When I was a little girl, about nine years old, something occurred one night that has stuck with me all these years. Most of my time as a child, I have forgotten. But I can recall this strange night with an almost crystal clarity. Growing up, I was an only child, with no brothers or sisters to comfort me during a thunderstorm. I hated thunderstorms. As a result, I would often run into my parent’s room, and sleep under the covers huddled up next to the snoring form of my Mother. She never woke up, my Dad always joked that he was worried there would be some disaster while he was gone and Mom would sleep right through it. Dad worked third shift, so he would often be at work until mid-morning during the times that I would run scared through the living room into bed with Mom.
One night, I was brought out of a deep sleep by the sound of thunder so loud it shook the entire house. I remember being half asleep and dazed as I rolled out of bed and headed out of the open-door way. The mind of a child works in funny ways I’ve found, and as I passed through the living room, I hardly took note of the T.V. being on, though the volume was turned so low that it made no sound. I scanned the living room only once, and I made my way quickly to my parent’s room. I wasn’t running at that point, I was still somewhere between awake and sleep, and I was working more on instinct than fear. I could see the sleeping form of my Mother, illuminated only by the dim light coming from the T.V. in the living room. From the foot of the bed I crawled under the covers in the dark, and I could hear the first drops of rain begin to patter on the roof. Mom must have known the rain was coming, because the windows were shut, making it a little stuffy in the room. I laid with plenty of room between Mom and I, in an attempt to stay as cool as possible.
I lay completely silent, bracing myself for the booming thunder I knew was inevitable. The only sounds for a long time was the rain, and the breathing of Mom next to me. I remember realizing that she must have been coming down with a cold, because her snoring a bit more labored than usual. Under the heavy comforter, I could see nothing, even the little light from the Television set could not penetrate through the fabric. For comfort, I reached a hand out in the darkness, attempting to find my Mothers hand. Then I jumped, as suddenly she spoke, breaking the relative silence.
“Are you okay baby?” Her voice was a little hoarse, most likely having just woken up.
“Yes Momma, just a little scared.” I spoke into the dark. I could hear some shifting then, as if she had turned over to face my direction.
“It’s okay, I’ll be here like always.” She said, her voice still hoarse, but soothing all the same. I smiled and closed my eyes, still trying and failing to find her hand. Thunder boomed overhead, and I cringed, pulling my body into a fetal position. Flashes of light from lightning somewhere in the distance were so bright I could see them through my eyelids.
“Momma, hold my hand, please.” I pleaded, stretching out my right hand as far as I could. There was more shifting, and the bed creaked, then I felt her hand enclose mine. It was cold, and clammy. I remember then feeling a pang of guilt, here I was afraid of a storm, and even though she was sick, my Mother was putting up with me.
“I like it much better in here than in your room dear.” She said flatly. I opened my eyes then, confused.
“What do you mean, Momma?” I asked her. After I spoke my words, a nagging feeling in the back of my head started to bubble up. A child’s mind works in funny ways, as I mentioned, and I started to replay in my mind the last few minutes. Wandering out of my room, rubbing my eyes. The T.V. that was still on in the living room, because Momma had forgotten to shut it off.
“We usually lay in your bed, it’s just way to small dear, there just isn’t much room.”
I looked from the T.V., to the front door, to the couch that wasn’t empty. Momma had forgotten to shut the T.V. off. Momma couldn’t shut the T.V. off. Momma fell asleep on the couch.
My horrible realization washed over me like cold, frozen water. I was stunned. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t blink, I couldn’t breathe. I could only stare into the black, feeling the cold, clammy hand of whatever lay there in the dark with me. “Are you okay, sweetie?” The voice in the dark asked. I didn’t know what to do, but I spoke, purely out of fear.
“Yes Momma, I’m just thirsty.” I slowly pulled away from the hand that was growing ever colder. Then I screamed as it closed tight around my wrist.
“DON’T YOU DARE LEAVE ME!” She hissed, the voice now gargled, and angry. I cried out and tried to pull away, but the hand was strong. I thrashed and pulled with all my might, but it was no use. I couldn’t get away.
A chill began to wash over my body, draining me of all my strength. With the chill came a foul stench, that I cannot began to describe with words. I grew weak and tired, I felt as if a strong fever had taken me over, and I no longer had the strength to fight. My eyes began to close, and I felt myself slipping. Then, another boom of thunder came, and with it, a brilliant flash of light that lit up the entire room and penetrated the covers. The thing that had a hold of me under that blanket cannot remotely be described as human. It’s gaunt and boney fingers, it’s slender and emaciated form, it’s distorted and repulsive face. Of all the memories of this particular night, it is this one that I am glad I don’t remember clearly. The light from the storm seemed to startle the creature, and it loosened its grasp on my hand, returning my strength to me. The light only lasted an instant, but that was all I needed. I rolled out of the covers, falling on the opposite side of the bed that the creature laid on. I hit the carpeted floor hard and scrambled to my feet, dashing into the living room and next to my mother on the couch. I curled up next to her, and I watched the doorway of my parents’ bedroom with her arm wrapped around me while she snored.
I don’t know why I didn’t wake her. In my mind, I was afraid of what might happen if I did. I didn’t want that thing to hurt my Mother, and I thought that she might go investigate if she knew what was going on. So, all night, I laid there in the light of the T.V. while I watched the open-doorway. The creature never followed me into the living room. It never came into the light, but I could hear it’s breathing, just beyond the darkness. Every now and then, lightning from the storm would flash, revealing the contents room. The first few times it happened, I couldn’t see the thing. Then, I saw it.
Lightning flashed, and I saw its eyes, just below the top of the door frame. When the light was gone, I could still see its eyes glimmering. I realized why I couldn’t see the rest of its body then. It was because it was hanging, from the god damned ceiling. I watched that space in the dark until I fell asleep due to pure exhaustion. I woke up that morning to the smell of pancakes, and the sound of sausage sizzling on the stove. My Mom asked me about the storm that morning, and I lied and said it hadn’t really bothered me. I lied, and said that actually, I had just had bad dream and slept with her on the couch.
From then on, I slept with my lights on, a habit I have kept up well into my adult life. Sure, the first couple of weeks were hard, but I got used to it. I never go anywhere without a flashlight, and I always make sure I’m well stalked on batteries. The only upside to my horrifying experience, is that I’m no longer afraid of thunder storms. When a storm comes, they are a form of comfort for me now, a beacon in the darkness to keep out unwanted guests. But I will never forget that creature, and the awful words It spoke to me that put chills up and down my spine to this day.
“We usually lay in your bed, it’s just way to small dear.”