What is one of the most prominent fears of a child? The dark, and more importantly, what lurks there. Throughout human history, children have feared what is under the bed. I used to have such fears, for a brief time. Then all that changed, then I feared what was not under the bed. I would still believe to this day, what my parents would not. They said it was due to it being dark, and that my young eyes could not see it. When I was five or six years old, I could never see the floor at night. And I mean, it was totally black when I looked over the bed, there was just… nothing. No matter how hard I concentrated, I saw nothing. As I say, my parents claimed I just couldn't see, but I knew they were wrong. There was enough light in the room for me to have seen the floor. My bed wasn't hugely high up either, being a rather old wooden bed.
I knew, back then if I fell out of my bed, I would fall into a bottomless pit, an abyss of nothingness. I still believe that to this day. What made me certain and still does, is that I used to be able to see the floor, only just, but like you normally would. Then one night, nothing. When this started to happen, I would always lay as far away from both edges as possible. I would lay with my arms and legs tightly by my side, in the very centre, petrified at the prospect of falling into the darkness. I would not exit the bed under any circumstances, in my younger days, even when I was old enough to use a potty, and then a toilet, I would instead just urinate in the bed.
My parents would get angry, but I would still insist that the floor vanished and that was why I could not use first the potty, and then the toilet. I was certain. I saw it happen every night. Not at midnight, but at a random time every night, the floor would simply fade away. And when the morning came, it would fade back into existence again, at any random time.
So they told me, they said if it vanishes, “call for help”. But I never did. No, I would not risk my parents falling into the darkness. So often I would beg them to put my bed against the wall, instead of having it so both sides were exposed. They said they would, but never got around to it.
By the time I was ten, this still happened every night. Until one day, it didn't. It just stopped for no obvious reason. The first night this occurred, I just couldn't help but stay awake all night and stare at the floor. It was actually there. The thought immediately crossed my mind, I should test this. That first night I was too scared, maybe my mind was playing tricks on me. The second night though, I was determined, I was going to test the floor. It’s not like I had to immediately just jump out of the bed and hope for the best. By now I could sit on the bed and reach the floor with my feet (in the day time anyway).
I remember that night as clearly as the night the floor vanished for the first time. I waited for a long time. The floor could vanish at any moment before 3am. When I looked over and saw that my digital clock saying that it was 4am, I knew. If the floor were to vanish, it would have done so by now. It always did by now. I sat up, my heart was racing and my stomach lurched at the thought of what I was about to do. I composed myself. Even if the floor could not support my weight, I will still be sitting on the bed, I won’t fall. That’s what I told myself anyway.
Nervously, I moved over to the edge of the bed. I sat there for several minutes, my arms around my legs holding my knees against my chest. This… this was no different from stepping out onto the floor when it reappears in the morning, I told myself. I shut my eyes tight and let go of my legs, slowly lowering them down over the side of the bed. Down they went, lower and lower until I felt it! The carpet, against my feet. I pushed down against the floor, testing to see if it would hold my weight.
The floor remained solid and I smiled. That smile soon faded though, I had to know. I had to know for sure. It was time to stand. My eyes burned, fearing what you’re thinking. What if I fell through the floor? What if… It was just going to vanish? I pushed down against the floor harder, it remained solid. And very quickly I stood, completely independent of the bed. If the floor vanished now I was dead. But it held. The wall was near my bed, and I put out my arms using it to move around the room, somehow thinking it would support me should the worst happen. But the worst did not happen.
From that night onwards, the floor never vanished again. Subsequent nights I would test it, again and again. One night I even left my room, and wandered around the whole house. Having always been restricted by the darkness, I had never seen the house at night. I slept much easier at night now, but I would never forget the nights where the floor wasn't there, and nothing my parents said would ever convince me otherwise.
Now I am seventeen, it’s been just under seven years since the floor stopped vanishing at night. I had not forgotten, but I no longer felt the need to test the floor each night, no longer left the bed with caution should I need to use the toilet, or leave my room for any other reason. Perhaps… it had never been real, there was no doubt what I saw. But now being seventeen, maybe as a child, I had some sort of mental illness. Deep down though, I never stopped believing that the floor vanished at night.
One night, like any other, I woke up at 1 am. An hour into Saturday, I smiled at the prospect of no school later that day, despite the dream that the vanishing floor had returned. It then occurred to me though, that I needed to use the toilet. Not badly but, I was awake, so why try to hold it? I reached the edge of the bed and was about to jump out when my phone vibrated. I heard it come from the bed itself, typical. I saw the light from the screen a bit further down from me. I leant forward kneeling and reached for my phone. A text from my friend. He wanted to know about some homework. Why was he texting this late though? I guess he’s having one of those famous study nights he so often talks about where he does about a month’s work due to the fact he so often falls behind.
I quickly sent a reply and then straightened up. I was still kneeling but no longer sitting on my legs. I extended my right leg to get out the right side of the bed and swiftly put it down on the floor.
“Fuck!” I yelled as my right leg had not hit any floor but instead hung in the air.
Luckily the wall was nearby as the whole top half of my body hit the wall. The pain was immense as my face slammed into the wall and I tasted blood in my mouth. I quickly grabbed the wooden frame of the bed with my left hand, but my right arm was trapped between my body and the wall while my leg hung in… nothing. There was no floor once again.
The fear rose quickly and I tried but I looked down and sure enough, there was nothing but darkness. All I could see was my leg and nothing below it. Never before though had I come this close to falling into the darkness. I prepared myself, and managed to move my right arm up higher. I pushed myself away from the wall slightly, my lower arm against the wall with my upper arm now pushing me away, my arm was kind of in a right angle position. I gritted my teeth and pushed hard against the wall and collapsed on the bed, safely away from the darkness.
Immediately I grabbed my phone. I had to call someone! That’s when I thought, I thought back to when I was a child. I can’t call someone, no one would believe me. It’s not like I have ever told any of my friends, and I knew my parents wouldn't believe me. No one was in the house save me tonight with my parents away for the weekend. If I called anyone to the house, they would surely come through my door and plunge to their death. I would deal with this by myself, I had, after all, slept through hundreds of these nights as a child. Why should it be an issue now?
Instead of opening my contacts, I opened a torch app. Why didn't I ever think of this when I was kid? Well, I didn't have a phone back then but I really should've got a torch or something. Anyway, I turned on the torch on my phone and it lit up the entire room. I pointed it down to where the floor should be but it was just black. It did light up the wall though, the wall below where the floor should be that is, it looked… just like normal, except for as far as the light reached down, the wall continued deeper and deeper, until it faded into black. I aimed the light at my side table, its legs went as deep into the dark as the light penetrated, over twenty times their original length. Finally, I turned the light to the legs that held the bed up and they too went deep into the darkness. The same went for my desk, my drawers and my wardrobe, they merely extended down. As for things that were on the floor in the day time, they were nowhere to be seen.
I sat there, wondering… What to do now? The bed then gave a sudden jolt. I flinched and started to breath heavily, quickly I retreated to the centre of the bed. That had never happened before. I had always feared what was not under the bed, but now… What if something had caused that? I… I had to know. I slowly moved to the edge of the bed. Was this really a good idea? Well, I would never be able to sleep now. What if it attacked me while I was sleeping?
I had no choice. I lay on my front, my hands grabbing onto the wooden frame. I stuck my head gently over the edge of the bed, I heard... a soft growl, like that of a dog. Was this really wise? What if I looked under and it pulled me down? I heard heavy breathing continue, and I don’t mean by me. I edged my hand back over the sheets, feeling around. I grabbed my phone. I brought it forward. Quickly, I put my arm over the edge pointing the light under the bed. There was no reaction and quickly I looked under. There was absolutely nothing there.
But then the bed gave another jolt, a much more violent one this time. My body was thrown forward by the jolt and my chest was exposed to the darkness. I grabbed onto the sheets but I was slipping, slipping away into the darkness! Then I remembered the wall, I put out my hands dropping the phone and pushed against the wall to stop me falling yet again. I pushed hard managing to get back onto the bed but… I could not un-see what I saw. There was no longer a need for the phone for light, the four legs on the bed, that extended deep into the darkness, they were alight. And the flames were slowly journeying upwards.
Then I heard splintering, and the sound of wood breaking and saw my side table fall away into the darkness. I then looked up and my drawers, my desk, even my wardrobe fell into the abyss. My heart pumped so hard I could feel it, my eyes burned with tears as I realised my own impending doom was upon me, crawling up the wood. I looked over the side of the bed again, and I saw that the flames were approaching at an alarming rate. The room itself was getting lighter, with an orange flickering glow as death itself was slowly getting nearer and nearer.
A low pitched, terrible laugh began. It was unlike any laugh I had ever heard before.
“Who are you?!” I yelled at the darkness.
No one replied. And the flames reached the bed itself. Only the edges were alight at first, but slowly and surely the flames were engulfing the entire bed. But it wasn't over yet! I looked to the left wall this time, there has always been a way out. Ever since I was a child I considered this to be a possibility. The door. It was within jumping distance. It was a slim chance, but a chance none the less. It wasn't the jump that was hard, it would be grabbing the door handle and hanging on afterwards… There was no floor after all.
The flames were getting closer to me and I stood up in the centre of the bed. My eyes were on the handle, but even so, I felt the tears pour down my cheeks. But I had to do this! I would rather fall than burn. The flames were getting nearer and nearer and that terrible laugh continued. There was nothing for it, I jumped. I grabbed the door handle tightly as my body smashed against the wall. I yelled in pain but I had firmly grabbed the handle. Something was wrong, with me hanging on the handle, obviously, it should have opened the door. But it was locked! I don’t know how as there was no lock for that door…
I looked behind me, the laughing had stopped and the bed was burning to cinders now. Pretty soon nothing was left, and it was completely dark save the little light that came through the window. With the laughing gone and the crackling of the flames also gone, it was completely silent too. What to do now? What happened when the floor reappeared? I put my feet against the door and pulled my body up so it was above where the floor would return. It was physically exhausting. After less than a minute, my legs and body were dangling again, well below the floor line. I knew the floor could reappear at any point when it got just a little lighter. I had no way of telling when it would reappear, and I didn't know the time, my phone was gone after all.
I knew, I had only two realistic options. I could take the risk staying up here, and hope that the floor wouldn't sever my body when it returns. Or… I looked down. I could take my chances down there. I looked up at the handle, but if only, no, I just didn't have the upper body strength, I mean I guess I could try and pull myself up around the morning time but… Just a few seconds out and I’m severed. I looked back down into the darkness… Will I die if I let go? Surely it’s a long way down… Stay here, or let go?
A tear ran down my cheek, off my face and fell into the darkness. I had made my decision.