Angelique changed the channel on the TV and swung her legs up onto the sofa. The brats were finally asleep and she could get some peace and quiet until their parents came home. Angelique loved babysitting, it was extra money and really easy but some of these kids drove her round the bend and back again. Thalia and Lorimer were definitely that kind; they were twins and a frigging nightmare.

"Sleep well, little hellions" she muttered. Angelique finally found something to watch; she dropped the remote onto the plush carpet and reached towards the coffee table for her can of Coke. The programme suddenly changed as a newsflash sped across the screen.

"Son of a bitch!" cried Angelique. She replaced her Coke and went for the remote again but stopped as the name of her town was mentioned. An escaped lunatic was at large and residents were being advised to lock their doors and windows and stay inside the house.

"I swear to God this happens every damn week" she muttered. Angelique slid from the sofa and began a tour of the house, locking the doors and windows. She did the upstairs first and then the ground floor before descending to the basement where a door was hanging open.

Thalia's eyes snapped open and she sat up in bed. Something had woken her but the sound didn't come again. She was sure it had been a scream but it was probably just the Dumb Babysitter with the TV turned up too high. Thalia slipped out of bed and padded across the room to her brother's bed, she grabbed his shoulder and shook as hard as she could. Lorimer rolled over and glared at his sister through the moonlight.

"Get off! I'm tired."

"I heard a noise, let's go see. We can scare the Dumb Babysitter too, it'll be fun" whispered Thalia. Lorimer hesitated a moment and then he grinned and followed his sister across the room. They eased the door open and stepped onto the landing, crossing to the bannister on their hands and knees. Thalia shivered in a sudden blast of cold air, she peered through the bannisters and frowned. The front door was wide open and there were puddles of red stuff all over the floor and it was splashed up the walls too. Mummy and Daddy would be mad when they saw all that.

"Did she hurt herself? Is she bleeding?" whispered Lorimer. He gripped his sister's hand and swallowed a lump in his throat. A loud thump made them gasp and turn towards the head of the stairs; Lorimer's grip became almost painful. Another thump followed the first and then a long, almost painful dragging sound.

"What is it?" hissed Lorimer. Thalia pulled herself free from her brother's grasp and crawled towards the top of the stairs as slowly as she could. There were two more thumps and the dragging sound again, it sounded closer this time. Lorimer reached out and grabbed Thalia's ankle before she could look down the stairs and dragged her backwards. Lorimer started towards their bedroom but Thalia shook her head and pulled him further down the landing and into the bathroom.

Thump . . . Thump . . . Draaaaag

"We don't have a lock on the other door!" she hissed. Thalia pushed the lock into place and then, as an afterthought, pulled the laundry basket in front of the door. The fact that a wicker basket wasn't going to stop anyone that really wanted in didn't cross her mind for a second, but then she was only nine.

"What do we do?" whispered Lorimer. He was trying his hardest not to cry and failing miserably. Thalia climbed into the bath and Lorimer followed, they pulled the curtain across and hid under a bath towel, shaking with fear.

Thump . . . Thump . . . Draaaaag

"What is that?" whispered Lorimer. Thalia clamped her hand over his mouth, they clung to each other as the next thump, thump drag bought the sound to right outside the bathroom door. Thalia and Lorimer stayed in the bath, trembling until their father's voice floated through the closed door.

"Daddy!" they screamed. Thalia reached the door first, she threw the laundry basket aside and yanked the bolt back, the door eased open and Daddy and slid into the room.

"We're going to take you downstairs and out to the car but you have to promise me not to open your eyes until we get there, okay?" Thalia and Lorimer stared at each other for a moment before nodding and placing their hands over their eyes. Daddy scooped up Thalia while Mummy took Lorimer; they held the children's heads into their necks and hurried downstairs. Daddy slipped as he stepped out of the bathroom and Thalia's fingers were jerked from her eyes, she felt a scream lodge in her throat before burying her face in Daddy's shoulder.

The Dumb Babysitter was lying on the landing, her face was twisted in something like terror or agony but that wasn't the worst part. Her arms had been cut off at the elbow and her legs had been removed from the knee. Thalia squeezed her eyes shut but all she could see was the Dumb Babysitter trying to get up the stairs. Left arm first, thump. Right arm second, thump. Pulling herself along. No, draaaaaging herself along. Thalia squeezed her eyes tighter and burst into hysterical floods of tears.