A rich boy called Matthew finds a doll and makes it come to life. The doll is called Mandy and becomes his friend - but things soon start to go wrong, as Matthew begins to treat the doll badly.
Matthew was bored. He was always bored.
He sat amidst a mountain of toys, mostly broken or not working. His parents were rich, so he always had plenty of toys to play with or pictures to draw or books to read. But what was the point if he had no friends to share it with?
Matthew had no friends. He'd met people his own age, of course. But they were just like him, locked up in their own houses. He barely saw his parents. The elderly maid, Barbara, largely ignored him. She had better things to do than look after some spoilt toddler. She'd told him enough times - even though he was getting on for eight years old now.
Matthew was alone. He didn't even have a brother or sister to play with. This was the most annoying part - just six months ago, this could have been a possibility. Mummy and Daddy had said they were going to have a baby - a little girl, just six months ago. They'd spent a long time planning for it - ordering away for blankets and baby clothes. Mummy also spent a lot of time curled up cosy in the living room, looking through a book of baby names. Naturally, she'd eventually let Matthew decide on the name. He'd chosen 'Mandy'.
But then Mummy lost her big pregnant belly, and she and Daddy wandered around the house looking sad. All the clothes and toys and rattles and blankets were taken back to the shops by the servants. Matthew wandered around the house the entire time looking grumpy. He couldn't stand the way grown-ups said something was going to happen and then changed their minds!
Once, he'd asked Mummy if she was still going to have the baby, and she'd just cried and hugged him - which was an uncomfortable experience.
Matthew wished Mummy had had the baby, so he wouldn't be so bored all the time.
He stared at the mountain of toys before him. To give himself something to do, he lined up all the teddy bears. They seemed to be glancing at one another with shifty eyes.
He took a toy dragon with beautifully stitched shimmery scales and fully bendable wings, and threw it across the room to make it fly. It landed in a heap on his bed, and he left the room, wondering idly where Barbara was.
He walked down a long hallway, past an endless army of doors. He was still to small to reach most of them. But there was one little cupboard near the stairs... one he could reach the handle of. He liked the little cupboard, because it was ideal for crouching up small in and then jumping out at the servants.
Matthew walked up to the cupboard now. The door opened, and he frowned. One of the servants - probably Barbara - had filled the cupboard up with boxes - the last of the baby stuff.
Angrily, he kicked the boxes down and threw the items over his head. He was just starting to njoy himself... when something small and soft bounced off his head. It landed at his feet. Matthew bent over and picked it up.
It was a rag doll. It had a big red smily mouth, and big blue eyes. It was wearing a pretty yellow dress. It had hair - real hair - and it was orange and hung down to its waist.
Matthew examined the doll, poking at it with chubby fingers. Another present for his sister, probably.
'I'm going to keep you,' he said, grinning at the dool, who merely stared back. 'You're going to be called Mandy.'