Mallika Narayanan

Mary was six when she first escaped into Story; when Lamb’s pretty lashes beckoned her deep into Forest. There, Spider, Python, Bear, Lion, and Unicorn, waited for her. Spider enmeshed her in the safety of Web. Python weaved itself around Web, guarding it. Bear hugged her tight. Lion’s fierce roar echoed through Forest and scared Bedtime away. And because she had been a good, brave girl, Unicorn dazzled her with shiny rainbows.

“Mary, it’s bedtime. I’ll read you a story, come,” uncle Woolf said again, on Mary’s seventh birthday.

Uncle Woolf laid her down gently. “Is it noisy? Here, let me shut the door.”

If only Mary didn’t fear Bedtime so. It was the beginning she most dreaded, until Lamb beckoned her once more and she fell into Story.

Uncle Woolf’s heavy, sick breath was Lamb’s soft fleece caressing her cheek. The weight pressing on her was Bear’s crushing hug. The unbearable pain there was when Spider enmeshed her into the sticky center of Web. The tearing, suffocating fullness was Python squeezing Web to keep her safe. The shuddering was Lion’s thunderous growl which shook Forest. And because she had been such a good girl again, Unicorn showered her with rainbows at the end.

On Mary’s eighth birthday, Uncle Woolf stood at the threshold of her room once again. She wondered if she could ask Lion to bite uncle Woolf for her this time, but she was too scared. No. If Bedtime came back, she would escape into Story once more. This time she would stay in Forest with Lamb and her friends and never come back.


About the Author


Mallika Narayanan has been a web architect & designer, content manager for a media publishing company, professional singer, chef, and event organizer. However, writing has been her passion since childhood, and her work has been published in her school and community magazines. She is now a full-time writer of psychological suspense, mysteries, and historical fiction. When she isn’t plotting her next murder suspense novel, you can find her cozying up with a good book, dabbling with oil on canvas, or in the kitchen, whipping up international gourmet dishes. You can follow her Twitter handle @nMals for musings on writing and life.