"Mama is here, never you fear, lullaby my sweet baby. Come take my hand, sleep so grand, lullaby little baby." Her hand stroked the little boy's soft brown hair gently as she sang to him, voice soothing and melodic. She was careful not to let her long, pearl pink nails catch on his ears. The smile on her lips was a gentle as her tone. Her hair, carefully colored to show brunette roots through the glossy blonde, gently swathed a small portion of her face as she crooked her head in the boy's direction with another soft smile.
The little boy stared with wide green eyes at the wall opposite his bed, too afraid to move, hardly allowing himself to breathe. When his mother had put him to bed little more than thirty minutes ago, she mentioned wanting to run to the drug store in town to grab some new medication for his allergies and her migraines. Shortly after she had left, his closet has started making noises; the door rattling, toys being thrown left and right, voices whispering. Something heavy had seemed to be thrashing about in its confines. Of course he had become frightened. When Dad had come at hid frightened beckon, he had looked in the closet, never seeing the strange creature with long, spindly limbs, gnashing teeth, and burning reddish-orange eyes staring at the little boy under Dad's arm. He hadn't noticed how it huddled there, knees pulled to its chest, arms wrapped around them, holding them close. He hadn't seen the malicious shadow the hallway light cast into the closet behind the creature, nor the way its eyes had seemed to glow and burn.
"Anthony, there's nothing there."
"Dad he's right there!" the seven-year-old had whispered in abject terror. The creature had continued to stare then, expression both blank and malicious.
Dad had smiled pertly, looked exactly where the creature had been sitting, and had waved his arms around in the small closet. His hands had seemed to pass right through the creature's skull more than once. "Anthony. See? Nothing there. Now go to sleep, I have to be up in three hours to catch my plane. Please," he had added gently, ruffling his son's hair affectionately.
He had closed the closet door of course, in hopes of further allaying his son's fears, but he had left all the same. And just after he had closed the door to Anthony's room, the boy's squeaky closet door had silently swung wide open and the creature had stepped out, looking Anthony dead in the eye. It had sidled over to his bed, sat next to him, places it's gnarled and clawed hand on his head, and begun to sing.
Anthony had screamed this time, but when Dad came he had looked at the creature and said, "Oh, honey. Thank you. I have to be up early." And Anthony had heard his mother's voice say, "I know babe go to sleep. I'll be in in a bit."
He had frozen just then, watching his father lay a kiss on the creature's cheek with the same smile he reserved for his wife. And as he watched in horror when his father laid a hand on the creature's shoulder and gave it a squeeze, not seeing how the skin squelched and gave under the caress, Anthony realized that his father saw his wife. Not the demonic creature Anthony saw sitting there. Not the skeletal being with withered, brown skin and teeth that jutted away from its jaw; not the thing that sat next to his son with a spine covered tail wrapping its way around one of Anthony's wrists. No, he saw Renee.
The creature continued to stroke the little boy's head much in the way a mother would while the boy thought on his situation. It sang using his mother's voice. However, the underlying tone was distorted, almost garbled, and utterly sinister.
And just as Anthony was wondering how to get away, it stopped. Anthony dared a glance up, but looked away as quickly. It was staring right at him, orange-red eyes burning into him. Then it grinned, feral, skeletal, and razor sharp; and it opened its mouth, and kept opening it. Wider, and wider, jaw cracking and snapping and unhinging and stretching on unnaturally.
Renee shut the car door, finally back from her trek to the city to get the medications. Tom had to leave in a few hours. She decided to stay up so he could see him before his ten-day business trip.
She unlocked the door quietly, put away her meager supplies, and headed up the stairs to her room. When she softly pushed the door open Tom looked up at her from undressing. "Oh, babe. Is Anthony calmed down already?"
"What?" She went to her wardrobe hardly paying attention and pulled out a comfortable nightgown.
"Is Anthony better? He was screaming up a storm before you went in there."
Renee stopped mid-gesture and stared at him. "Tom, what are you talking about?"
"You! In our son's room!" He laughed incredulously as he sat carelessly on the edge of the bed. "Did he tell you about the man in his closet?"
"Tom, what the fuck are you talking about?" she snapped, instantly uneasy and irritated. "I just got back from the drug store to pick up Anthony's refill. I've been gone since I put him to bed."
Tom stared at her, eyes widening as he took the information in. "But you were just—"
And then they heard their son's bloodcurdling scream.
They both hurtled out of their room, down the short hallway, around the sharp corner, toward their only son's room, threw open the bedroom door—
Nothing. Nothing was out of place. It was quiet and peaceful. Everything was calm and undisturbed.
But Anthony was gone.
They spent hours searching the house, the neighborhood. They called the police and reported a kidnapping. They even drove the thirty minutes back to the town to ask around there. Maybe he had decided to sneak into the car with Mom and had gotten lost when she left. But he was nowhere to be found. It was as if he had never existed at all.
1 month later…
The phone rang. Tom jumped, looking around him wildly, realizing what it was a moment later. He forced himself up from the table where he had been blankly staring at a weeks-old newspaper. The front page covered the vague details of his son's disappearance.
"Hullo?" he mumbled into the receiver, leaning against the wall next to its cradle.
Silence came from the other end of the line. Not even dead air came through. Someone was there, obviously, but whoever it was wasn't speaking.
"Hello?" His tone was that of irritation. Still, there was no response. "Fucking kids." His hand moved to hang up the corded phone.
"Anthony?" Tom breathed the name, hardly a whisper. He nearly dropped the phone then scrambled to catch it so violently he broke a nail in the process. "Anthony?!"
"Daddy? Daddy help me! Daddy!" Anthony's voice was shrill and terrified but distant, as though the phone he was calling from had fallen to the floor and he couldn't reach it.
"Anthony?! Anthony where are you?!" Tom heard the sound of a fight, heard his son grunting in the struggle, heard more voices than he could understand, heard more languages than he could fathom.
"Daddy! Daddy!" Anthony screamed a single strangled scream and the line went dead.
"No. I told you, it wasn't a dream." He stared at Renee, running hands through his already disheveled hair in aggravation. He was still wiping tears from his eyes. "It happened while you were at the drugstore."
"Of course it did." She nearly slammed her mug down, reaching for her newest bottle of migraine pills. Not heeding or not caring about the warning, she shook four into her hand and swallowed them with her coffee. "Because nothing happens when I'm around, does it?"
"It's not my fault Anthony— look. I'm not having this argument." He sighed into his hands, looking utterly exhausted and at anything but his wife.
"You can't do anything right." She turned away from him to walk back into the living room.
"Renee wait." He looked up at her and froze. His gaze locked itself behind her right shoulder as his eyes widened.
"What." Renee turned to face him, fist on her hip, expression cross. Tom continued to stare just behind her, mouth agape, expression horrified. "Tch. I said 'what?'" she snapped.
"In other news, a young couple was found dead in their home yesterday afternoon. Police arrived after receiving calls about screaming and what appeared to be a fight. Upon entering the home they found Thomas Colton and his wife Renee lying dead in the living room. It appears that a domestic fight went horribly wrong, resulting in Mr. Colton killing his wife, and then taking his own life. The young couple recently had a young son go missing—after noticing an odd smell, investigators found him under the floorboards of the same room."
The old woman turned the television off with a sad noise in the back of her throat. "Such a shame, Mister Tikkens," she sighed, gently petting the elderly cat in her lap. "They were such a lovely family."
The grey cat purred. Orange-red eyes blinked, and vanished into the closet.