The New Baby (horror!!!)

            There was something wrong with the new baby.  Something strange.  Mom and Dad didn’t believe me, and I’d even overheard them talking about me being jealous.  Me?  Jealous?  I was too busy playing basketball at Jim’s house after school to be jealous, not to mention torturing the neighbourhood girls with my buddies.  I kinda had a crush on Jenny who lived a few houses down, and I teased her more than the other girls.  She always gave it right back to me with some clever remark about my clothes or my hair.  I think that’s what I liked about her.  She didn’t back down easily, and even though I said I hated playing sports with a girl and tried everything to at least keep her off of the opposing team, I really just didn’t want her playing because she was pretty tough.  She once gave me a pretty nasty bruise in a friendly game of football!  No one knew I liked her, and no one knew I was afraid of her.  The guys would never let me live that down.

And they would never let me live it down if they had found out I’m the one who named the new baby.  Megan Elizabeth.  And they would really give me a hard time if they found out that I had picked out almost everything in the nursery, from the pink giraffe, pink bunnies, and pink blankets, right down to the paint: Baby Powder Pink.  I had a theme going on, and for good reason.  When the sun came in through the blinds, all that pink gave the room a sort of rosy glow.

Does that sound like someone who’s jealous?  I had been so excited waiting for the new baby that it was all I ever thought about!  There was really something bizarre with that baby, and though I couldn’t put my finger on it, I wasn’t making it up!

I sat there with Jenny on the front step of her house.  I rarely had meaningful conversations with anyone, but I felt close enough to her to tell her how I felt.

“Well,” she said, “I don’t think you’re jealous like your parents say you are.  But maybe you just expected something more from the baby when your parents brought her home.  But you have to remember, Megan is just a baby.  They don’t do much of anything.  It will be a while before you teach her to say your name, and it takes time before she will be able to get around on her own.  I think you might have been expecting someone to play sports and video games with, and it doesn’t work that way.  As you watch her grow, you’ll get closer to her.  I’m sure of it.  Until then, maybe you could feed her.  Hold her.  Read to her.  You know, just bond with her.”

“I hope you’re right.  It feels weird, sharing your home with a stranger.”

Just then, we spotted Jenny’s friends at the end of the road.  “Oh, great!” she said under her breath.  “Don’t tell them any of the stuff I just told you.  I don’t want them thinking I like you!”

I got a little jolt from that, wondering if she really did like me.  

“I’ll see you later, loser!” I said when her friends were close enough to hear.

“Yeah.  See you later, slob!” she yelled back.

I played some basketball with my friends until it started to get dark, and I was exhausted.  I went home, took a shower, and I went straight to bed.

It was around two in the morning when I heard the baby cry.  Mom and Dad had been so tired lately.  Thinking that maybe Jenny was right, I figured I would take the opportunity to bond with the new baby.  And it would help my parents out, too.

I changed her, and after I scrubbed my hands she still seemed a bit fussy.  I had fed her before, but I had never made her a bottle.  Time to learn, I thought.  Besides, I didn’t think it could be that hard.  I’d just read the label.  Simple enough.

I found the formula, and when I opened the can I was hit by a terrible smell.  I wondered if it was supposed to smell that bad, or if it had just gone bad.  The label was weird, but maybe because I was reading by the night-light.  It didn’t look like something you would buy for a baby, but it read:

BABY FORMULA: No Artificial Ingredients

Well, this must be it, so I looked at the label, made it as quickly as possible and put the lid back on the formula can, making sure it was tight enough that the putrid stench couldn’t escape.

“Okay, Miss Megan.  I got your bottle.  Are you hungry?  Is that it?”

I picked her up and could swear she said yes, only it sounded like a hiss.  I figured she was just sighing.

Cradling her in my left arm, I used my right hand to feed her.  And suddenly, I felt a nip on my right thumb!  Weird.  I didn’t think babies had teeth.  I moved my hand higher on the bottle so it wouldn’t happen again.

It was time to burp her now.  I had done it once before, so I threw a towel over my shoulder and propped her up.  As I was patting her back, I felt that same nip I had felt on my thumb, but this time it was on my neck.  I yelled in pain, careful not to disturb her too much.  So, I switched shoulders to investigate.

Nothing on my shirt that could have caused it.  No sticker burrs.  No safety pins.  Nothing on the towel or in her blanket.  And as I inspected my clothes and everything around me to make sure it wasn’t a spider or some other kinda creepy-crawly, I felt that nip again.  Right on my ear on the side I had switched Megan to.  And this time, the pain didn’t stop.

I screamed, trying to figure out what it was.  I tried to pull the baby away.  And that’s when I realized…the baby had latched on and wasn’t about to let go.

Mom and Dad came running and Mom flipped on the light.  They looked panicked and when they saw what was happening, they managed to pull the baby from my bleeding ear.

“Oh, Josh!  Are you okay, honey?” Mom asked, taking a close look at my injury.

“She bit me!” I cried angrily.  “I told you something wasn’t right with her!”

Mom cleaned my ear with a fresh wash rag that was meant for Megan.  She looked at me with worry in her eyes, and then she looked away.

“It’s about time we told him,” said Dad.

Mom sighed.  “All right.  Josh, we had meant to tell you one day.  But things seemed too perfect and we didn’t know how you would react.”  She was silent for a while.

“What?  What is it?”  I was curious now.  The pain in my ear had subsided and I felt an urgency to know this secret they had kept from me.

“We’re not from here.  We came from another realm.  Oh, it’s a dark, dark place.  We were invited through a Ouija board, and the portal was eventually closed and there was no way we could go back, even if we wanted to.  Not that we wanted to.  We were able to take the form of whatever we wanted, so we thought we would try blending in with the people.  We decided to have a family.”

“What does this have to do with anything?” I said impatiently.

“You’re adopted,” my father said matter-of-factly.

“Then where did I come from?”

“The couple with the Ouija board.  They had promised us their first-born child as an offering.”  Mom looked away as she spoke.

My eyes were wide with disbelief.  “An offering?”

“That’s just the way it works,” said Dad.  “But look at the way things are now?  Things are great!  We don’t feel the craving for human flesh or blood anymore.”

“But it looks like we need to teach the new baby not to bite people.  What happens when I take her to the park and she has to play with other children?  Or when she’s at school and her teacher gets too close?”  Mom was worried.  If I could still call her ‘Mom’.

So there I had the answer.  Something was wrong, and it wasn’t with the baby.  There was something wrong with me.  How could I ever live up to the expectations of my parents with the new baby around?  I was nothing like her.  I would probably never be as smart or as strong.  It was that night, at only a month old, she said my name clear as a bell.  “Josh!” she yelled, standing on her tip-toes in her crib, pointing at me.  “Josh!” she said again, giving a high-pitched giggle.  My parents both got so excited that I felt invisible for the first time since the baby had arrived.  Mom took a minute to explain to her that she was not to bite people, she had “special” food.  Mom held up the bottle, and now I had a feeling I knew what that strange stench was that came from the can of formula.  Even though I had an inkling, I didn’t want to know for sure.

I told my parents goodnight, even though I wasn’t sure if they’d heard me with Megan laughing and talking.  “Goodnight, Josh,” I heard Megan say.  As I turned to look at her, I got a glimpse of a pair of fangs and her glistening eyes, a pair of eyes that settled upon me.  “Sleep tight!”  Then she laughed again, her trademark squealing happy laugh.  The last thing I saw was my baby sister holding onto the bars of the crib, bouncing up and down and throwing her head back, giggling.  Her fangs seemed to glow from the light of the full moon coming through the window.

I left the room.  I wasn’t a part of this family.  I wondered if my parents loved me when I was a baby as much as they loved Megan now.  How could monster parents love a human kid?  Would they ever be as proud of me as they are of her?  From what I had seen that night, I understood that monster babies must grow at a much faster rate than human babies.  I could only imagine what she’d be like at six months.  Or a year.  Or the “Terrible Twos” everyone has warned me about.  I shuddered at the thought.

No, I could never really be part of this family.  And I realised how true that was when I shut my bedroom door, and pushed the dresser in front of it.

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