As a child, I had a toy box that I kept in my room with all the toys just piled on top of each other in a messy mountain of playthings. One toy in particular is engrained into my memory to this day. My mother and I couldn’t live together due to her mental illness, so I would often meet her via appointment at my city’s youth and family center.
It was on my birthday when I visited her that she gave me the toy in question, a tickle-me Elmo. I loved my mother so very much, so it didn’t matter what she gave me, I would love it all the same. I would often play with it as if it were alive, talking to it, asking it questions, genuinely taking care of it. However, as I grew older, I moved on to other, more cool toys and kept the Elmo toy inside of my toy box. As I would learn one night, that was a very grave mistake.
As I crept deeper and deeper into a sleep that night, I was all but interrupted by a sound. You tend to hear a lot of sounds in your house in the dead silence of night, so I wasn’t fazed by it. However, this sound seemed to be a bit persistent. After a while, I realized what it was: my toy box. This was inconsequential, however, because I knew that because of the way I stacked my toys, they would occasionally shift due to the gaps left between them. At this point, I was at ease. The sound was identified, which means I could finally relax and get some shut eye. Easing into the bliss of slumber, I was, once again, interrupted by a sound.
I froze up upon realizing what it was. It was the muffled sound of a joyful laughter. A sound I hadn’t heard for long time. It was the sound that comes from a tickle-me Elmo upon squeezing it. How could it be? Suddenly it hit me; perhaps the shifting of the toys was causing the doll’s sensor to go off, making it laugh. Relief from this conclusion allowed me, once again, to try and enter my long awaited sleep.
Or at least, that’s how it would have been had the sounds not persisted. At random intervals, I would hear the subtle shuffle of the toys and the laughing of the Elmo doll. Needless to say, it was very unsettling. There shouldn’t have been enough gaps to cause the toys to shift that much. After my annoyance reached its peak, I finally got up and made my way to the toy box.
Upon reaching it, I noticed something. The lid of the toy box, even though I had made sure to close it before going to bed, was slightly open. In the gap that the opening made, a single plastic eye staring back at me. I chuckled to myself. This must’ve been some practical joke. Perhaps, while I was in the bathroom, one of my aunts had come in and set up my toy box like this. They’ve had a history of pulling off pranks like this to try to scare me. Opening the lid, I picked up the Elmo doll and placed it on top of my dresser so it wouldn’t involuntarily go off. Relieved, I slipped back into the comfort of my blankets.
My eyes opened on their own. As I tilted my head up, the dresser came into view. There, on top of the dresser, the Elmo doll sat just as I had left it. Its dead eyes, fixed upon me. Surely I must’ve been hearing things. Relaxing my head once more, I closed my eyes.
I couldn’t stand it. I quickly jolted out of my bed, as if possessed, and out of my room. Running quickly through the hallway, I made it to my grandmother’s room and knocked on the door.
“Ma! Let me in! Please!”
“...What’s the matter? Do you have any idea what time it is?”
I was slumped onto my knees in front of the door at this point. “Just let me in, please! There’s something weird going on in my room! I-I’m scared!”
I heard the sound of footsteps behind the door. Suddenly, the door opened.
I stared in disbelief.
Those dead, plastic eyes once again. The Elmo doll I was so sure was in my room, standing in the doorway of my grandmother’s room. I screamed. Louder than any sound my body ever produced.
I looked around. This… was my room. I slowly lowered my gaze below me. I was lying in my bed, my body, covered in a cold sweat.
Suddenly my room door burst open.
“Are you ok? I heard a scream.”
There stood my grandmother, a look of worry on her face as she moved towards me to see if I was ok.
“Ma… I had the most horrible dream,” I managed to blubber out between my cries as I hugged her.
Calming within my grandmother’s embrace, I peered up at what was in front of me.
There, on the dresser, sat the Elmo. Its dead gaze was fixed upon me once again.