We would like to thank Heather Powers at Earth’s Book Nook for allowing us the opportunity to tell you about our new anthology on her site. As a publisher of mainly dark and edgy fiction, Sirens Call Publications is always looking for tales that are going to invoke and invade the locked recesses of the minds of our readers – what better way to do that then with an anthology about Childhood Nightmares.
Allow yourself the chance to travel back to your own childhood fears, to your juvenile bedroom, and how in the dark everything appeared to be less innocent than it actually was. Remember all the noises that skulked out of the darkness at you, assaulting your ears and quickening your pulse. Even the imperceptible movement of an imagined shadow was enough to chase your heart into your throat and make the blood pound in your ears; robbing you of those precious seconds needed to listen and react should there be something more nefarious than a discarded toy hiding in the darkened corners.
As an adult you can always tell yourself there is nothing to be afraid of, that it is only your imagination playing tricks on you. There is no boogeyman hiding in your closet or under your bed. There is nothing wicked lurking among the shadows, and the noises you hear have a rational explanation. One of the benefits of growing up is the ability to understand so many of the things that terrified you as a child – they now have logical explanations and you can stop sleeping with the light on.
But what if you could travel back in time - revisit the days when noises and shapes looming out of the darkness paralyzed you with fear and kept you silently rooted to your bed unable to utter even the slightest of sounds. Would you choose to go back knowing what you know now, or would you stay in the safety of your comfortable adult world?
Were those things really just your imagination? Or was there actually something lurking in the dark?
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? As a child, you were so certain of the things you saw, that the creaks and groans were coming from them, whoever they were in your mind’s eye. Could you go back and face them again?
In Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed, we asked the authors to deliver us tales that would take us back to the times that most of us would choose not to remember – the sinister inkiness that invaded our bedrooms for what seemed an eternity each and every night. What we ended up with are twelve fantastic tales that do just that – take you back to the dark nights when you lay in your bed, covers tucked up around your chin, quietly listening and hoping for morning’s first ray of light.
Do you have what it takes to revisit your childhood fears?
Those whispered tales of monsters hiding under the bed, or of the demons lurking in the shadowy corner where we dare not glance for fear that seeing them will make them all too real. Oh, how the innocent landscape of a child’s imagination lends fertile soil to horrors ready to be sown on the slightest of sounds; the tales and the terror they wreak on our youthful minds never quite leaves us.
We asked the authors in this collection to reach into the forgotten recesses of their twisted minds and share with us the tales of nightmares that can only thrive in the hidden corners of a child’s imaginings; the bogeyman under the bed, the outlandishly fiendish creature lurking in the dark, the slight murmur of sound coming from the hall… did you close the door completely?
Explore the myriad terrors that only a child can twist from nothing into some ‘thing’ in the span of a single rapid breath. Do you dare delve into your own memories? Perhaps you’ll start sleeping with the lights on again...
Tell us, who is Under the Bed?
Contributing Authors: Colin F. Barnes, Nina D'Arcangela, Phil Hickes, Amber Keller,
Kim Krodel, Lisamarie Lamb, John McIlveen, Kate Monroe, Brandon Scott,
Joshua Skye, Julianne Snow, and Jack Wallen
Pick up a copy of Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed as either an eBook or in print format from:
Samshwords.com (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony, PDF)
Feeling brave? Think that you can handle an excerpt from Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed? Read on, if you dare…
‘Socks’ - Brandon Scott
“A dull thump came from across the room. Arthur's eyes shifted from the empty cup to the dresser standing against the far wall. He swallowed the water in his mouth; it felt like a brick sliding down his dry throat. He was feebly attempting to put the glass back on the nightstand when the thump came again. The cup slipped from his fingers and tumbled to the carpet below. A barely audible thunk filled his ears as the carpet cradled the falling glass. He peered over the edge of the bed to confirm the glass hadn't broken but, didn't bother picking it up.
His eyes returned immediately to the drawer across the room. When his grandfather had given him the dresser, it came with strict instructions that the drawer in the upper right hand corner was to be used for socks and socks alone, and was never to be empty. A minimum of one sock was to be kept in the drawer at all times. The other five drawers could house anything Arthur's heart desired, but that drawer was to hold only socks. His grandfather made him promise that he would abide by the one and only regulation before unloading the dresser from his truck. When the boy asked why this was his grandfather had replied with the simple phrase, "because that drawer is for Socks." Arthur didn't know it at the time but, his grandfather was referring to the creature, not the item of clothing that shared the same name…”
‘Forgotten’ - Jack Wallen
“The haunting started just a few days ago. It was the evening of June sixth ... Dylan's sixth birthday. His mother had made his dreams come true and allowed him to invite his best of friends over for a slumber party. To that day, sleepovers were forbidden. That was before the boy's father had left. Since the departure, everything seemed so much easier. The yelling ceased. The crying stopped. The bruises healed. The night of the slumber party, Dylan heard the first gentle whispers.
The other boys were fast asleep, after too much candy and too little control. They had enjoyed cartoons, video games, and shrieks of laughter only young boys could produce. But once the celebration was little more than a fading memory, some other joy came out to play.
The sound was little more than a soft wind breezing underneath his closet door. The melody of a light wind buzzing through Halloween trees or winter snowscapes. His ears were the only ones to take notice. No other sleep was threatened by the soft sound…”
‘Baby Teeth’ - Kim Krodel
“She adds every tooth she gets to her disgusting smile. But the screws keep growing out of her gums. She never runs out of space for more teeth.”
“Why does she want them?” Brian’s voice was small. His eyes bugged, as if the skeletons stacked in God’s closet were tumbling out at his feet.
“For biting, Dummy. She likes to eat little kids.” Cal grinned as he spoke. "If she bites you with her screws, your skin gets stuck to 'em, so she likes teeth better; so she doesn't have to floss so much."
“No, she doesn’t. She’s nice—she gives presents! Mom said!”
“That’s what Mom wants you to think. Otherwise you’d freak out about it.”
Brian blinked, staring and processing; weighing his brother’s words against those he had gathered from adults.
“See this?” Cal rolled up a pant leg to reveal a jagged run of lumpy, silver skin. “She bit me hard the first tooth I lost ‘cause I didn’t know what was coming. Now I’m big enough to fight her off.” Calvin posed like a weight-lifter…”
‘Madeleine’ - Julianne Snow
Still nothing. No tell-tale shuffling sound of socked feet on the hardwood floor.
Nothing… Where was she? How could she have not heard?
With tears streaming down her cherubic face, Stella wondered if her dream had come true. As she debated running the short distance over the oaken surface to her parent’s room, she listened intently for the sounds of her mother’s imminent stirring.
Stella heard the soft sounds of her mother’s footfalls in the hallway. She was coming.
More tears welled up in her young throat.
As her door burst open, she was surprised to see the form of her sister in the light of the hallway, a smell pervading the room unlike anything she had ever smelled before. Burnt. Wet…”
‘Telling Tales’ - Phil Hickes
“She’s here for yet another visit with her cat, Demdike. None of which sounds too bad, you say? Lots of young boys have stuffy old grandmothers and aunties that they have to put up with. And cats are cute and fluffy.
But Peter’s Aunt Alice scares him. In fact, she frightens him to death. And her cat is just as bad, with fur as black as its soul.
That’s why he’s reluctant to go upstairs; because soon, Aunt Alice will be up to tell him a bedtime story. It’s become something of a custom. Peter was delighted when she first offered to come and tuck him in. Despite feeling a little nervous in her presence, and a tiny bit afraid of her pinched, lined face, white hair and bony limbs, she was a welcome female presence. For the first few minutes it had been enjoyable too. She wrapped the sheets tightly around him, clicked off the overhead light and turned on the lamp. He felt warm and snug…”
But then she began to tell him the stories…”
‘Excess Baggage’ - Lisamarie Lamb
“And now Nigel could see someone. A small, round man in a pair of white trousers and a deep blue shirt, sweat circles staining his underarms, his stomach straining the buttons running down his chest, down his stomach. The man’s curly dark hair rippled in the sunlight as he bobbed his head up and down. He was peering out of a small gap between two houses. He was smiling, beckoning to Nigel; and when Nigel moved towards him his smile began a grin, all teeth and harmless joviality.
Nigel went to the man against his better judgment. He went against his worst judgment, feeling strangely calm about it all, despite thinking he had wandered far too far, into a bad area. Into the sort of area a tourist shouldn’t go. And he had been caught. He felt rather stupid about the whole thing, and rather sad about leaving Maggie and Bob. But there was a certain inevitability about it all.
Even if Nigel couldn’t quite remember why…”
‘Timothy’ - Joshua Skye
“Quivering from fear, her teeth rattling in her little head, hands trembling, she stared into the deep darkness to catch any movement; the twinkling of an eye perhaps. Anything to let her know where he was, out there in the darkness. There was nothing for a long time.
“Where are you?” she muttered in a squeaky voice. Something moved in her peripheral vision. She turned. Fast, but not fast enough. Perhaps it was nothing more than a shadow that had just blended with the dark. “Timothy, you stop it. You stop it right now.” She tried to sound like her mother, to mimic her authoritative tone, but it hadn’t worked. Her voice had cracked and it trembled with her apprehension. “I know it’s you,” she whispered, more to herself than to him.
She started to cry, she couldn’t help it. Her tears streamed down her tiny face and there was a lump forming in her throat. She had to fight to swallow; she had to fight to breathe.
Timothy began to mock her. “Timothy, please. Stop it, Timothy! Go away, Timothy.” The sinister, scratchy voice seemed to come from everywhere, the shadows, the darkness, under the desk, from behind the stuffed animals, under the bed…”
‘Show and Tell’ - Kate Monroe
“He belatedly realized that tonight, there had still been no answer, no response. He leaned over the edge of the bed and cautiously lifted the sheets.
“Are you there?”
A blast of fetid air; putrid, repellent.
Satisfied, Tommy continued.
“I wish they’d bloody die.” Awestruck by his bravery in making the grand pronouncement, he allowed himself a few moments in which to savor the forbidden words on his tongue before he spoke again. “Yeah, I do. I wish they’d both just shut up and die.”
A sigh, no stronger than the breeze outside, lifted up the bed sheets and danced around Tommy’s bare feet, curling up his toes as he pursed his thin lips.
“What do you think, then?”
Before any answer could come from under the bed, shuffling footsteps announced his great-aunt’s arrival in his room…”
‘The Confession of a Confirmed Has-Been’ - John McIlveen
“I behaved for the first three months. I simply observed the Hansons’ way of life, as I had with the two previous families. In my condition I witness traits and habits often unnoticed by people in a more physical state, like Scott's insistent nose picking and compulsion to wipe his findings on my fireplace, or Bruce’s fixation with himself. If he spent any more time flexing in front of a mirror, I fear he'd get himself pregnant.
I do grant people the privacy of their bedrooms and the facilities, I’m not immoral - though discovering that Karen roams the house in nature's garb when alone was pleasing. I may be dead, but I’m still a man.
My condition is also what allows me to view Kimberly with utmost anonymity. In my spectral cloak, I track Kimberly about the house, watching as she involved herself in childhood fantasies, oblivious to all else. I walked with her through the garden, rejoiced with her, celebrating each discovery with open-eyed wonder. I wallowed in that beautiful youthfulness that fades as we become involved in the trivialities of adulthood…”
‘Seeing is Believing’ - Amber Keller
“At supper no one mentioned what had happened, and that was fine with Timothy. It was strange, but he felt like if he talked about it, it would make it more real.
When his parents went to bed, he stayed on the couch, saying he would go up to bed soon, that he wanted to finish this television show first. It was an easy lie, and they seemed to be happy that he wasn’t bringing the rat back up, so they allowed it.
He went to the closet in the hall and scooped up a blanket and extra pillow to take back to the couch when he noticed his bedroom door was shut. It had been open when he went to the bathroom after supper. Looking back he paused before going back to the living room.
From sitting on the couch, Timothy had a view of his bedroom door in his peripheral vision. He couldn’t help but be aware of the door since it was odd that it was shut…”
‘Bent Metal’ - Nina D’Arcangela
“I’m now in full blown panic mode racing down the stairs to the echoing sound of the police dispatcher screaming into the phone “stay in the house - don’t go near the corner!”
I hit the front hall and see that the door is wide open… oh, God please, oh please, oh no… don’t let Alan be out there, please let the door be open for some other reason – maybe mom or dad went out to help, please let that be it.
I’m only three houses from the corner; three houses from the wreckage in the street; three houses from my own sanity shattering…. The second my bare foot leaves the safety of the house and hits the front porch I know something is horribly wrong. Somehow I know its Alan, and he’s in trouble.
The dread that overcomes me is suffocating. I can hardly breathe as I try to run towards the street… but my legs feel like I’m running in quick sand. I’m moving as hard and as fast as I can, but the corner may as well be a mile away in my distorted perception.
Oh God! My head is spinning as fast as my legs are churning, someone is screaming – I think it might be me! Finally I make it to the corner and see what an unholy mess of tangled metal the two vehicles that couldn’t avoid each other have become…”
‘Shades of Red’ - Colin F. Barnes
“Two thuds come from beyond the door. Probably just his mother falling, dropping the bottle. Hollow rasps come from the corner of Mitchell’s dark bedroom: between the old, rickety wardrobe that creaks if you walk too close to it, and the dresser with the broken drawer front.
Mitchell conjures images of Scamp, their pet dog: a mongrel of various terriers and common working dogs. He pictures his little whiskery face, his excited panting. Anything to stop thinking about…the Shade. But it won’t go away. It’s stuck in his mind like a leech. Growing fat on the fear.
Is it darker in that corner than normal? Is that an outline of something…is it…moving?
Mitchell whirls away and pulls the duvet over his face. Sweat forms quickly on his forehead as he breathes hot air under the stifling cover. It’s not real, just your imagination. It’s not—
A quiet laughter. The voice muffled as if obstructed. Mitchell raises the duvet slightly. Just enough so he can peer out and check that corner again. He wishes he hadn’t. A pair of red orbs float in the gap. He screams for his mother. No answer…”
For an extended version of each of the stories, SIrensCallPublications.com has a link for a free preview.