I really didn’t like babysitting. Especially for people I don’t know – kids I don’t know. And I’ve never had to look after a child that was not family. But… our neighbors were in a desperate pinch, and I have a hard time saying no. Besides, they said, all you really need to do is put the child to bed and just hang out until they got back. He loves scary bedtime stories, they said. He falls asleep quickly listening to bedtime stories. Great. What a way to destroy my Saturday night.
Jump ahead a few hours, and I have to get this boy, this 6-year-old, to bed and dreamland. I promised him if he lays down, I’ll tell him a special bedtime story. He had me going crazy about his closet and the light within it – he said the light keeps going out. I told him to not pay attention to it, probably just a bulb going bad, and he agreed. I sat next to him, the closet just within my vision. I started the story (I was intentionally going to make it a little more than scary) and that’s when I saw it.
The light in the closet went out.
I walked to the closet door, opened it, looked in, flicked the switch a couple of times without issue, left the light off, and closed the door. I walked back to the boy’s bed and sat down again. I looked at the closet.
The door was open, just a bit.
I walked back to the closet. Opened the door all the way and turned the light on. Turned it off. Turned it on again. Waited. I saw there was a vent in the ceiling and it made sense… the air must have come on and pushed the door open. As far as the light goes…. bad bulb? Not really my concern, so I backed out of the closet, turned the light on, and closed the door. This time I made sure I heard the door latch. It did with a satisfying *snik*.
I came back to the bed, and hurried through my made up story about boys and beds and closets and the beasties within those closets. Either my story was the most boring story in the history of scary stories or he was that tired… the boy fell asleep. I left the room; left the nightlight on, the closet light was on too, and walked to the front room to watch Sportscenter. I turned the A/C off as it was pretty cool outside and I didn’t want anymore closet drama this evening. Not five minutes went by and I heard the little boy scream and call me back to the room. I walked to his room, irritated because they didn’t have DVR and I’m missing SPORTS.
“What?!” I ripped out, only to see a look of terror in his eyes. His blankets were pulled up to his eyelids. And he was staring… transfixed…. straight ahead. At the closet.
The light was on in the closet when I left. I remember seeing it under the door.
But now it’s not.
And the door is cracked open. I know I closed that closet door. I heard it latch.
I walked to the closet, the floor creaking as I advanced. I touched the knob to the closet door. It was ice-cold to the touch. Was it this cold earlier? I forget. I opened the door and turned on the light. The light flickered, like a flourescent light with a bad ballast – flickering like soundless lightning. I closed the door behind me and I heard the door latch. I flipped the switch and turned the closet light out. I’d swear I heard muffled laughing. I immediately got goosebumps.
My mouth went dry and I could hear my breath coming hard out of my nose. Then I heard another breath. And another. They were ragged, labored breaths, exhaling hard. Almost excited. I inhaled deep, thinking I was letting my bedtime story get the better of me. The air smelled like metal; like copper. I reached for the light and something grabbed my arm, it’s cold fingers dug deep into my arm.
My arm started to hurt and I realized it wasn’t fingers in my arm. It was claws. There were sharp, pointed claws grabbing my arm and they easily penetrated my skin. I could feel my arm becoming wet and slippery, but those claws did not relent. They squeezed so hard I heard the snaps of bones giving way. I tried to scream for help, but as soon as my mouth opened, I felt those claws clasp over my mouth.
Something cold pressed against my back and a hot wetness trickled down my thighs. I haven’t pissed myself since I was 5. I felt a breath, almost a whisper in my ear as the pressure on my back became a crushing pain. Long and powerful arms encircled my torso. I couldn’t inhale and it felt like my ribs were going to give to give way. It felt like every bone was going to splinter. Now I felt an intensely sharp pain in the middle of my back like my spine was being crushed in a vice. Whatever had me in its grasp inhaled sharply and I heard a whispery voice say.
“You really should have left the light on.”
Another voice rasped.
“It hurts our eyes.”
I fell to the floor, the carpet slicked with my urine. I tried to scream but I couldn’t get any air in lungs. I rolled to lay on my back, so I could see my attackers. I tried to push myself to the closet door, but I couldn’t move my legs as they were paralyzed with fear. Only one arm worked, but I had to try to get away, to get out of this closet. While I shuffled and whimpered on the floor, my eyes adjusted to the dark – for the last time. I saw a large, clawed hand descend from the black and press palm first against my chest.
A voice like dry twigs on glass remarked
“The heart! It still beats!”
I blacked out… thankful I couldn’t feel what happened next…
…He was still crying after his parents got home.
And that’s why I can’t tell bedtime stories any more…