Listen, I’ve told the cops my story three times now. You can keep asking but I’ll keep saying the same thing. I know what I saw – I’m not crazy.
They were advertising for a babysitter on Craigslist. The post read “WANTED – BABYSITTER. ONE NIGHT ONLY. PARENTS NEED A DATE NIGHT DESPERATELY! $50. MUST LIKE GAMES.”
Well, I needed cash and I like kids. I like games too. I figured it would be easy money for just one night, so I responded. Back and forth, the typical shit – “We’re so happy you answered”, “When do you want me to come over?”, “Here’s our address”. All that stuff was pretty straightforward. Nothing really jumped out at me.
I should’ve realized they never mentioned who I’d be babysitting, right?
So I pull up to the house and it’s a real shithole. One of those that’s in an okay neighborhood and probably looked fine a long time ago but it got really gross and now their neighbors are pissed because in between their all-right houses is a total dump but no one says anything about it. And they had real weird decorations, too – next to the mailbox were these little bird-things with stone eggs for bodies and old metal limbs sticking out. Pointy rusted beak heads bobbing on weak springs. Real weird.
I knocked on the door because they didn’t have a doorbell. Right away, it opened, like someone was waiting for me.
First off, the guy was old. Like way, way older than I’d expected. I mean, the ad read like a couple with a baby who hadn’t been out in forever and this guy couldn’t have been a day under 70. Kind of stooped over, bald, skin sort of hanging off his face like it does with some old guys. His nose was all red, burst capillaries, most likely from too many years in the bottle.
“You’re here,” he said, excited, waving me in with a gnarled hand. “Come in, come in!”
The inside of the house wasn’t any better than the outside, by the way. Probably worse. They had that gritty brown carpet that might’ve been orange at some point. Low, yellow lighting. It stank.
As I entered, I spotted a morbidly obese woman on one of those fuzzy couches from the 80s with sepia-tinted farm scenes on them sagging under her weight. She was younger than the guy but still older than I’d expected, easily in her 40s. She wore a flowered housedress and eyeshadow that reminded me of electric blue Kool-Aid.
“Hi,” I said, because “What the fuck?” wouldn’t have been appropriate.
She didn’t say anything.
“We’re so glad you made it,” the old guy said, closing the door behind me. “So glad, so glad, we really need this night out, don’t we dear?”
She didn’t say anything.
“Yes!” he cried gleefully. “You’re Danielle, right? The one I’ve been emailing with? Oh, you’re doing us a big favor, you know that, big favor indeed.”
I looked around. I didn’t see a kid.
“Where’s your…” I drifted off, suddenly realizing they’d never said much about their kid. Anything, really.
“Bo,” the old guy said. “Bo, he’s in his room. In the basement. This might be a very easy job for you, in fact, sometimes he stays down there all night. He’ll only come upstairs if he wants to play.”
He was doddering over to the closet. As he spoke he pulled out a pair of shoes and started slipping them on. Like she’d been given some sort of cue, the obese woman heaved herself off the couch with a muted grunt and shuffled towards a beaten-up pair of Keds next to the TV.
“He stays down there all night?” I glanced around the place, feeling like the whole thing was happening very fast. “Shouldn’t I check on him?”
“No, no need, he’ll come get you if he wants you.” The old guy put on a weathered brown coat and a hat that reminded me of those old movies with Humphrey Bogart.
The obese woman trundled up to me and stared. I wasn’t sure what to do until I realized I was standing in front of a coat rack; I quickly moved out of her way and she pulled off of it a black raincoat roughly the size of a parachute.
The old guy patted his pockets, checking for his belongings.
“Okay, all right, very good, very good.” He paused, gave me a long look. Like he wanted to say something else. Then he smiled. “You seem like a nice girl, Danielle. I’m sure Bo will like you very much.”
“Thanks,” I said, thoroughly confused. So, would I be meeting Bo or not? I decided not to ask – at the time, weird as it was, I just thought it’d be an easy $50 to sit on someone’s filthy couch and watch TV.
“Well, we’re off,” the old guy said, extending his arm to the obese woman in a gentlemanly way. She took it, her mouth drawn down at the corners. “You have yourself a lovely night, we won’t be too long!”
And just like that, they were gone. Just me, the couch with the farm scenes, and Bo.
Just off the living room, there was a door that lead to what I assumed was the basement. Bo’s room. It was closed.
I remember standing there for a few minutes, not quite sure what to do. It felt weird to be babysitting and not check on the kid (or even MEET the kid) but that’s what the old guy said, don’t check on him, he’ll come get me if he wants me. So I sat on the fuzzy couch in the deep dip left behind by the obese woman and turned on the TV.
They didn’t have cable. Typical.
I watched the news for a while, which I haven’t done in forever – Jesus, there is some depressing shit going on in the world, isn’t there? – then found some reruns of “Scrubs”, which I don’t really like but it was better than nothing.
I grabbed the remote and muted the TV.
“Bo?” I called, ears perked for an answer.
I got up and walked towards the door, which was definitely open now. I looked down the stairs but it was dark and I couldn’t see anything.
“Bo, I’m your babysitter, Danielle,” I said, feeling kind of stupid, like I was talking to no one. Maybe this whole thing was a prank and there wasn’t even a Bo?
Then who opened the door?
I remembered the ad – MUST LIKE GAMES. Maybe this was a game? The old guy had said Bo would only come upstairs if he wanted to play, after all.
“Bo, do you like games?” I called to the dark basement. “Your dad said you might like to play.”
I thought I heard something, kind of like a laugh.
Yeah, I know, I’m that dumb chick in a horror movie you scream at because she’s doing exactly what she shouldn’t. But you don’t get it. I thought there was a kid down there.
I started down the stairs, feeling for a light switch or something. I could see there was a light down there somewhere but it was pretty faint.
“Okay, Bo, I’m coming down,” I said.
I knew something was wrong only a few steps down. The wall I was feeling along felt rough, cool to the touch, like stone. Not normal concrete, like actual rocks.
“Bo, can you turn on some lights for me?” I said, but my voice was weaker now.
I heard the laugh again. But it didn’t sound like a kid.
I turned and started back up the stairs, suddenly very sure I didn’t want to go down there and play games with Bo, but before I could get back to the living room the door slammed shut in my face.
“What the fuck!” I cried. I turned the handle and it moved, but the door didn’t budge. I banged on it with both fists.
“Sorry, Danielle.” I could hear the old guy on the other side. I was pretty sure the obese woman was leaning against the door. “I was hoping he wouldn’t give you any trouble tonight but I guess he wants to play.”
“Let me the fuck out of here!” I shrieked. I kept trying to get out but it was no use, she had that thing wedged shut, no dice.
Behind me, somewhere in the basement, Bo laughed.
I turned around, eyes scanning what I could see in the low light. At the bottom of the stairs, the floor was paved with big uneven stones. Some of them had moss at the edges. A pile of something gleamed from the corner in the flickering glow. It looked like bones.
I was trapped if I stayed on the stairs so in a moment of pure adrenaline I bolted. I had no idea what I was going to do but I knew if I stayed on the steps I was done for.
Once I could see the basement, I knew I was fucked.
Here’s the part where you guys stop believing me. It was a dungeon. Like, a legit dungeon – stone walls, spider webs, chains, all that shit. What little light there was came from flickering metal torches.
Frantic, I started looking for a way out. Windows, doors, anything.
Something clattered on the floor nearby. A broken human skull grinned up at me with shattered teeth.
Further into the basement, where it was too dark to see very clearly, a shape slithered from one arched stone doorway to another. Laughing.
Look, I know you want me to tell you how long I was down there, but I don’t know. I ran like a rat in a cage through endless hallways, trying to find a way out but only really hiding until I heard Bo get closer. It could’ve been hours, it could’ve been days. It felt like forever.
I finally saw my chance when the door at the top of the stairs creaked open. The old guy called down,
“Game over, Bo?”
I used what little energy I had left and bolted up those stairs, pushing over the old guy as I ran past him. He fell and yelled and I think maybe there was the crack of a bone breaking but I didn’t care, I ran as fast as I could into the street and I didn’t stop until my legs fell out from under me. I was out of the neighborhood by then and some guy jogging stopped when he saw me. He dialed 911 and now I’m here.
That’s it. That’s the story. And yeah, I know when you went to the address I provided, there was no one in the house. I know you said it was just a normal house with a normal basement and no one had lived there for six months because the real estate market isn’t doing so hot but I know what I saw. That old guy, that obese woman, the dungeon, and just a glimpse of Bo. Just barely.
Big, muscled arms. Black robes. And a head that looked like a snake. I’m glad it was only a glimpse because I think if I’d looked for too long I’d have gone crazy.
And you know what? I think the only reason I’m still here, honestly, the only reason I’m sitting here talking to you right now, is because Bo likes to play with his food.
Are we done? Great.