I gripped the edge of the duvet and pulled it up around my face. My ears strained, listening out for the noise that had woken me up, but all I could hear was the pounding of my heart as the blood raced through my body. A shaky breath rattled through my throat before I clamped my hands over my mouth and nose in an attempt to silence myself.
I rolled over onto my stomach and peered over the edge of the bed.
“Hello?” I whispered.
“Hello.” A voice growled back at me.
My gasp shot through me as I dove back under the covers like a turtle hiding in its shell. I don’t know how long I hid but eventually, the shaking stopped and my heart slowed back down. Even at 5 years old, I was fairly convinced that I made things up in my head.
“I’m not afraid of you, you’re not even real!” My voice was strong, I had to prove to myself that my imagination had gone too far this time. I flipped back the covers and leaned right over the bed, ready to fight whatever demons my mind had conjured up.
Of course, this is when I fell off the bed. Down I tumbled, crumpling onto the floor at an awkward angle. The darkness of the world under the bed swallowed me up, pulling me into the depths of terror.
The next time I awoke, I was surrounded by clothes and toys that were tangled around my body. The panic swirled around me at first that I was still captured, but soon the light of day caught my eye and I realised it had all been a dream. When I crawled out from under the bed, I winced at the ache in my bones. Once in the lights, I gasped at the bruises and scratches that covered my skin.
I remember the shock on my mum’s face as I came to her crying about the monster under my bed. She cuddled me and told me it had all been a bad dream, and then she took the nail clippers and cut back my nails, telling me that scratching is bad and I shouldn’t do it.
I got an extra story read to me that night to send me to sleep, and it worked for a while. But the monster would come back in one form or another, they always came back.
Until next time,