Vicky lay on the bed, warm under the covers as her father sat on the edge. He ran his hand across his head, smoothing the last bits of hair that clung there, as he prepared to tell her a story. Daddy always had the best stories, stories that came from his own mind and not the colorful storybooks Mommy read from.
The stories were about far off lands, where fairies fought acorn monsters and princes and princesses went on adventures in mazes made out of crystal. They were all great stories and Vicky couldn’t wait for tonight’s tale.
“This story’s going to be a little different,” Daddy said to her, as he placed his hands in his lap. She looked up at his face and noticed it looked different, but she didn’t quite know why. His smile looked… crooked somehow. Vicky shrugged. Maybe he ate something that made his tummy upset.
“That’s okay Daddy,” Vicky said. “I love all your stories.”
Daddy smiled his new crooked smiled and began, keeping his hands in his lap instead of waving them around like he usually did during story time. His voice grew deeper, instead of lighter and slightly silly, like it did when he had told her stories on previous nights. The voice filled her mind and the story became almost like a movie, with images that danced on the edges of her eyes, crisp and clear.
“There once was a dragon who had an odd breath. While other dragons breathed fire, he breathed fear. It came out of his mouth like a thick black beam, that wrapped around his victims and filled their minds and souls with the fears of all the people the dragon had ever killed.
And the dragon had killed thousands. Each new victim became one more fear to add it its breath, one more piece of food to digest for eternity and regurgitate into stronger venom.”
Daddy’s mouth opened and a thick spray of black came out, wrapping itself around her head. She screamed and the stinging smoke filled her mouth, gagging her with a bitter chill, the same chill she felt when her parents forgot to turn her nightlight on. But this chill was deeper, thicker than anything she’d ever felt before. It went into her bones and drew all the heat from her body and soul, until she felt nothing but the screams of thousands of voices.
“The dragon especially loved children,” a voice said from somewhere through the screams. “But not for their fears. The dragon could hide in a child for years, feeding and feasting to his heart’s content. All he had to do was take on the shape of someone the child trusted. Children were such easy prey and once the dragon finished feasting on them, he had a new body that would last for years.”