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Monster under the Bed

Garry McNulty has sold fiction to Flash Fiction Online, The School Magazine (of Australia), Third Flatiron Publications, Digital Fiction Publishing, Strange Musings Press, Insatiable, and Untied Shoelaces of the Mind. Father of two wonderful daughters, Kelly and Erin, he resides in Melbourne, Florida.

The hairy creature under Kevin's bed did not consider himself to be impatient. He knew how to lie in wait as well as the next monster. But, he grumbled to himself, this kid would not go to sleep! It was after ten o'clock, for crying out loud!
The dust balls under Kevin's bed only added to the monster's aggravation. They were getting all over his hairy coat, and he was afraid he might sneeze. The monster despised a dirty bedroom floor and felt it showed a real lack of consideration for all under-the-bed creatures. Don't these people own a dust mop?
He thought about how he could attack Kevin while the boy was awake and devour him while he screamed for his parents. But that would involve so much violence, and it would mean having to deal with mom and dad. They were bound to be upset when they saw pieces of Kevin stuck in the monster's big, yellowy brown, crooked teeth.
And the boy's dad would be like: "Honey, that awful, hairy monster just ate our little boy! Let's beat it to death with a baseball bat!" No, the monster decided, I'll wait under the bed like a professional. The kid is sure to nod off soon.
Just then, two little feet dropped to the floor and pitter-patted out of the room. Did he just get up to go to the bathroom again? fumed the monster. That's it, as soon as that kid comes back, he's a midnight snack.
In the meantime, I just have to keep these heavy eyelids of mine open. And not doze off, like I did last night. And the night before that. And the night before... zzzzzzzzzz.
Suddenly--it could have been minutes or possibly hours later, the monster didn't know--he awoke to a cloud of smoke pouring into the bedroom. The house was on fire! Coughing, he rolled out from under the bed and started to rush out of the room.
Just as he passed through the doorway, the monster heard a faint cry.
"Help me!" It was the kid, Kevin.
What to do, what to do? Letting him die there in the fire was a waste of a perfectly good meal, the monster reasoned. On the other hand, people outside the house might not take too kindly to a monster like himself hauling a boy in his arms. They might have baseball bats. Or even guns!
"Please! Help me!" gasped the boy again. The room was now completely filled with smoke, and the monster could feel intense heat from the spreading fire.
Shaking his head in frustration, the monster went back into the room and scooped the boy up in his arms. As he raced toward the front door, he heard Kevin's father shouting through the dense smoke.
"Kevin! Come on! We have to get out of here!"
"It's all right, I've got him," said the monster, pushing past the concerned dad.
"Wait!" said the father. "Who are you?" Through the smoke, he followed the monster out the front door.
"Aaauuughhh!" screamed Kevin's mother. She had been standing on the front lawn, waiting for her husband to bring her son to safety. Instead, she saw Kevin in the arms of a huge, hairy creature. And her husband following a few paces behind.
"Why is that... thing... carrying our son?"
"I don't know!" replied the father, wishing he could lay his hands on a baseball bat. At least until the entire situation became clearer.
Meanwhile, fire trucks began pulling up in front of the blazing house.
"Anyone still in the house?" asked one of the firefighters.
"No," answered Kevin's father and the monster at the same time. The two looked at each other uncomfortably. Kevin, meanwhile, coughed out a little more smoke from his lungs and climbed down from the monster's arms.
"It's okay, Dad. He's the monster from under my bed. You know, the one I told you and Mom about and you didn't believe me. I stay up every night until he falls asleep so he doesn't eat me."
The parents and the monster all widened their eyes in surprise.
"Really?" said the monster. "Is that why you were always running off to the bathroom? I thought you had a bladder problem."
"That's why," said Kevin, smiling.
Unfortunately, the boy's parents were not smiling at the monster. They were glaring at him. "You were going to eat our son!" shouted Kevin's mother. The father clenched his fists.
"Wait!" said the monster, starting to back away. "Nobody ate anybody's child. I saved his life is what I did. And, by the way, you people ought to invest in a dust mop. The dust balls under Kevin's bed are the size of tumbleweed."
While the confused parents stood there mulling that over, he guardedly made his way completely out of the front yard. Before heading down the street, the monster looked back at Kevin and, shaking his index finger, nodded his head and gave a tight-lipped grin. A grin that said: You outsmarted me, kid.
Kevin smiled and nodded in reply. And waved goodbye.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021


Author Comments

I suspect most of us at some point in our childhood tightly clutched our bedcovers, experiencing what our parents might describe as an unwarranted fear of a monster hiding under our bed or in our closet. Some of us may have sought to remain mobile and alert by making more than the normal number of trips to the bathroom. Others may have held our breath for long periods of time so, if the monster appeared, he would think we were already dead and leave us to rest in peace. The important thing is: whatever strategy we chose, it apparently worked because we're here to talk about it.

- Garry McNulty
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