Unedited, Uncensored, Unsettling…
Welcome to Stitched Saturday, the monthly blog post where writers, armed with little more than inspiration from a simple picture, conjure up some chilling prose for the cold dark evenings. This months picture was from Stitched Smile’s own Briana Robertson, who has just released “Reaper”, a collection of short stories all told from the female perspective. I strongly recommend you check it out.
Briana gave this;
..and two fantastic writers answered the call. This month we have The Shape They Take by Ezekiek Kincaid and Monsters Don’t Live Under Your Bed, Monsters Live Inside Your Head by H.R. Arswyd.
I’ll leave you in their capable hands shortly, but just to let you know – there will be another inspirational post going up tomorrow for Februarys submissions, so check out the blog tomorrow. Right, horror awaits… be sure to #StayStitched!
Monsters Don’t Live Under Your Bed, Monsters Live Inside Your Head by H.R. Arswyd
“I know you’ve been through a lot; the divorce, the move, the change of jobs. Any one of those things would be enough to create high levels of stress in any person, let alone all three at once in such a short span of time. How are you settling in to your new job?” Doctor Frangione had asked her.
“It’s a new routine, not what I was used to, but I am settling in okay, I think. Everyone is very friendly and the work isn’t too difficult. It’s easier than my last job,” Miranda had replied.
“And the new apartment?”
“It’s nice. Very open, with a lot of windows. It’s basically a quarter of an old Victorian house which has be reworked into a four-plex. I don’t know though… Sometimes, at night when I am trying to go to sleep, I could swear I hear something moving under floorboards. I know it sounds silly, and it’s probably my imagination, but it still freaks me out. And sometimes the nightmares come back.”
“Well, we talked about those, remember? I think it is pretty clear in your case that the whole ‘monster under the bed that wants to devour you’ nightmare image you keep having is your subconscious processing twelve years of repressed and suppressed fear and anger from your marriage to an abusive, alcoholic husband. As you start to come to terms with the deep scars, and allow your fears and anger to come to the surface and be resolved, I am confident that these nightmares will diminish and disappear and your perception will get much healthier. Remember what we say, say it with me now, Miranda.”
And they both intoned: “Monsters don’t live under your bed, monsters live inside your head.”
“Good! Now, I’m going to give you something to help you sleep. Do NOT have any alcohol while you are taking this, ok? Not even your usual glass of wine, hear me?”
“Thank you Doctor Frangione, I really am feeling so much more stable lately. You’ve really help me to begin to understand what is really going on inside me, and that it is not my fault.”
“There is nothing to feel guilty about, Miranda. You are a victim of abuse, and the worst scars are the ones on the inside that only you can see,” Doctor Frangione had said, then taken her hand and turned her arm over so that they could both see the scars running up her wrist from her self-cutting episodes.
“No more self-inflicted pain, no more fear, we are transitioning from a victim to a survivor, right, Miranda?”
Miranda had nodded, sniffing back tears.
That had been twelve hours ago. Now she lay curled up in her bed, ruminating on the profound truths of Doctor Frangione’s wisdom as she waited for the Ambien to kick in. She was also alert for any of the potential side-effects of which she had been warned; especially hallucinations, sudden mood changes, anxiety and “abnormal thoughts.”
“What are abnormal thoughts for someone like me?” she mused, but then curled a little tighter and decided to not worry about it as a gentle wave of sleepiness began to engulf her.
Just then she heard, or thought she heard, the slithering scrape beneath her bed again.
“I guess that would be one of those hallucinations,” she thought and smiled drowsily.
A few moments later a lingering shred of consciousness was aware of a persistent tugging at her bedding, and she grudgingly paid attention to it. She opened one eye to a slit and thought she could see the blanket moving in time to the sensation of the tugging she thought she could feel.
“More hallucinations. This stuff is trippy,” she thought, then as the tugs became yanks, she remembered her mantra: ‘Monsters don’t live under your bed, monsters live inside your head.’
She was on her third repetition when it clamped onto her ankle with wet, clammy, iron grip that was so cold it burned, even as claws tore into her flesh with a shower of hot blood. Before she could even react, she watched the ceiling shoot past above her in a welter of bedding, then suddenly she was flipped and the floor race toward her face; it was the last thing she saw. Her face hit the floor with a sickening smack and she was out. Which was for the best really, as her body was dragged beneath the bed in spasmodic yanks and jerks. The wet, wrenching twists and pops were following by a rhythmic crunching and chomping.