The established bed time of the house was ten o'clock, Mom had said: no more, no less. And if you're not in bed by then, it's the dungeon for you. The dungeon consisted of a daddy-long-legged infested basement that we had to clean out every so never. I got to help in the non-cleaning as part of the bargain here. In fact, it wasn't even a basement; it was just the big ugly insulated space beneath the house that we called a basement to impress people (we lived in a cabin, see). I have an active imagination, though, and sometimes liked to fantasize that my mother was the Wicked Witch of the West and I was Dorothy (I'm sure I had some ruby high-heels somewhere in the depths of my closet), and that she had a secret torture chamber in the uber-creepy basement with a rack and everything. (I actually ventured into the basement one time to see if she did in fact have a secret torture chamber, but I discovered nothing more than year-old rat traps and a happy spider-plague. Not even a bloody whip. Quite depressing, no?) But that all besides, the worst that she would do to me in reality is give me a lecture about the horrible things that could've happened but had a very low possibility of occurring, and then ground me in a fit of pique.
I wasn't a sucker for punishment so that night, the night after the dark and stormy night, I went to bed at ten, as usual. I snatched a flashlight from the bottom of a pile of dirty clothes on the dark shark-pit of despair I like to call my floor and pulled it under the covers. I fidgeted and shifted around until I was in a comfortable position, and then I curled up with my copy of Dracula, by Bram Stoker. I'd read it approximately seven times before. I was a bit disappointed after I read it the first time that it wasn't as frightening as everyone made it out to be, but snickering and making jokes about Van Helsing's monologues was cathartic for me.
Sometimes when I'm reading books, I look to do commentary on what I'm reading in my head. There's always a line in every book that makes you wonder 'what the hell was the author thinking?' or it's just so cheesy that you have to groan at it. When you re-read something it's an opportunity to notice all the stupid things your suspension of disbelief ignored before; sure, it's just fiction, but it's food for thought. I was reading on of the many 'letters' from Lucy to Mina, and some of the little lines and phrases I couldn't help but poke fun at.
That's what I did for the remainder of that night-after-the-dark-and-stormy-night, until I woke up and my face was wet. I was thoroughly grossed out and changed my pillowcase. I checked the time after I flipped the slobbery pillow over and noted with disdain that it was three minutes after midnight. It was rather peculiar, seeing as I was never known to wake up in the middle of the night. I was known to sleep talk and sleep walk frequently, but I never had any nightmares . . . and if I did, I didn't wake up from them in the middle of the night screaming. I didn't even wake up when I was a little kid to go cuddle with mom because 'I got scared'. I just never got scared about things. Even movies were hit and miss – the only reaction I had to the Blair Witch Project was nausea and "EW, ear."
But back to the point – it was about five after, and I was tired. I plopped back down on my now-clean pillowcase and curled up, shivering. For some reason, it always got cold in that room in the night. It might have been because the heater was at the other end of the damn house, which was because the house was designed by drug addicts. It got really, really hot in the summer too. My room at that house was the Fairbanks; it had just stupidly extreme ranges of temperatures.
It started to get colder in the room, and that's when I noticed that I'd left the freaking window open. So I got up, closed it, curled back up and started counting sheep. After sheep got boring, I started to count the links in the fences.
Then something else was bugging me. There was a creaking noise. It was coming from my closet. You might think this is scarier, but you have to understand my closet before you understand. My closet has been mentally challenged as long as I could remember – the doors on it were too long for each other, so it didn't close right. I had to force it to close. Sadly, once it was forced, it took quite some doing to get it open again. So I generally left it halfway open. That night, I'd forced it shut because my cat was going nuts with the insulation in my closet. Small cute animals plus fiberglass insulation equals early death. I was rather fond of my cat and chose its health over my laziness, so I'd shut the door. But sometimes when my closet door gets fully shut, it's oft to creak open at the most random times. Like right at that moment. It just spontaneously started to slowly creak open, like it always did. As I got up out of my comfy bed again, I made a mental note to get a new closet door.
I had two options then: I could A) be lazy and go back to bed and fend off my insulation-crazed cat in the morning, or B) force the dumb door shut and fend off cat in the afternoon. Remembering with substantial cheer that I was really tired and lazy, I chose option A and went back to bed. Alas, my comfort did not last long.
Now, before this goes any further, some things must be explained. The year before the incident was the year of Ultimate Horror, colloquially known as the "Furby Craze." Everyone wanted a furby for Christmas. If you don't know what a furby is, they're small mechanized demons from the darkest pits of Hell that come to steal your soul and eat your children. Some heinous people think they're cute and keep them as pets. I was a bit too old for them, and fortunately was unaffected by it. I tried to act nice and polite about it when I opened that Christmas box and out came the talking fur-monster, but I wound up just sticking it in the back of my closet, unopened.
One fateful day, when I was struck with a horrible case of boredom and flu, I started to sift through my closet. I noticed that there was a furby in there. I wondered how it had gotten in there, and then I remembered that fateful Christmas. I blame my sickness, but I actually took the dreadful thing out of its box and started to read the directions. I was clearly not in my normal state of mind, seeing as I spent that whole day teaching that black-and-white mechanical fur-ball how to speak. And I succeeded. It took my two more days of vomiting flu to get through it, but I managed to teach it how to talk. And once I was cured of my sickness, I realized what horrors I had wrought in my delirium and turned it off, stuffing it back in the closet within its box, where it stayed for a year. I vowed to never look at the thing again. It revolted me. It was beneath me.
There was, apparently, something that I'd failed to read in the directions. It was light activated, and it opened its beady little plastic eyes at the slightest hint of 180,000 miles per second of speedy ROYGBIV. And unfortunately, for me and for anyone who forgot, there was a full moon that night, and it was perfectly cloudless. I suppose it was a good night for werewolves and devil-clowns and Wiccans, but it otherwise boded doom.
My closet door creaked open, and the moonlight filtered in and awoke the hellspawn of all children's toys.
"Play with me," came a faint voice from my closet. I froze up instantly, scared out of my wits. Literally. My brain stopped working at that point I was so scared. And take in mind, this was a great feat for the fearless thirteen-year-old-me.
"Why did you leave me all alone?" It called out plaintively. "Me furby. Me hungry." Right then and there, I regretted ever looking at the thing. I regretted teaching it how to speak, and I regretted stuffing it in the back of my closet. I regretted all the hours and days and years of wasted life in front of the TV playing videogames, I regretted not telling my parents I loved them before bed. I regretted it all.
As I said, I'm pretty sure my brain stopped working at that point. But maybe it stopped working even sooner, because before I knew it, I couldn't move at all. I was completely paralyzed with fear. In the dead of night, a dreadful silence is broken by a Chucky-like voice box placed within a mechanical nightmare – the product of a bad Christmas gift.
I heard a hideous thumping noise come from the closet, and a shuffling. And then there was the sound of something insidiously mechanical working its gears. I could hear it because it was so quiet – you could probably hear the sound of a pin falling, forgive the cliché. I could see the faint outline of a box in the bottom of my closet, and then it appeared in plain sight at the edge of my dirty-clothes-strewn abyss. The box moved back and forth like some invisible, angry hand of god had mistaken it for shake-and-bake chicken. The furby waddled inside the box, not moving. And then it tipped over, still moving its plastic mechanical feet. If I'd been in a normal state of mind, I would've laughed. I wasn't, so I just freaked out even more. I went cold, and my breath shortened. My heartbeat roared in my head and adrenaline pumped through my veins.
"Why did you leave me in the dark? I want to play! Feed me! Waa, waa, waa!"
I cracked. I opened my mouth to scream.
"You are going to DIE!" I roared.
My mother's had always been paranoid about burglars in the house. I always reasoned to her when she had her little paranoia bouts that "what kind of burglar would bother with our house, mom?" Since we lived in the middle of goddamn nowhere. She usually got really mad at me at that point, and started lecturing on the robbery rates of modern-day society. I generally ignored her and inserted the little occasional "mm-hmm" and "really?" when it was required. Still, however, her burglary-paranoia had forced her to take measures that we had methods of protecting our house if there should ever be a need. Thus came the Bat. I named it Fatso for reasons even Captain Obvious couldn't miss. It was a large metal baseball bat, thoroughly capable of crushing the skull of a small raccoon. In other words, it completely sucked. But it was metal, and I believe when swung with the right force, it could bend a sapling . . . maybe.
When I went storming into the kitchen room and grabbed it from the broom cupboard, I didn't even think about what I was doing. I didn't even care that the dog was barking at me and the cat was ripping up the insulation in my closet again. All I cared about was that furby and its impending, crush-based annihilation.
I snatched the wriggling furby in its box and took it outside. It was probably saying something, but I couldn't hear anything at that point. All I could hear was a roaring sound in my ears, the sound of my own fear and the sound of my heart beating ever faster from the adrenaline.
I swung open the front door, threw the hell-beast on the porch and brought the metal baseball bat upon it with all my might. I repeatedly smashed it, over and over and over and over until I was satisfied. Then I smashed it some more.
The furby started to stutter in its little plastic voice box. Slowing down, sparking, doing all sorts of weird mechanical stuff. Then it started smoking and I knew I was getting somewhere. I ripped the box off of it and smashed it again and again and again. There was only one thing going through my mind at that time: the furby must DIE!
"DIE! DIEDIEDIEDIE YOU STUPID-MOTHER—F-AAARRGHHH!" –I vaguely remember shrieking.
Once the demented furby was sufficiently destroyed and the voice box smashed into little plastic pieces, I stumbled back inside and put the baseball bat away. I was amazed I hadn't woken my parents up. I didn't say anything. I was too afraid of the happenings of that night. I forced myself to calm down, but I couldn't suppress a volatile shiver crawling up my spine.
I didn't sleep at all that night. I waited until the sun arose completely before I got breakfast, a single banana and a glass of orange juice. My mother awoke two hours and fifteen minutes after me. I knew exactly the time because I was gazing at the clock when she walked in. She yawned and grabbed a banana from the bowl on the counter. I didn't look at her; I didn't say anything at all. She was a bit confused at this and tried to ask me what was wrong, but I just shook my head and continued to stare out the window, fantasizing about suing the company that made the furby for emotional trauma. All that was left of the devil-toy was bits and pieces of empty, soulless black plastic, strewn across the lawn, the bulk of which I'd had enough sense to kick into the dank and unforgivable darkness beneath the porch . . . the only evidence that anything happened at all.
Mom eventually got sick of my untalkative demeanor and blamed it on "a case of the Mondays." I felt like crying, but there just weren't enough tears. Since, people have asked before "what's your greatest fear," and when I tell them, they always laugh, like it's a grand jest. I laugh along with them, saying that it's an irrational phobia, nothing too serious.
They will never know.