Excerpt from “Dollhouse Syndrome” by LanHsu.  Available for purchase here.


“Nowadays, the world is different to how it used to be. We have split the earth into the Seven Rooms, each room never to interfere with the private affairs of another room. Everyone and anyone can travel freely between the Seven Rooms. We have employed the White Uniform to ensure the safety and well-being of our citizens.”

We will never be free. We will always be their little “Dolls”.

“We live in a perfect world, one purely of creativity and love. After the War of Peace, we have rebuilt the world to be perfect. There is now a 98.79% rate of happiness, and the average life expectancy has been raised to over one hundred. The rate of suicide is below 0.0001% of all recent deaths. Crime rates have been demolished. It is next to nonexistent. I believe we have indeed built a great empire, one to last millennia.”

This place is fake. We must fix it. They will continue to play with us unless we fix it.

“This is a world where everyone can pursue their own goals, and use the opportunities the new society gives to their advantage. Those who utilise them to the fullest and become successful can become Elites, with the highest lifestyle. Also those with the greatest minds and potential automatically become elites, no matter their background.”

They’re lying to us.

“That is the truth.”


“We must gather our strongest citizens to maintain this order and peace. We will make this place perfect. We must. Or we will have failed our duty as the human species”

They must be lying. Otherwise, why would they say there were Seven Rooms, when the world was split into eight?

Chapter 1

Part A

4th Sept, Room One

Plip …plip…plip…

The sky was darkening. Grey clouds started to gather around a tiny whirlpool of wind in the sky. It was like the sky was about to cry, mini needle-like droplets dripping from those angry, stormy clouds. The world of the Seven Rooms was scared of storm clouds, but one small boy stared in fascination at them. This was Aster. He wondered if there could be anything better to do than run out into the rain, screaming purely out of excitement. No, wait, I can’t. Mom will say it’s too dangerous . He was itching to run outside. He could see the rain splattering more frequently, more tantalizingly. This was the perfect way to spend his birthday, or so he thought. He tiptoed to the door and released the safety mechanism that stopped the rain from coming in. Or from him ever leaving. It was way too stuffy. Aster needed air. He snuck outside without his mom looking, glancing this way and that before finding the confidence to sprint out of the shelter of his home.

Aster could feel the rain splashing onto his cheeks as he and the sky rumbled with laughter in unison. He pictured the map of Room 1, where he lived. He had memorised the twisting and turning at each path until he reached a jungle of sorts. He rolled back onto the grass in the park, as he faced the sky and let himself be consumed by the ecstasy of lying in the eye of the storm. It’s not like some running will hurt, he thought. I am an Elite after all! He had the privilege of being able to be out in the storm, albeit at his own risk. And what a risk it was…


Aster, dripping wet, trudged all the way back home, clambering onto his balcony, sighing. This was awesome. The storm was way too much – not even the elites could leave the confines of their homes. Like a prison, he thought. The alarms had started wailing, warning any remaining people crazy enough to be out in the thunderstorm to return home. I guess that would only be me hehe ! He was about to open his window and slide through when, suddenly, he heard panting.




Aster looked down to the garden, and saw a part in the hedge, with moonlit strands of silk dyed in red trying to escape from its dark clutches. Hair? He couldn’t believe it. He knew it was there, but he didn’t believe it… No, it was more like he didn’t want to believe it. No one could be out at this time, could they? No, there was someone there. Aster saw his mom on the patio, lips slightly parted as if in a silent scream, raising her hand slowly to her mouth before she sprinted to the hedge. He wondered what she saw to make her have such a reaction. She emerged, holding a limp, cold body. Aster realised it was a mother’s instinct. Of course, his mother would want to protect a tiny, defenceless girl. He shuddered. Somehow, I think that this girl will change my whole life. I don’t like it.