A Samuel Light Junior Story
By John Pirillo
When I was four I saw something so scary it made me sleep under my bed covers for the rest of my life. Well...at least until I was twelve or thirteen. My Mom never knew. She always assumed I was playing hide and go seek with all my invisible friends. And believe me I had a lot of them. All of us do, it's just that I see them and you don't. At least not now. When you were younger and parents and friends hadn't knocked that out of you by calling you stupid, dumb, an idiot, a crazie or some other unkind thing and bashed you emotionally into silence. When you were younger you saw things.
I won't go into the details of it, because we all see...things...differently. But we all see...something. Just don't remember it as well when we get older and brainwashed by adults and older children who have lost their way to the world we walked barefooted through at one time.
Back to the scary, I was four and Mom had sung me a lullaby to help me sleep. I had a fever. Oh and there you go, he had a fever, so it was his imagination, wasn't it? But it wasn't. I'll explain in a little bit.
I was just falling asleep when I heard a thump in my closet. Sure, we all hear things move, or drop when we're about to fall asleep. Sometimes they're there and sometimes not. But this time it was. I snapped my eyes open. It was dark inside my bedroom, except for the faint light of the full moon outside that was silvering parts of my bedroom dresser, the closet door and the hallway door to the rest of the house. My room wasn't very big. To me at the time it seemed huge, but not now.
Now, the light coming in the room was probably enough to allay my fears normally, but it was windy outside. The wind was moaning outside like a banshee searching for its next victim. Me! I began to tremble. I had just seen Darby O'Gill and the Little People starring Sean Connery. My mom thought it would help me sleep. Wrong!
It just fed my Imagination Engine...my mind...with all kinds of ghastly images of what was outside trying to come in. My window wasn't closed. It never was or is. Even despite all the events that have transpired since that time. And believe me there's been ever so plenty of them. I could see this creature that was about twelve feet in length, its long robes flowing in a snakelike pattern through the air, whipping through the tree leaves outside, which was causing them to dance in these macabre patterns on my bedroom wall.
Dance of the Angels Mom called them. That was fine when she seated beside me. But when I was alone they turned into the Dance of the Banshee. Death personified. A horrible, ugly apparition with a grinning face filled with jagged teeth green with mold and eyes that half fell out of their sockets. It was a terrible thing for a kid to have an imagination like mine, but also a sight like mine. In case you haven't figured it out yet, I can see the dead. Ghosts most people call them. But they're not ghosts...these Casper like things that wander the night...they're really people who are either too scared to go into the tunnel of white light to be with God, or horrible people who cling to the earth because they want to live on and never really, truly give up what they had here.
Stupid, isn't it? To cling to a world of so much violence, anger and emotional ups and downs, when the Other Side...that which is on the other end of the white tunnel of light...is so beautiful that it makes the city of Oz seem like child's play.
But I'm getting off track.
I heard a thump.
"Mom!" I tried to say so loudly that the room thundered with my voice.
Instead, I doubt even a cricket right next to my lips would've heard me.
Another sound like the first, but a bit louder and closer. From the closet.
The hairs on my arms stood up so straight they could've been saluting the flag. My neck hairs stood up. My heart stopped. My mouth went dry, so when I said Mom again. "Mom!" I only made a choking sound.
Like all good kids at that age, I did the only logical thing there was to do when your body turns to silly putty, your hair stands on end, and your vocal chords go on vacation. I flung my bed clothing over my face.
Not as loud, but still closer yet.
Silly putty became vibrating guitar strings as every nerve in my body began to vibrate with sheer terror. A terror so vast and deep that...I'm ashamed to admit it now, as I was then. I peed my pants.
I could feel the warmth spreading from my midsection below my back and along my legs. No, sound, just a slow surge of warmth that was wet and disgusting.
"Mom!" I tried again. But this time my mouth wouldn't even open.
Then the worst happened. Something stepped onto the foot of my bed. You could argue it was just me shifting my weight. But you gotta realize I wasn't the big guy I am now. I barely weighed in at forty pounds. I doubt if I could have moved a watermelon with my weight. In a battle between the two of us, the melon would have definitely wound up the winner when it came to pulling its own weight.
No longer silly putty; no longer guitar strings; I had become icicle terror. A cube of frozen fear that could be shattered by the slightest touch. No more movement, but I knew it was there. Then it moved again. Closer. Closer. I could feel it touching my toes through the bed clothing. It paused a moment, as if weighing the protection of that spread of tiny finger like protuberances on my feet. But not for long.
And to make things worse:
Two thumps at the same time! How was that possible?
My mind at that time was crawling with possibilities and scenarios and they all involved something horrible and gruesome come to take me away to monster land and eat me up slowly over a large burning fire. (I should never have tried reading Dante's Inferno.)
The movement on my bed continued again. This time it brushed my right ankle. My hands cinched the blankets down more tightly over my head, as if that could keep the tide of horror accumulating on my bed from washing over and enveloping me in its murderous claws. It began to move up my ankle towards my thigh.
"Oh Dear God!" I was praying to myself. "Please protect me!"
Then it touched my thigh and pressed inward slightly.
At that moment I began reviewing every evil act I'd done as a child. Funny thing for a child to be thinking, I know. But even children see younger selves as being a child to their older, more adult selves.
I saw the dog that I had scratched behind the right ear when Mom told me to leave it alone. I saw the extra muffin in my hungry hands that I had stolen from the cookie rack in the stove when Mom was looking the other way and then had rushed back up to my bedroom to monster it down with huge gulps of teeth and tongue.
I saw Pinkie, my neighbor offering me a bite of her ice cream and me knocking it out of her hand. Not deliberately, mind you. It's just that I was very, very clumsy back then. This is quite a leap to where I am now as a sports athlete, who is highly co-ordinated. She had cried for a long time and even though I gave her my most favorite toy, a G.I.JOE that was missing an arm, she continued to cry.
Finally her mom had come out on the porch, saw the mess, gathered Pinkie up and without even scalding me, had re-entered the dark domain of her house, shutting me off from the warmth of a smile or the friendship of Pinkie. I later learned that she had thought I had done it on purpose and didn't want her daughter to have anything more to do with me.
I even saw Mom in the bathroom once in her beautiful pink robe crying and I had laughed. Not because she was sad, but because I thought she was practicing for a play she was in that week. She loved acting. I thought she was practicing. It was the only time I can remember her crying even harder after I had done something. She had gently pushed me from the bathroom, shut the door, and begun to cry even more.
Later I learned she had found out about my Dad. No more on that topic though. I don't want to talk about it, anymore than she wanted to hear about it.
So there I was accumulating layers of fear that kept washing up and down my poor little body as the something outside on my bed, moved closer and closer towards my face. Soon, it would be impossible for me to escape it. It would tear the bed clothing from my clutching hands, throw me to the floor and then ravage my body with its loathsome teeth, or hurl me through the window, catch me and fly me away to the land of death where it would torture and torment me for all the evil things I had done.
That was it. Somehow a light went on in my head. Call it common sense. Call it courage. Call it stupid. Call it what you will, but I threw the bedclothes off, jumped off my bed and shouted. "Leave me alone!" As if that would ever, ever, ever stop a real monster from attacking.
But instead it caused a very lovely white Siamese cat to recoil and fling itself from my bed to the windowsill, where it looked back once, hissed at me, then leaped from the window. I ran to the window, looked out and saw it working its way, limb to limb, branch to branch down the tree, until it finally leaped the final nine feet to the ground and ran off, its tail swishing back and forth like an air raid siren giving warning to all who came to pass...that little boy is nuts!
I dropped back onto my bed and broke into laughter. I laughed so hard and so long my stomach began to hurt. I wanted to throw up. The tension and fear had all just vanished as quickly as it had come. I had been a stupid, silly kid. Just like some of the kids at school called me when I told them about their Invisible friends.
Mom rushed into my bedroom, wiping at her eyes, trying to focus them. "You okay, Sammie?"
I ran to her and threw my arms around her. She hugged me close.
I pushed back and laughed. "No, Mommy, kitty kat!"
She got up and looked around. I ran to the window and pointed. She looked out. "I don't see any cat."
"It ran away." I laughed. "I scared it."
She smiled and tucked me back into bed. "No monsters then."
"Nope." I said with dead certainty.
She smiled, gave me another goodnight kiss, a hug, and then exited the room, shutting the door behind her.
I was so filled with happy thoughts at that moment that at first the creaking of my closet door didn't arouse me from them, but when I heard:
I sat up slowly in my bed. Had the kitty come back?
It was definitely coming from my closet.
This time I wasn't going to be scared of anything I promised myself. So like the courageous and brave child I felt to be at that moment, I arouse from my bed, gathered my feet into a warm pair of slippers, then tiptoed across the room to the closet door where dancing shadows of leaves mingled with the noir of the night and darkness in my room.
I almost jumped out of my skin that moment. It did come from inside the closet.
Gathering my courage to its utmost, crossing my left hand behind my back and making the sacred twist of finger over thumb I had seen a kid do in a movie to ward off evil monsters, I flung the door open.
That's when I saw something that I shall never remember to this day.
It was so horrible and awesome at the same time.
It was everything I had ever feared and nothing I had ever dreamed of at the same time.
It was a gigantic Knight in pitch black armor. It hefted a huge blazing sword over me and peerd at me through its visor with fierce red eyes that glowed like flashlights.
"I am come for you Samuel." It told me.
"NO!" I screamed and shut the closet door in its face, then ran from the room.
It is only today that I remember that incident, for I've blocked it from my memory for years now, and as it returns I realize that I will meet it again. I just hope that next time I meet it, I will be ready for whatever it has come to do.
Only thing I know for sure is that I convinced my Mom to put a lock on the door such that nothing inside could open it to come out. It had taken a lot of crying and fits to finally convince her, but I had.
And you know what; I never saw that thing in the closet again as a child.
But I've changed since then. I see more things, more clearly. I see purpose now, where before I saw scary things, maybe even scary people. I see cause and effect and I see roads leading to opportunity. I see people for what they really are. Children all trying to grow up and become the best they can be.
But sometimes, when it's late at night, when I'm alone in my room I still hear movement in my closet. I don't worry now. I've learned things. But I still remember what it said as I slammed the door in its face.
"We'll meet again, Samuel Light!"