The Toe Monster

Brian Carter rolled over in bed and was startled awake. His son, Jimmy, was lying next to him, staring at him. "What are you doing out of bed?" Brian whispered, trying not to wake his wife.
"I had a bad dream and couldn't go back to sleep. Can I sleep with you guys tonight?"
Christ! This is the third time this week! "I don't think so, buddy, not this time." Brian rolled out of bed and picked up Jimmy. "You're a big boy, and big boys sleep in their own beds."
"What's goin' on?" Jenny reached over a flipped a light on.
"Nothin', baby, just go back to sleep."
"I had a bad dream, Mommy," Jimmy explained.
"Well come here and lay down here with Mommy, it'll be okay."
Brian groaned, and set Jimmy back on the floor. Jimmy scrambled onto the bed and lay next to his mother. She turned off the light as Brian climbed back into bed. He had a hard time going back to sleep; it's hard to get comfortable with a seven year old boy's knee in your back.

"Come on Daddy, wake up, it's time for breakfast." Brian opened his eyes and, for the second time in a matter of hours, saw Jimmy staring at him. "Mommy made bacon and eggs."
Brian groaned as he sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. "Go eat; I'll be in there in a few minutes." He watched as his young son left the room. He looked at the clock and buried his face in his hands. I finally get a Saturday off and I'm up with the sun. I gotta come up with a way to keep that kid in his bed. He slipped into a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt and dragged himself into the kitchen.
Jenny and Jimmy were already eating at the small table in the corner of the kitchen. Brian grabbed a plate full of bacon, eggs and toast, poured a cup of coffee, and joined his family at the table.
Halfway through breakfast, Brian broke the silence. "So little man, what's the deal with you coming into our bedroom every night?" he asked his son.
"Leave him alone Brian, he's been having nightmares."
"Sorry Daddy," Jimmy said. He looked at him those big blue eyes that almost always melted his heart, but not this time.
Brian had an idea, but he would have to wait until he and Jimmy were alone before he could put it in motion.

That afternoon, Jenny asked if her two men would be alright while she went grocery shopping. Brian waited until he saw her drive off in the minivan before he called Jimmy in to talk to him. Jimmy ran into the living room and jumped onto the couch next to him. "I want to talk to you, you know, man to man, about you sleeping with your mommy and me."
The boy hung his head slightly and said, "I'm sorry Daddy, I was scared."
"I understand. I'm just worried about you, that's all." Jimmy looked up at him questioningly. "I'm worried about you getting' out of bed in the middle of the night, I mean with the Toe Monsters and everything."
The boy's eyes widened. "Toe Monsters?"
"You've never heard of the Toe Monsters?" Jimmy shook his head slowly. "The Toe Monsters goes from house to house, living under little kids' beds."
"I never seen one under my bed," Jimmy said.
"That's 'cause they're invisible."
"How do I know if I have one under my bed?"
"Most of the time you won't. Sometimes, though, if you get up in the middle of the night, or your feet are hangin' over the edge of the bed, the Toe Monster will come out from under the bed and have a taste to see if he wants to eat your toes."
"I don't like the Toe Monster," Jimmy said, on the verge of tears.
"Don't worry; they can't get you as long as you stay in bed."
Jimmy nodded. "I'll stay in bed." He stood up on the couch and wrapped his arms around Brian. When he let go, he looked at him and asked, "Does Mommy know about the Toe Monsters?"
"Yes, but she doesn't like to talk about them; she's very afraid of them. So if you have to talk to anyone about the Toe Monsters, you come to me, okay?"
"Okay Daddy."
"Good, now go on and play."
Jimmy jumped off the couch and ran back to his room. This is gonna work like a charm, Brian thought.

Nearly a week later, Brian woke up in the middle of the night to find Jimmy sound asleep next to him. Dammit! He was doing so good. He slinked out of bed and carefully picked up his son. He carried Jimmy back into his own bedroom and gently set him down on the bed. As he walked out of the room, he noticed a bunch of colored markers lying on the floor. He had another idea.
Brian chuckled to himself as he picked up a black marker and took off the cap. He walked over to the bed and pealed back the covers to expose his son's little feet.

The next day when he came home from work, Jenny met him at the door. "We have to talk," she said, almost dragging him into their bedroom. She closed the door.
"What the hell's goin' on?"
"There's something wrong with Jimmy, but he won't tell me what it is," she rambled. "He's hardly said a word since he's been home from school."
Brian held up his hand to stop her. "Don't worry, I'll talk to him and find out what's going on."
Brian left the bedroom walked down the hall and knocked on Jimmy's door. "Jimmy, can I come in?" Jimmy opened the door. His shirt was wet and stuck to his body, his blonde hair was plastered to his head. "I think I have one Daddy, I think I have a Toe Monster."
Brian looked around the room and noticed Jimmy's bed. The boy had stacked all his games, toys, and stuffed animals around the bottom of his bed. "What makes you think you have one?"
Jimmy sat on the floor and took off his socks. All ten of his little toes were colored black. "I think it tasted me," he said.
Brian held in his amusement. "Did you get out of your bed last night?" Jimmy nodded. "Didn't I tell you that would happen?" Jimmy nodded again. "Are you gonna get out of your bed anymore." Jimmy furiously shook his head. "Good, then I don't think you have to worry about that Toe Monster any more. Let's put all your toys back where they belong."
They cleaned up the room, Jimmy put his socks back on, and they went out to the living room to watch TV. Jenny pulled Brian into the kitchen where she was making dinner and asked what happened. He made up a story about some boys picking on Jimmy at school. He told her that everything had been taken care of.

Brian and Jenny were cleaning up the mess after Jimmy's eighth birthday party. Jimmy was in the living room playing with his new toys. Brian loaded up the dishwasher and looked over at Jenny, who was standing at the counter looking into the living room.
"Is something wrong, honey?" Brian asked.
"He's just growing up so fast. Sometimes I think he hardly needs us anymore."
Brian walked over, wrapped his arms around her, and kissed the back of her neck. "He still needs us, it's not like he's planning on moving out anytime soon."
She turned around and rested her arms over his shoulders. "You know what I mean. Do you know how long it's been since he's asked for my help with his homework, or asked me to help him put together a puzzle? Hell, I can't even remember the last time he crawled into bed with us because he was scared."
"He's getting to be a big boy, you have to let him grow up; let him have his own space."
"I know it's just hard; it makes me feel old."

Jimmy snuck another soda out of the refrigerator and carried it to his room. Usually his parents didn't like him to drink anything that late, but he was eight now; he could do things he couldn't do when he was seven.
He finished his soda and hid the can under his bed. He was coloring when his parents came in to tuck him in. After setting his crayons and coloring book on the nightstand next to his bed, he slid under the covers and let his parents kiss him goodnight. They liked to do things like that even though he was too old for it now. He would talk to them later about it. They turned off the light and left him alone, closing the door behind them. He quickly fell into a deep sleep.
Jimmy woke up a few hours later; feeling like his bladder was going to burst. He'd never had to go to the bathroom so bad in his short life. He threw off the covers and hopped out of bed.

Brian was awakened by a strange sound. He sat up in bed and listened again. Curious, he stood up and trudged out of his bedroom. As he made his way down the hall, still half asleep, the noise grew a little louder, but he still couldn't figure out what it was.
He stopped in front of Jimmy's door and pressed his ear against it. The sound was louder; it was like a squishing, slurping, chewing sound. He opened the door and turned on the light.
Brian stood in the doorway in shock. There was a large pool of blood on the floor. Lying in the blood, slowly sliding under the bed was the upper half of his son's lifeless body.
Jimmy completely disappeared under the bed; the pool of blood was the only thing left behind. Brian numbly walked to the opposite side of the bed, got down on his hands and knees, and looked under the bed. Nothing. This is just a dream; it has to be a dream. He lumbered back to his room and crawled back into bed.
A loud scream snapped him out of his sleep. Brian looked over at the empty bed. Jenny! He jumped out of bed and ran down the hall. He found his wife kneeling on the floor in Jimmy's bedroom; she was crying. In front of her was a large patch of dried blood. "No!" he screamed. He looked down at the floor, it was not a dream. Tears fell from his eyes onto the floor in front of his feet. Then, he noticed his feet. His toes were black.