Man at the Window
“There’s a man at my window. Can we watch TV?“
It was three in the morning, and that was how my three-year-old decided to wake me up.
I shook the sleep out of my eyes and then shook my wife, Em, for good measure.
“What did you say, honey?” I asked, exhausted.
Anna gave an exasperated sigh.
“There is a man at my window. And he says to watch the television while we still can.“
As soon as the last syllable squeaked out of her mouth, I heard the hum of the air conditioner slow down and fade. That was followed by a few of the electrical devices clicking off. The fan that we always kept in front of us spun its last cycle.
The power was out.
Now… I have learned that kids will say a lot of crazy stuff to try and get your attention. My daughter loved the television. She took after her mama in that sense. We had to pry her away from the thing most nights, so it wasn’t really shocking that she came into our bedroom so late and asked to use it.
But the first part of her speech… that was enough to make us both sit up in bed.
“Who’s at your window bug… what are you talking about?” my wife asked.
Anna smiled and giggled.
“It was a man with a mask! It had big, big eyes, and a crooked nose, and it was allllll black…”
I didn’t need to hear anymore. In a second, the baseball bat from behind the bed was in my hands. It was a pretty stupid self-defense system, but Em didn’t like guns. The Louisville Slugger was our designated saving grace in the case of a burglar. I must have looked like an idiot.
After jumping out of bed, I stubbed my toe on an old nail that stuck out of the floorboards. That made me shout, probably loud enough to ruin any shot of catching whoever it was.
“He was a nice man, daddy, don’t be mean!” my daughter called out from behind.
I stepped into Anna’s room slowly, with the bat cocked behind my head. It was pitch black, and even still there was clearly nobody at the window. The lock was secure, and it looked as if nothing was even amiss. Her battery powered nightlight pointed up at the star stickers on her wall, and the crappy ten-inch television we left in there was turned off, as it should be.
But there was something eerie about the whole scene. Eerie enough to make me check the rest of the house. After getting to the living room, I could see outside that power must have been cut in the whole development. It happened sometimes – in a proper heatwave, a transformer could blow and we’d be without electricity for a week.
I walked out and into the kitchen. The lights were off, so I had to check each lock individually by walking up to it. The windows were all shut, and I slammed on a few to be sure.
It wasn’t until the last one, the screen door, that I saw the shape of a shadow sprinting through my backyard.
My first reaction was protection. This was an intruder who had stepped foot onto my property and had tried to whisper to my daughter through her window. In my mind, that crazy story was now true and there was nothing in the world more violating than that. I made up my mind that if I got my hands on this monster, he would get hit at least once.
The kitchen door led to our our decrepit Redwood deck that was built back in the sixties. The whole thing creaked and groaned with every step, and sometimes you had to be careful not to fall through. There are ten steps to get to the bottom, and I nearly jumped the whole lot when I saw the reflection of red pants dart just outside my neighbor’s yard. They were not that far ahead of me.
That was a comforting thought. Maybe it was just some kids.
After hitting the bottom, I stomped around the front of the house to get a better view of the street, fully expecting to catch a couple of dumb teenagers hiding behind a bush.
But there was no one there.
I looked around for a few moments, baffled. They had to be close by. It was three in the morning, and it was so quiet that even the rustling leaves were enough to freak me out. I debated silently about calling the police. But involving them always made me worry.
There was no chance of going back to bed. So, I got in my car and started to drive around.
The whole thing was a parody – a dad in a mini-van with a bike and a bat in his back-seat. Like some new-age version of neighborhood watch. The ridiculousness of it stayed with me, right up until my headlights caught something in the shadows a mile down the block.
Standing in front of the window, in a neat little row, were four dark figures.
The leader of the group was dressed in black, head to toe. Black coat, black pants, black hood, black mask. The other three were behind him, and they were smaller.
After my eyes readjusted, I realized the small shapes were children… three young boys of varying ages, seated neatly in a row with their legs crossed. Their backs were turned to me, and they didn’t move a muscle.
None of them seemed to be bothered by the headlights or hum of my engine.
Suddenly, the window to my neighbor’s house cranked open, and a young toddler leaned out. The boy smiled with his eyes closed, ignoring my truck altogether, and stuck out his arm like he was getting a shot.
The man lifted up his hand in response. He wore gloves, but his fingertips were pointed… like he had stuck something on the ends of his nails to make them sharper. And then, as if he were a mime, used them to count out slowly.
After the forth finger was raised, he used it to slice a thin line along the boy’s hand. That was enough to make me get out of the car.
“Hey,” I shouted, dumbfounded. What else was there to say? Everyone seemed to be unaware of my presence, and my neighbor’s son was already climbing outside. In a moment, he walked over and sat quietly behind the other boys as if it were a routine school drill.
The man turned to me, seemingly surprised by my voice. I inched closer with the bat over my head like a bad threat, unsure of my next move. Even through the ski mask, it looked like he was laughing. He dodged back and forth mockingly, like a boxer avoiding unseen blows.
“What do you think you are doing?” I asked in my most menacing voice, which probably sounded more like a mouse. I cocked the bat and got ready to swing.
In response, the man raised his arm over his head, and I felt my eyes lock onto it. There was something about that movement that made me feel sick to my stomach. I turned to retch, but instead, felt the weight of my body fall to the floor.
A half hour later, I woke up outside the Shelly’s house, and the group was gone.
Em and I told our story to the police, word for word. But nobody was very interested. My mental state at the time was called into question, and the lack of any kind of corroboration outside my three-year-old made my statement all the more suspicious. For a while, I was even considered a suspect.
In the meantime, we are asking other potential victims of this child abductor to please… Come forward.