Forget the Night-light
As a child, I had an imagination that could rival anyone’s. Easily frightened by the simplest of things, I was a steady and reliable source of entertainment for my older siblings. They knew that if they wanted to get a rise out of me, they most certainly would.
My oldest sibling (and my only brother) would often convince me to sit and watch scary movies with him, only to torture me with the storyline afterward. Every monster I had seen on the screen was real, and lurking in my closet or underneath my bed. I suppose any ‘normal’ child would have grown suspicious after awhile, but I trusted my brother implicitly… and he knew it. Freddy Krueger, the Gremlins, Ghoulies, even Killer Tomatoes – you name it; they were all out to get me. Thus was born my absolute terror of the dark. An obvious solution – and one that may have alleviated the problem altogether for other kids – would be to use a night-light. Certainly, no monster wanted to be seen. They were allergic to light, right? At least the Gremlins were, anyway. They turned into puddles of goo whenever any perceivable light touched them. I hoped this unwritten rule would somehow apply to the myriad of other monsters just waiting to jump out at me.
So, I plugged in a night-light and placed all of my faith in it to protect me. I must have thought that all of the strange noises I heard at night would somehow suddenly stop occurring. It is odd to think that a little light made me feel that safe. The false security I had bestowed upon myself, however, would be short-lived. After all, light helps you to see… and I wasn’t prepared to see anything.
One evening, after having only been asleep for an hour or two, I heard a whispery voice say my name out in the hallway just beyond my bedroom.
I tried to pull through my grogginess and focus on opening my eyes. I had obviously been in a fairly deep sleep when my name was spoken, as it took quite awhile to fully wake. As I opened my eyes, I looked toward the hallway. Remember, there were two doorways into my room but no doors. The light from my night-light illuminated the hallway just enough for me to see that someone was standing there, looking in at me.
I was awake now.
This person in the hallway was not a member of my family. The figure stood about five and a half feet tall, but had no distinguishable features; at least, none that I remembered in the one second I gave myself to actually look at it. I instantly threw my covers up over my head and began to pray that whoever (or whatever) was in the hallway would vanish. I cannot recall how long I kept my head buried in the blankets, but I do know it felt like an eternity. When I finally mustered enough courage to peek out, the figure was gone.
Had I been dreaming? I certainly thought I had been when I woke the next morning and everything was fine. If a ghost – or something else – had been there, would it have left me alone simply because I buried my face in the sheets? I doubted it. It had to have been a dream. It would not happen again.
For several nights after that incident, a sort of panic took over me as bedtime approached. We hadn’t lived in the new house for all that long, so I was still fairly uncomfortable sleeping in the basement even if I did have the all-powerful night-light.
It could have been a matter of days, or weeks – I don’t even know, but that figure once again appeared in the hallway. This time it stood at the bottom of the staircase that led into the basement and directly into my room. The terror that ripped through me had me so paralyzed that I couldn’t react and pull the covers up over my head like I had before. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t scream. I laid there and stared at it, completely unable to look away. After a few brief moments, it stepped out of sight, only to show up at the other entrance at the far side of my bedroom.
Then it just disappeared. It didn’t walk away, fade away, nothing. It just wasn’t there anymore.
After my second encounter with the entity, I not only lost faith in my night-light to protect me, but I woke up the next morning and immediately threw it into the trash. The dark was not my enemy, it was my friend. The nightlight had only taken a nightmarish thing from my imagination and made it real… visible. The dark would allow me to dismiss a bump in the night as something with a plausible explanation.
And so my world once again went dark. I had hoped that would be the end of it.
(To be continued)