📅 Published on May 1, 2021


Written by Christopher Howard “Slimebeast” Wolf
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 9.67/10. From 3 votes.
Please wait...

If your child is afraid of monsters, keep it that way.

I know that sounds cold, maybe even cruel, but the alternative can be far worse.  Your son or daughter will go through a phase where every closet has a creature in it, and evil specters haunt every darkened room.  Console them, assure them that monsters aren’t real as much as you want, and when they don’t believe you, let them grow out of it naturally.

One of the worst things you can do is to meddle any further than that.  I know from first-hand experience.

When I was a teenager, I tried to get out of the house as much as possible.  I stayed over with friends, joined in after-school activities, anything I could do to get away.  It wasn’t because my home life was particularly bad.  My parents weren’t abusive; my family was upper-middle-class, I had nothing to actually complain about at the time.  Still, I felt the need to get away from that safe and loving environment whenever possible.  I guess I wanted the freedom to make a few mistakes on my own.

I all but refused to look after my little brother, Corey.  He was the quintessential picture of every adorable sitcom kid, right down to the blonde hair that didn’t match up with anyone else in the family.  Supposedly, he inherited the gene from my mother’s side, and it would darken as he got older.  I couldn’t help but notice that neighbors and random strangers lavished him with praise whenever possible.  Something I couldn’t remember happening to me throughout childhood.

I didn’t hate him for something he couldn’t control and didn’t ask for.  There was no real sibling rivalry between us, but suffice to say, I was totally disinterested in taking care of him when mom and dad were out.  I could only hear him ask for a cup of “duice”, with a “D”, so many times before I felt myself rolling my eyes and letting out a disgusted groan.

That was why my parents had to hire babysitters.  Back then, I didn’t really think much about the cost of hiring someone to look after my brother when I could’ve done it for free.  I was too busy working out my own life and discovering who I was as a person.  I had little time to focus on anyone other than myself, but I guess that sort of myopic self-interest often comes with being a teen.

The last sitter that my parents hired was Rebecca, a girl from my school.  She was your stereotypical nerd who could be trusted with us.  When I answered the front door that night and saw her standing there, my mind immediately raced.  I thought she might be there to see me, and my stomach sank with dread.  Suffice to say, I wasn’t “into” her, and in that moment, I imagined having to turn down an invitation to some social function or another.

“What’re you doing here?” I asked bluntly.  I’m sure my sheer surprise and awkwardness came across as rude.

“You must be Rebecca!” my mother called from the hallway as she approached.  “Wow, you’re early!  That’s so great!”

I relaxed instantly.  She was there to take care of Corey, not to give me a panic attack.  Breathing a sigh of relief, I got my jacket and stepped out the door and on my way to spend the night with Charles Henry, one of my closest friends.  On the way out, I heard my mom explaining the house rules to Rebecca.

“First of all, we should talk about Chump…”

Chump.  The pretend monster that lived under Corey’s bed.  One he insisted came out at night to scare and torment him until he had to scream for Mommy and Daddy to roll out of bed and turn all the lights on.  It always had to be both Mom and Dad because, as he explained, Chump would easily get one of them if they weren’t together.

I figured the kid had heard that word in an old cartoon that was being re-run.  Some wisecracking animal character probably called their enemy “chump” before beating them over the head with an oversized hammer.

His night-time antics and insistence that everything go according to his made-up plan was truly obnoxious.  Then again, it didn’t affect me since I tended to be a heavy sleeper.  I just heard the complaints of my parents the next day as they sat in the kitchen, groggy and discussing how to handle his overactive imagination.

The final straw came when we got home hours later, and the babysitter was gone.

Mom asked Corey what happened, and he explained that she was, quote, “Scared by Chump.”  At first, we all assumed she abandoned the job for something else, either a party invite or a hot date or whatever else.  Maybe she had intended to come back before anyone noticed she had left.  As calls to her number went unanswered, Corey kept insisting that Chump had scared her, and that was why she was nowhere to be found.

The police questioned all of us separately, for hours on end.  Nobody knew anything, other than my brother, of course – and his testimony about a tentacled creature living under his bed just frustrated the cops.  Naturally, I was a prime suspect for a while.  They seemed set on creating the narrative that this was a crime of passion, committed by a hormonal teen with access to the house.  However, once I explained I had no interest in girls, that I was actually in a full-fledged relationship with one Charles Henry, their trail quickly went cold.

That’s right, the first time I came out as a gay man, it was in front of two fat, sweaty police detectives, under the blazing light of an interrogation lamp.

It wasn’t long after the disappearance that a decision was finally made about Corey and his childish delusion regarding the existence of monsters.  The police suggested he see a therapist because they were convinced he saw or heard something that would help their case.  They believed he might be repressing the memory.  Mom and Dad had considered therapy in the past, so it was an easy call to make.

Her name was Ms. Tyson.  A round, rosy-cheeked woman with an office full of stuffed animals and kitty posters.  When Corey first went to talk with her, he was understandably frightened.  Meeting an important new person, especially a doctor, is intimidating for a small child…regardless of what kind of doctor she was.  She was good at dealing with kids, however, so after two visits he was excited to go visit her as opposed to being afraid.  Before long, she had taught him all sorts of rhymes and songs that had to do with positive mental health and dealing with social problems.

The biggest change was one Ms. Tyson suggested to my parents.  She insisted that in order for him to get over his fear of the monster under the bed, he should befriend it.  Insisting that monsters weren’t real had little effect on the situation so far.  Turning the source of his nightmares into a harmless imaginary friend would supposedly help him sleep through the night.  Eventually, he would outgrow Chump and forget him entirely.  In the meantime, he’d have an unseen pal to play pretend with.

Everybody wins, right?

It took a few tries across several nights.  My parents would coax Corey to talk to his fake tormentor and make friends with it.  In turn, he would kneel down by the bed and nervously whisper or mumble things about his favorite shows or video games.  What started out as a one-way conversation gradually turned into back-and-forth dialogue.  He would speak, followed by a period of silence, then he would speak again as if answering a question or comment from Chump.

The house was peaceful after that.  I wasn’t the only one sleeping through the night.  Mom and Dad seemed happier, the little weirdo seemed happier; everything was turning out great for the family.

That is until Mr. Tyson got to the root of why Chump had existed in the first place.  Apparently, she believed he needed a mature role model around his own age to look up to and learn from.  Someone real and tangible that would be around to focus his attention and admiration on.  Naturally, that person turned out to be me.  No more babysitters, no more going out at all hours.  No more unchecked freedom.  It was made clear, in no uncertain terms, that I was going to spend my free time at home, around my little brother, as much as possible.  These were my standing orders until he was old enough to adjust to the real world on his own.

There were countless phone calls to Charles.  I stayed up, talking to him, sometimes until one or two in the morning.  I felt like I was under house arrest for a crime someone else had committed.  It wasn’t my damned imaginary friend – I had real ones to worry about.  With each missed party and every skipped social function at school, I felt as if I was losing them.

Worst of all was when Corey would have playdates.  Two, or even three little troublemakers running around the house and doing things that made no logical sense to me at the time.  Another one of Ms. Tyson’s suggestions.  More friends, more visits, more playtime.  More catering to a kid who was already adored by pretty much everyone who laid eyes on him.  I swear they even started buying him more toys and other useless junk, even though it was never spoken of.

Maybe on some level, it wasn’t all about helping him get over Chump but helping him forget the girl who went missing and was presumed dead.  Hell, for all I knew, he did see what happened and would otherwise be suffering from the trauma.  All I knew then was that he was getting anything his heart desired while the object of my affection was becoming suspiciously interested in a guy from band class.

I was scrolling through my phone, in my room, stereo on, on a night when Corey had one of his little friends over.  I wasn’t trying to ignore them, but I also wasn’t trying to get super involved, either.  I was in charge while our parents were at a PTA meeting.  Later, I’d have to deal with a school year spotted with skipped classes and failed assignments.

Suddenly, a loud bang jarred me out of my stupor.  It was as if one of the two little booger factories kicked the bedroom wall.  Then, a loud argument followed.  Corey was insisting that one of his toy trucks was, indeed, his truck.  The other kid demanded that he, quote, “see it for a minute.” A disagreement between the positions of “Gimme!” and “No!” erupted.  I could hear them rolling around on the floor, grappling for the toy.

“Hey!” I shouted at the top of my lungs, “SHARE!”

Either they didn’t hear me, or they were ignoring me just as hard as I had ignored them.  The tussle continued until I heard a bucket of building blocks spill onto the hardwood floor.  The metal ding of a toy truck hitting a small head rang out.  At that point, I heard Corey let out a cry of pain, and I launched myself out of bed.  I nearly slid on a rug as I sprinted out my bedroom door.

By the time I reached the room, he was sitting against the far wall, crying and holding his forehead.  I could already see a red mark starting to swell into a lump.  The toy truck, marked with a droplet of blood, rolled away casually.

When I rushed to pick Corey up, I saw what looked like a polka-dotted sock disappearing under the bed.  I figured the little jerk smacked my brother, then hid from my wrath.

I asked if he was alright, and he nodded through sniffles and tears.  I retrieved an ice pack from the kitchen and told him to it to his head until I told him to stop.  Then, I prepared to fish the little brat out from under the bread.

“Wait,” Corey pleaded as I knelt beside the bed.  “Don’t look.  Chump is here.”

Ignoring him, I laid chest-to-floor and prepared to drag a shrieking child out to atone for what he had done.

Instead, I saw nothing beneath it.

Nothing, but a single, small hand sticking out of the otherwise unbroken surface of the wooden floor.  It was as if the boy had been swallowed up by the house, only for it to close on his wrist.  Little fingers closed into a fist and opened again repeatedly as if trying to grasp for something to hold onto.  There would be no way for the child to pull himself free.  Even I wouldn’t be able to manage it.  Still, the hand persisted in trying to grip onto something.

I rolled over and scrambled away, sitting against the far wall just like Corey had been.

“What the fuck?” I shouted.

“Don’t cuss,” Corey scolded.  “Mom’ll wash out your mouth!”

I pulled him close, dragging him across the floor by his overalls.

“Dude.  What happened?  Where’s the rest of him?!”

He rolled his eyes, as if he had explained this a thousand times and was tired of being asked.

“Chump scared him.  It’s what he does.”

A cold burst of dread filled my body.  My stomach squirmed like I had swallowed a bucket of slugs.  Wide-eyed, I held Corey by the shoulders and stood him in front of my face.

“Bring him back,” I rambled breathlessly.  “Tell Chump to bring him back.  Please!”

Corey rocked his head from side to side and looked at the ceiling, as if he was weighing the options in his mind.

“Do it!” I demanded as sternly as I could manage.

“Fine, but don’t look,” he replied.

He went to walk away, toward the bed, but I held him tightly in place.

“I have to go tell him,” he insisted before pulling loose from my numb hands.

I watched as Corey stomped over to the bed and knelt down beside it.  He leaned down and whispered something, his hands cupped beside his mouth.

“Don’t look!” he scolded, turning to wave at me dismissively.

I did as I was told and covered my eyes, but after a few seconds I found myself peering out from between my fingers.  It wasn’t that I wanted to see what was about to happen or even that I needed to know in order to satiate some sort of burning curiosity.  It was that I was completely unable to keep my eyes closed.  There was no decision, no thought process behind it.  Something primal, something deep inside of me, compelled me to see what I knew I shouldn’t be witness to.

I could see the polka-dots again, but they weren’t on a pair of socks. Multicolored, spotted tentacles unraveled from beneath the bed, like the legs of a hermit crab peeking out of its shell.  At the center of the groping, twisting appendages, I could see a rainbow jumble of spider-like eyes.  Corey stayed calm, but that stood to reason since he had apparently been seeing this thing every night for nearly a year.

All at once, the colorful abomination spat out his friend like a dog giving up drool-soaked tennis ball.  It retracted back into the darkness, and I hopped up, rushing to the kid’s side.  Rolling him over, I could see that the kid’s eyes were rolled back into his head.   His body was tensed up, and he was slightly blue, with his veins showing prominently just under the skin.

After dialing 911 and inventing a panicked explanation that made zero sense, paramedics took the kid away. They assured me that everything would be fine and that the boy appeared to be having a seizure.  Nothing they couldn’t handle, and something they had seen a million times before.  I don’t know if they were being truthful or if they just wanted me to stop freaking out.

In reality, I was more distraught over what I had seen than what was happening to the kid who beaned my brother with a blunt object.

Corey and I sat down in the living room after the ambulance left, and the nosy neighbors showed their concern over what the emergency was.  I was far from realizing that I needed to call the kid’s parents, much less our own, and was still frantically searching my thoughts to figure out exactly what was going on.  I knew I had to get out of the house again, but this time it would be permanent.  I probably couldn’t convince the whole family to move, especially if I couldn’t say why.

I considered pulling boxes of junk down from the attic and stuffing them under the bed.  Would that block the thing from coming back, or would it just get angry?

Corey was watching cartoons, blissfully unaware of the panic that had gripped my heart.  I sat, hands on my lap, ankles crossed, staring forward as if I was the one who had been left in a catatonic state.  I swallowed hard, choking down all of the profanities I wanted to yell while running down the moonlit street.  I had way too many questions.  How long had he actually known about this thing?  What had he been saying to it?  What did it say to him?  Was it always under his bed, or did it just crawl in one night?

Eventually, several cartoons later, my brain reached a conclusion that should’ve been obvious from the start.

“Corey,” I called, gesturing for him to stop sitting inches away from the screen and join me on the couch.  “Corey, come here for a second.”

With a huff and a groan, he got up and walked to my side, pulling himself up onto the couch and sitting with his legs dangling off.

“I have to ask you to do one more thing.”

“Is it about Chump?” he asked absently, still staring at the television.  “If you want me to ask him to go away, he’s not gonna.  I asked him to a zillion times, and he just says no. He’s a tough customer.”

“It’s about…” I struggled to find the words to describe the thing.  “Yeah, it’s about…Chump.”  I cleared my throat nervously.

I snapped my fingers a few times, pulling Corey’s attention away from the show.

“Do you think Chump could bring back…Rebecca?  I know it’s been a while, but maybe he could let her out, too.  Things have changed since then.  I mean, you’re friends now, right?  Do you think he could do you that favor?”

“I can ask,” he replied.  He answered as plainly as if I had asked if he wanted mac and cheese for dinner.

Soon after, we were back at the door to his room.  He started to walk in, toward the bed, but I grabbed him by the shoulder.  Hard.  There was no way I was letting him back anywhere near that thing.

“You can ask from here!” I snapped.

Looking at me with a scowl, then to the bed, Corey let out a sigh of frustration.  I guess his major concern at the moment was how unreasonable I was being and how much I was putting him out.  Speaking personally, I was more concerned with the girl who was probably long dead, bringing closure for her heartbroken family and clearing up the question of how and where she had disappeared.

I would have to come up with yet another nonsensical excuse as to what happened to her, but there would be plenty of time to worry about that later on.  For the moment, all that mattered was retrieving the body.  After that, I would probably lock Corey’s room and break off the doorknob.

From the threshold, he cupped his hands to his mouth again and whispered, aiming his voice at the bed.

I couldn’t make out the words.  It sounded like backward-speak.  Like Latin or some other dead language of simplistic, mono-syllabic words.

“What are you even saying?” I asked, confusion visible on my face.

He shrugged.

I turned my attention back to the bed, peering into the room, which was dimly lit by a night light.

I didn’t hear anything, but apparently, Corey did.

“Chump says he doesn’t want to bring her back.”

I knelt down next to my brother and turned him toward me.

“He has to.  We have no choice.  Tell him again.”

Corey tilted his head, angling his ear toward the bed.

“He says you don’t want him to bring her back.”

I jostled him roughly, all but shouting in his face.  This wasn’t the time for negotiating with monsters.

“I said bring her back!  NOW!”

He whimpered softly.  I had never been physically violent with him.  That slight shake, born of my own abject terror, seemed to scare him more than the creeping horror that was pulling people into the floor.

He whispered to Chump again, this time faster and more panicked.

I turned my head to see the bizarre polka-dotted tentacles unfurling once more.  They spilled out from beneath the bed recklessly, as if Chump was just as worried of getting in trouble as Corey was.  I saw only the briefest glimpse of that cluster of multicolored, shimmering eyeballs as a dark form spilled forth from the writing mass.

Rebecca was finally returned to our world.

“Holy shit…” I mumbled, pushing him behind me as I stared into the room, slack-jawed.

Rebecca pulled herself across the floor slowly, her arms extended and multi-jointed like the limbs of a praying mantis.  Her movement was accompanied by the click-clack of sharp, dagger-like points where her hands should have been.  A high-pitched, reverberating laugh echoed from the black void of her mouth.  Tremendous, blank white eyes lay sunken in her elongated face.

Corey’s hand reached around me and pointed.

“There ya go.”

The tentacles nervously fussed with themselves like wringing hands as the babysitting abomination continued its steady, maniacal scramble toward us.

“Corey…” I whispered, choking back bile.

She was almost to the door.

“Tell Chump to put her back.”

Rating: 9.67/10. From 3 votes.
Please wait...

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Christopher Howard “Slimebeast” Wolf
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Christopher Howard “Slimebeast” Wolf

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

More Stories from Author Christopher Howard “Slimebeast” Wolf:

Toon Tipping
Average Rating:

Toon Tipping

Average Rating:


Local Legend
Average Rating:

Local Legend

Waken Farm
Average Rating:

Waken Farm

Related Stories:

No posts found.

You Might Also Enjoy:

Old Maggie’s Pool
Average Rating:

Old Maggie’s Pool

The Colour Out of Space
Average Rating:

The Colour Out of Space

The Cancer in the Walls
Average Rating:

The Cancer in the Walls

 Garden of Statues
Average Rating:

 Garden of Statues

Recommended Reading:

Knifepoint Horror: The Transcripts, Volume 1
Don't Scream 3: 30 More Tales to Terrify
The No Sleeper Train: A Collection of Short Horror Stories
Daylight Dims: Volume One

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Skip to content