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Nights Past
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Nights Past
Childhood fears.
[1,329 words]
Michael Schmitt
[April 2006]
[email protected]
Concerning The Void (Short Stories) - [1,720 words] [Mind]
English Garden (Short Stories) - [2,208 words] [Fable]
For A Friend (Poetry) - [20 words] [Mind]
Streetlight (Essays) - [293 words] [Mind]
Winged Maiden (Short Stories) Gaining freedom from a cage. [1,136 words] [Romance]
Nights Past
Michael Schmitt

During the daylight hours of my childhood my house was my playground. There was no nook, no cranny, not one corner unexplored. The world made sense then, was reasonable and safe, and I never ran out of new adventures to seek. At this time I spent very little time in my bedroom, as the video games and toys and televisions were all in different rooms. So when I was put to bed, and the lights turned out, and my world was enveloped in shadow, I was lost.
It wasnít that I believed in the superstitious ghosts and ghouls that come out at night, it was more that I knew that even if I believed they didnít exist, they would still be there. Watching and waiting. Staring with those glowing eyes. Floating noiselessly around me and waiting, always waiting. It wasnít being eaten or killed or taken away that scared me either, it was them, always there, always watching, always waiting. Always.
I was also alone at night. The companionship of my brother was gone, his room lay beyond the long dark of the hallway. I stared at it from my bed, through my open doorway. Just through the shadows I could sometimes make out something jutting out from his doorway. My parents told me it was his doorknob, he closed his door sometimes at night they said. It wasnít though. I could see the saliva dripping from it, the snout of a great beast, never did I see the thing. I could imagine it though, like a huge dog with dark red eyes. It was always in my brotherís room, always I imagined the blood stained blankets and piles of remains on his bed. I could see my motherís grief upon its discovery the next morning, my fatherís rage. I knew it would all be my fault, I could have saved him, I could have done something, I could have been the one to go.
It was this thought and fear that drove me to face it one night. My footsteps were answered by the things beneath my floor, that creak and laugh and giggle and mock my sleeplessness. They too are always watching, I see their eyes between the floorboards. Ignoring their mockery, I stepped cautiously towards the great snout. I never reached it, the light coming through my back door caught me.
In the daylight, my small backyard could be seen through the small window in my back door. It was surrounded by forestry and plants that my mother had planted as a natural fence. Beyond that was mystery. In the dark hours though, it was a wasteland of fears. Great crows of vast size flew up and about, peering through the window, staring, always watching. Now though great white hands pressed up to the glass, streaking blood stains across it before a giant yellow lidless eye was pressed up against it. I felt its gaze, always, always watching me. I froze. The giant muzzle of the beast sniffed out in the darkness, it knew I was there. Two great red eyes pierced out from the shadow of my brotherís room, staring, staring, always watching me. A low groan and high pitched wailing came from outside my door. The eye was there, set in a decaying face of a putrid yellow human-like thing, its skin dripping of its bones like molasses. Its mouth opened in noiseless pleas to let me in. I could not move. It was staring, pawing at the window, watching, wanting me, always there, watching.
The crows I mentioned before came to me in my dream that night. I donít know how I made it back to my room, but I woke up there the next morning, with the crows in my mind. The giant, ominous figures sitting out on my lawn. Waiting. Staring into my bedroom window. Waiting. Surrounding my house. Perched everywhere. Everyone taken care of but me. Waiting, for me. They sit out in my old playground in my backyard still, watching, waiting.
The hallway bred another type of visitor. Immediately to the left of my doorway was the dark opening to the dining room and rest of house. Darkness spilled out of there, casting shadows on the doorway, and the wall in front of it. My parents didnít understand how a shadow could be cast this way, how it could form in spite of the dim night light they had provided after I had seen the skinless ghoul. I knew. The tall shadow was the impression of the ghoul, just beyond the darkness of the doorway. I knew it had come in. It stood there, night after night, watching me through my doorway. I could feel its eyes ever on me. Some nights I could hear its breathing, low labored gasps for air, I could hear it move slowly, gaining a better spot to watch me from.
Some nights though it wasnít there. Those nights worried me. Where was it? Where was it watching me from? It would scratch the window sometimes. Begging me, urging me, pleading with me, to open the window. All it needed was a crack to put its giant hideous yellow eye to. To stare at me, constantly. I would hide under the blankets and pretend not to notice the dim yellow light and the ominous shadow pressed up against my blinds.
Other nights it was in my closet. I resented the age old "thereís a monster in my closet" kids, but they had monsters with fangs that would eat them up. I had a hideous skinny thing with its skin melted off, with two great bright yellow eyes that never closed and never blinked and were always there. Yet it chose my closet. Every night I had forgotten to shut my closet door all the way, sure enough, there were the two little points of light. Staring, unmoving, its heavy breathing gently caressing the edge of my blankets. I knew I had to endure it, if I had tried to close the door it would have me. Not to eat, not to maim, not to kill, to stare at. It would hold me, there in the closet, and stare, all night. And when the light came in the morning it would be gone, to come the next night. The yellow eyes never closed.
As I grew and began to believe that the eyes had never existed, that the doorknob of my brothers room had never been a snout, that the crows had never perched around my house waiting for me. I moved my bed away from my doorway, into a corner facing my closet and next to my window. I keep my door closed. I say I donít believe but every night I shut my closet shut and lock it, who else has a lock on their closet? I close the blinds tight and make sure I can not hear the traffic outside. A light is always kept on so that every corner, every nook, every shadow is shown for what it is.
Last night I awoke to the scratch on my window. The light in my room had gone out. Behind the blinds was the lanky body, stretched out over my window, illuminated by two points of yellow light. There was a crack in my blinds, it could see me. I lay there, affixed by old terror, unable to move. My closet was slightly ajar, I had forgot. Two more points of light peered out from the shadows there, unmoving, staring, watching. And there at the door was the doorknob, was it? It snarled and I cowered. The blood red eyes looked out from the shadows, the saliva dripped once more to the floor. And there I lay, unable to move, shaking and trembling under the watchful eyes. Always there, always watching, always staring, always waiting. Always.
And above it all I heard a crowís call. And they stopped waiting.


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© 2006 Michael Schmitt
April 2006

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