Billy tried to ignore it for as long as he could. The shuffling, the breathing. It was the Creature, he was sure of it. The Creature over the Bed. He had heard it every night for going on three weeks. Always the same. The night would start off well enough, sometimes he was even able to grab a little sleep. But then it would start. There would be a stomping sound, then a loud groaning creak. Harsh whispers he couldn’t quite make out would issue from thin air. Finally, the shuffling and the breathing. The horrid, horrible, ghastly breathing.
Billy was too old to believe in monsters, or so he told himself night after night. And yet he would lie there, wide awake with is eyes screwed shut. Maybe if he didn’t look over the edge of the bed, then the Creature couldn’t get him. This was his only solace, the only hope he had to cling to during those long, lonely nights.
There was tangible proof, also. Sometimes when Billy woke up in the morning, things would be moved around. Sometimes it was an old pair of shoes, or sometimes it was an old, splintery Louisville Slugger, but things would not be where they were left the night before.
Billy tried speaking to Sioned about it once, but she was too busy with the laundry. “Oi, lad, these clothes’ll nay wash themselves!” she teased him, and he never spoke with her about it again.
He tried talking to Angus about the issue. He found Angus at breakfast, eating his usual bowl of honey-laced porridge, and his mouth was full and somewhat sticky, so he could do naught but shrug helplessly. He tried to talk to Angus again later, but found him busy with his tools, too intent on resoling an old boot to be of much help.
Billy thought about trying to talk to Old Man Jake, but if he had to be honest with himself, Billy would admit that Old Man Jake scared him almost as much as the Creature did. So there would be no help from that angle.
In the end, he talked about it with Alice, as usual. She was his closest confidant, despite being only a girl. She was the only one in the house who had time for him. When he asked her about it, she smiled shyly and told him she had all the time in the world for him. So he told her about the Creature and his restless nights and the horrible heavy breathing.
Alice listened closely, toying with the hem of her white nightshirt. As he finished his tale, she thought for a moment and then whispered, “You must confront it. It is the only way you’ll ever be safe. Bring a flashlight, and just… confront it.”
Billy struggled with this advice for a couple of days before snapping. He brought the flashlight, and lay there, waiting. Once he heard the voices and then the shuffling, Billy leapt out and shone his light at the Creature.
“Mo-om!” the Creature yelled, “Come cuick! The Thing Under the Bed has a flashlight!!!!”
In response to my own Flash Fiction challenge, Sunday in the park with Freddie. Come on folks, let’s see what you have.