The Monitor

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Chapter 5

Chapter 5

Before I could even finish my nightly silent prayers, I had started to dream. Thankfully, this dream had nothing to do with the babies or the nursery this time...

I was in a strange house. I didn’t recognize it, yet there was something oddly familiar about it. It was very cluttered and disorganized. There was a musty smell like smoke throughout the house. Where was I? I couldn’t see or hear anyone else in the house, but I did hear a faint sound of running water, so I started checking out the rest of the house. Opposite the family room I was in, was the kitchen. Just off to one side of the kitchen was a hallway. Down the hallway, I came to a bathroom. It had white and blue checkered tile on the walls and there was an oval-shaped white antique tub with a navy bath mat in front of it on the floor. I had thought I’d heard water coming from here, but there was no running water that I could see. There was, however, a very creepy vibe in this room.

I continued down the hallway. There were two bedrooms past the bathroom; one on the right, one on the left. The first one on the left, had nothing but stacked boxes everywhere. It was disheveled and reeked of smoke. The last bedroom, on the right, must have been the master bedroom. It had black walls, with red shag carpet. There was a queen-sized bed in the middle of the room that was unmade and messy. And across from the bed on a dresser was a TV. I saw no items that would help identify who the homeowner was…no pictures…no personal belongings with a name on them. The closet did have only male clothing in it, but none that I recognized. But that still didn’t explain where I was or why I was here. I turned to leave, and out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of a little black book on the edge of the dresser beside the TV. I picked it up to see what it was. The title was in another language (Latin, maybe?). And below that was a sign of a star within a circle. I knew I had seen this symbol somewhere before, but I couldn’t place where. I quickly put the book back and headed down the hall. I had an uneasy feeling that just got stronger the longer I was there, so I wanted to get the heck out. NOW.

Just as I reached for the doorknob on the front door, I heard a soft voice, just slightly above a whisper say, “Don’t go…not yet.” Even though it frightened me, I couldn’t help but turn around to see where it was coming from. I saw no one, but I heard the voice again; this time it sounded further away. “This way,” it beckoned to me. Everything inside of me screamed, “Run the other way! Get out of here!” But for some reason, I felt compelled to obey. I followed the sound of the voice to a door off the other side of the kitchen. “Down here,” the voice whispered again, leading me down a flight of cement steps. I had no idea where I was going, but I couldn’t seem to stop myself either. I felt like I was no longer in control of myself. When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I was standing in a large, unfinished basement. It was cold and dimly lit. And there was an old, musty smell all around. I heard a sound and took another step into the room. As my eyes adjusted, I saw a man on his knees in the middle of the room. He was wearing an old white shirt and tattered jeans His hair was a salt-and-pepper color. I realized he was rocking back and forth and muttering something that I couldn’t understand under his breath. On the concrete floor, underneath where he was kneeling, was what looked like a red circle that had been spray-painted there. His head was down and he was holding something in his hands that I couldn’t see. He didn’t seem to be aware that I was there.

I nearly jumped out of my skin when a deep voice (like a growl) bellowed from somewhere in the shadows, “Tell me again what happened that night.”

I panned the darkness of the room hoping to find where the voice was coming from but saw no one else in the room. As the man kneeling in the floor responded, a cold chill ran through my body.

“I saw them out that day playing by themselves. I brought them here just as you told me to do. They wouldn’t stop crying. So I knew that I had to make them be quiet. I drove them around until it was dark and they had cried themselves to sleep. Then I pulled the car into the garage and shut the garage door. I left the car running with them inside it and went into the house. I thought about going to get them several times, but decided to let them suffer…to let them die. When I came out an hour later to turn the car off, they were unconscious, but still alive. I brought them into the house, and wrapped them in towels on the bathroom floor. Then I filled the tub with scalding hot water, just like you said to do. And one at a time, starting with the boy, I laid them in the scalding water and held them down until I was sure the life had left them.”

“Very good. So now you know what you must do next,” growled the deep voice to the man. He immediately became still and sat straight up; looking directly ahead toward the sound of the voice. I took another step into the room and looked in the same direction, but still couldn’t see who was speaking. However, now that I had a better view of what was unfolding in front of me, I finally realized where I was and who this man was in front of me...and why his voice had sounded so familiar. Somehow, I was staring right at Kent Phillips! I covered my mouth to stifle a scream. I wanted to run, but my feet seemed glued to the cement; unable to move. And as he responded, “Yes…I know what I must do.” I got a clear view of what he had been holding in his hands. I gasped in complete terror as I saw a picture of Hadley and Hayden from the hospital the day they were born. To add to my horror, he turned to look my direction and his eyes were black as coal and he was bleeding from a wound in the side of his head. “No!” I heard myself scream repeatedly as my feet finally unglued themselves from the floor. I ran as fast as I could up the stairs and to the front door. I opened the door, and sure enough, I was staring at my own house from across the street. “Quinn,” I heard the voice growl my name from inside the house. Without hesitation, I sped across the street as fast as my feet would move. But the voice seemed to follow me; beckoning me with every step…getting closer and closer. “Quinn...Quinn!”

“Quinn!?!” I opened my eyes and realized Bryce was hovering over me in our bed; pale and staring wide-eyed at me. “Geez, Quinn…you were screaming in your sleep! You scared the hell out of me!” I sat up quickly and looked around. Breathing heavily and shaking from head to toe, I muttered “Yeah, join the club!” This was the creepiest, most realistic nightmare yet. Where did that even come from??

I glanced at the clock. It was only a little after midnight. My mouth was really dry, so I got up to get a drink and go to the bathroom before trying to sleep again. It felt like I hadn’t slept at all, yet all I could do was lie awake and stare at the ceiling; replaying every detail of my nightmare. Why did I have to dream about him again? Or that creepy house?! How could I have imagined all those specific details, when I’ve never even set foot inside of Kent’s house? My imagination must be more active than I thought, because there was no way I could have really seen those things. I tried to rationalize with myself that I must have just spent so much time imagining the details of what happened and that had to have led to this disturbing dream. But it had seemed so real! I could have sworn I was actually there. I could SMELL the smoke. I FELT the black leather book in my hands with the familiar symbol on it. I HEARD the water running. And that voice! What WAS that?! I shivered as I recalled how I had been so powerless to its beckoning. Was this all just a manifestation from what I’d seen from the news stories? Or was there even the slightest possibility that I was seeing and feeling everything that Kent did just before he took those kids and killed them then himself? But this wasn’t about that OR those kids. This was about MY babies!

Almost as if they could sense I was thinking about them, I heard the monitor switch on and the babies started to cry. My head was still swimming as I groggily rolled out of bed and went into their nursery.

They were both back asleep fairly quickly after a change and short feeding. I wish the same could be said for myself. Even though I didn’t have any more dreams that night once I finally fell asleep, I tossed and turned until morning. When I got up at 7 with the twins, I was more tired than when I went to bed.

There was still a lot to get done with Thanksgiving just a day away. The final headcount for dinner guests was 15; counting me, Bryce and the kids. I had straightened up most of the main rooms that would be seen. But I still needed to dust, vacuum, and clean toilets and counters. Between all of our family, the food was pretty much covered. My mom had already picked up the turkey. And I wanted to make my famous Pumpkin Cream Pie, but I needed to get the ingredients. People had been so generous by bringing us meals and other necessities; that we really hadn’t needed to make a trip to the grocery yet. There was no way I was ready to try and tackle shopping by myself with the kids in tow, so my mom graciously agreed to come watch them for me while I went. I have to admit, I was more than a little excited to have some alone time and get out of the house for a little bit.

I took full advantage of my time out without the kids and walked slowly up and down each aisle. I picked up all the ingredients I needed for my dessert, plus diapers and other must-haves for the house. I browsed the makeup section and even meandered through the seasonal aisle to see what Christmas things they were starting to put out. Finally, I headed to the front to check out. I scanned the gossip magazine racks on my way to the open lane. Almost every one of them had something about “The Camden Street Killer” on them. I shouldn’t have been surprised…it was, after all, the talk of the town (and even the country for that matter).

One particular cover caught my eye. It had a picture of the abducted children and the headline read “Details and Photographs From Inside Kent Phillip’s Home”. My heart nearly dropped into my feet as I recalled my dream from the previous night. With my curiosity peaked, I grabbed the magazine and tossed it into the cart.

When I got home, my mom helped me unload and put away the groceries. Not only that, but she had also taken care of the dusting, vacuuming, and other minor things I had left to do on my list. This was such a huge relief because the trip to the grocery had worn me out more than I had expected it to, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to get everything done.

After my mom left, I could tell the twins were getting tired. I fed and then rocked them for about 30 minutes until they were asleep, and put them in their bouncy seats. I decided this was the perfect time to look at the magazine I picked up from the store.

I flipped through it; page by page until I came to the article in the center of the magazine. My mouth literally fell open and my stomach was instantly in knots when I saw the pictures included with the article headline “Where Keegan and Arden Hollis Spent Their Tragic Final Hours.” The first two pictures under the headline were rooms in Kent’s house. The truly scary thing was that I had seen these rooms before. In fact, I could have taken these pictures myself in my dream the night before! The one on the left was of the bathroom, where I thought I had heard the water coming from. It had the same blue and white checkered tiles with the same blue bathmat in front of the same antique, oval-shaped tub. The caption read “Two towels were found wrapped around the children’s bodies. And it is believed they may have taken their last breaths in this very bathtub.”

I hadn’t even realized I’d started crying until I saw the tears fall onto page I was reading. I wiped my eyes with my sleeve and moved on to the next photo. This one was of the suicide note found next to Kent’s body. Below his signature, was a symbol…the SAME symbol that I saw on the black book in Kent’s bedroom in my dream. But what did it mean?

I wasn’t really reading the article, but certain phrases were highlighted like “items found suggest Phillips was a Satanist” and “claimed to be hearing voices that were controlling his actions”. I flipped to the next page of the article and the picture on that page nearly knocked the breath right out of me. I recognized it right away…dimly lit room…cement floors. And right in the middle of the basement that I saw through my own eyes in my dream, was the large, red, spray-painted symbol. Now it was finally starting to come together for me. This symbol that I had seen repeatedly (on the basement floor, the black book, and now the suicide note) HAD to be the sign of Devil worship I had heard the reporters talk about. My next thought sent chills up my spine. Was it possible, even remotely, that the creepy deep voice I had heard could have actually been the “Darkness” that Kent described in his own suicide note? I wasn’t even sure I believed in the Devil or in occults. But I now knew what I felt and saw was real.

Hadley made a noise and it startled me so much that my body jerked and I dropped the magazine onto the coffee table. And, of course, that scared both of them awake. I took them to the nursery and changed their diapers and then put them in pajamas for the night. Thankfully, Bryce came home just as I was bringing them back out to the family room. He took Hayden from my arms. I must have still looked as shaken up as I felt because he asked if I was feeling ok. I really didn’t know what to tell him, so I managed a smile and said, “Uh, yeah…fine.” I hadn’t told him about my dream because, at the time, I thought it was just another crazy nightmare. I didn’t even know where to start now that I’d read the article. I was afraid he’d think I was mental and want me to seek professional help. So I decided not to say anything for the time-being. Besides, I still had a lot to do to get ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow.

I was very appreciative that Bryce kept the twins occupied while I prepared the food ingredients for the following day. I wanted to get as much done as I could before the morning. My mom was coming over around 6am to start cooking the turkey and get the other dishes ready. When that was done, I fed the babies and then took one last sweep through the house to make sure it was presentable for guests before getting ready for bed around 10pm. Hadley was already in her crib. And Bryce was laying Hayden down as I came out of our room from changing into my pajamas. He and I sat down together on the couch and collectively sighed from the stress of the day. Bryce reached down for something under the coffee table, and came up with the magazine I had been reading earlier. He gave me a ‘look’ and rolled his eyes. “Really, honey? Because we obviously didn’t get enough of the story from living right across the street?!” I knew this was the reaction he would have, so I decided it best not to push the issue by mentioning my dream.

We spent about 10 more minutes on the couch before turning in for the night. I lay awake in bed for a good half hour, going over the details of tomorrow’s big family affair, before finally drifting off.

In my dream this time, our whole family was sitting around the table for Thanksgiving dinner. We were laughing and making small talk; passing around the plates and plates of food. Bryce and I were sitting at the end and across from us were his parents and sister. My mom was beside us and next to her were my brothers and then my dad at the other end. Next to Bryce’s parents, sat his grandparents; Claudia (his paternal grandmother, who never remarried after Neil’s father left when he was a little boy), and his mother’s father, Garrett (who lost his wife to cancer a few months after Bryce was born). My mom’s mom, Blythe, sat at the end of the table to my left. And my dad’s mom, Lana (or ‘Nana Lana’ as she was affectionately known), sat at the other end of the table to my right. The only two people missing were Hadley and Hayden.

Just in front of me on the table, sat the baby monitor. So, clearly, the babies must have been in their cribs sleeping. I flicked on the monitor just to check on the twins, but when the room came into view, I realized the cribs were empty. I jumped up from the table in a panic, but no one seemed to notice. In fact, no one even looked my direction as I ran out of the room and down the hall to the nursery. I burst through the door and up to the cribs. Empty…they were EMPTY! I began frantically searching the room for any sign of the babies. My heart was pounding out of my chest and I felt like I was going to throw up. Just when I think it can’t get worse, I noticed something on the wall to my left. My knees gave out as I stared up at the red symbol of a star within a circle that I had seen too many times recently. And what was it painted with? I forced myself to stand up and take a closer look. I reached out to touch it and quickly pulled my hand back. It was wet. And covered in…BLOOD! I hit the floor again as a blood-curdling scream escaped my throat. I rocked back and forth begging myself to “wake up…wake up…WAKE UP!”

Finally, I awoke in a cold sweat and sat straight up in our bed; trying to catch my breath. I was really starting to think I was losing my mind. I looked at the clock and it was nearly 3am. I was actually surprised the babies hadn’t woken me up yet (not that I was complaining!). I turned on the monitor just to check in, and for some reason, the room didn’t come into view right away like usual. It actually almost looked like there was a gray mist or haze covering the camera. It slowly faded and finally the room came into view. It seemed strange, but I shrugged it off as watched Hayden and Hadley sleeping peacefully in their cribs. I played with the camera functions for a few minutes; turning up the volume and listening…panning the room…zooming in and out on the babies. All seemed to be well. But then suddenly the view went out again. It had that same mist-like appearance covering the lens. And then it was gone again. My guess was that maybe the camera had become unplugged from the wall and the battery was running low. I panned the room one last time before falling back asleep.

About an hour later, I heard the monitor come back on as the babies were waking up to be fed and changed. While I was in the nursery, I checked the camera to be sure it wasn’t unplugged. It wasn’t. I wiped off the lens as well just to be sure it wasn’t cloudy before I headed back to bed.

I had literally just closed my eyes to sleep again when I heard the monitor power on and its bright light filled the room. The noise coming from it wasn’t crying babies, though. It was static…like as if someone had turned on a radio that was on an out-of-tune station. The view was fuzzy as well. I could only make out the details of the nursery every once in a while when the haze subsided. I turned the monitor off and back on to hopefully reset whatever issue was going on. When it came back on, it worked just fine. I figured there must be some kind of short in the monitor signal or something. I was NOT going to let my mind run wild with ideas any more than it already had!

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