WARNING: This book has an age restriction of 18, and is not recommended for sensitive readers.
TRIGGER WARNING: This story contains strong elements of substance abuse, violence, and sexual assault.
“Come on now darling, there is nothing to be afraid of. I have already checked under your bed, and in the closet, twice. You saw for yourself there is nothing there,” my mommy tried to calm me in a soothing voice. It is well past my bedtime, but I am not ready to be left in the darkness of my room. “Daddy says you have to learn how to sleep alone in your own bed,” she tries again, placing her hand lovingly on my chest. I try to mumble something, but she stops me short. “Liam, you are almost eight years old. You are a big boy now. You need to sleep in your big boy bed, by yourself.” I only stare at her with my big puppy eyes, hoping she would change her mind and crawl in next to me.
A second later, my father bursts harshly through the door. His face is stern and void of any emotion. “Get out,” he barks at my mom. I can see her face grow pale. She squeezes my hand and mouth the word ‘please’ to me before she reluctantly gets up and slowly walks out.
I swallow the lump in my throat and feel my palms start to sweat. “I’m sorry Daddy. I’ll behave,” I quickly say, tears starting to well up in my eyes. My father stares at me with a hate-filled gaze.
“You better start pulling your shit together!” He says harshly, whilst pointing his index finger at me. “You are supposed to be a man! START ACTING LIKE ONE!” He yells, before switching the light off and slamming the door shut behind him.
I lay completely still in my bed, listening to his loud steps retreating down the hall. A shaky breath leaves my lips as I clutch the bedcovers tighter and pull them up to my chest. Fear has driven any traces of sleep away from me the instant darkness enveloped my space of comfort.
My eyes frantically roam over the inside of my bedroom, trying to make out all the different shapes and silhouettes scattered along the walls. In the distance, somewhere in the house, I can hear my father yelling at my mom and throwing things around.
Tonight, I would rather take my chances with the boogieman, than go up against the wrath of my father.
I lay in bed for what feels like hours, too afraid to go to sleep and even more afraid of getting up and switching the desk lamp on. Every single noise has my ears perking up and my heart beating faster. The whole house has gone quiet. Everyone peacefully in a deep slumber. Even the dog outside has stopped barking.
All of a sudden, a scratching noise sounds from somewhere under my bed. I gasp and keep the breath captive in my lungs, not wanting to let go of it. I listen intently. It is just your imagination; it is just your imagination. I try to calm myself.
Suddenly a loud thud resonates from the bed planks directly underneath my head. It has my body going stiff and I stop breathing instantly. Crippled by fear, I just lay there, my heart hammering against my ribcage.
For a second, I almost yelled out to my mommy but stopped myself just in time by clamping my hands tightly over my mouth. The soft, familiar buzzing sound from my toy truck’s wheels, has my eyes widening in the dark. It sounds like the little truck is moving from left to right, and then back left again. I slowly sit up in my bed, trying to peer over the side. A loud squeak from my shifting breaks the silence and I hear a harsh gasp coming from underneath the bed.
In an instant, I leap off and run towards my desk lamp as fast as my little legs could carry. For some reason, in my tiny mind, I am sure that the light would scare away any monsters lurking in the dark. I just need to get to the switch first, before the beast grabs me by the ankles and pulls me under the bed, never to be seen again. I flick the switch on and spin around in one swift motion. The sudden brightness stings my eyes, and for a moment I struggle to adjust to the light. I am breathing harshly, and my little chest weaves up and down uncontrollably.
I stand there frozen for a few moments, just peering into the impenetrable darkness under my bed. After a while I start to take small, uneasy steps closer, never taking my eyes off the eerie darkness. A foot short of my bed, I take a deep breath and crouch down slowly. Peering into the darkness, I could make out the outlines of my little toy truck. It is close enough for me to reach in and grab it. Suddenly, something to my right, moves in the darkness, drawing my attention.
Pitch black eyes are staring directly at me.