It could finally enter.
It had invaded the boy’s dreams for weeks now. On and off, small touches, whispers and promises slipped into his growing mind.
The entity could make the pain in his legs stop. It could bring Daddy back home. It could give them all the money they’d ever need to be happy.
All he’d have to do is let it inside.
Once inside him, once the entity had joined his body and mind, they would be strong. They would have everything they wanted.
Or at least that’s what it told the young gullible boy. As it had so many other children, for centuries.
And now, it hovered outside the boy’s bedroom window as light dimmed, the last rays of sunlight showing it had been left open a crack.
The entity’s mouths twisted with glee, the flesh around them rippling like seaweed-fouled shores.
It poured its mass through the gap, puddling down onto the bedroom floor in a viscous black pile. Crab-like limbs shot out from the sides, hoisting the pile up, rolling and stretching until the body resembled some enormous crustacean. The limbs clicked and dragged across the floor, past a little wooden dresser with colorful stickers all over it. Toward the bed.
The entity grew three more eyes on its front. Yes…the boy lay in the bed. It could see his outline atop the mattress, covered by a warm green blanket. Quiet. Peaceful.
One of its mouths gnashed dozens of fangs together. Click, drag, click, drag, went its body.
Wait. One of the eyes spotted movement on the bed. It froze on the floor, crooked limbs paused in midair.
Oh. A teddy bear. There, lying on its side near the bed’s edge. It must have rolled over.
The entity put a limb down ahead of it, spawning two oil-slick claws at the end. Just a few more steps.
The front eye caught movement again. Definitely this time. The teddy bear now sat up facing it.
It knew everything young children could keep, living and not…and it knew those don’t move.
Something tumbled into view off the boy’s hip. Its eye swiveled. A spindly toy shaped like a man, with wooden rods for limbs. It had flopped over on itself, limbs a crooked jumble.
Then it straightened. Swiftly, with wood clicking on wood, the little body righted itself to stand up like a miniature soldier.
With one limb pointed at the entity.
It glanced back. The teddy bear had raised one of its flat-fronted paws toward it as well. And it saw a third item, some sort of overstuffed plush animal bigger than the bear, all bright reds and floppy fabric, shuffling around the sleeping boy’s head.
The entity saw the sharp glint of a blade within the folds of one limb.
But these things don’t move—
Then they leapt off the bed.
The entity blinked, confusion rippling through it as the trio of moving toys came down upon it.
The wooden man slashed its flesh with a screw’s point. The bear pummeled its eyes with hand-stitched paws. The floppy plush stabbed holes with its little razor-blade.
“Oww!” It hissed. “Get off!”
Other toys rolled over, bonking against the entity, crowding and pushing and kicking.
“Stop pulling that!”
“For the dreamer!” something shouted back.
“Defend the dreams!” squeaked another.
“Uff, my teeth! I need those teeth!”
The moving toys shoved the entity backward, swarming around it so it couldn’t see the boy anymore. Nor the bed, or even the floor. Just faux fur, glossy rubber, and pieces of itself lying strewn about the floor.
Then they drove it into a box. Shoving it en masse, they pushed it into a small, cramped box with no light inside. It felt the walls squeezing its body all around.
A lid shut. Darkness plunged over all the entity’s eyes.
For a second it paused. Was it over? All was silent. It could barely move in the box, and couldn’t see anything. Trapped. Trapped! How embarrassing!
It could never breathe a word of this. The other entities at the union swamp-house would never let it live the embarrassment down.
Okay, it reassured itself. Just get the lid open. It shouldn’t take too long, and then it could esca—
“Hello hello…” whispered a singsong voice in the darkness.
“What?!” it uttered in shock. “Who’s there?”
“Master Edward can’t hear you in here. It’s just you and old Jack now…and I’ve waited so long for a playmate…”
The toys stood around the box in a great circle. They watched it shudder, and they congratulated one another, knowing what tortures awaited the entity inside.
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