“If you don’t do your homework, the bogeyman will come.” Anna’s homework lay undone on her desk, math book open but unread, pencil laying unsharpened on an unfilled ditto. Anna lay in her bed.
From the hallway came a thump-draaaag, thump-draaaag, until it was outside the bedroom. Something metallic scratched along the window, caught on the sill, and yanked free. Air moved in the room, stirred by a deep inhalation, and tainted with the smell of rotted meat on the too-long exhalation.
The closet opened, and a scarecrow-thin figure ducked out. Standing, its floppy hat brushed the ceiling. Anna’s bed had been recently moved across the room from the closet, and one slow, limping step took it halfway across the room toward Anna’s bed, dragging rusty-nail fingers over the new rug behind it.
Another deep breath before its next step, and then it was upside down, tangled in the new rug. Anna flipped on the lights and hopped out of bed. The tangle shook, struggled, but couldn’t escape.
Peering under the hat, she said, “You don’t like that, do you?” Malevolent red eyes glared back at her. “Well, let’s discuss the terms of your release.”