It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, don’t give me that holly jolly crap. It’s Halloween. The veil between us is thin. Welcome to Horrorland. As it is my calling, I’d like to pull you in just a little further. Allow me to remind you of a simpler time. A time when suspension of disbelief wasn’t such a task and the line between your Wonderland and Horrorland was easily blurred. Childhood. Oh, the nights when bedtime felt like the end of times; when the basement held more mystery than stuff; when every shadow was a threat. What a gift you’d been given with your fantastically overactive imagination… or was it even your imagination at all? Do you really know for sure?
The clacking of her new shoes on the hardwood floor of the empty house was the best part. With blonde pigtails bouncing on her shoulders and the new dress she had earned for her patience on the long ride to her new home swishing about, Lucy bounded up the staircase to the second floor. She peered in every room, wide-eyed and curious. She had never lived in such a large house in all of her eight years.
“Lucy!” She heard her mother calling, but continued her investigation. Only one more room to go. She stomped down the hallway to the last room and pushed the door open to get a better look. It was smaller than the other rooms, and the ceiling was oddly slanted. There was a large window on the other side, and to the right… a very small door. Strange. She went to open the tiny door, but it was locked. “Lucy, get down here!” The tone in her mother’s voice gave warning and Lucy turned to run back downstairs to meet her.
“Everything stacked right here is yours. Your room is going to be the last one on the right upstairs,” her mother instructed, “start taking your things up there.”
“No, I don’t like that room, it’s weird.” Lucy protested.
“Lucy, don’t argue with me,” her mother warned as she struggled with another heavy box toward the kitchen.
Lucy’s father came in the front door, “Take your boxes upstairs and put them in that room for now, Lucy. We’ll get settled soon. You’ll love this place.”
With a grunt of protest, Lucy grabbed a box and hauled it upstairs to the room with the strange ceilings and the tiny closet.
The sun hung low, casting lengthy shadows from the tree limbs just outside the window across the floor of Lucy’s new room. Daddy had just finished putting her bed in place and she had begun the task of finding a new place for all of her things. She lovingly placed her favorite toy, an oversized stuffed teddy bear, on the rocking chair her mother gave her. As she emptied the contents of one box into a dresser drawer, she heard sounds like scratching coming from the tiny closet. She stopped and listened for a moment before making her way across the room. The sounds continued as she got closer. A mouse, maybe? Lucy tried to turn the doorknob, but to no avail. It was still locked. She got down on all fours and peered under the door. She couldn’t see it, but there was definitely something there. She reached her small hand as far as she could under the door.
“Lucy!” Her mother’s call startled her, and she stood up. The scratching noises ceased. “Dinner time!” Her mother beckoned. Lucy went downstairs to eat with her parents for the first time in their new home.
It didn’t take long for little Lucy to fall asleep that night, what with the long drive, the task of helping Mommy and Daddy carry the boxes, and beginning to put things away. Lucy lay peacefully tucked into her bed and the room was still. Still, but not quiet. Skittering and scratches could once again be heard coming from that tiny closet on the other side of the room. Then, the doorknob began to turn this way and that. Lucy stirred. With a click and a creak, the tiny closet door opened just a bit. Lucy rubbed her eyes and sat up in her bed. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the darkness of her new room, but when they did she saw it. The tiny closet door was ajar and within it was darkness… and a pair of glowing red eyes looking back at her.
The following night, after dinner, Lucy sat with her parents in the living room while they watched their evening news. Daddy yawned and a feeling of dread came over Lucy as the news anchors bid adieu. She didn’t want to go to bed. She had avoided her room all day and paid no mind to Mommy’s frustrations that she wasn’t helping to unpack her things. When she had awoken that morning, the closet door was closed tight. She didn’t care to check if it was still locked. She didn’t care if what happened last night was nothing more than a dream. She just never wanted to go through that ever again.
“Well, I’m zonked, honey. Bedtime, what do you say?” Daddy swooped her up in his arms.
“NO!” Lucy yelled.
“Hey!” Mommy was shocked by Lucy’s tone. “No arguments out of you. Bedtime.”
After she was tucked tightly in beneath the covers, Lucy begged Daddy to read her a story. “Sweetie, I’m too tired. It’s been a big day. A big week! I’ll read you one tomorrow, I promise.” He kissed her on the forehead.
“This will help you feel more comfortable, sweetie.” Mommy clicked on a tiny night light next to Lucy’s bed. She leaned over and kissed her daughter goodnight. They went to their bedroom, leaving the door to Lucy’s cracked slightly. Lucy fought sleep as hard as she could for what seemed like an eternity. Hours passed and she could resist her heavy eyelids no more. Lucy drifted off to sleep.
Something soft brushing up against her skin awakened Lucy some time later. She slowly opened her eyes. It was just her teddy bear. The bear she had left on the chair by her dresser. Lucy snapped awake and looked to where she had seen her bear. There was nothing there on the bed with her. She looked at the rocking chair. There was no bear. She looked at the closet. The door was open. There was a rustling to her left. She whirled and saw her teddy bear climb onto the bed near her feet. But it wasn’t her teddy bear. It was alive. It had glowing red eyes and sharp teeth. Lucy screamed and pulled her legs to her chest, shutting her eyes as tight and possible, desperately trying to will it gone.
She only opened them when the light came on and Mommy and Daddy were in the room.
“They told us to take her in if she became hysterical again,” Mommy was arguing with Daddy. Lucy sat quietly in the living room, staring blankly at the television, unable to focus on anything in particular due to the sleepless nights of the past two weeks. She was only able to nap for minutes at a time before the nightmares began again. Mommy and Daddy had taken her to the doctor. That seemed silly, she wasn’t sick. She was just tired. But sleep was dangerous. Especially in her room.
“That’s ridiculous, she’s not sick. She’s scared. It’s completely normal. This is a strange new house. She just hasn’t gotten used to it yet.” Lucy knew she could count on Daddy.
“It’s been two weeks. It shouldn’t carry on this long.”
“Just let me try something tonight, okay. If she still hasn’t gotten a decent night’s sleep tomorrow, we’ll take her in. Deal?” Daddy bargained.
“Alright,” Mommy agreed.
Lucy gripped Daddy’s shoulders tight as he carried her upstairs and into her bedroom. He carefully set her down and helped her get comfortable under the covers. “Daddy?”
“Daddy, can you put a box in front of the closet door?” Lucy looked at him pleadingly.
“Of course,” Daddy pulled the biggest box and positioned it up against the closet door. He came back to her side, and climbed onto the bed to lay next to her for a moment. “Lucy, I think it’s high time I let you in on a little secret.”
“A secret about what?" Lucy asked.
“The Boogeyman,” Lucy looked at him, her eyes wide. “Honey, you have nothing to be afraid of, did you know that?”
“It’s true. You have all the power,” he continued. “All you have to do is take the power away from whatever it is that’s trying to scare you.”
“How do I do that?” Lucy asked.
“You stop believing in it,” he got up from the bed and leaned down. “It’s as simple as that, sweetheart. You take back the power and you stop the fear. Never let it win,” he kissed her on the cheek. “Think you can do that?”
“I don’t know,” she looked at the closet.
“Get some sleep, pumpkin. You’re safe.” He turned on the night light before turning off the lights. He left the door to Lucy’s room wide open and she watched as he strolled down the hall to their bedroom and turned off the lights there.
Lucy lay in silence for a great long while. She barely had to fight off sleep anymore, as it just wasn’t an option. But she closed her eyes anyway. She didn’t know how long she had been lying there, cozy under her blankets, when she heard it. The click of the door and the rub of cardboard on hardwood flooring as the door of the closet pushed against the box that was supposed to block it. Lucy opened her eyes, but she didn’t dare move. She didn’t dare breathe.
There were footsteps and scratching sounds as tiny feet with long nails crossed the room to the bed where Lucy lie frozen in fear. She could feel it at the foot of her bed. Watching her. It’s almost too much for little Lucy’s heart to handle. The fear was overcoming her and she couldn’t scream. She tried so hard. She willed herself to sit up. Remembering, what Daddy said, she did. She bolt upright and faced her fear. The thing at the foot of her bed was no bigger than she was, but that didn’t make it any less terrifying. It’s eyes were sunken holes in it’s face and its mouth was full of razor-sharp teeth. it’s arms were long enough to touch the floor and they were reaching for her now. Reaching for her with clawed fingers, sharp enough to rip holes in the comforter that was the only thing between her and it.
She willed herself to speak with all of her might, “You’re not real. I don’t believe in you.” It reached for her still. “You’re not real. I don’t believe in you,” she repeated over and over again, shutting her eyes tight. She felt the tugging on the covers stop and slowly opened her eyes. The thing from the closet was gone. It worked.
Lucy lie back in her bed. She was elated at her victory, but uneasy still. And with good reason. She heard it. A deep, guttural growl beneath the bed. Lucy slowly scooted over and peered over the edge of the bed. Nothing. She leaned a little further. Further still. Nothing. She started to pull herself upright when a clawed hand grabbed her by the hair. Lucy screamed louder than she ever had in her life.
Mommy and Daddy sat up straight in bed. “Lucy,” Mommy yelled. Daddy ran from the room and into Lucy’s.
He saw Lucy huddled in the fetal position under her bed. “Lucy, what is going on in here?” he leaned down to coax her out, but she wouldn’t budge. “Why did you scream? What’s the matter, honey?”
“Daddy… There’s something in the closet,” Lucy whimpered.
Daddy went to the small closet door, now closed, and turned the knob. It clicked open. For a moment, Daddy couldn’t believe his eyes. Inside, cowering in the corner of the tiny closet was his daughter, Lucy. “Daddy… There’s something under my bed.”