I’ve been working at a police station in Massachussets for the past ten years. No, I’m not an officer but rather a First Responder. It’s…not such a big job, or at least to me anyway, because my family lives in mid-sized city. Average 20,000 people. The most important calls I get include robberies and house fires. And then there are the pranks that teenagers play on Halloween and such like that.
I’m recording all of this. The reason why is because I’m scared like hell. Still scared.
It all happened ten years ago.
There are eight emergency responders at the station. Six are the assigned responders who switch off at eight hour shifts. Two responders work one shift. Two extra responders in case one bails. It’s pretty efficient, I think. We’ve never had two responders bail and the back ups having to work the same shift. But in case we do, we have a calendar for that sort of thing. I work the night shift from 8 pm to 4 am with a guy….we’ll call him ‘Bill.’
It was mid September and Bill had to call in sick. He didn’t want to risk getting me sick, and he was throwing up real bad so the boss allowed it. When I called in the back up responders one didn’t pick up and the other one’s wife was in the hospital delivering their first child. I guess I could’ve asked if any of the other responders could come in but I thought I could handle it all to myself. We barely got any calls on night shift anyway. I was alone in the small office with the blinds shut and it was all dark but the constant blue glare of the computer monitor and the pale white light from the ceiling. My left hand manned my cup of two hour old coffee and my right armed the keyboard.
I was pretty bored at first. About an hour in there was a disturbance at a house for domestic battery, and another for a concerned mother calling because her two year old son stuck a dime up his nose. That was pretty much it. My mind began to dawdle off onto other things. I played Minesweeper and read Facebook. I didn’t get another call until about two in the morning. I clicked on it.
‘911, what’s your emergency?’ I asked.
Heavy breathing replied in a small screen of static. It sounded like a girl. ‘Hello?’ It replied. ‘Someone’s watching me.’
‘Can I get an address?’ She gave me the address and I noted that the address was near the south side of town, on the close outskirts.
I tried to soothe her calmly. ‘Calm down, miss. Now, can you tell me how old you are?’ She said thirteen and while I gave the information to the police standing by I asked her more questions. ‘How do you know that someone’s watching you?’
‘There’s a man standing in our yard,’ she said. There was a grainy sound on the line.
‘Can you identify this man?’ I asked.
‘H-he’s wearing a black sweatshirt. And I can’t see his face.’
I started to write down the description. ‘Okay…can you estimate his height for me, sweetie? And his age?’
There was a pause. ‘No. It’s dark out and I can’t see his face.’
‘How far away from the house is he?’
‘I can’t tell. Me and my brother are upstairs and he’s staring at us.’
‘He knows where you are?’
‘The police are on their way. Please, I need you and your brother to get away from the window and somewhere where he can’t find you. Um, hide in a closet or or lock yourselves in the bathroom. Just stay away from the windows.’
The girl whispered something like ‘come on, Tommy’ and I heard running and a door shutting. ‘We’re in the closet.’
‘Good girl,’ I said drumming my fingers nervously. ‘Is the door shut all the way?’
‘No, it’s cracked a bit.’
‘Okay.’ Something struck me as odd. It was two in the morning and a thirteen year old girl was calling. ‘Do you have any parents? Are they home?’
‘No,’ she said. ‘Daddy’s at the bar.’
‘Do you think the man is your father?’
Pause. ‘Daddy would’ve called. He has a key to get in.’
‘Did you try calling him?’
‘He didn’t answer.’
I blew through my nose. It’s been three minutes since I answered the call. I just hoped the police would get there soon. I heard a whimper from a young boy and the sound of shuffling in the closet. The girl started to cry. ‘Oh god, oh my god, oh god……..’
‘Miss, what’s going on?!’
‘He’s staring at us.’
That caught me off guard. ‘How? Did he break in?’ All my focus at the time was on my headpiece.
‘He’s at the window.’
How could that be possible? They’re on the second story! ‘Did he climb something? Is there a ladder or a tree near your window?’
My palms were sweaty. Where were the police? This was starting to scare me. ‘Um…….can you see his face? Is he looking at you now?’
‘I-I-‘ she coughed tears into the phone. ‘His face is dark. I can’t see his face. He’s just standing there outside my window.’
‘How can he be standing there if you’re on the top floor?’
‘I don’t know.’ She whispered. ‘Please, help us.’
‘The police should be there soon. Be strong. Can you be strong for me?’
The next thing I heard was the sound of glass shattering and a mix of screaming. My blood ran cold. ‘Miss? Hey, are you two okay? Hello?!’
‘H-he’s in the house.’
‘Is he moving?’
‘No. Just standing there. Staring at me.’
‘Can you identify him now?’
The sound quality sounded like if you recorded something at a windy beach. It had that graininess to it. She breathed into the phone. ‘My mom’s with him.’
‘W-what? So, is it your father then?’
‘But your mother is there?’
‘Yes….But it can’t be her.’
‘Mommy died last year.’
There was a scream and static of the phone. I jumped in my seat, trying to calm myself down. There was a thunk of wood as if the phone was dropped. I was desperate. Help was on the way! ‘Hello? Miss? Hey! Are you alright?! What’s going on?’
Silence in static.
Then, the girl’s voice.
‘It’s alright Mr. Operator. We’re fine now.’
‘What? What happened?’
‘The dark man just wants to play with kids. He wants to play with us.’
My voice was caught in my throat. What was she talking about? ‘Miss?’
‘We’re happy,’ the girl said, but it wasn’t exactly the petrified voice of the preteen I just heard seconds ago. It was darker, disturbed. Monotonous. ‘Everyone’s here. The dark man, mommy, me and Tommy, and our friends.’
‘They just wanted us to play with them.’
‘No! What’s going on?’
‘Your daughter Emily is here too.’
My eyes widened. ‘How do you know my daughter’s name?’ Emily was my youngest daughter of two, only three years old. I have a picture of her in my wallet with my wife and eighteen year old, Becca.
‘It’s okay, Mr. Operator. We’ll be happy together and play safe.’
I heard cop sirens in the background. ‘Miss! Stay where you are. Help is there.’
The phone line went dead. I was freaking out. Was this some sort of elaborate prank? It had to be. My wife was at home watching TV, Emily was asleep, and Becca was either with her mom or studying for a college test. The static sounded too loud in my ears and I threw the earpiece at the monitor. It was then I realized that another call had beeped in, one I didn’t hear the alert for. I clicked on it and saw the address.
At the station all of our calls are recorded until the call ends, so I was able to bring up a record of the call. It was the house phone. I played it.
‘Dad!’ I froze at Becca’s panicking voice. ‘Why aren’t you picking up?! I’m in the bathroom with Emily. There’s a guy in our house and I think he’s standing right outside the door. I think Mom’s dead.’ My voice choked. ‘Pick up! He’s outside! Help us!’ She screamed and the call ended.
That night two things happened. I arrived at my house after dispatching the police and found both my wife and Becca dead. Becca was in the bathroom and her mom was at the foot of the stairs, as if wanting to run up after Becca and protect our children.
Emily went missing, and so did the two children that called 911. I failed to save five lives that night, including my own family. How could I not have heard the notification of the other call? I quit my job at the police station and found one as a clerk at a 24-hour grocery store chain, one with multiple people working at night so I wouldn’t be alone. The kids’s dad at the bar commited suicide later on, for not being able to protect his family.
As for this ‘dark man,’ no investigation was done for him. The description was so vague that it could be anyone. Now, I’m beginning to wonder if it was a person at all. No human could just…just…stand outside of a second story window. There were investigations to find my daughter and the two kids though, which is still an open case.
I’m sitting at home in my dinky living room, still recording this. It’s seven at night and one more hour until my shift starts. Why am I telling you this? Do you think I’m just some person who made up this story to get sympathy, someone who suffers post-traumatic stress and constantly tells lies to cover up the real story of why their family is dead? I’m telling you this because I’m still scared, even after all this time.
The dark man is real and he wants to kill me too.
How do I know that?
Because he’s staring at me through the window right now.