Five black dots. AT&T M-Cell. Full Wi-Fi bars. 8:29 PM. Battery at 23%. The name at the top of the screen was Margey Andertone. A gray speech bubble was on the screen; received at 8:20 pm. “I hope Ash didn’t give you too much trouble going to bed.”
Below was a green speech bubble; sent at 8:25 pm. Five minutes later. “Hey, sorry to bother date night, but, when are you guys coming home? Your house is really creepy!” It had been four minutes, and there wasn’t a response from Margey or Fillmore.
8:33 pm; “Fillmore will call you on our way home,” was her response. When would that be? Five minutes from now? Ten? An hour? The rest of the fucking night!? Lionel toppled over on the couch. The house was creepy, but nothing he could put his finger on. “I am exhausted,” he groaned throwing an arm over his eyes. He sat up, listening to the storm that had rolled into town, sounding like a cow pissing on a flat rock. “I’ll make some damn coffee.”
Lionel lumbered into the kitchen, nearly jumping from his skin when Margey’s vintage radio; looking like something straight out of a 1950’s home; turned on and began to play. He chuckled at the song that wafted from the speakers, a One Direction song. Did not fit the radio. Maybe that’s why Margey had it on display more than actually used it? Off to the side of the kitchen was a door. The door led to Margey’s office. A place she could escape from the weight of being a wife and mother. Not that she ever wanted to escape from those things.
But there are times when that escape is needed, he assumed that’s just how it was with writers. They craved their worlds, the written word as lungs crave air. He tried to doorknob. Locked. Lionel nearly jumped from his skin again. The baby monitor from behind him lit up. He slammed his hand against the door. “Fuck you, Jason.” Jason Edward Andertone was the name of the youngest child. He picked up the baby monitor. “You hungry? Or do you need to be changed?”
Lionel knew no answer would come, Jason wasn’t even a month old. “…rock a bye baby…”
It was a female’s voice. “Who’s there?” asked Lionel. “Ashley? Is that you?” The line went dead. Jason had stopped crying and all he could hear was a baby’s coo and footsteps clattering above his head. “You’re a good big sister, Ash.”
Lionel turned to the coffee machine and saw there was already coffee. Odd? But he shrugged and poured himself a mug. He went back to the couch and sat down. Lionel’s phone had a new text, maybe they were on their way home? He opened the text which was from Andertone. 8:49 pm. “I see you.”
Lionel’s heart hammered in his throat. “Haha, fat fuck! Come on out!” called out Lionel. Maybe it had been Margey who was singing to Jason, and not Ashley, though that was Andertone’s job, singing the lullabies. Lionel’s legs began to tremble. “Did Margey put you up to this!?” He got up from the couch and noticed the door to the downstairs bathroom open. “Andertone? Margey?” Neither of them answered. But Jason did. He cried. From within in the bathroom. Lionel’s heart began to beat a little faster. “You taking after mommy too?”
Ashley was painfully shy, always hiding behind Andertone’s legs. Maybe Jason was taking after mommy with her sleepwalking. Lionel went into the bathroom. He didn’t see Jason; he even ripped back the shower curtain to see if maybe Ashley was going through some late night jealousy. No baby. Lionel backed out of the bathroom, creeped out. The doorbell rang and he jumped up about thirty feet. Who’d be at the door at almost nine at night? Andertone’s friends knew they’d be out. Unless something happened to them and it was the cops.
Lionel answered the door. No one was there. Not a car. Not a person walking away. Only a shroud of artic air. “Margey owns Titanic, I’ll watch that until they get home,” he said, closing the front door. He walked towards the living room when the doorbell rang. Lionel became so pale that he almost became glow-in-the-dark. “WHOSE THERE!?”
Lionel wasn’t about to answer the door. No siree. He got out her copy of Titanic and opened the box. Lionel grabbed part one and placed the disc into the DVD player and closed it. The DVD player showed a message, saying whatever it was in the tray was not a DVD. He opened the tray and the message went away. Lionel looked at the disc, and turned the disc over. On the bottom part of the disc, the shiny side, a pentagram was carved into it.
He knew Andertone leaned more towards Satanism, but would never think he would destroy Margey’s property. Even if Andertone hated the movie, he wouldn’t destroy it.
Then, at once, all the movies in the small bookshelf they had downstairs flew out of their spots and pelted Lionel. “This is some serious Paranormal Activity shit!” he screamed. He climbed the stairs. It was time to check the children, before he got a call telling him to do so. Jason was dead asleep in his white crib. Breathing and sucking on his thumb. He made his way down the hall to Ashley’s room.
Everything seemed fine, except for the yellow balloon that was tied to the bedpost. On the balloon was the same stoned looking happy face that Andertone used on most of his social media. “I don’t remember her having this when I put her to bed.”
He reached out and touched it, it’s mouth stretched into a screaming mouth and actually screamed. It popped in an even louder scream. “Whoa!” screamed Lionel. Ashley slept through the whole thing. He glared at Ashley, the sleeping four-year-old. “Damnit, Ash, if I weren’t your godfather!”
Lionel felt his phone go off, it was a text. From 6 pm that day. From Margey. “Remember, keep the lights on when you’re babysitting,” it said. He wasn’t sure why he was getting this or why now, but he decided to follow the advice. Lionel looked up from the phone and reached to turn the lamp on, encircling him in a halo of a soft glowing light. Standing in the darkness, a few feet away, arm’s length really, stood a tall woman.