Introduction: This is a rhyming poem I wrote for NYC Midnight’s Rhyming Story Challenge 2022. My prompt was Horror/imagination/courage. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to Round 2; only the top 8 in each category moved forward, and mine: Number 9. Oh well. I still really like this story, but i have no idea where I’d submit it, so here ya go.
The child called for his mother, so she ran
Straight to her sweet son’s bedside, bending low.
She cupped his face within her loving hands.
She soothed, “My love, what could have scared you so?”
The boy was silent, eyes gone big with fear,
He whispered, “Momma, look; there’s something there!”
His mother’s words were loving, soft, and strong;
She said, “It’s your imagination, dear,
I’ll stay until you sleep, it won’t take long.”
She held him, rocked him, “Please don’t be afraid,”
With one soft kiss, she chased his fears away.
The moon peeked brightly through the slatted shade.
Casting the room in shadows, twisting things
Familiar into otherworldly shapes.
Her child asleep, she whispered low, “Sweet dreams.”
Then thought she saw a form within the drapes
She stared a moment, thinking it must be
A byproduct of interrupted sleep,
She laughed, amused at her own lunacy.
She drowsed in fits and starts, something felt wrong.
She had no peace, all thoughts of sleep were gone.
She rose unrested, troubled, with the dawn.
The next night was the same, the screams, the tears
She did her best to kiss away his fears
Used words of love to keep the beasts at bay.
She hugged him when he calmed, “My love,” she said
“I need you to be brave and strong and good.”
He nodded once to show he understood.
She nodded back and left him, but the dark
Seemed deeper to the woman than before,
Soft stealthy sounds pursued her to her door.
But when she turned, she saw nothing at all.
The dark pressed to her skin with razor claws.
Then soon one day with heavy, lurking dread
She realized she had to take a stand,
To make him face the beast beneath his bed,
To mold him, shape him, make him be a man.
The next night when she tucked him in she said:
“This monster nonsense needs to stop, young man!
You must be strong, this all is in your head.”
Eyes bright with tears he nodded, though he held
Hard to her fingers, as she left his room
And shut the door. His cries began again
Even before she made it to her room.
She steeled herself with every ounce of will
She prayed he would soon cry himself to sleep.
Instead, his screams grew stronger, hoarser, shrill.
She pulled the quilt around her head to keep
Out of her ears his panic-stricken shrieks.
It was no use. The rage roiled in her gut
Propelled her to the door she’d firmly shut.
She gripped the knob and turned it, but the door
Did not move, as if something large was set
Right up against it, lying on the floor.
Her knees grew weak as she heard something wet
Beneath the sounds of growls and gnashing teeth,
Beneath the sound of her son’s keening moans,
The sounds of something tearing underneath,
Of horrors unimaginable, unknown.
She slid down, pressed against the door and weeping,
Not noticing her nightgown growing wet,
From blood and other fluids slowly seeping,
Beneath the door, still very firmly set
Against what lay upon the other side.
She heard a sated belch, then felt a jerk
As some huge body heaved its loathsome hide,
Up from its meal, then left with labored lurch.
The silence closed around her like a fist,
Dared her to face the consequence of pride,
Dared her to give that cursed knob a twist,
Dared her to face what’s on the other side.