-911, what is your emergency?
First there was silence and then I heard a faint: – I… think there’s someone in the house…
It was a child’s voice. A young girl’s voice.
-What’s your name, sweetie? – I asked in a calm voice, just the way I was trained to do. I always dreaded receiving calls from children.
-It’s a beautiful name – I said, trying to sound calm and optimistic.
Silence. I could hear just a faint breathing.
-This is very important… Can you tell me what’s happening right now?
Still silence. Then a child’s voice again: – I… think someone’s in my house.
Catherine gave no further clues, so I had to inquire more: – Where are your parents?
-I don’t know.
My heart sank. This child was probably left alone in the house and was now facing a potentially dangerous situation.
-Is there anyone else in the house with you? – I asked, hoping there was a babysitter or someone looking after her.
-No… – the child’s voice answered finally. My heart sank even deeper. I tried not to show it in my voice.
-Can you tell me where you are now? – I tried to inquire further.
-In… my parent’s closet…
The poor child probably thought it was the safest place to be and that the intruder, or the intruders wouldn’t find her there. It was a smart child.
-Good – I said in a voice as calm as possible – Stay there, sweetie, policemen are on their way.
Silence. The girl said nothing. I could just hear her breathe. The silence was too long to be comfortable, so I tried asking another question.
-Can you tell me what’s happening now, sweetie? – I was doing my best to stop my voice from cracking. I didn’t want to make the girl even more anxious and nervous than she already was.
Through her breathing I heard what sounded like the cracking of the door.
-They are calling me… – said the girl. I could feel dread in her voice. I was filled with dread, too. I didn’t want to make her go look for the intruders by asking her how many of them there were in the house or if she could see them.
-Is it a voice of a man or a woman? – I asked, hoping to find out more about the intruders and to still know what Catherine was doing, where she was at, etc. so I could help her in the case of something more serious happening.
The other end of the line was silent. Catherine wasn’t speaking, just breathing faintly. There was silence for about a minute or so in which I felt extremely nervous. I wasn’t sure if I should ask Catherine for more information for fear that the intruders were nearing her. I didn’t want to alert them to her hiding place by making her speak.
After a minute or so, I started hearing something that wasn’t just Catherine’s breathing. I started hearing voices in the background, but they were too muffled and inaudible for me to discern a single word. The only thing I could get clearly was that there were at least two distinguishable voices.
I heard the voices approaching the place where Catherine was. There was some mumbling, some knocking, some furniture moving. The closer the voices got, the harder the heart pounded in my chest. I heard footsteps and two male voices talking to each other. The voices sounded familiar. I couldn’t think clearly. Then I heard a mixture of screeching and knocking and the voice on the other end of the line said: -Hello?
-John? – I asked in disbelief. It was the voice of one of the policemen I’d sent to the house.
-Dave? Is that you? – John asked.
-Yeah. Where’s the girl? – I asked almost frantically.
-The girl that called 911… Her name is Catherine… – I tried to keep the sentences coming from my mouth straight.
-There’s no one here, Dave – said John and then told the other policeman to search the house for a missing girl – You’re sure there was a little girl here?
-Yes. Her name is Catherine. Where is she? – I didn’t get what he was asking me that. I’d already told them the little girl was alone in the house and that there was a possibility of a break in.
-Nah, Andrew just informed me there’s no one in the house.
-You’re sure? I was on the phone with the girl until you picked up the phone. You’re sure you didn’t see any girl in the room? – I was puzzled.
-There’s no one her, I tell ya. This is an old, abandoned house. I’m amazed that the phone is still working.
-John, listen. There was a little girl, Catherine… she called 911. I was with her on the phone just right before you picked up the phone. I thought you were the intruders.
-Nah, Dave, there’s no one here… Wait a sec – John put down the phone. I started to panic. Have they found the girl’s body? Have they found blood on the floor? I didn’t know if I wanted to know what they’d found. I was terrified.
-Hi, Dave, Andrew just showed me a picture on the wall…
-What picture? What are you talking about? – I was angry at both of them. Instead of searching for a missing girl, they were looking at some photos on the wall.
-Yeah… it’s an old picture. Gives me the creeps… it’s a post-mortem photo or something.
-What are you talking about? What post-mortem photo? – I was almost yelling – Who’s on the photo?
-A little girl. Her name is Catherine.