Aphelion Issue 253, Volume 24
August 2020
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
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by Scott Hughes

Come close, boys and girls, and listen you well
To this woeful warning that I must tell.

Chatterman does not talk, nor does he frown,
His grin full of teeth, all rotten and brown.

He has eight lidless eyes, sightless and black,
And six spindly arms extend from his back.

On crooked legs, he staggers through the night,
Teeth achatter as he lurks out of sight.

He hears all the horrors stir in your head
While you’re asleep in your snug little bed.

If from a nightmare you happen to wake,
Remain quiet and still, for heaven’s sake.

All you can do, child, is silently pray,
Chatterman, Chatterman, please stay away.

If you utter even the slightest sound,
His foul teeth tell him where you can be found.

He clutches you in his six-armed embrace,
Drawing you close to his blind, toothy face.

The more you try to scream, struggle, and fight,
The more he feeds on your succulent fright.

Once he is done with you, he disappears,
Full belly sloshing with all your worst fears.

He leaves you alive, though a soulless shell,
Your eyes empty as a bottomless well.

From that day forward, you will only sleep,
Forever lost to the dark, hellish deep.

Go play now, young ones, and please do be good.
Dream the sweetest dreams as all children should.

2019 Scott Hughes

Scott Hughes’s fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in such publications as Crazyhorse, One Sentence Poems, Deep Magic, Redheaded Stepchild, Entropy, and Strange Horizons. He is the Division Head of English at Central Georgia Technical College, and his short story collection, The Last Book You’ll Ever Read, is forthcoming from Weasel Press in 2019. For more information, visit writescott.com.

Find more by Scott Hughes in the Author Index.

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