As far as magical teddy bears went, Terrence looked fairly amazing. He was small (although if you asked him, he would say he was just right), filled with the best, 100% cotton stuffing, and was even lucky enough to be double-stitched for durability. Terrence had chocolate brown fur and a tan belly that was soft to the touch, perfect for cuddling. He even had sky blue eyes that Liam said looked like jewels.
Terrence had a number of jobs. He was supposed to keep Liam company when the boy was sick; be there for cuddles when the boy felt sad or needed some reassurance; yet, most importantly, Terrence was supposed to protect Liam from nightmares when he slept. Unfortunately, even though this was his duty, he was very bad at it. You see, Terrence was afraid of goblins, and it was the goblins who snuck into children's rooms at night to spread nightmares.
The goblins came from the land of UnderBed and brought a nasty magical dust with them that smelled of dirty feet. It was the dust that caused the bad dreams. Terrence knew this, but every time they came, he would hide under the covers until they finished their horrible work.
Terrence hated that he couldn't stand up to the goblins. He bet that other magical teddy bears didn't have the same problem and their protected children could sleep in peace. Terrence would give anything to have the courage necessary to stand up and fight the goblins.
It was getting dark and as such, it was almost time to go to work. Liam ran into the bedroom and jumped into the covers. His mother walked in after him, smiling. Terrence watched from his perch on the dresser. He'd smile if he could, but the rules stated he couldn't move until the boy slept. Rules were rules.
"Mom, can you tell me a story?" Liam asked.
Liam's mother ruffled the boy's hair and sat next to him on the edge of the bed. Terrence hoped she would tell a story. Liam's mom told the best stories. Yet, it seemed that tonight wouldn't be one of those nights.
"Sorry, not tonight kiddo. It's a school night, and it's already late," she said.
"Don't aw mom, me, buster. If you're good, I'll tell you one tomorrow," she said.
"Cross my heart, and hope to die."
She tucked the boy in and turned on the night-light that sat on his dresser. Before she left, she grabbed Terrence and placed him next to Liam's chest.
"Here you go, Terrence will watch over you," she said.
"Sleep tight," she said.
"I love you too."
Before she left, Liam's mother flipped off the big light. The night-light cast a dull blue glow across the ceiling in a pattern of planets and stars. Terrence wished the light was brighter but was happy enough to have what he did. He'd heard stories of some children who slept in total darkness. The thought sent a shiver up his back.
It didn't take long before Liam's breathing fell into a rhythm that told Terrence he could move. He didn't want to move, he enjoyed cuddling up to Liam, but Terrence had a job to do. Terrence hopped off the bed and made the rounds. He marched to the closet ensuring it was closed and secure. Then he marched to the drawers on the dressers—also closed and secure. He got on his hands and knees and ensured any dust bunnies stayed corralled under the dresser; dust bunnies had a tendency to go nuts when exposed to the open. Last time it happened, Liam's mother grounded him until his room was spotless. If she only knew the truth.
Everything was in order, except the bed. Terrence hadn't checked the bed yet. He'd put it off until last. If he got it done quickly, he could hop back up next to Liam. Terrence took a deep breath and marched toward the bed. All he had to do was check underneath it and make sure there weren't any goblins hiding there.
He reached out to move the sheets away and noticed his paw was shaking. Terrence willed it to stop, but his body didn't listen. Terrence was about to move the sheets when something popped from the other side of the room stopping Terrence in his tracks. He turned to see what made the noise, but couldn't find anything. Then it dawned on him, the closet door was open.
It was possibly a boogeyman, but it wasn't the season. Goblins usually came from UnderBed, not ClosetVille. Terrence wasn't sure what it could be.
"He-hello?" he whispered.
Nothing answered him.
"Is there anybody there?"
Again nothing. Terrence decided he needed to shut the door. Then whatever it was wouldn't be able to come in. That was the rule, and rules were rules.
Terrence ran toward the door, but just before he could make it, the closet opened even wider. He stopped and dove for cover behind the hamper. For what seemed like hours, Terrence watched from his hiding spot. He was about to try and close the door again when a small pale hand with long fingers and claws reached out and felt across the floor. Terrence watched in terror as the hand made its search. After a few, agonizing seconds, it grabbed one of Liam's socks next to the hamper and started to pull it back into the dark.
"Oh no, you don't!" Terrence said and pounced on the sock. He clutched the other end and pulled. Terrence was in a tug-of-war and losing.
"Mine!" cried the thief.
Terrence planted his feet and pulled with all his might. He dragged the sock back from the closet, pulling the thief out as well. The thief rolled out and on top of Terrence. For a moment, they lay there on the floor staring at one another.
Then, at the same time, they both screamed. Terrence flung the thief away and hopped to his feet. The thief rolled to the dresser and hit his head. Terrence searched frantically, looking for anything he could use as a weapon, but before he could find anything, the thief stood.
The thief was small, smaller than Terrence. He had long gangly arms that reached the floor. Big, bugged-out eyes sat on a dirty face covered in a swath of brown fur that almost looked like a beard, but covered too much skin. A small pug nose twitched in rhythm with the thief's breathing. The thief wore dirty, blue coveralls and had pieces of cardboard strapped to oversized feet.
Between both Terrence and the thief sat the sock. The thief took a lumbering step toward the article of clothing, his hairy knuckles dragged across the carpet. Terrence matched the step. They both stopped and looked at one another.
"Mine?" the thief asked.
"No," Terrence answered.
"Please?" the thief asked.
"No," Terrence said, this time with more force.
Terrence put the sock back in the hamper. The thief kept his eyes locked on the prize the entire time. Terrence had no idea who or what this creature was, but he wasn't about to let the thing take off with one of Liam's socks.
"Who are you?" Terrence asked.
"Milton," the thief said, still staring at the sock.
Milton took a couple slow steps to the side. Terrence matched each movement.
"Why do you want to take the sock, Milton?"
"I have to take the socks for them," Milton said.
Terrence's heart skipped a beat. The Gobblenaughts were bad news. They were the UnderBed's toughest goblin clan. Rumor had it they would ride into bedrooms and battle astride their giant, wild turkeys.
"Wh-why do the Gobblenaughts want socks?" Terrence asked.
Milton took another step to the side, which Terrence mirrored. Milton growled in frustration.
"So they can cast their nightmare dust and not be affected," Milton said.
"Why would they-" Terrence started to say, but stopped when a bold green glow lit up the bedroom.
The glow came from under the bed. It meant only one thing. The goblins were coming.