"Raarrrrrr! The Wild Thing is hungry!"
With a delighted squeal, three-year-old Brooke slid across the hardwood floor of her family's apartment. Giggling mischievously, she then dashed into her room and dove under the covers, piling pillows and stuffed animals on top for camouflage.
"Hmmmmm, I smell a tasty little morsel. Come out, come out, where ever you are!"
Brooke muffled another giggle and curled up in a ball, trying to make herself almost completely invisible. She adored Stephen, her stepfather. He was silly and fun to play with and above all, read the best stories, using all the voices. Their latest favorite was Where the Wild Things Are. Brooke often dreamed of floating off to Max's Island, to dance and play with the real Wild Things.
Stephen came into the room, taking big, over exaggerated steps. They hit the carpet with soft, muffled thuds, getting closer and closer to the bed. Brooke squirmed with delight. She waited for the moment when, just like always, Stephen would pounce on the bed, scoop her up in his arms and carry her around the apartment chanting "All hail Brooke, Queen of the Wild Things" it was her favorite part of the game.
Unable to contain her excitement, Brooke snuck a peek out from her hiding place, only to be greeted with an empty room. Puzzled, Brooke sat up and listened carefully. Only silence and the buzz of the refrigerator met her ears. Frightened now, she scrambled off the bed and headed out into the hallway, which was also deserted. Without knowing why, Brooke began to head towards her parent's bedroom, which was located at the end of the hall.
The door stood, large and ominous before her, backlit in the dim passage by sunshine escaping through the cracks from the other side. Brooke reached out to grasp the doorknob, but stopped and slid her fingers inside her mouth. Something about this whole situation didn't seem right, even to her three-year-old instincts. It was too quiet, like the air before a storm, the whole world crackling with electricity and tension, as if all of creation was holding its breath.
Throwing caution to the wind, Brooke reached out again and took hold of the knob. With the quiet swoosh of wood grazing carpet, the door swung open and hit the opposite wall with a resounding thud. Temporally dazzled by the sudden burst of light, Brooke squinted at the blurry images before her, and then gasped.
It was Stephen, with her mother. His hands were locked around the woman's throat, driving her to her knees as she gasped for air. Brooke froze in terror.
Mommy, he's hurting Mommy….
With a tribal shriek, Brooke flew at her stepfather, biting and clawing. She ran head on into his leg, having as much affect on the large man as a butterfly in a tornado. All it took was a swing of his had to send the little girl sprawling on the carpet.
As Stephen advanced upon her, Brooke knew this wasn't a game anymore. He was huge, his presence over taking the room, the apartment, everything. In desperation, she screamed. The Wild Thing was dragging her across the floor towards him, a massive hand clamped around her leg. Closer, closer…
I'm going to eat you up…