From his place on the carpet among his small plastic army men and Hot Wheels, the boy heard his mom shift on the couch and clear her throat.

“Time to go to bed, sweetie.”

He froze for a moment and didn’t move until his hand stung from his tight grip on a particularly jagged soldier.

They said no words as they marched up the stairs, but the history echoed loudly: no more excuses, you’re being childish, you sleep in your own bed now.

In his bed, his mom kissed his forehead and walked over to the light switch next to the door. One quick flick, and she became a cruel silhouette against the hall light. One soft door slam, and all sanctuary was gone.

A pale human head with wild yellow eyes peeked through the crack in the closet door. An unnaturally thin man in black crawled along the ceiling then stared down at him with empty eye sockets. When the boy heard something pull itself from under his bed, he shot the covers over his head, choosing not to see every horror the darkness could infinitely produce.

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