Author's Note: This story, though a product of my own, uses the characters made and owned by Jhonen Vasquez.
Summary: Nny's next-door-neighbor Todd is assigned a baby-sitter by the city council after the discovery of his neglectful parents, and she and Nny become acutely focused on each other.
Revised! I took out all of the spelling and typographical errors, extended a few key scenes, put the first two chapters together and even changed the ending (only a little!). Hope you enjoy!
It was a rather dreary neighborhood. There weren't a lot of flowers, nor was there that oh so cheery mail man prancing about from house to house, delivering the mail day by day, as he smiled happily at the neighbors.
As a matter of fact, there didn't appear to be any mailboxes at all, and there were definitely no, no mail men.
This could have, of course, had something to do with one of the residents in the town. A particularly odd young man living in a particularly odd house, with the suspicious triple 7 nailed into the wall beside the door, one of which was only slightly crooked. Yes, that could have been it. But of course, she didn't know that.
She also did not know that the rather disturbing sounds coming from the odd looking house, in the odd looking neighborhood with no flowers, was not a television as she had initially thought. It wasn't a television, radio, or the sounds of someone's imagination running wild. Oh, sure. Something was running wild. But it was hardly what anyone would call 'imaginary'.
No, the neighborhood was very real. Real as the boots that stepped on the pavement, beside dead grass, and over an unkempt lawn. It was as real as the the slightly dusty curtains that were drawn tightly shut over the front window. And unfortunately, it was as real as the woman who opened the front door a moment later.
No, not to the house with the foreboding triple 7, but to the house next to it, which hardly looked any more inviting.
Kathryn took a deep breath and smiled, holding out her hand. "Hello. My name is Kathryn. I'm the baby-sitter.." A blank stare for her trouble. Kathryn cleared her throat. "The one that was assigned to Todd by the, erm, city council." The woman looked Kathryn up and down, examining her long and thoroughly, as if debating whether or not she deserved to come into her.. humble abode. What the woman saw before her was nothing significant- A thin, pale girl with thick dark red hair and green eyes, wrapped in a long tan coat over a full cream sweater. Her hair held a slight curl at the bottom, where it was parallel to each side against the front of her jacket.
'Honestly..' Kathryn thought, as she waited for the woman to speak. ' What the hell kind of neighborhood was this? I feel like I'm in a Stephen King film.' Finally, the woman spoke.
"Come on. The kid's somewhere around here.. In his room, probably." Kathryn smiled a bit and nodded, stepping inside. She glanced around, inwardly groaning. "Erm, alright. So, when will you be back? Does Todd have any allergies?" The woman shrugged on a leopard skin coat, as a rather scruffy looking man appeared behind her and doused a cigarette on the couch arm.
"How the hell should we know? Just keep him from the stove. That's the whole reason the little brat has to be watched. Nearly burnt down the whole fucking house last week while my wife and I were out.. with friends." He said, opening the door. Kathryn nodded. "Um, yes sir. I promise, Todd will be kept safe and-"
The door slammed, Kathryn's body slumping.
"Happy." She finished, before rolling her eyes and shrugging off her coat. She searched throughout the living room for a spot to put it, before sighing and opting for a random nail hanging out of the wall. "Erm.. Todd?" She called down the hallway. "Todd? It's Kathryn.. I'm your new baby-sitter. Todd?" She called again, going slowly down the dark hallway. She shivered; damn, this house was drafty.
"Todd? Todd, where are-"
A little shriek made Kathryn jump, and quite suddenly a little boy clutching a disgusting looking teddy bear appeared, his huge eyes wide.
"Squee." He said, his eyes watering. This woman was here to kidnap him. He was going to die. It's all a cruel end!
Kathryn blinked and shook her head. "Hello there..,I'm Kathryn. I'm going to take care of you.." She said gently, as the little boy eyed her suspiciously. He rather resembled a big-headed kitten caught in a lion's den. The boy turned away and whispered hurriedly- To who?- before turning back around.
"Schmee says.. not to trust you. You're bad." Kathryn folded her arms. "And who exactly is Schmee, hm?" She asked warily. Todd pushed forward the decrepit bear. "Schmee!" Kathryn smiled a bit, moving to be eye level with Todd. "I'm not bad, Todd. Really. I just want to take care of you while your parents are gone." Todd glanced at his bear. "But.. Schmee.." Kathryn shook her head. "Nope. Schmee's wrong. Kathryn is good." Todd bit his lip. "Well.. okay.." He gave a teeny smile, and Kathryn relaxed. At least the kid wasn't a freak.
"And then the rabbit said, 'I'm not preparing for winter now! We have plenty of time.' And so the lazy rabbit-"
A shrill scream. Kathryn winced, but Todd didn't speak. He snuggled further into his bed though, and clutched Schmee. Kathryn took a deep breath and went on, moving closer to the lamp light to continue the story.
"And so the lazy rabbit sat around, while the ant worked. The ant worked and worked, and said to the lazy rabbit-"
Creak. Crash! Bam. Rattle.
Kathryn tossed down the book. "That is so rude! What in the world is wrong with your neighbor? He's got the television turned up so loud I feel like we're in a horror movie!"
"Squee." Todd said, glancing towards his window. Kathryn shook her head, preparing to read again, but another sound caused her to jump. This time, the sound wasn't coming from next door - not from the eerie house just a few feet away. It was downstairs.
Todd gave his characteristic squeal. "Schmee!" He clutched the bear tightly to him. Kathryn put down the book slowly and stood. "Stay in here, Todd." She said, and cautiously peeked down the hall. What in the hell.. Kathryn's green eyes narrowed. There was someone else in the house.. And it was only nine o clock. She seriously doubted Todd's parents, who could have possibly been the shittiest pair of parents she'd ever seen, were back this early. And so she reasoned that it must be a burglar. Edging to the end of the hall, she grabbed the first object that met her fingertips- a large, gaudy, bright yellow umbrella.
Kathryn stared at it, rolling her eyes, before holding it up high. A shadow! And an odd one at that.. So long and thin, like a skeleton. But no.. It was a burglar.. Yes, that had to be it. Kathryn tensed, clutching the umbrella, god-awfully ugly as it was.
Rustle. Rustle. Step. Mutter.
Suddenly, the shadow disappeared, and it became a person.
"AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!" Kathryn brought the umbrella over the head of the intruder with a crack, as another scream rang out.
Kathryn's wide eyes peered down at the fallen body. It was a male.. And a young one at that. But before she could discover any more information, the figure jumped up and slammed her against the wall.
He could barely be seen in the shadows of the hallway, but Kathryn could tell he'd picked up the umbrella.
"WHATTHEFUCKISWITHTHEFUCKINGUMBRELLAIJUST CAMELOOKINGFORSOMETHINGISWEARYOURALLFUCK INGSTUPIDWITHTHEFUCKINGUMBRELLADOYOUHAVE APROBLEMWITHTHEFUCKINGUMBRELLA!" The voice shouted- No, it shrieked- at Kathryn.
"I-I.." Kathryn struggled, realizing with horror that her toes were a few inches off the ground. This person was obviously, obviously, a maniac.
"Johnny!" Came Todd's voice suddenly, as he waddled down the hallway. The figure's demeanor suddenly changed, and he dropped Kathryn to the ground, still holding the umbrella. "Squee!"
The voice, still strangely high pitched, said. "There is a woman in your house." He said after a pause. Todd nodded, shuffling a bit closer "She's my.. baby-sitter." Todd swallowed. And the figure, Johnny by name, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac by trade, rose a brow.
"Then why the fuck did she hit me with the fucking umbrella! All I needed was-" And he whipped up one of his thin arms, stepping back into the living room light so that Kathryn could see.
"This." A spoon. He was holding a spoon. Kathryn stared at him.
"You broke into a little boy's house to steal a spoon?"
"IFUCKINGNEEDEDTHESPOONOKAY!" Johnny shrieked suddenly, before calming again so suddenly that Kathryn had to blink away a bout of vertigo. "Right.. So, you needed the spoon and you came into your neighbor's house, to steal it.. And then got mad because I hit you with an umbrella?"
Johnny's right eye twitched. "Would you want to be hit with an umbrella..?" He asked very slowly.
Kathryn swallowed and shook her head. "No." She said a bit uncertainly. Todd looked up at Johnny, and the taller man who could have been in his early twenties, looked down at him. He had an almost eerie affection for the boy, Kathryn could tell. Geez. No wonder this kid was so emotionally disturbed.
Todd stood on his tiptoes and whispered something to Johnny, who then looked up to Kathryn, folding his arms over his far-to-thin chest. "Hm. Squee likes you."
Kathryn blinked. "Squee?" She questioned. Johnny paused, before snatching the umbrella and slamming it into the ground. The boy jumped and squeaked, and Johnny waved his hand for emphasis.
"Squee." He repeated, as though he were talking to someone very stupid.
Kathryn folded her arms as well. "That's .. odd. Are you the one who's making all of those noises with the television?" She tilted her head a bit at this.. Johnny fellow. He was strangely thin, like he might be anorexic. He had oddly cut black hair that flopped in front of his eyes every so often, doing nothing to downplay the rather disturbing twinkle in his eyes.
Johnny leaned on the bent umbrella, folding his legs at the ankle. "Yes." He said after a thought. "I am causing the noises." Kathryn rose a brow. "Well, could you please stop it? Todd has bed now and.. now that you're done stealing his spoon, you can go home." Johnny straightened and jammed the umbrella into the wall just above Kathryn's shoulder so quickly that she barely had time to make a noise.
Johnny grinned, his fingers twitching as he let go of the jammed umbrella.
"I can't." He said, his grin suddenly fading. "I can't. I wish I could. Really."
Kathryn frowned. "What are you talking about? You're very strange.. Johnny." She said quietly, studying him closer. Johnny suddenly seemed uncomfortable at her studying, and backed towards the door slowly, spoon in hand.
"You have no idea.. You have no idea.." He looked to Todd. "Squee." He said, before suddenly disappearing out of the door, and into the dark night.
Todd sighed, tugging on Schmee's arm. "Be quiet, Schmee. Nny won't kill us for his wall. He only does that to bad people.." The little boy said to his bear, before slowly making his way back to his room.
'Anddd back to tonight's ultra-spooky program: In SEARCH Of.. Here! On the Sci Fi channel. UFO's! Do they exist? A lonely elderly couple up in the mountains of God only knows where have actual proof that they do! We now investigate..'
Johnny munched on some stale chips, thin legs propped up on a box as he stared at his television set. "UFO's only come on Tuesdays." The infamous 'Nny' gave his television a kick, and it automatically changed channels. After a moment, however, a voice cut into the young man's psyche.
"What's wrong today, Nny? Something's bothering you. You aren't concentrating on the television."
Johnny ate another stale chip, remaining silent.
However, the voice pressed on.
"What the fuck do you want!" Johnny shrieked, turning to face what appeared to be a very, very dead bunny impaled into his wall.
The bunny spoke.
"Johnny? Is something bothering you? Because you know what happens.. when you hold things inside.. If you'd only talk about it-" Nail Bunny began, as Johnny shoved several stale chips into his mouth so that he could avoid speaking- or choke and die, whichever was more accessible.
Johnny shrieked at the dead rabbit with the patience of Job. "Nothing is bothering me!" Johnny snatched for the remote, but an odd, short little Styrofoam figure beat him to it, settling back and turning the t.v. onto some foreign movie. He shrieked with laughter, kicking dough-like legs when bricks fell on some guy's head.
Johnny's right eye twitched. Psycho Dough Boy and Mr. Eff, the creatures of his imagination, were lurking around the living room. Mr. "Eff" was the one in control of the television at the moment, eyes poised on the screen, as D-Boy walked around the room, gathering nails in his short, chubby arms.
Johnny rose a brow. "What're you doing?" He asked, and Psycho D-boy sighed. "I'm finding nails.. to impale myself with. Do you want some?"
"Nails wouldn't be able to kill me." Johnny said, before pausing. "Or maybe they would. I should find out later, the next time I bring someone home." D-boy twitched, but continued on.
Nail Bunny sighed. "You can't die. You're not real."
"Shut up!" Mr. Eff shrieked, his hypnotic like eyes twitching madly. "We WILL live fully one day!"
"So we can die?" Psycho Dough Boy asked rather hopefully. Mr. Eff picked up a book on the table beside the couch and hurled it at Psycho Dough Boy. A shriek and thump later, the house fell silent, save for the gibbering of the television.
That afternoon, when Todd Casil returned home after another miserable day at school, Kathryn was already waiting inside, smiling as she looked up at Todd. The youth returned the smile, feeling a sigh of relief. Oh well. At least he had Kathryn- and Pepito, if you wanted to count the son of Satan and the bringer of the world's impending doom. He'd had another friend once- this little boy in his grade.. but he'd gotten eaten by some random dog in the neighborhood, and Todd was pretty sure there was nothing left to bury, so he didn't even have a grave to visit.
"Hey, kiddo. Your parents are gone again and they called me over. How was school?" She asked, as Todd lowered his little backpack onto the floor, Schmee's head sticking out of the back of it. "Fine.." He murmured, shuffling into the kitchen. Kathryn put a bowl of macaroni and cheese on the table. Todd happily scampered up into the chair and began eating, as Kathryn tugged a stray strand of hair in front of her face.
"Hm?" The little boy ate another spoonful of hot macaroni.
"Tell me about your friend. Your neighbor.. Johnny."
Todd paused, before eating another spoonful, slowly. "What do you want to know..?" He asked after a moment. Kathryn paused, before placing her chin in her hands as her elbows sat poised on the table.
"Just about him." She said, and Todd glanced uncertainly at his backpack, where Schmee was. Finally, he said "Schmee doesn't like him. I do, at least I think so.. He can be scary some times. And weird noises come from his house.. He says he talks to people in his house, but I'm pretty sure no one else lives with him. And some times he talks about a wall.. but I'm not sure what that means." Todd paused and ate another spoonful of macaroni.
"Sometimes, he just screams for no reason, and runs around all the time. He usually comes in through my window to my room, looking for stuff.."
"Like a spoon?" Kathryn rose a brow. Todd blinked.
"Sometimes." He said, before continuing on. "He doesn't ever sleep." He said after a pause, eating the last of his meal.
"Ever?" Kathryn gave a little smile, tilting her head so that the strand of hair that was loose from her low ponytail touched the edge of the table. "Everyone sleeps at some point."
Todd shook his head. "No.. Mr. Neighbor man never sleeps.." He said, before getting up with his bowl and taking it to the sink, where he cleaned it out thoroughly and carefully. Kathryn watched him carefully, shaking her head. This poor boy.. forced to take care of himself by his ridiculous parents, and live next to a mad man. At least Johnny wasn't dangerous.. He was just a bit off.
Todd turned around to look at Kathryn, who paused as she was getting up.He put away his bowl and spoon and began to waddle out of the room.
"I almost forgot. He kills people."
Kathryn tripped over her chair.