The ceiling is the best, just above the bed. Especially good if they’ve a big headboard – gives you some scuttling space. It works like this: get in as soon as possible.
Usually, the first dose of fear is when they push open the door and the lights are off. Take that chance and materialise on the ceiling. I like above the door as people rarely walk in looking straight up. If they’ve high ceilings (kudos, classy haunting!) then there may be some space above the door on the wall itself.
I expect most of you know my philosophy already, but just in case, I will always advocate building mass with your first dose. Clever positioning early on should mean you’re rarely seen in this stage, so get a good canvas to paint when dose two hits.
When the main light goes out, pay attention to shadow placement. Often wonderfully deep shadows aren’t exploited fully enough. Humans see more than they consciously realise and if you are just beyond the edges of their sight, you’re almost guaranteed a good shiver. Again, high ceilings are great for this but the far side of large furniture works too.
When developing features, bear in mind your method of scare. A lot of people have great visual techniques but is a grotesque face necessary when you end up going for an ankle grab from beneath the bed? I like to accentuate eyes, teeth and protruding features for when I make my descent from the ceiling.
Timing is everything here. An appearance immediately after lights out will get a reaction, sure, but remember the fear ‘differential’ is important. Lull them into safe dozing and then strike. I will wait for the human to turn off the light, check the room, lie down alert and then eventually shift into their ‘safe’ position (usually foetal, or holding a stuffed animal) before I let out a gruff, cold breath.
Be loud enough that they know it’s real, and close. This means they’ll turn slowly in the bed, daring themselves to look upwards towards the ceiling whence the noise came. I’m not there. Confusion: they look left, right, and then back up, into my slavering jaws…
A classic scare!