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Bruce Coville's Book of Nightmares
There’s Nothing Under the Bed
by
Bruce Coville

I suppose I can’t really blame my parents for not believing me when I told them about the weirdness under my bed. After all, adults never believe a kid when he or she talks about that kind of thing. Oh, they’ll believe you’re afraid, of course. But they never believe you’ve actually got a good reason to feel that way. They’ll certainly never believe you if you tell them something horrible is lurking under the bed, waiting to take you away.

But you and I know they should. You and I know that there are terrible things that hide there, waiting to catch you, snatch you, steal you.

At least, I know. Because now I’m one of them.

#

I’m not sure when I first realized there was something wrong under my bed. I must have been fairly young, because I can remember one night when I was about five or six I rolled a ball under the bed by accident. I heard a popping sound and started to cry because I knew I would never get my ball back from the weird gray nothingness down there.

So clearly I knew about the nothingness by then, and understood that things disappeared into it. But at the time I was upset simply because I had lost my ball. Like a kid who needs glasses but doesn’t know it, and just assumes things look fuzzy to everyone else, too, I figured that was just the way the world was.

Besides, everyone loses things in their bedroom—socks, pencils, yo-yos, homework you’re certain you did. It wasn’t until I began staying overnight at friends’ houses and saw the incredible messes under their beds—messes that didn’t disappear—that I realized something was truly wrong at my house.

My second clue came when I tried to tell my parents about this and they thought I was playing a silly game. “For heaven’s sake, David,” said my mother. “Don’t be ridiculous!”

I remember these words well, because I heard them so many times in the months that followed. The few times I actually did manage to drag Mom and Dad up to look under my bed, the weird grey nothingness wasn’t there and all they saw was solid floor. That happened sometimes. Finally I realized that the nothingness disappeared whenever grown-ups were around.

As you can imagine, this was very frustrating.

After a while Mom and Dad decided to get me some “special help”—which is to say they sent me to a shrink. Unfortunately the nothingness under my bed wasn’t something that could be fixed by a shrink. All I learned from the experience was that I had better keep my mouth shut if I didn’t want to get sent away for even more intense treatment.

Personally, I think Mom should have figured out that a kid as sloppy as I was could never naturally have a bed that didn’t even have dust bunnies under it! But Weztix has taught me that people will believe really stupid things in order to avoid having to believe something they think is impossible. I guess Mom just assumed that my losing so much stuff simply indicated I was even lazier, sloppier or more addlebrained than most kids.

Maybe I was. That didn’t mean that the area under my bed wasn’t weird and scary.

Even so, I managed to live with it—until the day it swallowed Fluffy.



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