Jack didn’t think Mom would come, but he called her anyway.
“Mom?” A pause, then louder, “MOM?”
A loud sigh, a shuffling of steps, then his mother was opening the door to his room. Her voice was a sharp hiss. “What. Is. It. Now?”
“There’s…under my…” Jack faltered, not really wanting to say it.
“Dammit, Jack. NOTHING is under the BED,” his mother seethed in a fierce whisper. “No. Now…go to SLEEP.”
The door was shut quietly but firmly, then Jack was alone again.
Sitting up in the glow of the night light. He waited.
There was a rustle, then a ghostly arm reached out from under the bed. It pulled a body…shrunken, withered, wasted away, out into the open. Jack stared. It was pale like moonlight, like what Jack imagined a ghost would be like. It pulled itself free and then turned, pulling itself onto the foot of the bed. It sat there across from Jack, legs folded underneath indian-style. it stared at Jack.
“Hel…hello.” Jack said.
Jack pursed his lips, then, “What are you?”
It smiled. “Nothing,” it hissed.
“Are…are you going to eat me?” Jack asked.
The creature smiled wider. It’s teeth glinted.
Jack swallowed. “Why?”
The creature’s smile widened more than any mouth could widen.
Jack said again. “You tell me why. What did I do?”
The creature’s voice was a growling whisper, like two stones being rubbed together, “Nothing.”
Jack slouched. A tear started to roll down his cheek. “But…but…”
The wraith reached out, sharp nails drawing blood on the the boy’s cheek.. Covering Jack’s mouth, it tilted the boy’s face up to meet it’s cold eyes. Inside its eyes was…nothing.
Jack was pretty sure he didn’t want to be eaten. . Staring into the mouth of the thing was like staring into one of those black hole things he’d seen on the Internet. Jack didn’t like where this was headed, so he did what any little boy would do. He grabbed the Nothing’s arm and bit its hand.
There was a lot of thrashing. The Nothing tasted, Jack thought, like cold jello and dust, but he didn’t mind. There was something about it that made him feel warm inside. Like…he was waking up. Like he was supposed to eat the Nothing. He continued to bite and lick and suck and chomp, all the while the Nothing’s thrashing becoming weaker and weaker. Finally, only the head was left, held in young Jack’s hands.
His mother’s voice called out from her room, “Jack…what are you doing in there?”
Jack smiled, and the smile was not so different from that of the creature. “Nothing, ” Jack called back.
And then he finished his snack.