It was the only toy her daughter had wanted for her birthday, but Erica had been reluctant to buy it. Because Furbies gave her the creeps.
Erica lifted the cardboard box to get a closer look at the Furby. It had black and white fur, over-sized pink ears, and a bright orange beak. Its large eyes were partially hidden by drooping eyelids.
Erica wrapped the toy and taped a bright pink bow on the top. She smiled. Regardless of how Erica felt about Furbies, she couldn’t wait to see Sarah’s face when she unwrapped it.
Sarah sat on the floor with the Furby, recently liberated from its packaging. Sarah leaned towards the Furby.
“Hi Furby,” Sarah said loudly.
“Me Nah-Bah,” the Furby said.
“Hello Nah-Bah,” the little girl replied. “My name is Sarah. Can you dance for me?” Sarah clapped her hands four times and immediately the Furby started to rock back and forth.
“Do, do, do-de-do,” the Furby chanted while it rocked. It finished the dance by raising its ears.
Sarah squealed and clapped. “Very good Nah-Bah!” she said and scratched the Furby on the head. The Furby blinked and started to purr.
“Dee Doo-Ay,” the Furby answered.
“That means best fun,” Sarah informed Erica. “Nah-Bah likes to dance.”
“I see,” Erica said, smiling at her daughter. “What else can Nah-Bah do?”
“They like being tickled,” Sarah replied, turning back to the Furby. She tickled the Furby’s stomach and Nah-Bah started to giggle.
Erica smiled and suppressed a shudder.
Roused from a deep sleep, Erica at first could make no sense of the loud noises coming from down the hall.
“Dah Boh-Bay, Dah Boh-Bay,” the Furby was calling in its high-pitched voice. The sound carried clearly in the quiet house.
Yawning, Erica made her way down the hall to Sarah’s bedroom. It had been a very busy day and the last thing she needed was her daughter being kept up all night by her new toy.
The Furby kept repeating the same words. Erica eased Sarah’s door open and found the Furby on Sarah’s nightstand. The Furby’s voice was quite loud but the little girl slept soundly.
Erica picked up the Furby and carried it away from the bed. She quietly closed Sarah’s door and took the toy to the kitchen.
“Time for some quiet, my furry friend,” Erica said, placing the Furby on the counter.
“Dah Boh-Bay, Dah Boh-Bay,” the Furby said.
“Dah Boh-Bay to you too,” she said as she turned the toy over and searched for a switch. Not having any luck, she decided to do the next best thing and remove the batteries.
“Nighty night,” Erica said as she flipped the Furby over. She found the battery cover, opened the small door and removed the four “AA” batteries.
With another yawn, Erica placed the Furby back on the counter.
“Dah Boh-Bay, Dah Boh-Bay,” the Furby blurted. This time its eyes snapped wide open and its ears flipped straight up.
Erica jerked back from the counter, wide awake now. She picked up the Furby and began checking for another battery compartment when suddenly it started to vibrate.
“Sarah, Sarah, Sarah!” the Furby suddenly shrieked. “Dah Boh-Bay, Dah Boh-Bay!” It repeated the line over and over, getting louder each time.
And then Erica heard her daughter screaming. She swore, dropped the convulsing toy to the counter, then raced down the hall towards Sarah’s bedroom.
“Mommy, mommy!” Sarah screamed hysterically. The screams were muffled by the closed bedroom door but she could still make out the words. “Get them off!”
Erica reached Sarah’s bedroom and threw open the door.
In the dim light the first thing Erica saw was movement all over Sarah’s bed. When she snapped on the bedroom light she began screaming as well; the top of the bed was covered with rats. Sarah was curled up in a tight ball in the corner, her quilt pulled tightly around her. The rats were swarming over the quilt, scratching and nipping in a frenzy to get at the little girl.
Erica grabbed the edge of the quilt and whipped it away from Sarah, hurling several rats into the wall. Erica pulled Sarah up off the bed and ran to the door, rats nipping at her bare feet. Dropping Sarah to the floor of the hallway, Erica slammed the door shut, crushing a rat in the doorjamb with a sickening crunch. They could hear frantic scratching on the other side of the door as the rats tried to get out.
Erica sat on the floor next to Sarah and wrapped her arms around her. After a few moments Sarah stopped screaming and her body shook as she began to sob. Erica closed her eyes and waited for her heart to stop racing.
Erica sat at the kitchen table and watched the exterminator’s van pull out of driveway. They had located the rats’ nest under the deck just outside Sarah’s room; the rodents had entered Sarah’s room through a hole in the back of Sarah’s closet.
The Furby rested on the table in front of her — it had not moved or spoken since the previous evening.
Erica winced; the rat bites on her feet were stinging. A few of the bites had required stitches — the rest had just needed cleaning and bandaging.
Suddenly the Furby’s eyes snapped open and its ears stood straight up. Erica swore and jerked back from the table.
“Nah-Bah loves Sarah,” the Furby said in its sing-sing voice. “Nah-Bah wants see Sarah!” It flapped its ears a few times then went silent.
Erica stared at the Furby. After a few moments of silence she leaned forward. “If Nah-Bah sees Sarah, will Nah-Bah be quiet?”
Immediately the Furby’s eyes snapped open. “Nah-Bah be quiet. Nah-Bah loves Sarah. Me stay forever!” It began to flap its ears and purr. After it stopped purring, it rocked back and forth then went quiet.
Erica nodded, then scratched the top of the Furby’s head. It began to purr.
Patrick Perkins writes in British Columbia, Canada.