It was midwinter now, and the night stretched on for what felt like forever. The oversized plastic clock said nine, but Charlotte was too busy watching her dramas and sipping her overly-sweet tea to care about the time. The baby talker stood proudly by her mug, it’s silence making her feel completely at ease. From behind the striped cream and beige curtains, the wind howled like a rabid wolf, and snow was no doubt forcing itself on the cracked pavement outside her home. Frankly, she didn’t care. She was warm and snug at home, with her child sleeping peacefully upstairs and the TV playing exactly what she wanted to watch.
The peace was disturbed by the baby talker. Behind the layer of static, Beau’s little cry could be heard, a single, high-pitched sound that forced her out of her reverie. Immediately, Charlotte was up and making her way to his room. She didn’t bother turning on the light in the hallway, so everything appeared dark and tinted blue. From beyond the large wall mirror, a ghost stared back at her, and followed her up the stairs. Each step creaked quietly, the fourth step being louder than the others however, and she was forced to grope her way up for fear of falling. Towards the top of the stairs was a tall window, covered only by a vintage lace blind, which cast strange designs into the simple walls, both intricate and disturbingly vague. It was colder up here, despite the heating being on as high as she could afford. She shivered. The TV became quieter with each step, until it was nothing more than a faint buzz, like a wasp flying behind her. Above her was only the quiet and the dark. She gave the space behind her a glance and saw only a void, quickly becoming deeper, darker and more silent the closer she came to Beau’s room.
Charlotte paused at the threshold of her baby’s room. The silence seemed to extend to there as well. She wondered if he had fallen back asleep, having had a bad dream or a bit of a cough. She was taking no chances. She pushed the door open, letting it creak open slowly, and entered the room, where an eerie sense of stillness hung. Watching over the crib was a doll, quite lifelike in appearance but ultimately frozen in place; a stray shadow was cast over it, giving the little boy doll a sinister look with its face painted to look like anger instead of its usual blank expression. The mobile, normally of cute dinosaurs, looked more similar to the hounds of hell and black cats stood proudly above the ghostly crib. The room smelled no different, with talcum powder and violet still dominating the air, but the surrealness of the nursery turned those scents into something stranger. At this point, the only light came from the hallway window’s blue glow, making almost everything invisible to Charlotte. But she persisted.
She approached the crib slowly, the stillness of it all making the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end and her causing her breath to become hitched. It was too quiet. She quickly felt for the music box on the chest of drawers, desperate for sound, and soon the therapeutic melody of a lullabye began. She had just put it down and turned away from it when it slowed down and stopped, as if it had been forced to a stop, but she did not return to rewind it. Everything felt wrong, and she knew it. Fear came to her, like an unwelcome demon, it’s talons reaching for her and its fangs bared. Charlotte inhaled deeply. She came up to the crib and peeled back the layer of powder blue lace canopy that covered it, her hand trembling.
Somewhere in the snow-covered town, a scream rang through the streets.