The Babysitter and the Crocodile

Contributor: Richard Colman

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‘…Now for the last time, go brush your teeth and get straight to bed.’ Said little Matthew’s babysitter, starting to get irritated now. Who would have thought it would be this hard to get rid of the little brat?

‘But it’s only eight o’clock.’ Argued little Matthew, refusing to budge from the settee. ‘My Mum and Dad always let me stay up to at least half nine on a Saturday, sometimes until ten!’

‘You’re like an annoying broken record you are kid. Now do as you’re told! Or else I’m gonna tell your parents how much trouble you’ve been tonight. Let’s see how long they’ll let you stay up after that.’

‘But that’s not fair!’ Cried little Matthew.

‘Life’s not fair kiddo, you best start getting used to it. Now go on, up you get. And the longer it takes you, the more bad stuff I’ll tell them about you.’

‘You’re lying.’

‘Try me.’ Grinned the babysitter. Little Matthew jumped off the settee in a huff, and stamped his feet all they way up the stairs towards the bathroom. Stupid babysitter. He could still see a patch of daylight outside the window. Even some of the other kids in the street were still outside playing. She was right about one thing though; life was definitely unfair.

Matthew slammed the bathroom door shut behind him, as hard as he could. He got his frog-shaped toothbrush, put the multi-coloured toothpaste on it, turned the tap on and began to brush his teeth. What was she going to do down there anyway, except call all her friends for a long chat on the house phone? Maybe he should be the one grassing her up. But why bother? His parents were never going to believe him…

He was just nearly finished when he heard the low growl. It was like a slow rumble that echoed throughout the bathroom. Little Matthew turned his head round towards the bathtub. He walked towards it, and with his free hand he pulled back the shower curtain that hung all the way around the front side of the tub. The crocodile was lying perfectly still in it, baring all its shiny white and pointy sharp teeth, as though he was almost smiling at him. Matthew slowly pulled the curtain back, turned the tap off and put his toothbrush and the toothpaste back on the side. He then, very gradually, opened the bathroom door and walked out, all the while keeping eye contact with the bath where the crocodile lay, wary of any sudden movements. He closed the door behind him and walked back down the stairs. The babysitter was sitting in Matthew’s spot on the settee nattering away on the house phone as he suspected.

‘Hang on Jenny… What the hell did I just tell you?’ Said the babysitter, putting the phone down temporarily from her ear. ‘Get back up those stairs right now! Have you cleaned your teeth yet?’

‘Yes, but…’

‘So go to bed then! You’re already in enough trouble as it is. You actually want me to tell your parents that you didn’t behave? I’ll smash something and say it was you.’

‘But there’s a…’

‘How about this framed picture of your nanny? I’m sure you’ll get at least a couple weeks of being grounded for this.’

‘There’s a crocodile in the bathtub.’

‘Matthew! Stop telling fibs and get to bed.’

‘But I’m not lying!’ Pleaded Matthew.

‘Sorry Jenny,’ sighed the babysitter after picking back up the phone, ‘He’s having nightmares or something. I’ll call you back in a minute.’ She put the phone down and turned the volume to mute on the television. ‘What are you saying Matthew? You think there’s a boogieman in the bathroom?’

Matthew shook his head. He knew it wasn’t the boogieman; the boogieman lived in the wardrobe. ‘No, not the boogieman, I said there’s a crocodile in the bathroom.’

‘A crocodile? Good god Matthew; how old are you?’ Said the babysitter. ‘Go to bed and stop fooling around. I mean it.’

‘But shouldn’t we tell someone about the crocodile?’

‘Who then; the crocodile police? You’re really starting to get on my nerves now. Come on; I’m going to show you that there’s no crocodile and then put you to bed myself.’

She got up from the settee and nudged him up the stairs, with Matthew hesitantly being lead. They got to the bathroom, and the babysitter knocked twice on the closed wooden door.

‘Oh Mr Alligator? Are you in there? Open up if you are!’

Stop it!’ Whispered Matthew. ‘You’ll annoy him.’

The babysitter cackled with laughter, and began to open the door. ‘Let’s see how much we can annoy him then shall we? Oh snappy? Here snappy? Where are you boy?’ She walked right in and peered around the bathroom. Once she was fully in, little Matthew slowly closed the bathroom door behind her.

‘Hey numb nut, the lock’s on this side of the door! You thought you could lock me in here all night. Oh, boy, you are in so much trouble. You are so…’

The low, rumbling bass of a growl shook through every wall upstairs, and even more so against the bathroom door, followed by utter silence. Matthew waited for a few minutes, but couldn’t here another sound.

After a while, little Matthew thought that the old saying “let sleeping dogs lie” could also be said for crocodiles, so he slowly went downstairs, got some ice cream from the freezer in the kitchen, and sat up on the sofa to watch the late night horror movie on TV in peace; uninterrupted, until his parents came home.

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Richard Colman is a novelist and short story writer focused mainly in Horror and Suspense, based in Hertfordshire, UK.
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