The Shadow on the Wall
My eyes popped open when I heard Dylan yell the first time, but my brain wasn’t yet processing the information. My heart was racing, and the alarm clock on the nightstand read 3:55 AM in bright green letters.
“Daddy!” he called again, the panic coursing through me as his little feet padded their way down the hall into my room.
“What’s wrong, buddy?” I muttered, sitting up on the edge of the bed.
“There’s something in my room,” he replied, shaking slightly.
“We’ve been over this a thousand times, Dylan, Mommy and I wouldn’t buy a house that wasn’t safe for you. Your brother is right there across from you in the same room, and there is nothing bigger or scarier than Daddy, right?” I said, feeling the wave of exhaustion roll through me. “Let’s get you back to bed.”
I walked him back to his bed, tucked him in, and returned to mine in record time. Sleep was just beginning to retake me when I heard him.
“Daddy!” He called, this time not followed by the sound of his feet, “Daddy!”
I rose from the bed quicker than I would have liked, “I’m coming, buddy.”
I walked back down to his room. The nightlight still illuminating the posters and toys that decorated the edges of the space.
“What?” The frustration in my voice came through accidentally, “What’s up?”
“I can feel things crawling on me,” he squeaked.
“Alright, then, move over,” I said, crawling into bed with him, letting my eyelids droop low before finally closing. “I’ll sleep here then.”
“Daddy, I don’t want them to get us,” Dylan said after a few minutes.
“Hmmm,” I managed.
“The Shadows. I don’t want them to get us,” Dylan repeated.
“Nothing’s going to get us, buddy,” I muttered. “Go to sleep.”
It was his scream. Right next to my ear that woke me next. It wasn’t the typical kind of cry that he would use to get his mother or me from our room to his in the middle of the night. It was one that stood my hair on end, the scream of real danger. My eyes popped open as I tried to move simultaneously.
I could see Dylan lying next to me, wide-eyed and breathing quickly, but I couldn’t move. It felt like something had tied me to the bed. That’s when I saw it, the shadow, cold and menacing, creeping across the nightlight, seeping into the socket as it blinked out, plunging the room into darkness.