When I was a child I did not believe in bedtime monsters. I had no fear of the eyes in the closet or the claws under the bed. They were silly stories told to sillier children to shape their behavior. My feet would dangle from the edge, my head would go uncovered by blankets. I had no fear of things that did not exist.
I fear now.
I lie in my bed, my feet far from the ever-present darkness and head wrapped securely in a fabric shelter; the monster’s glowing eyes watch me from the closet, its claws inching outward from under the bed.
When this creature appeared, I cannot be certain. Not in my childhood, nor in my adolescence, but sometime later. Of that I’m sure.
It watches me. Not every night, no. But most. I am free two nights a week, maybe three or more on rare occasion. During bad times less, and during good times more. But the length of the hiatus does not matter, for it always returns, watching and waiting.
On those unfortunate nights, much like tonight, when I crawl into bed weary and wary, I see it stalking me, biding its time to grab me in my sleep. But I’ve learned to postpone the inevitable, to halt the undeniable. Light and noise keeps the monster away–at least for a time. So I turn on my television–it doesn’t matter to what–and beg my eyes to stay awake, to remain open a minute more. This may buy me a few hours of reprieve, but even so the monster edges ever closer, growing immune to my petty defenses as eyelids droop. Yet, I still have counters. Without warning I jump from my bed and turn on the lamp. The light fills the room, pushing the beast back to hiding. I do not make eye contact with it as I scurry to the bathroom, earning another precious moment of safety. But I can only hide there so long before my limbs grow heavy and my head dips to my chest.
Sleep is calling. The monster is beckoning.
With a desperate splash of water to the face, I give my mirrored reflection one last look as if the man looking back at me can offer assistance. We both know he holds no answer. He can only watch me vanish back into my room.
I sit on the bed and sigh. My head is swimming with fatigue. The end is near. I close my itching eyes, reach out a shaking hand, and turn off the protecting light. Darkness grabs hold and the monster crawls closer. Its damning steps are war drums in my ears. Yet my feet are still on the floor. It is a bold strategy, I know, but desperate times. Maybe, just maybe, if I do not let them touch my bed, I will confuse the creature, trick it into thinking I am not there.
It won’t work, it never does.
My shoulders stoop, and my muscles falter. The monster leaps. Its weight presses on my chest, its claws digging into my shoulders, pushing me downward. I am pinned, my feet dangling, my head uncovered, my mind fearful. This is it. I could struggle, I could fight. In the past I have, but now I have learned–there is no use in battling. The monster will win. It always does.
I look into its glowing eyes. No empathy, no remorse, no mercy. I do not whimper nor do I cry, even as my eyes close and the monster burrows inside of me.
Darkness takes hold.
My alarm screeches, and I wake. The monster is unseen, no longer lurking in my closet or hidden under my bed. No. It is inside of me–a burden I must endure on mornings such as these. My hands cover my face, and I could cry. But I don’t have time.
I must get to my stupid job.
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Additionally, if you love fantasy but are a bit annoyed by the tropes, stereotypes, and clichés, then take a break and read “The Horse’s Journey”. It is short story parody series that I have started to poke fun at all the wrongs found in standard fantasy novels. If you want to begin your journey alongside our heroic horse hero (alliteration!) click here.
Thank you for reading!
P.S. To any past/present/future employers, this is a total and complete work of fiction that in no way represents or symbolizes real life feelings of the author–well, maybe that ONE job, but not the others. . . okay maybe that LAST one, too, but definitely not the OTHER one. Maybe.