Estimated reading time — 3 minutes
I really wish I had left that fucking light switch alone. Who would have thought the flick of a switch could mean the difference between life and death. Actually everyone’s thought that. That’s why I turned it on. Stupid little rituals that we take from childhood. The light will chase the monsters away, the blanket over your head will save you from the boogie man. And you just get more of these rituals as you get older. As long as you lock the doors and turn on the home security system, you can rest your head happily in your cozy little fortified home. No killers or psychos, monsters or boogie men.
But it doesn’t work. None of it. We always slip up some how. The one time you forget to lock that door. That’s when they get you. I would have been sound asleep if I hadn’t been woken by the loud slam as the front door blew open. I stumbled out of bed and down the hall to see it swinging back and forth. I moved quickly down the hall to secure it. A moment of panic swelled inside of me. My home felt like a crime scene. It wasn’t my safe little sanctum anymore.
Despite the overwhelming feeling of intrusion, there was no sign of disruption. Just the door. Just my careless mistake. I couldn’t comprehend it at first. It had to be a burgler or some psycho. I looked around the rest of the house. Checking every cupboard, every crevice. Nothing. I felt stupid but relieved. I just wanted to get back to bed, to forget this whole embarrassment. I flung myself back down on my bed, closed my eyes for just a second. I sat back up. There was no way I’d fall asleep unless I double-checked that I locked the door this time. I mean I was sure I had done it this time but I felt this was justified paranoia.
I got to the door and twisted the handle roughly about a dozen times, each time feeling the resistance of the lock. I smiled. Safe. I turned on my heels to go back to bed. But it was just a glimpse, a flicker of something in my peripheral vision that sent me swinging back into a panic. A shadow from the kitchen. I rushed in only to be confronted by my normal kitchen, bathed in moonlight. I sighed, questioned my sanity and decided that this, the longest night of my life must end. I went towards the bedroom once more. Another odd shadow crossed my path. As a shiver travelled down my spine, my tired mind braced apathetic denial and decided that it was probably the neighbours cat passing by the moonlit window.
I sat wide awake in my bed. Trying to lull myself to sleep. Counting in my head until I might eventually nod off. But everytime I closed my eyes that feeling of intrusion was still there. The hands of something unseen looming above my head. Every creak and every shadow filled my mind with the dread of my childhood. Those nights after being tucked in by my parents. Those same fearful thoughts of lurking terror. But it was nothing… right? More creaks. More movement in the shadows. I turned and pushed my face into the pillow. I felt something brush passed my foot which stuck awkwardly out from under my blanket.
I jolted upright, looking deeply into the darkness. Swirling shadows. The monsters. The boogie men. I felt around sheepishly for my phone. The dull light of the screen could put me at ease. Nothing on the nightstand and when my fingers roamed around the edge of the bed, instinctively I retracted them for fear of the unknown. I was alone but in the shadows I saw them, the monsters. Inky abominable beasts.
It was the only thing I thought could help me. I lunged from the bed directly at the switch. My palm slammed down on it and the room erupted into light. My eyes burned momentarily and I glanced round the room. Empty. Safe. Just paranoia. I shook my head and hit the switch once more. Climbing into bed in the pitch black. No shadows without my nightvision. But now I hear them. I can’t see them now. I don’t know what they want but I know I can’t leave. The rituals have failed. They’re on the other side of this blanket and all I can do now is hope that they’re gone in the morning.
Credited to Chris Stewart