The Button


Aubrey Cruson

A woman’s hand with long red nails pushing a red button

It’s going off again. Every hour it starts up again, but when I go to check there’s nothing there. At first it scared me. After the fifth time, I thought that maybe the alarm was broken. 

Now I’m just annoyed. 

I should call the cops, or at least the alarm company, but I don’t want to kick up a fuss. It doesn’t matter. There’s nothing out there. I leave my room. 

This time, I fully disconnect it.

My bed is warm when I get back in it. Sleep claims me immediately – without my alarm system, it should be uninterrupted.

A loud blaring wakes me. I’m filled with something that verges on fear, but it doesn’t quite cross that line. The alarm shouldn’t go off anymore, but the clock reads 12:00 a.m.…exactly one hour since I disarmed it. 

That isn’t possible. 

It shouldn’t be possible. 

I stand up. The alarm turns off. Silence fills the house. I stand as still as I can, just listening. Waiting. 

A whistle. It could be the wind. 

Voices. Definitely not the wind.

“Where are you?” One of them sings out. Laughter follows. It’s a scratching sound. A shiver runs down my spine. Two seconds. I give myself two seconds to cry, and then I move. 

The closet seems too obvious a place to hide, but under the bed might be even worse. I could jump out the window, but I’m on the second floor, and I can’t run with a broken leg. 

The stairs are creaking. 

Bed or closet? 

The voices are closer. Right outside my door now.
I close the closet and hide behind my clothes. They’re in the room now.

 My breath is too loud, so I hold it.

“I hear you. Come out, come out wherever you are.” 

It’s a different voice this time; lower, more controlled than the first one, but the same rough laugh follows it. A whimper gets caught in my throat. I left my phone on the nightstand. I can’t call anyone. I’m alone in a house in the middle of nowhere. There’s nothing I can use to fight back if they find me. Those few moments earlier weren’t enough. A tear leaves my eye, and it is quickly followed by more.

“Little birdy,” says the original man. “Come out and play with us.” I can’t hold back my sob this time. 

Why didn’t I call the police after the first alarm? Anyone else would have, but I guess I’m not that smart. How did the alarm even go off? It shouldn’t have been possible.

 My thoughts are going too fast; none of this matters. They heard me cry. 

The closet door is creaking open. Hands are pulling me out. I feel the cool touch of metal on my cheek. Pain fills me. I try so hard not to scream. I keep my cries quiet for as long as I can. Unfortunately, there’s a certain point the body can’t come back from. My throat is raw. My vision is blurry, and tinged with black. I feel warm. 

I should have trusted the alarm; I should have run when I had the chance. It’s too late for me now, though. That chilling laughter lulls me into a deep sleep. 

My alarm doesn’t wake me again.