Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky…
I don’t remember much of last night, except for that darned nursery song. My brain is a CD player lodged on repeat. I got off work late, around 7 p.m, then the rest is a forgotten, incomplete story. Heck! Even my clothes have changed. No casual business suit clung to my body. Instead, I was dressed in a dark gray polo shirt and midnight colored cargo pants. I brushed it off, thinking that since yesterday was Friday, I must’ve had some crazy night out with the guys. Which explains the killer headache. The day started out normal for all I care, it was Saturday, so like the usual saying goes, it was a lazy morning. Little did I know that it will be short-lived.
I live alone. No girlfriend, no pet. Although I am quite successful for a guy in his mid-twenties, my history with relationships seems to be more of unsuccessful. Anyways, let us not get off topic, I drank my morning coffee, checked my emails, then sat around for some TV. Some people would’ve worked out but that’s not really my thing, besides it is a lazy Saturday morning.
I roamed through some channels, then settled down for the news since nothing good was on. The war in Syria, Donald trump, more war that no-one is doing anything about, then a story about how some baby went missing last night in a near neighborhood. They even added a crying baby sound effect! How inconsiderate. I shut my eyes, laying my head at the top of the sofa. My brain automatically brought up that infuriating nursery rhyme. I grabbed my phone, texting my friend, Josh, about last night. His reply was instant:
‘What are you talking about? We didn’t go out last night.’
‘Stop messing around.’
‘You must’ve hit your head or something, cuz I’m not even in town, I traveled remember? You even dropped me at the airport after work.’
No, I don’t remember. I thought that these memory blanks would slowly take off. I have a rare history of sleepwalking. It doesn’t happen often. Maybe once every two to three years. However, I never did anything like change my clothes or get drunk.
The crying baby sound effect got louder. Jesus, what is wrong with this news channel. I lowered the volume, but the sound seemed to get louder and louder. I muted the TV but it was still there. What the..? I quickly shut the TV down, but the sound was piercing and clear. I must be going crazy! First the nursery rhyme, now the crying baby!
Then, it dawned on me. I can feel slow beads of sweat smothering my skin, the stinging throbbing of my own eyes, and the resonating shrieks vibrating in my ears.
The sound was coming from my basement.
I hurry down the corridor, opening the door to the basement. Shrieks and cries fled out of the room. I was rooted to the spot. The paralyzing fear scattered all around my body like hostile shards of glass. I clenched my fists as I hesitantly took each step. My legs twitch, out of fear and out of the impulse to whirl around and sprint back up, locking this door forever. Something in the back of my head told me that this is worse than it seems.
I reached the bottom of the staircase and what I saw made me feel what the expression ‘my heart jumped out my chest’ conveys. My fingers curled into themselves into fists, my nails dug into my palm like they were made of steel. I can’t discern my paused, rapid breathing, but I can feel the oxygen filling and escaping my lungs. My eyes sting from staring at the dead corpse before me. A lifeless rag doll, thrown in the corner. This man was dead, his eyes were fixed and vacant. He looked old, maybe in his late fifties. Next to him, lay a note saying:
Read this when you wake up.
Step 1: Kill the man.
Step 2: Find the baby.
Step 3: Await further instructions
They say “There is nothing to fear but fear itself,” yet we all know that isn’t true. A lot of things are worse than fear. The truth, for me, is that I know I killed that man because in all honesty the fear coursing through me is making me calm and that’s what scares me the most.