What Frightened Me as a Child?
What frightened me as a child? Oh, there were so many things. I used to have a recurring nightmare in which I was all alone on a crimson planet, the atmosphere so thick I could only crawl, the air alive with electricity. I used to dream of a hollow Earth where monsters lived. I had a habit of waiting until everyone was asleep and then going outside in the middle of the night to play. One of those evenings I saw a ghost, a glowing phantom walking across a field. And it looked right back at me. I’ll never forget it. I write about that particular incident quite a bit. It had a definite impact on my life. I was afraid of bullies, of the bad men they warned us about in school, my parents, and teachers not just for myself but for my siblings and friends as well. I was pretty much a neurotic mess. My writing was an outlet for me to express it all.
But nothing frightened me more than the closet. I blame Stephen King. I was never interested in reading the tedious drivel written for kids my age. It was always so cute and silly. I hated it. I would read my mother’s Stephen King books, my favorite being “Night Shift.” My mother had the paperback with the “Children of the Corn” movie poster for a cover. I loved the stories in that book. I took it everywhere with me. In fact, I got in trouble for bringing it to school in the third grade. My mother’s reaction to the school’s sanctimonious call home was not to punish me but to, from then on, buy me King’s books as they came out. I have quite the collection of first edition hardcovers as I am sure you can imagine. They adorn my bookshelves with my collections of Anne Rice and Clive Barker novels.
Of all the King stories the one with the most impact was “The Boogeyman” from “Night Shift.” It was about the mythological monster slithering through the dark in search of children to kill. And what was its mode of entering a victim’s bedroom? Through the closet, of course. The story scared the hell out of me, as I am sure anyone can imagine. It was certainly not intended for such a young reader. I would lie awake all night sometimes just staring at my closet fearing the door would move or clawed fingers would wriggle out of the spaces along the door frame. I took to keeping the door open instead of always fearing what might be skulking in the depths behind it. I still keep it open to this very day. Why take a chance? After all, I know for a fact there are things that go bump in the night. I’ve seen them with my own eyes. And hidden inside my fictional stories I often write of them. I think they like it.
Those whispered tales of monsters hiding under the bed, or of the demons lurking in the shadowy corner where we dare not glance for fear that seeing them will make them all too real. Oh, how the innocent landscape of a child’s imagination lends fertile soil to horrors ready to be sown on the slightest of sounds; the tales and the terror they wreak on our youthful minds never quite leaves us.
We asked the authors in this collection to reach into the forgotten recesses of their twisted minds and share with us the tales of nightmares that can only thrive in the hidden corners of a child’s imaginings; the bogeyman under the bed, the outlandishly fiendish creature lurking in the dark, the slight murmur of sound coming from the hall… did you close the door completely?
Explore the myriad terrors that only a child can twist from nothing into some ‘thing’ in the span of a single rapid breath. Do you dare delve into your own memories? Perhaps you’ll start sleeping with the lights on again…
Tell us, who is Under the Bed?
Contributing Authors: Colin F. Barnes, Nina D’Arcangela, Phil Hickes, Amber Keller, Kim Krodel, Lisamarie Lamb, John McIlveen, Kate Monroe, Brandon Scott, Joshua Skye, Julianne Snow, and Jack Wallen
Pick up a copy of Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed as either an eBook or in print format from:
Timothy is the story of Laura and the terror-filled relationship she has with her doll, Timothy. Here is a longer look at Joshua’s contribution to Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed –
Darkness. Darkness and scurrying sounds.
Something was out there in that darkness beyond the foot of little Laura’s bed. She knew what it was, the thing skulking in the shadows. She sat up with the covers pulled tightly to her chin, her back against the ice cold wall. She could hear the floorboards creaking, footsteps in the gloom, something lurking between the stuffed animals and slithering amongst her dolls.
Had her clown doll moved? Did she really see that?
It was Timothy, and she was afraid of him. He used to be her friend. She’d used to think him silly and funny and gracious. He’d made her wishes come true. But then he wanted something in return, – payment. He’d wanted her. She knew that. He wanted her to die and be with him forever and ever.
Now he’d come to take his compensation for services rendered. He’d made her little life as wonderful and as delightful as she had always wanted it to be. She was worth it. She was what he wanted; so young, so innocent. Her friends had been his friends too, and they had paid for their wishes, their dreams.
They’d all disappeared and now she was the only one left.
Quivering from fear, her teeth rattling in her little head, hands trembling, she stared into the deep darkness to catch any movement; the twinkling of an eye perhaps. Anything to let her know where he was, out there in the darkness. There was nothing for a long time.
“Where are you?” she muttered in a squeaky voice. Something moved in her peripheral vision. She turned. Fast, but not fast enough. Perhaps it was nothing more than a shadow that had just blended with the dark. “Timothy, you stop it. You stop it right now.” She tried to sound like her mother, to mimic her authoritative tone, but it hadn’t worked. Her voice had cracked and it trembled with her apprehension. “I know it’s you,” she whispered, more to herself than to him.
She started to cry, she couldn’t help it. Her tears streamed down her tiny face and there was a lump forming in her throat. She had to fight to swallow; she had to fight to breathe.
Timothy began to mock her. “Timothy, please. Stop it, Timothy! Go away, Timothy.” The sinister, scratchy voice seemed to come from everywhere, the shadows, the darkness, under the desk, from behind the stuffed animals, under the bed.
Oh no…was it coming from under the covers?