Jackie moves into a new home with her daughter and becomes the brunt of practical jokes.
|A Prank Gone Too Far
By Lisa McCourt Hollar
Jackie woke to a child’s laughter. Groaning, she opened one eyelid and peered out. Her room was dark. The light from the hallway filtered in through her door, which was cracked, in case Alyssa needed her. The light was for Alyssa too. No matter how many times Jackie told the four year old that monster’s weren’t real, Alyssa refused to believe.
“I can hear them in the hall at night, mommy. They say they are going to take me away from you.”
Jackie sighed. She knew what this was about. The separation between her and Ron was hard on Alyssa, and now this move into a new home was more than she could process. The poor thing saw her dad leave, their house sold… she was probably thought she was going to lose her mother too. Jackie hugged Alyssa to her, wanting to make her feel safe.
“What do these monsters look like?” Jackie asked.
“I don’t know. I close my eyes real tight when I hear them. I’m scared if I look, they can get me.”
“No one is going to take you away, least of all any monsters. But if it makes you feel better, we can leave the hallway light on.”
“Can I sleep in your bed, mommy?”
“No, you may not, but I’ll leave my door cracked. If a monster comes and tries to eat your toes, yell out and I’ll come.”
Jackie had tickled her daughter’s toes then, making the girl giggle. Staying with her until she fell asleep, Jackie had gone back to bed, hoping that would be the end of the problem. Now though, hearing the giggling coming from the hall, she realized it wasn’t over, although it seemed strange that Alyssa would go from being scared of the dark, to laughing obnoxiously in the hallway.
“Alyssa, it is three o’clock in the morning. This is no time for games.” Jackie stepped into the hallway, but the corridor was empty. “Alyssa, quit playing.” Pushing her daughter’s bedroom door open, Jackie looked in and saw the girl in her bed… asleep. “Alyssa?” A soft snoring told her the child wasn’t faking.
“Maybe I imagined it,” Jackie said, quietly pulling Alyssa’s door closed, leaving it open just a crack, for the light. Padding down the hall, she started to step into her room when she heard the giggle again. This time there were two distinct sniggers, one with more of a snort to it and the other softer, more gentle.
Jackie paused, turning towards the stairs. It sounded like it was coming from the middle landing. She’d left her cell phone in her room and considered retrieving it and calling the police, but when she heard the laughter again, obviously the titter of a small child, she thought she knew what was going on.
They’d only moved into the small house a few weeks ago, but since then, they’d been the target of a few childish pranks. She’d not been able to catch the culprits, but breaking into someone’s home in the middle of the night and scaring her daughter, went beyond pulling up her flower bed.
Jackie had called the police with the first prank. They had said they would look into it, but she got the impression they were only trying to pacify her.
“This is a good neighborhood,” the older cop had said, while his partner nervously cleared his throat. Jackie saw through the lie. It was a clean enough looking burrow, but the house, even one this small, was a steal. There had to be something wrong with the neighborhood and Jackie suspected that something was in her house now.
“Well, if I catch them, the police will have to do something.”
Walking quietly towards the stairs, Jackie heard another snicker, followed by a voice, shushing. Reaching the top of the steps, she looked down towards the landing. Two children, about seven or eight were bent over, looking at something she couldn’t see.
“Who are you?” Jackie spoke loud, trying to impress upon the children how angry she was. The taller of the two looked up at her, but then back down at whatever had attracted their attention.
“Look at it shiver,” he said to the other child.
“Poke it again,” she giggled.
“You think this is funny,” Jackie asked, moving down the steps. Neither of the kids looked at her. Suddenly it dawned on her what the first child had said. “Look at it shiver.” It?
Terror filled her as she realized she hadn’t heard Mittens. Their cat wasn’t one to let anyone, even strangers, walk through their home without insisting on having her chin scratched. Rushing down the last few steps, Jackie could see the black and gray tale of the tabby.
“Get away from her.” Jackie reached out to push the boy out of the way, but he moved before she could touch him, revealing her cat laying still on the landing. Mittens was covered in something wet and sticky and it took her a minute for Jackie to realize it was blood.
“Oh my God, what have you done?”
The smaller child, the girl, turned and looked at Jackie. Her face was covered in blood. She smiled, revealing her teeth, which had fur and other stuff Jackie didn’t want to think about, stuck between them.
Jackie turned to run up the stairs. She needed to get her cell phone, but one of them, the boy, grabbed her leg and pulled her down beside the cat. Smiling, he revealed his teeth. The canines were sharpened, looking like fangs. Bending towards Jackie, who was struggling to get up, he shoved her back down and bit into her neck, puncturing her artery. Giggling, the girl joined him, biting into Jackie’s arm and chewing on her flesh. From behind the girl she heard another giggle, one she would recognize anywhere. Turning her head, she looked into Alyssa’s eyes. Her daughter was grinning, revealing fangs she hadn’t had earlier that night.
Word Count: 999