The forest trees hid the sunlight, their bowers heavy with dark green leaves, trunks carpeted in thickened moss. They silenced the forest sounds — there was no bird song, no insect call. No footfalls. A wolf stalked James through the forest and he couldn’t hear it. Only it wasn’t a wolf but a gnarled-toothed werewolf, sharp toothed and vicious.
But that was a bedtime story; James was safe at home, tucked tight under his blankets, warm up to his shoulders, secure in bedtime comfort. After his mother finished the story she kissed his cheek and tussled his hair, turned off the bedside lamp and closed the door behind her. Left in darkness James felt no fear. He enjoyed horror stories, and the best was yet to come.
The small ones came out first, all beard and mouth and teeth; bouncing from under the bed they jumped up to his feet and waited. The Cupboard Monster was the show-master, the speaker. It was calmness and stateliness. It’s fur luminesced and its voice was sliding gravel.
It said, “And now we begin.” The story was about the boy Abel; he and his family were chased from their home and hunted — not by werewolves, but by other men. They killed Abel’s mother in front of him. There was guns and violence, anger and hatred. His father stowed him away on a boat. Abel never saw his homeland or his father again. There was bravery, love and loss.
This story wasn’t as good as the previous night’s, where 800 000 people had been slaughtered in only 100 days. But it had been entertaining and thrilling, and that was all James asked for in his bedtime tales.