I hear the pitter-patter of small footsteps in the house below me as I kneel in my hiding spot in the dank attic. Around me are relics of a time passed. An old crib, rusted bicycles and a barely used art canvas. The muffled sounds of screams force me to contemplate the events that led to my current predicament. Had I known a mere week ago what I was getting myself into, I would have never had taken this position. My mind wanders back as salty beads of sweat kiss my brow, and my pulse bangs out its own heavy metal beat in my ears.
I had applied to be an au pair for a young family in the outskirts of Cambridge after their previous one had to leave to look after a sick family member. A majestic medieval manor house with ten acres of grounds surrounding it, perfect for a leisurely stroll with the children in the afternoon. It was the kind of house I could only dream of affording, coming from a humble estate in Manchester. I worked hard to get where I was, but this was a whole other level of success. It seemed like the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of the life I was living at the time. I loved my job as a lecturer in London, but it was a long workday and the almost three hour, sweat-soaked commute had taken its toll on me. At the end of the day, I would return home exhausted, with barely have any energy left to pursue my hobbies and socialise. Not that it mattered, considering I couldn’t see my friends anyway due to demands of living and working in such a place.
After four excruciating years, I had decided once and for all that if I got the job, I would move away and commute into London on my days off. This would give me time to see my friends and colleagues and pursue my favourite hobbies, reading, writing and painting. After all, life isn’t all about work.
Being great with children and having prior experience in similar positions, I expected to be in with a good chance of getting the job. However, I was still ecstatic when I found out I had got it. Within the month, I had left lecturing and packed up the meagre belongings of my one-bedroom apartment and moved to the magnificent British countryside.
The family consisted of Anne, a thirty-three-year-old woman with a stern way about her. Louis, a nice, soft-spoken, proper man of thirty-eight. Adam aged eleven, an athletic young boy with a wicked sense of humour and Jayden, a girl of four with a love for reading and sweet as could be.
Our routine was sorted within the first two days, I would fill the children’s schedule with teaching and games on the vast grounds. Both of my charges enjoyed their time with me. At the same time, their parents worked long days as lawyers in the city, and I had become quite fond of Miller, Adam’s pet terrier who was always by his side.
All seemed reasonable at. First, the children enjoyed working and made for fun company. That was until nightfall when strange sounds would fill the house. From my basement room, I would hear the noise of struggle, screaming and furniture being broken. I had been out in search of the destination of the noise to no avail and come morning, all would look just like the day before, and the adults would assure me that I might have been dreaming.
My attention is brought back to my current horrifying situation by the sound of footsteps ascending the stairs to the attic, barely, audible, but they are there. Suddenly the door swings open, slamming against the wall and there stands Jayden. Her Auburn hair is dishevelled, and her white nightie is stained crimson. In her left hand, she holds a bloody kitchen knife, the same one I had used to chop the garlic for dinner earlier that night and a teddy bear to her chest.
“I found you!” she giggles in a sing-song voice. She lifts her right hand and gestures to each finger in turn with the knife, showing off the makeshift rings created with strands of hair.
shocked at the scene in front of me.
Jayden giggles loudly and then whispers sweetly “First, I found mummy and made a ring with her hair, then daddy. Next, I went up to Adam’s room very quietly so he wouldn’t hear me and caught him and doggie. It was so funny when they screamed. Now it’s your turn, THIS GAME IS SUPER DUPER FUN!”
She lifts the teddy bear to her ear as a devilish smile spreads across her face. “Yes Mr Bear, I think he should run away too. Clever bear! Good Job!
Her demeanour turns sinister as she crouches down and lunges towards me, knife raised above her head and dropping her bear in the process. This is insane, I was so sure she would never hurt a fly. I stumble backwards and fall against the dusty, sun-worn rocking horse. A growl emanates from the foreboding creature that I once thought of as the sweetest girl I had ever met.
“HIDE AND GO SEEK! I FOUND YOU… YOU LOSE!”