Lockdown Horror – by Alexander Bunting (aged 9)

It all started when I was on the phone to my friend Isaac one evening at about 6 o’clock. We were talking about how boring lockdown is and when it will end. He said he thought life would get back to normal around September or something, but I didn’t think so. Then he said he had to go to help his Mum with something, which made me remember that my parents were about to go out that night for the first time since the start of lockdown. They were going to sit in their friends’ garden, they said, and they were staying well away from the other guests. Mum seemed very happy and had put on a nice dress. I thought she was wearing too much eye makeup. She helped herself to some bottles of wine from the fridge and put them in a big bag. Dad was wearing a shirt that I knew was from Gucci, a very posh brand.

I heard the doorbell and went to answer it. When I opened the door, I saw my babysitter Derek standing there. He was 19 and very annoying. He always made me go to bed as soon as he got there and once I caught him smoking in my living room. Derek came in with a cheesy grin, pretending like he always did that he was a good babysitter. My parents quickly hugged me goodbye and then rushed off down the street. Derek straightaway helped himself to the fridge. I went upstairs. After a while, I heard him yell.

“Oi, I’m leavin’, back soon!”.

Before I said he couldn’t abandon me all on my own, I heard the front door slam shut.

I was home alone and starving and I didn’t know how to cook. It was a strange feeling, quite exciting. I decided to watch TV for a while to calm myself down. An hour went past and still Derek didn’t come back. I thought about calling my Mum but I had no idea what her number was. My tummy rumbled. I got a kitchen chair and climbed up to the biscuit cupboard. I stuffed my face with choc chip cookies and Kit Kats until I felt a bit sick. Then I decided to get into my pyjamas and just go to bed.

As soon as I climbed into bed I heard a strange sound. At first I couldn’t work out what it was, then I realised it was the washing machine. I was confused – there was no one in the house apart from me and I certainly hadn’t turned it on. I didn’t even know how to turn it on. Then after a minute or two it stopped. I decided to ignore what had just happened. It was still light outside and I wondered how my parents were getting on at the party. Eventually, I drifted off to sleep.

Suddenly something woke me up. My bedroom was pitch black. Someone or something touched me on the face. It was ice cold.

“Mum? Derek? Is that you? Dad?” I shouted.

There was no answer. All I could hear was the traffic outside but I still had the feeling something was watching me. I knew it wasn’t my imagination. I had felt the cold …. something … touch me right on my face.

I was too scared to look. I just lay there, cowering in fear. I pulled the duvet over my head, trying to sleep. I must have drifted off because when I next opened my eyes it was morning and I could hear my parents talking loudly. I went downstairs and my parents ran over to give me a big hug. I asked them if they were okay and why they were so anxious. There was a pause.

“Our neighbours called us to say they saw a mysterious ghostly figure walking into our house while she was putting out her bins,” said Mum.

“She said it definitely wasn’t Derek,” said Dad. “So we were obviously very worried.”

“So we rushed home as quickly as we could and found you all alone but safe and sound in your bed,” said Mum.

“There was no sign of any intruder,” said Dad. “And the door was locked. It was almost as if it was….”

“No!” cried Mum. “Don’t tell him!”

Tell me what?” I asked.

“Well, that the figure was, you know, not human,” said Dad.

“Don’t be daft!” snapped Mum. “And by the way that’s the last time that useless Derek is babysitting for you!”

I couldn’t get my mind off the ghostly figure my parents were talking of even though I didn’t know what it looked like. I went to watch TV because there wasn’t much else to do in lockdown.

Something was annoying me at the back of my mind, I wasn’t sure what it was. I suddenly remembered Mrs. Banty at school talking about the Spanish Flu epidemic that happened almost exactly a hundred years ago. People were in lockdown in London then too and thousands of people died. Something made me go over to Mum’s computer and google our address and “Spanish flu”. To my amazement, I found a newspaper article telling the story of a little boy the same age as me who died of Spanish Flu in our house in 1920. My heart went cold. I was certain that the icy touch I had felt was that little boy.

I think I will remember that night my whole life. I will always call it the lockdown horror story.

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