Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sleep Tight

Last week, the kids got sick. Then they gave it to me and I got sick, too.

Now, this really never happens. I never get sick. I am immune to everything! But this thing the kids found and dragged home last week, it even took me down. Our fevers climbed so high that music turned architectural and our iphones looked like blurs.

What else could I do? I tucked the kids into bed and I pulled up a chair and told them stories.

I told them stories I’d written (and some that I’d stolen) and I described worlds I’d made (and some I’d visited), and I gave them the sorts of warnings that good parents give their children at one time or another growing up.

One of the things was a story and a world and a warning all in one.

This is how it went:

You know those noises you hear inside the walls at night?

The rustling?

The squishing?

The tapping?

The sound that you convince yourself is just the house settling or the windows cooling or the pipes creaking or me closing a door downstairs?

Those noises are none of those things and it’s long past time you knew it. Those noises are the things in the walls and they’re their walls and they’re there.

Why, say I took a drywall cutter – right here, right now – and I cut a hole in the wall right here by your pillow. Here, up next to your head. And say I popped out a small square of drywall and say we looked into the wall together.

There! We’d see them.

The things in the walls. The things in all the walls: Your walls. My walls. Aunt Pepe’s walls.

Even Huma Abedin’s walls! (Can you imagine that?)

We’d see their little reticulated tentacles curled out, all around the edge of the hole I cut. Little talons on the ends. Little hairs! And we couldn’t even tell how many of them there were there because they’d all blend together in this jumble of tentacles and of webs.

Ah, kids, your walls are full of them!

The things in the walls, they don’t have a name, or no name that we can understand. But the things in the walls are always going to be there. Long after I’m gone. Long after you’re gone, too.

Get used to them.

Because you see, you and I live in a world that’s linear. Where events started happening in the past and are going forward now, into the future, one after another and then another. First, there are a few people and then forward and there are more people and forward and there are tribes. And forward and the tribes plant crops and there are bigger weapons and better ships and way more people until finally, your mother and I have this townhouse built and here we are.

Well, the things in the walls, they’re linear, too, but the things in the walls come from the future. Coming backwards. Towards us.

So many years from now, the tentacly things, they discover the remains of this townhouse. In the mud. It is rotting.

They move in.

And backwards and the walls get sturdier. And backwards and the house unrots. The things with the tentacles call it home and the longer they stay, the better it looks!

And backwards, the generations go by and backwards they come until one day, the things in the walls hear a noise and they look out and here YOU are! Sitting in this very bed, right here.

In THEIR house, which THEY unrotted from the mud!

Their house is infested with people!

They see us as the invaders and of course, we see them as the invaders. And we call our exterminators out and they call their exterminators out but it doesn’t do any good. Because if they kill you today, then when they get to yesterday, there you are, back again. And if you kill them today, then when you move forward to tomorrow (which is where they’ve already been), there they are.

It’s a standoff!

Shhh! Did you hear them? Their tapping just now?

The things in the walls are everywhere and every day, you’re going hear them more and more, and we’re just going to have to get used to it.

There’s some good news, though, and the good news is, we’re just about done. People and tentacly things, I mean. We’re both at the end of our tiimelines. People don’t make it much further forwards. Tentacly things don’t make it much further backwards.

These fellows here who you’re hearing tonight? I bet they don’t even make it to see (from their perspective) where this house gets unbuilt and the blueprints erased.

There’s just this teeny tiny overlap period we’re living in, you see.

Whoa! That must have been a big one. Just then. Sliding by…

Alright now, kids. The end. I’m going to bed now.

You can call Dana if you need anything.

Sleep tight and don’t let the things in the walls bite.


  1. What a novel idea, confusing children to sleep. Just don't tell them about the shadow people you can't see. I mentioned them to my dog and she's slept under my bed ever since.

    1. Whenever I tell my stories, the really important part is to have a captive audience. Sick, bed-bound children do quite nicely.

      Or actual captives.


      I don't know what the problem with YOU people is. Presumably, you lost a bet or are were assigned community service by a court somewhere.

    2. Just lost my mind. Nothing more than that, really. The good news is there's been a sighting.
      I hopeful for its imininent return. Til then you can find me in any soup kitchen doing my due diligence.

    3. Good luck with that then. And don't try too awfully hard. Those things are overrated.

    4. Seventeen days of rain - Kids and dogs are sick... Sunshine this morning, wash most of the bedding. Then it rained on my laundry...

    5. I can only feel so sorry for you.

      Although Texas is usually dry as a bone (where the hell did THAT phrase come from, anyway?), this past spring we got something like 31 days consecutive days of rain. I had to go out and purchase an umbrella!

  2. I gave them the sorts of warnings that good parents give their children at one time or another growing up.

    So you are in your lonely dark room deep in the night when, suddenly, you hear a voice call out from a nearby wall, "Psst! Over here!" Innocently, you glance over, your freakishly long blue colored hair waving in the air and your ridiculously large girly eyes blinking dubiously at the dark corner. Gingerly stepping closer, you squint your eyes and tug self-consciously at your deliciously small schoolgirl skirt and uniform, and you see it is just some seemingly helpless clown sitting on the ground....

    Naively, you walk over and say, "What's wrong? Wow, you're sexy! Are you hurt?" when suddenly, the clown asplodes into a massive tentacle monster with nasty green tentacles drooling with slime and mucus. Terrified, you turn around and bolt down the corridor while somehow losing your skirt in the process. But the tentacles are too fast and they grab you around your long womanly legs, creamy smooth thighs, lithe voluptuous waist, and it tightens around your vulnerable and slender throat, then the monster begins to slowly drag you back despite your terrified moans and futile struggles. "AAAAAAA!!" You scream, "A freakish clown has grabbed me with slimy paralyzing tentacles! And the tentacles are slowly reaching up my unnecessarily short schoolgirl skirt and touching me in my naughty place! It's tickling me there! What can I do? What will this horrible monster do to me? I need an adult! I need an adult!"

    TL;DR -

    1. It's just a good thing that I didn't have my hands on that gif before I posted this week's blog post.

      I am going to make the journey into that sort of bizarro fiction eventually. It's only a matter of time...

    2. A Good Day for a Tentacle Party -

    3. If those things start partying in the walls, I'm going to blare a Drake album at them and then leave for the night. That'll teach 'em.

  3. As a guy without kids who doesn't want them any time soon, the first two paragraphs was horror story enough for me. "When you have kids, they get sick all the time, and then they get YOU sick, too. OooooOOOOoooOOOOoooo."

    Things in the wall I can deal with. Children? Not so much.

    1. Kids are walking germ factories.

      They have birthday parties with their friends in these big blowup jumpy things that are basically just big Petri dishes. Anyone over 13 who steps into one ends up sick for 2 weeks.

  4. The concept is good. The story well told. I hope that the children were appreciative.

    1. Thank you!

      I liked the concept, but my execution was a little off.

      Also, I realized halfway through writing it that it sort of had Benjamin Button/ The Doctor & River Song qualities.

      Except with, you know, tentacly things.

  5. Ah, children, germs, and creepy stories about the things in the walls. It makes me glad I'm in an old folks community now and don't have to deal with the slimy things much anymore (children).

    1. Old people love me for some reason.

      They see me, they immediately dsay to themselves, "Now THERE is someone I'm going to corner for 12 hours about how I lived on Guam in the fifties!"

  6. Replies
    1. Whoa! Thanks. I bet you would have gone crazy and included a plot, though.

    2. Could I steal the idea please? I'd write "based on an idea by my wonderful friend Katy Anders"

    3. Of course! I always just write these bits and never look back.

    4. Done. I'm trying to finish a kiddie story set in the green cheese mines on the moon right now

  7. AAAAAAHHHHHHH! Sorry, I was thinking about a child I saw coughing maniacally at the supermarket while her parent in a prescription-haze touched everything and put nothing in her basket. There should be hamster balls that you have to put sick children into, not the boy in the bubble thing to protect from germ, but to protect society from their germs.
    Your story is great, creepy and terrifying. Why do you want to traumatize them so?

    1. It toughens them up. My dad used to tell me awful things and I turned out great!

  8. "You can call Dana if you need anything." LOL! Nice.

    1. There's gotta be SOME advantages to being her ex.

  9. Normally, I have no trouble getting to sleep. But now . . .

    1. I wish I was better at writing scary shit.

      I'm working on it. Someday, I might be competent.

  10. Now I know what all those noises were. I am afraid as I get older and my hearing fades that I will miss them, The kept me company on cold nights and influenced my dreams when they could. Maybe they scare others, but they are really just misunderstood. I want them to stay.

    1. I can relate. I used to be afraid of what might be in the dark.

      Now I want to believe that there's something cool in there somewhere.

  11. Katy, this is so fantastic. The idea and the execution. You really should just drop this blogging business and go ahead and get to work on your great American horror/science fiction/magical realism novel now, okay? We won't even complain as long as we get signed copies.

    1. Thank you, Alex!

      Blogs are the perfect length for my short attention span. They're all first drafts, but I write very slowly. Typically three, four hours per post.

      This one I've had planned for a year. In a blog last year about how to talk to a girl in my Spanish class, I wrote this:

      "I spent the rest of the class period like this, with my head down, attempting to come up with my opening line to her. I finally came up with this: 'Do you want to hear a story I’ve been working on?' I would say that, and then I would tell her my story about the things that live in the walls. Your walls and my walls, too. The things with tentacles that live in all of the walls and watch us through the cracks.

      "It is a good story and it would probably not have been too weird for a girl who wore her sweatshirt like this girl wore her sweatshirt. But then class ended and something went wrong with my plan and I wound up forgetting my line and just saying hi."

      A year. I dropped a hint about this story a year ago!

    2. I'm with Al. This one needs to go in the book.

    3. Thanks, bj.

      I believe it might be official: The reactions to my fiction stuff are now better than to my personal blog posts.

      This is great. It's taken me YEARS to get to this point!

    4. See, there's even foreshadowing on epic timelines! For my part I think setting aside the next five years for putting together the first one hundred pages or so of your novel is a reasonable use of your time...

    5. It might happen. Or I could try and edit one of the three mostly-finished novels I have sitting on my computer already.


  12. This is quite good, even by your impossible standards. I found myself thinking back to a short passage in Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five" where Billy Pilgrim dreams that the buildings and people are reassembling, the bombs are coming back together and flying up from the ground to enter the bellies of bombers, which would then take them all back to the bomb factories where Rosie the Riveter types would disassemble them into harmless little pieces of metal to be safely buried deep within the earth so that no one would ever be harmed by them again.

    Except your story is way better. I think it's the tentacles. Vonnegut didn't know shit about tentacles, I'm guessing...

    Seriously, this one's a keeper. Gonna send the link to my daughter, the odd child who writes her own peculiar brand of creepy fiction, and who (I'm quite certain) is going to tell my two grandsons equally disturbing bedtime stories one of these days. You two should meet, actually...

    1. Thank you, squat! I am amazed by that.

      I used to write the personal diary type bits mostly to trick people into sticking around for my stories and political pieces. Now, it appears that people like my stories and political bits better than the real stuff.

      Which is great and surprising and gets me a little nervous.

    2. Honestly, I thought this was (perhaps) your best post that I've read. I hardly ever recommend a blog post to others, but... passed this link along.

      You should tell more ghost stories to the kids.


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