Estimated reading time — 9 minutes
I lay awake under the covers of my bed. I’d grown accustomed to sleeping with my head completely underneath due to the extreme coldness in my bedroom. We had recently moved house and although we were settling in quite well the cold was something we all had to adjust to, especially with winter slowly creeping in.
As I gazed blearily into the dark blankets I started wondering what had awoken me, for I had been sleeping peacefully until just this moment. I strained my ears and caught a very faint creaking sound, almost rhythmic in its regularity. I shut my eyes once more, it was simply the shutters on the windows creaking in the wind. I settled back into the pillows and listened to the noise, it was almost soothing in a way.
My eyes suddenly shot open, my old house had shutters that would sometimes creak in the wind but this new one didn’t. I’d inspected the windows thoroughly a few days before fruitlessly trying to plug up any gaps that might be letting the cool air in. I’d asked my parents to change bedroom but they said they needed the space in the other rooms and my brother definitely wasn’t swapping his, he had the warmest room in the house next to the boiler.
Listening intently I realised another thing, the sounds didn’t seem to be coming from the direction of the window. Although slightly muffled by my blankets, the sound seemed to be coming from directly above me as if I had some ancient creaking fan on the ceiling. I still didn’t want to leave the warmth of the covers so I turned my head to try and listen to get a better idea of what it was.
As I moved my head the sound abruptly stopped. I lay there holding my breath trying to catch any hint of the creaks again. Just as I thought the noise had stopped for good I heard something that chilled my insides, even in the warmth of my bed. A grating scratching sound like teeth grinding on a bone uttered the words:
Lying completely still, my heart was racing. The creaking had once again started slightly faster this time, and with a jolt I suddenly realised what it was. Breathing. The horrible thing that was hanging above me was breathing. How could I have thought it soothing before? It was a horrible choked noise, sounding more like a death rattle now than the quiet creaking of before. The voice had been inhuman, utterly devoid of any emotion.
I lay trembling listening to the quickened pace of the breathing. Minutes dragged on and after seemingly hours daylight began to creep into the room. I must have dozed off at some point, even amidst the sheer terror that I was feeling that night, because I couldn’t remember that horrible breathing stopping. It was silent now, but I refused to get out from under the covers.
It wasn’t until my mother came in to wake me up for school that I braved leaving the safety of my bed sheets. I tried to tell her about what had happened the previous night and she initially seemed concerned, but that was mostly due to the bags under my eyes and lack of sleep than some kind of “make believe monster”. I went down for breakfast dreading the day of school that lay ahead of me in my tired state.
As I predicted school went by slowly and I dozed off in class multiple times much to the annoyance of my teachers. After a short talk with the principal after school about making sure I get enough sleep and not to let it happen again I could finally start the walk home. As I walked a new dread filled me, would it be back tonight?
Forty minutes later and I was walking down the driveway. Seeing the lights from the windows was comforting, it was already getting dark and I really didn’t want to be walking alone at night. I went inside and was instantly cornered by my mother who’d had a phone call from school earlier on. They had told her about me sleeping during lessons and she wasn’t all too happy. I was told I was going to have supper and then get an early night so that it wouldn’t happen again, much to my disdain.
I ate supper as slowly as I could in order to prolong the time it took for me to have to go into that room again. All too soon my plate was cleared and I was sent up to bed with a warning about no TV if I let it happen again. That was the least of my worries.
I climbed into bed and made sure that my door was ajar and the landing light was left on. I could hear the TV and murmurs of my parents which gave me some comfort, at least they weren’t too far away. The room was getting cold again but I refused to go under the covers, the light from the door partially illuminated the room and banishing the darkness giving me courage.
I lay like this for a few hours, partially dozing off when I heard the sound of the TV go silent and movement signalling that my parents were heading for bed. I listened to their door close and sighed, maybe there was nothing after all. The light spilling into the room comforted me and I curled up underneath the covers away from the cold.
I awoke staring into blackness, it took a while for me to realise what was wrong. The light from the landing had gone off, I could tell without leaving the warmth of my bed sheets. I felt an icy chill and memories from the previous night came rushing back. I lay still as a corpse as I held my breath, listening.
It was there, I could hear the rasping rattling sound of its breath. A shuddering sigh escaped my lips and I realised that was a mistake. The hideous breathing intensified, as if some inhuman being had realised its prey was trapped within its grasp. To my horror the breathing got louder, it seemed to lower from the ceiling towards the thin barrier that lay between me and it.
It sounded like it was a few feet above my bed now, its dry rattling was all I could hear. Until once more:
The voice sounded even more terrifying when it was this close, it was all I could do not to scream. I knew that if I tried to make a noise it would silence me before the sound had left my throat. I closed my eyes, tears escaping through my scrunched eyelids as I waited for dawn. And it watched.
I was awoken by my mother yet again, sometime in the early hours I must have passed out from either fear or tiredness. Perhaps both. I felt awful and I must’ve looked it too because my mother did a double take when I rose out of my blankets. She suggested I take the day off school, that I must be ill. I was tempted until she said “A day in bed will do you good”. I sat bolt upright and flat out refused, I was ok, I just felt a little iffy but I’m sure it’ll pass.
My parents both have work and my brother would be at school, there was no way in hell I was staying in the house, in that bedroom on my own. Even in daylight it was an uncomfortable thought.
The school day was another blur, falling asleep in class and speaking to the principal again. He was getting frustrated at my apparent lack of interest in my subjects, seemed to think I was doing it on purpose for attention now. I didn’t argue, sitting in his office after school delayed going back to that room.
That night played out much the same as the one before, except the creature was getting closer once more. Night faded again to a bleary day repeating the same old steps, falling asleep, principles office and dreading going home. This time I was promised a detention after school the following day and if my behaviour continued then they would discuss further options.
That night I sunk into bed once more feeling utterly defeated. It was just going to continue like this, it was going to ruin my life and keep me awake forever. I’d read about people dying from sleep deprivation, was that going to be my fate? Soon enough the breathing started again as I lay powerless beneath the covers. This time it felt like it was merely a few inches from the top of my sheets. I could feel them quiver with each breath the thing took.
It rasped the words so loudly I half expected my parents to come bursting into the room to see what was going on. But as with every other night they were either sound asleep or just deaf to the nightmare that was happening in my room. I could feel pressure on the covers, it was pressed right up against them now. My mind raced in panic, all it had to do was rip of the sheets and it could devour me or take me or do whatever other horrific thing it had in mind.
If this is how I’m going to die I want to go out with a fight at least. I had no idea how strong the monster would be, or if I could even hurt it at all but I had to try. I grabbed the top of my bed sheets and paused for a moment, steeling my resolve. Its gasping breathing had increased now as if it could sense what was happening.
With a roar I pulled the bed sheets down from over my head and swung upwards as hard as I could with my fist. I hit nothing but air. Scanning the room for any signs of the creature I quickly jumped out of bed and sped towards the light flicking it on. As the room filled with brightness my eyes took a while to adjust, I had my back pressed against the wall so nothing could get behind me in my temporary blindness. Once my vision had returned I had a proper look around, rummaging through my cupboards and under the bed. There was no sign of anything abnormal. I stood shivering, after the initial adrenaline rush I was feeling the cold of the room again. My breath appeared mist-like in front of me.
I glanced at the bed again wanting to get back under the covers. After a few moments of consideration I climbed back into the warm blankets. This time I refused to put my head under the covers no matter how cold it was. I had left the light on which gave me comfort, I was sure the thing needed darkness to manifest itself. A glance at my clock told me it was 1.47am. Had I defeated the monster? Maybe it didn’t want me to peek because that was what it gained strength from, fear of the unknown. These thoughts swirled around in my head as my eyelids drooped.
I awoke the next morning feeling refreshed, that was the best nights sleep I’d had in a long time. As my mother came to make sure I was up she commented on my appearance, the bags under my eyes that had been present for the last few days had gone and my face had colour once again.
The day at school went well, not once did I fall asleep and I tried my hardest to catch up on what I missed. I still had the after school detention to get through but even that didn’t seem so bad now I was properly awake. I could use the time to catch up on my work. As the school day drew to a close I went towards the detention hall feeling confident that the past weeks horrors had ended.
After the detention I started the walk home from school. I wanted to hurry because it was already getting dark. By the time I saw the comforting lights of my house the sun had fully set. Opening the door I called out an apology for my lateness before heading into the living room. The television was on, the usual wildlife documentaries my parents watch that I never had much interest in. The room was empty however, so I headed for the kitchen thinking maybe they had already started dinner without me.
Upon entering the kitchen however, I stopped confused. They had indeed started eating without me, plates containing a half eaten meal were sitting on the table. But there was no sign of my parents or my brother. A quick check in the other downstairs rooms confirmed they weren’t there either. I headed upstairs in the vain hope they had decided on a very early night. Even if that was the case they wouldn’t have left their meals like that.
My heart was a dull thud in my chest when I reached the top of the staircase. A peek into my parent’s room showed it empty, the same with my brothers. I was beginning to sweat now as I walked slowly towards my bedroom door. I gripped the door handle, my mind was telling me to turn around and leave, but I had to see. I pushed open the door and looked towards the bed.
Three black silhouettes were sitting up against the headboard, two larger and one smaller. They were the unmistakeable shapes of my parents and brother. Something looked off about them however. I groped towards the light switch as the voice in my head screamed at me to go downstairs and run to the neighbours, to call the police. Ignoring it I flipped the switch.
The vacant eyes of my family were all staring at me, glasslike but somehow they were looking right at me. Their heads were hanging at an unnatural angle, as if their necks had been simply snapped. They had been propped up against the bed like grotesque puppets. A cry was caught in my throat as I stood rooted to the floor. I willed myself to take a step back when I heard it again, the sound that had tormented me all those nights. The breathing really was a death rattle now, it sounded somehow even more full of malice than the previous nights. And it was coming from right behind me.
Credit To – Spamalot2006