“Do you want me to take care of it?”
“No, I’ll do it, if I don’t he’ll just send you to get me.”
“Will I pause the movie?”
“Not unless something important starts happening.”
Sighing, Brian put down his beer and stood from the couch, how long had they gotten this time? Twenty minutes? Thirty?
As he went up the stairs the noise from the sitting room stopped, smiling he called out “I’m on my way buddy.”
When he saw Scott, some of his annoyance disappeared, bunched up beneath the blanket, pale and wide eyed, “What is it buddy?”
“There was someone in my closet.”
“Are you sure it wasn’t just a dream?”
Scott shook his head, “No, it was there, I saw it, I really did!”
“I’m going to check, ok?”
Brian walked past the nightlight, wondering if it was making things better or worse, then he reached out and gripped the handle to the closet, he started to turn the knob, “Wait. Don’t.” He finished turning it and pulled the door open, inside there were only clothes. Brian stepped in and moved some aside, then turned around, looking high and low. “No, I don’t see anything in here.”
“But there was daddy, there really was!”
“Well, it’s gone now. The light must have scared them away.”
Brian stepped out of the closet, then closed the door, “Just to make sure I’ll set up some extra protection for you, ok?”
Scott nodded as Brian locked the wardrobe door. He remembered when they first moved in, how much that had freaked out Scott, who refused to accept that the last owners had simply used the same doorknobs on all the doors, he had been convinced it had been to keep something locked away. Usually they locked it, but Jane must have forgotten tonight. After locking the door Brian placed a small chair in front of it, then he took Sir Lancelot down from a shelf and carefully placed him on the seat. He was already dressed in his cardboard armour, so at least Brian didn’t have to worry about that.
“Sir Lancelot is on guard duty now, so he’ll protect you, I’ll be back in one second with the monster repellent.”
Brian went to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom and took out the “Monster Repellent” which was just an old, fancy looking bottle with a spray attachment and a mystical looking label. They told Scott they had bought it from a magician who travelled the globe. He took the bottle back into Scott’s room and carefully sprayed it over the wardrobe door.
“Now, you’re completely safe.”
“Spray inside too.”
Brian unlocked the door and gave two quick sprays, it was only water after all, and a small amount wouldn’t cause Scott’s clothing to go all mouldy surely. He just wouldn’t mention it to Jane. He closed the closet and relocked it.
“You’re completely safe now, if it comes back it will see it can’t do anything, then it’ll get bored and go away for ever.”
Brian stuck out his pinkie finger and linked it with Scott’s, someone had taught him about pinkie promises recently and he took them very, very seriously. Scott seemed to relax a little and settled back down into bed.
“Do you want some water before you go asleep?”
“No thank you daddy. I’m ok now.”
“Ok good, I’m going to leave your door open just a little bit, so if you get worried we’ll hear you.”
Brian stepped into the hall and closed the door over, leaving a small gap, then he went downstairs, happy that it hadn’t taken too long. At least what ever dream Scott had hadn’t left him too upset this time. Still, they were doing well, it had been at least a week since they last had to set up the defences for him. They were trying to wean him off them, convince him that word would spread and no monsters would come near the house because they knew he was protected.
He sat back onto the couch, Jane looked up from the book she was reading, “That was fast, everything ok?”
“Yeah, he’s fine, I set up Lancelot and sprayed the door with the monster spray and he settled down.”
Lowering the TV slightly, they pressed play on the movie. It was almost an hour later when “Daddy! Daddy!” Brian stood up, feeling slightly annoyed as Jane paused the movie again. “Need some back up this time?”
“If I’m not down in a few minutes come up, you might be able to get him to settle down for the night.”
“What’s wrong buddy?”
“He was back, in my closet again. I saw him.”
“I locked the closet last time, remember? You must have just been dreaming.”
“No, it wasn’t a dream, I was awake!”
Brian sighed and moved over to the closet, “It’s locked, look” he twisted the knob and pulled, the closet door swung open easily.
“Scott, did you unlock this?”
“No. I didn’t, I swear, I woke up and saw him looking out at me.”
“I locked the door myself Scott, it can’t be opened from the inside.”
“I don’t know how he did it, but he did.”
Brian released a breath slowly, he didn’t want to get into this with Scott, it wouldn’t go anywhere and would only end up with both of them being upset.
“Ok, I’m going to lock this again, then I’m going to put the chair against it so it can’t open at all from the inside. If it opens again, I know it will have had to have been someone in here, and the only person in here is you.”
“What if there’s something under my bed?”
Brian got down onto his hands and knees, peering into the darkness, “Nope, nothing here at all.” He stood up and took the spray bottle from the shelf, then he sprayed the door again and sprayed under the bed.
“Now, everything is safe. Go back to sleep, ok?”
Scott nodded, cast one last fearful glance at the closet door, and snuggled under his duvet. Brian left the room, closing the door fully this time. Perhaps the noise of the movie had woken him or something. He put the bottle back into the medicine cabinet and started down the stairs, Jane was standing at the bottom of them. “Is everything ok?”
“Yeah, he unlocked the closet door, he just doesn’t want to stay in bed I think.”
“That doesn’t sound like something he’d do.”
“Not you too. No one else is in the house except us, he had to have opened it himself. Maybe he was sleepwalking or something, I don’t know, but it had to have been him.”
“No I know, I meant it worried me that he’d do it and lie about it. Maybe we should just switch his room.”
“We shouldn’t give in to his fears, he’ll have to get over them sooner or later and then in a year or two he’ll need to be moved back, the spare room will be too small for him soon.”
They sat down on the couch, “Maybe we should have him talk to someone, just in case.”
“It’s just an overactive imagination, he’s fine, it’s all normal. If you’re worried about it, mention it to the doctor at his next appointment, if the doctor is concerned, then we can look into getting some outside help, ok?”
“Ok, but we should still keep an eye on it, make sure it doesn’t get out of hand.”
As the credits started to roll there was sudden screaming from upstairs, heart pounding Brian raced up the stairs, Jane not far behind him, they burst into Scott’s room and found him huddled on his bed, tears streaming down his face. The room was in complete disarray, toys were off shelves, books were on the floor, the chair that Sir Lancelot had been sitting on had been tipped on its side, the bear was nowhere to be seen. Jane was comforting Scott, calming him down, he was so worked up he couldn’t speak properly. Finally, after he calmed down a little, he told them he was woken up by a noise and saw the man was in his room, standing over him. Brian went to the closet and tested the door, it opened easily again. Worry gnawed at him, what if Jane was right, this wasn’t normal. There was no one else in the house, he was sure of it. He tested the window and found it locked, then he had a quick search around the house, testing the windows and doors. When he returned to Scott’s room, Scott had calmed down and was now sniffling in Jane’s arms. “The doors and windows are all locked, there’s no one in the house, no one could have gotten in.”
They shared a look, but before either of them could speak, “What about the attic” The voice was weak and slightly wet, but Brian felt a sudden chill down his back. There was a small hatch in the closet that lead up to the attic, one of three entrances upstairs. He went into the hall and pulled down the ladder, heart thudding he climbed up the steps, trying to control his breathing. He was just getting caught up in the moment, there was no one in the attic, they would have heard someone moving about upstairs. He reached the top of the steps and groped blindly for the light switch, finding it, the lights turned on, dim at first before growing to full brightness. Brian looked around, there was no one he could see. He climbed into the attic fully and carefully moved around, looking around boxes and into any hiding places he could spot. There was no sign of anyone and nothing to indicate someone had been up here recently. He went back down the ladder, feeling slightly foolish at his fear. He tidied away the ladder and closed the hatch.
“It’s all clear.”
“Maybe he should just sleep in our room tonight.”
“Is he not a bit old?”
“Just for the night, it might get him to settle”
“C’mon honey.” Together Jane and Scott left the room, Scott was still sniffling but he seemed to have mostly calmed down. Brian had a quick look around the room again, maybe Jane was right about getting him to see someone. This wasn’t normal behaviour. They would have heard the commotion of someone tearing up the room, so that meant Scott had to have done it deliberately, but he had seemed genuinely scared. Brian walked over to the closet and locked it again. He turned to leave, then paused. He moved the chair back, this time wedging it under the handle of the door.
The next morning, Brian stumbled out of bed, Scott was still asleep, as was Jane. Brian hadn’t slept all that well, tossing and turning, worrying that Scott might be up to something else, but he hadn’t moved during the night and had slept right through. He passed the open door of Scott’s room on the way to the bathroom, just as he past the door he froze and looked in, the closet door was wide open and the chair was lying on the ground, the back had been broken off it and one of the legs was on the floor a few feet away.