Continuing with my Annabelle and Ironhide stories, here is another one to enjoy. Thinking back, I should have put these all into one story with multiple chapters, but "Black Crayons" was originally supposed to be a standalone story. Then you guys asked for more, and then even more. So now I have multiple stories scattered around with the two of them. Each one can be taken alone or as part of the series. This one occurs after "Drawings" but before "Bully." Check out my profile for a chronological order of the stories because I have ended up writing them out of order. Now, on with the show! Enjoy the problems of watching children already being watched.
Jennifer figured it would be like any other baby-sitting job. First, reassure and gain the parent's trust. Next, make sure the kid will mind her instructions. Then, just keep the child alive and relax. Already, the parents seemed ill at ease, though they didn't seem overly concern with their daughter's safety. Instead, they appeared to be worried about the sixteen-year old baby-sitter.
"Are you sure it will be alright?" Mrs. Lennox asked her husband, "We don't want to give Jennifer too much… trouble."
"Don't worry, madam," the teen assured, "I can handle anything Annabelle may throw at me. She won't be a problem at all and I'll keep her safe."
Captain Lennox shook his head ruefully, "She isn't what we're worried about. This is the first time we've left her with someone else, but she does need someone to help with dinner and such. We just… Well, don't get concerned if anything odd happens while you're here." The married couple finally headed out, leaving a slightly confused baby-sitter.
"Odd," she wondered, "Odd how?"
Annabelle jumped up from where she had been coloring. Apparently the girl loved to draw, but the refrigerator was strangely bare. It was if someone pulled off all the art in order to hide her pictures. But that was crazy. Maybe this was one household where they didn't use the fridge as a gallery.
The preschooler and the teen exchanged guarded looks. Annabelle finally addressed the older girl. "Mommy and Daddy said you're taking care of me for a little while. They say I have to listen and do what you say."
"That's right. So, what do you want to do first?"
"Can I go sit in the truck?"
Jennifer looked out the window and sure enough, a black truck was parked outside in the driveway. "Are you allowed to do that?"
"Okay, but no messing with the controls. Your parents will kill me if you get hurt or wreck the truck."
The preschooler laughed, apparently finding the concept hilarious. Jennifer watched as she climbed in, the door opening easily at her touch. Instead of pretending to drive as one would expect, Annabelle sat in the cab, talking. The teen couldn't hear anything, but she could see the young child's mouth moving. Maybe she was talking to her imaginary friend.
In the cab, Annabelle was trying to reassure her best friend that while he was the best, Jennifer was going to do a good job at watching her.
"Ironhide, Mommy and Daddy are gone," she explained, "Until they come back, Jennifer is watching me."
"Annabelle," the truck argued, "I am perfectly capable of protecting you in your parents' absence. I am much more observant than a not-even-adult human. Why would they bring in a stranger to fulfill this important job?"
The girl, used to the disguised robots' stubbornness, knew it would be hard to convince him that Jennifer was alright. "Mommy said they wouldn't be back until after dark. Jennifer will fix me dinner and stuff." She used as much logic she could in her argument. "You can't fit in the house. You can't cook on the stove."
"I could use my cannons," he muttered. He hated it when Annabelle won an argument, which had been a common occurrence since she learned to talk. "That would definitely warm the food up."
"It would also vaperi...vapa… it would make it burn all up too," she pointed out with a giggle. He loved his cannons and she loved to listen to him talk about it.
"But it would be warm before it vaporized," he added, causing her to giggle louder, "Alright, she gets a chance. But if she doesn't watch you closely, if she does something wrong, I'll take care of it."
Annabelle laughed at her friend. She knew he meant it and that he took his protecting seriously. But the mischievous preschooler couldn't wait to see what would happen to Jennifer. Ironhide wouldn't reveal himself, which was reassuring to her, but he could still accomplish some trouble.
Jennifer made the young child a bowl of macaroni and cheese. As the girl shoveled the food down her throat, Jennifer looked around. On the table laid the drawing from earlier. The topic seemed to be a black truck, possibly the same truck that was in the drive way earlier today. The baby-sitter glanced out the window, her mind on what to do with the child later. She froze. The truck was no longer in the driveway, but next to the window. It almost looked like the truck was watching the two girls at the table.
"Probably just had the parking brake removed when Annabelle was playing. It's downhill," thought Jennifer. "Nothing to worry about."
Annabelle glanced out; trying to see what had Jennifer's attention. She grinned evilly at the truck's presence. "Do you like the truck? It's special."
"Yes. Want to watch TV?"
TV sounded like a good idea. Away from the creepy truck staring at them. No, not staring. It can't stare. Popping in a movie, the teen settled down on the couch next to the bouncing girl. As the film ran, Jennifer felt her eyes beginning to droop. She was getting tired. Well, a short nap wouldn't hurt. When she nearly dropped off to sleep, an audio explosion sent her stumbling to her feet in shock.
The noise was so abrupt. And then it stopped when she was up right. Trying to find the source of the disturbance, Jennifer glanced out the living room window. The front grill of the truck filled the glass. The horn of the truck was what awoke her. There was no way that the truck could have rolled by itself to that position, brake or no brake. Not to mention the horn going off by itself. Annabelle had jumped at the sound, but was relaxed by the time Jennifer was beginning to freak out. That truck was bothering her now.
"You shouldn't have fallen asleep. You are supposed to be watching me," Annabelle gently commented.
"I only dozed off," she defended.
Annabelle shrugged, "I'm not the one who would have a problem with that. Good night."
"You're going to bed," asked Jennifer, a little nervously. Why would she be nervous? Why would she be concerned with being alone while the girl slept? Because of the truck?
"I'm sleepy. Can you tuck me in? Mommy and Daddy will be home soon," she reassured. "Nothing bad will happen before then."
After reading a bedtime story to the child and saying goodnight, Jennifer glanced out of the upstairs' window. Once more, the truck had relocated. This time, it was parked right under the girl's room. Almost like it was standing guard. Or waiting to pounce. She no longer tried to convince herself that it was a parking brake or that it wasn't staring. It was watching her and it didn't like her. As she was about to turn away, the headlight flickered at her. Just one, like a wink. The meaning was clear. "I'm watching you."
When the Lennoxes returned about an hour later, Jennifer's nerves were frayed. The truck was still outside, but it returned to the driveway. Like it had never even moved from that spot. She kept glancing at all the windows, trying to keep track of its changing location. When Mrs. Lennox opened the door, Jennifer jumped with a small shriek. The two entering pair stared at the baby-sitter.
"Sorry," apologized the frazzled teen, "I'm just a little… Things have been a little… odd. Annabelle is fine. She's asleep upstairs."
"It's alright," Captain Lennox told her, "We understand perfectly. In fact, we had almost expected it. Here is something extra for the trouble." He handed her ten dollars more than she had been promised. "Don't worry about it."
Jennifer hurried out, heading for her own vehicle. As she dashed away, she could almost swear that the truck had an evil grin on his grill.
"Ironhide, did you have to scare the poor girl that bad?" asked Mrs. Lennox.
"She fell asleep. Also, I'm perfectly capable of taking care of Annabelle myself. All I did was keep an optic on her."
"You did a possessed car act. Didn't Bumblebee do something like that to Sam and he freaked out?" inquired Lennox.
"Where do you think I got the idea?"