“If you need anything, don’t hesitate to call.” Mr. and Mrs. Henderson exchanged a wary glance before giving me a wave and hurrying to their car. I shrugged my shoulders and closed the heavy oak door, being certain to slide the dead bolt in place as they had instructed me to do. I took a deep breath and checked my phone. No texts from Evan. Annoyed, I tossed the phone onto the kitchen table and decided to raid the fridge.
Babysitting had its perks, especially when the parents insisted on going out after the kids were already tucked into bed for the night. I hadn’t worked for the Henderson’s before but I’d heard rumors that their kids were a handful and I should be prepared for the worst.
I shrugged my shoulders and grabbed a tub of rocky road ice cream and searched the cupboards until I found a bowl. How hard could it be to watch kids who were already sleeping? I laughed a little to myself before scooping out a more than generous portion of ice cream and putting the tub back in the freezer. I went back to the fridge hoping the Henderson’s had the decency to stock chocolate fudge, or at the very least butterscotch syrup. After the argument I’d had with Evan, I needed an indulgence to take my mind off things.
Kicking the fridge door closed, I stuck the spoon in my mouth which was covered in more chocolate syrup than ice cream. I grimaced, coughed and ran to the sink to spit.
“What the …”
Giggling interrupted my thoughts and I spun around expecting to see one of the Henderson children but there was no one there.
I sighed and looked back at the mess I’d made. That chocolate syrup must have been seriously out of date, I decided as I tossed the contents of my bowl in the sink and rinsed everything down the drain. So much for my ice cream indulgence.
I grabbed a packet of potato chips and headed off to the living room to see if the Henderson’s had any good cable stations. If I couldn’t drown my sorrows in ice cream then I might as well get lost in something sappy on the television for the next couple hours instead. I stopped at the table to grab my phone but it wasn’t there.
“I could have sworn I’d left it there,” I mumbled to myself, now completely confused.
I spun around to catch them but again, no one was there. Enough was enough. It was time to pay these little rugrats a visit and let them know who was in charge tonight. I had never been one for practical jokes and I sure wasn’t going to stand for it from two kids under ten who were supposed to be sleeping.
I opened Jenna’s bedroom door first and peeked inside. The nightlight illuminated the room enough that I could see the little girl curled up in her toddler bed with one thumb in her mouth. I stood over her debating whether I should call her out on the pretend sleeping act but if it was an act, she was so good at it, she had me fooled.
Fine, I decided, it must have been Jason so I headed over to his room next and opened his door quickly, hoping to catch him off guard. But to my confusion, I found the same scenario in his room. He looked much too peaceful to be pretending.
Putting aside the strangeness of this place, I headed back downstairs. That’s when I caught sight of something scrambling across the hall at the bottom of the steps making its way from the kitchen area to the living room leaving a trail of potato chip crumbs in its wake.
“Hey!” I shouted, probably a little louder than I needed to.
I didn’t remember the Henderson’s telling me they had a pet, but then why would they? I was only here to watch the kids. I skipped down the steps and turned the corner to the living room, not sure what I would find there. The TV was on, the sound blasting, the empty potato chip bag discarded in the corner, but there was no sign of whatever I’d seen hustling to get in there.
Clicking the off button on the remote, I felt goosebumps cover my arms. I know I hadn’t turned on the TV and since I’d just confirmed both of the kids were sleeping, then who did that leave? What kind of pet used the TV remote?
If that weren’t creepy enough, I then spotted my cell phone as the screen flashed with an incoming text message on the other side of the living room window. I looked all around me.
“Who is there?” I said in barely more than a whisper.
The only sound was the tick tock of the grandfather clock in the entry way and a faint giggling that seemed to come from the coat closet. I swallowed hard and walked over to the window, unlocked it and retrieved my phone. Apparently, I’d been having a conversation with Evan, unbeknownst to me, while I’d been checking on the children. Scanning our messages history, I was going to have a heck of a lot of explaining to do. My skin crawled as I scrolled through my contacts for Kate’s number. I remembered her once talking about babysitting for the Henderson’s.
“Hey, Isabelle, what’s going on?”
“Kate,” I said trying not to let my voice come out as shaky as I felt.
“Is everything okay?”
“I’m babysitting for the Henderson’s.”
“Oh,” she said and then there was only silence.
“Do the Henderson’s have a pet or something?”
I heard Kate take a deep breath, which was only making me feel more nervous about the whole situation. I wanted to bail but I couldn’t just get up and leave with two children alone upstairs, no matter how crazy this house seemed.
“Not so much a pet,” Kate said at last, “More like an imp.”
“Yeah, I mean, maybe not. I never really saw it myself but Mary said she did once when she was sitting for the Henderson’s. It’s why they only ever go out at night after the kids are tucked in bed. They say it’s safer that way. I’ve been told if you think the imp is bad, you should see the kids.”
“I see,” I said, but I really didn’t see at all. I’d read a couple stories with imps but never thought such a thing actually existed “Am I in danger?”
“That is not very reassuring.”
“Stay on his good side and you’ll be fine.”
“Right…” Hopefully all those potato chips went some ways toward appeasing him.
I hung up the phone feeling more uneasy than I’d started. I heard the giggling from the coat closet again. With a deep breath, I moved toward it, not sure I had the guts to face this thing but if this babysitting gig was going to work out, we were going to have to come to some sort of understanding.
Writing this story has inspired a new book! Currently brainstorming and outlining. Eager to start writing!
Thank you for reading and please feel free to share your thoughts. Each day I am posting a ‘snippet’ based on a paranormal creature that begins with the corresponding letter of the alphabet. I am using this as a fun writing exercise which I am hoping will also be enjoyable to read, but keep in mind that due to the fact that I must post a new snippet each day in April except Sundays, the posts may be a bit rough. I’ll do my best, however, in the limited time I have available to me. 🙂 Let me know your favorites or the posts you find most intriguing because I plan to develop those into a full story later in the year!
Check out the other participants in the A to Z Challenge.