she had with her mother. normal day to day when random people weren’t zombie-like and watching her with sinister, yet calculating eyes. but she also wasn’t sure when things started to change. when she realized it, it was like a sudden shift. the world was colder, it felt unsafe. she felt watched. her neighbors didn’t look like themselves, no one did.

So, there she was, standing in front of her friend Millie’s house. This had been festering in her mind for quite some time now. She hadn’t seen her in a while. Hadn’t seen her at school, and she hadn’t been answering her phone. She rapped her knuckles against the door, stepped back and shoved her hands in her pockets. she rocked back and forth on her feet, waiting silently for someone to answer the door.

finally, the red door swung open to reveal Millie’s mother. her soft, blond hair was pinned up into a perfect bun, and her mouth was twisted into an unnaturally wide smile.

“well, hello there!” she chirped with her thick southern accent. “can I help you?”

“hi, Mrs. Miller,” she paused, scanning the woman’s face. “is Millie here?”

if possible, the woman’s smile got even wider. she stared at Wendy for a moment, saying nothing. Wendy shifted, avoiding her eyes momentarily before looking back up at her as casually as possible.

“yes, of course. she’s been a little under the weather.” the woman spoke energetically, too energetically. “why don’t you come inside, i’m sure she’s dying to see you.”

Wendy paused, pursing her lips. Millie’s mom’s behavior was really disturbing her. there were alarms blaring in her mind screaming at her not to go in that house. but her thoughts drifted to Millie. she had missed her best friend’s sweet smile so much. she would only be a second. she would hug her, ask her how she was doing, maybe talk to her about what’s been going on. it would only be a moment.


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