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Authors: Mike Wells

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Baby Talk

BOOK: Baby Talk
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Baby Talk
Mike Wells

 

 

B
aby Talk

 

Book 1

 

by

 

Mike Wells

 

 

 

Smashwords Edition

 

Copyright 2011 Mike Wells

 

http://www.mikewellsbooks.com

 

 

T
his book is a work of fiction. The names,
characters, places and incidents are products of the writer’s
imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be
construed as real. Any resemblances to persons living or dead,
actual events, locales or organizations is entirely
coincidental

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may
be used or reproduced in any form whatsoever without written
permission from the author.

P
raise for Mike Wells’ Baby Talk

 

5 STARS!  “Baby Talk" is a hilarious and
frightening story of a young couple with an extraordinary newborn.
Mike Wells once again incorporates pieces of life that every reader
can relate to, and spins a thick web of excitement around it. A
must-read for anyone who enjoys thrillers, or anyone who enjoys
dark humor.”

 

5 STARS! “This book just flows, pulled me
into the story and kept me reading. Reminded me of one of Stephen
King’s books like maybe Carrie or The Shining. The ending blew my
mind!”

 

5 STARS! “I’m a clinical psychologist and I
found the notion of a baby who is aware that her father wanted her
aborted, “out to get him,” etc fascinating and highly original. I
love the “is Neal crazy or is this really happening”? aspect too,
that kept me nailed to this. The ending was good and quite
unexpected. Wells is a damn good writer!”

 

5 STARS! “As a nanny, all I can say is this
book rocks!!! You will not be sorry buying it!!!”

 

5 STARS! “I have 3 kids what can I say? Baby
Talk is an awesome read, wonderful characters, though I cannot say
I liked any of them so much but they are very real people and act
real. It was a tragedy actually but very well written and CREEPY, I
have to say that! I’m going to be reading a lot more of this
author’s books.”

 

5 STARS! “Feeeed meeeee, Neeeeaaaal!” What a
frickin nightmare! I wasn’t sure about laughing or crying this book
just knocked me out, I do not know how this author thought up such
a weird story. I would recommend this book especially if you have
kids. If you don’t have kids yet you might not want to have any
after reading it. :) ”

 

5 STARS!  “A genuine horror novel.
Okay...here it is. It's pretty simple. I'm an author myself and I
could NOT put 'Baby Talk' down. It's a Chiller! Surprise yourself
with one of the most haunting, horrific, *not* for babies, DAMNED
good read you'll indulge in for a very long while.”

 

5 STARS! “This book creeped me out! Horror
lovers, get it, get it, get it!!!!!!”

 

5 STARS! “Hahahahaha I love Baby Natasha
she’s awesome Neal gets what he deserves I will read this a few
more times and my friends, too. lol”

 

5 STARS! “Insightful and multilayered...I was
pleasantly surprised by the depth of the characters introduced in
this book. The writing style is smooth and flowing. I forgot I was
reading most of the time. Mike Wells is a highly skilled
storyteller. Well worth the money.”

O
ut of the unconscious lips of babes and
sucklings are we satirized.

—Mark Twain

P
ROLOGUE

 

Neal Becker was standing on a building
ledge, a baby in his arms, the wind blowing through his hair.

Nineteen stories below, police cars and
mobile news crew vans were surrounding the front of the hi-rise. A
fire truck rolled up with a long extension ladder—all the rescue
workers were running around like little bugs, looking up at him.
Out in the dawn sky, a couple of choppers flew lazily back and
forth, keeping their distance but ready to move in on command.
Police radios crackled every now and then.

Neal tried not to look down. Sometimes the
gusts of wind were strong enough to make him teeter on the ledge.
Mostly he just looked out at the rising sun, keeping baby Natasha
pressed up against his chest. He thought she was asleep now.

He couldn’t believe this was happening to
him. Over a matter of a few days, his life had become a nightmare.
The fact that he was causing the movement of all these big,
expensive vehicles and all these important people was hard to
fathom. He was almost sure he was on TV now—down below, he could
see large cameras with zoom lenses aimed at him.

He felt ashamed and humiliated. But also
panic-stricken.

He had no idea why he was up on his
building, or what he really wanted.

“How’s it going?” a voice said from the
right.

Neal turned his head. There was a skinny guy
in a blue windbreaker leaning out the window. He gave a relaxed
smile, then slung one jean-clad leg over the windowsill and
straddled it. He was wearing Docksiders and olive-colored socks.
There was a little headset on his right ear, a small microphone
curving up to the corner of his mouth.

“Nice view from up here,” he commented,
leaning back against the window frame, gazing out at the sunrise.
He might have been sitting on a log admiring a tranquil lake
somewhere in the mountains.

Neal stared out at the sun. It had turned a
bright orange, some long, thin pink clouds stretching out on either
side.

“Is there something I can do for you, Mr.
Becker? My name is Stan, by the way. Stan Saunders.” He paused.
“May I call you Neal?”

“There’s nothing you can do for m-me,” Neal
said, a gust of wind buffeting him on the last word.

Stan watched him for a long moment. “I’d
really like to help you, if I can. Is there something you want me
to get for you? Or your daughter?”

Neal felt tears forming in his eyes.

“There’s nothing I want,” he said, fighting
to hold his composure.

Neal heard a low grinding noise and glanced
down—the fire truck was raising its ladder.

“Tell them to put that ladder down!”

One of the helicopters was moving
closer.

“Get that helicopter out of here!” Neal
shouted, thrusting Natasha out over the edge. “I’ll drop her, I
swear to God!”

He could hear frightened shrieks from down
below.

“Back off,” Stan said calmly into a
microphone, gesturing to the chopper. “And tell the firemen to
lower the ladder.”

Neal looked into little Natasha’s face. She
was awake now, turning her head this way and that, but she didn’t
seem to realize she was hanging over 19 stories of empty space. How
could she? She was only a baby.

“Mr. Becker, why don’t you come inside and
we’ll talk for a few minutes.”

“Do you think I’m an idiot?”

“No. But I think you’re stuck between a rock
and a hard place. I don’t believe you really want to hurt your
daughter. Do you?”

Neal felt hot tears running down his face.
Of course he didn’t want to hurt little Natasha. He loved her. She
was his daughter.

Natasha started crying.

That sound caused a lot of commotion down
below.

Neal pulled her back in and hugged her to
his chest. “Shhh.”

“Neal, why don’t you hand her to me, so at
least she’ll be safe.”

He hesitated, looking down at all the
people, all the cameras.

“Come on, give her to me,” Stan said.

Out of the corner of his eye, Neal could see
Stan reaching out for her. They were only a few feet away.

“I didn’t kill my mother-in-law!”

“I don’t know anything about that. I’m here
because I’m concerned about you and your little girl. Why don’t you
just hand her to me?”

Neal turned and looked at Stan. “Don’t you
get it? She’s
bad
, she’s
evil
.”

Stan looked confused. “Who’s evil?”

“She is!” Neal said, thrusting the baby out
again.

Natasha cried louder.

“Take her!” Neal suddenly shouted, offering
her to Stan.

As soon as Neal felt the baby being pulled
from his hands, he squeezed his eyes shut.

And he jumped.

C
HAPTER 1

 

It all started one sunny April morning, when
Neal was standing in the microscopic kitchen of his and Annie’s
apartment, waiting for his coffee water to boil. Only a few minutes
earlier, he had picked up baby Natasha from her crib and carried
her into the kitchen. If it had been up to Neal, he would have been
just as happy to let the infant stay where she was and continue to
sleep. Annie had an obsessive fear of crib death and insisted that
Natasha be watched at all times. She had gone across the street to
buy some formula at the supermarket, but she did not leave until
she personally witnessed Neal picking up the baby.

He was standing near the stove, the baby
cradled in his left arm, staring absently at the little bubbles
that start to swirl and dance when water is close to its boiling
point.

Natasha made some small movement that caught
his attention.

Neal glanced down at her face. Her dark
brown, reptilian-looking eyes opened suddenly. In fact, they almost
snapped
open—this was the only way Neal could describe it
later.

The baby stared at Neal with an eerie,
almost angry expression, one that he had not witnessed before.

Then, without any hesitation whatsoever, she
spoke.

It was as if she had been formulating the
short but shocking sentence for some time and had merely been
waiting for exactly the right moment to deliver it—a moment in
which her young, inexperienced father was still half-asleep.

“I looooove youuuuuuu,” the infant said.

Neal was so taken aback that he almost lost
his balance, as well as his grip on his daughter. Staring at her
little face with a combination of fear and disbelief, his first
impulse was to get the hell away from her. He half-set and
half-dropped the child on the counter, then backed up against the
kitchen wall, shivering.

“My god,” he muttered in a tremulous
whisper, Natasha’s words still whirling in his mind. This wasn’t
normal, it couldn’t be. She was only five months old...that was
impossible. Neal wondered if he could have imagined the entire
incident.

I love you.

Near shuddered again, the words still
reverberating in his mind. Her voice had been so strange and
creaky-sounding, almost sarcastic. And the image! He could still
see Natasha’s inexperienced, infantile mouth crudely twisting out
the words. Something about it made his skin crawl.

He gawked unblinkingly at the baby, unable
to get a grip on himself. The hair on his arms was standing on
end.

But Natasha didn’t say anything more. The
angry expression on her little face vanished as quickly as it had
appeared.

She lay on her back on the countertop where
Neal had hastily deposited her, staring up into space, kicking and
wiggling the way babies do. It was as if the entire episode never
happened.

When Neal heard Annie coming in the front
door, he finally snapped out of his paralysis. He glanced in the
direction of the living room, then quickly stepped over to the
stove and turned off the burner. He wanted to pick up Natasha
before Annie came into the kitchen, but he could hardly bring
himself to look at the child, let alone touch her.

As soon as Annie entered the room and saw
Natasha, she gasped.

“Don’t put the baby on the counter!” she
snapped, scooping Natasha up into her arms. “What’s wong, sweetie?”
she cooed in baby-talk. “Did Daddy leave ooo on the counter while
Mommy went bye-bye?”

Annie turned towards Neal, her black
eyebrows furrowed together.

“What’s the matter with you? She could have
fallen on the floor!”

“I...she...” was all Neal could manage to
say. He ran his hand uncertainly through his sleep-corkscrewed
hair, debating whether or not to tell Annie what had happened. But
he decided against it—he was sure she wouldn’t believe him.

He pulled a mug from the cupboard and
prepared his instant coffee, then sat down in one of their flimsy,
vinyl-covered dinette chairs. It squeaked as he did so.

“Well, Neal?” Annie said. “I’m waiting for
an explanation. Why did you leave her on the counter?”

Neal did not answer.

Annie made a growl in her throat. “You know
better than that. She could fall on the floor and break her neck,
or some other bones. Babies have
extremely
delicate bones,
and even the smallest fall can result in a fracture—my books say
so. If you’re not careful, she could easily break...”

Neal gazed down at his cup, no longer
listening to his 19 year old wife. Some of the instant coffee
hadn’t dissolved. He watched the brown grains swirl around and
around, like Annie’s lecture.

“She talked,” Neal interrupted, at no point
in particular.

Annie’s mouth was still open, mid-sentence.
She closed it and stared blankly at Neal. “She
what
?”

“She talked, Annie.”

Annie glanced down at Natasha, then back at
her young husband.

“I know it sounds strange,” he said, “but
it’s true.”

Even though such a notion was crazy, Neal
could tell she at least
wanted
to believe him. He knew that
some part of Annie was convinced she had given birth to the next
Messiah, or, at the very least, a child prodigy who would grow up
and change the world. He supposed all mothers held such hopes.

“You mean, ‘ga-ga, goo-goo’?” Annie
asked.

“No. I mean words.
Real
words,
Annie.”

She laughed. “I hate to tell you this, Neal,
but five month old babies can’t talk.”

“I know.” Neal took another sip of the lousy
instant coffee, wishing he had spiked it with a shot or two of
whiskey.

Annie watched him for a moment, then
apparently decided maybe it wasn’t such a far-fetched notion after
all.

“What did she say?” Annie said, with hushed
excitement. “What words, exactly?”

Neal let out a laugh, but it sputtered to an
uncertain halt. “I love you.”

Annie’s face went slack. “‘I
love
you?’”

“Yeah.”

Annie let out a cackle that sent chills up
Neal’s spine. She looked down at Natasha. “Did ooo tell Daddy that
ooo wuv him?”

The baby looked back up at her mother with a
vacant expression.

Neal took another sip of his coffee and
stared at the floor. He felt like a fool. Over the past few months,
he had grown quite accustomed to the feeling.

Cradling Natasha in one arm, Annie open the
formula she had bought and began to heat it on the stove. “You need
to stop daydreaming, Neal, and get your mind back on your work.”
There was a nasty undertone in her voice, one he had not known
before they had gotten married. Or had been forced to get married.
Neal certainly would not have married Annie under his own free
will.

Neal got up and dumped the rest of his
coffee in the sink, glancing one last time at Natasha’s little
face.

For an instant, their eyes locked. Then, the
baby gazed past Neal and flailed her arms around.

“Guhhh,” she gurgled at the ceiling.

As Neal walked out of the kitchen, he vowed
to forget what had happened that morning, or what he thought had
happened. And he might have, had he not taken that one last glance
at Natasha.

When he saw the look on her face during that
fleeting instant, his heart had jumped into his throat.

It seemed to be a look of hate.

 

* * *

Neal pulled his aging Toyota into the
parking lot of Snell’s Flowers and sat for a moment with the engine
running, savoring his last few moments of freedom. By his watch, it
was only 7:57. That meant he still had three precious minutes left
before he had to succumb to another long day of ass kissing. He had
worked at Snell’s for less than two weeks, but it already seemed
like months. He despised every second of it. Here he was, almost a
degreed chemist, spending all his time behind the wheel of a white
Chevy van with the words “SNELL’S FLOWERS—LET US MAKE SOMEONE’S DAY
FOR YOU!” cheerily printed across it. He delivered roses and
chrysanthemums and jonquils to people all over the city,
happy
people who had not taken a wrong turn in their lives,
like he had. If Neal had just pulled out of Annie just a
millisecond earlier—just one lousy, goddamn
millisecond
—everything would be different now. Annie
wouldn’t have gotten pregnant, Neal wouldn’t have felt obligated to
marry her, and she wouldn’t have had the baby. And instead of
driving a damn flower truck all over the city, he would be
completing the last year of his college degree. After that, medical
school.

But, of course, Neal hadn’t pulled out of
Annie in time. He had hesitated a fraction of a second to enjoy a
little extra pleasure...and
boom
! His entire world had been
turned upside down. Annihilated. One fleeting moment of extra
pleasure in exchange for a lifetime of success and happiness.

It just wasn’t fair.

Neal dragged himself out of his car and,
just as he locked the door, old man Snell rolled into the parking
lot in his big blue Cadillac. He gave Neal a fatherly kind of nod
as he glided the huge vehicle into the reserved parking space next
to the front door. Two crimson pom-poms were visible in the car’s
back window. Buford Snell had been some kind of football hero back
when he’d attended University of Georgia. Based on his age and
values, Neal figured it must have been back at the time football
players wore knee socks, striped shirts, and those thin little
leather helmets that looked like bathing caps.

“Early bird catches the worm,” Snell said
approvingly as he got out of his car. Neal cringed. Snell and the
rest of the his “fambly”—his condescending mother, known as
“Grammy,” his matronly sister, his loud-mouthed brother-in-law, all
his bratty nieces and nephews—disgusted Neal. However, the feeling
was not mutual. Neal was well-liked by all the Snells. This wasn’t
surprising, considering the caliber of most of the other delivery
boys. Even though the old man claimed to want to hire college
students for these jobs, “to hep ‘em out,” most of the other
drivers were pathetically poor, inner-city blacks. The reason, Neal
had soon discovered, was that Snell refused to pay anyone with a
last name different from his own a salary above minimum wage. Most
college students just weren’t that desperate.

As a result, most of the drivers were the
type who stopped between deliveries to smoke dope, have “quickies”
with their girlfriends, and god only knew what else. The entire
clan, particularly Grammy, was amazed by Neal’s speed and
efficiency. In fact, the first few days his promptness in returning
to the shop made Grammy so suspicious that she called a few people
on his list to make sure that Neal had actually made the
deliveries. Ordinarily, this would have irritated Neal, but it only
amused him. He was glad the other delivery boys had a good time
while they worked and were taking full advantage of the
obnoxious—and oddly naïve—Snell family.

Neal followed old man Snell into the center
of the shop, the sickly-sweet aroma of flowers at once making him
nauseous. He approached Grammy and started to say good morning, but
hesitated when he saw the sour look on her face.

Grammy glanced at Mildred, Snell’s aging
wife, and looked back at Neal. “Where’d you go yesterday when you
were supposed to be deliverin’ the bouquet to Miz Foster?”

Neal looked from one Snell face to the
other. “Why? Is something wrong?”

Grammy glanced at her daughter-in-law again,
giving her an
I-told-you-so
look. “You might say that. She
never got ‘em.”

“Well, I delivered them,” Neal said
defensively. “I left them on the porch, by the front door.”

“Why’d you go and do that fool thing?”
Grammy snapped.

“Because that’s what the order slip said to
do.”

“No, sir, it did
not
. Mr. Foster
never wants his wife’s flowers left outside his house—he’s real
particular about that.”

“I don’t mean to contradict you,” Neal said
carefully, “but I’m almost sure the delivery slip said to leave
them on the porch.”

“We’ll just see about that,” Grammy said.
She began to shuffle through the mountain of delivery slips from
the day before. “You can’t just deliver ‘em any way you please,
sonny—you got to look at the
slip
.”

Mildred gave Neal a doubtful glance and
resumed work on a bouquet.

“What’s the problem?” old man Snell said,
stepping up behind Neal.

Wonderful, Neal thought, glancing over her
shoulder. Not only had the screw-up come to the attention of the
old man, but all the other Snells in the shop seemed to be
listening.

“Arggh,” Grammy groaned, waving a wiry arm
at Neal as if he was a troublesome schoolboy. “Miz Foster called up
in a tizzy this morning ‘cause her flowers didn’t get
delivered.”

Neal started to say something in his own
defense, but then thought the better of it. He would wait until
Grammy located the evidence. He was almost certain that the box on
the slip that said IF NOT HOME, LEAVE OUTSIDE DOOR was checked with
one of Grammy’s precise little X’s, but after what had happened
earlier with his baby daughter that morning, Neal wasn’t completely
sure of anything.

“The Fosters are one of our best customers,
son,” the old man said.

“I know,” Neal said.

“I went to school with Dan Foster—he was one
of my fraternity brothers. He’s one of the most successful lawyers
in town.”

Neal only nodded. He had heard this at least
three times the day before. The whole family seemed to pride
themselves on how many people—
important
people—they knew in
the Atlanta area. Neal found this a bit ironic, because he had a
hard time imagining anyone in high society having much respect for
the Snells, especially the old man. Neal rated himself at least
twenty rungs above Buford Snell in terms of intelligence,
integrity, and overall class. Regardless of Neal’s current dilemma,
he was certain that he would be in charge of something a lot more
significant than a flower shop when
he
was sixty years
old.

BOOK: Baby Talk
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