A young boy confronts his greatest fear
| Sean stood outside his door and peered inside. It was dark except where the moonlight shone through the window. His curtains filtered the pale light so even that was subdued. The hall light was at the far end, so very little of that reached inside his room. In a corner lay a glowing green skeleton that he'd hung outside for Halloween last week.
He leaned inside and scanned the room for anything amiss. As his eyes reached the closet, he noticed that the door was slightly open. That was odd because he was certain he'd closed it before dinner. Sean reached inside and light flooded his room as he turned on the ceiling light. He quickly walked to the closet and pushed it shut.
The door clicked back open.
Sean's heart skipped a beat. He'd felt the door shut, but there it was, creaking open again. He stepped back slowly and stared at the door. It stopped opening. He looked at it carefully, and spotted a G.I. Joe stuck in the door jam. That's what it was -- the door didn't stay closed if something was in the way. Sean pulled Duke free and shut the door again. This time it stayed shut.
Now for the hard part. With the light still on, Sean dropped to the floor and searched under his bed for anything that shouldn't be there. He saw only toys and dirty clothes, so he stood back up and wiped his dusty hands on his pajama pants. Walking to his nightstand, Sean turned on his nightlight and turned up a corner of his blanket so he could slip in quickly.
He went over to his door and turned out the light. Immediately, the moonlight shone through his window again and cast long shadows across his floor. It might have been his imagination, but Sean was sure that his Halloween skeleton was glowing just a little more brightly. The safety of his nightlight was across the room and he had to cross in front of the closet to reach it. He bolted toward the bed and leapt into it.
Wrapping the blanket around him tightly, Sean lay his head on the pillow. It was flat and needed fluffing, but he didn't dare move. He knew he was being silly because Dad had told him it was silly the night before. He was almost twelve years old and there was no reason for him to be afraid of the dark. But, he was.
Sean kept his eyes open and watched the hallway. The light was still on and he could hear the comforting sounds of the tv in the living room; his parents were still awake. An hour passed before the tv went quiet. Shortly after, the hall light clicked off, but he could still hear his parents as they spoke in their bedroom. Sean relaxed. Everything was fine and there was nothing to be afraid of. He knew this to be an immutable fact. He closed his eyes and waited for sleep to take him.
The closet door clicked open.
Sean opened his eyes a crack and looked over toward the closet. It was open just a hair, but it was definitely open. He held his breath and watched it. Long minutes passed without anything happening. Something must have been in the door jam, he decided; he closed his eyes.
A series of muffled thumps from the closet made him open his eyes. He stared at the door, then heard something rolling across the hardwood floor. The moonlight glinted off the small marble as it meandered from the closet. Sean caught his breath -- he was sure that his marbles had been secured in their bag.
He heard a scratching sound in the closet; it was as if something with clawed feet was walking across tile. Unsure of what it could be, Sean lay in his bed and considered calling for his father. He decided against it though because his father had told him the other night that he needed to stop acting like a little boy. He was nearly twelve, after all!
Sean wrapped the blanket around himself and swung his legs over the side of the bed. His heart raced and he fully expected to feel a cold slimy hand grab his ankle. Nothing happened. He stood up and slowly walked to the closet. The scratching sound stopped as he approached the door. He reached for the knob.
Something rustled around inside the closet.
Sean's hand shook as he grabbed the cold knob. He held it and tried to talk himself into opening the door. The thing inside bumped against the door. Sean's mind screamed at him to yell for his dad, to run from the room and turn on all the lights. But he was going to be twelve in just a couple of weeks. It was time to grow up.
He pulled the door open.
The moonlight stopped at the edge of the closet and went no further. The closet was completely dark. Sean could still hear the mysterious sound coming from the dark. Soon his eyes adjusted to the dark of the closet.
The sounds stopped. A shadow loomed behind a box and his heart skipped a beat as it came into view. Barely a squeak escaped Sean's throat before it pounced on him.