This is my Friday Fright for Dark Media and Friday Frights. The theme was killer kids with toys. My kids are different . . .
The End Of The Block
It’s hot, and the cold beer moving slowly down my throat feels heavenly. Nothing left for me to do tonight. I can kick back and relax. Being single has its advantages.
The porch swing glides back and forth effortlessly, and I await the approach of the setting sun, an almost magical time of the day on my street. This is when the house at the end of the block appears to come alive with a vibrant display of light as the sun recedes behind it.
Yes, but there is more.
Shadows dart about all over the house and around the unkempt lawn as darkness approaches, appearing for all the world to be living creatures, a part of what exists there and nowhere else on the street.
“Geesh, Brad,” I think. “You’re imagination is working overtime again.”
But is it? My house is pleasant, but it pales in beauty and mystery to what lies at the end of the block, showing its wares to one and all, and then . . . and then fading into the darkness, the visual remaining seemingly remaindering it to the common place existence the rest of the block experiences.
“Yeah, right,” I think. “Nothing about that house or its grounds are within the realms of normality. Something is different; something is not right.
It is almost a game with me by now: I sit; I drink a couple beers; and I listen for what I know will come. Every night is the same. Do I need a life? Is my fixation on this house a healthy thing?
“Jesus, Brad,” I think. “You do need a life.”
Okay, that might be true, but there are mysteries needing to be solved; questions to be answered; and wrongs to be righted. What wrongs? Shit! I don’t know for sure, but I hear the children, and I hear the screams and the crying. Something is happening there. Why would I hear what I hear if it’s not occurring? I’m not a delusional sort.
I am concerned about the house. Okay, not the house: the inhabitants; the children. Surely other people here have heard what I hear. I’m five houses away from the end of the block. Why don’t they report anything?
Me? It’s a gray area. I work for the Department Of Youth And Family Services, DYFS. I’m supposed to be bound by rules and regulations. Abuse must be reported before I investigate. And yet, if I turn my back to what is happening, is the morality missing? Of course it is. Rules and regulations rearing their ugly heads again. Only, children can be harmed. Can I live with that?
No. I can’t.
So tonight, I listen once more, waiting for the inevitable moment when the cries, the sobbing, and the pleading sounds work their way to my house, knowing that I must do what I always do: creep down and investigate. This time, I must go beyond my former limits. If the sounds don’t go away; if the sensations running up and down my back persist; and if my mind tells me things are not right, then I must intervene. Tonight . . . tonight could be the night I demand entry into the house.
For a couple hours, all is quiet and calm. Maybe, just maybe, my fears and apprehensions are unwarranted tonight. I certainly hope so; I would love to be proved wrong. To go into a beer induced place of calm and peace would be so relaxing. How long has it been? Too long.
Just as I am ready to call it a night and lapse into slumberland, I feel something moving in the evening breeze, working its way towards me, whispering in my ear, relaying the voices of the children. Yet, the utterances are not loud enough to be heard. But they are there, and they are calling to me. How can this be? Maybe it’s merely the effects of an extra beer or two. Yes, that’s what it is.
Yet, I can’t tear myself away from what tells me I am needed. My porch swing has ceased swinging, the determination within me telling me that there is room for static involvement. Action! Something needs to be done, and it must be done now.
Unsteady as I might be from having consumed the beer, I work my way towards the end of the block, soberness returning with each step. My mind is sharpening, forcing the alcohol buzz to the side. I have no idea what to expect when I reach the house, but questions will be answered tonight. No more can I allow my feelings to remain as they are. I need closure. The sufferings of the children need closure.
I am alone in my quest for the truth. Every house I pass appears to be in a state of total oblivion to what is happening so close to them. No lights, no television, no nothing. They are in bed, asleep, and unaware.
That’s okay with me. I know my neighbors for who they are. Like so many people nowadays, there is a fear of getting involved and perhaps having to absorb the repercussions of moral entanglements if a confrontation occurs.
I reach the end of the block and start walking up the sidewalk to the front door, hearing the voices clearer now, knowing something is going on in there even though the lights are off. Hesitating when the shadows appear to take on new life, I am torn between retreat or finishing what I came to do.
My resolve is firm. I can’t go back now. In fact, I don’t have a choice: the shadows are pushing me towards the house somehow, their wispy forms seemingly capable of controlling my movements.
“No, this can’t be happening,” I think. “The beer, the heat, my pounding heart, and my worry for the children inside are all working on my mind. Yes . . . yes, that’s it”
Reaching the door, I find it to be partially open, almost like an invitation to simply walk inside. But I can’t do that. I have to knock. If not, whatever misdeeds I come across will be thrown out of court.
My knocking brings the sounds of feet running towards the door: little feet, many of them. The children are answering my knocks.
They fling the door open and a light comes on. I stare down at them. My God! What is going on here?
An adult, a woman- I suppose she’s the mother of the children – comes to see what the commotion is all about. “Oh, I was wondering what my children were making a commotion over. Come on in.”
Her smile is a paradox of emotions. She appears to act like a gracious mother opening her door to a stranger, but . . . but there is more here. Much more.
“You’re that DYFS guy who lives down the street, aren’t you?” she asks.
Wondering how she knows who I am, I say, “Yes, I am. But how did you know?”
She laughs. “You know how it is when you live on a dead-end street like this one. Everyone knows everyone else. Yeah, and everyone’s business as well.”
“But I don’t know you,” I say. “Sure, I’ve heard a few things here and there, but, until tonight, I had never seen you.”
Looking down at the children, I want to say more, but I don’t. In all actuality, I honestly don’t know what to say.
She gives me a suspicious look. “Did anyone complain about me? Has anyone pressed any kind of charges against me?”
I step from foot to foot, thinking this was not a good idea on my part after all. “Well, to be honest, no. I came on my own.”
She smiles at me. “So, no one knows you’re here? You just thought something was wrong and came to check on it yourself?”
Oh, shit! This woman has me now. This is extremely humiliating. All I want to do is crawl into a hole and hide.
“I’m sorry ma'am, but . . . but every night I hear noises from your house, and . . . “
“What kind of noises?”
“Children crying. At least that’s what it sounded like to me. I thought there were children being abused in this house.”
“And you waited this long to do anything about it? If you were so concerned why didn’t you act sooner?”
“You’re right. I should have. But I don’t see anything wrong here, so I guess I’ll leave.”
“As simple as that? You’ll just leave, huh? And I suppose you’ll see fit to tell the world about my children, won’t you? No, Mr. DYFS Man, that’s not going to happen. I’m their mother. It is my job to care for them, to protect them.”
Sensing that something very bad is about to happen, I back up towards the door, but a whirring sound comes up behind me. Staring into the teeth of a chainsaw, I panic, and the child wielding it removes my right leg from beneath my knee. I drop to the floor in pain, bleeding out, going into shock, understanding everything now.
One by one, they come to me, all of them holding their toys; their toys of death. My eyes cloud over from the pain and I really can’t count their numbers, but it doesn’t matter. Whether by knife, chainsaw, hammer, or whatever else they wield in their hands, I am brutalized. My time is short.
All this time, the sounds . . . the sounds I thought were those of abused children, were in all actuality the last gasps of life from people like me. People who wandered into the house when they should have stayed away.
“I’m sorry,” the lady says. “We have no choice. No one must know we exist.”
The children stare down at me, their huge black eyes and large heads looming before me, set so well in their small, pale bodies.
“Play some more, children,” their mother says. “Your visitor is still alive. I know he is enjoying your games.”
No one will notice I’m gone for a while. I live alone. It’s just me and my job. Sad, I suppose, but irrelevant now.
Playmate that I am, I succumb to their games . . .