When Carl was six years old he watched the Sandman strangle the Tooth Fairy. It wasn’t the first bizarre nocturnal sight he’d witnessed, and it definitely wasn’t to be the last; but it did alter him permanently from that day forward. He’d been tossing and turning in his bed unable to get to sleep because he was anxious about the visit from the Tooth Fairy. His parents had told him about her as yet another one of those nocturnal beings who slipped in and out of a person’s house in the middle of the night while everybody was sleeping. And while he’d been lying there, worried he wouldn’t fall asleep and that the front incisor wrapped carefully in a wad of tissue would not be replaced with a bright shiny coin, he heard a muted shuffling outside his door. Thinking it was his mother coming in to check on him and to tuck his covers before turning in herself; he glanced over at the door as it opened. Silhouetted in the doorway was a tall female figure who definitely wasn’t his mother. The shiny sequins of her outfit twinkled softly in the beam from his Tigger night light, revealing the ruffles and poufy fabric of a dress like something a princess might wear. And in the dark he could make out the tips of what looked like wings protruding from her shoulders on either side of her head. “What do you think you’re doing?” a deep male voice hissed from immediately beside Carl. Carl froze, his eyes taking in another shape in the room he hadn’t seen before, this one standing at the head of his bed and wearing dark billowing robes. The female in his doorway stammered out a startled reply. “I’m j-just here f-for the t-too—” “I know why you’re here!” the male voice interrupted, his voice rough like the crunching of boots on gravel. “But you’re too early.” The darkly robed shape moved down the length of Carl’s bed toward the door, seeming to flow rather than walk. “The boy is still awake. I haven’t completed my task.” “Oh my,” she whispered and begin to turn away. But the male’s sleeved arm snaked out quickly and a large hand grasped her by the throat. Carl still couldn’t move anything other than his eyes, not realizing he was caught in a state between wakefulness and sleep in which his body was already mostly paralyzed but his mind was still awake and aware. He watched, horrified, as the male lifted the female completely off her feet and shook her violently back and forth. As Carl’s eyes further adjusted to the darkness he could see a thin film of fine dust-like particles emanating from the man. “Let this be an example,” the man said in a gravelly voice over his shoulder while the woman struggled helplessly. “Say anything about this to anyone and I’ll take them all down.” Read the rest of Mark Leslie’s “Nocturnal Visions” along with 19 other eerie tales in the ebook Fear of the Dark: An Anthology of Dark Fiction.
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You can find Mark Leslie’s full short story “Noctural Visions” in our anthology, Fear of the Dark - now available as an ebook!
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