When Thomas was four years old he woke to a strange noise coming from his closet. It was a sound like a slow moving creature walking through his toybox. Down the hall the light from his mother’s bedroom was on. Thomas got out of bed and went to his mother’s room where she was curling her hair in the bathroom.
“Mom, there is something in my toybox,” he said.
“What do you mean?” she asked..
“I hear something. It's moving around, and it's scaring me.”
“Oh it's fine, it's just your step father,” she said.
It didn't make sense why his step father would be in his closet in the toybox, but this answer satisfied him and he went back to his room. In the dark he could see his reflection in the mirror of his sliding closet doors. He watched himself while listening to his stepfather walking around in his toybox.
It was on a different occasion when he heard a sound like someone pressing their head against the wall and walking down the hall. The hairy scratchy noise of the hair follicles against sheetrock and scalp sliding toward the opening of his bedroom where it finally stopped. He was terrified and could barely get himself back to sleep that night. When he woke and his stepfather was making him breakfast he told him about the strange noise and how it had scared him.
“Oh, I’m sure it was just Lokey,” his stepfather said, that was the cat. And just at that moment Lokey jumped up onto the kitchen table, startling him, his black slender body brushing up against Thomas’s shoulder.
When Thomas was six years old he began to hear tapping on his bed at night. It would wake him up and he would lay there listening to the ghostly rhythm on the bedframe. These noises scared him, especially when the tapping was accompanied by whispering. The words were always just out of reach, he could only make out the sound of someone saying something.
The explanations from his parents about these kinds of happenings were always the same.
“Thomas, it's probably just the cat,” or “Thomas, I think it was your mom, I know she got up in the middle of the night.”
One night when Thomas came back from the bathroom in the middle of the night he discovered a monster under his bed. He didn't notice it at first, it was only when he had jumped in bed and looked into the mirrors of the closet doors that he saw it in the reflection.
His first thought was that maybe his stepfather snuck into his room while he was in the bathroom, it was October after all, and Halloween was right around the corner, maybe he was trying to frighten him. But the face of what was down there didn’t look like his stepfather, or his mother for that matter. The face was a dull bluish white with a slender body, and if there were any eyes they were tucked away in dark sockets unseen. Thomas lay there watching the face until he fell asleep.
Each night after that, he would see the monster under the bed. He made sure that he didn't drink any liquids too late so he wouldn’t have to go to the restroom in the middle of the night. His mother would check under his bed before he got in to make sure nothing was there. He was worried he might mistake something like a crumpled up sweatshirt or one of his toys for a monster. But each night he woke in terror as staring back at him in the mirror was that ghostly white face.
After months of this Thomas began to feel comfortable with seeing the monster under his bed. One night, feeling a little brave Thomas slid the covers off his leg and moved his foot to the edge of the bed. The cold air made the flesh on his ankle rise with goose pimples. Slowly Thomas moved his foot further off the edge, keeping his eyes on the empty sockets of the monster. Inch by inch until finally the monster shifted his gaze toward the approaching foot. And that’s when a slender arm appeared that had been tucked away against the monster’s side. It began to reach up toward his dangling toes. Thomas pulled his leg back and the slender hand slowly returned to where it came.
Thomas told his parents about the monster trying to get his foot.
“It's probably just your imagination, honey,” is all his mom could think to say.
“Yeah, remember,” his stepfather said to him at the breakfast table, “there is no such thing as monsters.”
Each night when Thomas would wake to see the monster staring at him from under the bed he would feel a compulsion to slide his foot toward the edge. And the monster's dead face would slowly turn as his foot came into view, and that slender hand would reach toward his foot. And just before it got what it wanted Thomas would quickly move it away. And the pale hand would return to its place.
The weekend before Halloween his parents threw a costume party at their house. The evening was full of witches and ghouls and monsters of different variety, there was punch and hors d'oeuvres, and most importantly, other kids to play with.
Thomas’s mom had taken him to the Halloween store to get a costume a few days before and despite all of her suggestions, Thomas insisted that he only wanted to paint his face the same color as the monster under his bed.
“What about this?” his mother asked, holding up a creepy mask, “or what about a vampire? You could paint your face the color you want and have fangs!”
“No. I just want to be the monster under my bed.”
“Well, okay, but don’t you want to dress up?
“Yes. but all I need is white makeup and black eyes.”
“Okay, but you can’t be naked, I know you said the monster under your bed looked naked, you can’t do that, okay?”
At the party when the other children asked what he was supposed to be, Thomas told them that he was the monster “under my bed.”
“A real monster?” a little girl asked him.
“Yeah. A real one. I see it every night and it wants to eat my leg.”
“Do you want to see it?”
“No,” the little girl said, and walked away.
“I do,” said a little vampire.
In his bedroom the bravest of kids came with Thomas to his room. He instructed them to get onto his bed and he would slide underneath. At first Thomas didn’t think much of it until the lights were off, his eyes slowly adjusting to the sudden darkness.
As the bedroom came into view he could see the three brave souls on his bed. A vampire, a zombie, and a werewolf. And then there was Thomas, his white face illuminated, reflecting back his dead looking complexion with what light was coming from his window. He wasn’t paying much attention to his fidgeting friends, he became absorbed in watching himself, playing the part of the monster that visited him each night.
“I can see you,” said the zombie on the bed.
“Yeah, you don’t look that scary,” said the werewolf.
“You’re being weird,” said the vampire.
But Thomas didn’t say anything. He was quiet, still and hoped that his eyes weren't able to be seen.
The werewolf began crying, and the other two started to whimper and sob, scared of the monster under the bed. The vampire suddenly leaps off the bed and runs for the door. He grabs the doorknob and yanks it open, casting light and sound from the living room. The Monster Mash is playing and the other two children leap from the bed and go running out. Thomas watches them go.
The shadows of the dancers move about the walls like cave dwellers, and the music pumps into the room. With the light coming in Thomas can see himself more clearly now, his eyes are glistening balls surrounded by black. As he stares into his own eyes he begins to feel a presence behind him. The hair on his neck feels staticky, and ever so slightly his bedroom door begins to close by itself. He feels a strong urge to scramble out from under his bed but he doesn't move, too afraid by the presence behind him. And as the light from the living room begins to fade away he looks into the mirror and behind him is the face of the monster, the pale face with absent eyes. The darkness of the room collapses around him and in the dark he feels a body press against his and the hand on that slender arm comes around him and pulls him under.