EDITOR’S NOTE: All this week we’re featuring some of our most terrifying stories. First up, Christine!
About ten years ago, on an otherwise normal evening, Barney the dinosaur talked to me.
No, I am not crazy.
I mean, I am crazy. But there are two types of crazy.
There’s the Martin, “Girl, you so crazy,” type of crazy and then there’s the crazy where you microwave bunny rabbits. I am not the latter.
At the age of 25, I was six years into a career of childhood education. I started as a job in high school and it continued from there. Being the resident child expert of my friends, I was the one to go to when you needed advice or help.
Because of my “expertise” and willingness to help, Barney the dinosaur spoke to me.
Here’s how it happened:
A good friend of mine, Sally*, was babysitting her young niece. Sally was 20 and really had no experience when it came to children, so she was pretty clueless on how to effectively keep a toddler entertained. Naturally, she called me for help.
“So, they left me with the kid and she doesn’t like anything I am trying to do with her,” she said in between suggesting crayons to the kid. “We have kind of been just staring at each other for the past ten minutes, and then she started screaming, and I need help.”
“Have you tried Benadryl?” I asked. It was the weekend; my only time to be away from children and I relished my time in the land of adults.
“That’s not…can I do that?”
I sighed. “No. Well you can, but it Is frowned upon. Hold tight, I’m on my way over.”
See. Total expert.
Once I arrived, Sally had managed to talk the kid into going outside and playing. I felt sort of cheated because I rushed over to help my friend and she had figured out a solution to the problem herself. Then I remembered that you can set a child free into the wind of a gated back yard, but eventually they get tired and the fun is over.
So, I stayed.
We had a great afternoon, had a fun dinner, and finally Sally’s niece was ready for bed. After Sally got her niece to sleep, I stayed and we played some cards. It was a pretty chill evening.
Then, I heard Barney.
Since I had a knack for getting kids to go to sleep (no, not with Benadryl, that was a joke) I volunteered to go take away the toy and make sure the toddler was back in dreamland. I strolled my happy ass down the hallway and turned into the little girl’s room and was stunned to a complete stop.
Sally’s niece was sound asleep in her bed; the lights were off, everything was how it should be. No child playing with her toys when she should be sleeping. No toys out, period.
I knew I wasn’t crazy. I knew I heard Barney’s annoying ass voice from the back of the house. I knew this because Sally heard it too. We both groaned at the same time, thinking her niece was awake…again. We both agreed that I would go put her niece back to sleep. I heard Barney. She heard Barney. Yet, there was no Barney.
And while I knew that there was no one in the house playing with that stupid, fucking, purple dinosaur; I heard behind me, Barney singing that dreaded theme song.
I grew up watching horror movies. Horror is my favorite genre, and I often go to sleep at night with a scary movie in the background. I have watched enough horror movies to be confident in the role I would play: the bitch that gets the fuck out of the house as soon as something seems fishy. I have never claimed to be a hero, and I never will. When I first moved out of my mom’s house, I let my roommates know that if an axe murderer should show up at our door in the middle of the night, they have exactly one time for me to scream in warning before I high tail my ass out of danger. If they did not hear or were not fast enough to get away, then I would be sure to only tell the best of stories about them after they were gone.
I guess the old saying, “You never know what you are going to do until you are put in that situation,” is true because in that moment of this obviously possessed stuffed animal singing his stupid song to me, I froze.
I froze and I screamed. In the room behind me, sitting in the middle of her brother and sister-in-law’s bed, was this Barney doll. He was lit up and singing just as happy as could be.
“SALLY!! Get the fuck down here…now!” I yelled. This of course woke her niece up, but I didn’t give a shit.
She ran down the hall and looked into her brother’s bedroom with me. We watched Barney finish singing his song. I asked if the batteries were going bad. I was looking for a rational explanation. Sally explained that she didn’t think Barney had batteries. I suggested that maybe the air from the ceiling fan triggered something, anything. Sally explained that the only way Barney sang his song was to be squeezed.
“Oh, okay.” I looked at her, trying to think of another scenario. “Maybe the little buttons inside the hands are going—
“No, like, it has to be hugged. Hard. Squeezed,” she said.
“Oh,” I answered quietly.
By this time, the kid was standing with us in the hallway, looking into the room at her toy. She tried once to go in the room, but I grabbed her ponytail and pulled her quickly back by me.
We stood for another few second when right in front of us, Barney’s little robotic heart lit up again and he started to sing…by himself…without being hugged…again.
This time, I swooped up the little girl in my arms, grabbed my car keys, and made a beeline for the front door. I was backing out of the driveway as Sally was locking up the house.
I dropped Sally and her niece off at Sally’s house and I went home. I went home and I enjoyed a nice shot of “Fuck all of the shit that happened tonight,” vodka all to my non-possessed self.
I only went back to that house once after that; and I stayed in the car.
I believe that there are things in this world that have easy explanations. I also believe that there are things in this world that will never be explained. I never dwelled on that night much. It was a freak situation that happened, and I made damn sure that I stayed out of that freaky ass area.
Ever since that night, I have avoided all things Barney.
In my classrooms, I made sure that no Barney music was played and no Barney videos were shown. I have a firm belief that he was sent by the devil, and no one will be able to convince me otherwise.