"Wait! Did you check the basement?"
"There's a basement?" Officer Jiminez asked.
"Yes," Gwen stood up, Harmony next to her. Noah was now carrying Caleb. "There's a light switch in the middle of the room so it's fairly dark in there. I'll show you the way."
"Not necessary ma'am," Officer Pritchett held up a hand. "I remember where it is."
"Remember? Have you been here before?" Gwen didn't receive an answer to her question as Officer Pritchett pulled out a small flashlight and started walking towards the basement's entrance.
"We'll be right back," Officer Jiminez said. Imitating the older man, Officer Jiminez pulled out a small flashlight which he used to navigate his way through the dark space.
"You think this family had a real burglar?" Officer Jiminez whispered. "We didn't find anything to show that they did."
Officer Pritchett quickly found the light switch and pulled on it to light the room, "They think they did and that's all that matters."
They both looked around the bare room with the exception of boxes that lined the back wall. It was so quiet they could hear themselves breathing.
"Is it just me or is this basement damned creepy?" Officer Jiminez asked, staring at the brick walls and cement flooring.
"It's just a basement. They're all creepy. There's nothing here. I'm going to turn the light off so get your flashlight ready, Jiminez."
Officer Pritchett pulled on the light switch, shrouding them in darkness. Before Jiminez could turn on his flashlight the two men felt a cold breeze pass by them. A dull thud from behind caused both men to jump.
Jiminez flipped the switch to his flashlight but it wouldn't turn on, "Dios mío, it won't turn on."
"I told you to stop speaking Spanish Jiminez," Officer Pritchett chastised him. He turned on the light and Officer Jiminez quickly turned around to see what had fallen. It was a small box with two photographs inside.
"Are you two okay down there?"
Both men looked up to see Gwen Coleman making her way down the wooden stairs, a heavy duty flashlight in her hands.
"We're fine ma'am," Officer Pritchett answered. "There's nothing down here."
"Officer Pritchett...you said you remembered where the basement was. Have you been here before?" Gwen asked.
The older gentleman cleared his throat, "Just once when I was a young officer. It brings back memories to be here. This house has been vacant for years...even decades."
"We were told by the real estate company that the owners were elderly and just wanted to sell which is why we were able to get it at such a good deal. Is there another reason we don't know about? Did a crime happen here?"
Officer Pritchett gave a nervous laugh, "Mrs. Coleman, I think you should just focus on the present. There's no one in the house. You and your family should be fine tonight. Maybe it was some vagrant who was under the impression that the house was still empty. After tonight, I'm sure whoever was here knows not to come back."
Perhaps it was the way he avoided her eyes or the fact that his brow had begun to glisten with sweat...but Gwen Coleman didn't believe the older officer. He quickly left her alone with Officer Jiminez.
She turned to the young Hispanic officer and smiled, "Thank you for checking down here. It's so dark in here that it scares me."
"Are you afraid of the dark?" the officer asked, smiling.
She put two fingers together, "A little. Don't you know? Bad things happen in the dark."
Officer Jiminez laughed, "They happen in the light too. Trust me. By the way, this box fell from the shelf. I didn't know if you had a particular spot for it." He handed her the box with the two photographs. Gwen gasped when she picked up the photos.
"Is something wrong?"
They were the same photographs as before but this time Maria wasn't frowning. It was as if the photographs had somehow changed. In the torn photograph she had her hands up and her mouth was open as if she had been photographed trying to say something. In the second photograph she was pointing towards herself. Gwen flipped through both photos several times, paying special attention to the child's lips.
Gwen was startled by the officer's words, "What did you say?"
"It's strange but it looks like she's trying to say 'help me' when you move the photos like that, doesn't it?"
He was right. Gwen was starting to feel light-headed, "I think we should get out of here."
Gwen was still holding the small box when they joined Officer Pritchett, Noah, and her children. Harmony was still rocking her doll, humming her lullaby.
"She's a sweet kid," Officer Pritchett said. "Did you teach her Spanish or did she learn that from daycare?"
"Spanish?" Noah hadn't been paying attention to his daughter's song.
She took a few steps away from the adults and her voice sang the words, "Vamos a dormir. Vamos a dormir. Vamos a dormir, bebé. Viene El Cucuy. Viene El Cucuy. Viene El Cucuy, bebé."
"Do you know what she's saying?" Officer Jiminez asked, a bit of censure in his tone.
"No. She said a friend taught her the song," Gwen explained. She didn't think it would be a good idea to mention it was an imaginary friend in front of Noah.
Harmony's voice filled their ears, "Vamos a dormir."
Officer Jiminez translated, "Let's go to sleep. She's singing a lullaby."
"That's sweet," Noah smiled.
Harmony's voice sang part of the last line, "Viene El Cucuy."
Officer Jiminez frowned and Gwen asked that he translate, "What does it mean?"
"Viene El Cucuy," Officer Jiminez repeated.
"Yes, what does it mean?" Noah asked.
Officer Jiminez looked at the young girl and back to her parents before answering, "The Boogeyman is coming."
YOU ARE READING
They say a picture can tell a thousand words...but what if it's sending you a message from the dead? Aspiring horror writer Gwen Coleman and her workaholic husband, Noah, have finally found their dream home and quickly move in with their young daugh...