The voice snapped him awake. He must have dozed off while looking through the pictures. He jumped to his feet, dropping several of the photos into the floor, then ran to Melissa’s room.
Tom found his daughter bunched up into a fetal position, her blanket over her head. “Missy,” he said soothingly as he sat next to her bed. “What’s wrong?”
It was only now that he noticed the relentless tapping of the rain on her window. As he glanced toward the window, a flash of lightning lit the sky, followed almost immediately by a peal of thunder. The storm must have frightened her. “Did the thunder scare you?”
She pulled the covers away to reveal a tear streaked face. Her eyes were wide with fright. “I saw the boogieman outside! He was looking in at me!”
Tom picked her up and rocked her. “Honey, there’s no such thing.”
“I saw him, Daddy.” Her arms wrapped themselves around his neck tightly. “He had a scar that ran down his face. Lightning struck and he was right outside my window.”
He pulled her away from him and regarded her lovingly. How could he discuss this sort of spiritual war with a child who frightened so easily? “Do you want Daddy to pray with you?”
The two of them knelt next to her twin-sized bed and clasped their hands together, their heads bowed. Tom prayed, “Dear Lord, we know that You can do all things. And Your word tells us that You didn’t give us the spirit of fear. We ask You to keep watch over this house. Keep it protected by Your hand. And we’ll give You all of the praise. In the Blessed Name of Jesus, Amen.”
Missy whispered an amen of her own.
Tom looked at his daughter. “Do you want to sleep in Daddy’s room, tonight?”
Melissa smiled and shook her head. “No, thank you.” She kissed him on the cheek and he lifted the covers so that she could climb back under them.
“Good night, sweetheart,” he said to her.
“Good night, Daddy,” she whispered.
He sat in the white rocking chair next to her bed for a few minutes until her breathing became steady, then he got up and tip-toed out of the room.
Tom walked into the kitchen and grabbed a plastic cup from the cupboard, then grabbed the tea pitcher from the refrigerator and poured some. He glanced up at the clock over the counter, which gave the time as 2:30 AM. He had slept for just over four hours.
He had always liked the sound of rain hitting the roof overhead and his favorite time to write was in a storm. It had been this reason that he had spent the extra money for a battery backup for his computer, so that he could write during thunderstorms and not have to worry about power outages erasing his work before he had a chance to save it.
He intended to spend the rest of the time until Missy woke up taking advantage of the storm on his imagination.
As he started to walk out of the kitchen, he glanced out the small window that over looked the street outside. A flash of lightning brought something into view that dropped his heart into his stomach.
A Corvette was parked opposite his house.
Melissa’s words came screaming back into his mind: “I saw the ‘boogieman’ outside! He was looking in at me!”
Tom set the cup of tea on the counter and grabbed his coat and a flashlight, then opened the front door and stepped out onto the front porch. As he did so, the tires of the sports car squealed as it sped up the street.
But a flash of lightning illuminated the license plate. And it was a Nevada plate. Tom made a mental note of the number and headed back inside. He checked all of the doors and windows in the house-especially Melissa’s-making sure that they were locked. Then he called the sheriff.
“Tom, dagnabbit, what is it with you and late night calls?!”
“I just saw that car again,” Tom said. “He was here . . . at my house. And my daughter woke up with someone looking in her window at her . . ..”