Joanne woke suddenly, heart racing in her throat. Panic tightened her muscles, and adrenaline was icy in her veins. Darkness filled the room, the only sound coming from the grandfather clock in the hall.
So what had woken her so violently?
Controlling her breathing, Joanne remained still. If someone were in her house, she couldn't alert them that she was awake yet. Didn't need to have them do something irrational because she startled them. After a few minutes of silence, she sat up and turned on her reading lamp.
Sitting next to her can of soda was her newest stuffed animal.
Joanne frowned sharply and picked up the cephalopod. He was the smallest of her collection, almost too cute to go with the rest of her collection. On a shelf above her bed were the rest of her stuffies, where little Cthulhu had been put before bed: a yellow and orange flame; a semi-pterosaur with huge teeth; a puffy black goat with long tentacles; a mass of iridescent bubbles. A collection of the most horrific plush toys ever, and one of them had made its way to her nightstand.
Her overactive imagination played out a meeting of Great Old Ones done in polyfil and cotton, and Joanne laughed. Lovecraft would sit up in his grave if he knew how cute the ancient horrors could be.
Smiling, she set Cthulhu aside and turned the light out. No plushie could be that bad. She needed to stop reading horror stories right before bed, and maybe she'd get through the night. Joanne would certainly stop thinking her stuffies were out to get her.
Overhead, something began a demonic song, piping on a horrible flute.