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The Boy Next Door
I knew something was wrong when the mover vans came. I knew that something was strange.
My nan calls them premonitions - feelings that something is wrong before it happens. Well, whatever they are, they creep me out.
But not as much as he did.
He came a few days after the tragic loss of Mr. Wellsworth, my previous neighbour. I had actually been quite close to Mr. Wellsworth, and his death had been as much as a blow to me as it was to his wife, who moved away soon after, wishing that she could live without memories of the happy times they had together in that house.
But I soon forgot all about Mr Wellsworth when the new neighbours arrived.
Let me say one thing: they were weird. My mother tried to tell me they were just being friendly, but no one smiles that much. Not even my eccentric aunt smiles that much.
And something else about them. They had a son. But I only ever saw him once, apart from the few times I saw him at his window. That was when they arrived. He didn't even leave the house to go to school.
I would sometimes see him staring tragically out of his upstairs window, staring into the darkness of the night. He never came out during the day. Never.
Soon I became accustomed to seeing him when I closed my curtains to go to bed. And on the rare occasions he realised I was watching, he would withdraw, hastily pulling back the curtain with a look of fear.
It became clear that whatever was going on over there was something that pained him greatly.
A few weeks after they moved in, I went to my window again. It wasn't a surprise to see him staring out. But what shocked me was that he was looking right at me, staring into my eyes from his window. He wanted me to come. He wanted me to see what was happening to him.
I don't know why I did it, but I did, and I can't change it.
I actually snuck into his house that night.
What I found strange was that the door was unlocked when I tried it. I expected him to be waiting for me. But he wasn't.
Silently, I crept up the stairs and made my way across the landing. I could hear a soft, muffled sound coming from one of the rooms and I felt a wave of caution. A premonition that something was wrong?
I only wish I had listened.
I made my way to the door and tried the handle. It was locked. It was then that I realised that his look hadn't been telling me to come in.
It had been warning me to stay away.
The door darkened as a shadow crept up it. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck tingle. Someone was behind me. Someone who didn't want me there.
Someone who had kept a child locked up for weeks.