Katie shot up suddenly on the couch. An infomercial was promoting some new face cream guaranteed to change lives overnight. She stretched and rubbed the sleep from her eyes wondering if she had just been dreaming.
The clock on the DVD player said that it was 2:21. She wondered when it was that she had fallen asleep.
The noise came again. It was definitely real. Something was outside rattling the garbage cans.
She walked down the hall to the kitchen, turned on the back light and looked outside. The garbage cans had been knocked over but there was no sign of the culprit. The light must have scared it off.
Grabbing a glass of water, she made her way back down the hall and stopped to look in on Susan who was sound asleep in her bed, illuminated by the soft glow of a Little Mermaid night light.
Across the hall she looked in on Mickey who was sitting up in bed.
"I heard a noise outside," he said.
"It was just some critter getting into the garbage," Katie explained. "Try to go back to sleep. I'm sure it's gone now."
"Can't I stay up with you?" he asked hopefully."
"Mickey, it's almost three in the morning. Little boys are supposed to be asleep right now so that they have energy to play when the sun comes up." She said this as she tucked him back in. "Now go back to sleep, okay?"
"Aren't mommy and daddy home yet?" he asked.
"Not yet," she said, hearing the question in her voice. "But when they do get home I want them to find you sound asleep. You don't want your baby sitter to get in trouble do you?"
"No," he answered and closed his eyes.
She walked out, leaving the door just slightly ajar. She wondered why the Hadley's weren't back yet. They said that it might be a late night but they would have told if late meant all night. She wondered if she should call them.
She checked the messages, wondering if she had slept through the phone ringing, but there were none. She headed back to the kitchen and set her glass on the counter.
There was another noise outside and she leaned over the sink to look out the window. She couldn't see anything moving.
She jumped suddenly when something touched her. She spun around to see little Susan standing behind her, dolly in hand.
"Suie," she said catching her breath, "you scared the," she caught herself, "you nearly scared me to death."
"I'm sorry, Katie. I'm scared. I saw something outside my window." the little girl said as she hugged Katie's leg.
"You were just having a bad dream," Katie said soothingly as she stroked Susan's rumpled blonde hair.
"No I wasn't," the girl persisted, "I saw it. It was a monster and it looked at me."
Katie couldn't help but notice the hairs tingling on the back of her neck.
"I want my mommy." Susan said, sobbing.
"Mommy and daddy aren't home yet," Katie explained.
"Yes they are," Susan corrected, "our car is here but mommy and daddy aren't in their room."
Alarm and disbelief shot through Katie as she bolted out of the kitchen and into Susan's room which faced the driveway. She looked out the window and saw the Hadley's car. She leaned closer to the window trying to get a more peripheral view of the yard when something dark suddenly moved past causing Katie to fall back and lose her footing. Before she could recover she heard Mickey screaming in terror.