At last, Bethany could take a break. Her order of garlic knots was ready, and after a short stop at the cooler for a soda, she wandered into the breakroom of the Pizza Kitchen. She had just settled down into one of the wooden chairs when Mike the night cook came into harass her.
“Hey, kid, you got a minute? Got a delivery for you.” He leaned his slender frame against the doorway, the greasy, tomato-stained apron providing cover to his body.
“I’m on break,” she said, opening her can of lime soda. “You ain’t got anybody else right now?”
“Well, it IS a delivery out in Pine Heights.”
Bethany paused, the soda can halfway up to her mouth. Thoughts of big tips flew through her head. “Screw it, I’m on my way. What’s the delivery?”
“Thin crust meat lover’s. 43 Buttercup Drive.”
She rose, taking the garlic knots and soda with her.
“Don’t let the rich weirdos get you. And don’t get garlic all over the car.”
“Hey, at least it keeps the vampires away.” She grinned at him as she wandered up to the order window and took the large pizza, balancing her food and drink on top of the box.
Bethany drove the delivery car down to Pine Heights, imaging what it would be like to live in the area. This was where the bigger houses were, full of people who gave large tips, as opposed to the college students in the area around the Pizza Kitchen.
The scenery changed from duplexes and apartment buildings to modest-sized houses. Sidewalks became non-existent as she entered the suburban neighborhood. She peaked out the window, found Buttercup Drive, and turned at the corner. She eased her foot off the gas pedal, the car’s pace shifting so she could search for the house. The ornate metal 43 hanging on the red brick house signaled for Bethany to stop.
The outside light lit the stone pathway to the front door. Bethany parked in front of the house, getting out of the car with the pizza in hand. She walked up to the front door. The useless decorative knocker on the door relinquished its power to the doorbell to the left of the frame. Bethany pushed it and waited.
Big Ben chimes rang throughout the house. After a few seconds, Bethany heard footsteps walking across a hard-wood floor. The door opened to reveal a middle-aged woman with long blonde hair. Her lips gave a small smile to Bethany.
“Hi!” Bethany said, bringing up the cheerful attitude she reserved for this neighborhood. “Pizza’s here!”
“Come in,” the woman said, stepping out of the way to make room for Bethany to cross the threshold. “I’ll go get my purse. You can visit the baby in that room if you’d like.” The woman pointed to the room to the left of the hallway, then walked down to a doorway at the back of the house.
This was new to Bethany. She had never been invited to go see a baby on a delivery. She never considered herself a baby person, but if going to see a baby would up her tip, hell, she would hold the kid and pretend to go goo-goo to entertain him. She walked over to the open doorway with the light spilling out of it.
The sight blindsided her. She expected to see a crib with a baby cooing inside of it. She was prepared to see the nightstand with the small white baby monitor on it. What she couldn’t believe was the giant bat creature that hung upside down above the crib. Its leathery wings were folded around its torso, the sleeping position giving off both a sense of peace and ghoulishness. Its eyes were closed, its breathing slow. The face wasn’t quite bat-like though, resembling a monstrous human being.
Bethany took a sharp breath, filling her lungs and keeping the scream that wanted to escape inside of her. She didn’t want to wake the sleeping demon. She gripped the doorframe with one hand, willing herself to stay steady.
The woman’s footsteps grew closer. Bethany turned to look at her from where she was standing. She pointed silently into the room.
“Isn’t he beautiful?” the woman said, looking through the doorway.
Bethany stared at her as she entered the room, reached into the crib, and took out the baby. The way the woman was reacting confused Bethany. This was not normal.
“What…is that?” Bethany asked, trying to keep her voice from trembling.
The woman looked up at the bat with pride washing over her face. “That is protection. Oh, he won’t hurt the baby. He’s been trained to take care of his own family. It’s ok, you can come in.”
Bethany took a tentative step through the doorway. The bat was a silent, organic statue, hanging from a metal rod that had been installed high above the crib. Bethany could see the creature’s feet curled around the rod as if it were a parakeet. As she got comfortable in the presence of the bat, its eyes opened, its sleep becoming a lazy memory. Its wings extended and gave a long, hard stretch.
“Well now, it’s dinnertime. He has to eat just like the rest of us.” The tone in the woman’s voice had lost its perkiness. She moved back through the doorway, quietly closing the door behind her and locking it.
“What does it eat?” Bethany asked, not noticing the door had closed.
“Delivery,” the woman said from the safety of the hallway.
Shannon Grant had a vivid imagination as child.Then she grew into an adult and decided to use her imagination to try to scare the bejesus out of the general public.Her first body horror story, “The Butterfly Queen,” is in the anthology Invocations by Great Old Ones Publishing.Her second story, “Grandpa’s Bears,” is the last story in the anthology Exploits in the Adirondacks by 518 Publishing. In her spare time she enjoys movie marathons and traveling to weird and unusual tourist attractions. She is currently working on more creepy tales to share with the world.