I didn’t think that I read the last text correctly, so I asked for them to clarify. When the text came back the same, I was confused and surprised and, to be honest, the slightest bit worried. Then, a quick followup text:
Jimmy says to just do the rest of the list and then text when you’re on the last thing. He can give more details later. He said until then it’s NTK only.
He also told me to tell you that NTK means ‘Need To Know’. Good thing he used that time saver, lol.
I still had no clue what was going on, but I decided that the only way that things would get better was if stuff got done. I had already put off my parents for the night, so that was good. Now I just needed to get this list done to cover for them. It was only a few things, I could do that. And the last thing on the list? Well, that couldn’t be real…..could it? No, no way. Although…
I shook my head to clear it of the mess of questions that were forming. First things first, the easy part: covering for Lizzy. With a simple phone call, her parents were assured that she was fine and staying late to watch a movie and that my mom and dad would bring her home in the morning. I know my parents would not have been so easy going about it, but her family was cool and said it was fine. With that accomplished, it was onto the far more complicated stuff: covering for Jimmy.
Not for the first time, but hoping that it would be the last, I carefully snuck out of my bedroom window after saying goodnight to my parents. I used the light of the moon to see my way safely across my yard. When I hit the street, I used the phones flashlight until I got to a brighter area.
I looked through the list of things to do again and sighed. This was going to be a long night.
The list started simply enough. First, leave a message on Jimmy’s family answering machine saying that he was spending the night. He said that nobody would answer the phone after 8pm because that’s when the Jerry Springer Too Hot For TV marathon would be on and his whole family would be watching it. So far his words rang true, as no one picked up and, after a few rings, I was able to leave the message without being questioned. The rest of the stuff on his list, however, was more complicated.
I had to walk all the way to Jimmy’s house, as I didn’t want to risk my parents hearing me get my bike out of the garage. It was very important that I get to his house before the Jerry Springer marathon was over, as that was the only time I was guaranteed not to be caught as I crept into his house, using the spare key hidden in a plant beside his back door.
My heart was beating a mile a minute, it felt so crazy to be sneaking into a house like this. I felt like a cat burglar. Or a ninja, I couldn’t decide which. Eventually I went with ninja, because I was on a mission and I wasn’t taking anything. In fact, I was doing just the opposite for the first part of my mission.
I crept as silently as I could, heel to toe, into his kitchen. Once I was next to the fridge, I quickly looked both ways to insure no one was coming. I pulled out a carton of eggs and small container of milk from my coat. Jimmy said that his mom works a lot and usually forgets to get groceries, so I had to sneak some in so that his sisters would have breakfast. It was actually kind of sweet. That is, until the next thing on the list, which I didn’t plan on doing. He wanted me to go through their diaries to see if they had any dirt on him. And, if not, to get dirt on them just in case he needed it later.
Since I skipped that one, the next thing I had to do was get to the other side of the house and to his room. Once I stepped over the series of tripwires that were looped across his hallway, I then carefully sidestepped the welcome mat sitting on a bunch of marbles. I felt underneath his door until I found a single thick gardening glove that he had stashed under it. I carefully shook it out over the welcome mat, the mat dampened the sound of a mouse trap falling from the glove and snapping on the ground. With the glove now clear of danger, I put it on and used it to grip his doorknob, which had a sheet of sandpaper soaked in hot sauce glued around it.
I only opened his door partway before slipping in. This was to avoid knocking the door into a skateboard, which was positioned to roll down a ramp, pulling a long string behind it. That string would rip a chunk of duct tape off of the popcorn style ceiling, which was the only thing holding up a suspended and dented toaster, which had the words You’re toast scrawled across its shiny surface.
After all the traps were disabled, I knocked off Jimmy’s to do list as quickly as I could. Some were basic chores, like feeding his jar of slugs fresh lettuce, or checking the locks on his windows. Some chores were odd, like after watering his plants, I had to pretend to water his cactus so that it wouldn’t feel left out. And finally, some of the chores were a bit complicated; like winding all of his shoelaces clockwise but the laces on his skates counter-clockwise. Or checking all the roach traps around the house and releasing the ones that were caught, dropping them out his window and down a hot wheels track that circled down and dropped them off over the fence into his neighbors yard.
Before long, I was onto the last item on the list. The one that couldn’t be real. The one that I had them repeat. I looked over the texts one last time, making one final effort to make sense of the words. I couldn’t, so I texted Lizzy, asking for more details, for some explanation. Jimmy had so many code words and misdirects, those words could mean anything. I mean, 'feed the monster in my closet' could mean just about anything. Right?
As I waited for details, I went over and very carefully, very quietly, put my ear up against the closed closet door. I didn’t hear anything. With one cautious finger, I tapped three times on the door. Instantly, I felt a powerful force slam into the other side of the closet door, knocking me backwards and almost making me lose my balance. A long, low, threatening growl emitted from within the confines of the closet. A dark, heavy presence scratched savagely the other side of the door. I half expected to see sharp claws tear through the slats of the doorway at any moment. Instead, the growl dissipated and grew back into silence. Silence tinged with panting and waiting. I heard sharp teeth gnash, something inside the closet ripped.
I felt something on my leg and for a moment I was scared that I had peed my pants a little, but thankfully it was only the phone buzzing.
Jimmy says it’s hard to explain but, whatever you do, don’t knock on the door. You can’t let it know you’re there, otherwise it won’t go easy.
He says there is a stash of salami and pancakes in his bedside table. Grab a few of each to slide under the door. Don’t get your fingers too close.
Slide the pancakes first, they go farther. That buys you a little time, which you need for the next part.
Open the door a crack and fill the water bowl glued to the floor. The easiest way to do this quickly is with a water balloon, which you can find under the bed in a box labeled Double Hydrogen Bombs.
Keep an extra piece of salami with you. There is a bottle of melatonin in the box too. Smash one into the salami and throw it when the monster makes a move for the door. Do NOT let it out, no matter what.
JB, does any of that make sense to you? Jimmy won’t explain anymore, but he looks worried.
I gulped and stared at the closet door in disbelief. My heart was pounding in my ears.
Jimmy says to let him know when it’s done.
I don’t know how long I sat on the floor, staring at the door, trying to make myself doubt what I saw. What I heard. What I read. Over and over, I repeated one thing in my head: Monsters aren’t real. Monsters aren’t real. Monsters aren’t real.
After a moment, I added another phrase to the mix: Monsters aren’t real, and they don’t eat salami. Monsters aren’t real, and they don’t eat salami. Monsters aren’t real…