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Shadows wavered in the expansive backyard as the woman peered through the round window in front of her. The reflection within the twilight didn't reveal a happy face. The skin under her brown eyes, fixed on the deck that spread beneath the small set of panes, sagged with a purplish hue. Premature wrinkles lined her eyes and mouth. No, she definitely wasn't a happy person. Her hands mindlessly moved each dish from the stainless steel sink, rinsed under cool water, and then carefully placed in the racks of the dishwasher. She then reached for the knife and grabbed the wrong end.

"Damn it!" She recoiled and placed the bleeding finger into her mouth.

Nope, it's been the week from hell, and this was just another reminder that it hasn't end yet.

Voices drifted into the room from a nearby television.

"Here are our top news of the hour." A male news anchor said. "State and Federal law officials are investigating multiple cases involving children who have gone missing in the past three days. In every cases, each child reported to have disappeared sometime between bedtime and morning..."

"Frank." She turned her head towards the living room. "Please turn it to something else."

"Yes, dear." A man's voice said.

A click sounded and a commercial about a brand of soda came on. She went back to rinsing a coffee mug with the uninjured hand when the floor board creaked. She turned and smiled at her four-year old daughter who stood, wearing a pink nightgown, at the entrance of the kitchen.

Renee. The small child was the only source of joy in her otherwise joyless life.

"What's the matter, Renee? Did you have a bad dream?"

The girl shook her head, locks of blonde curls waved over her petite shoulders. "No, mummy."

Mother picked up a towel to dry her hands. "What's wrong then?

"There's a boogeyman in my room."

"A boogey-- Frank!"

"What now?" Frank answered in a disgruntled voice.

"Did you let your daughter watch that Stephen King's movie last night?"

A brief pause.

"Er-I might have."

The woman frowned as she bent to pick up the youngster.


She carried the girl down the dimly-lit hallway and into the bedroom at the end. With the light turned on, she studied the white-paneled room.

"I don't see anyone here, sweetie."

She set the girl down on the small bed, and covered Renee with the pink comforter peppered with white cats.

"He was standing there." The wide-eyed girl pointed towards the oak-color door near the corner.

"Okay. Mommy will take a look."

She turned and went directly to the closed closet door and without hesitation, swung the door wide open. She peered inside and all she saw were clothes on hangers and stacked bins.

"No one's here, darling." And closed the door. She went back to the girl and leaned down to kiss her forehead.

"Go back to sleep, k?"

"Yes, mummy." Renee sniffed.


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