Chapter 11: .no/signs/of/forced/entry
I stopped the scooter in the innermost corner of the driveway. Dylan took off in the other direction as soon as I started the ignition. He told me to stay clear of dark alleyways, and to not drive into dimly lit streets if I was tailed by a van. I laughed nervously, and shook what he said off. I wouldn’t be afraid. I wouldn’t allow my self. I was done being frightened.
As soon as I entered the house there was one thing that struck me. All the lights were on. I always used to turn my lights off. Maybe I had forgotten it this once. I was pretty stressed as I left. Now I was tired, and I just wanted to jump into bed. It had been a long day.
I was in the living room when my blood ran cold. I looked at the board where I had written the information about the incident. It was all gone. Every single detail, vanished. It looked as if I had never written anything on there.
I ran to the kitchen to find the window wide open. I shut it with both bolts once more. Then I ran to my bedroom to find an old baseball bat that my father gave me as a child. I looked through the wardrobe, to see if I could find the intruder. No one had touched a thing. I hastily dialled Scott’s number, getting it wrong twice in the process.
“Onila?” he yawned. “It’s half past four in the morning.”
“Someone has been inside my house.” Though Scott was quiet I could hear him moving.
“All the lights were on as I came home, and my evidence board was gone. The kitchen window was wide open. I’m scared,” I uttered.
I could hear him close his front door and get into his car.
“I’m going to call the station with my work-phone. I’m putting you on speaker while I’m calling. Stay on the line, and if you hear the slightest sound of movement, holler,” he instructed.
I sobbed an incoherent yes.
I would not be afraid rang in my head. Like it was my inner mantra. I continued chanting to myself. Then I dropped the phone and continued searching the house. As I searched a room I would turn off the light. This was to remind myself which rooms I had searched. I clenched onto the baseball bat as I went from room to room. I would not be afraid, not this time. A draft of wind took my by surprise, but I wasn’t afraid. My breathing calmed and I realised I was alone in the house. Finally, I was standing in the living room. My computer was on the table and I sat down.
I went to a search engine and typed in: Signs of forced entry. I found an article and started reading down the page. It was pretty interesting. It talked about how forensics check if there is signs of forced entry. I wasn’t going to go looking for signs, but it was great knowledge. I had calmed down a lot when a speeding car stopped in my driveway.
I looked out of the window to see Scott run in with his gun drawn. On his tail was another car. An officer jumped out. I recognised him as the one that brought me my scooter.
They knocked on the door.468Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡLgJiSKmD61
“Open it’s police!,” Scott shouted. From the window I could see neighbours coming out on their porches. They were curious from all the commotion.
“We know you’re in there. Come out, or we’ll kick down the door!”
“I’m here,” I said running to the door and slamming it open. Scott lowered his gun and immediately looked angry.468Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡR0rAVs5HBh
“You were supposed to be on the phone,” he said through gritted teeth.
“I’m sorry, I just had to check the rest of the apartment.” The old officer went in with his gun drawn.
“There is no one there, I checked the whole place.”
“We still have to do a routine inspection of your home,” Scott said. He put his gun back in its holster, and disappeared into the apartment. I waited for him to come out with a grim expression, but I waited for nothing. As he came out he looked puzzled. He had my phone in his hand and he gave it to me.
“There are no signs of forced entry. The kitchen window is intact and there is no sign that anyone has tempered with the bolts. We still have to check your front door, but I didn’t see any scratches on the lock.” He pulled me to the side, so the old officer couldn’t hear our conversation. Then he asked me a series of seemingly random questions. Like “where did I go at this hour?” and “who was I with?”. I answered as honestly as I could and he rubbed his forehead, as he often did.
“Do you have any friends you can stay with?”
“Why would I need to stay with them, you said there were no signs of forced entry.”
He lowered his voice and looked me right in the eye. His eyes were intense, almost glowing with green.
“I think something weird is going on. Something you don’t want to tell me about,” he muttered.
“I have a friend. Jennifer Vaughn from primary school. I’ll call her.”
Jen came to pick me up in her new and shiny convertible. She came from money, and I didn’t doubt that her mother had wasted a couple of thousand pounds on her daughter’s new car. Still, Jen didn’t behave like she was of tremendous wealth. She was pretty down to earth.
“What happened?” she asked in a worried tone.
“Someone might have broken into my apartment. The police couldn’t find any signs of forces entry, but Scott still wanted me to stay with a friend for the night.”
“Do you think someone broke in?”
“I’m pretty damn sure. I never leave the lights on when I leave the apartment.” Jen chewed on the inside of her cheek as she stared at the slow traffic passing by. We were waiting for the go signal of the traffic lights. In the centre of town it was pretty busy, even this early in the morning. It was around five o’clock and some people were starting to go to work.
“If there is something, anything, you can tell me, Oni,” Jen said. I looked at her but shook my head. I didn’t want to spill my secret worries to every other person I met. Not that Jen was some random person, but I still didn’t feel like telling her about the Staring-man. I was sure it was he who was terrorising me. It was as if I could feel his eyes on me. Even though I had only seen him once, and that time a hood had covered his face, I knew that his gaze was cold as ice.
“I told you; I’m not going to pry. If you don’t want to tell me, that’s fine. I won’t take it personal, I won’t cry.” Jen chuckled. The engine roared as she presses the gas pedal. The light was green and the car in front of us started moving.
“You don’t know what it’s like to be on edge all the time.” She stopped the car abruptly. The cars behind us honked.
“What was that?” I asked as she started driving again. Her whole aura had changed. It was chilly now.
“Do you remember back in fourth grade?” she asked coolly.
“I remembered that you were gone for most of the year. No one told us why. The kids said you had mono or something…” Jen didn't look at me. She looked at something far away.
“I didn’t have mono… I was being stalker by a predator,” her voice was freezing cold.
“What?” I asked, shocked by this revelation.
“This town isn’t as safe as everyone says.” I looked up at the skyscrapers in the distance. I loved this town to death. It was so secure, so harmless. How could so much be going on from right under my nose. “Do you want to hear the story?”
I didn’t know, was the simple answer. I was still pretty queasy from the fright. But I would not be afraid. Not now, not ever.
“There is a lot of shite going on in this town. It’s just under the façade,” she pulled into the driveway of her house. There, she just stopped. The light on the patio was almost white. It sent a weird shadow down the driveway.
“Let’s get inside,” Jen said, opening her door. She had left her door unlocked. The thought of not locking my door as i went out, never occurred to me. I didn't usually lock the door when I was home alone, but lately I had started to. The fact that her door was unlocked made me slightly doubt her story. Then she pulled out the key and unlocked the inner door. She opened it, and behind there was another font door. This one was big and robust.
“Safety measures,” she explained. Inside there were two alarms at the inside of the big, unwieldy door. She turned them off and let me in.
I stood there, in her hallway, looking uncomfortably around the place. It was all white, streamlined and clean. Very minimalistic, but not cold.
“Sit down, the settee doesn’t bite,” she said.
“Thanks,” I said as I sat down. She bought us glasses filled to the brim with orange juice, and sat down.
“So, this story of yours.” I was curious to know what she was talking about.
“Yeah, I don’t know,” she stopped in her tracks. “No, I do know when it started.”468Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡfSyEMcYrHk
“I was at the store on day, with my mother. I was going to get some ice cream, when I met him. He was a boy my age. Just a couple of years older,” she sighed and took a sip of her juice. “He told me that he was lost, and that he needed help to go look for his father. I was a naïve child, growing up in the rich parts of town, so of course I said yes. I still remember how he looked. The child was dresses in a filthy shirt. He was pale with reddish brown hair and green eyes in some pastel colour,” she took another sip. “I followed him outside. It looked like he knew where he was going, because he was going straight to the back parking lot. A man in a white shirt and black trousers was standing in the middle of the lot. The boy went straight up to the man, and showed me to him. He smiled and gave me sweets. Told me his name was Benjamin,” Jen was shaking at the memory of the man. “He was in his early twenties. He talked to me about random things. Then he started asking about my friends and about my dog, Liza. How did he know that my dog was called Liza?” She looked down at her lap and exhaled softly. The she turned to me and smiled. “I told him I had to go, and he let me. I thought that was the end of it. Oh how wrong I was…” The forbidding tone in her voice sent shivers down my spine.
“What happened then?”
“A week went by, and I didn’t pay it any mind. I was at school. You were there, but I mostly hung out with the older kids. Scott, Chris, Em, Lillian…,” she trailed off. “A teacher came and told me my older brother was here to pick me up. I don’t know if you remember my brother, Donovan, but he was in the military at the time. I was excited to see him, so I followed the teacher out in the lounge. There he stood, Benjamin.” Jen was quivering by now. The look in her eye was haunting. “I recognised him, and since he gave me sweets, I followed him to his car. The dirty child was sitting in the back of his luxury sedan. He drove me home and I told my mum about it. She got alarmed and called the cops. The police brought a detective. He told my mum that he knew where I lived.”
“How did he know where you lived?”
“I gave him instructions as we drove. The scary part was that he knew what school I went to. In hindsight I was sure I had seen the filthy child at school. Maybe that’s how. But I’m sure he didn’t go to my school though.”
“Is that the end of the story?”
“I wish, but that’s only the beginning. A day after the school episode, the phone calls started. If I went to answer the phone, I would hear heavy breathing on the other side. If my mum or dad called, they would hang up. We called the police again and they tried to trace the call. It didn’t work,” she took a deep breath and slowly released the air. “One night, I woke up in the middle of the night. I didn’t know why I woke up since I was a heavy sleeper. I went down the stairs to grab something to eat, just a midnight snack. Then I heard the sound. It came from the yard. I looked through the window to see five guys in all black outfits. One of them was familiar. It was Benjamin. I screamed, and my dad ran down the stairs. They hadn’t heard me yet. Dad saw them and called the cops. They came within five minutes, which is weird for the slow police of this town. They caught them all, except Benjamin, who ran away. In custody, most of the men refused to talk. They got their attorneys and it was impossible to make them talk. The calls persisted. One day, when I came back from school, I found all my bags packed in the hallway. My mum and dad told me we were moving away for a while, and that we would come back in a couple of months. I was sad and crying, but I realised it was because of Benjamin.”
“What did he want from you?”
“I was fifteen when my mum told me what one of the men in custody told them. He said Benjamin was a part of a child-pornography forum. The men in the forum would write about how they befriended children and abused them after getting their trust. People would pay and the administrators would post films of the children they abducted. The place was, according to mum, shut down.”
Now it was my turn to get shivers down my spine. And this was my safe, little town.ns 220.127.116.11da2