Prompt #22 (Monster): Child’s Fear
((Yay Thanksgiving shenanigans and makeup days))
When she was a very little girl, a monster lived in Dark Autumn’s room.
Her father didn’t believe this, and told her it was only her imagination. He opened the closet before tucking her in for the night, to show her nothing was inside. He looked under the bed with her, to show her nothing was there.
She couldn’t convince him that it came in through the window after the lights went out, slithering in along the wall and lurking in the corners, just waiting. He merely shrugged and made sure the window was latched, and considered the problem solved.
Her mother fashioned small lights, one at the window, one on the stand by her bed, to keep the monster away. Father thought this was a waste of time, and only prolonged the fear.
“If she must face it,” Mother said. “It must be on her own terms, when she is ready. The light will help, for now.”
Her older siblings were mostly busy with their own childhood troubles, and the younger ones were too small to be a concern. Dark was on her own in this.
One night, after upsetting one of her brothers over dinner, he snuck in as she was drifting off to sleep. He turned off the light by the window before opening it, and then turned off the light by the bed, rousing Dark. “I hope the monster eats you,” he hissed.
It was a childish sort of mean, one he wouldn’t remember the next day, but for Dark it was terrifying, and she let out a screech as he dashed out, closing the door. By the time she reached it, she heard the click of the lock outside. She grabbed the doorknob and rattled it, to no avail.
She heard a skittering behind her, and her angry shout became a whimper.
Maybe if she didn’t turn around. Maybe then it would be all right. Just pretend it didn’t exist.
There was a shuffle noise, and a tiny squeak as the light by the window clattered over.
Dark prayed to Nophica for aid. She could maybe get the light by the bed back on, if she could get to it. But that meant turning around, and moving across the room, and maybe the monster would get her.
No other choice, though.
Dark swallowed and turned, knowing it was four whole steps to her nightstand. Her eyes were adjusting to the darkness, but she couldn’t see or hear anything now. She just knew she wasn’t alone in the room.
One step. Two. Three.
Something was on the bed. She was sure of it. She stood, just an arm’s span away from the stand, trembling. If she could just get to the light…
Dark took a deep breath, and made the final step.
The monster squeaked and she heard it land on the floor and skitter to the wall.
Dark fumbled with the little light, until it finally glowed softly, not illuminating much, but just enough. She held it up. “Oh-okay, vilekin!” she said as loudly as she could manage. “Get out!”
The dust bunny—its ears not yet grown out entirely, its body not nearly the size of a full spriggan yet—squeaked again, and tried to jump up onto the chest under the window to escape.
Dark stared. Outside, she heard her father ask her brother about the commotion—it had been only a few minutes, though to the little girl it had felt forever—and the door unlocked.
Light from the hallway spilled into the room and the dust bunny shrieked and fled.
“Well I’ll be damned,” Father said. “Dark, go sleep with your mother tonight. I’ll go clear out whatever nest that little bugger came from. And I’m going to need an assistant.” He glowered down at the brother who had locked Dark’s door, the boy’s face getting a bit ashen.
Dark went to her parents’ room, her mother sitting in bed reading. She looked up. “Everything all right, dear?”
As Dark climbed into the bed, she explained what had happened. Mother listened, and hugged her tightly. “Well, I’m glad that’s all this monster was; it’s a good thing your father’s taking care of it now. You were very brave, Dark.”
“It’s just a little baby spriggan. It didn’t even have its teeth yet,” she said, yawning as she curled next to her mother.
“Still more dangerous than I like in my house, and near my children. But you shone the light on it, and scared it away. Remember that, Dark, no matter how bad things get.
The little girl nodded sleepily, the words taking on an echoing quality, until it didn’t even sound like her mother’s voice anymore, but something far bigger.
“The light will always be there when you need it.”