In a way, Emily thought, it was nice to be vindicated.
That was a word she'd picked up from a movie she wasn't suppose to have seen, and it meant getting to say toldjaso. And she had too, she had told anyone who'd listen and bunch of people who wouldn't. And now she was all cramped up and it was dark and smelly, and serve them all right too, when they found out and felt so bad about it, it would just serve them right. Because she'd told them so. Hadn't she always told them there was something in the closet?
They'll be awfully sorry when they open up my bedroom tomorrow morning and I'm not there, she mused as she was jounced along. They'd been bouncing along for hours, her captor in great, ungainly strides and she in the old smelly sack on its back, slung over his shoulder like Santa's toys, only dirtier and not a teddy bear in sight. And I could use one right about now, she thought.
When it had first nabbed her, she'd screamed until she was hoarse, and then she'd cried for what felt like hours and probably had been. And after all that time, they were still striding down a path Emily could not see through the thick weave of the sack around her. And then more hours had gone by, and now she was still scared, but she was also bored. As it always did, her busy eight-year-old brain sought to entertain her, and the first story it had seized upon had been her own. Once upon a time, there was a little girl with a monster in her closet, only no one believed her till one night, it came and got her.
And then they'll probably panic and call nine-one-one and there'll be a search party like on the news sometimes, or like on CSI! But they won't find me, not for days and days, and then FINALLY! Someone, probably Susan, but maybe Gaby at school, but probably Susan would think, “Wasn't Emily saying something about her closet that I was too dumb to listen to?”
Emily could see it in her mind's eye. She had what her mother called, in her kinder moments, an active imagination, and the picture was as clear and detailed as the movies she wasn't supposed to watch, but that Susan sneaked her when Mom was working or sleeping or doing the other thing she did that made Susan cry and throw stuffed animals, for all the good it did.
Anyway, Susan would remember what I said about the closet, Emily went on in her head, and she'll go upstairs and stand in the middle of the room and feel stupid and maybe see some of the pictures I drew of her and go all gooey-eyes-big-sis, and then. Then she'll get down on her knees and she'll grab the bedspread and she'll rip it up real quick like a band-aid.
But there's nothing there! So she sighs and feels stupid and sits back on her heels. And then she thinks of something else and she gets up and goes to the bureau, and she reaches out soooooo sloooooooow and she touches the wood, and if this was a movie, BAM, that's when the doors would open and the monster would come popping out and the violins would go WEHH WEHH!
Or I guess she could just go to Narnia, that happens sometimes too.
Probably more often than people think, although there aren't a whole lot of people who still have wardrobes like that, I'm the only one in my grade, even with Tammy Kilmer living in that big stupid mansion of hers, she doesn't have a bureau like mine.
Oh. So, then Susan will open the door and I'm STILL not there, because why? Because I told her so!
And now, finally, she realizes I was telling the truth and it's the closet, it was the closet all along, I would have shoved my bed in front of it if they'd have let me, but then I would probably never be able to sleep again.
She goes to the closet. And she reaches for the door. Like I did that night, that one night when I finally started to believe them that there was nothing there. The night that they were all wrong and I was the unlucky idjit who got to prove it.
And she reaches for the door, and she grabs the knob, and it's warm, and she stops. It's warm, and that's when she realizes it, just like I did, just like I heard. She can hear something on the other side.
The knob is warm and she can hear it breathing.
And she'll tell herself what she told me, what she and Mom and Miss Hinckley and stupid Tammy all told me. It's your imagination. It's not real. You can't let your fear get the better of you. Whenever you feel scared of that closet, you just open the door and prove it to yourself. And you'll feel better.
Even when it snuffles, when it smells her and sniffs to think what kind of meal he'd make of her, she'll tell herself it's her imagination.
And then she'll open the door.
And it's so dark that at first you don't see it.
And then you realize that it's not in the dark. It is the dark. And you are in it.
By the time you scream, it's already too late.
Inside the sack, loping along, curled into a ball, sucked in on all sides by musty burlap, Emily began to cry again.
Please find me.
But maybe don't look for me.