The boy woke in the night and stared at the curtains. They were blowing in the breeze and he imagined ghosts drifting towards him. He jumped out of his bed and dove underneath, climbing feet first and hitting something sharp with his foot. He yelped and spun, knocking his head. Behind him into the dark, he could see nothing as he stared. Lightning flashed and revealed his box of action figures tipped on its side. The sharp object was actualky two objects, just a Biker Mouse from Mars and a Ninja Turtle. The boy felt relieved, but then he remembered the ghosts and heard the breathing again. He turned to his left and saw eyes, big and white staring back at him. He screamed.
The boy’s mother entered and turned on the lights. She stared at the boy and then rushed to close the window. She asked why he was on the floor. He said he saw ghosts. She tutted and pulled him out from under the bed, holding his covers open, motioning for him to enter. He climbed in and she covered him. She told him ghosts weren’t real. He said he knew, but actually felt like he wasn’t too sure. He thought about Robin Hood and wanted to be braver. He needed to protect his little brother now because ghosts might be real.
His mother kissed his forehead and smiled before turning off the lights. She closed the door silently and the boy was in darkness. There was lighting and thunder but the curtains remained still. The eyes he’d seen under the bed then appeared again, on the other side of the room beneath his mini basketball hoop. They were wide, white. Then they squinted, ovals, teeth beneath. The boy peered through the dark. The eyes drifted closer. The mouth beneath them was smiling.
The boy said, ‘Who are you? What do you want?’
The eyes came closer. Lighting flashed and the boy saw the outline of a body, round and furry, purple maybe, with stripes. The creature moved closer and came to the edge of the bed. The boy listened to his heart raging wildly. His mother had told him little boys didn’t get heart attacks and he hoped she was right. She was always right.
The creature reached out with stubby arms and climbed into his bed. It stared at him, smiling, but saying nothing.
The boy reached towards the creature and it leaned back towards him, flicking a tail gleefully. It was a short thin tail like a cow’s. The creature flicked it playfully again as the boy rubbed its side, no longer feeling afraid, just curious and in awe. The creature felt soft and a little greasy.
‘Are you the tooth fairy? Or something like that?’ The boy asked.
Thunder shook the house and the boy jolted. He looked down and the creature was gone. He jumped out of bed and turned on the lights. The creature was nowhere. He looked under the bed but couldn’t see it. He reached around but felt only the stab of his action figures. He looked out of the window but his street was dark. Then he saw a figure, a man, walking away from his house. The figure was stumbling. He recognised the puffer jacket, the short, hunched stature. It was his father.
He watched his father open his arms up to the flailing wind as thunder shook the street and lightning lit him up like fire. The boy wished the lighting would hit his father. He imagined the swaying figure lying dead on the floor, like the foot soldiers in Ninja Turtles. He felt scared but also happy. The notion seemed ethereal to him, magic almost. He’d never thought about it, but now he wished it. After wishing he hoped wishing was real, but like with ghosts, he wasn’t too sure.
He heard a rustle and turned around. The puffy creature was in his bed, smiling at him. He went over to it and knelt on the carpet, resting his arm on the side of the bed.
‘Is he going?’ The boy asked.
The creature smiled and nodded towards the pillow. The boy climbed into bed and held the creature close. It was warm and fuzzy. He thought about lightning. He thought about his father. He imagined white flames and then eating breakfast with the creature and also his brother. His mother was making waffles. He could smell syrup and burning sugar as he fell asleep.