Okay, so I was a pretty sensitive child and got scared easily, so when my school librarian decided to read a couple scary stories to my elementary class during library time, it wasn’t going to end well.
The two stories that traumatized me beyond belief were “The Ankle Grabber,” and “The Flat Man,” both by Rose Impey. They are two books in a series called “Creepies” and boy are they ever. The following stories are actually supposed to make children feel better about monsters (because the children in the stories are always just imagining them and the monsters are always defeated in the end) but they had the opposite effect on me.
The Ankle Grabber was about a young child who was convinced that there was a monster under her bed. This monster was the Ankle Grabber, and he lived in a swamp that existed under the bed. If you ever looked, he could camoflague it to look like ground, but when you weren’t looking it was a horrid sticky mess of a place. The Ankle Grabber lived for one thing: to pull you under the bed and into his swamp. He’d do this by, obviously, grabbing your ankles with his long, bony fingers and pulling you under. His hands were so strong that once he got a hold of you, there was no hope.
The only good thing was that he was stuck there. He could reach up the side of you bed, but if you stayed in the middle, or pressed up against the wall (if your bed was against a wall as mine was) he couldn’t reach you. However, the Ankle Grabber was sneaky. In order to lure you closer so he could reach you, he would drag some of your toys or socks closer to the bed, so when you would go to get them – BAM! – you’d be his. This explains why missing socks are always found underneath the bed…
I didn’t take this well.
Every night for years (I did it right up into my teens) I would take a running leap into my bed, so my feet would never be susceptible to the Ankle Grabber‘s long fingers. Whenever I wanted to get into my mom’s bed – same thing. A huge running leap, and then landing with a crash onto the bed. The only bed in the house that was safe was my brother’s. At the time, he had a wooden bed with drawers for storage underneath. He had no space under his bed, and therefore, had no Ankle Grabber Swamp. How I envied him. Even to this day, I feel uncomfortable with my feet resting beside my bed.
The other story, “The Flat Man” Is about a young boy who likes to imagine that the sounds he hears in the night are a monster called the Flat Man. The tapping at the window? You think it’s tree branches, but no. It’s the Flat Man tapping, trying to get in. The chugging of a train far off? Nope. It’s the Flat Man squeezing himself through the cracks, whispering, “You can’t keep me out…” He can even get under the covers! The Flat Man is a creepy character who sneaks his way into your room and then…well I’m not sure. I suppose he “gets you”. Whatever that means. Anyway, you can defeat him by shining a light at him, and he crumples up like a ball of paper and blows away in the breeze.
He’s not quite as scary at the Ankle Grabber, but that’s when I started sleeping with a nightlight. And a flashlight. Also extra batteries in case my flashlight died.
Now you’ll excuse me as I curl up in a corner and cry.