Once upon a time, there was a boy named Alton who longed to be a kobold and keep treasure in his stone shoes. That is until one came to live under his bed and he learned what horrid little creatures they truly were. The wicked thing smelled of licorice and MaeMa’s kisses when she went too long without brushing her dentures. It hobbled around in its stone clogs in the dark of night, knocking over books and tumbling shoes off the rack. “There is a kobold living under my bed, Mama,” he said when his mother came to see what the fuss was all about. “He pinched me here, and here, and even here.” “There will be none of that, young man,” Mama said in her most sensible Mama voice as she tucked the brushed cotton quilt under his chin. “You go to sleep this instant, and in the morning you will pick up your room or else. You should take care of your things.” That night Alton realized mamas did not know what it meant to have a kobold living under one’s bed. Most nights the wicked sprite kept Alton awake with sharp, twisty pinches. When he did manage to fall asleep, it would pull the quilt off his feet until his toes were fit to snap off in the cold. Those were the nights Alton liked the least as he had to dare the treacherous expanse of cold tile between his bed and his chest of drawers for a pair of wool socks or not make it back to sleep at all because Mama said socks were not for bed. Other nights the kobold left Alton quite alone to hobble around the house instead. Safe beneath the quilt, he listened to the unwholesome beastie muck about downstairs, pulling the cat’s tail, tipping over the flowerpots, making a mess of things. “Why is there jam on the ceiling fan?” Mama wanted to know the next morning while tuning in the wireless on the counter. Papa looked up from the paper. “What’s wrong with the cat?” “The wretched thing was in my begonias again,” MaeMa said, sucking on dentures in need of brushing. Alton knew better. “It was the kobold. I heard it moving about last night.” “Nonsense,” Papa said with a phlegmatic harrumph. “Now, kiss your grandmother. You’re going to be late for school.” That morning Alton realized no one understood the least little bit about kobolds, and he would have to take matters into his own hands. Read the rest of Sandra M. Odell’s “For Fear of Little Men” 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 Sandra M. Odell’s full short story “For Fear of Little Men” in our anthology, Fear of the Dark - now available as an ebook!
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