Contributor: Samuel Pugh

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For a boy of 8, it wasn’t unusual be scared of the dark …
Mum and Dad always left the hallway light on, the comforting sound of their TV programs creeping up the stairs, somehow softening the darkness, making it less claustrophobic. But they didn’t understand; not really. Every night was the same. He’d stare fixedly into the light, concentrating on the sickly orange glow until sleep finally overtook him.
But one night, the light went out.
Panic gave way to hysteria; the dark seemed to be wrapping around him, consuming him. With a voice laced with anxiety, he called out for his Mother. Mummy didn’t come. He pulled the duvet up, over his mouth, his nose, and called again; louder this time. No reply. There was something there, in the darkness. He could hear things talking, chattering, whispering about him. He was safe under the covers, of course, his duvet was his protection against … against them; but for how long? With a strange certainty, he knew they were moving closer. He would have to be brave, leave the duvet, and switch the light on. He leapt out of bed, and ran across to the doorway. If he could reach the light-switch, they would run away, they would leave him alone, they would disappear, they would …

And then he woke up; safe in his bad, safe in the dark. A dream …
He let out a sigh. Stupid, stupid, stupid …
And then they started to talk again, to chatter, to whisper. They were coming for him, slithering their way through the darkness, reaching out. He threw the duvet to one side, raced across the room, feeling for the light switch in a blind panic. He found it, switched it on, and …
And he woke up, tears wet upon his cheeks, his breathing manic in its rapidity. Again, he called for his mother. Screamed …
Mummy didn’t come. Mummy never came. And they were still there, crouching in the dark, talking about him, whispering about him, laughing at him. With a sickening sense of déjà vu, he dragged the duvet from his body, ran across the room, and felt for the light switch.
He found it. He switched on the light, and turned around.
And he didn’t wake up.
And that’s when he finally saw them …

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