Man in the House

Edele Winnie

“Are you going to peek in the window again?” the little girl asked.

“Isn’t that cute?” Derek poked his wife awake. It was the middle of the night and they were in bed. “Josey’s talking in her sleep.” They could hear their three year old daughter babbling away in the next room.

“Mommy and Daddy are sleeping.” Josey said.

“That doesn’t sound like sleep talk.” Sabrina slid her nightgown on. Josey’s room was right beside and they kept the doors open.

“Mommy’s here!” Josey said when Sabrina appeared.

Sabrina kept a smile fixed to her face. Josey was not sleeping. She was wide awake. “Hi Sweetie. Who are you talking to?”

Josey laughed, and all of Sabrina’s tension evaporated. Josey was a sweet playful child and had probably been playing make believe.

“Talking to the man.” Josey said. “Funny man gives me candy.”

Sabrina tickled Josey under her chin and made her laugh. “Well I think your funny man is probably sleeping now, and so should you. See, its dark outside. That means sleep time.” She tucked her daughter under the covers. “Sleep now. Play when the sun comes out.”

Josey was such a good girl. She gave a big sigh and closed her eyes. Sabrina watched her for a moment and then began to tiptoe out of the room.

The baby monitor on the side of the crib crackled and a male voice said “Josey, is she gone?”

Sabrina turned and tore the monitor from the railing before she realized she was doing it. She flung the plastic device onto the floor and smashed it with her foot. “Josey!” Sabrina screeched. She grabbed her daughter by the shoulders. “Josey! Was that the man?”

Josey’s big brown eyes filled with tears, which then began to run down her cheeks. Instead of answering she began to wail.

“Stop it Josey! Answer me! Was that the man?”

By the time Derek arrived Sabrina was shaking their daughter.

“Sabrina.” He grabbed her from behind. “Stop. Not again.” His wife turned and collapsed into his arms.

“There was a man’s voice on the baby monitor.” She said.

The monitor was on the floor, its plastic casing cracked and dotted with blood. Sabrina’s foot was bleeding. Josey was still crying.

Sabrina let go of her husband and dashed to the small window in the little room. She rattled it to make sure it was locked and pulled the curtains closed. “Derek, someone was talking to her on the baby monitor.” She ran to their bedroom leaving a blood drop trail and then came back. “We haven’t used it in a year or more. I can’t find the one that was in our room.”

Derek had Josey in his arms and he was smoothing her hair and comforting her. “It’s okay. See, everything’s okay. Mommy’s not upset anymore.” He motioned to Sabrina to try and stay calm.

“It’s okay Sweetie.” Sabrina said, trying to sound sincere. “Derek I’ve read that people can hack into them using computers.”

Derek nodded. “First, please take care of your foot. Then you can hold Josey and I will search through the house and make sure everything is okay.”

Sabrina went to the bathroom across the hall. She flicked the light on and screamed. There were three small wrapped candies beside Josey’s little potty.

Derek came at once, with Josey in his arms. With a shaking hand, Sabrina pointed out the candies. “He’s been in our house!” she screeched.

Josey started crying again.

“Try to calm down, please.” Derek passed the sobbing girl to the sobbing woman. “I’m going to check downstairs.”

He turned on the hall light and they heard him padding down the steps.

“It’s okay baby.” Sabrina tried to comfort Josey. “Daddy’s going to make sure we’re safe.” She wiped the tears from the little girl’s cheeks.“We’re so lucky to have Daddy in the house with us.”

Minutes passed. There was no sound from downstairs, no words from Derek. Sabrina’s teeth began to chatter with fear. Her arms shook. She tried to steel herself, to be brave for her daughter, but she could not stop her body from trembling.

“Mommy’s going to put you back in your crib.” She told Josey. Her own voice sounded like a scared little girl’s.

The broken baby monitor on the floor crackled, like someone was trying to use it.

With Josey still sobbing in the crib behind her, Sabrina headed down the stairs. The lights were off and she flicked them on again. Hadn’t Derek turned them on as well?

“Derek?” she called out, her voice shaking. “Hun?”

The big butcher knife from the kitchen had been stabbed into the wood of the bottom step. Sabrina forced herself to go down to it. There was no blood on it. There was blood on the steps, but it was from her foot. She grabbed the handle of the butcher knife and tugged it out. She would at least face whoever was here with a weapon.

A police siren sounded, quite close. Flashing lights invaded the little windows around the front door. The police were arriving. Derek must have called them. Which meant he was probably all right. A sudden terror gripped her stomach. But he only would have called them if something had been seriously wrong. She felt eyes on her back and spun, knife out.

“I know you’re here!” she howled into the darkness.

She turned on more lights. Someone was pounding on the front door. The police, thank God. She ran over and threw it open.

“Drop the knife!” an officer shouted, gun drawn.

Derek was standing behind the officer.

“She’s going to kill me!” Her husband warned.

Sabrina started towards Derek and the police officer fired. Sabrina felt a shocking burning pain in her abdomen. She looked at the police officer and Derek. Her husband wore an odd expression, one she had not seen in a long time… was it delight? Sabrina’s face twisted into a snarl. The policeman shot again and then once more and she fell to the floor, twitching, dead.

Derek jumped over the bleeding body and sprinted up the stairs. “My baby!”

Josey had exhausted herself and was sleeping. The gunshots had not disturbed her. Derek gathered her up in his arms.

“You’re safe now, Josey.” He cooed. “It’s just you and me now, finally.”

He took the undamaged baby monitor from his pocket and sat it on the dresser so he could snuggle her tighter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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