The First Time I Felt Fear
I guess I was only about five years old when it happened. The memory used to be far clearer. The picture in my mind has lost its vivid colors and definition, fading like an old photograph. I don’t recall any sound from that night but I remember the fear and I can still feel its touch.
It was a night like any other. A young boy dressed in blue pajamas, the youngest child and the first to bed. I shared a small room with my elder sister. There was only eighteen months between us yet it must have been enough to warrant a later bedtime as I remember being alone in the room, at least I thought I was alone.
The bear stood half my size and always sat at the foot of my bed. He was bright blue with a white snout and a black, button nose. My sister’s pink bear was identical, apart from the color, and sat in a similar position on her bed. They watched over us like silent, fluffy sentinels and I can’t even remember their names.
A young child alone in a room. Surrounded by darkness, only a crack of light entering from the slightly open door. Tucked up in bed, feeling safe and on the edge of sleep. The faintest movement, stroking my bare feet like the gradual setting of the duvet. Nothing strange, nothing unusual until I feel a weight pin my ankle to the bed. Small, soft, yet heavy and deliberate. Another movement, another weight falling like a footstep six inches from the first. Wide awake, I pull the covers over my head. A third footfall and fear grips me like I have never felt before. My hands shake and I feel the duvet slowly slip from my fingers as the weight pulls at it with every movement. I tug at the cover, trying to to stop it slipping from my sweat soaked hands. I feel it stretch, the material rippling and becoming narrow until it falls away at the sides exposing my shoulders. Finally it slips from my grasp and I snap my eyes closed. I stretch out my hands, fumbling with the duvet, hoping to draw it back over me like a shield. Another footfall and my fingers curl around something soft and round. A familiar feeling, furry and tube-like, soft and spongy. It’s the leg of my bear, my fluffy blue friend, my bed sentinel. A brief feeling of relief falls over me, until the leg pulls away from my grasp and I realize just what it is that was trampling over me. Wildly, I make another grab for the duvet and manage to draw it back over my head just as the full weight of the bear lands across my chest. I feel its arms and legs hammering down repeatedly, as if playing me like a drum. I feel the duvet pulling away again, slipping through my fingers. Without thought, I suddenly sit up and throw the covers across the bed, shrouding the frantically hammering bear. I swing my legs to the floor and run out of the room.
I look back on it now and there is no doubt in my mind that it was nothing but a dream. It was a nightmare and nothing more but back then it felt all too real. I couldn’t sleep in that room for days afterwards and the bears had to be removed, even my sister’s pink twin. I struggled with the memory of that night for several years afterwards and, even to this day, I don’t feel comfortable when the sheets are tucked in at the foot of the bed. The event didn’t happen, it was only a dream, but the fear was real and, to a five year old boy, so was the bear.
By Peter John
Author Of The Paranormal Comedy