It was a night like any other at the country home; cool breeze stirring the leaves outside, candles, which Charles’s mother had to have lit no matter how mundane the night is, and the feeling of love and warmth surrounded the entire house. It was a typical night for an average household like this.
But, to Charles, the one and only son of Martha and Phillip Crown, tonight was one of the most important in his life. Tonight was a stepping stone. Tonight, he would show simultaneous responsibility along with the expected actions of a thirteen, soon-to-be fourteen, year old boy. Tonight was the first night his parents were letting him stay home completely and utterly alone.
Tonight marked the beginning of something great, Charles thought. If he could show his parents enough of his responsibility to get his homework done, the dishes washed and put away, and the house untouched and not at all burned to the ground, his parents would ease up on him and their protective side. Charles could understand, of course, his parents’ ideology. Charles was a thirteen year old boy, their only son, and they lived in the middle of the countryside of rural Kansas.
An odd place to live, but when your grandparents die and leave you a house when you’re not doing too well, you take what you can get. His father and mother had both been laid off of the company they’d been at before and were quickly losing money with apartment rent rates, food costs, and of course, Charles couldn’t spare any expense to new school supplies at the beginning of the autumn season. When Charles’s grandmother had died, his father had explained that his grandmother had left them the house his grandfather had built, and this is now where they happily stayed, his parents finding jobs quickly and living lavishly.
Charles bounced his knee excitedly, texting his friend all about how he would have the house to himself tonight. His parents were leaving at six thirty to drive into town, an hour and a half journey at best, so that they could eat at one of Kansas’s few five star establishments, catch a movie, and spend the rest of the night gazing up at the stars. His mother hadn’t stopped talking about it for the last week, and, because of Charles’s thorough excitement at the prospect of nearly seven solitary hours, he let his mother bore on about it and gave her as much enthusiasm as he could muster.
Charles had his whole night planned out. He would take care of his chores and homework first, then he would let loose and do what adolescent boys do. He planned on watching a horror film first, maybe steal one of his father’s porn magazines and... eh hem... read the articles, and finally spend the rest of his night upstairs in his bedroom playing his favourite video games like Halo or Call of Duty.
Due to his enthusiasm, his fingers sped across the keyboard of his newest smartphone, composing another text to his best friend, Dylan. They’d met instantly, being one of the few higher class residents and students of the only public middle school in the area, and had become fast friends. They shared the same likes and dislikes, the same taste in music and women-- not they knew much about anything like that yet. They liked to pretend they did, though, and sometimes they’d sneak an “x”-rated film out of an old video store and watch it, their gazes wide, jaws dropped, as Johnny Castle took advantage of another possible boy’s wet dream porn star.
Unfortunately, after his text was sent Dylan replied that he had to stop the conversation because he was spending the night at his grandparent’s house and they had no service. With a sigh, Charles quickly finished a simple goodbye.
“Charles?” his mother suddenly called from their bedroom.
Charles launched up, setting his phone on a small corner table in the living room before walking into his parents’ bedroom. His father stood in front of a mirror, adjusting his dark silver tie, and his mother stood behind him, facing the door and putting in a hoop earring. “Honey,” his mother started, “we’ll be leaving soon.”
“Okay,” Charles replied, trying to hide his excitement.
“Are you sure you’re going to be all right?” his mother asked, stepping forward.
“Yeah, Mom,” he answered, sighing. “I’m not a baby. I can take care of myself.”
“Oh, I know, but...” Fortunately for him, she trailed off and decided against her previous statement.
“Okay, honey, let’s go,” Charles’s father said, turning around and facing the both of them.
Charles quickly started out of the room, nearly jogging to the door. His mother and father followed at a more leisurely pace, and as his father walked out the front door his mother placed her hands on Charles’s shoulders and looked him in the eye. “You’re sure?” she asked.
“Yes, Mom, I’ll be fine,” he said, nodding. “I promise.”
She sighed, clearly not loving the idea but wanting to give him the space he needs. “Well, alright,” she said. “Our numbers are in your phone and on the whiteboard if you need them. If anything goes wrong call 911 first and try to get to the--”
“The neighbors. I get it,” Charles said, cutting his mother off. The neighbors would be useless. They’re a mile away! Either way, he continued without making his point. “Go have fun, okay? I’ll be fine.”
“Go!” Charles faked an excitement for the date rather than the house and started gently pushing his mother’s shoulders to the door. Once she was out, in the car, and he’d seen the car driven off, he shut the door, locked it, and jumped in excitement.
Finally! The house to himself!
He quickly ran up the stairs to start his homework. It was simple, algebra and social science, and he got it done within twenty minutes. He smiled down at the papers as he folded them into his binder and shoved it in his backpack.
Suddenly, there was a loud, odd sound. It made Charles freeze in fear of what it could be. What could it be? It was somewhat familiar sounding, but it was just as odd.
He crept to the stairs, his eyes shifting around the space in front of him to find something he could use as a weapon. He snatched up one of his textbooks, seeing it first, and, with a shaking hand, turned the knob and pulled the door open.
A bright, white flash lit up from the bottom of the staircase, and because of it Charles quickly hid behind his door in fear. He tried to control his heart’s racing, but all he did was make it worse. He peeked his head out of the door once more.
No one was standing there. It was nothing.
A flash went off again, but this time Charles realized it was his phone, which was lying on the ground.
Charles sighed as he set his textbook down and walked out of his room and down the stairs. He had heard his phone vibrating, which had explained why it fell off the table, and the original flash was for the same reason as the next-- he had gotten a message. He scolded himself for being so paranoid. Everything was locked. He was just letting his mother’s irrational fears get to him.
Charles scooped up his phone as he started walking into the kitchen. He gave his phone his password and opened the text, and once he’d read it he just about had a laughing fit.
From an unknown number, he had a text that read, "Hello. I like you're hi. I see your in your you. Come here."
To Charles, the person was obviously either not very bright, trying to piss him off, or was using a horrible translator. Either way, he was positive the person had the wrong number, so he typed a short reply telling the owner of the unknown number his thoughts and shoved it in his back pocket.
As the sun’s brilliant light started sinking behind the hills of the acres and acres of land surrounding the house, Charles started and finished washing and drying the dishes. It was a simple task, and once it was completely dark outside he had the perfect atmosphere for his scary movie. He smiled in excitement as he started making popcorn and looked in his father’s movie collection for a good one. He decided on the movie “Scream,” which had been a movie he’d always wanted to see. Dylan had said it wasn’t scary so much as creepy, but Charles had the hypothesis he would prefer creepy movies anyway.
Once he got settled in, a bowl of extra buttery popcorn on his lap and the movie just beginning, he sighed contently.
But, as if trying to ruin his mood, his phone started vibrating from underneath him. He lifted the popcorn and sat up to pull his phone out, unlocked it, and let his eyes widen. The unknown number had texted him again.
"No. I love movie you hear. Are you? No that won't. Don't be so up about it."
Charles was no longer amused at the odd and completely incorrect language of the unknown number’s owner, and he quickly replied.
"Dude, I don't know you. Just fuck off."
He watched his screen to make sure the text sent, and when the little check mark appeared, he sighed and set his phone down on the table in front of the couch. Just as he was about to turn up the volume, he heard a small, short sound. He quickly muted the TV to listen closer, but the sound had left the area.
Charles stood up, his body tense. What had that sound been? It was pretty muffled. It definitely hadn’t come from the living room. He walked around the dining room and the lower level hallway, but when he didn’t hear the sound again he sighed and walked back to the living room.
When he got there, his phone was awaiting him. It declared it possessed multiple texts, all from the same unknown number. His heart skipped a beat as he picked up the phone and read it.
"What is right? Don't be shy. Get here. I know you're a name."
"I know. (:"
What the hell?! Charles thought. He was getting more and more pissed off by the moment, and he sent a reply telling the person to knock it off. Aggravated, he shoved a handful of popcorn into his mouth and stood, his arms crossed, watching the movie.
Yet again, he heard a sound. He glanced around, trying to get his ears in the correct direction to hear the noise clearly, but it stopped as soon as it had started. He felt like he should’ve been able to identify it, but he couldn’t. What was it?
Maybe he was just being paranoid. It was an old house, one that his grandfather had built, so it probably creaked. Or maybe it was a pipe groaning. Either way, there was nothing wrong. He was safe and sound.
When he didn’t receive another text, he sat on the couch and tried to catch up with what was going on in the movie. Someone had died? Who was Cindy? Or was it Sydney? She wasn’t really that hot. Kind of boring. What happened? Who was that guy?
His phone lit up again, signalling he had a text message, but he ignored it. He was done with the unknown person, and he was no longer going to reply.
He caught up with the movie. Sydney’s mother had been murdered a year ago, Sydney had been waiting for a friend, Ghostface had attacked her, and she suspected it was her boyfriend. So far, so good.
Suddenly, his phone lit up again. He sighed and let it be. He wasn’t answering the unknown caller anymore.
He continued watching the movie, the suspense of the “whodunnit” film style appealing to him. The unknown number had stopped texting-- at least for now-- and he was finally calm.
The film atmosphere got more intense-- or was it just Charles? he thought. He glanced around, checking his surroundings, and looked back at the screen just in time to catch the mask of Ghostface-- scaring the living shit out of him.
The house phone started to ring.
Charles glanced down at his phone. The unknown caller couldn’t have gotten his house number too, could he have? That was impossible! But due to the atmosphere that the odd, unplaceable sound created with the movie, he couldn’t help but creep to the phone wearily, not wanting something to sneak up on him like Sydney.
He reached out, his cold palm clutching the wired house phone. He looked down at it.
It was an unknown number.
His hands shook as his blood ran cold. No. There was no way that it was the person who had been texting him. No way.
He pressed the green button of the phone and hesitated for only a moment before lifting the phone to his ear. “H-Hello?”
There was only silence on the other line. Charles stood there for moments, minutes, hell it could’ve been hours just listening to it. “H-Hello?” he tried again. “Is anyone there?”
And suddenly, his ears detected a slight stirring in the static. It sounded like breathing.
“Hello?” he asked, getting more creeped out by the second. “I can’t hear you! Is someone on the line?!”
The breathing started to get heavier, and Charles slammed the phone down, ending the call. He stared at it, his breathing becoming more and more laboured as he continued.
The phone rang again, and he snatched it up. “Who are you?!” he cried.
“Honey? What’s going on?”
Charles sighed in relief, his body slumping. “Hey, Mom,” he said, shaking out his hair.
“Charles, are you all right? Is something going on? Do we need to come home?” his mother started bombarding.
“No, everything is fine,” he answered.
“We’ve been trying to call you for five minutes,” she said. “Are you sure everything is okay there?”
“Mom, I’m fine,” he lied. To cover up, he admitted to watching a scary movie. His mother scolded him and told him to stop the movie and that when they got home they would decide a punishment-- that would only be less severe because he’d been honest with them-- about it. When everything was okay, they hung up, Charles wishing them to have a good night.
He did take out the movie and start flipping channels. It was the movie giving him creeps. He was okay.
His phone suddenly lit up again, and Charles finally decided to at least read them and most likely not answer them. This person was just being a jackass now, just trying to freak him out.
His features, though, betrayed what his brain was saying as he read the three unread texts.
"I want. I want. I like you're."
"Come in the yeah. I want. I want. I want."
And suddenly more texts started bombarding him like the time before.
“I want. (:”
“You want what, you fuckin’ psycho?!” Charles screamed. He quickly typed a reply.
“Leave me the hell alone! Who the hell are you anyway?! This isn’t funny!”
When the text was sent, he went around, checking every door and window to make sure it was locked. Even if this was some punk, he wasn’t going to let anything make him more irrationally frightened than he already had. When everything was locked up, sealed, and there was no way anyone could get in, he went to the front door and turned on the security system of the home. Now no one could come in without him being alerted first. But, to be extra safe, he thought, he walked into the kitchen, grabbed one of the kitchen knives, and held it tightly, his palms sweating into the plastic handle.
Suddenly, there was that sound again. He walked towards it quickly, wanting to get to the bottom of it. He was done. He wasn’t going to be a little kid anymore. He was going to be a teenager, a grown up boy-- no man!-- and he was going to stop being afraid.
The sound lead him to his parents’ bedroom. It made him ponder what could make such a familiar but foreign sound. What was it?
His phone vibrated from his pocket again. He read the text message with fury.
"You want can't need. Forever you're."
The texts got weirder and weirder by the next.
Charles sat on the bed. Maybe he could identify the sound if he sat here long enough. He laid the knife down by his feet and scooted down on the pillows, crossed his arms, and started to wait.
Nothing happened for an hour. Everything was calm, quiet, nice. He had even began drifting off. It was his phone that startled the peace.
Reaching into his pocket, he was prepared to send one final reply.
The unknown number had sent, "I see your. Get it. Please."
Charles quickly typed his reply, sitting up and leaning towards the knife.
“I swear to God, if you don’t stop texting me I will backtrace your number and call the cops on you. Stop it. This is it. Goodbye.”
Charles sat there, the silence now consuming him as he sat still, the text message sent.
And then, there was a sound. The sound.
His ears picked it up, but so did the back of his thighs. His breathing stopped as he recognized it. A small whimper left his lips as even the candles, which his mother so dearly loved, blew out and left him in darkness.
No wonder the sound had been so familiar. It was the same sound his phone had been making all night. It was the buzz of the vibrations of an incoming message.
And it was coming from underneath the bed he laid upon.
His body curled up, his lips trembled, his eyes spilled with tears. His phone lit up again, and with shaky hands he picked it up to read the final message.
“Together we can forever now Charles. :) :)”
His breathing stopped. Whoever this was was under the bed. He took a deep breath and gripped the knife in his hand. He slowly leaned over, moving first to his side, then his stomach, and poked his head under the bed.