While baby-sitting the new neighbors' children for the first time, Katie answered the phone.
"Hey, Katie, it's Mrs. Bircham. I called to see if you could stay for awhile? We might be late coming back."
"It's no trouble."
"Well thank you and be quiet if you can, you know Tommy is extra-sensitive to sound due to his condition."
"I know, I will."
Katie hung up the phone and sighed. She walked into the kitchen, trailing a finger lazily over the thick oak wall while the cold tile floor chilled her bare feet and made her shiver.
The house was unlike any she had ever been in. The oddest thing of all, the thing that somehow raised the hairs on the back of Katie's neck, were the windows. They were small squares made of very thick glass that couldn't be seen through.
Katie stared into the depths of the window above the kitchen sink. She was staring, intrigued by the window, unable to tear her eyes away from it when, suddenly, a scream pierced the house. Katie's reflection shook in the glass.
Rose was lying, frozen, limbs sticking stiffly out.
"What is it? What's wrong?"
"It's him! I see him every time I close my eyes!"
"Who? Who do you see?"
"Make him stop!" Rose was almost screaming.
Katie hugged her tighter, bewildered.
"It's OK, honey. It's all right. Shh."
Katie felt the girl relax. She laid her back down and stroked her forehead.
"I'm right here," she said.
Katie looked around the half-dark room carefully. She jumped to her feet as her gaze met the cold stare of a single eye peering out from the shadows in the closet. Tommy's face was half hidden behind the closet door. The light hit his face perfectly, making the long, jagged scar that ran down his cheek shine and his near black eyes shimmer in the dark.
"Tommy!" Katie said, half afraid.
She took him by the arm and led him back to his room. As she tucked him in, he looked her in the eyes.
"I can hear her heart. You can hear it when it's quiet. Shhh. Listen."
He closed his eyes and Katie, feeling uncomfortable and confused, walked back into the hallway. Rose was waiting for her.
"You should look at this."
Katie followed her back into her room. Rose stood, pointing into the half open door of the closet. Katie slowly approached it and then flung both doors open and gasped in horror. At least six dolls hung from the wall, stabbed through the middle with long kitchen knives. Each one had the same long, straight blond hair and pale blue eyes as Rose.
"He did it, I know it." Rose said.
Katie felt sick.
"You just stay right where you are, honey. Don't move, OK?"
Katie rushed to the hallway and locked the door to Tommy's room. Then, after a second thought, she locked the door to Rose's room, too.
Katie walked to the kitchen and put her hands on her head, panic pulsing through her veins.
"I wouldn't have done that," a small voice from behind her said slowly.
Katie whirled around. Tommy stood by the kitchen counter five feet behind her.
"Tommy, how'd you...?"
Katie looked from Tommy to the kitchen doorway, where Rose stood, head slightly down, her eyes unblinking, a huge knife firm in her hand.
"Rose, put that down!" Katie said.
"She doesn't like to be locked in her room," Tommy said calmly.
"Stop this right now!" Katie shouted.
"Please don't shout. I don't like shouting."
Rose walked toward Katie, her hand slowly raising the knife's tip. Katie stumbled backward and fell. Her legs were frozen with fear. Tommy walked over and sat down Indian style, taking Katie's head in his lap. He began stroking her hair. Rose stood over her, the knife poised, pointing straight for her heart.
"Do you know why the windows are so thick here?" Tommy said.
Katie's whole body shook, her eyes wide and fixed on the knife. Tommy leaned close until his lips were an inch from Katie's ear. His voice was a quiet whisper.
"So no one can hear you scream."
Arna Hemenway is a junior at Lawrence High School.