's 2015 Horror Write-off:

" Sleep Tight "

Submitted by Sue Donym

Why exactly do we feel so safe in our beds? Think about this logically for a minute. There is scarcely a place less safe than a bed. A person in a bed is completely and utterly vulnerable. In the presence of a threat they would find it difficult to run or even defend themselves due to being tangled up in the sheets. In addition the sheets themselves offer no real protection against sharp claws, wicked teeth, or really anything beyond a light poking that could harm a human body. In short, beds are extreme health hazards that everyone seems to willingly partake in. Really, we all ought to sleep standing up with one eye open in the front yard, pistol at the ready, if safety is what we’re after. So why beds? There are numerous theories concerning this question, one prominent one being that a warm bed recalls a person’s time in the womb (one of the few places less safe than a bed if you ask me, but I digress). I suppose there could be some truth to this theory, after all one’s mother does seem like an ultimate protector at a young age, so perhaps we seek to combat the terrors of the night by simply entrusting a higher power to deal with them for us. Of course this analogy breaks down when one considers that beds, unlike mothers, cannot actively protect us. But then, no one said our trust in beds is rational. The sad truth is, your trusty old box frame cannot do jack squat against towering werewolves, monstrously oversized arachnids, or whatever else your mind might invent to populate the darkness.

            Speaking of terrors of the night, have you noticed lately scratching at the windowpanes, scrabbling footsteps on the roof, glowing white eyes the size of tennis balls that flicker instantly from positions dozens of feet apart? These are not raccoons. Have there been low guttural growls seemingly emanating from inside the walls that shift position as the night progresses? They really are coming from inside the walls. Do you feel the presence of malevolent entities pressing in on you like gelatin smoke? That is exactly what they are doing, and good luck trying to describe it any other way. Do you smell the sharp, heavy stench of putrefaction wafting in through your air vents? That is precisely what it is, but the source is not dead. These and other sundry horrors may lie in wait the very second your light switch goes off, but you’re safe, somehow, in your bed. Right? That stalwart feeling of safety, despite a litany of common sense retorts threatening to tear it to pieces, stands tall in your mind, does it not? Like a titanium monolith, unassailable.

Now comes the part you really won’t like to hear. Have you faintly detected a slow, steady breathing, barely registering as you lay in your soft, comfortable bed, trying to drift off to sleep? Yes, you have, don’t try to deny it. Does the breathing cut deep into your drowsy brain, giving the unshakable feeling that something is, for lack of a better term, not right? Despite an almost unnatural cocoon of comfort and ease? These symptoms are normal; you are perfectly healthy, both mentally and physically. I hate to tell you this, but the breathing is real, it is not coming from you or your spouse or any other familiar housemate, and it is not coming from outside. It is coming from your bedroom. It is coming, in fact, from your bed. Have you woken up some mornings with a thin sheen of slime covering your hair, and simply resolved to use more shampoo? This, too, originates from your bed. The fact is, and I really do hate to be the one to reveal this to you, that your bed is a living organism.

            Didn’t you find it a tad suspicious when Flesh Beds™ went on sale all over the world? “President’s Day BLOWOUT sale on FLESH BEDS™!!! They’re SLIMY, they PULSATE, they’re the COMFIEST sleep you’ll EVER get, and they’re going FAST! We’re practically GIVING these things away! Wait, we ARE giving these things away! Get on down to Moe’s Mattress Outlet before they’re GOOONE!!!” When you saw that corny commercial and felt instantly compelled to throw out your perfectly good mattress and sheets and go buy yourself one of those Flesh Beds™, did it not at any point strike you that the entire concept of a Flesh Bed™ might be a little, to put it bluntly, gross? Well, you didn’t, and neither did anyone else on the planet evidently, because soon enough there was a Flesh Bed™ in nearly every household. No one questioned it.


People threw out their Sertas™ and Sleep Numbers™ en masse, overcrowding landfills and even giving rise to “mattress cities” where homeless folk carved out dwellings from these lumps of non-living fiber. Actually, a good number of them were recently homeless and seemed mentally unhinged, babbling about “mind control” and “monster beds” straight out of A Nightmare on Elm Street. A small portion of the population, from all walks of life, simply didn’t buy it. They must have thought their only recourse was to get away from everyone else and their Flesh Beds™. They probably thought everyone else was crazy. Surely you must remember all that. You live not 3 blocks from one of the largest mattress cities. Your own ex-mattress is in it – 3 layers back, 7 layers up, a chunk of it carved out as a makeshift entranceway to modest one-room dwelling. I know this because I once lived there, before I learned the truth. Not a moment too soon. I thank my lucky stars I realized what I did in time. Incidentally, this also answers the question you may have about why I have chosen to leave you this message out of all the people in the world. For some unfathomable reason you decided to write down your phone number on, of all places, the tag of your old mattress. Perhaps you once cherished it. In hindsight it seems a bit poetic. Come to think of it, I do hope you still use the number. But I digress once more, this isn’t about you or me; allow me to get back on track.

            In any case, having a Flesh Bed™ became as much a part of the status quo as having a lawnmower or a toaster. This was by my estimation roughly 4 months ago, but the advent of those insipid, cheeseball commercials scrambled everyone’s perception of time for, well, a while, it’s impossible to say exactly how long. It might have varied from person to person. Heck, it might, for all I know, still be happening. A side effect, most likely. Everyone seems to be going about their day-to-day activities just fine either way. It’s the night-to-night activities that changed. I will come to that shortly. Here’s something else probably worth mentioning: it is admittedly strange that Flesh Bed™ commercials aired, and continue to air, on every station, continuously on a loop. Flesh Bed™ ads have additionally taken over a large portion of billboards, flyers, and even those quaint banners attached to little single-occupancy planes. They shimmer, and seem to always face you from the same angle regardless of where you look at them from. I see more every day, and I surmise that this will continue until every living person acquires a Flesh Bed™, which shouldn’t be much longer. The last holdouts will make the switch, or the choice will be made for them, as it were. Whichever comes first. Stranger still than the omnipresent advertisements is that not a single person questions the fact that every Flesh Bed™, regardless of retailer, is absolutely no-strings-attached free.

            Yes, everything I say is unfortunately true. You and most of the rest of Earth’s population have been sleeping on living, breathing, eating, waste-producing creatures. (Don’t worry about the waste – it all comes out as odorless gas. Oddly enough, it actually counteracts the atmospheric effects of CO2.) You’ve probably heard the old chestnut about how a mattress can double in weight due to the accumulation of dead skin cells, insect carcasses, and various other unsavory materials. Well, this is how a Flesh Bed™ eats. It envelops another organism in a thin membrane, what I suppose you could call a “sheet,” and absorbs bits of detritus as the organism sleeps. Have you been having unusually wonderful dreams lately, dreams that make you feel safe and loved, dreams that make you downright disappointed upon waking up? This, too, is the Flesh Bed™’s doing. It secretes a chemical through the lump of fatty tissue that you could call a “pillow,” causing you to experience delightful dreams and remain complacent. At your most vulnerable you are quite literally in the grip of another creature, completely at its mercy. If it so chose, a Flesh Bed™ could wrap its “sheet” membrane tight enough to squeeze out every molecule of air from your lungs. It could secrete a highly corrosive acid through the “pillow” and by the time you woke up you would be laying in a puddle made of your own skull. It could simply engulf you inside its rectangular body, and I assure you, you will not find any down feathers inside. And you can forget about fornicating in private! At least the Flesh Beds™ provide plenty of lube.

            Now, given all of this information, what I am about to tell you may seem surprising. I urge you to keep your Flesh Bed™. In your Flesh Bed™, unlike a conventional bed, you are truly safe. This is the real McCoy in terms of protection, what an ecologist might call a +/+ interaction. The Flesh Bed™ gets a meal, and you get peace of mind. It’s sort of like life insurance, except it actually works. As for the people who didn’t make it to their local mattress retailer in time, well, it’s best not to think about them. Remember those “mattress cities” I mentioned? They’re empty now. Empty of people anyway. Not deserted. Let’s just say “+/-” and leave it at that. But you shouldn’t trouble your mind with such thoughts. Focus on the positive. You have a nice, warm, comfy Flesh Bed™ and when you’re snuggled up under that glistening veiny duvet you have nothing to worry about. Those growls coming from the walls are sounding more rapacious every night, aren’t they? That gelatin smoke (I’ll be damned if I can think of another way to accurately encompass that wretched feeling) is getting tighter, heavier, thicker, smokier, more gelatinous, isn’t it? And you know deep down that those flickering lights, always in pairs, aren’t fireflies; it’s February for Pete’s sake.

Perhaps you’ve started hearing whispering voices, at once whimsical and sinister, divulging horrible secrets from within your own head. In that case you ought to use the Flesh Bed™’s complementary earplugs, and maybe the sleep mask for good measure. Never mind what they’re made of. Go ahead, curl up tight. Spread this message to everyone you love and care about. Do that, ideally, before you go to sleep tonight. The Flesh Bed™’s hypnotic effects may not last forever; they never seemed to work on me. I sleep in one anyway. Once you’ve done that, hop into bed for a good night’s sleep. You’ve earned it, bucko. Pull the covers over your head if it makes you feel better. In fact, I recommend it. Because at the end of the day (literally), as unpleasant as the Flesh Beds™ may be, what they’re protecting us from is far, far worse.          Sweet dreams.