The Night That Wasn’t

Even a die-hard coward like myself, somehow found herself being compelled to sleep one night all alone in a room. Having lit all lights in the house, I locked myself in the room and turned out the light.
As if by magic, I found myself thinking of the weirdest possibilities of crime that had never occurred to me before. I tried to force myself to stop remembering all the chilling stories of violence I had read in the newspapers and magazines through the last year. I went and put on the light again, only to stare at eerie shadows. This was it.
I turned on the television and found myself watching, in a trance, the horror film of the month. “Enough,” I said to myself, and picked up a book. It just happened to be Dracula.
I gave up all efforts to be brave, shut my eyes tight and prepared to pass a sleepless night.
I counted sheep, I sang ‘Hush a bye baby’, and I drank warm water, to no avail. I submitted myself to passing a sleepless night once again.
Surprisingly enough, fate had something entirely different in store for me. My mind sauntered hither and thither and before I could tell, I fell fast asleep. I must have slept for a few hours when I felt the bed heave. I lay absolutely still as a statue and tried to listen intently. A few seconds later, I heard a faint rasping sound under the bed. I froze, even more motionless, if that were possible. Quiet. My eyes were still shut tight.
Pry about to see what the sounds came from. NOT ME. That’s not me at all. I prefer to be the valiant spirit, who does not stoop to be a snooping, slinking spy. Look under the bed?


Never shall I degrade myself to such base acts of cowardice. And what can it be pray? Save some rats or cockroach scurrying about.
This time the bed shook quite distinctly, no mistaking. I was seriously rattled. I imagined a criminal, perhaps a runaway convict, under my bed. I tried to think what to do about the so-and-so. Quite sure I would land nowhere in a face to face challenge (having come last in a strength test in my school), preferred not to defy THE ONE BELOW THE BED.
By now all movement had ceased totally and I was soon yet again my Old Brave Self. However, not wanting to take a chance, I kept a vigil, on tenterhooks, for the rest of the time, till dawn. Having seen sunlight through the curtains, I relaxed. Then, to my utter amazement, I awoke late from a refreshing nap.
Morning tea arrived, along with the papers. “Earthquakes, richter scale 6.2” — screamed the headlines. I buried my head in the newspapers.