Previously: “NES Godzilla Creepypasta.”
Rather a lot of creepypastas deal with the creepy child trope — it’s been a fixture of horror fiction for ages, perhaps most notably in the Henry James novella The Turn of the Screw — but I’m always surprised that there aren’t more that address a very particular childhood habit: Building stuff out of cardboard boxes. “The Cardboard House” is one such story, and while I’d kind of like to give it a good copy edit, it’s still quite effective all on its own. Kids build entire worlds out of discarded bits and bobs — things that most adults consider trash, but which can become anything in the right imagination. And it’s amazing.
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But there’s also such a thing as the wrong imagination. Or maybe it’s still the right one; it just tapped into the wrong thing. Whatever the case, the bottom line is that when you make something out nothing, something… else happens, too. It opens a door of sorts. Sometimes that door is a literal one.
And what’s on the other side isn’t always benign.
A couple weeks ago my wife made our two young boys a play house out of a cardboard box leftover from some Ikea furniture. It stands about 6′ tall and is in the corner of our living room.
There’s a small door, and then a small window next to the door. It’s a pretty amazing little place that I wish I had when I was my boys’ age. It’s just one of the many reasons I love my wife is her ability to just throw things like this together for our boys.
The kids are seven and two years old. Even with the age gap, they get along and love to play together almost all the time. When the cardboard house was first built, it was their favorite thing to play in together.
For about a week after we built it, we had a hard time even getting them out of it. They’d take in a bunch of blankets and toys and just play. At bedtime we’d have to literally drag them out to take baths and go to bed.
Sometimes they’d play peek a boo with my wife and I on the outside pretending to be scared or surprised every time my toddler jumped up and made an “AHHH!” sound. Typical cute “kid stuff” that makes parents happy to no end, and it did. We loved sitting outside while the kids sat inside and jumped out to scare us. Over and over we’d do this. Just laughing and loving every minute of it.
On Sunday, everything changed.
[Photo via Design4LittleOnes/Flickr, remixed by Lucia Peters]