The New Year’s fireworks tore Sammy out of his nightmare; there’d been a monster under his bed. It had been black and slimy, with a muzzle that hid three rows of curved, white fangs, and it had wanted to eat him.
Sammy snuggled closer into his pillows, clutching his fluffy Pooh Bear to his skinny chest. He thought about calling out for his mommy, but the dream’s fright was already fading. The popping, crackling noises the monster had made were those of the distant fireworks outside his window – not from underneath his bed. That meant he’d been dreaming and the monster wasn’t real.
It had just been a dream.
Besides, Mommy had checked underneath his bed before she’d tucked Sammy in. There was no monster there, she’d said. She’d made him look, too, the way she did every night. He’d dangled upside-down from the edge of his bed to look at the space between the floor and his mattress. Just some dust and a few lost toys. No monster.
“As long as you check beneath the bed before you go to sleep”, his mother told him, “the monsters will hide from you and stay away. All you need is the courage to look.”
Another bang of fireworks, louder than the others. This one was closer. It illuminated Sammy’s room in dapples of yellow and red. Colorful sparks rained down outside the window.
Monster nightmares forgotten, Sammy clambered out of bed and rushed to the window. Down on the street, he spotted his parents and most of their neighbors. Daddy lit the next firework in the middle of the street. It shot into the sky, escorted by the oohs and aahs of the adults. It was so fast, Sammy couldn’t follow it with his eyes before it disappeared against the black night. But he was looking right at it when it exploded in a fountain of blue and green sparks that popped and sizzled as they rained down. They were so close, it sounded as if they were crackling right here in his bedroom.
The sparks fizzled out, one by one, before ever touching the ground. But the popping, crackling, sizzling sounds continued.
Coming from behind Sammy.
He froze. His mother’s nightly promise ran through his head. All you need is the courage to look…
She’d always been right so far. The monster may be there now, but if he looked at it, it would go away.
He turned towards his bed. Yellow eyes, round and bright as two moons, gleamed from the dark space beneath his bed. Sammy stared back at them. Look and it will go away. Look and it will go away.
The darkness underneath his bed moved and split in a wide, red grin. The black lips spread further, revealing first one, then two, then three rows of pointy white teeth as long as Sammy’s fingers.
Sammy stared at those teeth with all his might. Look look look…
A slimy black paw with blood-red talons slid from the shadows. The tips of the talons skittered over the floor, creating those crackling, popping noises. They crawled towards Sammy.
He kept looking looking looking. It would go away, disappear; he was still dreaming; it wasn’t real; it wouldn’t touch him if only he kept looking.
The talons snapped forward and clamped around Sammy’s ankle.
Sammy closed his eyes and screamed.
01/01/2013 – Los Angeles Journal – BREAKING NEWS TICKER
Thousands killed nationwide in seemingly unrelated and as yet inexplicable incidents during New Year’s celebrations.
Circumstances remain unclear, though terrorist actions can’t be ruled out.
The President advises everyone to remain at home and lock their doors until further notice.