It was close to midnight when little Andrew woke up to a mysterious noise coming from his bedroom closet. Eyeing the closet cautiously, he waited a while for the fear to die down before pulling the duvet further up his neck. It was probably the fourth of fifth time he had woken up tonight and he was beginning to wonder if he would get any sleep at all. The room was dark and silent and a bright half moon hovered outside the window, casting long ghostly shadows around the room.
He turned over and groaned. This would never had happened if he hadn’t been so eager to sleep by himself tonight. Until a while ago he still shared a room with his twin sister and after his 6th birthday his parents finally decided that they were going to have to sleep in separate rooms. Initially, Andrew had been ecstatic over this decision, and eagerly set to work personalizing the downstairs guest room. But on his first night he woke up in the middle of the night to a strange noise and had to sleep in his parents’ room. His sister hadn’t let him live it down since.
Even now he was considering getting out of bed and knocking on his parents’ bedroom door, but he reminded himself of the teasing he endured from his friends, who had been sleeping in their own rooms since they were four. He thought of his sister, who laughed at him every day because he couldn’t sleep alone and she could. “Well,” he thought to himself, “if they can do it so can I.” And he closed his eyes once more.
He was almost ready to drift away into unconsciousness when what seemed like a banging sound woke him up yet again. He sat up and glanced at his digital clock, 23:52 flashed up on the screen. ” This is hopeless,” he thought to himself, ” I’ll never get any sleep at this rate.” He brought his knees up to his chin and wished for the morning to come. Then, he heard a muffled thump coming from his closet. He froze, adrenaline pumping through his body, ready to face whatever was in there. He sat there for a few long minutes, contemplating whether to investigate the noises or try and go back to sleep. He figured the latter option was going to be impossible so he slowly pulled out his bedside drawer and found his flashlight. The lights in the house had been out ever since lightning had struck the house during a recent thunderstorm, and so flooding the room with light was out of the question.
Andrew thumbed the switch on his flashlight and a dim light shone out but soon flickered and died. Andrew cursed to himself, how many times had his mother nagged him to change the batteries? He considered going down to the kitchen to get new batteries, but the chances of finding two AAs in the dark without a flashlight to guide him were close to nil. He turned back to the closet. “If I’m going to get any sleep tonight, I’m going to have to find out what in the world is making that noise.” he thought.
Slowly, he crept out of bed and grabbed the baseball bat that he kept beside his bedpost. He walked slowly towards the closet, heart thumping in his throat. With one hand he reached for the cold closet handle, and with his other he brandished his bat. He took a deep breath and counted to himself. 1…2…3! He flung open the closet door and suddenly a dark mass leaped out at him, smothering his face. Andrew tried to scream but the sound was muffled his assailant. He dropped his baseball bat and tried to pry away from his attacker with both his hands, its skin felt soft and furry under his hands.
Then suddenly the thing dropped away from his face and he squinted to make out his foe in the darkness, which turned out to be……a woolen jumper. Andrew slumped to the floor, panting. Half of him was silently cursing himself for fighting a woolen jumper that must have fell of the closet rack when he flung open the door. But he was also relieved that the inside of the closet seemed to contain nothing more malicious then a set of over-zealous clothing. Andrew picked himself up and walked backed to his bed. He hoped his parents would not have been wakened by the racket he was making, he had enough embarrassment already.
His hand was still shaking when he pulled back the covers and got back into the bed, this night was turning out to be a nightmare. He closed his eyes and willed himself to go to sleep, but to no avail. He was just about to give up and go up to his parents’ room when he heard the creaking of the closet door slowly closing shut. He turned to face the closet, fresh fear mounting up in his chest. “Its probably the wind.” he told himself. Then he noticed that the windows were tightly shut and there was no way that wind could have gotten through.
Then he caught a movement at the corner of his eye. He turned towards it but all he saw was an empty corner of the room. “Now I’m imagining things” he mumbled to himself. A moment later he heard a dull thud coming from behind him. He swung round and found his newly framed hand-art lying on the floor. Now Andrew was really scared, and trembled as fresh cold sweat broke out over his forehead. Now he wished he was in his parents room, and didn’t care about what his sister would think. He was just about to get out of bed when he felt something that stopped him cold.
Something was breathing down his neck, he could feel it. It was warm and reeked of some foul odour. Slowly, he turned around. What he saw next scared him so much that he didn’t even think to scream. Bloody red beady eyes stared back into his frightened own, watching him, wanting him. Andrew knew at once that he had no possible hope of fighting this creature. It continued to stare down at him, waiting for the right moment. Andrew stood frozen, hardly daring to breath. He glanced at his baseball bat, judging the distance between it and how fast he could reach it. But in his heart he knew that even if he did managed to get the baseball bat, it wouldn’t make much of a difference. His eyes slowly scanned the area around him, looking for anything that might help him. The creature stood taller than a fully grown human and had limbs thicker than a tree trunk, it stood with a crooked posture, legs bent down as if ready to pounce. Claws were visible on the ends of its fingertips and glimmered in the moonlight.
Andrew’s heart was working in overdrive now, every beat seemed to echo around the room. His hands felt numb and fear gripped at him relentlessly. He knew he had but one option, although one almost certain to fail. He gathered up whatever vestiges of strength he had left and prepared to make a run for the door. Every instinct in his body was screaming at him to scream but he kept still, waiting for the right moment. The creature pulled back its lips to reveal its razor-sharp teeth and gave a blood curling snarl, Andrew knew he had not much time left.
Then, a cuckoo sound filled the room as Andrew’s cuckoo clock struck twelve. The creature, momentarily distracted, turned away from Andrew to look for the source of the sound. Andrew knew this was his chance and took it, and leapt from his bed towards the door, only a few metres away. The creature, who realized what Andrew had done, effortlessly bounded the short distance towards Andrew and landed between him and the door, snarling. Andrew knew he had failed and closed his eyes, waiting for the end. He felt a horrible sharp pain along his neck and immediately fell unconscious, and all the while the clock was still chiming.
Andrew woke up screaming, cold sweat covering his face. Thin, warm rays of sunlight were drafting through the window, and the birds chirped their sweet songs outside. It was morning. Relief washed all over Andrew, and he felt good to be alive. “It was just a horrible nightmare.” he told himself. He got out of bed, still trembling, and walked to the bathroom to wash his face. The cold water felt good, putting some life back into him. Water mixed with sweat trickled from his face into the wash basin, but then something odd caught his eye. The water in the basin wasn’t clear and transparent, it was blood red. Confused, he glanced at his image at his mirror, and his heart skipped a beat.
Running down his cheeks all the way to his collarbone were three long red lines. Claw marks, still bleeding. His brain struggled realise what this meant.
It wasn’t a nightmare.