Lying in bed is a strange thing when you think about it. We’re sleeping, at our most vulnerable, yet we present ourselves at waist height with out thin cotton sheets to protect us from the outside world. I don’t neccesarily trust the night, but some people enjoy it. Enveloped in darkness, barely able to tell if your eyes are open or closed, it gives me panic.
I used to keep a nightlight on, but not anymore. Yeah I know, I’m nearly 30 and still sleeping with a nightlight. But there’s a reason I don’t use one anymore. I want that cradle of darkness to keep out of sight all the things swimming around us, just outside of our vision. It’s easier to pretend that the things out there cannot see you if you cannot see them.
It was a hot summer night, and our A/C was on the fritz. We had a repair guy coming in the morning, but until then we made due with open windows and ceiling fans. The gentle buzz of faraway traffic and the calm whoosh of the ceiling fan made quite the suburban lullaby, and the light from the lamppost outside gently illuminated my room.
With the heat I was down to my boxers and a single bedsheet. Even though I would have been more comfortable without it, I never have been able to sleep well without at least a single sheet covering me. When I was a kid I believed that if you kept your feet outside the covers at night things could grab you. If they were inside the covers, the creatures lurking in the dark had to follow the rules. Covers were a safe zone, and you could rest comfortably knowing that you were hidden in the sheets.
I was tossing and turning as I usually do when sleeping without the modicum of creature comforts I’ve grown used to when I first heard it – the gentle creaking of my closet door. Cursing the worn latch that was the only thing keeping the door closed, I got up out of bed and made my way to the cracked doorway.
As I did I heard a low thump from the closet, almost like the sound of someone scrabbling backwards.
I froze, the beads of sweat cooling against my skin. I listened intently but heard only the gentle noise from the fan and the traffic from outside my window. It felt like minutes before I moved again, but I know now it was probably only a matter of seconds.
As though on autopilot, I moved to my dresser and opened the sock drawer. Finding the lockbox hidden under my unorganized piles of underwear and socks, I quickly twisted the combination into the lock and withdrew the snub nose .38 I had bought a few years before.
I hadn’t taken it out for years, but I knew by the weight that it still held 5 rounds of .38 hollowpoints. I grabbed the small flashlight I kept near my bed and made my way to the lightswitch near the closet.
I reached the switch near the door and raised the .38, finger sweating against the stainless steel trigger. My heart was pounding in my chest as I flipped on the light and opened the closet door. Bright light flooded into the dark space, illuminating everything I had stashed in there over the years.
Nothing was out of place. I scolded myself for being so paranoid and quickly locked up the revolver, annoyed at myself for being so frightened at such a mundane noise.
I switched off the light and went back to bed, heart rate slowly dropping to normal, when I heard the door creak open again. I almost started laughing until I hear the door fully open and hit the wall. A second later, a few plodding thuds came from the direction of the closet, and I pulled the covers down slightly to peek.
Emerging from the closet and tiptoeing as if trying not to wake me, was a being, at least nine feet tall and hunched below the ceiling. It’s long, spindly arms blindly groped at the wall as it looked in my direction, apparently unable to see the abject look of horror on my face. It continued its quiet progression and quickly slipped out my bedroom door.
I don’t use a night light anymore. If it’s still ever in my closet, I figure I’d rather us not be able to see each other.