“Timeout of Mind” starter

This is story starter 1 of 3 for this week’s Write Off.

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“Timeout of Mind”

There was no way in hell Little Petey was coming out of his hiding place.

Helga, the blonde-haired babysitter his parents had hired on a neighbour’s recommendation, had called his name three times since his sister’s timeout ended. Each time, Little Petey clamped his lips together more tightly, determined to avoid capture.

Little Petey would play this game with his parents on occasion. They would call, he would hide, they would get more agitated. At four, Little Petey was beginning to understand it wasn’t a game to them, evidenced by the increase in severity of the punishments after they found him. The hiding part was still fun, but he was starting to notice a pattern with what happened afterward.

With Helga, however, Little Petey knew clearly this was no game.

He was hiding in the kitchen, in the drawer beneath the oven where most people kept their pans. His mother wasn’t most people, but how would any babysitter know? From where he lay, Little Petey could see most of the kitchen perfectly–the bottom half, anyway–and what he saw had terrified him.

His sister, Rebecca–older by three years–walked into the kitchen with the babysitter. Helga withdrew a small folded stool from her backpack and set it up on the kitchen floor. As Rebecca sat down, the chair seemed to yawn from the center outward, unleashing a haze like the heat of dead summer that wrapped around the girl and pulled her in until she disappeared. Not entirely disappeared–more like the chair sucked a copy of her inside itself, leaving a quivering shell behind. Little Petey watched in horrified silence, hardly aware of the mess forming in his shorts.

Helga pulled a timer from her pocket, pressed some buttons, and walked out of the room.

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