My girlfriend came back from an expedition to the bad part of town, and shouted “I got you a gift! You’re going to love it!”
She was correct.
This is Auntie Virus. The first thing you’ll notice is that she is extremely dirty. Just soaked in various fluids. That’s because she has been sitting on the shelf of a second-hand store for a very long time; if I had to guess, I’d say since the 90s. Meg thought she might have bed bugs or worms, so she lived in a plastic bag for a while.
Why would I assume she’s from the 90s? Let’s dig into Auntie Virus’s true purpose.
At first glance, she appears to be a nurse with a computer for a head, but that would be doing her a disservice. Auntie Virus has layers. She is a Friendly Computer Companion that is also … wait for it … A PHOTO FRAME!!! The idea here is that you cut out a tiny picture of someone, then stick it in Ms. Virus’s computer monitor head, like some horrible Silent Hill cyborg nurse that wears your loved one’s face.
And she sits on any computer! At least she did, in the 90s. I think she’d have trouble balancing on the 6.1mm-thick computer I’m typing this on in 2016.
Apparently computers were seen as so soul-sucking that you needed another fake computer on top to “keep you smiling.” With the idea of social media still a few years off, the only companionship to be found while surfing the web was a doll named E-Male who cruelly imitates your boyfriend, promising “you’ll never be lonely when I’m on your computer.”
N E V E R B E L O N E L Y A G A I N
That’s right, Auntie Virus is only one member of the WebHeads family. All the classic early Internet stereotypes are here, like the aforementioned e-MALE (a person with a penis who is online), The HACKER (a hacker), WEB SURFER (lol he’s a literal surfer), eve SHOPPER (an online shopper who still needs bags?), WEBMASTER (a superhero for some reason?), and Dot E. COM (um … a person with a plant on her head … ???).
I wanted to meet them all, but unfortunately, iwebheads.com is no longer in service. WEBMASTER ain’t so super after all.
I said Auntie Virus has layers, so let’s go one layer deeper. You may have noticed that she has pins sticking out of her chest. Those weren’t mentioned anywhere on the box, were they? Oh, what have we here … the doll came with a note:
We’re venturing outside of WebHeads lore now, because I believe this note was put there by the owner of the second-hand shop. This person, presumably a powerful witch or warlock, seized the full potential of putting an actual person’s face on a doll. Auntie Virus’s purpose has been hijacked; she is no longer designed to make you smile, but to remotely murder your enemies.
I guess the pure WebHeads experience wasn’t moving this thing off the shelf, so this person thought “maybe this will be a must-have holiday item if I, by hand, transform it into a Voodoo doll.”
It worked! Now I own an Auntie Virus Voodoo doll. Don’t fuck with me.
Originally published Dec. 10, 2016, as “A Deep Exploration of a Weird Doll From a Sketchy Second-Hand Store” on Phronk.com.