's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Boogeyman "

Submitted by Courtney Levy

It stares at me in the dark. I stare back.

Snow-pale, at least in the face, with black eyes-- doe eyes, beetle-bright. It blinks occasionally, breath soft in the gloom.

I used to nearly wet myself, waking up to find it there, the looming shape at the foot of my bed. Now, I smile tiredly, strained though it is.

The thing narrows its eyes at me like a cat being scratched, enormous hands easing onto my bed. I think it worries about scaring me, after those first few nights.

Claws arc from its fingers like the curved, cast iron bars of round cages, so big as to be almost useless, even comical, cracked and chipped in places. One has been broken off at the tip, the quick inside scabbed over black, like the rest of its body. Carefully, I sit up and ease myself over to the edge of my covers, heart pounding, mouth dry, feeling fear despite myself. It keeps still; maybe it remembers my reaction when it doesn't.

It can't help how it looks, I think, my numb and shaking hands moving to touch its cold, pale face. The black eyes slip closed and it sighs out through a blunt nose, jaw and throat moving gently under skin I know from experience can peel apart like taffy, lipless and thick. I stroke my thumb over the jut of bone below its left eye and it twitches its head ever so slightly into my touch.

There's a noise from behind me, the bedroom door clicking open of its own accord at the same moment the thing turns its head sharply, eyes suddenly wide open and staring with intensity. I find my hands gripping at the rough, grimy hardness of its scab-armored body, residue flaking off on my fingers. I don't want to look.

One of its enormous hands closes around me, possessively, the hard curve of its thumb nail resting gently against my lower stomach as the others curl around my back. Something at the door gurgles momentarily; I hear it click closed again and suddenly press close to the monster at the foot of my bed with a shaking sigh.

It holds me without expression on its alien face, chirping occasionally, the cicada-drone and cricket bells of its voice somehow comforting. I feel its ropy, grey tongue slip out to lick over my cheek, such a dog-like gesture that I can't help but laugh, even if I don't turn my head to look into the pike-trap of its unnaturally wide mouth.

Eventually I crawl back in bed again, the creature still watching me, a hillock of monochrome vigilance.

I haven't needed a nightlight in a long time.