HIDEAWAY

There’s something under the bed.

 

Toby can feel it as he’s lying in the dark. Teeth and claws. Fur. Glassy eyes, staring. If he lies extra still and concentrates really, really hard, he can almost picture the shadowy outline of its coiled body.

 

His bedroom door’s shut tight, and the only light filtering in is through a crack in the curtains. He can hear the ticking of his red alarm clock, perched on the bedside table. The sound of the TV on downstairs, very faint, like voices whispering through a pipe.

 

*

Toby’s dad says there’s something funny going on in the village. Something weird he doesn’t like. He didn’t say it to Toby, but Toby overheard him telling his mum. They were in the lounge with the door shut. Low whispers. With his ear pressed tight to the wood, though, Toby could hear everything.

 

*

 

Two days ago their dog Bingo went missing. Mum had let her out in the garden, but she didn’t come back when called. Dad went out to find her and saw the front gate was wide open.

 

They told Toby not to worry when he came in for dinner that evening. Said she’d come wandering back soon enough, they were sure of it.

 

But Toby has a funny feeling she’s gone for good.

 

*

Toby’s small for his age. The kids at school call him a runt, but he’s stronger than he looks. Much stronger.

It was easier than he thought it would be. She struggled at first, clawing and whimpering, but he kept the hold on her collar tight.

*

 

There’s something under Toby’s bed. Something small and hairy.

 

Sooner or later, Toby knows, he’ll have to do something about it.

 

But he can’t tell his parents. They just wouldn’t understand.

Copyright Sam Haysom 2018.
This story was originally written for Eoin Purcell.