The Exchange of Nightmares

The cry was strong, loud. It echoed through the house with unforgiving repetition. Stephen rolled off his bed and onto his feet. His wife, as always, was deaf to the screams. Her sleep was impervious to any and all noise. He gazed at the pillow one last time, but soon he was called again. He felt as if someone plunged a lance through his head every time a scream resounded through the walls. He knew he could practically forget about the midnight snooze.

Out of the bedroom, he had the way memorized. He could get to his daughter’s room blindfolded, half-asleep or completely intoxicated; it was that easy. Yet, tonight wasn’t a case like that. He was mercilessly shaken out of his slumber, and his eyes were wide open.Entering another room, he found his daughter in her bed. With the blanked over her head, she resembled a tiny tent. Her outline was illuminated by the dimly lit lamp behind her. She pulled the sheets over her nose and up to her eyes. She was patrolling the entrance with stubborn persistence.

“What is it this time, Anna?” He asked, dismissing any cute nicknames that came to his mind. He was tired, vexed, and utterly frustrated.

“There is something under the bed.” She said.

“Not that again.” He heaved. It was like that for years now. Stephen wasn’t sure if this was an attention grabbing ploy, or a clever tactic to spice things up when they get boring, but one thing was certain, he had no intention of allowing this anymore.

“You’re eleven. Get over it.” He yawned and prepared to leave.

“Just take a look. Please.”

“Go to sleep.” He said with a grimace over his face.

“One last time. Please. I felt as if something was whispering in my ear.”

“A child’s imagination.”

He wanted to be mean, but couldn’t. He was a father, after all. He sighed, and fell to the ground. He crawled, nearly putting his head under the bed. It was dark, really dark. He couldn’t see a thing, and he didn’t expect to. Just when he was about to leave, it showed up. He screamed in a feeble manner, rolling back. He retreated and tried to stand up, but he tripped on a toy. He fell back and hit his head on the edge of a wooden dresser. The anger bottled in, he couldn’t hold it any longer. When he was about to explode screaming, the lights lit on, and he saw his wife looming over his head.

“What is going on here?” She roared.

Now you wake up, he thought. After being chastised for something that was completely out of control, he went straight to bed. It was a weird feeling since his daughter never called him that night. She usually insists on doing so every few hours, but not this time. Things were quiet. That night he couldn’t forget the image he saw, but blamed it on the multitude of horror movies he watched this past year. His mind insisted on showing him the horrific recollection time and time again, until he finally lost interest in what happened. He closed his eyes and, lastly, fell asleep. The night was tranquil.

The following day went by fast. Nothing happened at work, and he was soon back home, eating a reheated portion of a meal that was made a few days ago. He went golfing with his friends, read the newspaper, finished his chores, and got into bed. Finally an entirely good night, he thought. He slept well.

The next day was easy again, and nothing could ruin the vigorous feeling he had in his body. His neck still hurt however. In the afternoon, his daughter thanked him for taking whatever was under the bed. Baffled, he prepared for the night. His wife was fast asleep, mumbling something in her dreams.

He closed his eyes, primed for another revitalizing snooze. He had a wide smile as his future was extremely bright. That’s when he heard the noise. He ignored it, but the muffled, harsh voice echoed to him. He felt anxious. The only idea that came to mind was closing the window, but it was already closed. He tried going to bed, but he was repeatedly shaken by the same coarse sound of unknown meaning and intention. He helplessly shook in bed, trying to ignore it. Annoyed, he prodded his wife, and said, “Quiet!” His delicate poke seemed to have no effect on her.

He listened as the sound redoubled. After some time, it was easy enough to localize. The murmur came from below. He grew anxious and rattled when he made the connection between his past and present. The whining intensified. Armed with a determination out of steel, he looked under the bed.

He saw it, the creature. A humanoid without legs, a torso only. Its hairy arms were itching to grab him, but it seemed to be afraid of the light. The moonlight was gathering at the base of the bed. From under the creatures disorderly shag, gazed a pair of pupils. Its center filled with darkness that seemed to eliminate all light. Its chaotic mumbling was rhythmical as if it was trying to say the same thing and draw attention. Its hand suddenly twitched, and Stephen nearly cried as he lost his grip of the bed. He fell headfirst to the floor, sending a hard thud thought the room.

Stephen was barely holding himself from shrieking.

He silently returned to a sitting position on his bed. He had no one to call for help. Thinking about what happened, he tried to make sense of this whole ordeal.

Am I going mad?, he thought.

That’s when it hit him.

He poked his wife and asked, “Honey, would you do something for me?”


Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment or make suggestions.
Patrick Rain.

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4 Responses to The Exchange of Nightmares

  1. Good story. Nice ending.
    I guess the cowardly dad was keen on a divorce anyway.

  2. Nam H Nguyen says:

    I don’t think there’s anything really to suggest.
    It’s a cute story, with a fun message.
    Keep it up 🙂

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