A few weeks back, before her Cabin Goddess site got gobbled by some nasty virus, Kriss set me the task of a Flash Fiction piece of no more than 500 words using the prompt “darkness”. She even shared it on her blog; given the crazy that the malware introduced in her life, though, I figured now would be a good time to immortalize my short here as well.

This was intended for a young audience (she said to write in a genre I haven’t attempted yet)… but it came out with the same paranormal twists I like in all my stories.

So. Without further ado:

The darkness closed in on him as Max huddled under the covers, careful to make sure there were no gaps between the sheets and the mattress by which the monster he was sure was colluding from the corner of his room with the one he could feel rumbling under his bed could gain access to his scrawny limbs. It was the topper to a bad day at school. The eighth-grade gang had all laughed when their newest member, and Max’s old friend Fred, had stuck his foot out to trip him. He’d sprawled headlong down the hallway, spent five minutes gathering up his books, papers, and belongings, and been late to Mrs. Samson’s English class. For the fourth time. His afternoon was wasted in detention, and his parents had still been at work when he came home, so he’d made do with a few slices of cheese and cold cuts to cure the grumbling in his tummy. A late call informed him they were stuck attending a business dinner, too, so he was to do his homework and get to bed by 9—without any company or comfort.

So here he was. An 85-pound 12-year-old with no friends and no family, abandoned at home to the tender mercies of ghouls nobody else would believe were real.

The only problem with his self-imposed blanket cocoon was that it was getting hot and close. He needed a breath of fresh air. How was he to achieve that without exposing himself to his enemies? Maybe a strategic pillow placement would give him the shield he needed. He shifted around, shoving his bear to one side and grabbing his flashlight for its trusty weight before inching toward the top of his bed. He pushed the pillow in front of the top of his head and established the barricade that would allow his nose and mouth a protected crack to access the cool air of his bedroom.

One gulp of a refreshing breath and Max wondered whether his fears remained substantial. He shifted his grip on his flashlight and carefully brought it up next to his cheek in preparation for the light of truth to answer his questions. Before he could turn it on, the overhead light flooded the room and his mom poked her head in the door. “I heard rustling and thought I might catch you awake to tuck you in.”

Max shoved the blankets down and sat up, carefully eyeing the corner before turning to his mother. She gasped when the light fully hit his face, revealing her changeling son’s scales were back. He turned on the full beam of his flashlight, dispelling that mother, and opened the bright doorway to his home dimension. It would be good to leave this human existence.

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