Saturday, November 19, 2016
“Alright, everyone. Reports for this week came back mostly positive, although a couple kids in London are starting to get bored, we may need to reassign there…” The Boss snorted, pushing his spectacles back up his long slimy nose.
A few monsters mumbled in agreement, although most just nodded blearily. Monday Morning Meetings were never very enthusiastic.
“Lochness?” The Boss turned to a screen projecting a live feed of the half-asleep underwater monster.
Lochness groaned, air bubbles spewing from his nose in tiny jets. “All’s good here, although tourisms been down some, should I do another sighting or something?”
The Boss nodded and turned to another screen. “Bigfoot?”
“Newport has made lots off of me lately, tourism is increased, and Oregon is keeping it weird.” He grinned, showing off large fangs, and winked. “I could use some company though, the Wood Nymphs aren’t all that social ever since Dionysus stopped coming around.”
A round, grey orb monster waved her club-like arm in the air, “I could come! My assigned is in that area.”
The Boss frowned over his spectacles and nodded shortly before turning back to his clipboard. “Tafiti?”
I looked up. The Boss raised a bushy eyebrow.
“Tafiti, what is your report?”
“Oh, good. Actually, bad. My assigned isn’t scared anymore.”
Monsters leaned forwards, intrigued.
“What routine are you using?” The Boss shuffled through his papers, and pulled out a folder with my name on the front.
“Just basic, you know, scare her right as she’s about to fall asleep so it haunts her dreams. At first it worked, but lately she just tells me to go away, and last night she actually rolled her eyes and turned over and ignored me.” I used my long scaly hands as emphasis.
The other monsters grumbled, speaking low amongst themselves, wondering how she had attained this new bravery. I was one of the top-level Creeps, and this was my first time having an assigned reject me.
The Boss looked a little concerned. “You have the little Sarah Mammott, right?” I nodded. “She’s caused us a lot of trouble, but she’s only six…tonight, try waiting until later, just hide under her bed for awhile and maybe poison her dreams and send chills down her spine or something.”
I agreed to the plan, signed my name on the scheduling chart, and excused myself from the meeting as The Boss finished roll call. As I left the room I heard a younger monster burst into tears as she started her tale of a kid who had started shooting her with a Nerf gun each night.
I shook my head as I slid around the corners, calling hi to coworkers. More and more monsters were being shunned, kids just weren’t scared anymore. Only a few top-level monsters (such as myself) seemed able to do any damage.
Speaking of top-level, Esmerelda was gilding down the hall, a cold chill passing through all in her wake.
“Hey Melda, how’s it going?” I asked, slowing my slither.
She smiled, brushing oily red hair out of her eyes. “I’m fine, you?”
“Great. Actually, I’m scheduled in Tokyo in a few minutes so I better get going. Nice to see you, good luck with the twins!” She returned the good tidings and we both went on our way.
Esmerelda was terrifying, even for other monsters. She became your greatest fear, so in my case she varied between bloodied versions of my loved ones. She was usually assigned to adults or older kids, and often came back still looking like the human she had just haunted.
I had six appointments with 7 assigned children just for that day, and they were all over the world. I changed my outfit to a Creep suit and climbed into a portal, saluting the yellow blob monster heading to New York next to me.
“Who have you got today, Frank?” I called over the swooshing sound around us.
“A 6 month old who is afraid of Jell-O. These little ones can get pretty weird…” He vanished.
I laughed and dialed in the coordinates for my first job.
Hours later, I was back in my portal, although the clocks on the walls around me showed that it was time for me to check out for my dinner break before my job with little Sarah.
I retraced my steps from earlier that morning, waving to slightly more disgruntled monsters this time. The cafeteria was serving Spaghetti and Eyeballs, so I decided to stay instead of heading home for whatever leftovers awaited me in the fridge.
Loaded tray in hand, I sat down next to a large, furry beast-man who was eating something that smelled absolutely foul from inside a paper bag.
He grunted a reply without looking up.
I shifted my tray a little in the other direction.
Frank plopped down next to me, oozing around the bench and onto the floor, the metal seat still sticking through his middle. A few twigs and, were those baby building blocks? Were sticking out of him at strange angles.
“Woah man, what happened?” I asked, tugging on a block with a bright purple ‘M’ etched into the side.
“Owe. The 6 month old I told you about? Her big brother came in when she cried and started chucking stuff at me. I left, but at my next house I got some kid with a bug collection, and his bugs got knocked over when he tried to get away and…” Frank stared glaze-eyed, looking rather traumatized.
I had to suppress laughter. The less experienced monsters had some interesting mishaps.
Shaking my head, I picked up my fork, but it had only just touched my first eyeball when my watch went off.
“Oh dang it, my next appointment, I have to get in line for the portals. Having those dozen down for repairs really shortens break times. Well, I’ll see you later, Dan, Frank.”
Dan glared at me with bloodshot eyes and Frank waved cheerily, his ooze jiggling bizarrely.
I changed quickly, hoping to get in line before the bed-time rush, but even then I had to wait behind a good dozen monsters before I got into my own portal.
Swooshing through the darkness, I howled, liking the way the sound echoed around me. My Creep suit enhanced the bony protrusions along my spine and skull, and I cracked my knuckles, stretching my fingers to their full length. I’d put a bit of extra slime on while I was changing, so I looked rather formidable. There was no way Sarah would be able to contain her terror this time.
Her room was small and dark, lit only by a small Mickey Mouse shaped night light. Her bed was still toddler sized, and I had to curl up tight to fit under it.
Footsteps echoed down the hall.
“Here sweetie, I’ll tuck you in,” Her mother cooed, and I saw slippers shifting and felt a weight as Sarah snuggled up under her covers.
“Mommy I’m afraid.” Sarah whispered shakily.
“I know honey. I know. But you know what, soon you will never have to be afraid again, alright? Soon we’ll be out of here. I just need you to be strong for one more night, okay?’
Sarah didn’t answer, so I assumed she nodded.
I wondered about what had just been said. Perhaps they were moving away or something, but did they really think that that would stop the nightmares from coming?
Sarah’s mother left the room, closing the door behind her. Usually at this point I would be getting ready for Sarah to doze off so I could creep her out just before she fell asleep, but this time I would wait. I examined her room as well as I could from my vantage point under the bed.
A small bookshelf held a couple of board books next to a doll and teddy bear. There was a little music box as well, with the words ‘From Daddy’ carved on the side, but it was dusty as though it wasn’t often used.
Time passed. I kept checking my watch, but midnight seemed like it would never come. I sighed, drumming my fingers against my pointed chin.
A few minutes before twelve, I heard the front door slam. I tensed as I heard raised voices, Sarah’s mother and who I assume was her father were fighting. Above me, Sarah sat up in bed, then swung her feet over the side, and crawled down next to me.
Shocked, I snarled, showing off large yellowed fangs, but she just pushed me, whispering, “Move over you big spit-wad, move!”
I complied, and she curled up right next to me, completely oblivious to the slime seeping into her already stained nightgown.
“Shhhhh…” She held a finger to her mouth, wide blue eyes watching the crack of light from under the door apprehensively.
Loud boots stomped up the stairs, and the door was thrown open, as her father stumbled in reeking of cigarettes and alcohol. He growled, and the sound made both Sarah and I hunch down further.
He kicked at the toddler bed, and then, grunting, bent down, as a filthy hand reached underneath, searching for his daughter.
Tears slipping down her face, Sarah stretched her tiny hand towards his, and it was then that I realized just how small and skinny she was. I caught her wrist, and pushed her further under the bed as I grasped his wrist, my long fingers wrapping tightly around his chunky arm.
He pulled me out, to drunk to notice the difference. Out I slithered, straightening my spikes and yawning lazily as he stumbled back in fear, suddenly realizing his mistake.
“What the-” I seized his other sleeve cutting him off, my ten-foot frame hunched over, hot breath rolling off his face.
“You will never again hurt my little Sarah, do you understand?”
He squeaked, struggling to slide from my grasp.
“I asked if you UNDERSTAND?” I screeched into his ear, the sound echoing around the small room.
I threw him away, back towards the door, and at the same time I could hear a lighter step rushing up the stairs.
Sarah’s mother was coming back, afraid of what all the noise was.
She stood in the doorway, blocking the light from the hall, and screamed.
Her husband scuttled from the room on all floors, and she let him past. I could hear him falling down the stairs as Sarah’s mother breathed heavily, watching me.
Sarah had crawled back out and now she hurried to her mom, their arms wrapping around each other.
I shrunk back down, pulling my spikes back into my skin and closing my gaping jaw.
“I’ll be back tomorrow.” I promised, turning to the opposite wall and spinning my watch as a portal opened. I made to leap through, but Sarah put a small, cold hand on my leg.
“Thank you, my monster.” She planted a small kiss on her palm and pressed it to my side, which was as high as she could reach.
I brushed her curly brown hair back from her face, hissing softly. And then I left.
That night I rushed back to The Boss’s office, barging in as his secretary told me to wait outside. “Boss! I need to tell you something, now.”
He glared at me, his bushy eyebrows standing on end. “What?!”
Now, a few years later, Sarah is still my assigned and I am her monster. She and her mother moved, after her father finally agreed to sign the divorce papers, with a little, er, persuasion.
I have the Mammott’s birthday’s memorized and I bring them little presents like my Christmas Bonus, just to help them get by.
I started a new program with Frank’s help, and now every monster is required to check on each assigned’s family situation and protect any abused children. Esmerelda was very intrigued and shows her support by shifting into me and paying Mr. Mammott visits every once in a while.
Sarah is a big sister now, to three foster children that had been removed from their own abusive situations.
Everyone in that little house is now under Monsters United personal protection.
And I have learned a lot.
Not everyone is afraid of monsters, and not all monsters are what you expect.
Sometimes, a human can be much more cruel than a Creep or a Blob or a Shifter.
And sometimes, a little child holds more strength than you could possibly imagine.