36 those days, anyhow. But that really didn’t matter as babies weren’t smiled upon in there either. <strong>The</strong> two of them sat together on the steps, the undead gently bouncing the baby up and down, up and down. ‘She’s such a good nanny.’ Everyone said. And everyone really and truly thought it. I don’t know how much truth there is to any of this, but… After a month or so, the wife was woken in the black, empty hours of the early morning. Her husband was out. Had been out all weekend. It was just the three of them in that big, empty house. It was a cold night and frost was starting to fog the windows as the wife slipped nervously of out bed. Old houses creak. <strong>The</strong>y moan, they groan, and they thump – but this hadn’t been anything like that. She tiptoed out of the room, whispering for the undead. She usually waited there, in a chair just outside the door. She could sit there motionless for hours, for days, weeks, months – waiting for a command. But that night the little chair sat empty. I don’t know how the wife knew to look upstairs. Up in the nursery where the door had been left ajar. I don’t know how, on a moonless night like that one, there was enough light though the window to silhouette the undead, leaning over the cradle. I don’t know how the undead learned to talk. Or if it just remembered. Or if it even had ever been really and truly dead. All I know is this: It was leaning over the crib. Leaning into the crib.
Over and over and over whispering, ‘my baby, my baby, my baby.’ I don’t know what became of the baby either. <strong>The</strong>y never found any trace of the three of them. When the husband got back the doors were still all locked and the windows were closed. And if there were any tracks in the snow, the police never found them.” Esther looked back out to the street. A car ran a red light and Esther tutted disdainfully through her teeth. “I’ll talk to Eddie about reconsidering a centaur.” I said. “Yes,” Esther murmured, “I think that would be advisable. But you do whatever you thin is proper, dearest.” You can always count on a friend like Esther for solid and sensible advice. And it is so hard to find good help these days. 37