Personal Space Exposed
The frantic woman couldn’t believe what she was seeing. She rummaged through her child’s drawers and was shocked to find several candy wrappers that she never bought.
There were also a few stuffed animals of puppies and dogs which she certainly had never seen before. How was she getting them?
How were they getting in? Her eyes burned with tears as she realized that her daughter’s safety had been jeopardized. Someone had entered their home.
Janice Hoffman had moved into the new neighborhood with her four-year-old daughter, Emily, eight months ago. They chose Naples Florida because it was far away from their old life.
The young mother worked hard to keep her daughter healthy and happy. She was a resilient mama bear and protected her child ferociously. But she didn’t know how tough it could really be for a single mother and child.
Naples seemed like a peaceful place to settle down, until they encountered their neighbor, Edward Sparks. A middle-aged man with an unsettling demeanor.
Edward always seemed to be lurking in the shadows, peering out from behind the bushes. The community was aware of his peculiarities, but since they knew his parents, they shrugged it off as harmless eccentricity.
Part Of The Furniture
42-year-old Janice Hoffman’s heart raced as she glanced out of the window, her eyes darting between the familiar figure of Edward Sparks lurking in the bushes and her four-year-old daughter, Emily, playing innocently outside.
They had moved to this new neighborhood eight months ago, seeking a fresh start, but a sense of unease had settled within Janice since their arrival. He was a little too friendly with the girls who lived on the street.
Nothing To Worry About
Edward, the middle-aged man living next door, had always given off an eerie vibe. His constant presence near the property line made Janice shudder, yet she tried to convince herself that he was harmless.
After all, the community seemed to accept his peculiarities, attributing them to his reclusive nature and tragic past. But something about him didn’t sit right with her.
Trying Too Hard
Edward, aware of his reputation, tried to fit in by getting a dog named Jumpy. The neighborhood kids, including Emily, would often gather to play with the lively pup.
Edward even went as far as sharing candy with the children, a gesture that some parents found odd but didn’t think much of.
Some mothers would take their kids home when they saw Edward interacting with the children, while others believed he was merely trying to be normal.
In a desperate attempt to fit in, Edward acquired a dog named Jumpy. The neighborhood children flocked to the playful pup. He would make them line up and pet him one by one.
They would spend hours giggling and running around the yard, with Edward occasionally sharing candy with the kids.
Some parents found it odd, but dismissed it as an attempt by Edward to connect with others and be “normal.” But Janice knew it was a bribe.
One day, however, Janice noticed a change in Edward’s behavior. He wouldn’t allow Emily to play with Jumpy. Janice saw her little girl stand aside as the other boys and girls played with Jumpy.
It was almost as though he was trying to make her jealous. He kept pulling the pup away from her and sent the little girl home in tears. What was he playing at?
Concerned, Janice comforted her daughter, assuring her that she would find out why Edward acted that way and promised Emily she could play with Jumpy the next day.
“I want to play with the puppy too,” the little girl said. Janice was concerned, “Does he let the other girls play with Jumpy?” Emily nodded, “He said I can’t play with her because I’m a naughty girl,” Emily said sadly.
She comforted her daughter, assuring her that she could play with Jumpy the following day. Little did Janice know; this incident would mark the beginning of a horrifying revelation.
The following day, as Emily played outside, Janice kept a watchful eye on her from the window. She was hoping to confront him and scare him off once and for all.
To her surprise, Edward was nowhere to be seen. She felt a wave of relief wash over her, thankful for a potentially peaceful day without the unsettling presence of their neighbor.
As Emily happily skipped outside, Janice scanned the neighborhood, relieved to see no sign of Edward. Perhaps they would have a peaceful day after all.
Engrossed in her household chores, Janice began sorting through the laundry when something caught her attention. What was that? It was inside Emily’s pants pocket. Janice frowned as she tried to dislodge it from the denim fabric.
The now worried mother stuck her finger inside and pulled out the small white thing folded inside her daughter’s pocket. It was the first time she had ever found something in her daughters’ clothes.
It was a crumpled piece of paper hidden in Emily’s pants pocket. She unfolded it carefully, her heart pounding with anticipation. What did it say?
This Is Not Yours
Janice was sorting through the laundry when something caught her eye. She didn’t expect to see a crumpled note peeking out of Emily’s pants pocket.
Emily couldn’t even read yet. She had barely learnt the alphabet properly. Janice found it strange that the note was there. She didn’t recognize the paper stationary either. She unfolded it, struggling to decipher the poorly written message.
She Can’t Read Or Write
It was a note, written in crude handwriting that Emily couldn’t even read properly. There weren’t many words, and written in colorful highlighters as if for a child.
Janice’s mind raced with questions. Who had left this note in her daughter’s pocket? Why? And what did it mean? She questioned who had come into contact with her daughter over the last few days.
A Reason To Fear
As she examined the note, her eyes widened with a mixture of suspicion and fear. The note was someone’s address. Her eyes widened as she realized the same street name she lived on.
It read, “867 Deerwood Lane, ” she had to look twice because she thought it was her address. But it wasn’t, it was the address that belonged to Edward, their next-door neighbor.
A Bad Mother
The adrenaline coursing through her veins made her suspect foul play. Her mind was going off in all directions. But she knew for a fact that her daughter did not write that address down, someone must have put it there.
Why would someone leave Edward’s address in Emily’s possession? What sinister intentions lay behind this mysterious act?
What Are You Up To
Janice’s mind filled with images of Edward’s strange behavior, his lurking presence, and his sudden withdrawal from the neighborhood. She thought the worst and had the sudden urge to find her daughter.
Could he be involved in something more sinister than just eccentricity? Could Emily be in danger? She needed to find Emily now.
A shiver ran down Janice’s spine as she contemplated the possibilities. She knew she couldn’t dismiss the note as a mere coincidence. She needed to show the authorities and report the incident.
There was something dark and inexplicable lurking beneath the surface of their seemingly ordinary neighborhood. But would they believe her? Or would the new, single mother be singled out again?
It Adds Up
Janice couldn’t shake off the nagging feeling in her gut. That’s why Emily came running home in tears. Maybe he was trying to lure her inside his house?
Janice’s concern heightened. She screamed for her daughter, “Emily! Emily Come here baby!” The worried mother listened, but the house was still and silent, Emily wasn’t making a noise.
It’s Too Late
Fear gripped Janice’s heart, and she rushed into Emily’s room, desperately searching for her. The little girl wasn’t in her room, or under her bed.
Panic consumed her as she tore the room apart, until she discovered a key hidden beneath Emily’s pillow. It looked like a standard front door key. Whose was it? Why did Emily have it?
Janice sat on her daughter’s bed trying to collect her thoughts. But she couldn’t breathe. There was no time to think, just to act.
It had to be the key to a door, but which one? Janice’s mind raced, her thoughts spiraling into a nightmare scenario. She couldn’t lose her daughter; she had to find her.’
Frantic, Janice sprinted outside, her cries echoing through the neighborhood as she pounded on Edward’s door. “Open the door you psycho! I know she’s in there!” she yelled. “Is anybody there?”
No response. She screamed Emily’s name, praying for a sign, any sign. But she was alone, not one neighbor even came out of their houses.
The frantic mother ran to the side of the house. But all the doors were locked. She kept screaming for her daughter at the top of her lungs, and then she heard it.
Janice turned towards the direction of the cry. “My child,” she whispered and ran to the back street. Piercing the silence, she heard a familiar voice—a terrified cry for help, “Mommy!”
A Moment Of Hope
Turning her gaze towards the sound, Janice’s heart skipped a beat. It was as though air had been restored to her lungs. She saw her face.
There was Emily, walking up the road, holding onto Jumpy’s leash. The happy dog was barking and playing. Relief washed over her, but it was short-lived. Where was Edward?
Janice raced towards her daughter. Her eyes scanned the road for signs of her creepy neighbor. Where was he? And then, a dark shadow appeared.
Panic rekindled within Janice as she saw him, just a few steps behind her daughter, steadily closing the distance. There he was, with her daughter, following her. So close that he could touch her.
A Sick Game
Janice lunged forward, racing to reach her daughter’s side. The little girl was confused and said “What’s wrong mommy?” Janice grabbed her daughter’s hand causing the dog leash to fall down.
Jumpy yelped and scurried to safety. Her legs burned with every step, her heart pounding in her chest. They needed to get away fast.
Edwards’ face contorted into a sick smile as he saw Janice’s fear. He chuckled as he quickened his pace behind them. “Get lost psycho!” Janice yelled as she picked up her daughter and ran.
Finally, she reached the door. She unlocked it, grabbing Emily’s hand tightly. Edward was close behind. Would they make it inside in time?
A Danger Zone
The door slammed shut behind them. Edward remained outside, fixated on Janice through the glass. His gaze sent shivers down her spine; his eyes devoid of humanity.
The realization hit her like a tidal wave—Edward was not the harmless recluse the community had believed him to be. As he smiled at her and slowly walked away, Janice realized it wasn’t over yet.
What’s He Playing At
The worried mother stared out the window. She watched Edward collect his dog Jumpy and walk back home. As the suspense lingered, Janice’s mind raced with unanswered questions.
What had Edward planned for Emily? How close had they come to tragedy? The weight of the situation settled heavily upon her, and she clutched Emily tightly, vowing to protect her at all costs.
On Our Own
Janice tried calling the local sheriff department but there was no answer. The shadow of Edward Sparks continued to loom over their lives. Janice knew that their battle with this disturbed neighbor was far from over.
With each passing moment, the suspense grew, fueling her determination to keep her daughter safe. They had survived one encounter, but the question remained—how far would Edward go to satisfy his twisted desires?
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.