Bedtime

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Bedtime is supposed to be a happy event for a tired child; for me it was terrifying. While some children might complain about being put to bed before they have finished watching a film or playing their favourite video game, when I was a child, night time was something to truly fear. Somewhere in the back of my mind it still is.

As someone who is trained in the sciences, I cannot prove that what happened to me was objectively real, but I can swear that what I experienced was genuine horror. A fear which in my life, I'm glad to say, has never been equalled. I will relate it to you all now as best I can, make of it what you will, but I'll be glad to just get it off of my chest.

I can't remember exactly when it started, but my apprehension towards falling asleep seemed to correspond with my being moved into a room of my own. I was 8 years old at the time and until then I had shared a room, quite happily, with my older brother. As is perfectly understandable for a boy 5 years my senior, my brother eventually wished for a room of his own and as a result, I was given the room at the back of the house.

It was a small, narrow, yet oddly elongated room, large enough for a bed and a couple of chest of drawers, but not much else. I couldn't really complain because, even at that age, I understood that we did not have a large house and I had no real cause to be disappointed, as my family was both loving and caring. It was a happy childhood, during the day.

A solitary window looked out onto our back garden, nothing out of the ordinary, but even during the day the light which crept into that room seemed almost hesitant.

As my brother was given a new bed, I was given the bunk beds which we used to share. While I was upset about sleeping on my own, I was excited at the thought of being able to sleep in the top bunk, which seemed far more adventurous to me.

From the very first night I remember a strange feeling of unease creeping slowly from the back of my mind. I lay on the top bunk, staring down at my action figures and cars strewn across the green-blue carpet. As imaginary battles and adventures took place between the toys on the floor, I couldn't help but feel that my eyes were being slowly drawn towards the bottom bunk, as if something was moving in the corner of my eye. Something which did not wish to be seen.

The bunk was empty, impeccably made with a dark blue blanket tucked in neatly, partially covering two rather bland white pillows. I didn't think anything of it at the time, I was a child, and the noise slipping under my door from my parent's television, bathed me in a warm sense of safety and well-being.

I fell asleep.

When you awaken from a deep sleep to something moving, or stirring, it can take a few moments for you to truly understand what is happening. The fog of sleep hangs over your eyes and ears even when lucid.

Something was moving, there was no doubt about that.

At first I wasn't sure what it was. Everything was dark, almost pitch black, but there was enough light creeping in from outside to outline that narrowly suffocating room. Two thoughts appeared in my mind almost simultaneously. The first was that my parents were in bed because the rest of the house lay both in darkness, and silence. The second thought turned to the noise. A noise which had obviously woken me.

As the last cob webs of sleep withered from my mind, the noise took on a more familiar form. Sometimes the simplest of sounds can be the most unnerving, a cold wind whistling through a tree outside, a neighbour's footsteps uncomfortably close, or, in this case, the simple sound of bed sheets rustling in the dark.

That was it; bed sheets rustling in the dark as if some disturbed sleeper was attempting to get all too comfortable in the bottom bunk. I lay there in disbelief thinking that the noise was either my imagination, or perhaps just my pet cat finding somewhere comfortable to spend the night. It was then that I noticed my door, shut as it had been as I'd fallen asleep.

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