I arrived at the house at daybreak. My first indication of the difficulty of the job that lay ahead of me were the bars on the windows. Those and the kids that were desperately trying to file through them and escape to reek havoc on the world outside. Their maniacal little beady eyes were permanently crossed, giving me the impression that they were trying to take in both sides of the world around them, but with the wrong eyes.
I walked up to the door and was about to ring the doorbell when I stopped. My finger hovering over the button, I remembered all those old movies where the dreaded babysitter was fried while ringing a rewired doorbell. When an innocent ant, wandering up the side of the door frame, crawled over the doorbell ringer, my suspicions were completely confirmed . A small spark shot out, covering the ant's little body. He fried quickly and dropped off.
Not surprisingly, I decided to knock on the door. After giving three sharp raps, I heard the sounds of movement inside. After a few moments the door creaked open, revealing a middle aged man wearing a labcoat and what appeared to be socks on his ears.
"You rang?" he questioned.
"No", I answered, "I knocked."
"Oh darn!" he said as he stomped his foot on the ground. "We hardly ever get anyone with that doorbell anymore! People are just so suspicious these days."
"With good cause", I countered. "Frying guests is not my idea of hospitality."
"Ethics never was my strong point," he smiled wickedly, "Besides, it keeps salesman away after the first shock."
I decided not to question his logic. "I am.... the babysitter!" I bowed low with a dramatic sweep of my arm.
"I prefer chairs, personally," he quipped. "I'm Burch. Come on in."
I hesitated before descending through the doorway after him. We walked down a short flight of stairs into what I guessed was the basement. It was damp and stagnant enough to be a basement, anyway. Suddenly I was aware of a quiet popping sound on both sides of the hall. A female voice rang shrilly from a door on the right, "Burch! Get your gun and help me! The kids are loose! The kids are loose! AAAARRRRRGGGHHHHHH! NOOOO!"
"Too bad",Burch mumbled, "they got her. We lose more maids that way..."
"Pardon?", I questioned. "You LOSE maids!?"
"Yep." he replied. "There are few maids around who can shoot decently."
"Why does one have too shoot to survive in this house?" I asked curiously.
"Because the kids are excellent marksmen", he answered. "I taught them myself. Luckily they only use BB guns. You can survive the first few hits from a BB gun. If they had shotguns...."
"How many kids are there, exactly?" I asked nervously.
"We haven't gotten close enough to get an exact count in years, but...let me see...." his voice trailed off. "I'd guess around twenty"
"You aren't sure? Who's kids are they? How did they get here?" I asked uneasily.
"Well...no one is really sure." He replied. "I was on leave from the asylum and came here because I think I'm somehow related to this family. I've seen a few of the kids, but haven't been able to find their parents. They must be here somewhere, because someone keeps hiring new maids..."
I didn't hear the last part of his explanation. I was already running towards the door. I had had enough. These people were looney, and I wasn't about to wait around and babysit them. I'd probably meet the same end as the maids. The only thing I wondered about was who had called the employment office requesting a babysitter. Probably one of the kids.....they probably kept ordering maids too.