In Which Johnnie First Sees The Dark

Johnnie was nine when he first saw “The Dark”.  It was a warm summer night, years before blessed air conditioning was brought into the home and his mother had allowed him to keep his bedroom window open.  Normally, it was not to be and he slept in sweat wetted sheets because she was afraid he would sleepwalk out the window and crash down to the street below. She relented this evening because it was stifling.  No wind.  No escape from the heat.

Johnnie dreamt of small men with ladders climbing up onto his desk and dresser and chair.  Small men with tools and hardhats.  Small men that when they saw him watching, turned his way, dropped their tools and began to head toward him.  He panicked.  He yelled for his mother.  He hid under the sheets and wished she would come so he yelled again.  Johnnie peeked out and could see the men climbing up onto the foot of the bed and he kicked and screamed and could hear the words “night terror” from somewhere in the distance.

Johnnie woke in the living room, where his parents and guests were staring in concern and horror as he stood in the middle of the room, still screaming at the top of his lungs.  Johnnie muttered and murmured as they consoled him and the words “night terror” were spoken behind his back and into ears.  He was given coke that tasted of mouthwash and crackers and cheese and was eventually ushered back to bed.

His blinds drawn to let light in, a nightlight moved from the bathroom to his room, Johnnie tried to sleep.  He scanned the room.  He searched for the men, the ladders, the tools.  Johnnie saw nothing.  He shuffled up to the edge of his bed, against the wall.  No feet or hands allowed to slide down between the bed and wall and an extra pillow placed behind him, he watched and began to doze.

As his eyes grew heavy and blinks became longer and drawn out, he saw The Dark slide out from under his desk and chair and dresser and across his feet and slowly out the window, into the night night air.

The Dark smelled like smoke.

Johnnie screamed.

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