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Kim Krodel: On Childhood Nightmares

We asked Kim Krodel, the author of Baby Teeth in Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed, about the inspiration for her story. This is what Kim shared with us –

Baby Teeth: The Inspiration

My inspiration for “Baby Teeth” came in the form of a loose tooth—that of my six-year-old.  One of his lower front teeth was dangerously wiggly for about a week and was the topic of many a dinner conversation.  My son speculated regularly about what the tooth fairy would leave him in exchange for the tooth.  How big a present could she squeeze under his pillow?  Did she take special requests?

The many conversations got me thinking about the opposite end of the spectrum.  What if I took this happy, exciting time and twisted it inside out?  What if a kid was terrified of the tooth fairy?  What if he tried desperately not to lose that tooth?  What would happen the night it was tucked under his pillow as he waited for a monster to come and claim it?

Originally, my outline for the story had a speculative bent in the form of a paranormal, and decidedly evil, tooth fairy.  As I approached the end to my tale, I decided I wanted to make my horror more reality-based.

When I was growing up, my dad was a huge Stephen King fan.  I, of course, read every book he had in his collection.  I remember him complaining about some of King’s works that were more fantastical than others.  He hated reading a book that was eerie and engaging, only to have a supernatural creature pop out that he didn’t feel was necessary for the story to succeed.  I decided to take my dad’s advice and see if I could write a creepy tale minus the boogey man.  I wanted my boogey man to be something so real that it could reach out and touch any one of us at any time.  I wanted to scare the adults that pick up this book.

The things that scare us as kids are not necessarily the same things that frighten us as grown-ups.  The child in my story is terrified to go to sleep, plagued by the seed of a dream that ripens into a full-on phobia.  But kids don’t stay up at night worrying about how their bills will be paid or about their loved ones’ health.  They hide under their covers and imagine they hear the slither of a long body uncoiling or the hissing of a forked tongue.  They ask their parents to make sure the closet door is closed all the way each night because the ritual will somehow keep the monster inside from escaping when Mom’s footfalls fade.  They rely on the soft glow of a nightlight to fend off the darkest shadows.

My character, Brian, is just a regular kid who doesn’t want the tooth fairy to come to him in the night.  In my story “Baby Teeth,” Brian’s childhood nightmare breaks free from his dreams, and when it does, its icy grip wraps around his entire family and pulls them all into hell.

***

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:

eBook:  Amazon.comAmazon.ukAmazon.deAmazon.frAmazon.es,
Amazon.itSmashwords.com (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony, PDF)
Print:     Amazon.comCreatSpace.com

***

Baby Teeth is the story of Brian and how the tooth fairy can be a very scary thing to an imaginative mind. Here is a longer look at Kim’s contribution to Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed

An apple started it all. 

Mom always cut them up at home, but she also always said, “Drink your milk and eat your fruit.”  She reminded the boys nearly every morning as they walked out to the bus stop.  Brian did his best to follow her orders when he bought his lunch.  His big brother Cal sometimes got juice.  It was against the rules, but Brian didn’t tattle.  Cal would get mad if he did. 

Today, the fruit was a whole apple.  It was firm and round, with star bursts orbiting across a deep red sky.  It was just like a grown up would eat.  Brian’s first intact apple after six years of life; it was a milestone of advanced age. 

After finishing his chicken nuggets, he admired the curvy beauty for a full minute, rolling the cool object in his hands.   Finally, he sunk his teeth into it.

The pain shot through his lower jaw, bringing instant tears to his eyes.  The apple fell in a silverware-rattling thump to the brown tray.  The white flesh that rolled forward and back flashed a blood-tinged bite.  Brian poked a trembling finger inside his mouth, and it came back with the same scarlet coating. The first grader began to cry.

A teacher appeared.  “What’s going on here?”

“I think he bit his tongue,” Andy said from across the table.  Brian’s classmate pulled a grimace as he pointed to the bloody apple.

“Let’s get you to the nurse so she can have a look, okay?”  The woman helped him to his feet while the tears continued to fall.  She caught sight of Cal standing with a group of fellow fourth-graders and snapped her fingers at him.

“Calvin Briggs!  Walk your brother to the nurse’s office, please.”

“But we’re going out for recess!”  He gripped the soccer ball in his hands tight while he whined, pressing divots with his fingers.

“You can go straight to recess afterwards.”  Her voice was stern, her look severe.  Calvin shoved the ball at the boy beside him and walked to the door.  Brian followed dutifully, increasing his pace to catch up.

By the time they got to the nurse’s office Brian was out of breath, and his tears had dried up.

“What’s going on, boys?”  The nurse looked over her glasses at the pair as they entered her office. 

“I hurt my tooth.”  Brian had diagnosed the source of his pain en route to the infirmary.

“I knew it was just a loose tooth.”  Calvin scowled at his little brother.  “Why you gotta be such a baby about everything?”

The nurse snapped a glove on her hand and examined the grossly detached tooth.

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