The topic for this week’s Remember the Time Blog Hop (Halloween edition) is that time we were flippin’ freakin’ scared out of our minds…or anything else Halloween related. Unlike the last time we focused our nostalgia on fear, feel free to unleash your tales of ghosts, goblins, ax murderers, and real life horror. Now go find your security blanket and join me for my own trip down Nightmare on Elm Street.
Sure, the supernatural is scary. Zombies and monsters send chills up the spine. But perhaps the most terrifying horror stories are the ones that could happen to anyone and require no suspension of reality to believe.
It is a tale many know well. A young girl is babysitting, as young girls often do. The children are tucked in bed, and she settles in for a quiet evening until the return of the parents. Then the phone rings, and a deep breathy voice asks, “Have you checked the children?” She of course dismisses it as a prank…but the phone rings again. The same question. That one line terrorizes the young girl over and over. She finally calls the police, who work frantically to discover where the ominous calls are coming from. Then this:
That’s right! Little did the young girl know that just upstairs was a madman who had already murdered the little children and was patiently luring their babysitter to the same fate. And so goes the time-honored horror classic, When a Stranger Calls.
The first time I saw that movie, I was in my prime babysitting years. Therefore, it certainly hit close to home. Little did I know exactly how close to home it would hit.
It was a Saturday night like many of my early teen years. I was babysitting my cousins, and all three of them had gone to bed with little to no fuss. I had just poured myself a soda and was looking forward to watching some Saturday Night Live…maybe a little Showtime at the Apollo, depending on how late my aunt and uncle would be. I was sitting in the quiet house, when I heard something faint…something tinkling…something musical. I muted the television and strained my ears. It sounded like music box music. And it was coming from…upstairs.
Now just like clowns and china-faced dolls, music box music is among the creepiest creations known to man. Don’t tell me you can hear a music box playing and NOT have visions of little Victorian ghost children who were poisoned with arsenic by their deranged nanny. That was exactly what I was thinking about as I stood at the base of the stairs, the wobbly lullaby wafting down, trying to seduce my curiosity.
At this point in a scary movie, the audience is yelling, “Don’t go up there!” I was telling myself that, too. I had seen enough horror movies to know what happened next. But this wasn’t a movie. So I would be okay, right? I slowly climbed the stairs and immediately found the source of the music as I reached the top. In the hallway was a bassinet that the baby had grown out of. In it was a mobile, which was just winding down the lullaby that had been the source of all this creepiness. Maybe one of boys got out of bed and wound it up, I thought. Well, it couldn’t have been the baby. So I checked on the other two boys…who were both sound asleep. Or…maybe they’re DEAD!
Totally freaked out by this point, I turn to go back downstairs and notice that the bassinet is right next to a closet. A closet with a door that is partially cracked open. It’s the only explanation. Some psycho killed the kids, hid in the closet, and then wound up the mobile, hoping the music would lure me into his clutches.
There was only one thing to do: call my mom. I told her the whole story. I’m sure I asked her to come over. But she remained calm and tried to rationalize with me. My aunt and uncle had a security system, she reminded me. And if someone had tried to break in, the alarm would have gone off. I hung up the phone and breathed a sigh of relief. That made perfect sense. There had to be some other explanation for the music. Maybe when the mobile fell into the bassinet, it switched on. Maybe the mechanism had been stuck and finally came loose. Or maybe…the psycho had already been IN the house before my aunt and uncle set the security system for the night, and THAT’S why the alarm didn’t sound.
Just as I was getting myself all worked up into another frenzy, the phone rings. I stared at it, not sure if I should answer. I had a horrible feeling about this. Everything was falling into place. It was a horror movie script writing itself. I slowly reached for the phone. As I brought it to my ear, all I could think was, Don’t ask if I’ve checked the children…don’t ask if I’ve checked the children…
“Kel, it’s mom. You just seemed really freaked out before, so I wanted to make sure you were okay.”
I don’t know that I had ever been so happy to hear my mom’s voice. Although she quickly confessed to me that she had ALMOST responded to me by asking, “Have you checked the children?” Thankfully, she thought better of it, which was a good thing. Otherwise, she may have ended up the star in her own horror story as the mother who caused a fatal heart attack in her young daughter, all for the sake of a practical joke.
This post is part of the Remember the Time Blog Hop. You can join in, too!
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