“Mom… I don’t want to sleep in my own bed…” I remember crying, clinging onto my mother’s bathrobe as she led me to bed. She sighed heavily, before looking down at me. “Matt, there’s nothing to be afraid of! I’ll even check your room before you go to bed, ok? Now quit dragging my robe down.” With that, she shook her robe out of my hands, and opened the door.
My room was small, with one wide window that stared out into the backyard, my bed perched underneath it, my dresser to the right of it, and my large walk-in closet at the foot of my bed, the doors closed tightly, with a small string keeping it shut. Mom walked over to the closet, throwing open the closet and snapping the string unknowingly, looking in. It was dark. I hopped into my bed, yanking on my covers and staring at her as she searched the room, before she sat on my bed, and pet my head. “There’s nothing here, Mattie… nothing’s going to get you.”
I nodded softly, Mom leaning down at giving me a kiss on the forehead, before she stood and walked out, saying one last goodnight. She shut the door, the nightlight in the corner flickering softly as I stared at the closet, at the remains of my only protection hanging from the doorknobs, the pale green string looking lifeless. I told myself there was nothing there, that Mom was right. Nothing was going to get me. I rolled onto my left, holding my teddy bear close to my chest, and closing my eyes. The clock on my nightstand ticked and tocked, each second seeming to get longer… and longer as the closet door opened slowly. I could hear it creaking, before it softly thumped the wall, the sound of a fly breaking the silence. It flew around my head, onto my dresser, onto my nightstand, hitting the window three times, before it rested on my cheek. I flinched, brushing it away, and squeezing my eyes shut. Something thumped the ground, again, and again, and again… before the breathing.
It was heavy, and wet… each breath dragging into hollow lungs, before being pushed out painfully as the thumping came closer to the bed. The breath now brushed against the back of my neck. I held back the whimper, the cry in my throat as it leaned in to me, breathing heavily and reeking of something dead. My heart raced, before a sharp pain shot up my leg, and I screamed.
That night has always haunted me. I had to move into my brother’s room, which he was not happy about. I couldn’t step one foot into that room, even if Mother got mad at me. Nothing could make me want to go in there. Mostly because the monster had taken over the room. I don’t know who else could see it, if they could at all, but it was there. Sometimes I could hear it in the air vents, scratching on the walls and throwing my stuff around in the night, with no reaction from my family at all. There was nothing I could do, but lay in the dark and hold the pillow to my head. There was nothing that could help me sleep at night, no matter how many pills I swallowed and cough medicine that I drank, nothing could get me to sleep. Nothing.
It went on for a few years after that, my lack of sleep draining me of all my energy, crushing my will to actually want to do anything. I sank, and kept sinking into myself, until it got to the point where I couldn’t even get out of bed. I laid there, sleep being nothing but a desperate dream. The year my brother moved out, Mother had to decide what to do with me. She got me to talk to a psychiatrist, who gave me pills and pills of something that he said would help me sleep. After the first night, I fell into something that made me think I was sleeping, but I knew I wasn’t. The room was bare, except for the empty bed frame that my brother said he would come and get later, which stood out like a ghost in the darkness.
I would fidget endlessly in the night, feeling the familiar hand on insomnia on the back of my neck as I stared at the closet just across my bed, there was nothing that could break my gaze from that damn door. The door that would inch open every second, a small, timid hand sliding out of the bottom. A dainty, white hand gripped the door, before it would retreat, a small sob sounding from behind the wood. One night, I’ve had enough.
I had grabbed the gas can from behind the house, filling it to the brim with gasoline, never telling my dad what I’ve done. That night, I laid in the bed, the can tucked away beneath the bed, before the clock struck twelve, and it began.