Leanne crawled into her bed with trepidation. To her back was a closet, innocent and plain in the times of light, but as soon as the lights flickered off for sleep, it turned into a funhouse of horror. Sounds and flashes of light slid from beneath the doors, finding her even where she hid beneath the covers. And then, when her fear was complete and her eyes were squeezed as tight as they could be against the darkness, the door would creak open, squealing on hinges that mimicked a dying man's cry. She would curl up in the covers and try to tell herself it was nothing. Mommy and Daddy said there was nothing to be afraid of. But in the night, when the only light was what struggled through the opening of her door that had been left ajar, Mommy and Daddy's assurances seemed like the babble of the insane. Of course there was something in her closet! It was staring right at her!

Her mother bent down to kiss her on the head with yet another whispered encouragement. "Go to sleep, hon. There's nothing in here. Daddy checked, remember?" And Leanne did. Only moments before, her father had completed the ritualistic checking beneath the bed and behind the wooden closet door. Of course he hadn't seen anything! The lights were still on!

Her mother rose and flicked off the light, bringing the door nearly shut behind her. A shaft of light pierced the blackness and fell across the foot of Leanne's bed, but it wasn't enough. Barely had her mother's footsteps faded down the hall when the sounds of something moving reached her ears. It was stretching, waking up. She pulled the covers high over her head, hiding under their meager protection. Would these sheets of cloth save her from the beast? She closed her eyes and tried to think of something else, anything else.

She was going to the zoo tomorrow with her daycare group. A Friday Fieldtrip.

(Did it look like a lion or a bear or an eagle or a snake what was it why wouldn't it leave she hadn't done anything to it it was moving again soon the door would open...)

She curled deeper into the sanctuary of the blankets, trying to melt into her mattress. It yawned from within the small closet, and then she heard the clawed fingers scraping for a grasp on the door. After a moment, the door began to squeal as it moved along its track. A long, drawn out cry echoed through her head. A thousand voices joined in a symphony of torture was that creaking door. She screwed her eyes shut and covered her ears with her hands. It wasn't there. It wasn't. Mommy and Daddy said it wasn't. There was nothing. Nothing at all.

Then why not look?

She hated that little voice that spoke up within her thoughts. If it wasn't there, why not look? There was nothing, right? So why hide beneath the sweltering sheets?

Because it might be real, spoke another voice. That was the voice she listened to. Because it might be real, because it was. She knew that it had to be. But mommy and daddy said it wasn't. And mommy and daddy wouldn't lie to her, would they?

Fear making her hands tremble, she slowly peeled back the covers and glanced at the closet. The door was closed, just as it always had been. The covers retreated a little farther; was there really nothing?

Leanne sat up in her bed and began to inspect the room. There wasn't anything. It was empty.

And then she caught the shadow move. It was crouched like the gargoyles that hovered above buildings downtown. Then she could hear it breathing; deep, growling breaths. It eyes watched her, glittering blood red in the darkness. Leanne felt a scream fly from her mouth and then the sound of pounding feet coming down the hall.

In an instant the room was flooded with light and her parents were hovering over her. "What's wrong, baby girl?' asked her dad, sitting beside her on the bed. She buried her head in his shoulder and pointed towards the corner. She knew he would see nothing. Like a puff of smoke in a windstorm, it had vanished as soon as the lights came on. He rose, walking over to the selected corner.

"There's nothing here but Miss 'Liza," he sighed, holding up the tired looking doll. "Now, go to sleep." He kissed her forehead and cut out the lights before leaving the small room. She could still hear them talking in the hall. It wouldn't come back until they were gone.

"Mark, couldn't we let her sleep with the lights on for a few nights?"

"We can't encourage her. Every kid has their boogeyman. We both got over ours; she'll do the same. Just give her some time."

"But-" the conversation cut off and she heard the floorboards creak as the headed towards their room. Soon the entire house would be silent as they drifted towards sleep.

Leanne pulled the sheets over her head again, catching a glimpse of it lurking in the corner. She knew what would come next. In the time it took her to wish it would leave, she heard her bed creak as it climbed onto the foot of it. Leanne buried her face in the pillows and clenched her eyes shut tight, wishing it would leave. Why wouldn't it just leave her alone?

From a small opening in her defenses, the only things keeping it from attacking her and dragging her away, she peeked out at it. It was crouched there like it had been in the corner, but its back was to her. It stared out across the room, crimson colored body held motionless.

Leanne covered the hole and delved deeper into her fortress of fabric. It couldn't get her here, but if she slept and threw off the covers...? But, being the child she was, sleep took her over slowly. No fear could keep her awake. It never did.

She awoke later, whispered voices sounding in her room. Her sleep-muddled mind couldn't distinguish what they were saying from her shelter, so she peeled back a corner of the sheets and looked. Two men in black, tiptoeing across the room. They held large sacks in one hand and guns in the other. One looked towards her and noticed she had awoken.

"Mick, she's up, what d'we do?"

"Tie 'er up or something. Just don't let her scream. We don't want to mess with the parents unless we have to."

"But I don't got any rope!"

Leanne shifted away from the men and the creature on the edge of her bed. It was moving now, following the two with its eyes. Could they see it?

"Well, do something quick, she's about to scream!" cried the first man. Leanne hadn't realized it, but her mouth was open and she was about to call for her mommy and daddy. The second man rushed over, clamping his hand over her mouth and looking for something to silence her.

Her eyes wide, she saw the monster leap from the bed towards the man holding her. It knocked the man to the floor and then lifted him by the collar of his shirt. An inhuman growl escaped through its parted lips. Now the man saw him.

His partner turned to see what the commotion was about and the creature lifted him in the other arm. With loping steps, he moved to the window the burglars had jimmied open and flung them out. It was about a six-foot drop to the ground, but they scrambled to their feet as soon as they reached it. Both babbling about the strange creature, they raced off and the beast closed the window before moving towards Leanne.

The covers were back up and she was shaking behind them. It had saved her to take her away. But, instead of screaming in fury that she was once again hidden in her sanctuary it could not cross, as Leanne had expected, it gently pulled them back and patted her head softly.

"I was only here to protect you," it growled before tucking the covers back around her. It smiled a grin like something out of a nightmare, but Leanne found herself smiling back. It wasn't a monster; it was a guardian angel. Well, sort of.

When it resumed its post at the end of her bed, she fell right back to sleep. Nothing would get past him to hurt her. She slept with a smile on her face in the open air of her room.

........Sooooo...? Whatcha think? Its a little bit reminiscent of 11:59. I liked that story though, so that's not a bad thing. Review and let me know. Thanks for reading!!!