A commotion upstairs informs the mother her little boy is not asleep. It’s long past his bedtime. Probably playing with his imaginary companions, she thinks. The mother lays down her book and climbs the stairs to investigate. As she reaches the stair landing, she hears the boy’s closet door slam shut followed by a click. The light shining from under the boy’s bedroom door abruptly disappears.
“You’d better be in bed when I come in,” the mother announces in a sing-song voice.
The light spilling in from the hallway reveals her son tucked under his covers, pretending to be fast asleep. The mother bends over to kiss him goodnight. As she turns to leave, she sees a trail of blood on the bedroom carpet leading up to the closet. In the dim light she can discern a bloody collar belonging to the family cat.
Phillip Temples resides in Watertown, Massachusetts. He's had five mystery-thriller novels, a novella, and two short story anthologies published in addition to over 180 short stories online. Phil is a member of New England Science Fiction Association, the Mystery Writers of America and the Bagel Bards. You can learn more about him at https://temples.com.