Challenge: Write a short story from the third person POV.
Word Count: 1500 words
Judges: Jodi Cleghorn & Christopher Chartrand
CALLING YOU OUT
Jasmine went through her nightly ritual, going from one bedroom to the next, partially opening doors to check on sleeping children. There was nothing like knowing her boys were safely tucked into their beds. She never felt completely relaxed when one or more of the boys were out of the house at bed time, even if she knew they were simply sleeping at a friend’s house.
This evening she could breathe easy, feeling whole with the knowledge everyone was home. Jasmine continued down the hall, entering the living room and sighed. The joys of having four boys was the constant look of a major natural disaster having swept through the house. She smiled as she surveyed the mess. ‘Oh yeah, I’m blessed,’ she chuckled and got to work.
Jasmine sat on the sofa, a steaming cup of tea at her side and the TV remote in hand. She’d recorded her favourite programs specifically to watch at times like this. She sat and listened to the quiet settling of the house, cherishing the calm before clicking on the TV.
The opening sequence to the program began and she settled back to enjoy it. So boys, what’s the monster of the week going to be? she thought at the two main hero’s of the story and allowed herself to be carried way with their scary adventures. At the point when she had completely engrossed herself in the story line she was pulled back to reality.
The baby was crying. Of course he’d want a bottle now, she hit pause and went to prepare one. Heading down the hall, shaking the bottle, she noted Dale’s cries were a little stronger than usual. She hurried, concerned he was stressed or perhaps in pain.
His cries ceased the moment she opened his door. ‘Oh, no you didn’t,’ she muttered, discovering he’d fallen back to sleep. ‘You little monster,’ she whispered, fixing his blanket and smoothing back a lock of blonde hair. ‘You’re lucky you’re cute little man,’ she smiled. Who could be cranky at that pudgy little face? A frown creased her brow. There were no tears on his chubby cheeks. No redness, nothing to indicate he’d just been screaming his little lungs out. Jasmine looked around the room, checked the window was locked. Something was not right. She could sense something but couldn’t put her finger on what it could be.
Finding nothing amiss and satisfied her baby was safe Jasmine returned to the sofa and placed the bottle beside her tea, knowing full well she’ll just get comfortable and he’d wake again. Sure enough he began to cry the moment she picked up the remote to continue her program. ‘It’s like they have radar,’ she muttered and returned to the baby’s room, somewhat frustrated. However, that frustration turned to confusion the moment she stepped in to the bedroom. The baby was asleep, his blanket perfectly across him so he hadn’t stirred.
Jasmine frowned. ‘What’s going on?’ She lingered in the doorway. She could have sworn she’d heard a baby cry but it hadn’t been her baby. She was at a loss until she heard the cry again. She turned from her sleeping infant and looked deeper in to the house, listening.
Jasmine briefly checked on the other boys as she passed their rooms. She placed the bottle down again and stood, listening. The cries were coming from outside. ‘What the…?’ she uttered and rushed to the front door. ‘Who’d leave a baby outside at this time of night?’ She unlocked the door and yanked it open. Turning on the porch light she looked out. There was nothing. The crying had stopped.
‘Hello?’ she called, listening. Nothing.
Maybe it’s a neighbour’s baby, she frowned. She listened for a few more seconds and began to close the door. The crying started again.
The wails were hysterical and coming from just beyond her porch light. Jasmine leant behind her and grabbed her jumper from the hook. She slipped it on, pulling it tight around her, warding off the chill of the evening. Stepping outside, the alarm bells screaming in her head, she knew she should stay inside but she couldn’t ignore a child. It’s cries were frantic and impossible for Jasmine to ignore. She anxiously moved along the porch. With one more glance around her she peered over the railing. The crying stopped instantly and there was nothing on the grass below. This doesn’t feel right, she thought, having every intention of returning to the house and calling the police.
She turned, her scream pierced the night air and blood splattered against the bay window.
Mark sat on the sofa, staring at the now cold tea and baby bottle on the table. He couldn’t help think how Jasmine would have loved the sunlight that was falling across the living room from the large bay windows. Mark couldn’t bring himself to look out the window since the body of his wife had only recently being removed and her blood still stained the decking.
‘I should have been here,’ he spoke softly, grief threatening to explode from him. But he held it back for later, when he would be alone. Police were covering every inch of his home. He needed to keep it together.
‘We’re very sorry for your loss, Mr Drake.’ Agent Johnson sat in an armchair across from him. Mark noted the other Agent, Agent Smith had gone off towards the bedrooms to look around.
Mark stared dully at the Agent. The lawman was young, freakishly tall and wore a cheap suit. The Agent also wore a sympathetic look and did seem genuinely upset but it wasn’t from the personal loss. He hadn’t known Jasmine, loved her, held her or seen the amazing way her smile went to her eyes.
‘I’m sorry, but I have to ask. Where were you last night?’ Agent Johnson asked, tugging on his cheap tie as if it were chocking him.
A sob caught in Mark’s throat. With effort he kept it under control. ‘I was at a conference in the city. I called Jasmine to say a few of us were going out for drinks. I drank too much so stayed at a friend’s house. I should have just come home,’ Mark cried and buried his head in his hands. He would never forgive himself for not being home for her when she needed him. ‘How am I going to explain this to the boys?’ he moaned.
Agent Johnson sat patiently waiting, allowing Mark time to collect himself.
‘What happened? Who did this to Jasm…’ he couldn’t say her name ‘…to my wife?’ he amended.
‘We believe your wife was watching Television, heard a noise outside and went out to investigate. Someone was waiting for her and then,’ the Agent paused and cleared his throat, ‘killed her.’
Mark was shaking his head. ‘No, that can’t be right.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Jasmine would never have gone outside if she’d heard a noise. If it was suspicious she’d call the police. There had to be something else, like someone calling for help or knocking on the door maybe.’
‘So you believe she was lured out?’
‘Yes, it had to be serious or she would have never opened the door.’
‘We do believe she was lured out. This is actually the second…um, crime of this nature, where a usually cautious young mother has gone outside for some reason.’
Mark was staring at the cup of tea Jasmine would never enjoy and the last bottle she had prepared for their baby. He frowned.
‘What is it?’ Agent Johnson asked.
‘The bottle,’ Mark looked at it, confused.
‘Why? What’s so strange about it?’ Mark could tell the Agent wasn’t being judgmental or dismissive. He generally seemed interested in what Mark was saying. Mark thought it a little curious. Why would this lawman care about a baby bottle?
‘Jasmine only prepared bottles when they were required. She had a fear of bacteria settling in pre-prepared bottles. She would only have made that if she’d heard the baby crying. But it’s full.’
‘Could she have been getting it ready, knowing the baby would wake soon?’
‘No. She’d have made it only when hearing him cry for it. It had to be made fresh.’
‘I’m sorry Mr Drake but I don’t see the significance,’ said the Agent.
‘Since it’s full it wasn’t our baby that was crying. Maybe she’d opened the door because she’d heard a baby crying. At first thinking it was our baby but then realising it was coming from outside.’
‘Agent Smith?’ Agent Johnson called out for his partner and got to his feet. ‘Thank you for your time Mr Drake and again I am very sorry for your loss. We’ll let you know what we find.’
Mark watched the Agents move towards the open front door.
‘This is definitely our type of case,’ he heard Agent Johnson say. ‘I also think I know how It is luring the women outside.’
Rebecca L Dobbie
Thanks for stopping by. To those who know I hope you like my little homage to the little show that could….:)