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Things That Go Crunch In The Night



20 years ago . . .

“Goodnight kiddo. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”


“Yes, son?”

“I’m scared.”

“Why is that?”

“Because there’s a monster under my bed.”

“Hugo, the only monster you need to be afraid of is corporate greed and the crumbling state of the global economy.”

“I know, I know,” I frowned.

“Repeat after me. There’s no such thing as monsters.”

I crossed my arms and pouted.

“Come on, Hugo. Repeat it after me.”

“There’s no such thing as monsters,” I droned, intentionally mumbling the words.

“That’s it. Again.”

“There’s no such thing as monsters. There’s no such thing as monsters.”

“What was that? I can’t hear you!” Dad cupped his ear.

“There’s no such thing as monsters!” I shouted back.

“Atta boy. Sleep tight, okay?”

“But Dad, he’s right behind the—”

The door slammed shut, drowning out the faint light from the glowing television in the sitting room. I sat in the darkness of the room, blanket clutched in my tiny hands. A floorboard creaked in the corner of the room. I fumbled for the lamp switch. The sound of nails scraping against wood creeped closer.

I pulled the bed sheets up over my head and held my breath.

Silently, I counted to ten.

1 . . . 2 . . .

Rasping breathing drew closer.

I squeezed my eyes shut and muttered.

“There’s no such thing as monsters.”

3 . . . 4 . . .

Shambling footsteps drew closer.

“There’s no such thing as monsters.”

5 . . . 6 . . .

Stale, hot breath of whatever was out there fell onto the sheets.

“Hugo . . .” a voice rasped.

“There’s no such thing as monsters . . .”

 7 . . . 8 . . .

“Hugo . . .”

“There’s no such thing as monsters . . .”

“Come out, come out, wherever you are . . . you know you can’t hide under there forever . . .”

“Go away.”

“Come out, little Hugo, come out so that I may suck your blood.”

9 . . .

Long, pointed fingers coiled around the edges of my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle blanket. My eyes widened as black claws began peeling the covers back like a wrapper to a tasty treat.

“Go away. You can’t come under the blankets,” my muffled voice bravely rose from under the bed sheets.

“Oh?” the creature’s voice purred with malevolence, “and what makes you think that?”

“Because it’s a rule.”

The vampire drew his fangs back and knelt over me. I whimpered as I felt the monster’s teeth press into the fabric, edging ever closer to my throat.

“What do you think you’re doing?” I snapped. “You can’t do that!”

“What do you mean?”

“Are you hard of hearing or something? I already told you, it’s a rule.”

“Are—are you sure?”

I nodded my little fuzzy head and yanked the edges of my blanket back from the vampire’s hands. I curled back into a ball beneath them.

“What . . . What page?” The vampire flustered as he skimmed through a pocket-sized book held in the inside pocket of his flowing, black cape.

“Page 12,” I answered from under the blanket. “’Vampires cannot see children when they’re hiding under a blanket’, it’s under the clause about how monsters can’t grab a child’s legs unless he or she dangles them over the edge of their bed. God, don’t you know anything?”

“Well, I—”

“Is this your first day or something, mister?” I pulled the blanket down and glared at him. “What’s with the cape and goofy accent?”

The vampire stammered.

“Well . . . I’ve—I—I . . . I’ve played vampires in theatre before I turned and I—”

I let out a loud yawn.

“Is this going to take long? I’ve got school in the morning.”

“Oh, only as long as a tale of heartache and broken dreams takes to tell.”

The vampire sank onto the end of my bed and began to lament. A muffled thump sounded from the other side of the wall.

“Hugo! What are you doing in there? I don’t hear sleeping!” My dad’s distant voice yelled.

“Just some stupid vampire trying to tell me about his life of heartache again!”

“Well keep it down, you two. Some of us have work in the morning!”

The vampire sighed and began talking about lost love, broken dreams, and a deadly fear of wooden stakes. I pulled my pillow under my blanket fort and wrapped it around my ears.

It was going to be a long night.

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Paul W. Ryan is the Irish Author of The Watchers series, Monster Hunter Extraordinaire series, Rage, and The Rot and Death. Be sure to prod him with a stick and throw him a bucket of fish heads once a week. It's the only way he'll get more novels done.