The whispers under his bed had been there his whole life, the words just beyond comprehension. He didn’t remember ever telling his parents. The sibilant sound was as natural to him as his own heartbeat.
He had always assumed everyone had whispering going on underneath their beds. It wasn’t until he was older that he realized it. He’d been on near-weekly sleepovers with his best buds, but he’d had so much fun and excitement each time that he’d never noticed the absence of sound when he slept.
But, when he was nearing the start of high school, he’d had one last weekend sleepover with his best friend in the whole world. The first night was the same as every other time he’d spent the night; the two friends had even more friends over to play an all-night marathon of video games and then they had all either fallen asleep or been picked up by over-anxious parents. The second night, though, it had just been the two best friends.
It was the second night he’d noticed the absence of whispers. His friend had gone to sleep, still holding a game controller, and he had stayed up to finish the mission. After he turned off the console and television, he had climbed into the bottom bunk, like usual. But he couldn’t fall asleep. There was no whispering, no sounds to lull him into slumber.
He lay awake all night, tossing and turning, trying desperately to fall asleep, but the silence in the room made it impossible.
The next morning, when his friend awoke, the boy pushed the sleeplessness away and the two boys returned to playing games and having fun.
When his mother arrived to pick him up, she commented on his blank expression and dark circles. But he waved it away as late night gaming.
The boy, upon returning home, wanted nothing more than to sleep the day away, to catch up on the missed night’s rest. But his mother had a surprise for him. His parents were redecorating his room, to make it suitable for a high school boy, she said.
He raced to his bedroom, but his bed was nowhere to be seen. Instead, plastic covered the window, the floor, and even the door. He turned anxious eyes to his mother and begged for his bed. But she explained to him that his bed had been taken off in preparation for the delivery of a new, bigger bed, but he could take a nap in her room, if he liked.
The boy raced to his parents’ room, hoping that, in his own house, things would be normal again. But there was no whispering. Not even after he’d been covered in the down comforter for over an hour. He, again, couldn’t sleep.
His mother and father, excited to see his reaction to his new, finished room, were surprised to find him still awake. They decided it must have been from his own excitement.
They escorted him down the short hall, threw open the door to his room, and watched his face for the pleasure they wanted to see.
Relieved to see a bed in his room, even if it wasn’t his old, comfortable bed, the boy sobbed and climbed wearily into his new bed. His parents, concerned he might be sick, left him to sleep.
Silently, the boy waited for the whispers. When they finally drifted to him, the voices were deeper, more menacing than they had been before. Frightened, the boy cowered under his blanket, wishing for the familiar, comforting sounds of his youth. But the new whispers grew louder, more distinct. They promised pain, anguish, and tortures unimaginable.
The boy didn’t sleep again.