Will G.E.M. By Chloe Riggs

From: Will G.E.M.

To: Carmen Reeds

Subject: Eternal Happiness

Dear Miss Reeds, 

Good Afternoon. I hope you had a lovely morning as your happiness is something we are interested in. However, I have a product that will keep you happy for eternity. Please contact me for more information regarding this special offer. 

Thank you, 

Will G.E.M.

I wondered what G.E.M. could stand for, but didn’t give it as much thought as I should have.

I clicked the gray trash can icon in the right corner, assuming the email was merely junk. 

I thought it was probably some marketing tool used to make customers fall into a company’s undeniable trap. They leave a trail of pretty words, forcing consumers to follow; only to be led to the dead end of hope. It resembles a game of cat and mouse. The hunter and the prey. A deal with the devil, if you will.

A wailing cry drew me out of my thoughts and towards the shadowed hallway. I slid out of the wooden seat and sauntered to the first door of the hallway, flipping the light switch on as I walked. 

A distressed baby girl filled my vision, her little arms and legs stretching in exasperation. Her eyes were shut, tears pouring past the tightly closed eyelids. I picked her up, holding her frame against my chest, her cries slowly fading as she snuggled into the crook of my neck. As I adjusted my grip on her, I noticed the wet spot on the back of her pajamas. I raised my hand, glimpsing at the brown liquid laced on my fingers. 

I immediately pulled her away from me, her wails echoing once more, before I pulled her back to me, realizing my shirt was already ruined. I rushed into the kitchen, grabbing a plastic bag from underneath the sink, then headed back into her room, all while balancing her in my arms. I layed the bag on the changing table then placed her on top. I soothed her with coos of comfort and funny faces, making her giggle instead of cry. 

I finished changing her in record time, and brought her into the small kitchen to place her in the bassinet. She kicked her feet out and swung her fist, but this time it was in a playful manner as her gaze never strayed from the stuffed elephant. I smiled down at her, forgetting my dirty shirt and not noticing the two new emails that popped up on my laptop. 

After my hands were washed, however, I sat back down on the chair at the table, situated beside the bassinet, and focused my attention on the screen. News emails were situated at the top of the list, one or two were from coworkers, but the two most recent ones were what caught my eye. They were from the same advertiser, but it wasn’t the messenger that intrigued me. It was the title of the subject. 

From: Will G.E.M.

To: Carmen Reeds

Subject: Second Chance

Dear Ms. Reeds,

It appears you have deleted my previous email. Perhaps you never received it. If so, I apologize for the inconvenience. If you receive this one, and I am sure you will, I expect to be gifted with a reply.

Thank You,

Will G.E.M.

I thought to myself, How did he know I deleted it? Was there software meant to monitor the emails? 

I thought it was simply annoying that advertisements were becoming more persistent. I believed if I didn’t want the product, there was no reason to keep up a charade. However, my curiosity got the better of me, leading me to read his next email. One I should have taken into further consideration.

From: Will G.E.M.

To: Carmen Reeds

Subject: Our Product

Dear Ms. Reeds, 

It has been brought to my attention that I have yet to inform you of our product. Well, allow me take this time to proceed accordingly. 

The product we are selling is eternal happiness, more specifically protection. You can be happy from the moment you wake up, to the moment your head crashes on the pillow, knowing you are safe from any form of attack. The only thing we ask for in return is a payment of roughly $15,000.

I will be expecting an email of inquiry from you to arrive soon. 

Thank you,

Will G.E.M.

Eternal happiness? Protection from any form of an attack? Obviously no one can ever be happy forever; it was clearly a scam.

Despite the points I made in my head, clearly logic, I stupidly emailed back. 

From: Carmen Reeds

To: Will G.E.M.

Subject: Eternal happiness?

That doesn’t sound very likely. I’m afraid that I don’t buy your claim. I appreciate the offer of protection, but I would appreciate it more if you never contact me again. The way I live now is safe enough.

Thank you,

Belle Reeds

I thought that would end the harassment. I thought my email would make him realize I’m a lost cause. I would never give into the temptation of buying useless products. 

From: Will G.E.M.

To: Carmen Reeds 

Subject: Yes.

Trust me when I say happiness can be given as easily as it is taken. If I must, I will prove it to you. 

May I add, your daughter is very beautiful. I am sure she brings you lots of joy. With my product, I can ensure that joy never leaves you. Without it, I am afraid any actions regarding your loss of protection for that happiness is out of my control.

Thank you,

Will G.E.M.

My daughter? How could he possibly know about my daughter? I know these companies use your social media information against you, but I didn’t think they used it as a threat. 

That’s it. That’s exactly what he did. Threatened me. 

I clicked the blocked option, ensuring no more emails will be sent from him. 

Satisfied, I moved my attention to Adeline, the little girl in the bassinet, her gaze fixed on me. 

“Hi,” I whispered to her in my baby voice. She did her giggly smile, showing her toothless mouth. She rolled her head in the opposite direction, as if bashful, before drawing her sight back to me. “What are you doin’?”

She voiced a gurgly coo, the letter ‘o’ slipping through her lips. I repeated her as I angled my head to better see her. The process continued, my daughter becoming the perfect distraction from the creepy sales guy. 

I checked the time, noticed it was time for her to eat, and asked if she was hungry in my mock baby voice. As if the hunger finally registered, she started to fuss. I jumped up from my seat, and went to the counter to make her a bottle. 

I didn’t think twice about the shadow that ran across the room, the sunlight following in its trace. I didn’t notice the figure standing outside the kitchen window, watching me. I didn’t question the goosebumps popping up on my skin.

I was stuck in a rhythm. Grab a bottle, soothe Adeline. Fill the bottle with milk, sooth Adeline. Pour scoops of formula in, soothe Adeline. Place the cap on the bottle and shake the mixture, the tip of my finger preventing any from spilling. 

After I checked the liquid, making sure no chunks of formula were left, I set it on the thin island counter next to the bassinet. I gently picked Adeline up, adjusting her in my hold so her head rested on my bicep and my hand was supporting her diaper wrapped bottom. I gradually began to rock her, knowing it would calm her enough to open her eyes. When her eyes fluttered open, she met my gaze as I grabbed the bottle from its spot, my eyes never straying from her.

With the bottle in her sight, she threw her little fists out in an attempt to grab ahold of it. Her cries rang out once more. It took me seconds to guide the bottle into her mouth as she practically fought me for it. 

I sat back in my chair, leaned back for comfort, and watched her drink big gulps of the liquid. With a smile on my face, I looked up at the glowing screen in front of me, the smile quickly morphing into a frown. 

At the top of the list of emails, three call out to me. All from the same sender.

From: Will G.E.M.

To: Carmen Reeds

Subject: Blocked?

Dear Miss Reeds,

It appears you have attempted to block me from further contacting you. Why you felt the need to do so is beyond me. I am merely communicating an offer you can not pass up.

Thank you,

Will G.E.M.

From: Will G.E.M.

To: Carmen Reeds

Subject: Strike 1

Dear Miss Reeds,

You have yet to contact me back, or even open the prior email. I am afraid the special deal on my product will only last for a certain time. If you refuse this offer, or contacting me back, I will not be held accountable for my actions.

Thank you,

Will G.E.M.

From: Will G.E.M.

To: Carmen Reeds

Subject: Strike 2

Dear Miss Reeds,

I suppose I may be going about this all wrong as I have appeared to not have made myself clear. You can not be happy without a form of security in your home. Without it, you will be forced to look over your shoulder. 

Perhaps you do not believe me. Perhaps you think this is merely another marketing tool or that I am bluffing. Trust me when I say, I keep my word, Miss Reeds.

Before I forget, you should really use an outer cap to cover the nipple of a bottle, rather than your finger. Not only does the cap prevent the liquid from splattering, it keeps germs (more specifically, the germs your fingers are laced with) from encasing the rubber your daughter drinks from. 

Something you would find in my booklet of Keeping the House Safe

Thank you,

Will G.E.M.

I stared at the screen, beyond confusion. I felt the color drain from my face. I heard my heart pounding. I felt my mouth go dry. 

That shadow. The one scurrying through the room. It was him. 

I changed my line of sight, focusing on Adeline, and scanning her for any sort of injuries. Instead, she watched me aimlessly, chugging her bottle as she does so, no sign of pain or fear etched into her features. 

I scanned my surroundings, glancing from window to window, expecting someone to be glaring back at me. Someone to be waiting for my gaze to meet theirs, but no one was there.  

I brushed it off. Told myself it was a coincidence. Told myself he probably said that to a lot of moms as a bargaining chip. 

I shut my laptop off, ignoring the next email he sent me. The one with a subject line of Strike Three. I didn’t want to give myself more to worry about. I didn’t want to dive further into the never ending pit of fear. 

I spent the rest of the night focusing on Adeline. I fed her, burped her, changed her diaper (multiple times), played with her, and got her ready for bed. 

Anything to keep my mind off of the suspicious emails. 

When she was dressed in her pj’s, I sat in the rocking chair in her nursery with her in my arms. I rocked her to sleep and read to her from one of the children’s books perched on the shelf in the corner. I waited minutes after her eyes closed, ensuring she was sound asleep, before I placed her in her crib. 

I went to close her curtains, but I knew she couldn’t sleep without moonlight shining into the room. It’s the reason I left them open, something I should have never done. 

I left her door cracked open, another thing I regret. 

I made sure the doors were locked, windows were closed, curtains were drawn, before I prepared myself for bed. I was in a rush that night. I was praying I could fall asleep fast and get out this nightmare. I was hoping I would wake up in the morning and everything would be the way it was. I was wrong

I laid there, staring at the ceiling. My heart hammered in my chest, my ears ringing. My palms were drenched in sweat, clutching the sheets. My head was pounding, making every sound seem as if it was echoing, mocking me. My mind was swimming with fear, thoughts swirling around. 

A door creaked. 

It’s the wind. It has to be.

Another creak, this time closer.

Definitely not the wind. 

I watched the wall in the hallway, hoping the nightlight wouldn’t expose any shadows. A figure cascaded on the wall, making my heart beat out of my chest as I watched it disappear. 

I have to get up. I have to check on Adeline.

That’s when her cry rang out, but this time it was different. It wasn’t a cry for me to feed her. She didn’t need a diaper change. No, it was a cry I only heard once before. When she had her first nightmare. 

I ran out of bed, a sickening feeling making me want to turn around and hide. 

First, I looked at the doors, not one was an inch away from where they were originally. Next, I went into the nursery. Adeline was in her crib crying, screaming. I rushed to her, pulling her out of the crib and into my arms. 

I need to protect her. I need to save my baby.

She coughed and I watched as drops of blood flew from her mouth onto my shirt. Her eyes were pinched together, refusing to open. The back of her neck was sweaty, not aiding my already wrinkled hands due to my own sweat. Her skin was pale and I didn’t know why.

What could have changed in the past hour? Was it the figure? I thought I only imagined it.

A shadow blocked the moonlight, drawing my worried gaze away from my daughter. 

I wish I hadn’t. I wish I didn’t meet the dark gaze of the man outside my daughter’s window. 

His eyes burned a hole through me, as if they saw straight into my soul. A smirk was playing on his lips, like this was amusing to him. Everything about him was dark; from his clothing to his physical features. He blended into the night, yet he stood out like a star in the sky.

He is no star. He’s an asteroid. A meteor. He’s destruction. He is the monster you fear is in your closet or under your bed. He’s the shadows lurking in the basement. He’s the crumbling of the leaves and breaking of twigs at night. He’s why the hair on the back of my neck stands up and why goosebumps form on our skin randomly. He’s the reason we feel watched. The reason we are watched.

None of what he did added up. Why would he harm her to make a sale?Then I remembered his name, Will G.E.M., and it clicked. Willing to Go the Extra Mile.

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