Any house with a resident under three years of age is one of loud noises and exhausted adults. My tale begins no differently from any such home trying to get standard bed time chores accomplished. Pajamas, diaper changes, brushed teeth; the whole package. Standard fair that took a turn for the down right terrifying.
I had a long weekend. Had to go to work on Saturday with images of Office Space in my mind and accompanied my wife for chaperone duties at her school’s prom, then chased kids on Sunday. No real chance to catch up on sleep, so this evening I was dragging. The down side of just barely managing to stay up right is that toddlers sense this weakness. As no coffee in the world could keep me at top speed, the moment the toddler lost his diaper in that brief time between changes, he ran.
Not just a normal run either. He scouted his path of escape. I saw him telegraph his moves. I warned him, “don’t you do it!” I have no power though; he makes sure of that. As soon as the diaper was off and he was cleaned up he rolled away, dodged my attempt to catch him and took his naked butt screaming with glee as far away from me as possible.
He embraced his toddler escape act with giddy laughter and thundering feet down the hallway, through the dining room, through the kitchen and ran downstairs. He was safety minded though and turned lights on as he traveled into new rooms.
By the time I stood upright, griping about my back and having to bend at the waste to perform a diaper change all the while, he was well out of ear shot. If those dust clouds that appear in cartoons when a character runs off screen could exist in the real world, one the shape of my toddler would have existed.
Mumbling, I walked after him hoping he wasn’t peeing on everything in his wake. I would have run after him, but that sounds terrible. The lights he turned on provided a wonderful map to his location and I playfully said, “wheeeeerre’s my buddy?” Usually these words in a certain tone elicit a giggle or two. Not this evening though. This should have been my first hint that something was going to go terribly awry.
I called his name a few times, but received no answer. Mild fear began to build, but it was still early in the hunt for the half naked toddler. I ventured into a darkened room, thinking perhaps the kid’s fear of the dark had been overcome.
The darkened room is a really nice in-law suite in our basement. Big bed, office space, and a 3/4 bath; sink, shower, toilet all just a few steps away for guests. Convenience! The shower is a cavern-esque experience with tiled walls built by my mother in law and a door that has that murky fogged up glass feel, blurring the view into the shower for privacy sake (in a private bathroom, in a private room in the private section of the house, but I digress). The kids love to play in this shower because the door makes a thundering slam when closed.
I heard no thundering slam, and the lights were off; two factors that initially lead me to believe the toddler did not run into this place, but I needed to check anyway.
I walk into the tiny, dark bathroom and on the other side of the blurred door is a toddler shaped figure dressed above the waste in dark clothing. When the figure sees me, it begins to scream. Not just scream; wail. There’s a banshee in the bathroom telling me to leave this place or be forced out. The toddler stays perfectly still in the corner, blurred and shrieking.
The first horror movie I remember being actually freaked out by is The Blair Witch Project, specifically the ending with the guy standing in the corner of the basement then the camera drops. I was genuinely freaked out for a moment.
I opened the door and the kid. kept. screaming.
I don’t put stock in the paranormal, but for a brief, horrifying moment, I was ready to call an old priest and a young priest. The kid won the day and won it well.