Bed (short story)


She always dreaded bedtime. They were emboldened by the cover of darkness. They always knew when she was most alone and vulnerable. They knew to strike during the times when no help was available.

She would delay the inevitable in the ways she could, but nothing ever worked. She hated brushing her teeth. She refused to change into pajamas. She wore her daytime outfit to bed, armored in her defiant act of rebellion. But that never deterred the monsters.

She slept, open and exposed, on the altar for her impending sacrifice. Try as she might to fight the night, the exhaustion nonetheless soaked into her bones. She urged herself to remain wary and vigilant, but no one ever came to relieve her from her night-watching duties.

Life became a dream. The nightmares crept into reality. She listened to the blackness breathe, and felt its rhythm pulsing in her chest.

She squinted into the shadows, too fearful to call out. Scared of what might answer. But she knew they were watching. They were waiting for her to drop her guard.

They’d take her for the night, and she’d wake up the next morning, chilled by the wetness of the sheets. She could feel bruises that the mirror couldn’t see. She bled without being cut. There was something inside her that she couldn’t purge.

No one noticed until her belly began to swell. Clutching her abdominal bulge, silent tears betrayed her pain.

“Tummy hurts.”

Doctors were nonplussed. Their tests and experiments revealed nothing. Their recommendation? More bed rest.

The monsters smiled.

Her skin erupted in rashes. The poison was bubbling out. Her organs grew sick. Eventually, they ruptured.

She woke up in an unfamiliar bed. The uniformed woman bustling around her was not her mother. Machinery chirped and beeped, a foreign tongue to translate comfort.

Cool skin touched her forehead, hellfire beneath its surface. Screams trapped but inescapable. But under the kindly gaze of this strange nurse, she allowed herself to sleep.

But the monsters were in the hospital. They came during visiting hours, wearing human skin. She watched in horror, seeing them dressed in their disguises. Behind their gifts of flowers and balloons, their blackened teeth grinned with menace. Their eyes were most telling; cold plastic buttons plugged into the socket.

Her mattress was stuffed with their nourishment. They fed on her terror. Her vitality was being sapped, but no one could discern the cause.

Wasted and skeletal, her world became small. Confined to her bed, trapped in their den. Her restraints were her body. She couldn’t make it obey.

She shrank and became listless, and the monsters grew stronger. Her eyes retreated into her skull. Turned up towards the heavens, rejecting visions of reality.

They attached strings to her limbs and thrust stilts into her flesh. Propped up like a puppet, they stuffed her skin bag with pillows. Sometimes her soul leaked out, so they sewed up all her holes. They draped her in blankets to hide her corpse.

They tore out her vocal cords to string their instruments. Her long fingernails scratched the grime off their backs. Percussive teeth were extracted and shaken: a macabre orchestral arrangement, symphonic and haunting.

Flossing with her hair and sponging off with her body, she became a washrag stained with their sins. They painted her face with her blood and vomit. Her rotting stench was masked by floral potions. They pressed beads into her eyes, polished and reflecting the viewer.

See yourself in the eyes of a decaying girl. Preen yourself and comb your hair. Wipe your dirt on her cheek. Harvest her parts. Present her on a platform. Swallowed up by her bed, her humanity becomes inscrutable.

Her bones are the frame, clothed in a skirt. Her head’s just a board, flat and uncomplicated. Rest on her form, lay yourself to sleep. Embraced in her arms, enveloped in her sorrow. Comfort yourself in her misery.

Take turns with the monsters, allow yourself some fun. Take her for a ride. But when you cooperate in her destruction, make no mistake: the rapes in her bed will follow you too.