Last Saturday evening I was walking down the creepy stretch that leads from the train station to my flat when I was accosted by two little girls in distress.
“Have you seen our Kater?” the older asked.
“Kater” means male cat. I hadn’t seen one.
The little girl bit her lip. “I am in so much trouble. So much trouble.”
“What does it look like?”
“Like any Kater!” she snapped.
It was a quarter to nine. The girls had big brown eyes and dark hair. The older one was about seven and the younger one no more than four.
“It’s all my sister’s fault,” the older one blurted out. “She started messing and ran away.” She smacked her little sister over the head. “It’s all your fault!”
“Hey!” I said. “Don’t do that! You are NOT allowed to hit.”
The younger sister didn’t flinch but stared ahead with her big brown eyes.
“Look,” I said. “Can you tell me what happened?”
“We went to the shop to buy the Kater,” the older girl said, fighting back tears. “And then my little sister started messing and I went after her and now the Kater is gone.”
I got the impression she was not taking about a cat.
In fact, she was talking about a “Karte,” which means “card.”
“Did you mum or dad send you out to buy the Karte?”
“Yes!” she cried, more hysterical. “Our mum did. I can’t go home. You’ve no idea the trouble I’ll be in.”
“What kind of card is it?” I asked. “What is it for?”
“For a mobile phone!”
The little girls had lost a top-up voucher.
“Did you buy it in the shop at the station?” I asked.
“And have you checked the pavement?”
“We can’t find it. Please help us. I’m in so much trouble.”
“Okay,” I said. “Have you already looked across the road, just outside the station?”
“No, it’s too dark, we’re scared.”
It is dark and scary there. It’s dimly-lit and there are bushes. Once my heart almost stopped when a man emerged suddenly from urinating in the hedge.
We crossed over and began to scour the pavement. It was full of cards advertising taxi companies.
Suddenly the younger one pointed at something that looked like a receipt and picked it up.
“Is this it?” I asked.
The older girl snatched it and said. “I can’t see. I need to find some light.”
We moved under the dull glow of an orange street lamp.
It was a top-up card. For €10.
“Brilliant! Well done!” I said to the littler girl.
They were not as relieved as I’d expected them to be.
“Where do you live?” the older girl asked.
I told her I lived at the end of the road.
“Can I take your hand?” the little one asked.
I paused for about half a second.
“Sure,” I said and she clutched it.
I was trying to weigh up my chances of defence against a kidnapping charge. Circumstantial evidence was not in my favour.
“Will you take us up the steps?” the older girl asked.
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand you. What steps?”
“In our house.
“In your house?”
“Yes. Please, please, please. I’m so scared. The monster has already killed the lady.”
“The lady who used to live there. She’s dead because of the monster.”
“There are no such things as monsters.”
“Yes there are!” the two girls shouted, infuriated.
“No they’re not,” I said. “They are only in stories. So they can be in your head, but not in real life.”
“The worst monsters are in Romania,” said the younger girl.
“I’ve seen the monster,” said the older one.
“Oh really?” I asked. “What did it look like?”
“What was its hair like?”
She moved her hands apart as if she were making clouds in the air. “Like this.”
“And what colour eyes did it have?”
“You see,” I said. “Sometimes people just tell you stories to frighten you. It doesn’t mean they’re real.”
She was unconvinced.
“Please come in with us.”
“I can’t come into your house,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
“PLEASE” they both cried.
They came to a stop outside an apartment block.
“Is this where you live?”
“Yes,” they said. “Please, please, please don’t go.”
They clung to me.
Suddenly a woman’s face popped out of the window.
She had a pony-tail and she was staring at us.
“Is that your mum?” I asked them.
“Look,” I said loudly, pointing up at their mother. “There’s mum, everything is okay. There’s no need to be frightened””
The woman continued to watch us.
“Look,” I said, even more loudly. “Hallo mama!” I waved stupidly.
She didn’t budge.
Neither did they.
“You have to go inside now,” I told them.
“You have to come with us. PLEASE.”
“I can’t,” I said. “Look, your mum is right up there. You’re safe now!”
They held onto me.
Their mother was still at the window.
We were in a stand-off.
“Okay fine,” I said.
They pushed open the door.
Inside the entrance hall was a concrete staircase. A few steps led downwards to an open cellar, which appeared like a gaping hole.
I could imagine a monster there.
Their mother came to the door. I turned as fast as I could, pushing the two little girls gently in front.
“Thanks,” the woman with the pony-tail called after me.
I rushed out of the building and when I got home, I thought about whom they had got their stories about monsters from. And why the woman with the pony tail had not budged from the window. And about what my curfew was when I was seven. And about what will happen the next time they cling to a stranger on the street.
very strange. not sure how services work over there, and it might be a bit over the top – but i would ring social services and express your concerns! such a weird story, but so many indicators of something not wholly right.
it sounds like the beginning of a horror story where there is in fact some kind of real monster that sends child henchmen out to ensnare unsuspecting strangers!
It was very strange. The whole time I was wondering whether I was doing the right thing, or whether anything I did might seem inappropriate in hindsight. But I couldn’t just walk by two little children in distress either.. I have considered that, but stupidly, I’m actually not sure what house number it was. I keep thinking I see them around the neighbourhood, but it’s always someone else…
I can’t help but wonder if this story is true or fiction. It’s so well-written it could be either. Also, it’s so chilling I find myself hoping it’s only fiction.
It’s all true unfortunately LilianC. I didn’t know what to make of it all… Thanks for your comment 🙂
Oh dear… Poor girls… It sounds like a frightening neighbourhood to live in and a stern household to come from, if they would get in so much trouble for losing €10 phone credit…
I did find the comment about the worst monsters being in Romania rather endearing though. Children come out with the cutest things.
It’s actually a very safe and pretty neighbourhood but that stretch coming out of the S Bahn is creepy. I just don’t know why they would have been sent out on their own at that time and since it wasn’t far, why their mother couldn’t have just gone with them. The most disturbing bit for me was how she didn’t react when I was downstairs and the children weren’t going in.
I was amazed at the conviction with which they talked about the monsters. They didn’t even entertain for a moment that what I was saying might be true.
I think the kids may have had Romanian roots, but no idea. They sounded German anyway..
Thanks for stopping by!
Oh my goodness. What a very well written, but sad story. I hope that the happy ending that you witnessed, was the happy ending. ❤
Superb story. I hope It’s fiction, but sadly, either way, scary moms are much more real than monsters.
It sounds very scary and I am glad you are safe. Think your observation about the non-reactive mom and the children trying to get you in does sound suspicious. It’s good you trusted your gut feel and went off quickly.
It’s very well-written and the dialogue exchange built up good atmosphere towards the end.
All the concerns you listed at the end were running through my head the whole time I was reading this post. Disturbing!
Oh, is it really true that you could face a kidnapping charge? For just holding kids’ hands?