Please vote for the piece you feel is most deserving:

Poll closed Nov 6, 2009.
  1. ranke - One Day at a Time

    2 vote(s)
  2. Catchlight - So Very Lonely

    5 vote(s)
  3. crossrobertj - Hide & Seek

    1 vote(s)
  4. Irish87 - The Solebury Incident

    1 vote(s)
  5. Carbon - Working Class Hero

    0 vote(s)
  6. MarkusC01 - The Secret

    0 vote(s)
  7. SayWhatNow? - Are You Quite Sure?

    1 vote(s)
  8. Nackl of Gilmed - Fear

    2 vote(s)
  9. Eoz Eanj - Underneath

    0 vote(s)
  10. BUDDY GORGEOUS - Unknown Destination

    1 vote(s)
  11. killerz2 - The Little Heroine

    0 vote(s)
  12. kaitylizz - Monsters Under The Bed

    0 vote(s)
  13. SCorneliusJ - Leverage

    1 vote(s)
  14. Marshall41 - Lost and Found

    1 vote(s)
  15. AmandaC - In the Dark

    2 vote(s)
  16. Nathan Edwards - Towards the Light

    0 vote(s)
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  1. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England

    Voting Short Story Contest (54): Monsters Under The Bed (Halloween Special)

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Oct 26, 2009.

    Voting Short Story Contest (54) Theme: Monsters Under The Bed (Halloween Special)

    Thank you for all your entries. The winner will be stickied until the next contest's winner is crowned. No more entries are allowed in this contest.

    Voting will end Friday 6th November to give you all a chance to read the entries.

    It is possible to vote for yourself, but I would hope in the name of good sportsmanship that you would only do so if you have read all the other stories and given them your honest evaluation. You gain nothing if you base your vote solely on how you feel about the author or whether you have personally invested time and effort in the story. In the end, your conscience is your only judge.

    Any entries under or over the suggested word limit will be flagged as such - they are still entered in to the contest. It is for you to decide whether they are still worthy of your vote.

    Any entry not in accordance with the theme will be dealt with on a case by case basis to determine eligibility. Consider how the author has responded to the theme in making your decision.

    Good luck to everyone.
  2. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    ranke - One Day at a Time

    Frank shook. The dust bunnies under the little girl’s bed hummed like unlit fireflies as all fifteen feet of his purple, reptilian physique vibrated violently with the need. He ground his teeth together and struggled to keep his body from shattering the crossbeams of her box spring. Pinning himself to the floor, his claws buried to the sheathes through carpet, subfloor and concrete foundation, he shook until he feared the clattering of his razor-sharp six-inch canines would wake her. He had to have been there an hour already. It always felt like a decade, this waiting.

    I suck. I have no willpower. I’ll never be anything but a-

    …and there they were; dangling momentarily, then sliding and settling daintily to the floor not a foot from his trembling maw. Acid began running in rivulets down his jaw, smoking as it laid waste to the carpet.

    Look at ‘em:

    Two perfect little feet, swaddled like Christmas packages giftwrapped in fluffy, fuzzy likenesses of pink rabbits. These were no paltry bunnies though; the stuff of mid-morning snacks and polite, politicking brunches with meal time manners. Oh no. These stuffed delicacies always satisfied. Like mana-filled delights from the donut shop of the gods, these treats would do.

    Oh yeah. Those’ll do.

    A saurian nightmare breaking the surface of a pond, Frank exploded from under the bed and the little girl was no more.

    He slumped into a corner, exo-vertebral spikes gouging canyons in the drywall as chunks of it slid into his lap in miniature avalanches. His chin sagged to his chest, and Frank’s world faded to a warm, familiar blackness.

    And the itch subsided.

    Dust motes, settling to the floor, floated through the nightlight’s corona.


    The one with the laugh lines regarded Frank kindly with a welcoming nod and an understanding twinkle in all three of his eyes. Frank swallowed and tilted his head back, lifting the styrofoam coffee cup to his mouth even though it was empty.

    Blue Lady, Six-Handed Guy, and The Slimy One (as Frank had dubbed them upon entering the smoky hall) extinguished their cigarettes with a triple-fizz-fzz-fizzzzzz into their own cups. The room quieted as Laugh Lines stepped to the podium and cleared his throat.

    This is it. First day of the rest of my life thought Frank. Sure it was cliché but there was a reason it was overused, right? It counted. It had to. It just had to.

    “Welcome Friends. Good to see you all. Good to see some new faces out there too,” his benevolent gaze turning to Frank. “Let’s start with some introductions. Friend?”

    This is it. First day of the rest of my life.

    “Hi. I’m Frank... and uh…”

    “I, uhh…”

    “…I eat kids.”

    “Hi Frank!” responded the crowd with the warm familiarity of those who’d earned the right to bestow it. And Frank, nursing the seed of hope in that reassuring gesture, felt the itch fade as the light of a setting sun disappeared over its horizon outside the window of a smoky hall.
  3. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Catchlight - So Very Lonely

    I can feel their eyes on me. They’re always watching, waiting for their chance to strike. I quiver, adrenalin filling my veins and turning my muscles to mush. I’m so alone here in my room, in my empty house, alone and vulnerable. I wish Jason were still here, he’d protect me. He’d wrap his arms around me and hold me close, smoothing away the frown-lines, easing my fears.

    Outside my window, the shadows are lengthening, stretching. They are reaching across the grass to prod at my house with skeletal fingers. I’m afraid; tension fills my body until there is no space left for breathing. I flick the switch by my bedroom door and warm, golden light, fills the room. It’s cheerful, hopeful but sorely misplaced. There’s nothing warm about this room, not now, not when I’m alone.

    I gaze over at my bed with its thick, fluffy covers and deep inner-sprung mattress that holds me like a lover in its arms. More than anything, I long to slip between the cool sheets and rest my face on the marshmallow pillows. I can’t do that though, not tonight of all nights.

    Outside, the darkness is complete. The trees that line my yard are no more than barren frames, gnarled by the wind and bleached by the frozen air. Their branches are reaching out into the night, pointing at me, mocking me, telling me they know my secret. They know why I’m afraid.

    I stare at the ruffles that surround the base of my bed, all pastel shades and prettiness. The perfect cover for such ugliness as lives there, under my bed. It threatens me, threatens to consume me, to pull me out of the golden light and into the chill beneath the bedsprings. It’s the place where they live, the wobbly after-images of those who’ve gone before, the fallen ones. They wait for me there, ready to drag me in with them, make me one of their number but I’m having none of it. I’m the one in control here.

    In defiance, I stride to my dresser and pull out a fresh nightgown. It’s a pretty one; white with eyelet lace around the shoulders. It drapes beautifully over my body, flaring at the hips and swirling elegantly when I turn. It makes me feel pretty, makes me wish I wasn’t so alone.

    I spin with a dancing step, cover the floor and fling my body onto the bed. I slip between the sheets and wriggle my toes, feeling the cool spots turn warm. I hear my mother’s voice in my head, mocking me from my childhood, “There’s something not right with that girl,” she tells my father with a laugh. As if there is anything wrong with being happy, or with dancing and spinning and enjoying yourself.

    Whisper’s, I can hear them whispering. Small voices from beneath me, I knew this would happen. It’s Halloween after all, the time when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest. It’s the time when spirits can walk among us and air their grievances. These aren’t walking though. They’re waiting under there, waiting for me.

    I lay my hands against my chest and feel my heart wriggling beneath my fingers like a squirming baby rabbit. I’ve gone rigid with fear, with anticipation at what I know must come. Any moment they will come for me, reaching out from beneath the ruffles with hands colder than the lake in the middle of the forest. Colder than the blood that’s running in my veins, chilling me to the bone with fear.

    What options do I have? I wonder if it’s too late to make a run for it, to drive to my friend Erin’s house. It’s not too late yet. We could still dress up and terrify the straggling trick or treater’s. It’s a tempting thought. If I had company, if I was with Erin, I wouldn’t feel so alone, they couldn’t get me.

    I stand up in the bed, reluctant to let my feet touch down too close to the perilous mattress. Instead, I leap off, lifting one leg before me like a flying stag; landing neatly, well away from the bed. I crouch down, rest my buttocks against the back of my calves and peer at the shadows that seem so much darker under the bed. Are they in there? I can feel their eyes on me, watching me. The ruffle twitches a little, as though a slight breeze is lifting it, but I know it’s them.

    All I have left is fight or flight. My gut votes for flight but only for a moment. I have never been one to back down. I glance at the wardrobe, knowing my coat is in there, and the Halloween costume I chose with Erin. I could still take it out, still drive to safety and a night of silliness with my best friend. No. I won’t let them win.

    Placing one foot in front of the other with a deliberateness that hides the terror inside me, I walk to the side of the bed. Defiance has always been a vice of mine. It’s gotten in my way and caused more trouble than I needed, especially with men.

    Jason was the latest, he of the heavy brows and the Hollywood smile. He had broken my heart when he told me that he was leaving. Just like that, no warning, no reason. He was leaving and he was never coming back. “But hey,” he said, “it’s not you, it’s me.” I wasn’t even worth something more original than a worn out cliché.

    There was David before him, lanky and lean but sexy as hell. I had wanted him so badly I could taste it. Instead of my usual reserved cool, I turned into a lesser, more desperate version of myself around him. That had been the downfall of that relationship. I couldn’t allow myself to grovel.

    Before them came Kevin, Andy, Jim and Derek. They were all wonderful in their own right, yet imperfect in profound ways. All of them left me.

    Now, they are always with me, always hovering nearby. They were the spirits that lived under my bed. I crouch beside the ruffle and take the fabric of it between my thumb and forefinger. It has no weight as I lift it away and reach tentatively under the bed with my free hand. I fumble around under there, amongst the dust and long lost socks, and I find it, a shoebox. I pull it out and set it on the floor in front of me.

    With a deep breath, I lift off the cardboard lid and put it aside. It’s been so long since I have opened this box. There’s not that much in it really, most of it is emptiness but the base is covered in square pieces of plastic and paper, Polaroid photographs. I reach in and take one out at a time, in the same order they entered the box.

    I lay each photo in order, on the floral rug beside my bed. First Derek then Jim, Andy, Kevin, David and finally Jason. Dear Jason, I wish he were here. He would hold me in his arms and keep me safe, but he isn’t here. His spirit is, it’s angry and vengeful, crouching under my bed and wishing it had the substance to grab my wrists and drag me under there with him. It’s sweet, in a way, that he wants me so badly now when it’s too late.

    His body isn’t so far away either. It rests at the bottom of the lake, only two hundred feet from where I sit. He was larger than the others had been, big and muscular. I had barely made it to the end of the jetty before tipping him over the side, concrete blocks attached. The others I had been able to drag further, to the dinghy and so they were in much deeper water.

    It feels right having Jason closer to me. He was my favorite after all. David is furthest away. He needs to be. He’d been my obsession, the most difficult to let go. If he’d been any closer, I would have never been able to escape him.

    Carefully, I pick up each of the photo’s, glancing briefly at the death masks that stare back at me with unseeing eyes. Silly boys, every one of them. I lay them inside the box and take the lid in my hand. It’s time, time to let them go and move on with my life. It’s past time to find a new love, to start afresh.

    I pick a white rose from the vase on my nightstand, shake the droplets of water from its stem and lay it gently on top of the photographs in the shoebox. I replace the lid and tie it in place with one of my long, golden hair ribbons from my dresser. Holding the box respectfully in front of me, I walk down the stairs to the back door, pausing to slip my feet into my boots. I collect the spade from its place by the door and head toward the trees. The bitter air raises gooseflesh under my flimsy gown, but it appropriate attire for such an occasion.

    There will be no more monsters under the bed for me. I place the box carefully on the ground. The grass is moist here; the sun never reaches it during these short, fall days. The spade cuts through the damp soil easily and I lift one lump after another of dirt from the hole I’m carving from the earth. When it is deep enough, a respectable depth for such a solemn moment, I lay the spade aside and kneel beside the hole. I lift my beautiful gown from under my knees to avoid stains and then place my hands neatly in my lap.

    “Here lies love. My hopes and dreams dashed away by men who cared little for them. They are where they belong now, swimming forever in a lake of their own misdeeds. Sleep well you foolish boys. Rest lightly.”

    I pick up the box and sit it inside the hole. It is a good fit and deep enough.

    “Good bye my loves, it’s time for me to move on. I have a life you know.”

    I get to my feet and fill the hole again. Jumping on top of it with my heavy boots to ensure the earth sits as even as possible. I use the tip of the spade to scrape layers of fallen leaves to cover the grave. The police have been through the area before, asking questions but there is nothing to lead them to me. Most who live in the area don’t even know of my little lake. Even so, I think it’s best to make sure there is nothing at all for them to find.

    Satisfied, I take my spade and walk back to my house through the heavy shadows. I know I will sleep now with nothing to stand in my way, it’s such a relief. I need a good nights sleep, for tomorrow I have work to do.

    I’m so very lonely.
  4. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    crossrobertj - Hide & Seek

    Richard was only 6 years old, but he was wise beyond his years. He lived with his parents in a small 2-bedroom house in Louisiana. When his parents bought the house, they were wary of its location to the levees, because the Hurricane season was going to start soon.

    On the night that Hurricane Katrina was to hit, Richard’s parents decided not to evacuate the area. Though they were previously warned, they hadn’t the money, or anywhere else to go. Richard knew something was wrong when his next door neighbors and all his friends from school were leaving, and he was not.

    Richard’s parents tucked him into bed. There were sheets of rain falling on the window outside, as well as wind that howled like Wolves chasing a meal. Richard was pretty scared, but his parents assured him everything would be alright. Richard’s parents left the room and now he was all alone, in his dark room with only the cracking lightning outside to fill the black.

    Richard begins to nod, his eyes becoming heavy, his breathing becoming less heavy. He doses off, the lightning and thunder still cracking outside.

    His bed shakes, he awakens. The shaking is coming from underneath him. Richard is frightened, but he doesn’t want the shaking to continue. Richard yells out for his parents, there’s no answer.

    Then, from under the bed, growling begins. Richard leans over the edge to try and figure out what’s going on. He sees a claw edging toward the bottom of the bed. Richard jumps back; the hairs on the back of his neck begin to stand up. He pulls the covers over himself and hides.

    Richard can feel the claw begin to grasp his sheets and emerge from the bottom of the bed. Richard begins to scream and cry uncontrollably, the claw coming closer and closer to grasping him.

    Then, it stopped, complete serenity for the moment.

    The claw had disappeared, and everything was back to normal. Thunder outside cracks, so loud it shakes the bed. The shaking begins again, except more violently this time. Richard was becoming more frightened by the second, sweat and tears pouring down his face.

    In a brazen attempt to stop the shake, he jumps out of bed. Richard looks under the bed in a burst of courage, he sees a bright light.

    The water rushes into Richard’s parent’s bedroom, Richard’s father breaks through the window. He catches his wife just as she rushes through the window. They get to the roof just in time to see Richard’s room had already been swept away by the current. All they can do is embrace and cry.
  5. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Irish87 - The Solebury Incident

    And what was it that was to be found? Nothing. Not a pen nor a pencil, a pile of trash or even a pair of shoes. It was simply the floor and little more. Yet, the boy still cried. He felt the movement under the floor, he could hear their grumbling little mouths complaining about the weather. At times he heard them laughing and sadly at times he heard them crying. Nevertheless, they did not exist.

    At times his father would storm away, furious his son had such a light heart. His mother would let out a terrible sigh and remind the boy, "There is nothing to be afraid of."

    "And the monsters?" he asked.

    With a quick stomp of her foot against the hard wood floors she silenced him and shouted in absolute fervor, "There are no monsters, son. No bats, rats, mice, or frogs! There are no ogres, no Cyclops, there are no werewolves or vampires or anything else. Monsters exist only in your mind."

    And that was that. The door was promptly shut and the boy fell back onto his pillow. His eyes began to grow heavy and soon, no matter how afraid he had become, he found his sleep. Yet, in a daze, he could hear that the sound started once more. Ticking, their feet ran across the cold ground. Mumbling, he could hear their voices speaking to one another. And finally, as his fears subsided by the overbearing force of slumber, he heard the door open. Yet, when he opened his eyes his door was still firmly shut.

    Slowly he placed his head back down on the pillow and accepted his fate. Unfortunately, it seemed, the boy was nothing but a coward at best, and paranoid at worst. Once more the twilight came and took him away, ushering him into complete silence. As it did so, the door opened once more...

    They were not like us, my friends. Their skin was absurdly strong, yet pliable. They couldn't lift much weight, but they never broke any of their bones. Mind you, they had none. Their skin was made of skin, of course, but it was different in a strange sort. You see, they were oddly sweet, their faces always grinning and their teeth showing a precise cleaning.

    "Are you done?" came the sound from below the door, which was nothing more than a piece of the board cut from down below and used as a way to exit their home.

    Rolo grabbed the last piece he had left behind and jumped back into the mine. The others let out a laugh as he laid there, smiling a horse-like grin and holding up the button as though it were made of gold. They picked him back up and the small group walked back down the rest of the stairs.

    A fellow with a strange overbite which somehow hung down below said in a slurring manner, "We've only got six days."

    "No, no," Rolo replied. "We've got the rest of our lives."
    "Exactly, we've only got six days."

    For a moment they laughed, but it was quickly hushed when they thought about the actual meaning. It was truth, mind you, they only had until Halloween. That was when he came. What a terrible thought, they all thought, and ambled their way back to their homes. That man, the one who would do such harm, followed them each and every step. He did not stop nor did he make his presence known, for he sat quietly in their heads.

    There was no description or any fantastical idealization of what or who he was. He simply existed and came about each and every October to steal away the joy of the Solebury Mines. At times he was described as languid, at times he was thought of as sour and bitter and nasty. In truth, no one quite knew and certainly no one ever wanted to meet him. Nevertheless, his voice could be heard at all times.

    Up above, in the canyons of the Stevens household, was his voice. At times it was simply men in modish suits taking about strange, foreign lands. They complained often, some even cried, but none of them were quite as frightening as Mr. Wonks, who came on with an uproar. The music boomed and the sound of children laughing filled the half lit rooms. And then his voice: soft and yet jagged, it broke down their backs and made them shake in terrible fear.

    "Come now, come now," he beckoned, "eat the sweets of my labor! Enjoy the candy! Enjoy the world of absolute flavor! And when you are done, children, don't forget to... recycle!"

    What a horrid thought they all had in their minds, the sound of his voice once again coming to define their poor existence. Nothing more than a harvest, they were but the stuffed turkey or the pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. And when they found their homes they put the button away and quickly fell asleep, hoping they would wake to see another day.

    The six long days passed and the workers in Solebury Mines dug deep each day, picking away at the wooden walls. One by one their work was sent up to the main facility in the Ket'Chun. There, sitting amongst a throne of ivory, the foreman looked down and nodded agreeably. Even he, a man who controlled thousands, had the fear of Wonks sitting in the back of his aching head.

    "Sir," his assistant said, "we've got more buttons to send."

    "Good. Now go on home, you need to be with your family."

    There was no argument. His assistant agreed, of course, and fled back to his home. Already the rumors had begun: Mr. Wonks had already taken some. People were gone, they all cried, but the truth was it was hyperbole and nothing was there to subside their minds. The thoughts came and went and then, as they all shook in fear, the sound of a new pair of feet could be heard upstairs.

    "My name is Annabelle Road," she said as the young boy stood at his door. "I'm sorry young man but it seems you've got termites."

    "What is that?" he asked, knowing full well.

    "Tiny little bugs without a home, a true pest of Hell."

    And with that she walked into the room and shut it tight. The truth was she was not a woman but a man, and as the door slammed shut her body contorted and fell into place. Tall and pale, he was the foreman of Hell. Mr. Wonks walked forward in a bright purple suit, he shrunk down a thousand feet and opened the door to the Mines.

    He was not to be seen, but it wasn't much of a problem. He had thin legs and arms that could be hidden. His smile reflected the world around him, but thankfully he didn't do much but sneer. And he made his way through the wooden halls, searching high and low for the candy-made balls of men and women with sweet suckling skin. Their eyes rolled back as he gave them a grin. One, two, three, and four, he took more than he had ever before. As they slept he took hold of their mouths, he laughed a bit before running out.

    And then there was Rolo, who sat bored of it all. There were no monster or evil beings, it was all just a hoax, a silly belief, a mistaken I.D. - he was just a man, just like you, just like me. After a bit he started to fall asleep, so he laid on his bed and felt his head begin to nod. Within minutes he fell into slumber, never to awake again, for Mr. Wonks was hidden under the covers.

    Poor Mr. Rolo was put in the pile. His body was drug out, along with fifty others, and within twenty minutes Annabelle left the room. She shut the door with a slam and walked by the family, smiling as she held the bag up high. Inside were several little bugs.

    "My work here is done."

    And so now, my friends, you know how it is. Mr. Wonks, I mean myself that is, makes delicious candy out of the dead. Don't worry, children, I always wash up - there are no eyes in your candied syrup.
  6. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Carbon - Working Class Hero

    I didn't choose to be this - at least not directly. I did what any normal person would do. I woke up every morning, went to work, came home, ate my dinner, watched some television, played some games, and went to sleep. It was a simple, routine lifestyle. I'll admit that. Even with the endless cycle that never ceased (even on weekends), I became a celebrity. The simple works of labor that made up my day was earning me recognition. Every time I flipped on the TV at night, they spoke of me. While never mentioning me by name, I could always tell it was me based on the black and white sketch and artist had drawn of me. It was shockingly similar to the face I'd seen in the mirror every morning.

    All this recognition just made me want to work harder, and that's exactly what I did. I even worked overtime most nights, after the sun had gone down and darkness blanketed the city. I loved my work. It was so much fun. The people of the city seemed to love my work too. They printed and reported more and more on me as the weeks went on. They even had special names for me. Serial killer was my favorite. It's good to get some recognition.

    The worst part about my job was seeing crying families on the TV. I never did understand exactly why they were crying. Perhaps they were tears of joy shed because I was getting famous. I still don't understand the whole idea of it all. All I did was go out, bring people to my garage, and play some games with them. They were the kind of games they taught me in my time in Iraq. My squad mates and I played a game with our combat knives and some dummies. It was like darts, but a little different. These people I brought to my garage never wanted to play. They always yelled and ran. It was a shame for them that I was too good at this game. When they fell asleep, tired from a long night's play, I let them sleep on my bed. The problem was that too many of them were in my bed and I didn't have room to roll around. When that happened, I just put them under my bed. After a few weeks, it started getting very cramped down there. I don't know how somebody can possibly sleep when there's no room to move, but they did.

    The night it all came to an end was just like any other. It was a Saturday night. I'd just gotten off work and begun to relax when I heard a noise that sounded like sirens. I remember the news anchor saying how police were close to a breakthrough on the case. I was sure they had found out who I was and were on the way to reward me for all my hard work - maybe even play a few games with me. More sirens and sounds of helicopter propellers. Naturally, I grabbed my knife and stepped out on the front porch, ready to play. It was magnificent. There were dozens of police cars of different sizes and colors. News vans, helicopters, the works. It seemed like they were ready to throw a parade for me! I raised my knife in celebration. There were about a dozen loud noises, like firecrackers going off. Then everything faded out.

    It's been 8 years since that night and I can still remember it all perfectly. I'm not sure what went wrong, but I've spent the last 8 years of my life in a different body, a monstrous one. I resemble a burn victim who looks similar to one of the people that came home with me. I feel pain every day, but when I pop out from my hiding place under a child's bed, the pain is lessened. It's fun to watch them jump. I just go back under, wait, and do it again. It seems like adults can't see me. That suits me perfectly. I once tried to speak, but the only sound I made was a gurgling that made the children scream louder. I consider this some kind of retirement and I figure I've earned that much. It's ironic. I used to let guests sleep under my bed and now I live under somebody else's.
  7. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    MarkusC01 - The Secret

    I’ve got a secret to tell you.

    Don’t laugh when you hear it. I hate the laughers; like all those belly-swelled circus freaks and morphine vultures, with their toothless, cackling mouths near jumping right out of their thick hairless skulls the last time I inflicted this burden on a mind other than my own. They were supposed to be just like me, but I escaped from them. But that was the last time I let anyone in; let anyone close.

    I don’t think you’re like the others; I can sense this already. They say I’m good with people. Some say that it’s weird, that's it's just not quite right - say I've got The Gift. This comforts them, but then they are not like me. I know this now. No-one is.

    I can feel things. I feel the creeping, stalking limbs of the tiny insects scattering on the ground below me, quickening as I speak; their sharp staccato twitches combing the upright hairs on my neck, trying to warn me, trying to keep me quiet... My pulse quickens, but I continue regardless. It is not them I fear. I am surrounded by horror, but I know of nothing more. You must learn my secret:

    I see monsters.

    The words seem derisory when I say them, yet I choose them carefully. I do this because you will recognise them, but to me the words sink far deeper, pull much tighter than you can imagine. I have watched them closely, in full terror; yet to see them is merely to peel at the foil wrapping of their full, horrifying reality. I want to tell you a little bit more, want to shed some more light on my darkness, but there is just too much for you to understand. Things are not as they seem. Many have learned to mock this notion, but I am not like most people. I feel no affiliation with the plasticised ghouls and sugar-coated spectres that you may be familiar with. My monsters have neither rhyme nor reason, and act as no moral benchmark. They exist; they are everywhere. Typically, they appear to me like vague swirling shadows, seeping and sliding out from beneath me, screeching and pouring from anything they may choose: from everything around us. They surround me, try and consume me, and are closer than you might ever fully realise. You must believe me.

    I know them.

    Come closer, and I will show you... do you see the quiet man from across my window? He sits by his computer every night: twitching and rustling in his seat, rubbing his pencil sharp nose with his thin, yellowing fingertips, his eyes transfixed on that burning blue screen. The monsters are with him; it’s always like that when he sits there. They circle him wildly, sweating out from within the dank, decaying walls and carpet, entering him like visible, shadowy gusts of air. He cannot see them, but I think that he feels their presence. I know this because it changes him. I watch the small beady eyes on his head grow deep-blood red, impassioned with a form of hunger I do not recognise. He pounds furiously at his keyboard, and leers before the monitor. I see him do horrible things sometimes, though I dare not look again. He cannot fight them; I fear this could be me. I fear this could be anyone...

    Yet, strangely, it is not always like this.

    I have witnessed occasions when they seem to lose – and though I'm hesitant to describe it as such... I cannot explain it; I watch as they freeze at once before their target, descending back down through the cracked floorboards of whence they came, screeching wildly, as if to lick at their apparent wounds. There is quiet - a deathly peace - but it’s not long before they return. The monsters seem to hound me, regrouping, tormenting my thoughts with a deep and familiar terror. I don’t think they can understand me. I used to think this may scare them, but I was wrong. Now I am just like the others, and they circle each day and night, trying to envelope me in their darkness.

    I fight it doggedly.

    Can’t let them in...

    I hear loud chapping at the door. The eager shrieks of children are spinning erratically from outside, amidst the wild bullet snaps of mad and thundering firecrackers. It is Halloween. People are happy, celebrating their own brand of terror in a way I could never imagine. They amaze me. The monsters seem weaker on nights like this - yet tonight their sharp whisperings spark at me like electricity through the air. I tighten my sheets as I now hear the familiar slippery, hissing of the approach. The monsters are coming for me. I feel the burn from beneath my feet; my breath tightens. The monsters are now under my bed, and will be with me imminently. I wrap the sheets tightly over my head, trembling in fear. I cannot leave the solace of my bed: I will not leave it. I let my eyes descend into blackness as I cover my quivering mouth with warm, sticking hands, preparing once more to find some strength from within my weak and drowning courage. I pray silently that you believe me; that you hold my story closely.

    For I have already told too much.
  8. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    SayWhatNow? - Are You Quite Sure?

    Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop.
    When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.
    No, mommy won’t catch you, no not at all.
    You’ll die on the ground, cradle and all.
    A smile, broad and unnaturally stable.
    “Mother!” A young head came flailing back to a dust-free world, followed close behind by its long hair. A subtle thump began and progressed closer and closer, getting louder and louder. Alexis flattened herself against her bed and covered herself under as many blankets as small hands could grasp at such a fast pulse. The end result was a face covered up to the nose, eyes above it totally dilated, eyes waiting for the arrival of her savior. It looked as if something were trying to rip the blanket off of her, as a huge bulge ebbed up and down under the blanket.
    Thumping, closer and closer, until it finally came bursting into the room, huffing and puffing in a fizzle of glory. Still the thumping continued. In the doorway stood a woman dressed in a black-hooded robe and sweat. She managed to force down breathing to a normal level and kick up dust on the floor as she tenderly approached Alexis. Floorboards bent and squeaked under the bulk in human form. Sister Sophia had a certain grace about her, however, something serene. Perhaps it was the flowing robe, even though that was considerably restricted by useless fat.
    “What is it? What is it?” Crackle, crackle. Huff, huff.
    “I don’t know! Something is there!” Alexis couldn’t control what volume to say this at. Part of her was quiet and the other was panicky loud. Both of these sides alternated, along with the voice. The words came out pitifully awkward.
    The thumping came closer once more, and with it another of the black-robed ones. A twin of the other, except for a face that was both sweatier and epically plumper. This other woman also had no grace about her, waddling and causing a thundering boom throughout the entire building, but she was motherly nonetheless. The new arrival collided into her predecessor, sending a ripple through both bodies and knocking them to the floor. Alexis shrieked again, than hid totally under the blanket.
    Once both persons had regained themselves (which was after a clash of limbs and excuse-for-swears) the quest to help the shivering lump under the blanket resumed. The first nun quickly briefed the second on what she had heard and told her to proceed with caution towards the bed, but not to talk, simply to be there for Alexis’s peace of mind.
    The scene at the bed resembled that of an operation: hunched backs set intently upon a person, trying to fix an apparently catastrophic error, and being careful to the highest degree. The first sister gently laid a hand on the scratchy blankets, prompting a small jolt and whimper from underneath it.
    “It’s me,” she said. “Mother Maria.” A white face slid out from under the blankets, exhaling a held breath as it caught sight of the nun hanging over her. The fear still existed, though, just as healthy as it was with the breath.
    “Mother Maria?” She needed to hear the voice to know it was her.
    “Something’s there.” Alexis’s voice took on an icy slipperiness as she spoke the last word. It sent shivers down both clergywomen’s spine, but they knew by experience never to show fear to an already frightened child.
    “Where, sweety? And what is it?” The other nun, Sister Sophia, moved closer to the scene and encompassed Alexis’s left side. The already traumatized girl compressed herself as best she could against the bed.
    “I d-don’t know what it is,” she said. “It was some sort of monster.” Both nuns exchanged a quick, professional glance.”It was under the bed.” That glance was no longer, brief but a full two seconds long. In those two seconds, they had a short conversation.
    It’s just that again, conveyed the Mother.
    I don’t think so. Look at her; that’s just a bit intense for something so minor as that.
    Alexis has always been easily scared. Just show her, like usual, and pay close attention to her for the next few days.
    And with that command, they both went about their procedures. Mother Maria shooed away her lesser, which did not much help Alexis’s sense of security. She stared longingly at the large woman lumbering away, wanting to put an arm out to try and pull her back, but not willing to risk it snatching her away. Even when she was out of sight, Alexis still stared at the wall where she roughly estimated the clergywoman was. She soon gave up, though, coming to both the realization that she had long lost her target and that it was still there.
    Out of the corner of her eye, Alexis saw Mother Maria leaning down and lifting the overhanging blankets. She turned her head and widened her face at there being no savage attack, no splitting hiss, not even the ominous purring that had first alerted her to its presence. A moment later, Alexis came to the conclusion that her caregiver was totally insane; she smile broad and amused, then snorted a small giggle.
    “Come here,” she said, suppressing a forced laughter. Alexis did as she was told, if not at a mind-numbingly slow speed at first. Mother Maria told her to hurry up, which worked to get Alexis there in the snap of a finger. A thud came with her bare feet as the hit the floor. “Look,” said Mother Maria. Once again, Alexis did so and saw a doll with button eyes and a chronic smile struck on its face. “It was just a doll.”
    “Silly me.” Alexis didn’t quite believe it, but told herself that Mother Maria knew best and that she was just hallucinating. There was still that tiny corner of her mind that lashed out threads of fear to the rest of it. “Sorry for worrying you so. I got scared pretty well, though, so I think I’ll just go to sleep again. My legs feel weak.” There was a happiness that, if you were looking for it, was obviously forced.
    “Now, now,” comforted the Mother. “You don’t have to be sorry. This happens to everyone at one time or another.” She smiled and Alexis returned the gesture with an added sense of completion, than fell backwards and laid her head on clasped-together hands. The two parties took their separate routes.
    Many hours passed and nothing in the bedroom changed. It went un-trafficked for the rest of the day, as the message of her fright spread like wildfire throughout the orphanage. That is, of course, not counting the pair of human eyes that, unknown to Alexis, glowed as they watched her all night.

    The next day was quite a polar opposite of the previous. When Alexis woke up, there was a small crowd of people gathered in her bedroom. Among them were towering nuns, giant oaks among the grassy plain of small children screaming “surprise!” in gurgled synchronization. They all had seen her flickering her eyes open at dramatically different times.
    Those flickering eyes soon opened fully to reveal blues eyes sparkling with happiness. Alexis sat up and smiled, yellow teeth showing. She knew what this was.
    It was her birthday. Nobody in the establishment could even pretend to tell dates or time other than knowing how many days-per-year there were. As a result, the nuns wrote down a number (normally in the hundreds) for each orphan. They were all different and going no higher than 365 and always totally random. They counted on number lower every day until they got to one. At that point, they celebrated a “birthday” and the orphan was considered a year older. And in addition, the population went out on the town for the special person to pick out a small gift every five years.
    Today was Alexis’s first time and she was bursting to get out of her artificial home’s boundaries. She had been out before, for other people, but today felt especially great because she was the center of attention.
    There was much chatter amongst the children. Mostly it was speculation as to what she would buy. Alexis heard this, felt even better, and, to the satisfaction of Mother Maria and Sister Sophia, got up spiritedly. She joined her comrades and began chattering with them.
    The nuns were efficient as they were caring, and herded the blob of kids out the doorway and to the town. Many happy stares (and a few scornful ones) were beamed at them as they paraded down to the toymaker’s shop.
    “It’s Alexis this time!” they all screamed.
    Alexis had seen very few children of her age in public, and never before were they unattended, or even on foot. That was why she was starkly surprised when she saw a raggedy girl walking down the street with a head down and bare feet that were probably contracting hypothermia from the snow. Her hair was long, black, and arranged in a chaotic organization. The girl raised her head, as if she sensed Alexis’s curious stare (which she performed with her signature cocked head.) Her eyes were equally as black as her hair. They stung with a scornful look that Alexis thought impossible from anyone not an adult. After a split second of inequitable discomfort, both stares dropped away from each other. The girl walked on as if nothing happened.
    That was the last she had seen of the girl. After that Alexis was absorbed back into the swarm of children and their conversations, which had branched off into an assortment of the most random of topics. They soon came upon the toymaker’s shop and everyone scrounged around in there, trying out this and that and that and this. Alexis settled on a small wooden thing that made very pretty noise when you blew into it.
    “It’s called an ocarina,” explained the toymaker as they purchased it. She didn’t care what it was called. It sounded good. On the home she discovered that if you covered up the holes on the top it would change noises. She decided to figure out what sound each one makes and write her own songs. Everyone was impressed.
    The rest of the day was consumed by her scolding little boys about not bothering her while she conducted “cultural experiments” with her purchase. A plethora of squeaks came, but by the end of the day she could almost play it without shattering the eardrums of all involved.

    That night, as she was falling asleep, something came to her ears.

    Rock-a-bye baby in the treetop.
    The voice was that of a girl her age, which comforted her. It came from nowhere, but rumbled yet rang throughout the room. Alexis closed her eyes just a bit more comfortably and waited to fall asleep, assisted by voice, which she couldn’t think about the owner of in her hazy tiredness.

    When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.
    Closer to sleep.

    No mommy won’t catch you, no not at all.
    The voice became localized to the left side of Alexis’s bed. Along with it came a squeak of crude metal springs. Alexis remembered. She remembered what scared her last night. She remembered that it felt exactly like what she was feeling now. Her eyes opened from both her free will and it opening them. There was a spidery girl of her age crawling on all fours from underneath her bed. It was pale, paler than paper.

    You’ll die on the ground
    Alexis realized as she looked at its eyes and realized that it was the girl she had seen on the street that day. But that was the only thing she could use to identify her. It was changing from its original form to another girl. A familiar girl. Alexis.

    Cradle and all
    At the daily prayer session the next day, all of them had gathered in a mighty semi-circle to recite the Lord’s Prayer. Alexis felt twitchy and hyper during the prayer, like she wanted to bolt away at top speed. She resisted the temptation.
    When the final words were spoken, the children dispersed to get breakfast. As they did, Alexis chose a random child: a boy who looked about twelve years old. Perfect. She shot him a smile, broad and unnaturally steady.
  9. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Nackl of Gilmed - Fear

    “So,” said the woman at the front of the room. “Can anybody tell me why we are here?” A few hands twitched feebly into the air. The woman ignored them and they slowly lowered again.
    “We are here,” she continued, “because this office has had a few problems with tolerance.” She emphasized the last word with back-breaking contempt. “My name is Jennifer, and I am going to run you through the company’s guidelines regarding equality and diversity…”
    I leaned back in my chair, carefully located as far back as I could go without drawing too much attention to myself, and rubbed absently at an old scar on my leg. They are different from us, said a little voice in my head. Anyone who says otherwise is either lying or crazy.
    Jennifer was talking again. She had pinned up some pictures – Count Dracula, he of the bared fangs and the stiff collar; the Creature from the Black Lagoon; a snarling werewolf with a tattered shirt hanging off his arms. “Can anyone tell me,” she asked, her gaze once again sweeping the room, “what it is that we have here?”
    “Monsters,” came one man’s tentative answer. Jennifer turned quickly to the source of this grievous error, who hunched slightly into his chair.
    “Wrong,” she said firmly, gesturing to the pictures. “What we have here are stereotypes. Damaging stereotypes which unfairly profile a valued section of our workforce…”
    Through the window I could see a few of the office’s non-human employees going about their work. Maybe I’m the one who’s crazy.

    Bad as the seminar was, at least only humans had to attend. Later I sat at my desk, frantically rifling through piles of paper. I was looking for a lost scrap of paper I’d written a client’s private number on. I already knew I wouldn’t find it, but I kept searching; it delayed the inevitable. I already knew I only had two options. The first was to not call back, and invent some awkward excuse when it finally came up that I’d been ignoring a client. The second was to ask Rob to write out the number for me again.
    Rob was “differently aligned.” That’s the official term for the slimy, tube-mouthed bog monster who sat at the receptionist’s desk. Ron looked like he was stitched together from swamp mud and the nightmares of children, and for all anyone knows, maybe he was.
    I approached the desk with a carefully calculated casual look. Jennifer was standing beside me. Her and Rob were chatting. Rob looked up, and his mouth – the tube-thing that dangled below his twitching slit nose – flopped around horribly. My legs went weak at the sight.
    “Hey there, pal,” Rob said cheerfully. His voice was the deep bubbly echo of water going down the bath drain. I’d always been scared of that sound as a child.
    “H-hey, Rob,” I replied, detecting a slight tremor in my voice and trying to mask it as a cough. “I just need a new copy of – uh, that number you gave me earlier…”
    “Oh, sure thing,” Rob regurgitated in reply. He discreetly wiped his webbed hands on a moist paper towel before scrawling out the number on a new scrap of paper. He wasn’t quick enough, however; a rope of green-brown sludge, freshly secreted from his damp leathery skin, dripped down the length of the pen and soiled the last few numbers. He held it out to me anyway. Jennifer stared at me intently, daring me to object. I hesitated just a moment too long. Rob’s bottom-feeding proboscis flattened out, curling up slightly in some grotesque smile. I took the paper and tried not to show that I was turning the stained side away from me. I glanced up briefly, once I was safely at my desk. Jennifer was writing something down, one eyebrow arched in disapproval.

    That night I dreamed. The dream started a little different every time, but I always knew how it would end.
    I am young again. Four, maybe five. I have just finished my bath. I have dried myself off and put on my pajamas, but the bath is still full. I don’t like the sound the water makes as it gurgles down the drain. I imagine it is the laughing of goblins as they wait in the darkness below. I plan to pull the plug and run out of the bathroom as quickly as I can. Rehearsing the action in my mind, I roll up one sleeve and reach down to pull out the plug.
    But this time my plan fails me. The water doesn’t gurgle but roars; it is pulled down the drain with incredible force, and I am sucked down with it. I am half-drowned and battered about in confining darkness, helpless in the pull.
    Eventually the water settles, and I find myself in the ocean. I am wearing a snorkel now – like the one I received on my ninth birthday, the day my family and I went to the beach – and I watch the fish. That is when I see a jellyfish, drifting lazily towards me. I take a few strokes back, confident I can keep away from it. I don’t move. With sudden panic I turn and try to swim away, but still I make no progress. Nature has conspired against me and I am trapped in an undertow.
    The jellyfish approaches unhindered, its tentacles slowly spreading out to snare me. I feel them – horrid soft things that slide slowly up the back of my legs. There is no pain, not quite yet, but the strength drains out of me and I can no longer even try to resist. As the tentacles reach inexorably upward the stinging pain hits. I look back and see my legs disappearing into the massive, swollen mantle of a creature far bigger than the one that left a scar on my leg on my ninth birthday. This monster is bigger than anything, bigger than the world. As the tentacles encircle my waist it speaks to me. Hey buddy, it whispers, the words buzzing in my ears. I am pulled in up to my chest, my shoulders, my neck.
    That was when I woke up. And I thought the same thing I thought every night; that as terrible as my fear is, the fear of being judged is greater.
  10. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Eoz Eanj - Underneath


    The ceiling consisted of several dark maple planks, held up by a perfectly rectangular stainless steel frame. The floor was carpeted with a suffocating mixture of lint and flakes of dead skin. The walls were painted graphite grey and floated in harmony with the sea-side breeze. Food was plentiful, and a small fissure in the carpet filled a sweetly stale puddle once every morning. It was a calm place, as long as the sun shone.

    He centred himself in the middle of the soft-dust carpet and nurtured his shaking knees with the palms of his hands. His scales gleamed in the dim moonlight and the sweat from his thorny brow made his eyes shine like two neatly aligned onyx stones. He rocked back and forth, tapping his long, mother-of-pearl claws at the hardened bone of his kneecaps. A shallow pool of moss-coloured saliva formed at the corners of his mouth as he stared listlessly at the greyed walls. Something was going to happen. The walls were too still.

    It was soft at first, but the creek grew louder, rapidly evolving from a dull squeak to that of a piercing whistle. He stopped rocking. He stared at the walls, watching as they slowly began to ripple. His heart began to race, and his muscles stretch within his skeletal ribs; he emitted sporadic wet-coughs as his blood pulsated violently through his tort-arteries. The insides of his thighs tensed as acid excitedly accumulated in the muscle. He arched his back and lowered his head to the floor. His breath rustled the dusty carpet like dried leafs among thick autumn haze.

    ‘It’s back’.

    The night-terrors always began with a strange sound, dull and muffled like a broken speaker. It was like a drawn-out moan, or a sharpened sigh. It was accompanied with several, short wails each with an interval of six to seven seconds, often lasting hours on end. On especially dark nights the wailing would extend into powerful, wild shrieks, which would shake the filth from the carpet and expel insects from the metal frame.

    ‘It must be looking.’

    Most evenings, he’d just sit still and cover his ears, but sometimes, just sometimes, he’d uncover his ears and listen. He didn’t know what he was listening for. He did not hear like the creature could, but sometimes he thought he could understand it. Sometimes he thought that, maybe, the creature wasn’t even trying to find him, maybe the creatu.... ‘No’, he’d think to himself;

    ‘It kills my kind.’

    So silently he would remain curled up- with his spikes outwards forming a protective, mesh-shell, scratching softly away at the maple ceiling with his talons- trying to remember what his name looked like against the wooden grain. He placed his frayed, tawny hand against his chest, and caressed his metallic skin, waiting for the moon to spill her light through the transparent-grey. He had not known for how many nights he had lain there, waiting. He hoped she would never find out.
  11. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    BUDDY GORGEOUS - Unknown Destination

    There is always a night in every child's life where mummy and daddy come to check for the closet monster. For Erin, the need to have mum and dad to check the closet for the boogeyman started one frosty night when a sudden creak roused her from sleep. Tucked under the warmth of her blankets (five blankets thank's to her mum's insistence of fending off the biting October cold), Erin gingerly peeked her eyes and button nose over the lip of her duvet and eyed the closet door in the corner. It was slightly ajar, not the way she had left it. Scarlet, yellow and blue streamers left over from her bycicle decoration were swinging gently back and forth on the gilded door knob. The window, which needed no confirmation of it's state thank's to her slightly over protective mother, was shut tight. Not even a squeak of air whistled in to the coziness of her small toy shop of a room. After debating and wrestling with her apprehension, Erin eventually curled out from under the bed layers like a little blooming flower bud and rushed to her parent's room, never taking her eyes off the closet door. If it so much as squeaked i'll scream to high heaven, she thought.

    Her dad decided to be the evictor for the night and ambled in to her bedroom. He had no choice really. Erin's mum was deep in the land of nod, her snoring like a fog horn was evidence of this. What was left of daddy's black hair was raised up in a little messy quiff and his breath resembled something close to flatulence. "Yes, babe, what's wrong?" he croaked out.
    She was sure, no! more sure than sure that there was someone or something in her room and pleaded for him to come and rid of it.

    A sudden horrid thought dragged an icy finger of realisation up her spine. What if it's stealing all my cuddly bears and dresses! I'll have nothing to wear tomorrow!. She peaked arround the door frame, leaning on one leg and peered through the dark in to her room, making sure whoever it was in there wasn't tippy-toeing towards her window with a bag full of booty. Nothing. Phew!. Well, not quite because that meant it was still in there. Her dad, patient as a stone, just watched his little eight year old girl with a patronising look smeared across his sleepy face, understanding that whatever she had seen or heared was just a mumble of the floor boards and shadowplay from outside. With a deep sigh that rumbled out from his rotund belly like a peal of thunder, he got out of bed clumsily.
    His eyes, not yet accustomed to the dark, navigated him in to her chest of drawers with a loud thud, sending her Chronicles of Narnia books toppling to the floor. Hopping on one foot whilst clutching at the other he exclaimed a few hushed obscenities through gritted teeth and looked over his shoulder to see little Erin tittering to herself. He smiled wryly at her and started towards the door, clumsily limping with every step, arms out before him like a goofy zombie. Erin was at the door frame, clutching it with her hands till her knuckles burned white.

    With a big swing of the door that gusted a warm breath of sickly sweet air past Erin, he announced in a heroic voice of his findings.
    "Aaaa HA! ...There's nothing in here lovely, except all your cuddly friends and sparkly dresses. There's nobody here babe".

    As he closed the door a modicum of relief rushed through her. Strangely, she didn't know either to be dissapointed or relieved. She would settle for the latter and bounced up in to her dadddy's huge arms with a warm smile. But dresses can't open doors. And the door knob is to high for teddy to grasp. The smile vanished like a cloud veiling the stars. Dread was slowly creeping in to her mind and body, her heart fluttering a little faster, quakes in her limbs gently multiplying. The embrace was akin to hugging the radiator, but daddy was so much softer. He walked over to her bed, trodding on an unseen toy that yowled out in pain and packed her up back under the multitude of sheets before the cold started to nibble at her fingers and toes.

    'Daddy i'm not lying to you i promise, i could feel the prickly things on the back of my neck stand up, you know? like when someone's looking at you' she mumbled under her duvet.
    Her dad reasurred her that there was nothing in there to be worried about. The brown jewells of his eyes glittered as a slice of moonlight caught his face through the curtains. She stared at them in wonder for a moment before he gave her a kiss on the cheek.
    "You have school in the morining, try and go to sleep okay?" he said, His stubble was like a cheese grater on the skin.
    "Okay" She replied, rubbing away the wetness from her cheek. Not completely re-assured, she watched daddy bimble back in to his room, arms out like a Zombie. She slowly drifted off to sleep, never once taking her eyes away from the closet.

    But it wasn't long before she was suddenly woken by a horrid screech and a chorus of bangs. Erin's little heart fluttered wildly like a tiny flame to the wind. Staying under the comfort of her sheets Erin yelled out "Mummy? Daddy?". But her enquiries were met with silence. She tried again. But only the small noises of the house retorted. She eyed the closet door to see if it was open again but it was not, and sufficiently motivated her to investigate the noises. Climbing out once more, wrestling with the layers of blankets, the air was frozen and rushed up her little shaking body from toe to head like an icy snake. Her breath plumed out before her like a speech bubbles. As she neared her parent's door she didn't want to venture solo. Her favourite bear, Sam (who has one button eye, popped stitches on his belly and stains made from when she was a baby, irremoveable by any chemical known to man), was quickly snatched up from his seating ammongst the innumerable toys on the floor. She clutched him close to her. The little flame blinked madly in her chest and waves of shudders rippled through her making her teeth chatter. She wondered if they hadn't heared her calling them, so before entering (a safety precaution, which she learned the hard way a few months before when accidently suprising mummy and daddy whilst they were playing in bed) she called out again. But once more, there was no reply.

    She reached for the door handle and slowly turned it.

    The sight her eyes lay upon was hampered by the gloom. It seemed that the bed was pulled in to the middle of the room, it's legs had obviously caused the noise as they howled on the wooden floor. But more strangely than that, mummy and daddy weren't sleeping in it, wrapped up warmly like she was. There were two white objects poking out from beneath the bed, like two fat pale slugs and like slugs were moving infinitismally further and further under the bed. But to where?. Erin's eight year old mind couldn't comprehend the sight before her. But her heart comprehended the scene perfectly. Something was very wrong indeed.
    "Mummy? Daddy? is that you?" she enquired, nervousness weaved in her words. But the slugs didn't reply, the only retort was the whisper of sheets dragging across the floor to an unknown destination. Something beneath the boards pulsed and suddenly, as she looked down between her toes, the boards bulged upwards. She shrieked, dropping Sam on the floor with a little bounce, and ran to her bed, springing up with the grace of a little athlete in to the cosy comfort of her bed. She could still hear noises from inside her parent's room, something unearthly that no human adjectives could describe adequately. Hopefully mummy and daddy would appear and shoo whatever it is away. But, even her young mind knew that was only wishfull thinking. Where was mummy and daddy at this time of night? surely they would have heared the ruckus from downstairs? if that was where they were.

    The bed suddenly jerked violently.

    Erin issued a little yelp of fright and began to whimper under the sheets, squeezing her eyes closed tightly whilst trying desperately with her wobbling arms to clamp the sheets to her pillow for safety. The flame flared with horror in her chest. A toy suddenly squeaked and other unknown objects banged as they were dashed out of the way. Her drawers were thrown over with a horrific crash. Erin had never been so scared, crying a rivers worth of tears, wetting her pyjama top. She realised, the closet monster was not what she should have been fearing all along. This was something very different. Daddy couldn't find it in her closet for a reason. It was hiding beneath the bed, salivating in anticipation of chewing on her bones. All her senses seemed to be acutely attuned to whatever was under the bed. She was sure she could hear it's tongue, grey as a louses back, squeaking as it wet the inumerable jagged teeth that lined it's cavernous maw. It's talons as sharp as blades raking the matress, seeking the warm little meal encased within the folds of her bed.

    The bed jerked again, juddering like her limbs across the room.

    This is it!. It's going to get me!. The monster beneath was here and played a trick on me and daddy. It was here lying in wait all along!. Her last desperate words to her protector went unheared. An increadible weight pressed down on to her from outside the sheets, pressing the air from her lungs in a painful crush. The blankets that were supposedly shielding her were now traitorous as they folded her up like the slugs in mummy and daddy's room. The sheets were suffocatingly tight against her and it wasn't long before the the little flame within her chest had finally been petered out.

    Her calls to her protector didn't go totally unheared however.

    Old Mr and Mrs.Langley next door, tucked up in their bed were startled awake by the disturbances and called for the police. Speed was not a part of the Police force's expertise but tonight they were unusually punctual. Their blue lights throbbed and splashed the houses as they turned in to the street. Mrs Langley stood at her front door, clutching her dressing gown closed against the chill, the bush of silver hair on her head was gently fluxuating in the wind and the car's lights danced off her spectacles like blue sparks. Receiving no answer after knocking the front door the Police let themselves in without making too much damage. Calling out as they went they searched the bottom floor and found nothing but expected home furniture when flicking on the lights. Upstairs they found plenty but also, paradoxically, found nothing. Both bedrooms in a state of ruin showing obvious signs of a struggle but the house owners were nowhere to be seen.

    Maybe they were abducted? maybe with the speed and eagerness of their investigation downstairs, did not see the ransom letter? any presumptions to where they were at were simply that. The only certainty the Police had of the situatuion was that the house owners were at an unknown destination.
  12. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England
    killerz2 - The Little Heroine

    Kay-Lynn opened the door. Stuff animals and clothes littered
    the room. She danced her way to her bed. As her head hit the pillow,
    the blanket encased her whole body with familiar warmth. “Goodnight
    my little one.” Her father closed the door behind him. Dreams of a
    pink playground were calling to her to come and enjoy what delights
    that had until the monster overwhelmed Kay-Lynn. She sat up and only
    saw the silhouettes of her room due to the moonlight. The noise could
    be heard as Kay-Lynn began to shake in her legs. His breathing got
    louder. A new scraping noise added on to the already breathing from
    beneath the bed. Kay-Lynn put her head back down on the pillow pulling
    the blanket as close as she could over her head. The noises moved
    closer and closer to Kay-Lynn, to the point that the blanket was being
    pulled from off of her. Just before the blanket was pulled completely
    off, Kay-Lynn let out a scream that would wake the dead. Her tiny feet
    carried her from her bed,up the hallway and through the open bedroom
    door. She stopped at the foot of the bed as she saw her mom and dad
    looking down at her. “Mommy! Daddy!” Kay-Lynn screamed.

    “What?” Both parents answered.

    “There’s a monster in my room. It tried to eat me.” Kay-Lynn
    pushed out in between the short breaths and tears. She ran over to mom
    and jumped into her open arms. As her mom’s wrapped her arms around
    her. A sense of security replaced the thought of the monster eating
    her. “There’s no such thing as monsters sweet pea. Your dad will walk
    you back to your bed OK?” Mom said.

    Kay-Lynn looked over to see her dad climbing out of bed with a
    smile on his face, “Yes little one, I’ll tuck you back into bed. Come
    on though, you need to get some sleep. We don’t want you all tired and
    grumpy –”

    “Like mommy in the morning” Kay-Lynn added.

    “Yup, just like mommy in the mornings. You’re too sweet for that
    so let’s go” Kay-Lynn grabbed her dad’s hand and walked back to the
    door to her bedroom. The light turned on and her clothes were in the
    same place, her stuffed animals were in the same places. Nothing had
    been disturbed at all. She again made her way into her bed; once again
    felt the warmth of the blanket. “See, there’s no monster hiding
    anywhere in your room but just in case there is. I want you to do
    something for me.”

    “What’s that?” Kay-Lynn asked.

    “Protect your teddy bear from the monster.” Her dad grabbed a
    stuffed teddy bear with sunglasses on his head and then put it right
    beside Kay-Lynn, “I know you can do it.”

    “I won’t let anything happen to the teddy. “

    “I know you won’t. Goodnight little one.” Dad said before the
    door closed. Kay-Lynn pulled the teddy bear close against her pillow
    and began to fall asleep once again. The monster started up again. The
    monster’s heavy breathing was coming from underneath the bed. This
    time it was closer and louder than before. It’s finger nails dug
    against the side of the bed. Kay-Lynn started to tremble again; she
    ran to open her bedroom door for help. Her small fingernails gripped
    the doorknob tight was about to turn it open when she stopped. She
    looked back over at the bed and noticed something. The teddy that her
    dad had told her to protect from the monster was lying on the bed all
    alone. It couldn’t run away, it was all alone and helpless. Kay-Lynn
    took a deep breath and inched her way back to her bed. She dropped to
    her knees, look around the sides of the bed. She didn’t see anything.
    As she got off her knees and was about to climb back into bed, the
    monster’s took another deep breath. Kay-Lynn grabbed a ruler that was
    nearby and knelt back down. Kay-Lynn gripped the ruler tight then
    plunged it into the darkness. The ruler hit something hard. The
    monster made a groaning sound before trying to take the ruler away.
    Kay-Lynn struggled with monster for minutes until one final thrust
    broke the ruler off and then there was silence. The ticking of the
    outdoor clock was all that could be heard. No monster breathing, no
    scratching against the bed. Nothing but silence was heard. Kay-Lynn
    got back up and into bed next to teddy. “It’s ok teddy. No one is
    going to hurt you. I won’t let them.”

    Kay-Lynn wrapped herself back into her blanket. She looked at
    the teddy and it's silence was all the thank you she could ask for.
  13. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England
    kaitylizz - Monsters Under The Bed

    Halloween had always been Carter's favorite day of the year. Getting paid with candy to play dress-up was fantastic to the bubbly blonde's five-year-old mind. Plus, her mother always made chili and cookies on Halloween. How could a day possibly get any better?

    However, after trick-or-treating was the worst time Carter could possibly imagine. Her bed was right next to a window overlooking her driveway. She had no blinds, so trying to fall asleep was nearly impossible as she watched the older kids-monsters, witches, skeletons, grim reapers-walk up and down the sidewalk.

    This year, Carter's mother decided that instead of dealing with the inevitable battle of convincing her five-year-old to shut her eyes and go to sleep, she would just turn the lights out on the front porch so that no trick-or-treaters came up to the door and Carter could not see them passing by. Carter did not know about her mother's devious plan.

    Lying in bed, Carter listened to the silence. Was it not Halloween night? Had there not been trick-or-treaters ringing the doorbell every five seconds only minutes before? Carter's eyes widened as she stared up at the ceiling and listened to nothing, gripping her sheets with everything she had.

    Carter heard a shriek from far off in the distance. Then she heard a scratch against the window, and another scratch from underneath her bed. Carter hid her face underneath the covers. There was a monster. He had eaten all the children. That was why they were no longer trick-or-treating. And now he was here, in her bedroom, under her bed, ready to eat her. Carter was so scared, she couldn't even cry. She couldn't call out for her mother. She just gripped her covers and said a frightened prayer.

    The little girl shrieked as a figure darted out from under her bed and jumped on top of her. The figure bared its teeth before turning around and curling up in a ball on top of Carter. Carter sighed as she realized that it was only Calico, her tabby cat.

    Carter's mother came rushing into her bedroom. "What's wrong, baby?" she asked, breathing hard from running up the flight of stairs.

    "I thought Calico was a monster under my bed," said Carter, her bright blue eyes brimming with tears. All the trick-or-treaters were gone, and I heard scratching sounds, and I-I thought the monster had eaten everyone.

    Carter's mother crossed the room and swooped her little girl up in her arms, holding her tight. "Cary," she said, rocking the little girl. "Oh, baby, I'm sorry. I was trying to keep you from getting scared, I didn't realize that not letting people trick-or-treat at our house would scare you even worse. How about next year I'll just tape a blanket up to your window." Carter smiled and nodded, wiping the tears from her eyes. She hugged her mother before tucking herself back into bed.

    "I love you, Mommy," she called. Calico climbed up in the bed next to her and buried his warm face into her chest.
  14. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England
    SCorneliusJ - Leverage

    Remember when you were a kid and you were convinced there was a monster under the bed trying to eat you? Well, you weren’t too far off. It turns out there is an entire race of Monsters living across the globe, and each one is assigned a kid (or, in the case of more advanced Monsters, multiple kids) to scare. How do I know this? Well, I happen to be good friends with the Monster that was assigned to me.

    Mort wasn’t a terrible Monster, just unfortunate. For a start was given me to scare. I’m not particularly unflappable or anything, it’s just that it’s hard to be the ‘Monster Under the Bed’ when there is no ‘under the bed’. I remember the first time we met. I was eight at the time, and I was woken by a large ‘thud’ as something rammed into my bed. I wasn’t sure what time it was, but it was late enough at night to be considered early in the morning. I looked over the edge of my bed and squinted into the darkness to find a six legged… thing staring back at me. It grinned sheepishly and cleared its throat.
    “Uh… hi” it said, looking around the room, as though for a place to escape my gaze.
    “Hi” I responded, uncertain of what was happening.

    The Monster was beginning to sweat now. I didn’t know it at the time, but he was sweating because he had broken the first rule of being a Monster Under the Bed; “Don’t let the bloody kid(s) see you” (paraphrased for profanity). Well, technically it was the second rule, but it was the first in terms of importance and Mort, as the Monster later introduced himself, had just broken it on his first night of the job.
    I…uh,” Mort said as he collected himself, “I don’t suppose you could forget you saw me, could you?”
    “Probably not.”
    “Oh. Okay then.”
    Mort slunk dejectedly to a corner of the room and sat down with a sigh.
    “Don’t mind me. I’ll just sit here until they fire me.”
    I was one of those kids who had to question everything. You know, the kind you want to hit because they wont stop asking questions, so i began to wonder who this Monster would possibly have to and, deciding it the best way to find out, I asked him.

    Mort explained that he worked for a company that harvested the raw fear of children and distributed it to other Monsters, who needed it in order to stay alive. I thought that was pretty cruel, and told him as much.
    “It’s either that or we just eat you all,” Mort replied, “and we’d rather not. Too many calories, you see. And you Humans are limited, your fear, on the other hand…”
    Mort seemed to have calmed down a little now, and continued explaining how each Monster is assigned a child to scare and is to bring home at least five canisters full of fear a week. Any Monster not meeting this quota or caught breaking any of the rules was fired or relegated to the less desirable position of Ghost, which involved only being visible in photographs and going around saying ‘Ooooh!’ in a barely audible whisper.
    “There were a few Monsters who were more successful after they were fired.” Mort said, considerably more cheerful, “Bigfoot lived a nice, comfortable life. Oh, and I hear Nessie just loves all the speculation about her.”
    I smiled, but made a mental note not to visit Loch Ness.

    Mort finished talking, and the reality of the situation he was in seemed to hit him again. He sat slumped against the wall silently for a few minutes before perking up suddenly. He stood and walked to the bed.
    “Guess what, kid?” he said, grinning in a way that showed all his teeth. I recoiled defensively, and one of Mort’s canisters was filled a little.
    He continued, seeing I wasn’t going to answer him, “I’m going to wake you up at random times during the night.” He giggled as he sliced open the base of my bed using one of his claws and crawled inside. “Good luck trying to sleep tonight.” He said through the bed and then, as an afterthought, “Please don’t tell anyone about me.’

    And so it was that I first met Mort. He kept his promise and woke me up randomly now and then, and the anticipation of it all seemed enough to satisfy his quota of fear, since it has been five years and he’s still haunting me.

    If anyone were to read this, I’d be breaking my end of the promise to Mort. I feel a little bad, but I have exams all next week and the little bastard wont let me sleep. Let’s see if this is enough to make the bugger give me a good night’s rest.
  15. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England
    Marshall41 - Lost and Found

    Have you met the monsters under your bed? Everyone has monsters in their life and they enjoy most to lurk, brood, and practice being monsters beneath deceptively comfortable mattresses. Usually children are the only ones who meet their monsters; adults tend to turn a blind eye to the grotesque creatures – which only makes matters worse. I met my monsters right before I turned thirteen, right before I stopped playing the cootie game, started wearing makeup, and got my heart broken when my best friend, Christopher Thompson – who I had a secret crush on, decided to date Allie Carlson, my other best friend.

    The day I would face my greatest fears and find my greatest joys was like any other snow day. It all started with an announcement.

    “The sliding economy could potentially lead to drastic falls in employment levels and stock values, the radio declared. I sat, eating my daily bowl of cereal in anxious anticipation, thoroughly annoyed by the depressingly informative radio host. “It has been only a few short years since the last recession and another so soon. . . Beep, Beep, Beep! We are sorry to interrupt your scheduled programming. There are school closings due to inclement weather in the following areas. Apana Elementary School – two hour delay, Hemmingway Daycare Center- closed, Leon High School – two hour delay, Monroe Middle School- closed. . .”

    “Yes!” I screamed “No school! Mom, mom, there is a snow day today. No school!”

    My mother was in the next room tending to my baby brother, Alex. He had been sick for about a month and was finally coming back to his needy, helpless, parent hogging self.

    “That’s great honey,” mom said. “Now shush, Alex is finally eating and I don’t want you to distract him.”

    “Ok that’s great,” I shouted, completely ignoring her request, “I’m heading outside to play with Chris and Allie. I will be back at lunchtime.”

    “Ok. Don’t forget your jacket.” But I was already outside trudging through eight inches of the finest New York powder to the hill behind my house where Christopher, Allie, and I always met on snow days to go sledding for the entire morning – and afternoon, if our parents let us. As I walked up the hill Chris and Allie waved from the top of the mountain of snow.

    “Hey. You’re late again,” Chris said as I reached the top.

    “Oh be quiet Christopher. You are always so mean to Jessie,” Allie said in my defense.

    “She knows I’m kidding. And don’t call me Christopher. My name is Chris. Christopher sounds so lame.”

    “Ok Christopher. Whatever you say,” teased Allie. Chris blushed.

    “Yea, Christopher,” I added trying my best to flirt with him; it was never my strong suit.

    “Right,” he said, giving me an awkward glance. “Where is your jacket anyways?”
    I looked down at my bare arms and shrugged.

    “I don’t need a jacket. You’re just a wus. Did you bring your extra sleigh for me again? My parents still haven’t bought be one.”

    “Yea. Here you go,” he said as he handed me his hand-me-down sleigh. It was twisted and bent but still worked – most of the time. “You really should get yourself a new sleigh.”

    I scoffed and gave Chris, a sideways glance.

    “Well if this sleigh is so bad,” I said, slowly setting the second hand vehicle on the hill’s crest, “then there is no possible way. . .” I continued, purposefully drawing out my words, “that I can beat you down the hill!” With that I was off at a break neck speed. Freezing cold wind whipped my shoulder length hair as I flew down the slope, swiftly approaching the bottom.

    Exactly what happened after that is somewhat hazy. Later Chris and Allie told me that the sleigh clipped some root or rock and I slid fifteen feet to the bottom of the hill. The next thing I knew I was sitting in a white, sterile hospital bed with both arms wrapped in white cloth and hooked up to I. V. lines. Pain throbbed through both of my shoulders when I tried to shift my weight but I was not too worried. Apparently the worst had past because no one was sitting next to the bed anxiously waiting for me to wake up. After a few minutes of seeing and hearing no one I searched for the buzzer that could summon a nurse or doctor. I found it hanging beside my bed and just as I was resting my finger on the button I heard mom and dad.

    “. . . I can’t believe you let her go outside without a coat! What were you thinking?” dad was yelling.

    “I told her to put one on. I was trying to feed Alex. What else could I do?” mom yelled back. “If you were home more often the n this would have never happened!”

    “Well I will be home a lot more now! I was laid off at work because of the budget cuts. Happy now!”

    “What!” This continued on for a good half hour. I don’t remember all that was said but by the end of it mom was weeping on the floor, dad had left, and I was still sitting alone and hurt in the cold, white room.

    Later the doctors came in and explained that my arms had been badly cut up by the snow when I fell, but I would be ok with only a few scars to show for it. I was even able to go home that night and sleep in my bed. Dad didn’t come home that night. Mom said that he was staying with a friend that night; he had a lot of work to finish or was it was poker night? Mom didn’t know what to say, but I was old enough to understand what she meant. We got home late that night, but I was still awake enough to walk up the two stories of stairs to my bed. Each step I took ended in a blast of color and pain violently crashing through my head. Silent tears dripped from my cheeks as I strained to make it to the top. Dad was gone, my arms were still bleeding, mom would barely look at me, Chris and Allie hadn’t waited for me to wake up at the hospital; I was utterly alone in an apathetic world – no one cared how I pained. By the time I made it to my door I was barely conscious from my loss of blood and crushed soul. I leaned my head against the bedroom door and nuzzled it open like a stray dog might. I stumbled forward through toys and dress up clothes until I could almost touch my bed. There my body collapsed on the floor, worn and exhausted I couldn’t even raise my body to crawl the few inches to my warm comforter.

    Creatures swam in and out of my dreams, some teasing me and other trying to eat my helpless body. Whirlpools tugged at my chest attempting to rip out my bleeding heart. Blazing fires smoldered the air and burnt everything they touched. I was dying from the inside. A hungry cry and dull thud of a door swinging shut woke me from my nightmare. My room seemed to spin as I sat up staring at my blood soaked bandages.

    “Those are some nasty cuts,” said a hushed voice. I spun around and screamed but nothing came out. A two foot short, furry, blue creature with big, soft eyes and hands stood in front of my bed with a finger to his lips. All of the air had left my lungs and I began to panic, swatting aside toys, yanking at my throat, and kicking at the air.

    “Don’t scream ok?” he asked. I nodded as tears built up in my eyes. He removed his finger and miraculously I was able to breathe again. I panted heavily as though I had been drowning just seconds earlier. I quickly looked up at the small monster again and started to yell but he put his finger back up to his lips and the wind was suddenly snatched from my throat a second time.

    “You can’t scream ok?” he said. “Parents are no fun to deal with and they usually just make a mess of things.” I looked up stunned at the fact that this alien-like blue fur-ball thought the same of adults as I did. This time I nodded my head and didn’t scream when he released his magical hold on my throat.

    “Who are you?” I whispered with a shockingly perplexed look smeared across my face.

    “I am you. Well actually I’m your monster,” he said with his head tilted to one side, obviously waiting for reply along the lines of: Oh duh, I knew that.

    “And that means what?”

    “If you take all your inner pains and fears, smash them together, and then give them a personality, brain, and body then I am what you get.” I looked at him thoughtfully before replying.

    “So you are like my inner demons?”

    “Well technically you could say that but I rather hate that description. ‘Monster’ better suits our description than ‘demon’. Demons are generally entirely evil, while monsters have both good and bad things about them.” Again I sat quietly thinking about what I should say next. It’s not every day that one meets their demon. . . I mean monster.

    “So why are you here? I mean why today?”

    “If I am correct you had a rather rough day. Thought I might be able to cheer you up.”

    “Not doing a very good job of it so far now are you. All that happened is that you tried to suffocate me with some magical trick and told me that my feelings have a body that looks like a two foot tall furry blue ball.”

    “Well if you put it that way almost anything sounds depressing. I might as well try though, no since sitting around your tragically boring room any longer. First things first,” and with that he walked the yard or so from my bed, reached out his soft hands, and gently unraveled the bandages from my arms. I looked away in horror but as the last of the blood stained ribbons gauze strips to the ground a warming sensation enveloped my hands and swept up my arms to my shoulders. I looked down and my arms looked like any other twelve year old girls arms with no scars in sight.

    “Why are you helping me? I thought you were my monster not my friend,” I asked still in shock at what just happened.

    “All people have fears, pains and problems, but these are not all bad. The best way to learn what not to do is to experience some sort of painful lesson that keeps you from making the same mistake twice. I am not just your problems, but also what you have learned from you problems. That is why I say that ‘monster’ suits our personalities much better than ‘demons’ do.” Ok, so maybe my monster turned out nicer than I expected but one thing still puzzled me.

    “You keep saying “our” as though there are more than one of you. Are you saying that everyone has a monster? Cause that’s pretty hard to believe, some scientist would have already discovered you guys by now.”

    “Well actually authors are the ones who discovered us but they would much rather leave the mystery up for people to discover on their own rather than spoil it for everyone. Haven’t you ever heard of ‘monsters under the bed’ in bedtime stories?”

    “Of course,” I replied quite put off. “Everyone has heard about that.”

    “Well surprise, those stories are real. Hiding beneath beds, we are often never found and usually left alone even if we are.” With that my monster began to sweep away the toys and clothes I had kicked in front of my bed earlier.

    “Well you aren’t that scary. Why are the monsters in the stories always so scary?”

    To answer that,” he replied emphatically, “you will have to come with me.” I raised my eyebrow at him, not completely trusting this creature I just met. He seemed to understand what I was feeling, he was good at that.

    “If it makes you feel any better, if you die then I die so I’m not going to get you killed.” That didn’t make things much better but I was to curious to let the chance pass. He reached out his hand and I grabbed hold. With more strength than I thought the petit fur-ball could possibly possess he yanked me under my bed and through the floor.

    There was no extravagant journey or trip though space as I had expected. We simply landed on a rather soft rug in a small cozy room. There was a fire in the fireplace, beautiful paintings that flickered in the light, a rocking chair and a sofa, a table set for one, cabinets and a counter all constructed from wood, and a two foot tall door at the far side of the room. My monster hastily got up and proceeded to the door.

    “Well I would invite you to sit around and explore my house but morning will be here soon and I don’t think that you want to spend your whole time around here.” With that he tugged me toward the door. “Oh I almost forgot.” He turned around and snapped his fingers and I suddenly turned invisible. I couldn’t even see myself.


    “I know right, cool trick I learned a couple years back.” He spun back around, lifted the lever, and led me into a whole new world.

    The first thing that surprised me was that there were many other monsters and that they definitely not limited to being two feet tall. I saw monsters that must have been twenty feet tall, and then others the size of lightning bugs.

    “You see, everyone has different fears and troubles. All of these creatures belong to someone and most of them you can recognize if you understand the person who they belong to. For instance look there,” he said while pointing to rather ugly bent creature with scraggly hair, spindly fingers, and a limp rag doll resting in its arms. As I scooted in for a closer look I saw that the creature wore a tarnished and beat up wedding ring and had series of broken teeth; the exact same teeth mom told me she broke as a young child. She had always been paranoid about me breaking my teeth because of what had happened to her.

    “Mom?” I attempted to say but my throat was too dry for me to make a sound. The worn out monster looked up for a second and then continued to coddle the doll.

    “It’s pretty sad if you ask me,” my monster said. “She has been getting worse every day.” He continued to lead me past the numerous houses lining the street. “The real reason I brought you here is not actually to cheer you up. Sorry I lied to you but it was the only way. This is the real reason I dragged you down here.” With that he pointed to a beat up shack with holes as windows and the front door lying twenty feet from the entrance. I walked up to the creaking house and peered inside. A monster was sitting in the back of the house with a crazed look in its eyes. Somehow it seemed to feel my presence and looked straight at me with those piercing eyes that belonged only to my father. With one fluid movement the monster raised a rusty knife and pressed it through his chest, cracking bones and piercing flesh and organ. Blood poured profusely from the wound as leapt forward.

    “Dad!” I screamed, but before I had made it two feet the rotten floor fell out beneath me. I ripped at the borders attempting to reach the corpse. My monster ran forward, grabbed my arms, and lifted me back out of the house just as the old shack collapsed. I broke free of my monster and tore at the rubble.

    “There is nothing you can do! Hurry we have to get you back!” He yelled trying to yank me away. I finally gave up and followed him back. As I ran my vision began to blur and I looked down to see new wounds on my arms.

    My monster yanked open his small door and ushered me inside. I scurried over to the carpet and my monster grabbed my hands.

    “Sorry but there is no time to heal you this time. You have to hurry, there is not much time. Now go.” He ordered then literally threw me through the ceiling of his small apartment and back onto my cold floor boards. I scrambled from under my bed and dashed to my mother room screaming as I went.

    “Dad, hurt, tried to kill himself, he might be dead, hurry!” Mom jumped forward from her room and caught me as I was about to fall.

    “What honey, what? Jesse, look at me, what is wrong?”

    “Dad. . . is dying,” I gasped as I passed out for the second time that day.

    When I woke up I was back in the small white room, but this time there was someone waiting for me. Mom sat asleep across the room at the foot of another bed. I looked at the bed and saw dad lying asleep wrapped in those sterile white sheets. A constant beep was the only sound breaking the silence as I looked up at my dad’s monitor. I smiled for the first time that day and then fell into a much needed. I have never seen my monster since.
  16. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England
    AmandaC - In the Dark

    It wasn’t the first time. I’d heard the shuffling, muffled sounds of something moving in the darkness before. Sometimes it came from the closet or under the bed. Now and then I would simply feel a breeze across my face as if something unseen jumped over my bed. At first I’d been paralyzed by fear, clutching the blankets up at my chin as if they would protect me from my unseen visitor. I’d tried flicking on the light next to my bed but it illuminated nothing. I crossed the wasteland that was my bedroom on tip-toe, so as not to alarm it, and flung open my closet door. No bogeyman. Sometimes I’d start to think it was just my imagination playing tricks on me, the promise of a dream before I was fully unconscious.

    No, it wasn’t the first time. I’d long since learned to disregard the presence that filled the darkness at night--then the rules changed. I lie on my back, half asleep, when it occurred to me that something small and soft was lying on my chest. In my semi-dreaming state I figured it was a cat. Of course, we didn’t have a cat.

    The only explanation I can offer is that it started sleeping with me like a pet. I would wake from a dream and stretch, curling my little toes in the fur of an unnamed beast. When my parents fought, as they were wont to do in the raptures of alcohol, I hid beneath my bed and would feel it curl against my back as if it would keep me warm or shield me from their angry voices. By then I’d stopped trying to find it or catch it in the light. I tried to talk to it now and then, whispering, afraid that it was skittish and would spook. My only reply was a sort of hum or purr or a slight nudge. I’d decided it was harmless.

    Imagine my horror, then, when in the dead of night I heard a growl. It wasn’t the cautionary type growl that a dog would give a would be intruder, it was the kind of growl a hunting dog lets loose as it shakes the life out of the rabbit in its teeth. My hair stood on end and I sat up hugging my knees, trying to decide if my limbs were safe enough to reach over and turn on the light.

    The light revealed something I will never forget; it burned into the back of my mind. There was a big, mangy looking dog in my bedroom and it looked like he’d ripped the fluff off a bunny. My parents heard my scream and came running down the hall.

    “He ate it!” I was in hysterics while my parents struggled to catch up.

    “Sorry, sweetheart, we’ll get you a new teddy bear tomorrow, okay?” my mother pat me on the leg trying to soothe me while my father drug the beast from my room.

    “We’re watching the dog for the neighbors while they’re away but he won’t be here long, I promise.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She thought it had been a teddy bear? Really?

    The dog intruded for three days. On the third night, after he was gone, I was just sliding off the edge into sleep when I felt my blankets tug as if something small were walking across the bed. I smiled in the blackness and whispered, “Welcome back.”
  17. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Nathan Edwards - Towards the Light

    Tonight was the night.

    He was so anxious he could barely sit still or keep a thought in his head. He’d been over the plan so many times in the last few months it didn’t require much thinking any more. As the last couple of days wound down, his thought processes became more organic – a second nature even. It had all just been a carefully guided matter of preparation, forward thinking, and organization. That’s how we stay ahead of the curve Jakey, his father always said before lights out. So long as you practice those three things, you have nothing to fear.

    Nothing to fear.

    Jake had never second-guessed his father before, but tonight the old man’s philosophy would be put to the ultimate test. About preparation, about fear, about everything.

    Still, he went about the rest of the day as he ordinarily would have. He woke up early in the morning, much as he had this past year. With the same lunch tin and bookbag in hand, he walked his customary route to school – a block and a half of sidewalk under the same orange-red canopy of elm trees. Dead leaves scuffed the abutment as he continued along, the smell of which, for some reason, always reminded him of peat moss. But there was something else in the air today, something that had suddenly arrested each of his other senses. Pumpkin seed? Looking across the way, he found freshly carved Jack-O-Lanterns out on each doorstep. A very young generation of goblins and werewolves and Jacks Sparrows’ were on the prowl early, looking for candy under the watchful eye of their parents.

    Halloween already?

    Despite himself, he smiled. What a convenient day to be putting a childhood monster in its place forever.

    All around the waist high chain-link fence surrounding school, he heard laughter. Zombies lurched shambolically across the grass. Over by the swings, a fistful of Joker’s and Harvey Dent’s congregated, laughing at some jibe only they had gotten. Even several vampire wannabes seemed to have at least remembered their fake canines, trying to convince a couple of girls that they were part of the Cullen family. Jake hadn’t even mustered up that much. Oh well, what of it? He’d been far too preoccupied over the last little while to be bothered with a costume. Besides, he liked to think that he was the farthest thing from a monster in this story.

    Class time, he was happy to discover, was especially routine. Any clever idea Mister Larson had of substituting oranges with pumpkins as part of his timetable exercises was ignored entirely by his students. As such, the day dragged on without incident, with no one so much as pointing out why he’d shucked everything that had anything to do with apple-bobbing or trick-or-treating. All was in order, not a single hitch …

    “Great costume, Jake.”

    He’d forgotten about Beth.

    “What?” Before he could think of whatever it was he was supposed to say, he added, “Yeah, I know. It’s a statement.”

    It was lunchtime in the schoolyard. Jake sat with his lunch tin out beside the jungle gym, going over his master plan for the thousandth time when she found him. He squinted horribly against the noonday sun trying to bring her into focus, but the silhouette was enough to tell him she was a witch. The trademark hat of a spellcaster sat rigidly atop her head, black and steepled. Her dark, velvet gown was laced with royal-blue accents, casting a decidedly more chipper and carefree veil upon such a clichéd Halloween trope. And over her shoulder, what no witch should be without, was old faithful - a small but sturdy besom broom. Jake feigned only mild interest. It was an ensemble so un-scary she probably couldn’t even bluff her way into a ‘Wizard of Oz’ audition. She wasn’t even wearing any makeup.

    “No. I get it.” She sat down next to him. “Gotta be the scariest thing of all at Halloween, trying to be yourself.”

    “It isn’t like that.” He tore open the wrapper on his Kit Kat, snapping it in two. “I just forgot to wear my costume, that’s all.”

    Beth brightened instantly, swiping a Kit Kat stick before Jake had a chance to offer her one. “Great! So, we can still go out trick-or-treating then, right?”


    She swatted him with her broom like an angry housewife. “Earth to Jacob, you promised me after last Halloween that we were going to go out trick-or-treating again next year.”

    “I did?” If he’d made the promise at all, it was probably the sort of thing he smiled and nodded at so as to end a conversation. He didn’t think he’d be expected to actually honor it. Her brown eyes glistened as she waited for a reply. “I don’t know, Beth. There was kind of something else I needed to do tonight, something kind of important.”

    “More important than Halloween?” She munched hastily on Jake’s chocolate, pausing as a flicker of recognition danced across her face. In one swift motion, she pulled the black traffic cone of a hat from her head. Long blond hair blustered around her as she said, “You’re not talking about . . . that, are you?”

    Jake nodded, with no small degree of embarrassment.

    “Gimme a break.” So saying, she was handed another Kit Kat piece. “Not funny, Jake! I mean, come on. We talked about that. There’s no such thing as monsters under the bed.”

    “Say that,” he told her, “Because you’ve never seen one for yourself.”

    “And neither have you. Don’t you remember what your dad told you about jumping to conclusions? Whatever it is you thought you saw was probably just something like – I don’t know, a mouse or something.”

    Jake sniggered, but there was no humor behind it. “I don’t think so, Beth.”

    Beth wouldn’t let herself be swayed. She was, after all, the jungle gym’s sole voice of reason at that moment. “We’re in Elementary now, Jake. I haven’t believed in the boogeyman since I was seven. So what am I supposed to say to that?”

    In the end, he told her that he’d call later on, see where things stood. She was his best friend and they shared almost everything. So why couldn’t she just understand how important this was? Why couldn’t she just believe him?

    The rest of the day was all waiting, more routine than he was used to. He’d gone straight home, thinking he could kill a few hours with a little bit of homework. It must have been the first time in history an elementary student was going over his social studies on Halloween. When he finished, the sun was little more than a scarlet disk beyond the living room window, with night beginning to descend. The spooks and specters were out in full force now, ghosting along almost on the power of mere thought alone, with only childlike laughter betraying the benevolence beneath the masks.

    And Jake just sat there, watching.

    He didn’t exactly fear the monster plaguing his sleep. Over the last little while, he’d learned not to fear a great many things, things that had made the boogeyman almost pale by comparison. The loss of his mother to cancer was the worst. She’d refused chemo out of some close tie to her distant Romany lineage. It was a choice that made the end of her life that much more of a crucible for her son and husband to endure: endless nights of screaming and thrashing and clawing her bed sheets to shreds. Internal hemorrhaging had turned her delicate face into a bleeding, sunken parody of the woman who used to sing him to sleep.

    But it was the sudden absence of sound one morning that had him most rattled. Even now, Jake wrenched his eyes shut at the memory.

    Loneliness was another thing. After the funeral, his father was all he had left. He was too young to understand what life insurance or final expenses meant, and anyways his father never seemed too inclined to really explain it to him. Even if he were, he was too busy pulling double shifts at the office, just trying to support them. He was working at that very moment, having left more than enough candy for trick-or-treaters as well as himself. As if that was supposed to keep him any company.

    “There’s nothing to fear,” his father assured him, not for the first time. “Misses Emmelkamp is just next door. She’ll be checking in on you. Remember, you’re the man of the house.”

    Man of the house? What did that even mean anyway?

    It had gotten darker since. He could no longer make out the pattern of elm trees or rooftops against the skyline; they had all been swallowed by shadow. When he figured that the dull orange glow of their Jack-O-Lantern wasn’t enough to feel safe anymore, he clicked on the Wood’s lamp at his side. Essentially a black lamp, the barely visible gleam of indigo was even weaker than the candlelight flickering inside of their pumpkin. Still, it made him feel safer - much safer.

    Across the room, he heard their grandfather clock chime for eight. It was time.

    He took a quick second to steel his nerves, munching down on a few pieces of candy for good measure before starting up the stairs towards his room. He was half between floors when the doorbell rang, rooting him to the steps and almost capsizing him in the process. It occurred to him then: was he even going to have time enough to do what he was supposed to with all of the trick-or-treaters coming to his house?

    Opening the front door however, he found himself looking at someone he hadn’t expected to see at least until tomorrow.


    “Trick or treat!” she exclaimed. Instead of a bag, she was holding out a black fleece robe, along with one of the most eerily realistic skull masks he’d ever seen. “What do you think? It’s the Reaper costume I wore last year. I think it’s just the right size for you.”

    Several different expressions wrestled to comport themselves across Jake’s face all in the same instant: from surprise; to flattery; to recognition; and finally guilt.

    “H-how did you…”

    “I figured it out for myself at lunch. Nobody forgets a thing like Halloween. You just plain didn’t have a costume. So come on, put it on.”

    “Uh, thanks,” he said, struggling for a moment to carry both the costume as well as his lamp. “It’s great. I mean, it’s actually scary. But…”

    Beth’s cheery disposition started to evaporate. “But what?”

    Just then, he heard a screech. The effect was a galvanizing one for Jake as he turned in his spot, head craning upwards to the top of the stairway. Nothing was in eyeshot, but he knew it was there.

    “Did you hear that?”

    She pushed the tip of her witch’s hat up, glancing with expressionless eyes at whatever it was that had accosted her friend’s senses. She saw much the same thing Jake saw. What she heard, however …


    “Wait here a second.”

    Whether she had any intention of waiting at his doorstep or not Jake didn’t bother hanging around to find out. In four quick strides he was upstairs, rounding the corner and tearing down the hall towards his room.

    The door was already open, with both his room lights and bedside lamp turned off. It had never made itself known in the light. In the daytime, it was particularly hesitant to show itself. Here and now though, the darkness called to it. Like a moth to flame, the thing beneath his mattress reacted without hesitation.

    Then movement.

    The sight of its bloodied, near-translucent limbs almost made him choke with fear. Blinking away saline terror, he took a step forward, his black lamp held out almost menacingly. The reaction was instantaneous, the appendages flailing with recoil as though coming into contact with a live wire.

    A set of arms grabbed him from behind – Beth’s arms.

    “Come on, Jake. There’s nothing…”

    “You saw that, didn’t you? Tell me you saw that.”

    “I didn’t see anything.”

    Only one arachnoid hand emerged from beneath the bed this time, as though trying to get a feel for the territory. Again, Jake laced it with ultraviolet light. Again, it darted back beneath the bed.


    “What was that then, if it wasn’t…”

    Beth knelt down near the foot of the bed, glimpsing for a second into the dark crevice beneath before reaching under with her hand.

    Jake’s heart lurched in his chest. “No Beth, don’t!”

    But she did – and came back with a picture frame.

    It was their family portrait, taken during a fishing trip long before some tumor had come along to take Jake’s mother away from them. The three of them were all smiles and sunglasses, with a fishing trophy worthy of any Bassmaster in the business. No pain, nor even any sign that pain could possibly befall any of them.

    Jake started crying, not out of fear – but out of sadness.

    “All she had to do was say yes to the treatment. Would that have been so hard? A couple hours a day–” He waved the Wood’s lamp around in his hand for emphasis. “A little bit of UV treatment, that’s all it would have taken. Instead, she chose to suffer. God, how long had her screaming kept me awake? It keeps me awake even now. The dreams though, so real that they…”

    He trailed off in a fit of half words and strangled sobs. Beth didn’t speak right away, only stared blankly at the picture. Someone older, more mature, might have told him that dreams weren’t real, that monsters under the bed were a figment of one’s imagination. She, however, was nowhere near that old or mature. She saw the world through the same imaginative window as Jake did.

    In the end, she simply told him, “Jake? There’s nothing under your bed anymore. Come and see.”

    With his lamp, they each looked under the mattress. They spotted one sock, a couple dust bunnies rolling around near the far wall, but nothing else. He was monster free, always had been, and always would be.

    After what felt like forever, they each pulled themselves up from the floor. Hesitating for a second or two, Beth finally wrapped both arms around her friend, giggling as the wide rim of her hat butted Jake in the head. She kept him in a heartfelt embrace until Jake asked to be let go.

    “You know,” she told him, “Just because your mom said no to the light, doesn’t mean you have to. Come on.”

    She would get no complaint out of Jake this time. Indeed, he was almost relieved when it finally came time for him to don his mask. His small, freckled face, still red and tear-stained, all but disappeared once the latex skull asserted itself on the outside. He wasn’t sure why, but it immediately made him feel stronger, shielded from the pain that had been gnawing at him all this time.

    Hand in hand, they both struck out into the night then, costumes alight by the glow of Jack-O-Lanterns. Joining ranks with the other minions of darkness, they soon became enveloped by the staccato sounds of laughs and screams and mimicked voices, of jokes and pranks, of kids being kids. Better that they keep such habits close by for as long as they lived and leave all else where it rightfully belonged.

    Under the bed.
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