Friday, September 5, 2014

The Monster by William Quincy Belle

A little girl won't sleep for fear of a monster - and sure enough she gets a visit in the night; by William Quincy Belle.

"There's a monster under my bed!"

Julie pulled the blanket up to her chin. Her eyes darted around in the semi-darkness. She held her breath listening intently. Did something move? Was there a scratching noise on the floor? She took a breath, then leaned over to the side table and picked up her flashlight. She flipped it on and pointed it at the floor. Moving the beam of light around, she carefully inspected the entire left side of her bed.

She scooted over to the other side of the bed, then twisted so she had her head and arm over the edge. Once again she moved the flashlight around, trying to see if there was anything there.

"Mommy!"

Julie moved back into the middle of the bed and lay back on her pillow. She held the flashlight straight up and stared at the circle of light on the ceiling. What was she going to do? There was no doubt she was going to be eaten alive tonight.

"Mom!"

She turned off the light and lay perfectly still. Maybe if she didn't move, the monster wouldn't know she was here and wouldn't eat her. That seemed like a good idea. It was at least worth trying.

The intercom on the side table made a couple of clicking noises, then there was some static. Her mother's voice came out somewhat distorted. "Julie, you have to go to sleep."

"There's a monster in here. I can hear him."

Julie waited in the darkness. Would her mother believe her? Did her story make any sense and would Mom come down to see for herself?

"Julie?"

"Yes?"

"I want you to go to sleep."

"Ah, Mom," said Julie. "I'm not tired. Do I have to?"

The intercom made some more clicks. "I'm going to let your father talk to you."

Julie rolled her eyes in the dark. Oh boy, so much for that idea. Mom was definitely not going to come down to look for her monster. She was just going to leave her only daughter to fend for herself.

The intercom made a distinct noise, then her father's voice boomed out in a deep baritone. "I thought we had a deal, young lady."

Julie lay there, not saying anything. She stared up at the ceiling, looking at the lights from the street coming in through the window.

"Young lady?"

Oh, boy, was Dad angry? Julie sighed. "Yes, Dad."

"Didn't we have a deal?"

"Yes, Dad." There was resignation in her voice.

"And what was that deal?"

"Two stories then lights out."

The intercom clicked and Julie heard her Dad clear his throat. "And how many stories did I read to you tonight?"

"Two." Julie shook her head. Why was Dad so logical? With a little protesting, Julie could usually get Mom to come to her room. Maybe instead of talking about a monster, she should have talked about an upset stomach. Yeah, an upset stomach or a headache was a guarantee of getting Mom to look in on her.

"And what did we agree on?"

Julie rolled her eyes. This wasn't working. Well, it wasn't working with Dad. "You read me two stories and I go to sleep."

"Didn't you agree?"

Julie sighed again. "Yes, Dad."

"Did I read you two stories?"

"Yes, Dad." Now Julie was sorry she had ever brought this up.

"Have you gone to sleep?"

"No, Dad."

"I read you two stories; you go to sleep. Half of the deal is done. My half is done. Now all we need is for you to do your half of the deal."

"Yes, Dad." Julie wondered why she bothered. As soon as Mom called Dad into the conversation, she knew it was over.

"Now princess, how about you put your flashlight away and go to sleep?" A couple of clicks came from the intercom. "What day is tomorrow?"

"Saturday?"

"Daddy has to go pick up the car from the garage. Everything is all fixed now and I thought the two of us could go out for breakfast."

Julie's eyes lit up. "Pancakes!"

"Right you are. Now the sooner you get to sleep, the sooner you will wake up. And the sooner you wake up, the sooner we'll get the car. And the sooner we get the car..."

Julie leaned over to the side table and stood her flashlight up on its end. "Okay, Dad. I'll go to sleep now."

"That's my girl." The intercom clicked one time, then was silent.

Julie put her head down on her pillow and shut her eyes.



Freddy had been doing B&Es for almost a year now. He wasn't getting rich, but he did make a few good bucks now and again. The biggest problem was trying to fence stuff afterwards, but thank God for old man Spencer. He ran the pawn shop downtown and Freddy had discovered, purely by chance, that Spencer also did some shady deals on the side. Whatever Freddy came up with, old man Spencer was willing to take off his hands. This made things a heck of a lot easier for Freddy and lately, Spencer had been giving Freddy some tips.

Most of the time Freddy had been driving around scouting out likely places to hit, trying to guess if dark houses meant the owners were out for the evening or gone on vacation. Once he found out the hard way that a dark house could mean the people merely went to bed early. The owner had woken up with a yelp and scared the hell out of Freddy. Fortunately in the darkness and in the confusion, the guy never got a good look at Freddy, but Freddy made sure from then on to double check the garage for cars. And even then, if he had the slightest suspicion, he would ring the doorbell several times to see if he woke somebody up.

Tonight, Spencer had put him onto a house on 42nd Avenue, number thirty-five. Freddy had no idea how Spencer knew this, but Spencer claimed the owners were away for a week's vacation. It was a Caribbean cruise so the car would be gone and there was no way they would unexpectedly come back home. Seemed like the perfect scenario.

Freddy slowly pulled up to the corner and looked for the street sign. There was willow tree on the corner lot and the branches were sweeping partway over the sidewalk and hanging over the street sign. Freddy twisted his head and managed to catch the number forty-two. This was it.

For the briefest of moments, Freddy tried to remember the layout of the roads. Streets went east and west while avenues went north and south. Spencer had warned him to pay attention and make sure he was on 42nd Avenue and not 42nd Street. Freddy turned left and slowly drove down the street, looking at the number on the front of each house. He saw number thirty-five and pulled over to the curb. He put the car in park, then turned off the engine. The house didn't look quite as he'd expected. Spencer had said it was a split-level, but this looked like a bungalow. That seemed odd but, oh well, it was time to get to work.

Freddy reached in the back seat and got a couple of tools. Sometimes he had to pry a window open and a screwdriver was needed. He got out of the car and gently pushed the door shut. Looking around and not seeing anybody, Freddy started across the street and walked up the driveway. He walked around back and stood looking through a window into the garage. The light was dim, so he took a small pocket flashlight out and shone it through the glass. The dim beam fell on an empty floor. No cars. Just as Spencer described it. Things were looking up.

The old man had said the best way to get in the house was through a bedroom window, so when Freddy crossed the back patio, he picked up a plastic lawn chair and carried it around to the side of the house. He put the chair in front of a window, then glanced around between the two houses. The neighbours didn't have any windows on the end wall of their house, so Freddy knew nobody over there would inadvertently look out and discover him breaking into the house. This one was going to be free and clear.

Freddy got up on the chair and examined the window. It had a screen he could easily remove, and apparently the interior window was open. Somebody had been airing the room out and forgotten to close it. All Freddy had to do was push the window up and he would have more than enough room to climb in. He wouldn't have to break any glass to get a hand in to unlatch the window.

Using the end of the screwdriver, Freddy shifted the metal frame of the screen and managed to get it out of its supporting grooves. He gently lowered the screen to the ground and left it leaning against the house. Putting one hand on the underside of the window, he pushed up and slid it open as much as possible. Freddy put his screwdriver in a back pocket, put both hands on the inside of the window, then hoisted himself up and inside. He struggled a bit with his balance, but got his one knee onto the ledge and twisted himself around part way. Lowering his one foot to the bedroom floor, he brought in his other leg, then managed to stand up.

Freddy glanced around in the semi-darkness, trying to get his bearings. Spencer had given him some ideas of the layout of the home and some items he should look for. Apparently the woman had jewelry and the man had some expensive watches. Freddy turned and took a step towards the hallway when a light in the room came on. Freddy froze.

"Are you the monster from under my bed?"

Freddy heard the little girl's voice and immediately felt his pulse jump up about twenty beats a minute. Obviously something had gone very, very wrong and the family was home. But Spencer hadn't said anything about kids. He'd said this was an older couple. Were they babysitting grandchildren? What was he going to do now? Jump out the window?

"You don't look like a monster."

Freddy's mind was going a mile a minute. What to do? Escape seemed like the correct course of action, but that little girl's voice seemed so odd. What was she babbling about? Freddy slowly turned. The lamp on the side table at the head of the bed cast a dull light around the room. There in the middle of the bed with her head propped up on a pillow was a young girl. She was staring right at him.

"Mommy says I shouldn't be afraid and I should deal with the monsters myself."

Freddy looked at the girl. He looked into her eyes. They seemed oddly large, wide open and round. They gave her a look of innocence, but they were also hypnotic. Freddy couldn't seem to look away.

"Don't worry, little girl," said Freddy softly. "I've made a mistake. I think I'll just run along."

The girl looked at Freddy without blinking. "Mommy says I should deal with the monsters myself."

Freddy furrowed his brow. He thought this was a little weird and that he should get out of there. "I'll be going now." Freddy couldn't help but smile slightly.

Something came from the girl and splattered on Freddy's face. He was so surprised he inhaled and when he did, he became light-headed. He felt unsteady as if all of his strength was draining out his of body. He stood there transfixed. He could feel himself losing touch with his surroundings.

Freddy stumbled back a step, then dropped to his knees. All of his energy was gone. It was as if he had become a limp rag doll. He fell backwards and ended up half-sitting up against the wall with his legs stretched out in front of him. While he could still feel his body, he no longer had any control over it. He couldn't move. His mouth was partially hanging open, but he couldn't talk. His eyes darted back and forth, alarmed. What was going on? Was he having a stroke?

Freddy heard the covers on the bed being pulled aside. He looked towards the little girl as she rose off the bed. Freddy looked but what he saw didn't register with him. The torso of the girl blended into what Freddy thought was a snake's body, a large snake's body. It uncoiled from the bed as the girl's torso, attached to one end, floated over the floor until it was a few feet in front of Freddy.

"Mommy says I should deal with the monsters myself."

Freddy tried to scream, but no sound came out of his mouth. He tried to move his hand to defend himself, but it lay there motionless. What in heaven's name was this? Had he walked into a nightmare?

The torso moved to his feet. Freddy stared at it. He was scared. He was really scared. He couldn't move a muscle and this little girl was some sort of snake creature. The elongated snake's body shifted position so the torso was now lying chest down on the floor at Freddy's feet. The little girl looked up at him, then her mouth opened. Something shifted on either side of her head, then her mouth opened some more. Freddy could see things moving under the skin on each side of the head as the mouth opened wider. It was unnaturally wide. No, it was horrifyingly wide. Freddy screamed, but nothing came out of his mouth. He screamed, but his panic could only echo through his mind as he no longer had any control over his body.

The little girl's head was completely distorted out of proportion as the mouth had become a gaping hole. The girl's arms reached and seized both of Freddy's legs by the ankles. They lifted his legs up slightly and the torso moved forward. As Freddy watched, his feet disappeared inside the girl's mouth. The torso continued forward in spurts as the arms and hands held up parts of the body so the mouth could swallow it. Freddy's eyes looked in utter horror as his calves, his knees, and then his thighs disappeared into the distended mouth. The two saucer-like eyes perched over the cavernous opening stared directly into Freddy's eyes. As the little girl moved forward to swallow him, she never stopped looking at him.

When the mouth got to the waist. Freddy's body shifted until his torso was flat on the floor, with only his head propped up against the wall. The mouth moved forward and took in the hips. The little hands grabbed a hold of Freddy's wrists and brought his arms in against his sides as the mouth slid over his chest. The mouth covered the shoulders. Freddy could feel the lips around his neck. There was a pause, then the mouth opened and stretched and with one final lunge, Freddy's entire head was taken into the mouth.



Julie returned to her bed and reached down to draw her blankets up under her chin.

The intercom clicked a couple of times and a woman's voice full of sleep spoke softly. "Are you okay, Julie?"

"I was just dealing with a monster, Mommy."

"Oh, Julie, you were just having a dream. Go back to sleep."

The intercom clicked and the room was silent. Julie shut her eyes and fell asleep.

6 comments:

  1. really clever story! great change of gear. and such convincing dialogue!
    super!

    Michael McCarthy

    ReplyDelete
  2. Just goes to show you should never mess with little girls!! (Or big ones.) An interesting read; thank you.
    Beryl.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi William,

    I liked the first part of your story very much.

    However, I really did not like the second part.

    In my opinion, the shift in POV has spoiled this story.

    And also, this story left me a question. Why should we accept that a little, lovely girl turns into a monster?

    I hope my comment does not offend you! I just share my opinion with you and I think this is what you expect your readers do :-)


    Many thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think that the premise is great - the powerless becoming powerful. The dialogue - especially between child and parents is very well observed. I also liked the idea of being careful what you tell children to do - you never know what it will lead to! Be careful what you wish for and the law of unintended consequences and all that..... However the detail of the how Julie dealt with the 'monster' rather left me behind: it was so bizarre but maybe that's a comment on the limits of my own imaginative faculties! The last part was great, (conversation between Julie and her mum), as a counterpoint to what has really happened. I don't know if it is worth e-visiting the snake part to make it less literal and more ambiguous but with the same thrust? Many thanks anyway - a pleasure to read,
    Ceinwen Haydon

    ReplyDelete
  5. In the face of adult logic, children often find the simplest solutions to their problems. An active imagination helps. I thought the real and the imaginary had a good meeting in this story. Kid-1 Adult-0.

    James Shaffer

    ReplyDelete
  6. No, I like the simple A B A pov arrangement, with the image of the hapless Freddy so disorientated by his own 'monster' of an error that he is consumed within the power of the child's imagination. Its a satisfying contrast with the tedious and bossy logic of Dad.
    Quite a frightening story with more than a touch of M R James about it.

    Brooke

    ReplyDelete