"There's a monster under my bed."
There's an almost universal fear of monsters that children hold. Whether they be hiding under beds or lurking in a closet, most of us at one point or another have imagined a disgusting, scary monster sharing our bedroom with us.
We were so silly, there was no monster in our bedroom - but there are some in a New Zealand woman's kitchen.
It's one explanation for the squirmy little nightmares that Tim Clerke found in his mother's home earlier this year.
Tiny, rat-tailed, seemingly faceless - these things are the stuff of nightmares. What's even more concerning than their appearance is that no one seems to know what they are.
Clerke posted a video of them on Facebook and people immediately began speculating on what they could be.
My mother found these on the kitchen floor this morning. One is still alive. Anyone know what they are? Nikki is horrified and will have nightmares for weeks!Posted by Tim Clerke on Wednesday, January 30, 2019
"My mother found these on the kitchen floor this morning," he wrote on January 30th. "One is still alive. Anyone know what they are? Nikki is horrified and will have nightmares for weeks!"
The world has always loved to scare itself so it's no wonder that Clerke's post went viral.
"You guys are famous," wrote one of his friends. "I've been following this since you first posted - the world knows now but still no answer!"
Many people's first guess was that they were baby rats, although they are far smaller than normal infant rodents. It was a starting point, but it didn't answer everything, so people kept searching for answers.
"An entomologist confirms they are the detached legs of a large moth," wrote Tanya Katterns on the Facebook post. "Something, possibly a cat, had just recently eaten the body of the moth, which may explain why a few of the legs were still twitching."
It's an elaborate explanation and one Clerke dubbed "a thing of nightmares."
Katterns said the findings came from a biosecurity entomology team.
The other leading explanation is that they are rat-tailed maggots. I'll give you a moment to stop shivering.
"About 3 years ago kids at school found "alien monsters" in loos (they were clean too!)," wrote Jane Gallen. "Took a bit to research to find they were drone fly/hoverfly larvae or as others have said rat-tailed maggots."
She said they had crawled their way through the sewer system to end up in the school's toilets.
"Kids didn't want to use the loos for quite some time."
A Google image search does show that those maggots look quite similar to the creatures found in the kitchen.
So with a team of scientists saying one thing, but strong anecdotal evidence saying another, we may never know just what nightmare creature was inhabiting Clerke's mom's kitchen.
But let's hope we never see it again.