Two

I’m on a roll today.  Here’s one more I wrote.  More of a horror/creepy story I wrote for Halloween.  I did a little editing, but if you catch a few typos, apologies! Hope you enjoy it.  (~2000 words)

Two

“Daddy, would you look under my bed? I think there are monsters.”

Sam stood in the doorway to his daughter’s room and tried to stifle a yawn. He glanced down at his watch, pressing the little button to make the display light up. 2:00 AM. He had thought the whole “waking up in the middle of the night” was supposed to quit. Almost three years later he still found himself staggering down the dark hall in the middle of the night to his kid’s room, each time feeling more zombie-like than anything she was having him hunt for.

“Monsters, huh? Who’s telling you about monsters?” She didn’t answer him; he hadn’t really expected her to. That wasn’t to say she was shy or didn’t talk; quite the opposite. Her vocabulary had exploded over the last six months to the point that most people couldn’t believe she was still two. She just didn’t answer questions she didn’t understand. He kinda wished the guys at work were a little more like that.

The thought of work made Sam cast one more look at his watch. He’d be getting up in just over two hours to try and get ready so he could beat the I90 traffic. He closed his eyes and pressed his fingertips to his temples, attempting to push the fog off of his brain. No one said being a dad would be easy.

He tip-toed into the darkness, stepping over the various toys and stuffed animals that littered the room like a big plush mine field. A small lamp shaped like a tree-trunk provided the only light for his journey once his watch went out, and even that was only a dim parody of light that cast questionable shadows against the other toys and the walls.

He reached her bedside in a few moments and looked down at his daughter.

Lindsey had enormous blue eyes, a feature her mother had been immensely pleased with despite the pediatrician claiming that a color change was still on the table. Her eyebrows were slightly arched with worry, but he immediately felt the trust and hope she carried. He smiled at her and leaned down to kiss her forehead, a task much easier since she had transitioned to her big girl bed a few months back.

Sam and his wife had originally left the mattress and box spring on the floor directly because they had been a bit worried that she might fall out of it. It never happened, so they eventually went ahead and set up the whole frame for the thing last week. They even set up a small step-ladder next to the bed so she could climb in. They had been a bit nervous at first, but it turned out she loved the change, and had taken to playing under there.

“You weren’t complaining about monsters when I had to pull you out earlier tonight,” he grumbled. He regretted it immediately after though. Capriciousness went with the territory at two. She wasn’t trying to be annoying. He tried to smile back at her. “Okay, Lindsey, let Daddy take a look.”

It was amazing how quickly being a parent could take over and erase the irritation of a late-night awakening. He let his right hand rest on her shoulder as he sank to his knees next to the bed. With a single last glance he hoped was reassuring, he ducked his head towards the floor and peered underneath. He expected to see a few stuffed animals that had escaped the clutter of the rest of the room and perhaps a block or two.

There were no blocks or stuffed animals underneath the bed.

Lindsey was there.

“Daddy, something’s on my bed.”

He wasn’t sure how long he stared. She was laying on her stomach, arms folded in front of her to place her hands by her face. Her eyes were wide with fear. Sam’s stomach churned at the fear in his child’s expression. The father in him desperately wanted to defend his frightened daughter.

He couldn’t tear his eyes away.

A pounding in his ears reminded him to breath and he sucked in a quick gasp. He tried to speak, to say anything that might comfort the girl. A twitch from the top of the bed reminded him his hand was still on the Lindsey-Above’s shoulder. He tried to move it and found himself paralyzed as he croaked out meaningless noises in a bizarre kaleidoscope of speech.

Even as he knelt in frozen horror, the Under-Lindsey’s own hand shot out and grasped Sam’s wrist like a clamp. Were her fingers really so long? And so cold…

A sleepy voice called out from above.

“You see monsters?”

After a quick struggle to reply, he began to twist and pull in earnest to escape Under-Lindsey’s grasp. He wanted to call back up to his daughter on the bed, but found his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. The grip seemed to tighten on his wrist. He felt his legs slide out from under him as he tried to push up and away from the nightmare that had gripped him, sliding across a zoo of stuffed animals.

“Daddy… I need you.”

His heart crumbled to hear those words. His baby girl needed him, and he was actively trying to get away from her. How many times had he heard that or something like it over the last few months? Fill her water. Make her lunch. Tuck her in. Read her a story. He almost let himself be taken in, but something in her tone stopped him. This need wasn’t for stories or snuggles. This time there was a hunger in her voice. She needed to consume.

Her cold, steel grip tightened, and Sam could almost hear his bones crunching. He frantically held on to the top of the bed, and felt Lindsey-Above trying to twist out of his hand as assuredly as he tried to free himself from the one locked on his arm.

“Daddy!” Under-Lindsey’s voice was almost a whine. “Daddy, why won’t you help me?” He looked squarely at her and found her watching him with those big, beautiful eyes.

His struggle wavered. Was this one really his daughter? He had known her for her entire life. His daughter would never be neatly tucked in on the bed. What two year old would be? She would be under the bed, just like this Lindsey. Besides, why would the real Lindsey ask about monsters? He let go of Lindsey-Above and let his hand fall to the floor. Under-Lindsey had to be his daughter.

He was wrong.

Before he even touched the carpet, Under-Lindsey snatched out with her other hand and grasped his arm closer to his shoulder, and he felt her pulling him under the bed. With reflexes he didn’t know he had, his fallen arm suddenly launched back up and caught the bed frame. It took everything he had to hold on.

Even as he did so, the toys in room began to shudder and tremble their way across the floor to where Under-Lindsey held Sam against the floor. He felt like his shoulder was splitting apart. A crash told him the bookshelf with the tree-stump lamp had fallen over, and this was confirmed as he saw the pieces inching across the floor as they answered the creature’s need.

Sam began to work the fingers on his right hand back up towards the mattress, hoping to find his real daughter and hold her. He told himself in that split-second that it was for her benefit… that he wanted to shelter her and comfort her from the evil that had taken her room. Closer to the truth however, was a desperation for somebody to hold him and reassure him as much as the other way around.

It wasn’t fair. Sam felt like the dad in movies was always a cop, or somebody who had been taking tae kwan do on the side… Somebody capable of defending his family from real monsters. Sam was a paper pusher in an office. He wasn’t prepared for this kind of thing. He had no idea what he would do even after he got free. He solved his problems by making a phone call. The cable company didn’t have a line that you could dial six and have monsters removed.

Fire surged along the length of his arm as invisible teeth attempted to rip free the one hand that clung to the frame. The toys began to move faster towards the void beneath Lindsey’s bed, bobbing and bouncing along.

“Come on, Daddy!” she hissed. Another spasm in his arm told him that the creature had renewed her efforts to pull him under as well. He wished he knew what had happened to his daughter… the real one. Sam hadn’t heard her in what seemed like forever. Was she alive? He wanted very badly to make his mouth work enough to tell her he loved her. Too late. His head sank to the carpet, and he felt his entire body pulling to the space under the bed.

“Sam, are you coming back to bed?”

His wife’s voice came through the baby monitor. It was the most beautiful thing Sam had ever heard, and like the eye of a hurricane the turmoil stopped instantly. The toys ceased their desperate march to the bed and instead lay dormant again. He raised his head from the carpet to look under the bed. No creature resembling his daughter lurked there. His arm was extended underneath and the side of his head rested against it. He almost laughed from relief, managing to restrain himself only because of his daughter sleeping just a few feet up.

Lindsey.

He fought through the pins and needles in his arm to push himself up from the floor and face his daughter. She slept on top of her blankets, face down over her pillow. She shifted a bit in her sleep in response to his groan. He had to fight away the urge to giggle. It had all been a nightmare.

Even so, it had been the most vivid nightmare he had ever had. How long had he even been asleep? A quick look at his watch told him that just over 45 minutes had passed since he had arrived at his daughter’s door.

He reached down to stroke her hair for a moment, black silk that sent spasms through his still numb hand. He ignored the jolts, and then began threading his way back out of the room. He stepped on a small plastic block, causing him to cry out. He didn’t care. Waking his daughter would be such a small thing. He opened the door back out to the hall and began to stumble back to his room. Relief had drained what little momentum he had left, and fatigue soon shouldered its way in.

He pushed open the door to his room and stepped in. He could see his wife sitting up in bed holding the monitor. It was dark and unlikely she could see him, but he smiled broadly for her. He began to strip back down to his boxers and said, “Sorry sweetie. I must have fallen asleep on her floor. I don’t know how I managed that.”

She usually appreciated him going to check on Lindsey in the middle of the night, but this time her reaction was far different. “Will you keep it down?” she asked. “You may have been enjoying a nap for the last thirty minutes, but I just got her to sleep.”

For a moment, he wasn’t really sure what she said. It was as though they were speaking entirely different languages. “What?”

She didn’t answer and instead began to get herself settled back into bed. He hobbled over to the side of the bed while his brain tried to work through what she had said. It took his mind a moment to catch up, but it was really his eyes that answered for him as they adjusted to the lack of a night light. In the middle of the bed, between his wife’s spot and his own, was a small lump in the covers. A child-sized lump.

His throat went dry and once again the clouds around his mind cleared. He was dead awake.

“How long has she been here?”

His wife adjusted in the covers and turned her head back to glare at him.

“She came in just after you left. Now please stop talking. I don’t want you to wake her up. Please just come to bed.”

Sam felt the energy rush out of him as he dropped his hands to the bed. As he did so, Lindsey looked up and smiled.

“Yes, Daddy. Please just come to bed.”

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2 thoughts on “Two

  1. I really liked this one. You did a great job capturing the feel of a dad getting up in the middle of the night for some stupid reason. Maybe it’s because I’m in that place now that this really resonated. You took the typical monster under the bed story and made it original, with the bonus of the monster looking just like his daughter. And I think the questions left in the end make it work even better. What happens in that next moment? Does he even try to convince his wife? There are a few minor typos, but those are easily fixed. Beyond them, this is a nice short Halloween story.

    Liked by 1 person

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