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Nightlights by Justin Jones

I understand why kids are afraid of the dark. They don’t know what imaginary monsters are hiding inside of their closets, or what invisible creatures lurk underneath their beds. Too young to differentiate fact from fiction, they seek parental guidance for help in vanquishing any unwanted monsters that are watching, waiting, and apparently, hungry for children. However, my situation is different. My parents have been acting strange to the point that I feel like I’m their parent now. Honestly, they’ve been acting like a bunch of babies!

For one thing, they’ve become deathly afraid of the dark. They’ve put nightlights in every room of our house. They’ve even asked me, their son, to check for monsters every night. I mean, seriously? Growing up, this wasn’t normal!

Ever since I turned sixteen though, this is the way things have been. Let’s just say, I’ve become fed up with their behavior. It’s an embarrassment to see them act the way they do whenever a light bulb or nightlight goes out. They freak out! Guess who has to be the one to change every single light that goes out? Yup! Me!

Tonight though, I’m unplugging their nightlights.


“Jeremy,” my mom called down the stairs. “Your father has an important meeting in the morning. Check for monsters now!”

“OK, Mom! I’m coming,” I replied. I remember first unplugging the nightlights downstairs, starting with the living room. It was such a satisfying feeling to pull out each nightlight, and even more satisfying to throw each one in the trash. I wanted to laugh, but knew I had to stay quiet. I couldn’t let them suspect anything out of the ordinary.

“I’m grabbing a snack on my way up, Mom,” I yelled. “Just chill!”

“Jeremy!” my dad bellowed. “I need to get some sleep for my important meeting!”

It was normal for my dad to have an “important meeting” the next morning whenever I was running slow on the routine they expected me to go through each night. In reality, they’d stopped making contact with the outside world over a month ago…

By the time I was ready to check up on my freaky parents, the downstairs of our house was complete darkness. It felt good! If anything, I was going to be helping my parents get over their irrational fear of the dark. They’re grown adults, after all, and should NOT be acting this way.

I went up the stairs and into their bedroom, holding the black trash bag of nightlights behind my back like a ninja. (…Looking back, maybe I was having a tad bit too much fun pretending to be a ninja…)

“HWAAAAH!” I screeched.

To no surprise, my parents were still hiding underneath their giant pile of blankets. It’s been three weeks now, after all. I could only hope that they were still getting up to use the restroom.

“Jeremy, get it over with,” my dad said flatly.

The monotone voices of my parents annoyed me. I deeply missed my mom and dad talking like normal human beings instead of robots.

“Okay, okay.”

The four final nightlights I needed to unplug were here inside my mom and dad’s laundry-flooded bedroom. With one nightlight plugged into each corner of the square master bedroom, all I really had to worry about was drowning in the dirty laundry.

Without hesitation, I unplugged the nightlight closest to where I was ninja-crouching. “No monsters over here.”

It was then that I noticed a change in the air. It felt…thicker somehow.

JEREMY!!” my mom cried.

How…could…YOU?!” shouted my dad.

Although they were underneath at least 20 blankets, my parents’ voices were loud and clear. Somehow, they knew what I had done. Yikes!  To save time, and slightly for fun, I did a fancy ninja side-skip over some moldy green laundry to nightlight number two. Unplugging this one, I swear the air became not only thicker, but heavier.

I was going to be SUPER grounded after this experience.



Their voices sounded as though they were full of agonizing pain. YAY!

At least they didn’t sound so much like robots anymore. Maybe they were finally snapping out of the weird trance-like state they’ve been in the last couple of months. The only way to know for sure though, would be by giving them a dose of my corny, unbearable sarcasm.

STOP checking for monsters?” I cackled. “But aren’t they dangerous?”

Unfortunately, saying these words only caused my parents to make disturbing gurgling noises. I guess on the bright side, unplugging nightlight number three caused my parents to stop growling at me.


There was one final nightlight to unplug, and it was directly to the left of my parents’ foul-smelling bed. At least they were finally starting to calm down, I think.

Despite some gasps for air here, and some hysterical murmuring there, they were pretty much silent now. Either my plan was working out really well, or it was going very, VERY wrong.

“Mom. Dad. I looked underneath your bed. As usual, no monsters were there. Understand that you’ll be fine without any nightlights,” I tried to assure them.

I hesitated a little bit before trying to pull out the final nightlight. My parents were acting unsettlingly strange. Still, a part of me had to do this. I had to make my point.

With one quick yank, the last nightlight was no longer plugged into the wall, but clutched in my hand. Since the entire house was finally in complete darkness, I founding myself doing a little ninja victory dance.

That feeling of victory didn’t last though, as my parents were now too silent. I couldn’t even hear them breathing anymore.

“…Mom? Dad? You alright?”

Still, dead silence.

It was at this moment that I considered lifting up their covers. Were they OK under there? Why couldn’t I hear them breathing anymore? I was deeply concerned.



Gradually, I gained enough courage to pull away one of the blankets from the pile, revealing a little opening I could look through. Kneeling down and turning my head sideways, I stared into the opening intently, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the darkness.

They better not be dead under there…

The longer I looked through the small opening though, the more I couldn’t believe what I was seeing…

…Four, bright purple eyes penetrated the darkness, staring directly at me…

I took a step back. The sounds of disembodied giggling were now swirling counterclockwise around me.

“We’re alright…”

“…But you WON’T BE!”

There was no time to think. The voices went from high pitched giggles to deep and demonic. Jolting out of the room, I found myself frantically searching for the staircase through the darkness. Finally finding it, I leaped over about six or seven stairs, painfully spraining one of my flat feet in the process. Wobbling my way toward the front door, I swung it open to find, looming there in front of me, a lady cloaked in old grey clothing.

“LEAVE THIS PLACE!!” she commanded.

I nearly had a heart attack. “That’s what I’m trying to do lady!”

With a slight sigh of relief, she proceeded to enter inside my home, making her way upstairs. At this point, I didn’t care that some creepy lady was breaking into my house. All I wanted to do now was get outta there and eat some comforting gluten-free cookie dough.



It was after that horrible night that my parents went missing. I’m not sure where they’ve gone, or if I’ll ever see them again. Good thing living with a foster family isn’t that bad.

Looking back, I wish that creepy lady would’ve given me her warning sooner. Maybe I could have saved my parents. Maybe I could have stopped the last couple of months from ever being so unbearable.

Then again, maybe I should’ve paid more attention to all the times the creepy lady watched me entering my house from across the street. I remember thinking it was a bit strange…

All I know is that now, I can’t sleep without a nightlight.