A dark, gaunt form glides to a dusty corner of the room. Its labored breathing provides the only sound. With a single emaciated hand it plucks a wooden train off the ground. It whispers to the train. “How sweet today would be if the joy of yesterday could be forgotten, how bright the darkness if we could only forget the light.”
The Child will not miss the Train. Not for a long, long time.
A form under the bed stirs. A dirty, fur-covered claw appears. A monster follows. Hulking, rippling with muscles, it looms behind the dark form.
The Boogie Man turns. “You have no power here. The Child does not need you. Go back to your bed.”
A growl answers, “If it is a citizen of the Nation of the Child, I protect it. Set the train down.”
The dark head tilts as it considers the monster from beneath the bed. “The Child doesn’t even need you anymore, does he? He has faced true fear because of his father. He doesn’t need your fake fright. And he doesn’t need you guarding either. His father does that now.”
Claws curl into fists.
“I thought you approved of the father. If it’s good for the Child, it’s good for the nation, isn’t it?” The dark face is a toothy maw of bright, bright teeth.
The monster strikes with one great claw.
The dark form holds up a single open hand. Each finger is tipped with a single gleaming tooth.
Fist meets open hand. The hand devours. Hungry teeth in the palm of the hand mash down on the fist and swallow.
The monster struggles to free his fist. He tugs. He scrambles.
The dark face smiles. “I’m so hungry. Your story is so small. Do you really think it can protect you?”
The monster’s arm is gone almost to the elbow. Tendrils of darkness unwrap from the gaunt arm to wrap around a hairy one.
“Yes. And once you are gone, I will devour the rest of the citizens. And then the Child. Who will protect him at night if all the citizens are gone?”
The monster lashes out with his other claw.
The dark form ducks out of the way.
The door to the room opens.
Both forms freeze.
The father stands in the doorway, his eyes wide.
This wasn’t supposed to happen.
Read more of the Nation of the Child here.