He woke up as his skull jumped out onto the floor. Matt looked on in astonishment. This skull was his prize possession. Well since the other day when he found it down by the tracks. Now it just seemed more trouble then it was worth. He looked again as the skull began moving across the floor like a parade of ants had lifted it on their backs. It juddered. Matt squealed and disappeared underneath his bed sheets. He held his breath as he heard it scraping along the floor. What was it doing? Where was it going? The answer came as he heard it knock against the side of his bed. He scurried through his bed sheets to the bottom of the bed to escape the sound. Maybe he could get to the door, get away but the skull was too quick for him, as though sensing his presence it had followed him down to the other end of the bed. The skull was moving, possessed by some malevolent force out to get him, he knew it. He heard it knocking against his bed, his fortress; he would be safe up here away from it he was sure. All Matt wanted to do was cry out for his Mum to make it stop, the banging continued getting harder and faster. It was coming for him; he curled up into a ball when suddenly a light flashed on… Through the bed sheets Matt could make out the angelic figure of his Mother standing looking at him, rather puzzled.
“It is long past your bed time young man,” she stated bluntly. “What is all this racket? Are you playing late again?”
“No… Mum… the skull…” Matt tried to blurt out.
His Mother came over and pulled the blanket away from him. “Oh your little skull, you’ve dropped it on the floor.”
She bent over to pick it up when her hands trembled and she almost dropped it, Matt looked on in terror.
This is when he realised his Mum was smiling at him. “I’m only pulling your leg, now bed time, it’s a school night and no more playing with the skull,” she said.
“But…” Matt tried to protest.
She placed the skull up on the shelf above his bed.
“Just having a bad dream that’s all, now nighty night and don’t let the bed bugs bite,” she said stroking his head.
It wasn’t the bed bugs he was worried about; whatever was above him now was the problem. She smiled at him as she left; he heard the lock of his bedroom door
Maybe he had been overreacting. He cast his mind back to the other week when he had found the skull. It had been lying discarded by the railway tracks where Matt liked to play; this had caught his eye from under some leaves. He had felt drawn to it; it was unlike anything he had ever seen. It was a large skull like that of a cats but it was too big to be a cats. There had been stories of large cats being sighted around this area; this attracted Matt to it even more. He saw himself as a collector and this would be the prize piece, it was so mysterious and alluring. Reports of dead livestock had added to the mystique. Could this really be from some kind of weird unexplained creature? Matt wasn’t sure but he had known one thing – it was his skull now.
He had taken it home and set aside his other passion, collecting snow globes for which he had an entire book shelf dedicated, and it had taken pride of place. He had told his mother it was from the magic shop so as not to alarm her. He never knew what was to come. He always left it on his desk when he went to school but one day he had returned to find it in a different position. He thought maybe it had been his Mum tidying up but what if it had been moving itself?
This is when he had started thinking it was alive and… hungry. After that day it had seemed to have stopped but from last night it had shown signs of activity. Not during the day but when darkness fell. Matt was a big boy now though - he wasn’t scared of anything like this he told himself. His Mum always said he had an over active imagination, the next day he would get rid of it. That would be an end to it.
Firm in his resolve Matt turned over to his side to look straight into the empty eyes of the skull. He jumped back it was moving towards him, Matt reached behind him unsure of what to do, his hands grasped upon something solid and he brought it swinging around down onto the skull. The top of the skull broke inwards and the whole skull shuddered and then became still.
His hands started to become wet; this is when he looked at what he was holding. It was one of his snow globes he kept on his bedside table, one from Spain; he had a couple more from there so it was no big deal he guessed. Everything was still, he had stopped it, the skull was dead. Matt let out a sigh of relief but a little prematurely he found. He saw something within the skull, it was shiny and he saw something drop out, it was a big bug like a scarab beetle he had read about. It must have been pierced by the skull, something oozed out of the little bug like blood, it feebly limped forward before collapsing. Matt couldn’t understand what was happening until he saw another one of the creatures emerge from inside the skull followed by another, and another and yet more. Suddenly a torrent of the bugs began to emerge from deep within the skull scurrying towards him.
They swarmed over the bed creating a dark shadow that seemed intent on engulfing him. Matt fell from the bed, he became entangled in the sheets like a net, he thrashed around within them, he felt the bugs - or whatever they were drop down from the bed on top of them. There legs dug into his arms like claws, Matt finally freed himself of the sheet and flung one half on top of the other and started jumping frantically on top of it. He heard the satisfying squish of the bugs but there seemed to be a never ending waterfall of them flowing from his bed forever coming for him. Matt looked at the door ready to make a break for it but he saw to his horror the bugs had formed another front there waiting for him. Matt looked around, was this it for him? He spun around and saw his snow globe shelf, his sanctuary! When he had his friend Paul around they had used to climb it and rest on top no problem, this had been about three years ago but he was certain it couldn’t be much different now. Matt drew in a deep breath and prepared himself. He hopped just like he used to onto the second shelf and gripped the third, the book case rocked but held steady. He laughed, he had done it! Now he just had four more “stories” to climb. His arms ached but he yanked himself up one more shelf but as if sensing where he was the malevolent force started creeping up the sides of the shelves and marching towards him. The book case started rocking again – violently – it was starting to feel the strain of all the extra weight. Snow globes started throwing themselves off smashing onto the floor. Matt desperately ducked and weaved to avoid the debris.
A few of the bugs found their way onto his legs and Matt screamed. The shock forced him to throw himself off of the case back to his bed. Unfortunately he brought the book case down with him and shelves came hurtling out. The bugs clinging onto the shelves sides were made short work of. Matt kicked the other bugs away from him, but there was no easy way out of here. He felt himself start to weep uncontrollably. This wasn’t right; he had to think of something. He whirled around and saw the only route of possible escape – the window. He leapt from the bed, threw back the curtains and slid the window up and open. Bugs still teemed around and were pursuing him. He gulped and decided heights weren’t as bad as these devil creatures. He scrambled out onto the ledge. There was just enough room for Matt to stand and he hugged the wall feeling the cold wet brick against his hands. He saw a bug clinging to his pyjama pants and he kicked it off sending it flying off into the night. Matt shuddered so hard from their touch he almost lost his balance.
This is when he had a brain wave but it would mean having to go back inside. His whole body froze at the prospect. He could jump… no it was too high and there was nobody else to help him. He closed his eyes and screamed as he flung himself back inside the room that once upon a time was his sanctuary but now filled him with dread. He threw himself across the bed and over to the book case. Trying not to think about it he grabbed one of the loose shelves and he whirled it around and propped it against the window ledge. Bugs turned towards him as he backed up to the window along the makeshift plank. He watched as the remaining army of bugs started forming an orderly queue to march along it. “Yeah you want me? Come and get me!” He screamed as he leapt up and back out onto the ledge. He backed away along the ledge until there was nothing else between it and the open air. He could sense the bugs hunger, they couldn’t wait to engulf him, make him one of them and then…He held his breath, unable to look away as one after another they charged up the plank and straight off the end flinging themselves into the abyss like a group of lemmings. They continued like this for what seemed like hours. Matt felt his chest loosen but he couldn’t relax for a moment, he refused to stir standing still as a statue. Even when there hadn’t been a single bug for a long time he refused to climb back into the room. They could still be in there waiting for him. Eventually that was where his mother found him later, in hysterics; she thought he was going to jump. Silly mother he thought.
Entomophobia. The irrational fear of insects is what they said he had after that. There was nothing irrational about it to Matt though! For days after he thought he saw a shadow scuttling in the corner or something brushing against his leg. The skull he had found was indeed from a large cat, nobody knew how it had gotten down by the tracks but inside it had contained eggs of exotic beetles which had just been ready to hatch when he found it. No more skulls for him from now on. Matt made sure to let a bug bomb off every week in his room too, no, nothing irrational whatsoever about that. He wasn’t going to let any bed bugs or head bugs get him, no way.
Bio: Philip has been writing from a young age and studied Drama and Scriptwriting at university. Since then he was written several plays and had work published in local newspapers and a short story online. He currently lives in Newcastle, UK and has helped direct and edit videos for the local zoo.