What the hell am I supposed to do? I think to myself as I sit at my desk. Jennie Miller has yet again rejected another monster assigned to her.
I read through her file with my tentacle fingers, and see that she has had 56 monsters total, all having been brought back to headquarters because she wasn’t afraid.
Are my men not scary enough? That’s impossible, we have the best training to prepare our monsters for the human world. But what five-year-old can be capable of rejecting so many monsters consecutively?
I decide to assign myself to little Jennie Miller.
That evening, I make myself comfortable under her bed. She has the room to herself along with a closet conveniently placed directly in front of her bed.
I poke my head out from underneath the bed and see bright green numbers on the ballerina clock on the bedside table, next to a lit lamp that read 9:30 PM. She should be coming to bed soon. I slither back under and stare at the bed frame above me.
A closet in plain sight like that would be easily used to scare a child by reaching out and slowly opening the doors. The blankets hang over the edge of the bed so much that one could simply tug at them to spook the child in the bed above.
How could she have rejected 56?
My thoughts are interrupted by the door opening, and little Jennie Miller running in with her over-sized T-shirt and stuffed bunny. She closes the door and jumps onto her bed.
I keep quiet.
I hear her sigh before the light of the lamp is turned off, and the bed shifts while she lays on her side to get comfortable to sleep.
I slowly slither my tentacle up the side of the bed. I can feel her sheets and her pillow before I gently, but noticeably, poke her nose.
I hear her stir and quickly bring my finger back down below. All I get in return is what seems like a frustrated exhale, and the bed shifts again as she flips to her other side.
I use my other arm to reach up the other side. I feel her hand at the edge of the bed, so I decide to slither my tentacle fingers up her arm to her shoulder, and then to her cheek, where I run my fingers along her cheekbone.
I feel her face scrunch up, and she slaps my hand away.
“You are NOT going to scare me, monster!” she yells.
Many children her age know there are monsters under their beds; it makes it all the more fun and simple to get our jobs done.
The number 56 continues to repeat in my head. It still doesn't make any sense.
I move to the foot of the bed and slide both my tentacle arms up either side to grab her feet. I use more force, as my fingers search for her skin, to make a slithering sound loud enough for her to hear.
Just as I begin to grasp her skinny little ankles, she brings her knees up to her chest and her feet out of my reach.
“LEAVE ME ALONE!” she yells again. This is when I hear fast and angry footsteps, followed by the bedroom door barging open.
“Why the fuck are you yelling, you little shit?!”
The woman is wearing skinny jeans and a very low-cut shirt. She pushes her messy hair out of her face. A nearly empty bottle in one hand, and the other grabs the door frame for balance.
“It’s nothing. I’m sorry, mommy,” little Jennie replies. I can hear the cowering in her voice.
“I have company over, you ungrateful baby,” the woman spits, “That could be your new daddy out there. Don't you want a daddy?”
“Yes mommy,” I barely hear Jennie whisper over the loud swig the woman takes from the bottle in her hands.
“You look at me when I’m talking to you,” there’s more anger in her voice, and she takes a step toward the bed, “I am your mother, God dammit, you need to show me more respect.” Her voice raises and I hear Jennie begin to cry.
“You’re such a little baby. Five-year-olds don’t cry like you do, or yell at nothing and interrupt their mothers’ important meetings. You’re such an embarrassment.”
Jennie begins to cry harder, and the woman takes a few more steps towards the bed while rolling her eyes.
She throws the bottle to the floor, the glass shattering as it crashes against the hardwood.
I see the woman clench a fist at her side, and lift her other hand up as if she’s going to… no.
I shoot out from underneath the bed and stand between Jennie and the woman. I hear them gasp, and the woman begins to step back. I tower over her and narrow my eyes.
“Who the fuck are --“
“Leave her alone, she’s mine,” I snarl. I stretch my tentacle arms out to block the bed even more.
“I will always be here, with her. If you ever lay a hand on her, I swear, I will make you regret it.” Purple sweat oozes from my skin out of anger, and the woman begins to tremble.
For every step I take towards her, she takes two back until she's out of the room and in the hallway.
Yellow liquid runs down her leg.
“She’s mine,” I repeat in a hiss, as I shut the door in her face. I turn around to see little Jennie climbing off of her bed and running towards me.
She hugs my leg, barely wrapping her small arms all the way around. She says nothing, and just cries.
I pick her up and carry her back to her bed. She brings the covers up to her chest, and I use my tentacle finger to sweep her hair to the side of her face and wipe away her tears.
“You’re safe with me,” I smile at her. She gives me a small smile in return and closes her eyes.
I crawl back to my place under her bed.
We aren’t the monsters she’s afraid of.