Iago Lewis was now a single parent with three daughters. His wife had decided that life with them had been too much, they had divorced and Iago had moved his family as far away from his ex as they could go. Unfortunately for Iago, they may have moved too far.
The house they pulled up outside was old. Really old. All the paint was chipped, the windows were warped and they were in the middle of nowhere. Iago's daughters climbed from the car and gaped up at their new home. They took in the crumbling porch, the overgrown garden and the lack of any kind of life. Iago watched them, he was pretty sure he knew how things would go. Ada was the eldest at eighteen. She was always practical and level headed and had understood the need for the move more than her sisters. Ada would decorate and tidy and keep a smile plastered on her face. But she would cry at night, with her head buried in the pillow so nobody else would hear.
In the middle was Lola. Everybody always said the middle child was the most trouble and with Lola, they were right. She was in a Goth phase at the moment and Iago hoped this one wouldn't last as long as the hippy phase she had just come out of. Lola was staring up at the house, a sneer curling her upper lip. Iago sighed, she would complain and shout and scream and stay out late. But she would accept it eventually, Lola always did.
Bringing up the rear was Little Naomi. Iago scolded himself; he should stop thinking of her like that. Naomi was fourteen now but she seemed to have slipped back about ten years since the divorce. She wouldn't sleep unless he was there; the old stuffed bear that had been in the loft since she was eight had been hauled back out again. Naomi just needed a little time to adjust, everybody said. Iago sighed inwardly and waited for the tirade to begin.
Strangely enough, nobody said anything. The three girls just unloaded their stuff and hurried inside to claim rooms. They even came back down to help when the removals van arrived. Ada was just pushing her chest of drawers against a suitable wall when Naomi rushed into her room, she looked very pale and her hands were twisting the bear into strange shapes.
"There's something in my room. Can we swap please?" Ada stared at her, determined not to lose her patience.
"Let's have a look." They walked along the landing, past Lola's room and into the last bedroom at the side of the house. Ada made a big show of searching the room, especially the wardrobe and the little bathroom and all the cupboards.
"There's nothing here. This house is so old there are probably squirrels or something living under the floors. Just unpack your stuff and then we'll have dinner. It'll be okay." Ada hugged Naomi before hurrying back to her own room.
That evening, the family sat down to a dinner of pizza and Pepsi. Naomi was still going on about there being something in her room, Lola was telling her to grow up and Ada was trying to keep the piece long enough for them to eat. Iago sat back and watched as his girls argued and ate and argued some more. He smiled and suddenly burst into laughter. The arguing stopped while they stared at him.
"Great. They've both cracked under the pressure" said Lola. She grabbed a few more slices before stomping back up to her room.
It was gone midnight when Iago heard footsteps on the stairs. He turned away from his pile of bills and frowned as Naomi crossed the floor to stand by his side.
"There's a monster in my room, daddy." Iago stared for a moment, unsure if he had just heard that correctly.
"Aren't you a little old for monsters in the cupboard?" he said. Naomi just looked at him, tears welling in her eyes. Iago sighed and stood up; he followed his daughter back up to her room and stepped through the door. The room was tidy and very Naomi. She waited at the door while he checked the cupboard, the bathroom and even her drawers.
"Back to bed" he said. Naomi was about to argue but he just pointed at the bed and she slipped between the sheets, hugging the teddy as tight to her as possible. Iago switched off the light and pulled the door almost shut before heading back downstairs. He went back to his seat and decided to have a proper chat with Naomi's therapist in the morning.
The next morning, Iago jumped awake and found himself still sitting at the table. His back complained with a loud series of pops and crackles as he stood up. Iago went into the kitchen to start breakfast.
"Do you want me to clear the table?" He turned and smiled. Ada looked like a soldier ready for duty, up and washed at the ungodly hour of 9am. Iago chuckled to himself and nodded. Ada kept the papers in their little piles and transferred them to the sofa before beginning to set the table. She was just heading into the kitchen proper when Lola screamed from upstairs. Iago dashed past Ada but she followed him up the landing. Lola was standing outside Naomi's door, she turned and faced them. Even from that distance they could see how hard she was shaking.
"Daddy" she whispered. Lola pointed at Naomi's closed door and Iago felt his insides turn to jelly. It had been a long time since Lola had called him anything but Hey You. He hurried down the corridor and stared at where she was pointing, he heard Ada gasp beside them. On the door, near the bottom were long scratches gouged into the wood.
"She said there was something in her room" whispered Ada. Iago pushed his daughters backwards and opened the door, letting it swing open. He was only vaguely aware of Lola throwing up and Ada screaming. The room held his full attention. Naomi's head still lay on the pillow and her legs were still splayed in the easy position she usually slept in. But between the legs and the head there was nothing but a bloody mess of bone and gore. The teddy was resting against the far wall and above its fuzzy head there were seven words scratched into the wall.
YOU SHOULD HAVE CHECKED
UNDER THE BED