Strange things had been going on since Timmy had come home from the hospital after his accident. The first day he was quiet, sat and just stared at me. When I put him to bed, no “Goodnight, Mommy,” came from him. Then Princess, our cat, went missing in the night. She’d been asleep at the foot of his bed and was gone the next morning.
All that day Timmy stayed in his room, sitting in the middle of his bed, staring at the closet door. At bedtime, again, no hug or kiss. Wearing the robe from the hospital, he lay on his back with his head turned so he could watch the closet that the contractor had unsealed in the renovation when we moved in. “It’s okay, Timmy” I reassured him. “There’s nothing in there,” I opened its door “see… nothing to hurt you.” Silence… just that gaze locked on the closet. I smoothed the bandage on the back of his head, turned out the light and shut the bedroom door behind me. The doctors said it would take time, but I still worried.
* * *
The red numbers projected on the ceiling told me it was 2:06 AM. I had been sleeping only an hour—it took longer and longer for me to finally fall asleep—when I woke to the sound of my bedroom door opening.
He stood in the doorway, the hall light shining behind him. His eyes were empty sockets but with an eerie glow and I heard a soft mewling sound come from him. Princess’s body dangled from one hand. I came wide awake and knew that wasn’t my Timmy anymore!
Six Months Later
“I’m done.” Elaine leaned the ‘For Sale’ signs against the wall behind her desk. She looked at her partner. “The estate will have to find another Realtor.”
“We need this listing and those old houses, especially if they’re already reno’d, sell.” Carmen had never seen Elaine rattled like this. Even with the ugliest property and or most extreme asshole buyer or seller. “It happened again?”
“Yes.” Elaine rubbed her face with the palms of her hands then leaned back in her chair. “They kept hearing it as I took them through the house.” She looked at Carmen. “Finally, one woman literally ran out the door.”
“Like before, you still didn’t hear anything?” Carmen put two folders in her briefcase and rose. She walked over and sat on the corner of Elaine’s desk. Her friend’s face still had that pale, makeup-less look. “Hey, are you okay?”
Elaine looked up. “No. I didn’t hear it when they did. But—” she stopped and rubbed her face again. Shaking her head, she reached for her purse and stood. “I’m going home.” She walked toward the door.
Following, Carmen touched her on the shoulder. “But what?”
“I went through the house to make sure it was locked up. Windows down, latched… you know the drill.” Elaine paused to take a deep breath, the kind when you are trying to quell some strong emotion or when you are about to say or do something you’re not sure of. “When I went down the stairs, at the foot was a small boy.” They had both stepped through the office door, and Elaine watched as Carmen locked it and set the security alarm. “He stared up at me and asked, ‘Are you going to spend the night?’” Elaine paused wondering if she should keep going, then continued. “I looked down right into his eyes, and…” she shuddered. “Then I noticed he was holding a cat, large yellow eyes in its black face.” She hesitated again. “The cat was looking at me, Carmen. I mean staring. Something… they… seemed wrong. The boy didn’t move as I stepped off the stairs, so I pushed past him through the entryway to open the door and step outside. When I turned to have him leave so I could lock the door behind me, he was gone. I didn’t want to but went back inside to see if I could find him, but couldn’t. I left again wondering why he was out on the street, wearing a bathrobe, and wandering into houses. And as I locked the door…” she turned to go down the steps to the sidewalk.
Carmen hurried after her, heels clicking on concrete, “What happened? Elaine, what–”
“Then I heard the cat’s scream.” Left hand on her car door, she turned to Carmen. “And a child laughing.”