I was jolted out of sleep when my 5-year-old son, Kevin, jumped on top of me. I let out a little yelp both from the shock of the impact and from being ripped out of a deep sleep. A little disoriented, it took me a few moments to figure out what was going on. Now jumping up and down on the bed, Kevin yelled, “Fuzzy came again! Fuzzy came again!”
I sighed, rubbed my eyes, and checked the clock. It wasn’t even 6 o’clock in the morning yet. Kevin continued to jump ecstatically around the bed. By now, my husband was awake and very cranky. He looked over to the clock, and, seeing the time, released a frustrated moan.
“Jesus, kid, can’t you wait until at least 6?” he murmured sleepily. He too had been sleeping soundly.
“Fuzzy came again! I told you he would!” Kevin was too excited to care what time it was. It could have been one in the morning for all he cared. “He’s back! He’s back!”
“Fuzzy” as he called him, was what we assumed was Kevin’s imaginary friend. He described him as a fuzzy, colorful creature that arrives in magical mist through his window every night, and they play together. Kevin claimed that he could change colors and even shape, but he was always fuzzy. My husband and I both dismissed this as an imaginary friend phase, as we lived in a somewhat rural area outside of a minor city, and there was no one around to play with. Every morning, he would tell us what he did with Fuzzy last night. His stories would include making puzzles, reading books, jumping around, and cuddling. The one thing that was weird, though, was the fact that Kevin had, at first, told us that ‘Fuzzy didn’t want us to know about his nightly visits’. A bit put off at first, I soon disregarded this as merely a child’s need to feel special because he had a secret.
Sometimes I felt the need to check on Kevin at night, just to make sure everything was alright. The main reason I didn’t was because Kevin was a very light sleeper, in contrast to me and my husband who were very heavy sleepers, and I didn’t want to run the risk of waking him up.
Kevin had stopped talking about Fuzzy a couple months back, so we just assumed that he had grown out of it. I didn’t see anything wrong with Kevin bringing Fuzzy back. I was happy as long as he was happy. I was a house wife; my husband worked in the city and was gone pretty much all day, so I cared for Kevin as he wasn’t in school yet. It did get rather annoying after a while, constantly being bombarded with stories of Fuzzy all day. I smiled at Kevin’s enthusiasm, but deep down I felt a sense of dread welling up at the idea of Fuzzy returning.
I got up out of bed and left the room, leaving my husband to deal with Kevin, and went downstairs. While making breakfast, I decided to check the newspaper. A car crashed on the interstate, and no body was found. A rich lady donated some money to the state for park improvements or something, claiming that their current state was “simply unacceptable.” There was a short editorial on why kids are doing poorly in school, and parenting suggestions on the topic. An old man accused of pedophilia and using hallucinogenics and other drugs to lure children, arrested three months ago, was released from jail as there was not enough incriminating evidence. There was some sports stuff too, but I didn’t bother checking that as I was never really into sports.
Later that day, I was in Kevin’s room cleaning up. It smelled funny in his room; in fact, the last time I remembered it smelling this way was the last time Kevin was talking about Fuzzy. I thought about it for a moment, but decided to just dismiss it as just fermented body odor from him jumping around on his bed with his imaginary friend. I decided to open the window, as it was giving me a headache. Looking out, I saw Kevin out in the yard playing with some of his toys. It had rained last night, and the ground was soft and muddy, so I made sure to warn him not to go near the mud. I lowered my head to withdraw back into the room, but noticed something on the ground beneath the window.
Two holes, about a foot or so apart. They weren’t that big, so I wasn’t too concerned; it just bugged me, as I couldn’t think of anything that might have made them. I looked up to ask Kevin if he knew what they were; he might have made them. He had moved somewhere else though, and I didn’t feel like chasing him down to ask about something so menial.
The next day, I was wiping down a window in the dining room, which lied directly below Kevin’s room. The two holes caught my eye again; however, this time they were even bigger than before. At dinner, I decided to ask Kevin if he had been digging in the backyard. He said no, so I figured it must have been animals or something.
That evening, something else occurred to me. I found Kevin in the living room.
“Hey, Kevin,” I asked. “why does Fuzzy only come at night? You seem bored lately, and you never play with him during daytime.”
He simply shrugged. “I don’t know,” he replied. “He just doesn’t.”
This was when things started to feel a bit off. It had never occurred to me before that Kevin didn’t play with Fuzzy during the daytime. It was probably just his way of keeping Fuzzy in a more realistic light. If he brought Fuzzy out to show him to us, he would see that we clearly didn’t believe in the fluffy piece of air next to him.
Yeah. That’s it. That’s why.
Nothing much happened for the next week or so. My husband and I went to bed at 10 o’clock sharp, as usual. We let Kevin stay up later if he wanted to, so he could play with his imaginary friend. We didn’t mind the noise he made; in fact, if we were asleep, we didn’t hear it at all. Hell, a train couldn’t wake us up once we hit deep sleep. Every night Kenny would say something different about Fuzzy. One night, he apparently brought a cookie (which I strongly suspect he stole from the cookie jar), and another night they ‘flew through the clouds’ on Fuzzy’s back. We were happy that our child’s imagination was healthy. But that feeling… that feeling that something was slightly off never went away.
The next week, I had to start putting Kevin to bed at the same time we went to bed, and, later on, earlier than us. School was coming up soon, and I wanted him to be on a normal biorhythm so that he could wake up early. But of course, this disrupted his ‘Fuzzy Schedule,’ and he would not go to bed without a fight. As days passed, it was becoming visibly obvious that he was not going to sleep when he was supposed to, and instead probably getting up after we fell asleep. Dark circles under his eyes formed. He was whinier than ever, and almost impossible to deal with, leaving me utterly exhausted every day. Needless to say, I had no trouble falling asleep that week.
I was getting sick of my authority being undermined. I decided to stay up late one night in order to catch him in the act. I went to bed as normal, got up and moved to a chair, and after about a 30 minute period of sitting there, I began to dose off. I decided I would need some help in this stake-out; I crept downstairs to make a quick batch of coffee.
The feeling that something was wrong never alleviated itself. It felt like my mother’s instinct was going off, but I didn’t know why. I stood in the kitchen, sipping my coffee, for what seemed to be ages. Frequently glancing at the clock didn’t help. I spent most of the time reading the newspaper, and every time I began to dose off, I got more coffee.
Accustomed to utter silence, I jumped a little when I heard a little ‘thump’ coming from upstairs. The clock read half past twelve. I had no idea Kevin had the capacity to wait for more than 3 hours just for a stupid imaginary friend. I quietly set my stuff down on the kitchen table and tip-toed to the stairs. I made sure to avoid the creaky steps as I slowly ascended into the darkness of the second floor.
Just as I reached the top step, I heard Kevin’s voice from down the hallway.
It was now blindingly obvious that Kevin was awake. I heard another thump from Kevin’s room as I slowly made my way down the hallway. I thought about calling out his name and scolding him right then, but decided against it as it would only serve to alert him to my presence and allow him to retreat under the covers and pretend he was asleep.
The feeling that something was wrong grew from minor to almost unbearable. A soft hissing noise coming from his room was now within earshot. I reached the door. Gulping, I silently gripped the handle, turned it, and pushed inward. As I was opening the door, Kevin’s bedroom window came into view. It was wide open, and in it, a ladder. I flung the door wide open, and nearly fainted.
There, in the middle of the room, was an incredibly hairy, naked old man, wearing a gas mask.
He was feeding hallucinogenic gas up Kevin’s nose.