The Ballad of Dina's Dessert Bar

The Best Scary Story of 2021!


By Baylor C


In 1972 I was a private investigator for the city of Bloomington Indiana. I had moved from Chicago with my wife. At the time of us moving, my wife was pregnant with our kid. When we moved to Bloomington I got a job in the police department and she got a job as a teacher for the local Primary school. She loved kids, almost more than me. She always laughed at that but I’m pretty sure I had some competition.

My kid was 3. Well, she had just turned 3. Her name was Darla. Her eyes were bright green, and her hair was as black as night. Darla was in fact the cutest kid in the country. Hell, the world. For Darla’s birthday we went to an ice cream place just down the road. It was called Dina’s Dessert Bar, shabby little place. It was painted in sickly sweet bright colors and smelled like sugar everywhere. Darla loved every minute of it. But one thing you need to know about Dina’s, is that the main factor of its profit came from the “Dessert Party FunTime Dance along.” And orchestrating this nightmare of entertainment was 4 animal robots singing songs. They were all the rage in ‘72. Animatronic machines I think are what they were called. There was a Polar bear, maybe 6’3, 6’4. His name was “Frostie”. Another one was a Cat, her name was “Kelly Kitty”. She was 6 feet tall. The third one was a Chicken named “Heather hen”. She was the smallest, 5’11. And then Dina. The one whose face was on the ads and the tv and the newspapers. She was a chipmunk.

Their staticky voices blasted songs that came out years ago, from the late 60’s. “How much is that Dog in the window” Played so many times I’d get it stuck in my head for days. The point is, Dina’s was shabby. But it was Darla’s favorite place, so for her 3rd birthday we took her to Dina’s. The robots were on their small stage mechanically turning from left to right, blinking every minute or so. Darla and El ran off to find a table near the stage, I hung back to get pizza for the 3 of us. At some point during the song one of the animatronics (Kelly Kitty I think) made this weird groaning noise. The others kept singing but Kelly’s noise just got louder and louder, until it became a horrible gut-wrenching scream. As if someone was being burned alive. A technician went behind the robots and made a few swift motions, Kelly’s eyes shut and she tilted forward slightly, powering off. Everyone else just continued whatever they were doing before. I didn’t like the sound of whatever the hell that was, but it’s not like this place has the best mechanics on the planet. I sat watching them for a moment, just analyzing them.

Their wiry fur, their jaws moving up and down rhythmically to whatever song they were singing, their glazed over eyes looking back and forth. Dina’s eyes didn’t move for a few beats. She stared in my direction.

Something was off about these things.

Suddenly Darla came running over, giggling and laughing joyfully. I snapped out of my trance, and smiled at Darla picking her up. “Having fun?” I ask, kissing her small cheek. She giggles again, setting her tiny hands on my face. “Daddy I sang with Dina! She was singing with me!” She squealed. I couldn’t help but chuckle a little. Darla jumped up, out of my arms and bounced up and down. “Can I get some ice cream now? I ate all my pizza!!” I looked at Elanore, she nodded a little, smiling warmly to me. I slowly get up, holding Darla’s hand. “Sure hon, let’s get some ice cream.” We made our way to the dessert bar, Darla got excited, and pulled my hand along.

Maybe my hand wasn’t gripping hers enough or I wasn’t paying attention, but she ran off toward the dessert bar, on the other side of the wall where the games were. I walked a little faster, trying to catch up to her. She giggled happily running past all the games and other little kids, and then turned the corner. I made my way past the wall a moment or two later, but Darla was nowhere to be found. For a second, I just assumed she was behind this group of people in front of me. I went around, she wasn’t there.

I began to panic.

I looked around the Dessert bar, the stage, both bathrooms, the dining room, the games, and I asked every employee I saw if they had seen Darla anywhere. Elanore hadn’t seen her either, she gave me that “What did you do” sort of look. We stayed at the dessert bar for hours. Not a single trace of Darla anywhere. The employees looked in all the backrooms, the kitchen, even the loading docs and freezers. Nothing. Elanore had run out of patience, and tears. The guilt I felt that day was the equivalent of a power drill straight into my stomach. Everyday I checked again, I came back every day to look for her while El went to my station.

They began to talk about missing person signs. The officer said “We’ll find her, no problem.” After that I went outside and threw up into the bushes near the car. A week later at night me and El sat in silence in bed, with the lights out. I hadn’t had proper sleep in a week. Maybe more. Yeah, more. El gently put her hand on my arm, looking at me. “....Randy..” She said softly. I couldn’t look at her. She moved my head a little, so that I faced her. “...This wasn’t your fault.” Before I could answer, the phone rang. My boss asked for me to come down to Dina’s to look for any signs of a possible kidnapping. The place was shut down due to a few renovations they were doing to the back loading dock. Reluctantly, I went down to meet him in the empty dining room of Dina’s. It was odd, seeing a place that’s usually so lively be completely empty.....almost barren. My boss said the lights hadn’t been working for 3 days, and that the mechanic hadn’t come to check up on it.

The first place I investigated was the kitchen. I looked thoroughly in cabinets and drawers and employee cubbies for something, anything. I was desperate. Suddenly I could hear something from the main room. “Sweeter than candy on a stick, Huckleberry cherry or Lime, If you had a choice he’d be your pick, but lollipop, is mine”. Lollipop. The Chordettes. 1959. Aren’t those things supposed to be turned off..? I go into the main room, and my stomach drops to my feet.

All four of them are gone.

I rushed over to the stage, the empty space had several bolts in the floor stuck into the wood. They were ripped from the ground. I flinch, hearing a noise from behind me, I draw my gun, and spin on my heel, but it’s just my boss. I relax, putting the gun away. “Find anything?” I ask him. But he doesn’t answer. He’s just standing there, staring at me. I shine my flashlight at him, his face is ripped open on one side, down to the bone. Yet he’s still standing on his feet, watching me. I stumble backward, falling against the side of the stage. Taking a closer look, his clothes are torn to shreds, and in his chest is a gaping hole, bleeding like a small faucet every second he’s standing there, soaking the already sticky carpet with thick red blood. He then collapses to the floor. I get up quickly, stumbling out of the room to the back. I slam the door behind me, locking it.

I try to catch my breath after a moment, and turn around toward the loading dock. I draw my gun. Slowly, I make my way around the open area, looking for whatever the hell might’ve done that to my boss. A door opens to my right. I turn, aiming the barrel at the open door. It’s the back office, where the security cameras and other employee things are. Suddenly the song starts again.

“Lollipop, lollipop, oh lolli-lolli-lollipop-...” It cuts out, as the lights in the room flicker on. I take a deep breath, and walk toward the room, making my way inside. As soon as I walk in, the door shuts behind me abruptly, and the lights go out. I cock my gun. Looking at the cameras, I glance at the date. It’s several days old footage.

It was playing the footage from the day Darla disappeared. I was still staying aware of my surroundings, but I glanced at the footage. Darla appears on one screen, skipping through the hallway, she stops, and looks back at me, who trails behind her on the screen. She turns the corner, and the tape cuts out. She’s gone.

I frown, and rewind the tape. It does the same thing over again, but in the corner of the screen I see the door in the very back close slightly, as if someone just shut it.

The freezer. That’s where Darla was.

Suddenly the door I came through swings open, and a loud mechanical clanking is heard. Footsteps. They were footsteps. I back up, aiming my gun for the door. Heather Hen, walks through the door, clucking and squawking over and over. I fire a round or so at her, but it just gets lodged in her metallic chest. I look around for anything that might help me, I see a lighter on the desk beside me, and a cigarette box. I quickly light the cigarette and then snap the top off the lighter, splashing the lighter fluid onto Heather’s “fur”, she lunges at me, but I dodge, sticking the cigarette onto her. Heather catches fire almost instantly, Her eyes look back and forth, but she stops making noise, she just tries to look at the fire that’s slowly crawling over her shoulder from her back. I shoot her leg, chipping the metal underneath. She stumbles, and hits the desk, falling to the ground, being swallowed in flames. Her voice starts up again, the clucking and squawking mutates into a shrill screaming, as writhes on the ground. I ran out of the security room and into a back room, I quickly shut the door behind me. I instantly notice that the hairs on my arms stand straight up, wherever I am, it’s freezing. I take a deep breath, my exhale slowly creeping from my mouth.

The freezer. I was in the freezer. I turn around and start to walk through the freezer hallway, talk about a walk-in, this thing was huge. Suddenly a voice stops me in my tracks.

“Daddy?....” The tiny voice sounds distant, but not far. I walk faster. “Darla? Darla baby where are you hiding?” I can hear her voice getting closer, I’m almost to her. Then I can get her home and away from all these demonic robot things.

As I’m walking I notice the shelves are more and more packed the farther down I go. And it reeks in this place. I look closer as I’m walking, and I notice there’s a severed arm sitting on the shelf. In fact, all the shelves are piled and stocked full of limbs and body parts. I walk faster. I want to get the hell out of this place. At the end of the hall there’s larger boxes. No...not boxes...They’re blocks of ice.

Making my way over I notice that the blocks are at least 4’5 each, because they’re all children. Frozen solid. Some of the blocks are chipped away at, and some of the frozen children’s limbs are missing.

They take body parts from dead children and keep them here in the freezer. I stop for a moment, covering my mouth. I’m surprised I haven’t gotten completely sick yet. This is disgusting. Suddenly the lights go out. Frank Sinatra’s “That's Life” slowly begins playing on an old sounding recorder. No. I can hear the whirring of the tape and the mechanical tapping of a jaw moving up and down. One of them is here with me. The lights flicker on, at the end of the hall is Frostie. His thick white fur almost blends into the sickly white walls. He stares at me, as he “sings” to Frank. The tape cuts out a few times, and Darla’s voice sounds as if it’s cutting through the song. “Daddy!-....I’m over here!-...” That son of a bitch. He lured me in here.

I look around for a moment, there’s an ice pick to my left. Frostie notices this too, and slowly turns to look at it on the shelf, and then back to me. I reach out grabbing the Ice Pick quickly, and Frostie charges at me. Over 6 feet tall, Frostie looks absolutely terrifying sprinting down the hallway to me. I grab one of the limb-shelves and pull my hardest, it topples over, making the other ones collapse onto the ground in between us, but Frostie lunges at me, at the last second I stick my Ice Pick out, and plunge it through his metal skull.

The song slowly grinds to a halt. Frank’s voice slowly getting to the end of his song. “I’m gonna roll...up.......in..a.....big ball........and.........die.......” He powers off, I don’t stick around to see if anyone else is here. I can see the fire from the other room with Heather Hen, it’s slowly dying out, and heather is nowhere to be seen. Luckily.

I push my way through the next room, looping back into the kitchen. This time Kelly kitty and Dina are standing in the kitchen. Their glazed over eyes watch me as I move. I stop when I get into the kitchen. The door shuts behind me slowly. I’m really starting to get tired of this killing robots thing. Suddenly a little refrigerator door opens, and Darla runs out, diving under tables and chairs to get to me. “Daddy!! Daddy you’re here!!” Thank god she’s okay. I keep my gun in one hand, and pull her over behind me with the other. She clings to my pant leg tightly, she’s shaking. I look back at Kelly Kitty and Dina.

Kelly’s head tilts to the side, and her music comes on. “How much is that dog..in the window..? Arf Arf! The one with the waggly tail...” She takes a few steps toward us, but I’m too fast. I shoot straight into her plastic dead eyes, breaking the bulbs instantly. She stops moving, and turns side to side frantically. I then shoot the voice box in the back of her throat when her mouth opens again. I take the ice Pick from before and stab it into her chest, breaking whatever casing was holding her programming box. She powers off.

One down, one to go.

Dina walks toward me, her sickeningly sweet smile plastered on her face is unmoving, unchanging. I go to shoot my gun, but she waves a mechanical paw at me, swiping it out of my grasp. I move Darla out of the way, dodging Dina’s swings at me. I stumble backward against a table as Darla cries out for me. Dina just continues making her way toward me. I go for the ice pick. I try to stab her but it goes through her paw. She takes it out of her hand and holds it up, rearing back to stab me with it instead. I have to think fast. I look around the kitchen and see a stove. Bingo. I get up and run over near the stove, taunting her and luring her over. She lunges at me but I dodge, and her ice pick goes straight through the metal of the stove, she’s stuck. I quickly turn the stove on, it catches her fur quickly. And she’s in flames in minutes. Grabbing my gun I shoot her in the back, destroying the maintenance panel.

I took Darla home back to El, and I told my squad to investigate that kitchen more. I finally got some sleep. But every now and then I’ll hear a faint noise coming from my hallway at night...the sound of clucking and squawking.