Lions, Tigers, and Bears... Oh My!
May 31, 2012
This week's challenge from Flash Fiction Friday was about fear.
F3 - Cycle 81 - Lions, Tigers and Bears… Oh, My!
We fear the unknown, more specifically the unseen. Our minds wonder and wander at an odd sound, creaking cracks, things that go bump in the night.
Behind my house is a 30 foot Pine a nearly as high Maple, reaching well over my roof. In my bed at night, my wife sleeping soundly, I hear a crash from above, patters across my ceiling. I know what it is, but I can’t help thinking something is up there more deadly than a squirrel or raccoon. Logically, I know they jump from the tree to the roof and across to my deck, food aplenty awaits them. Sometimes, the mind just wanders. Fear of the unknown reminds me of the classic movie The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy and her cowardly crew get scared in the Haunted Forest more from the idea that it’s haunted, than any real danger.
This week write a story about perceived fear, either triggered or based on a phobia, and to make it fun use the following word list:
Dark, Crunching, Eerie, Monster and Fear.
Genre: Open Word Limit: 1313
Cue: A story about fear using the words: Dark, Crunching, Eerie, Monster and Fear
Deadline: Thursday May 31, 9:00 AM EST
Here's my story -
"So, when do you come out of the closet?"
"Not right away," said the wolf. "It's a standard story about a little boy in bed, a dark room, and his fear. Not sure when or if I'll pop out, my plan is to stay hidden and just use my magic to pump it up."
"Well, you do that well," said Red. "Last one you were hiding under a bed - scared me just to listen in. I wouldn't want you under mine."
"Or in it?" asked the wolf.
"Hey," said the woodcutter. "She was lonely, and used way too much of that love potion on you. Just drop it, OK buddy?"
"Sorry guys," said the wolf. "Couldn't resist a bit of teasing - it's part of what I do. But I should get going on this, want to make it a good one."
If it was good enough it would become part of the stories told to kids, and part of their dreams. Hopefully a scary part, boosted by the magic he and the others had gained when the fairy tales brought them to life, a magic that they now put back into their work.
"Good night son, sleep tight."
"Night dad," said Stephen. "Could you leave the door open a bit?"
"Just a bit," said his dad. "You're a big boy now." He left the door open part way, the hallway light cutting a path right to the bed.
Stephen lay in the middle of the mattress, his feet far from the edges. He remembered the last time he'd carelessly let a foot dangle over the edge, the sudden hot breath on it, the voice in his ear, his screams. His dad had run in quickly and turned the light on. Together they had looked under the bed, in the closet, and found nothing. His dad said he'd be fine, and he'd agreed, but he'd lain awake for hours, jittery with fear, afraid of every little noise.
Stephen made sure the covers were tucked snugly around his feet, and stared out into the hallway. He could hear the TV in the living room, a hockey game it sounded like, with his sister whooping and cheering. He was just starting to relax, his eyes drooping, when he felt, and heard, a quick puff of hot air. He watched as the door slowly swung shut, with an eerie creak of the hinges, almost closing. Now there was only a thin crack of light, reaching across the floor to the foot of his bed. The rest of the room was dark.
He called. "Dad?"
He leaned toward the door and called a little louder. "Dad!"
Stephen sank back, pulled the blankets tight under his chin, and listened. Nothing at first, just the distant TV noises, then a faint creak.
He lifted his head up - there it was again. It wasn't out in the hall, it was somewhere in his room. As his eyes got used to the dark, he could see faint shapes in the shadows, with bits of light looking back at him. He stared hard at the closest shape for a few minutes, then relaxed when he realized it was only a pile of his clothes over a chair, with a belt buckle faintly glinting in the sliver of light from the door.
He looked again at the door, and that sliver of light. It wasn't far, he could slip across quickly and open it again. He had just started to pull the covers back when he heard a creak from the corner of the room. He froze, then turned and peered into the dark. Another dark shape, with two red spots glowing near the top. My dresser, he thought, with clothes on it, and a battery charger or something. He started to smile, then one of the red spots disappeared for a moment - just like it was winking at him. He carefully slid under the blankets, still watching the two red spots, and then he heard it. A crunching, like toast, but louder. Like bones.
"Dad! Dad!" This time he screamed with all his might.
As he listened to his dad's quick steps coming down the hall, he heard a quick rustle in his room, just for a second or two.
"What is it, Stevie - another nightmare?" His dad pushed open the door and rushed over, their dog at his heels.
"No, I was awake, Dad. I heard crunching noises, loud ones, and saw something - over there!" Stephen pointed to the corner. Nothing there now, no monster, just his dresser. Clean, square, no clothes on it, no battery chargers, nothing on top except his clown doll.
Once again his dad checked in the corners, under the bed.
"Here," said his dad, holding up an old bone, "Peter must have been gnawing this - I'll make sure he stays out this time."
Stephen watched as his dad checked in the room for him, especially in the closet. He thought he saw the clothes move when his dad opened the door, but he wasn't sure.
Once again his dad tucked him carefully in, gave him a hug and kiss, and said he'd be fine. His dad left the door wide open this time, and headed back down the hall, the dog at his heels.
This time the puff of air was stronger, longer. His bedroom door swung closed, slowly, steadily, the light narrowing, until with a click it latched. Stephen whimpered. He wanted to duck right under the covers - he was afraid to watch, yet afraid to not watch. He stole a quick look to the corner - nothing there except the square shape of his dresser.
He heard another click, from the other side of the room. He watched, eyes wide, lip trembling, as his closet door slowly swung open. Inside was a tall shape, with two red dots at the top, staring at him. As he stared, unable to move, one of them closed, then opened.
Stephen tried to scream.
This story would have still made an excellent read without the beginning prologue part, but it did add a nice touch. Knowing the wolf was doing this just to scare the child, but not actually harm him, made the story less frightening, but no less enjoyable.
I like the detail of how the wolf blew the door shut. Very reminiscent of how he huffed and puffed the three pigs' houses down (assuming he crosses-over from the Red Riding Hood story). The little details you write about what tv show is playing on the television set and the thoughts running through the boy's head bring this story to life. It's one of my favorites now!
Posted by: Carmen Seitan | May 31, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Carmen - glad you liked it. And many thanks for the detailed response.
I have been using some fairy tale characters in some of my stories - sort of their life in between the fairy tales. Maybe I'll nudge this up a bit, so we don't know just how far the wolf is going to go.
Glad you liked the wolf blowing the door shut, although to be honest, I hadn't made the connection, just seemed to fit. Subconsciously I guess.
Do you have stories online too? If so - please add a link.
Posted by: Ravens | June 01, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Love Sleep Tight. My buddies from the fairy tales still alive and well. This one's got great suspense. You can feel the poor child's fear. Brings back memories of 'knowing' something was under the bed or in the closet that made itself disappear when Mom or Dad came in. Great story!
Posted by: Joyce Juzwik | June 12, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Thanks Joyce. I like to get the Fairy Tale Folk out when I can. Glad this caught a bit of what that early childhood fear was.
Posted by: Ravens | June 13, 2012 at 08:47 AM