|The girl was asleep, unconscious. Blissfully unaware of the terror that lurked outside of her home.
She looked peaceful. Her long, brunette hair was splayed across the pillow, her hands curled around the edge of the duvet, pulling it close to her chin. A smile tweaked at her lips as she dreamed.
I however, was not blissfully unaware. I wished I was. Instead, this babysitter was completely aware of the monster outside.
It started not long after I put her to bed. She went without fuss after a small story and I had the rest of the night to myself. I settled down to do some homework when the noises began. Shrill laughter coursed along the side of the house. It moved with it's keeper.
The first time I heard the noise I felt a chill rocking me to the core. I felt the heat drain from my face, replaced by a cold that I didn't think would ever leave.
Working up the courage I checked outside, peeking from behind yellowing lace curtains. I saw nothing but darkness. The light of other houses across the street gave me comfort.
I forced myself away and sat back down, pen in hand. I pushed the noise from my mind, telling myself it must have been kids. It worked for a while, my task consuming me.
Then I heard it again. The laughter grated through my body. This time around there was more than one. I saw shadows flitting across the window. Startled I jumped and stifled the scream that tried to force its way from my mouth. It came out as a muffled whine.
I was terrified. Even if it was just kids. Rushing to the back door I made sure it was locked before doing the same with the front. I was marching down the passage towards the door when the letterbox clanged.
The scream escaped my lips as I jumped back. I heard the inane giggling again. And then my eyes saw it. A scrap of paper lying on the floor. Taking a deep breath I crept forward. It wasn't until I'd snatched up the paper and ran away that I realised I was holding my breath.
I unfolded the note with shaking hands.
Tonight, you will die.
Flinging it to the floor I rushed to Cally's room where I found her still sleeping. I could hear the hysterical laughter coming from outside, racing as our tormentors ran around the circumference of the house.
What do I do? My mind raced. My breath came in hot, jagged bursts. I knew I needed to calm down.
The phone. The thought suddenly hit me. Rushing back through to the kitchen I grabbed the portable. I began to dial the number and held it to my ear as I clicked the button. Silence overwhelmed me. There was nothing. No tone. The phone was dead.
Screaming with frustration I flung the phone from me, hearing it clatter somewhere on the linoleum floor as I spun back to Cally's room. Suddenly, something latched onto the back door. It began to shake, the handle going wild. The dark figure boomed on the door, all the while manically giggling.
Screaming, I sprinted for Cally's room, slamming the door and shutting us both into the darkness. Luckily Cally didn't wake.
I sat with my back to the door, catching my breath. I held my head in my hands. Hot tears stung my eyes and streamed, dripping onto my jeans.
Something shattered in the house. A window.
I screamed again, "Nooooo!"
Fresh sobs escaped as I realised I couldn't protect my charge. I looked up to gaze on her, glad she couldn't feel the fear that I felt.
Something flashed outside of the window on the other side of her bed. A hideous face popped up. A mask. A clown. A grotesque grin showcased razor sharp teeth dripping with blood. Wide white eyes with no lids stared at me.
The man behind the mask raised his arm, showing me what he held there. A hatchet. Its edge was covered in something dark.
I began to shake my head side to side, willing him to go away. Instead, he sunk below the window. Disappearing from my sight. I never felt more terrified.
He could be anywhere.
I had to find out. Slowly I rose, slinking across the floor in the darkness, making my way to the window. Crouched against the wall I held my breath, listening. I heard the giggles. They sounded far off.
Maybe they're going.
With an urgent shove I pushed over to the window and jumped up, peering outside. I saw darkness. The drive beyond. The bushes.
I let my breath out, felt it escaping my lips. My heart was hammering.
I turned to face Cally once more, see her peaceful sleeping form. Only something was different. There was a figure in the room. A man looming over the bed, something raised high above his head.
"No!" I screeched, lurching at him.
He stopped and looked up, his clown mask grinning with malicious intent. Just as I was about to reach him glass shattered inwards from the window. I felt it slice into my skin. And then a pair of arms were around me, dragging me backwards.
He held me there, halfway out the window, broken glass on the sill piercing my back. I looked into his face as he raised his arm.
I looked into his eyes as he brought it down.