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Baby Monitor

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Here’s a story from my early childhood.

As a little kid, I had trouble sleeping because I was immensely afraid of the dark, and anything even pertaining to any sort of monster or villain would keep me up all night. My older brothers loved tormenting me to drive me up the walls, and it worked, although I never would've never admitted it.

My mom, the caring mother that she was, was ultimately worried about my health. She was a doctor, and always preached that sleeping at least eight hours a day was a key to a good life. So, ignoring my pleas, she told me that she was going to buy a baby monitor, whether I want it or not, to check in on me during the night.

My brothers thought this was hilarious, but I ignored them and went to bed one night with a baby monitor lying on the night stand next to me. Later through the night, my eyelids began to drop and I was about to doze off when the monitor crackled to life, and the only thing I heard was crickets.

I was caught a little off guard at that point. Crickets? They certainly sounded like crickets, but I wasn't sure. Soon enough, another sound joined the supposed sound of the insects - it sounded remarkably similar to footsteps crunching through leaves.

Then there was lots of shoving around like someone dropped the monitor, and then dead silence. I shook the baby monitor, assuming it was broken. "Hello?" I said. More silence.

Then more moving around from the other end. No more crickets, no more footsteps.

"Hello? Mom?" I repeated once again. I heard a deep breath come in from the other line.

Then it started humming what seemed like a lullaby, and a smile broke out on my face because Mom used to hum this to me when I was little, and I instantly knew it was her. I let her hum a little more, then yawned and said, "Good night, Mom. I love you."

The humming stopped immediately. Silence.

"I love you too," she finally responded.

The next morning I woke up and was actually surprised that I hadn't been eaten or torn to shreds by some vile creature. I ran downstairs and hugged Mom, who was caught off guard and then laughed.

"What is it, Chris?" she said, rubbing her hand through my hair.

"It really helped, Mom. Thank you."

She smiled down at me, ruffled my hair then broke free from my hug. "What helped, hun?" she asked, stepping back to make breakfast. I was a little confused, but then figured it was some sort of trick question.

"Your humming! You hummed to me last night," I said, hopping from foot to foot, grinning like I had just won a prize. Mom turned to me, her smile gone, a look of concern on her face.

"Christopher, I didn't hum to you last night. You might have been so tired you were hallucinating," she said, getting down on her knees and staring into my eyes, which weren't bloodshot for the first time in about a month.

I rocked back and forth on my heels, scratching at my footie pajamas. "You hummed to me through the baby monitor," I said, getting a little impatient. "You're lying, lying isn't good."

Mom pursed her lips, like she was in deep thought. "Baby monitor?" she asked.

"Yeah," I said, nodding.

Mom got up and pulled some dishes out of a drawer. "How about you go up and bring the baby monitor down for me to see, okay? That's your mission. Imagine you're a spy."

When I heard the part about being a spy, I took off right away. I bolted up the stairs, and was running down the carpet floored hallway when I was stopped by John, the third oldest brother. Of course, he taunted me before letting me go, where I then got pushed down by my second oldest brother, who was coming from the direction of my room.

"Hey, twerp," he said, stepping on my right hand then walking briskly down the hallway.

"Stop doing that, Samuel!" I called after him, pushing myself up and darting into my room. I ran over to the nightstand, but the baby monitor was gone.

Of course I had to explain this to my mom, and she thought I wasn't getting enough sleep, and told herself that she'd be getting me a real baby monitor very soon.

That night, I walked into my bedroom and found a plastic, dusty looking baby monitor that had various strange stains on it. There were grubby pictures of little baby ducks and flowers on it as well. I honestly thought that it was a piece of junk, and I would've been genuinely surprised if it even worked.

I figured Mom had just dragged this out of a flea market somewhere while I was at baseball practice, and slipped in the batteries to it that were lying on the floor, thinking they had rolled off the nightstand. It took a while, but after listening to deafening static coming from its speaker for quite some time, I could hear deep breathing, like Mom had just ran a mile and was holding the monitor up to her mouth.

I crawled in bed and the breathing continued until I fell asleep.

The next morning, I got up and ate breakfast, but I didn't mention a word to my mom about the monitor, not wanting to risk the chance of looking dumb in front of her again because truthfully, at that age, I had a low self-esteem.

I played at my friend's house that day, and when I got home I had dinner and was pretty tired from exploring with my friend. I went up to my bed and crashed there pretty quick at around 6:30. I was awoken by the sound of static coming through the baby monitor deep in the middle of the night, probably around one in the morning.

I turned towards the night stand and stared at the baby monitor, waiting for it to calm down and become legible. When the static cleared, all I heard was crickets once again. I was utterly confused why Mom would be outside at this hour.

I leaned in towards the monitor. "Mom?" I asked.

To this day, I will never forget the feeling, the despair that went through me as I heard, faintly, the sound of my own voice coming in through the other end.

My heart stopped and I stared at the monitor for the longest amount of time. I was frozen, paralyzed. My attention was finally diverted away from the monitor when I heard grass crunching outside my window.

I threw the covers off of myself, jumped out of bed, and ran towards the bedroom door. As I reached for the doorknob, I saw an image that is still burned into my mind today. The shadow of a man, peering through my window, clutching a baby monitor in one hand, silhouetted against the bright moon, was projecting against my bedroom door.

I screamed, throwing the door open, running as fast as I could down the hallway. I heard the man running outside, trying to catch up to me. I sprinted into my mom's bedroom, jumped on the bed, waking her up. Tears spilled down my face as I explained everything, and as I did so she reached for the phone.

She dialed 911, and the police arrived shortly after. They searched the house and yard, and even looked for him all around the town and the state, but could never find him.

I kept this story to myself for quite some time now. This all happened when I was 5. I'm 16 now, and every one of my brothers has moved out except John, who's 18 and going to college soon. I sleep soundly most of the time, but recently I've been kept up through part of the night by my brother, who has seems to be having conversations with someone in the dark.

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