The Dead of Night

His eyes opened.

The sound of crying rang out through the dead of night. It was loud. Too loud to be coming from the opposite end of the house. But then again, everything seemed louder in the dead of night.

Save for the light coming up through the hallway, it was almost pitch black. The dull light barely enough to make out the shape of her in bed next to him. He could feel her there however. Safe and warm with the duvet pulled up to her chin no doubt. Her knees tucked up and her hands finding warmth between her thighs as she slept.

He felt her begin to rouse.

He didn’t often wake during the night. Even when the baby was crying. So he figured he must have just been sleeping lightly tonight. His senses more aware of his surroundings than they usually are. And as she began to roll out of bed, he shut his eyes again. As he knew this was just going to be like any other night. The baby was hungry he thought. She would feed the baby. The baby would stop crying. She would come back to bed.

And with his eyes closed he listened as she left the room and fumbled her way down the hallway. He listened as the crying stopped. All that was left was the sound of his breathing. His chest rising and falling gently with each breath. He drifted back to sleep.

His eyes opened.

The sound of crying rand out through the dead of night. It was loud. Too loud to be coming from the opposite end of the house. But then again, everything seemed louder in the dead of night.

Save for the light coming up through the hallway, it was almost pitch black. The dull light barely enough to make out that she wasn’t in bed next to him.

He sat up and hit the home button on his phone which was laying on the side table next to his side of the bed. The screen came to life. The brightness both illuminating the room and momentarily blinding him at the same time. The numbers of the clock glowed. It was 2:09am.

He looked around the room. He was alone. As the glow from his phone began to fade back to black, he thought that she must already be down in the room trying to settle the baby once more. He lay back down and closed his eyes, trying to ignore the cries that continued to ring out.

He lay there for what felt like an eternity. The crying continued. It seemed to be getting louder and louder and louder. He sat up and clicked his phone back on. 2:09am. He stared at the clock with confusion. He was sure that the time should have changed. Something just didn’t quite feel right. The time. The fact that she wasn’t there when he woke up.

He slid his hand under the sheets where she would normally be sleeping. It was cold. It was as if she hadn’t been sleeping there most of the night. He swung his legs out of bed. The hair on his legs stood up as the cool air hit his bare skin. A shiver ran down his spine. The hair on the nape of his neck bristled.

He made his way to the bedroom door and looked down the hall at the door to the nursery at the other end of the house. It was sitting ajar. The dull light from the room sneaking through the crack and sailing up the hall to meet him.

“Is everything okay down there babe?” he called.

Nothing.

“Is everything okay? Can you hear me?”

Again, nothing.

He slowly made his way down the hallway to the nursery. As he placed his hand on the doorknob to open the door, the crying stopped. The house fell completely silent. He stood there. Not sure what to do. Not sure what had happened. His heart was beating faster and faster with each breath. He wasn’t sure if this was because he was scared of disturbing the baby, or if because he wasn’t sure what exactly had happened. He decided to proceed, if only to check on them both.

He pushed the door open. It lightly creaked. The dull light began to seep through more as the door opened wider and wider. He could make out the furniture in the room. The cot. The dresser. The change table. With the door open, he stepped into the nursery.

It was empty.

There was no sign of the baby, or his wife. He looked around both confused and at the same time wondering if this was all just a dream.

As he stood there, staring down at the empty cot, the sound of crying rang out through the dead of night again. Only this time, it was coming from their bedroom.

He slowly turned around and looked back at the room from which he just came. There was a dull light coming from the room. It was just enough light to be able to make out moving shadows as the crying continued.

He took a step forward. The light at the other end of the house went out and the crying stopped yet again. Another step. This time the light in the nursery cut out. It was now pitch black. In the house.

He stood there, frozen from fear. Halfway between the cot and the nurseries door. Suddenly, the crying started again. This time, it was coming from the cot behind him.

He slowly started to turn around toward the cot. His eyes struggling to adjust to the darkness that had engulfed the house.

The crying continued.

Still frozen with fear, he finally managed to whisper out… “Hello?”

At that very moment the door to the nursery slammed shut. At the other end of the house, the phones screen once again came to life. It illuminated the empty bedroom. The numbers of the clock glowed. The time finally clicking over.

It was 2:10am.

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