June 23rd – The Night of Nightmares

There is something under your bed. If you put your feet down on the floor it will grab your ankles. If you peek under it will be right there, staring straight at you. There is something under your bed.

At least that’s what children tell each other at school today, their tales developing more gruesome details as the day wears on. Tonight around 60% percent of children will have nightmares, dark visions in their sleep, and will wake up shaking and scared. Nobody is quite sure when the correspondence between particularly plentiful nightmares and tonight began, but it was first noticed in 1759 by Gaelphum Teller, the mistress of Teller’s Orphanage for Unfortunate Children, who kept a detailed diary. Children who were usually fine would tonight wake up, screaming. Others wouldn’t sleep at all. Perhaps it was something to do with the summer heat?

Teller conducted a study over five years, in which she saw a marked increase in nightmare reports from her children on June the 23rd every year. The report was published in the science journal Scientiffik Matteres, and then found its way into the general press, where it was sensationalised greatly, with less reputable tabloids and magazines proposing that there was some kind of ghostly presence lying across the City on this night. The Prostrate Cockrell, an eclectic magazine no longer in existence, known for its general disdain for the truth, published an interview with an ‘expert on the supernatural’ who claimed that the effect was caused by a group of children who were murdered on this night in their sleep, and whose spirits linger still.

Many children will not sleep tonight for fear of what they might see beyond closed eyelids, of what lurks beneath their bed. Adults on the other hand, appear to be completely unaffected. Subjects are various, but as is the way with these things one subject is allegedly the most prominent; waking up and realising that everyone else is gone. At first it is excellent fun, getting to do all the things you are normally not allowed to (eat all the sweets in the jar, play with the record player, draw on the walls), but then you start to get lonely, to miss your friends and family. And then you start thinking about where they went, and you realise, in that strange treacle flow of dream logic, that they are all dead. Obviously, because there are their coffins, they were there all along. But there is no time to grieve, because behind the coffins there is… well, there’s a reason they’re dead, isn’t there? Behind the coffins, you can hear long fingers scrabbling.

Of course there are those who say there is a perfectly natural explanation for the dreams; the children expect to have nightmares so they do. All across the City children are telling stories about the horrible nightmares and creatures that will visit their comrades tonight, and as our dreaming mind is affected by what we saw and heard in the day it results in the terrifying dreams. This is all well and good for explaining the latter incidents of nightmares, but how did it start? Why is it associated with this one day? This is more difficult to answer, but some have made a fair go of it. Maxine Ermentine has sought to dispel the mystery by pointing out that today is also Saint Armenet’s Day, a saint traditionally celebrated by smoking koshgrass, a drug that was subsequently suppressed by the Church. Whilst koshgrass has no hallucinogenic properties, Ermentine claims that it may have other effects on children when smoke passed through the open bedroom windows of the children by street smokers. Others are critical of this theory.

Many children will be excused from school tomorrow, after refusing to sleep all night but falling asleep as soon as the sun rises. Others retain a haunted look for a few days, and some are entirely unaffected, teasing their peers. It is important for any affected children to remember that they are not alone, and specialist counselling services are available on demand.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Hopeless Inquiries
  • The Magical Razor Festival
  • Municipal Salt Sifting Day