|For Slaying Evil Monsters
Author: Brian Lawrence PM
Eight year old Brandon Marsh is not at all crazy about his mother's new husband, but there's really nothing he can do about it. But, when his mother and her new husband go on their honeymoon, his uncle gives him a mysterious toy he got in Hong Kong. Could this toy be the answer to Brandon's problems? Inspired by the movie Gremlins.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Humor/Supernatural - Words: 3,731 - Published: 08-11-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3049626
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
For Slaying Evil Monsters
By Brian Lawrence
Eight-year old Brandon Marsh slammed his bedroom door, flopped onto his bed, and cried for the first time in eighteen months. The last time he'd allowed himself to cry was after listening to a tall man in a white coat tell Brandon's mother that his father had died from the motorcycle crash.
"Honey, don't get your tux wrinkled," called his mother from beyond the closed door. "Change your clothes, please."
Brandon didn't care about wrinkling his tux. The wedding was over, anyway.
"Hurry up, Karen!"
Brandon cringed at the booming voice of Peter Cranston, his mother's new husband, calling her from the front of the small brick house in south St. Louis.
Two tentative knocks sounded on Brandon's door. He said nothing, but his mother entered anyway.
He felt the bed sink when she sat next to him but kept his head buried in the crook of his elbow. She rubbed his back.
"Hey, baby. We've got to get going. We'll be back Monday. Okay?"
"Karen! Let's go," shouted Peter.
"Uncle Jack dropped this off for you."
Brandon peeked. His mother held a rectangular box about ten inches high and six inches wide. Strange symbols covered the box.
"He bought this in Hong Kong, on his way back from Tokyo. Said it's a wedding present for you." His mother smiled, which warmed Brandon's heart and dried the tears. She always had that effect on him.
He twisted around then sat up. She placed the box in his lap.
"Karen! Last time. Get out here."
Both mother and son frowned.
"Gotta go, babe." She leaned down and kissed him on the forehead. He stared at the well-concealed bruise on her cheekbone and his frown deepened.
She left. For several minutes, he watched the empty doorway, trying desperately to understand why his mother had married Peter, why he wasn't enough for her, why she needed another man.
His aunt Sara appeared at the door. "Dinner in an hour, little dude."
She was four years older than his mother but still unmarried. He liked her because she never talked down to him or treated him like a child. She turned with a swish of her long silky dress and walked away.
Brandon opened the box from his Uncle Jack and peered inside. All he could see was a small square block on top of a larger block. He grabbed the smaller block and lifted. He held his breath as he pulled out what looked like a little block man. He placed it on his nightstand and stared.
Standing about nine inches on stout, square legs, the toy had a square body and a square head on a small rod. Its block arms had hands with all four fingers and a thumb. Large round eyes, partially shaded by eyelids, stared at nothing. Its etched mouth was permanently set into a smile. Brandon pulled his gaze away long enough to empty out the box. All that remained was a single sheet of paper with more of the funny characters on it and some writing in English.
He struggled through the instructions and determined there was an on switch. He re-read the warning. "Once turn on toy, must be prepared to attend. If shut off, forget all." He wasn't completely sure what it meant and didn't really care. All he knew for sure was that the toy had to be turned on.
He raised the toy's left arm and pushed the tiny button on the body. When the toy's eyes lit up and its head rotated left, then right, Brandon squealed with delight and clapped his hands once.
The toy's gaze settled on him and it also clapped its hands once. Funny talking came from the toy. It sounded like Mr. Chun, from his mother's favorite Chinese restaurant, when he talked to his waitresses.
Brandon tilted his head. The toy did the same. Brandon put out his hand. The toy mimicked him.
"Hello," Brandon said. "I'm Brandon."
In a deeper than expected voice, the toy responded, "Hello, I'm..."
Then it repeated itself, again, stopping without revealing a name.
"I know, I have to name you." Brandon bounced on his bed and laughed. "You're, let's see, you're..." He swept his gaze over his room and settled on the Star Wars poster of Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo. His all-time favorite movie, one his dad had taken him to when he was five. "Your name is Vince. That was my dad's name." He smiled.
"Hello, I'm Vince," the toy said. It stepped forward, arm still extended, and to Brandon's amazement opened its hand.
Brandon put his index finger on the toy's palm and the toy closed his hand around the finger and shook lightly. When the toy released him, Brandon scooped it up and ran into the kitchen, where he placed the toy on the table. Together, toy and boy watched Aunt Sara prepare dinner. All through dinner, Sara talked about the toy, while it explored the wonders of the table. Brandon found it so funny how adults had such a hard time accepting something they didn't understand. She insisted that it was not learning, that everything it said had to be pre-programmed. Brandon just smiled at her, feeling sorry for her lack of imagination.
"What's that?" Vince asked, pointing to the silverware.
"This is a fork," Brandon answered. He scooped some mashed potato onto it. "See. You eat mashed potatoes with it."
"Fork," Vince repeated. "For eating mashed potatoes. And that?"
Brandon picked up the steak knife. His mother would
never have let him use such a sharp, serrated knife. But
Aunt Sara expected him to cut his own meat.
"Knife," Brandon said. "For cutting things." Then he
smiled wickedly and made a stabbing motion. "And for
slaying evil monsters."
"Brandon!" Aunt Sara said. "Eat, don't play."
"For slaying evil monsters," Vince repeated. The little toy stepped forward and thrust out his arm, hand gripping an imaginary knife.
When they had finished eating and answering all of
Vince's "what's that" questions, Sara rose and started to
clear the dishes. Brandon rolled a couple uneaten peas
around on the table while Vince watched. Every time the toy
blinked, it sounded like someone was taking a picture with
a fancy camera.
Shade, Brandon's gray tabby, jumped on the table. Brandon jerked back, startled. Shade eyed Vince warily. The cat crouched and moved slowly forward. Brandon decided Shade might damage Vince, so he grabbed the cat, but Shade wanted no part of being lifted from the table and bit at Brandon's hand.
"Ouch." Brandon released his cat and sucked on his finger. "Jeez, you little monster."
Vince swiveled his head and started forward. The cat hissed and crouched, its tail twitching. Vince bent, grasped the steak knife, straightened, and thrust it at the cat.
"For slaying evil monsters," the toy shouted.
Shade shrieked and leaped off the table. At the far
end of the kitchen, the cat stopped and licked its leg
where the point of the steak knife had nicked it.
Brandon stared at Shade in amazement, then turned and saw Sara watching him. She asked what had happened, looking from Brandon to Vince who had dropped the steak knife, to the cat, then back to Vince.
The toy said, "I slayed an evil monster."
Sara arched her brows then frowned. "Brandon?"
"Shade got too close and Vince poked at him."
Sara pursed her lips, but said nothing further. Instead, she turned back to the sink. "Brandon, hun, please
bring your dishes to me."
Monday morning recess finally came and Brandon, backpack in hand, bolted to the far corner of the playground, where he'd agreed to meet his best friend, Danny. On the bus, he'd told Danny he had something cool to show him, and to meet him at recess.
"What is it, what is it?" asked Danny, running up to the sitting Brandon. Danny sat cross-legged on the blacktop, the sun glinting off his bald head. Brandon's best friend was taking some nasty drugs for his leukemia.
Brandon smiled conspiratorially, then unzipped his backpack. He reached in and removed Vince, setting the toy on the asphalt between them.
"Kind of plain looking. It's like blocks glued together," Danny said.
"Tell Danny who you are," Brandon commanded.
The toy turned and faced Danny, put out his hand, and said, "Hi, Danny, I'm Vince."
"Whoa. That's sick."
Vince waited, arm extended.
"Go ahead," Brandon said. "Shake his hand."
Danny tentatively reached out. Vince grasped the boy's index finger and shook.
"Cool! What else can he do?"
"I can slay evil monsters," Vince replied.
Brandon looked up and groaned. Coming their way was Travis Dixon.
"Quick, Vince, in the bag," Brandon said.
The toy lurched forward and disappeared into Brandon's backpack.
"Hey, baldy," Travis said. Then to Brandon, "What's in the backpack, Marsh?"
"None of your business, Dixon."
Brandon stood. He had Travis by a good three inches, but still wanted to avoid a fight, which was Travis' favorite pastime.
"I wanna see," Travis said.
"Just beat it, Travis," Danny said, still sitting on the ground.
"Shut up, Baldy."
"Get lost, Dixon," Brandon said.
Travis pushed Brandon, who tripped over his backpack and went down hard on his butt. The bully then leaned over and thrust his hand inside the backpack.
"Ouch. Ouch, ouch, ouch. Something bit me. Ow, get it off, get it off."
Travis yanked his hand out. Vince was clamped onto the boy's index finger with one hand. In the other hand the toy wielded Brandon's compass, and with it was repeatedly stabbing the boy's finger. Travis shook his hand, finally freeing himself of the toy, then ran to the playground teacher.
Vince pushed himself up and retreated into the backpack.
"Whoa," Danny and Brandon both said together.
"Mom!" Brandon hugged his mother, surprised to see her as she walked into the principal's office, where he'd been since recess. The principal had said his Aunt Sara would be there in about an hour to pick him up. He was happy his mother had made it home from her trip with Peter early enough to get him instead.
"Hi, babe." She kneeled and looked him in the eyes. "Why were you fighting again?"
"I wasn't, mom. Honest."
She glanced up at the principal, then back at Brandon. "We'll talk about it at home."
She stood and led him to the car.
When they walked into their small house, Brandon asked, "Where's Peter?"
His mother sighed and replied, "Went out with his friends."
Brandon turned away and smiled. He didn't want his mother to know that he was glad the jerk wasn't there. Now they could have a nice dinner together.
"Tell me, babe, why were you fighting?"
Brandon carefully placed his backpack on the kitchen table. "I wasn't. Travis pushed me down. Then he cut himself on my compass when he tried to take my toy from my backpack."
"The toy Uncle Jack brought you?"
"Yup. Wanna see it?"
"You bet." Karen smiled warmly, pulled out a chair, and sat at the table. "Show me."
Brandon pulled his toy from the back pack and placed it on the table facing his mother.
"And what is it?" Karen asked.
"I'm not really sure. The box had funny symbols on it, but no letters."
Again, Karen smiled, then nodded.
"But I named him Vince," Brandon added.
The smile faded from his mother's face and for a second, a cloud passed behind her eyes, but then the smile returned.
"And what does Vince do?"
"I slay evil monsters," Vince replied.
Karen laughed, then reached a hand toward the toy. Brandon held his breath, hoping Vince would not interpret the gesture as threatening.
But when Karen stroked the toy's cheek, Vince said, "Pleased to meet you, I'm Vince." He stuck out his block arm.
"How cute," Karen said. "You make sure you write a thank you letter to your Uncle Jack."
Brandon nodded, scooped Vince off the table, and ran to his room.
Brandon awoke with a start. He'd heard a bang in the living room. His heart pounded as he quietly eased up in bed to listen. He felt a little silly when he heard his mother's voice. It was only Peter, who'd obviously just come home. His breathing calmed and his heart slowed as he flopped down on the too-soft mattress.
The calm lasted only seconds.
His mother yelled and then Brandon heard a slap and the words, "Shut up, bitch!"
"Oh no," Brandon muttered. He quickly climbed out of bed and ran to his door, which he opened a crack to peek out. The living room was flooded with light.
"Bastard," his mother yelled, and lunged forward, her arms extended. For a moment, she disappeared from view. From his doorway, Brandon could only see part of the living room. The hallway wall hid the rest, where Peter and his mother now were.
His mother returned into view, her back turned to the living room. Then Peter appeared. He grabbed her and threw her forward. She staggered into the entertainment center, knocking video tapes to the floor. Peter swung at her and narrowly missed her head.
Brandon ran from his room.
"You leave my mother alone, you monster."
He launched himself at Peter, grabbed him around the waist and pulled with all his might. Peter flicked him away as if he were a mosquito.
On his back Brandon watched, horrified, as Peter struck his mother in the face with an open hand. The slap echoed through Brandon's soul.
He scanned the living room. His gaze settled on the fireplace utensils. He crawled across the floor to the fireplace, stood, and took the poker from the stand.
Another slap sounded and his mother whimpered.
"Leave her alone," Brandon shouted, swinging the poker with all his might and connecting with Peter's back.
The drunk man roared with anger and pain. He turned and grabbed at Brandon, who dropped the poker and darted past Peter's outstretched arms.
"Come back here you little puke."
Brandon ran for his room. He heard the thundering footsteps behind him, closing the distance. Halfway to his room, he felt a hand grab his pajama top. Brandon lurched forward.
"Oh, sh**," Peter said.
Brandon's shirt was nearly torn from his body. Behind him he heard a crack then a thump as he stumbled back, trying to keep his balance. His foot caught on something. He fell backwards and landed on Peter.
He jumped up, fearing Peter would grab him. When he reached his bedroom door, he risked a peek down the hall.
Peter lay on the floor, unmoving, his head against the baseboard. There was a new dent in the drywall above him. On the floor Vince lay on his back by Peter's feet, one arm stuck out. Brandon started toward his toy, but when Peter's arm twitched and the man moaned, he turned and ran back to his door. Again he looked at Peter whose head was now raised, his bloodshot eyes looking at Brandon.
"I hate you!" Brandon shouted. "You're a monster. An evil monster." He slipped into his room and slammed the door behind him.
About ten minutes later his mother came into Brandon's room and joined him in bed. Neither son nor mother said a word, but Brandon curled into the crook of her arm and slept.
The small dark shape moved quietly out of the kitchen and into the living room. When he turned to go down the hallway, the streetlight outside the living room window reflected off a shiny object in his hand. Without a sound, he approached the partially open door across from his room. He waited for a moment and when he heard nothing, squeezed through the opening. Heavy breathing and the smell of stale alcohol filled the dark room. He walked toward the bed, the object in his hand raised high.
Peter groaned, shifted, then opened his eyes. He felt something on his stomach, moving up toward his head.
"Is that you, Karen? Come to apologize to your old man?"
He raised his head and groaned. Pain stabbed through his sotted brain. A small dark shape was on his chest, moving toward his face.
Still no answer, but then a sound as if someone had snapped a picture.
The shape continued forward, now high on his chest.
Peter reached out and fumbled for the light. Before he could turn it on, the shape stopped, standing on his collarbone. When Peter turned on the light, he screamed.
"For slaying evil monsters," Vince said.
He plunged the carving knife into Peter's left eye.
Brandon stroked his mother's back, sitting next to her on the sofa. He couldn't understand why she was crying over Peter's death. He'd been so mean to both of them. All he felt was relief that the monster was gone. Though the thought that someone had been in their house scared him. Maybe that was why she was crying.
Two grumpy looking men, police detectives, sat on either side of the sofa, one in a chair, the other on the arm of the couch.
"And you didn't hear anything last night?" the detective on the arm of the sofa asked, his bushy mustache twitching.
Karen shook her head, her face buried in her hands.
"And that bruise on your cheekbone. Did Mr. Cranston give that to you?"
Brandon's mother nodded.
She nodded again.
Two men wearing blue jackets with the words "Crime Scene" printed on the backs walked quickly from the hallway through the living room. Brandon watched them then turned his attention back to the hallway.
Vince slowly made his way along the wall.
The other detective said, "He beat you last night, and while he was sleeping, you retaliated. Isn't that right?"
Karen straightened, dropped her hands, and shouted, "No! That's not what happened. I was asleep with my boy."
The police detectives finally noticed Vince. The toy stopped in the middle of the living room. The two detectives scowled at the toy. Brandon noticed dark red and brown splotches all over Vince.
One of the detectives, the bald one who had been sitting on the arm of the sofa, kneeled and examined Vince.
"Are you an evil monster?" Vince asked.
"Cute," said the other detective.
The bald one stood.
"They're policemen," Brandon said. "They're trying to find out who killed Peter."
Karen sobbed again, putting her head back in her hands.
"I slew the evil monster," Vince announced.
Karen jerked her head from her hands and stared at the toy. Brandon smiled. The two detectives frowned.
After a moment of silence, all of them staring at Vince, the bald cop came over to Brandon and grabbed his arm.
To Karen he said, "Ma'am, I think you and the boy need to come to the station with us."
"No." Brandon tried to jerk loose.
"Leave him alone," Karen said. "He didn't do anything wrong."
The cop dragged Brandon toward the door and nodded at his partner.
Before they reached the front door, Vince grabbed the cop's pant leg. But the detective shook his leg and the toy went somersaulting into the corner by the coat closet. The detective pulled Brandon outside and down the steps.
Before they reached a waiting squad car, Brandon kicked the detective in the shin. The man released his grip. Brandon bolted toward the back yard. He ran fast, but could hear the pounding of footsteps behind. Images from the previous night blurred his vision. Peter was coming after him again. And when he caught him...
The bald detective scooped Brandon up.
"Give me a break, kid," the detective said between gasps for breath. "No one's going to hurt you. We just need to ask you some questions."
"Let me go, let me go."
The detective trotted toward the car, but stopped suddenly.
Brandon looked down.
Vince stood in front of the rear passenger-side door, a steak knife in his little hand.
The toy lunged forward, jabbing the steak knife into the cop's ankle, saying, "For slaying evil monsters."
The detective dropped Brandon, who landed on his hands and knees, then kicked at the toy, again sending it rolling away.
"Dammed thing. What kind of toy is that?"
He started toward Vince, but Brandon was quicker. The boy grabbed his toy, lifted the left arm, and pushed the button. The light went out of Vince's eyes and the toy was as still as death.
After an hour and a half of arguing between themselves and questioning Karen and Brandon, the two detectives, along with their army of technicians and uniformed officers left. They gave a warning on the way out that neither mother nor child should go anywhere, that they'd be back to question them more.
When the house fell silent, Karen and Brandon stood in the middle of the living room, her arm protectively around his shoulders. They stared dumbly at Vince, held tightly in Brandon's hands. He blew off some of the black powder the crime scene men had dusted the toy with.
"You don't think your toy..." Karen started to say, but lapsed back into silence. A moment later she said, "No, couldn't be. Probably someone Peter pissed off at the bar or something."
Brandon said nothing.
Karen released his shoulder, bent and kissed him on the cheek. "Just you and me, again."
He threw his arms around her and hugged her like he'd never see her again. Finally, he let her go. She stood and walked slowly into the kitchen, her shoulders sagging.
"I'll be in my room," Brandon called as he ran down the hallway.
He closed his door, then carefully placed Vince on his bed. He lifted the toy's left arm and pushed the button.
The toy's eyes alighted and his head rotated left then right, just like it had done when the cops had looked at it. They hadn't known what to do, especially when it had spoken Chinese to them. But Brandon knew what to do.
"Hi, I'm Brandon." He put out his hand.
The toy said, "Hi I'm..." and put out its hand.
Brandon showed the toy the steak knife, then thrust it forward. "For slaying evil monsters."