Illustration by Jon Eke


Nighttime Terrors
by Justin R. Lawfer


"All clear under here," Charlie's mom said as she got up from the floor. No monsters under the bed."

"And the closet is clear, too," Charlie's dad said. "You won't need to worry about any beasties tonight."

"Did you look outside the window?" Charlie asked.

His dad peered outside. "Nope, nothing there. You should be safe."

Charlie's mom leaned over and kissed her son on the cheek. "Good night, sweetie. Have pleasant dreams."

"I will, Mom."

Charlie's parents turned off the light and left the room. Charlie closed his eyes and started to drift off into the world of dreams.

All was silent.

Then . . .

Splush! Splush! Splush!

Charlie's eyes flew open. A strange sucking sound was coming from beneath the bed, accompanied by a rotten, fishy odor.

Splush! Splush!

He pulled his thick blue blanket up to his chin. Sweat formed on his forehead, causing strands of his blond hair to stick to his skin. His bladder threatened to give out. He tried to scream for his parents, but all that came out of his throat was a high-pitched wheeze. He listened, petrified, as something large and wet pulled itself from under his bed.

Splush! Splush! Splush!

The moonlight streaming in through his bedroom window illuminated the massive black figure that slowly rose up alongside his bed. Dozens of long tendrils protruded from its rotund body. Two red eyes glowed from its thick bulbous head.

"Hello, Charlie," the bed monster said, licking its huge, pale lips. "Tonight is your last night alive, for I am going to eat you." It opened its mouth wide, revealing row after row of twisted blue teeth.

"I don't think so," someone growled. To Charlie's horror the closet door swung open, and a tall dark figure emerged. It had slender legs covered with bristly hair, skeletal arms that ended in sharp claws, and a wolfish head. Its six-inch fangs glistened in the moonlight. "He is mine."

"What do you mean?" the bed monster asked, annoyed at the intrusion.

The closet creature pointed a long claw at Charlie. "That child is mine to devour. You will not lay a slimy tendril on him."

The bed monster laughed, causing ripples to spread across its black skin. "I don't think so, you deformed canine. I have been hiding under his bed for five years, escaping the detection of his parents, avoiding the deadly touch of light, waiting for him to grow large enough to satisfy my appetite." It patted its slimy belly. "I will have the pleasure of eating him."

The closet creature pointed a thumb over his shoulder at the closet. "Listen, pal, I haven't been hiding in that cramped, claustrophobic closet all this time just so a blob like you can devour food that is rightfully mine. He will fill my belly!" His stomach let out a growl of its own as support of his statement.

The bed monster balled its tendrils into fists. "If you want him, wolfie, you'll have to get through me first!"

The closet creature brandished his claws. "That will be an easy task. I'll turn you into bite-sized blob snacks!" He leapt at the bed monster, trying to sink his fangs into its belly. The bed monster used its tendrils to hold its opponent at bay.

Charlie curled into a ball, his mouth clamped onto his blanket. Then he noticed as the window beside his bed slowly opened. A bat-like creature with glowing orange eyes and a scaly tail quietly hovered into the room. It looked at Charlie and smiled. "Dinner time," it said in a gravelly voice. It lay a talon on his blue pajama sleeve. Suddenly, a tendril wrapped around its neck and slammed it to the floor.

"How dare you try to steal my food!" the bed monster snarled. "Just who do you think you are?"

The winged thing tried to pry the suffocating tendril from its neck. "Listen, I've had to sit outside his bedroom window for years, scratching at it whenever the wind blew and the rain came pouring down. It's been a cold, wet, tiring job which I haven't enjoyed, not in the least bit. Therefore, I think I should get to eat him."

"Go eat someone else, bat-boy!" the closet creature said as drool dripped from his fangs.

"Go rot in your closet, fang-face!"

The closet creature pulled the winged thing from the bed monster's grasp.
"Perhaps I should dine on you, you winged wimp!"

"You'll have to catch me first, furball!" The winged thing spat a yellow liquid in the closet creature's pale eyes and flew from his claws. The closet creature screamed and put his hands to his face, then lashed out blindly, accidently slashing one of the bed monster's tendrils.

"Watch where you point those things!" the bed monster said, slamming several tendrils into the closet creature's chest.

Charlie cautiously slid along the wall. He slowly put one leg over the wooden rail at the foot of his bed. He watched, petrified, as the winged thing slashed at the bed monster's gooey face, while it in turn was busy strangling the closet creature. The bed monster grabbed the winged thing and used it as a club against the closet creature.

"Perhaps we could share the meal," the winged thing suggested, slipping from the bed monster's grasp. "My mother always said it was best to share."

"Then your mother had mosquitoes for brains," the closet creature replied.

"Well, your mother was a throw rug! And your father was a French poodle!"

Charlie put his other leg over the railing. Now both feet rested on the carpeted floor.

"I'll not give up what is rightfully mine!" the closet creature declared, shaking his fists.

"He's not yours!" the bed monster retorted. "He's mine!"

"Why won't you let me eat him?" the winged thing whined.

"Shut up!" the others shouted in unison.

Charlie stood motionless on the floor. Then he bolted toward the door.

"Hey, what is he doing?" the winged thing asked.

Before the three combatants could react, Charlie flipped the light switch. The ceiling light came on, and the beasts scattered. The bed monster flowed toward the bed, but suddenly dried up and became a mound of gray ash. The closet creature raced to the closet, but was reduced to a pile of steaming yellow bones before he touched the doorknob. The winged thing, in its confused frenzy, smashed into the wall and vaporized into a cloud of red mist.

Charlie wiped the sweat from his forehead. He waited until the ash, bones, and mist had vanished, then checked under his bed, inside his closet, and outside the window. Finding no other strange beings which would threaten to devour him, Charlie turned off the light and slowly settled back into his bed. His heart pounded, his throat was dry, his head throbbed, and goose bumps covered his body. But after a few moments, he smiled. He would no longer have to fear those monsters.

Then a sharp thump came from the furnace vent -- the same furnace vent that led down to the basement. "Oh good, they're gone," a deep, eerie voice grumbled. Charlie heard steel-like claws scrape across the basement floor. "Now you are mine to eat."

Charlie got out of bed and went to his dresser on the other side of the room. He rummaged around in the bottom drawer until he found a large black flashlight. He turned it on, then looked toward the vent with a devilish grin.

"We'll see about that, basement beast."

Story copyright 2002 by Justin R. Lawfer

Illustration copyright 2002 by Jon Eke

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