The Inspiration for Show and Tell
We all remember that child, don’t we? The one who sat alone in the corner of the classroom, the one who nobody really seemed to like – the one who, despite our dislike of them, we all secretly feared. They weren’t like the rest of us; and for a child, it is the fear of the unknown that takes root most strongly.
That child who nobody knew and nobody talked to was the secret embodiment of that fear. Sure, the other children might tease and mock them in front of everyone else, but only as a cover. That child was taunted to conceal our own unease and make us seem braver and smarter in front of our friends.
In Show and Tell, Tommy is that child. And in him, the fears of his classmates are realised in the most horrific of ways. His creation was very much inspired by memories of my own school days. In every class I was in, from the age of four right up until my university days, there was always one of those eponymous social outcasts, the loner who hid away in the corner of the classroom and doubtless prayed simply to make it through each day without being noticed.
Tommy was inspired by one of those lonely and miserable children. I was always very restless, and (typically for an author) took note of everything around me, so it was no wonder that I was intrigued by the secretive and silent boy who was destined to fulfil that role in our class. With no exceptions, my school reports all proclaimed, somewhat wearily, that “Kate has a very active imagination.” I certainly allowed it to have free reign whenever my thoughts turned to my classmate. Nothing that I dreamed up, though, could possibly have compared to what the silent and oft-maligned Tommy had in his arsenal.
Drawing upon a myriad of childhood nightmares born of a habit of stealing downstairs to read my father’s horror novels by the light of a torch, I furnished Tommy with that which such children must have dreamed of above all else. I gave him a friend; a friend who was loyal to him above all others, a friend who fought his corner with spectacular results.
Of course, very few of us can ever dream of being able to call upon a friend like Tommy’s to take our side, as much as we might feel we have need of them when battling the vitriol of colleagues, false friends or even family – for it isn’t just in the playground that the local loser is mocked and ostracised. Think, for a moment, of the co-worker that nobody talks to, or the neighbour who keeps their curtains drawn and their lives out of reach of the busybodies at number 7. Then be careful the next time that your own behaviour threatens to revert to those childlike taunts and bully-boy games of days gone by. You can never know what they might have under the bed…
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:
Show and Tell is the story of Thomas and what he plans to bring to show and tell. Here’s a longer look at Kate’s contribution to Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed –
Thomas Burton was one of those children; the kind whose relatives discuss them in hushed tones when their parents’ backs are turned. Such a shame, they would whisper, eyebrows contracted and piggy eyes narrowed in rebuke. There must be something wrong with him – his poor parents, having to endure such a sullen and dull-witted boy.
And worst of all…Such a disappointment.
Those sly, cutting words haunted him. Six years old, he was highly sensitive to such things – another of his attributes that his family never seemed to tire of complaining about. Every family gathering, every celebration, every school report only seemed to provide them with another opportunity to criticize him when they thought he was not listening.
It was okay, though. Any time that Tommy had to suffer their vitriol, he simply allowed his thoughts to drift towards what he knew was waiting in his bedroom, just biding its time until the shroud of darkness had fallen once more.
His friend was always there for him.
Today had been just such a day. It was his parents’ wedding anniversary – his precious parents, the shining lights of society who could never do anything wrong…apart from producing Tommy, of course.
They had gone out for the evening to celebrate without him, leaving him in the tender care of his two ancient great-aunts. Ancient in Tommy’s eyes was anyone over the age of sixty. His great-aunts were far beyond that, both of them nearing ninety years of age, but age and infirmity had not dulled their sharp wits and acid tongues.
Whilst he had sat cross-legged at the top of the stairs and sucked his thumb, the two elderly women had gleefully dissected every last element of his personality, ripping it apart and reveling in their harsh critique without knowing he could hear every word they said.
“They were talking about me again tonight.” Tommy’s nasal voice was sullen, loaded with resentfulness. He knew how much they hated him.
His friend did not reply. Tommy rambled on regardless.
“Stupid old witches! I hate them, I hate them, I hate them! They just don’t understand what it’s like to be me, they don’t get it – probably ‘cause it’s so long since they were little. Daddy says they used to be just like me, but I think they were borned all wrinkly and stinky, all cross and grumpy. I hate them both!”
Interested in finding more of Kate’s work? Find links to anthologies that she’s been published in along with her novels on her blog.