"The Monsters Aren't Under the Bed"
When I was a little girl there was a creature that I feared. Its name was Jones and it lived under my brother's bed. Because of Jones I would never step foot in my brother's room. No one else in my family could see him, only I could. My brother thought I was ridiculous.
On my ninth birthday, I woke up in the middle of the night to see Jones standing next to my bed. I didn't scream, but I tried to make myself as small as possible. Then I noticed something.
Jones usually had long stringy black hair and empty red eyes. His skin was usually gaunt and pale. That night his hair was chin length and red; his eyes were clear blue. His skin was tan and, well, not gaunt. He looked like he'd been crying.
Fearfully I sat up and reached a hand out to him. He took it and sat on the edge of my bed. "What's wrong?" I whispered, hoping to not wake up anyone.
"I'm sorry, Annie. I'm sorry."
"What happened, Jones?"
"I couldn't save them. I couldn't save them from the monsters."
My eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "What do you mean the monsters?" He was the monster.
He slowly drew me into his arms. "I'm not the one you need to fear, Annie. Monsters don't live under the bed."
"Jones, what happened to my family?" Tears were already streaming down my cheeks, though I wasn't sure why.
"Their dead, Annie. I couldn't save them. I tried, but it didn't work."
I sobbed silently and furrowed into Jones' chest. He softly rubbed my back and made soothing noises in my ear. After several moments he pulled away and wiped the tears from my eyes.
"I know you're sad, Annie, so am I, but we need to leave. The monsters are still in the house, they just haven't found you yet."
Before I could answer he picked me up and said something in a different language. Slowly a light consumed us, and the room around us dissolved. The light got brighter and brighter and then abruptly it disappeared.
My eyes slowly adjusted to the lower light and I noticed immediately that there were people who looked just like Jones (coloring wise at least) and some people with blonde hair and brown eyes. The ones who looked like Jones seemed to be taking orders from the other people.
Jones let me look around for a moment before he began walking through the crowds of people, ignoring the strange looks we got.
"Who are these people?" I whispered, not quite having found my voice.
"They're the good guys, Annie, the good guys," Jones answered, also whispering.
We went down several hallways, and up two flights of stairs, before we came to a door with a nameplate on it. The plate read: Gregory Lucas, Director.
Jones knocked twice before opening the door and stepping inside. Sitting at the desk was a man in his mid thirties maybe, with blonde hair and brown eyes. His eyes narrowed at me and he downright glared at Jones, who didn't seem affected by it.
"Who's the girl, Jones?" the man asked, his voice low and gravelly.
"This is Annie, Director Lucas. She was Charlie and Caitlyn's daughter," Jones asked, setting me down on my feet.
Director Lucas stood up and leaned over his desk. "I asked for their son, Jones. Their son! Does this look like their-?"
"They got to the rest of the family. I could only save her."
Director Lucas' eyes widened and he fell back into his seat. "Are you sure it was them?"
"Positive, sir. I saw them with my own eyes. I couldn't leave her their to face them on her own. She has no training."
Director Lucas let out a humorless laugh. "Of course she has no training. Neither of her parent's wanted their children to be Guardians."
I was confused. What was a Guardian? I looked up at Jones who shook his head. Director Lucas wasn't looking at me. I walked over to his desk and raised myself up until I was sitting on it. I could feel Jones' eyes on my back and Director Lucas finally looked me in the eye.
"What do you want kid?"
"Why did Jones look like a monster to me?"
Director Lucas' eyes snapped to Jones. "What does she mean, Jones?"
I could hear the smirk in Jones' voice when he spoke. "Did I forget to mention, sir? She a Wanderer."
Lucas squeezed his eyes shut. "Very well, Jones. You train her. No one else knows how to train a Wanderer."
Jones picked me up. "As you wish, sir."
With that we left the office and headed back down the hallway.
I fell asleep while we were walking and when I woke up I was laying in a bed. For a split second I thought I was back in my room at home and it had all been a bad dream. My hopes were dashed the moment Jones walked into my line of sight. I felt tears prick at my eyes, and I tried to hold them back. As soon as Jones sat on the edge of the bed, however, a single tear ran down my cheek. Jones smiled sadly and wiped the tear away.
"You'll be okay, Annie," he whispered. "You'll be okay."
My head shook slightly, side to side. "My parents… big brother…"
Jones made shushing noises and hugged me. "I know, Annie. I know."
"What's a Guardian?"
Jones sighed and pulled out of the hug. "A Guardian is a creature that keeps the forces of darkness from taking over the earth."
I nodded. "Are you a Guardian?
"No. I'm a Protector. I protect the Guardians."
"What did you say I was?"
"What do I do?"
Jones sighed again. "Your soul is, at its core, a triple agent for the Guardians. That means that you work for both the Guardians and the Darkness. Your kind is not thought of very well."
"Why did you tell me?"
Jones looked me in the eyes. "Here, nobody is babied. No one is protected from the truth."
"How did you know that I was a Wanderer?"
"Wanderers are naturally weary of Protectors."
Jones chuckled. "You are asking a lot of questions today."
I gave him a watery smile. "Sorry."
He smiled back and kissed my head. "It's okay. Now, come on. It's dinner time and you must be hungry, you haven't eaten all day."
I nodded and Jones picked me up. As we moved to the door of the room a man stepped through. He was a Guardian and was holding a tray of food.
Jones frowned. "What are you doing here, Caleb?"
Caleb smiled and set the tray down on a round table in the center of the room. "People are talking about the Little Wanderer. I figured she didn't need attention just yet."
Jones smiled and set me down. "Thanks, Cay."
Caleb nodded and looked me over. "Interesting combination. I thought most Wanderers had blonde hair and blue eyes, not red hair and brown eyes."
Jones rolled his eyes and gestured for me to go sit in a chair. I did and my eyes widened at the food. "How d'you know I like Chinese?" I asked Caleb.
He just shrugged. "Good guess."
I giggled softly. Jones rolled his eyes again. Caleb and Jones chattered about nothing the entire meal and I just watched them. I found them interesting. Every few seconds Caleb would reach out and brush his fingers over Jones' hand, like I saw my parent's do a lot.
After the meal Jones took me to the room in what I was beginning to realize was an apartment. In the room was a bed and a small desk.
"This'll be your room," Jones explained as he tucked me into bed.
I tried to nod, but I was too tired.
A few minutes later muffled shouting waked me up. I got out of bed and slowly opened the door. Jones and Caleb were both sitting on Jones' bed and they seemed to be playing some sort of card game. Every so often Jones would look at the clock beside his bed, and when the clock said nine thirty Jones told Caleb that it was time to go.
Caleb pouted, but got off the bed and walked toward the door. Jones followed. At the door Caleb whispered something in Jones ear that made him laugh and Caleb hugged him.
Jones leaned forward and lightly pecked Caleb on the lips. I felt a small smile pull at my lips as I closed the door and went back to the bed.
A few moments later Jones opened my door to check on me. I pretended to be asleep, but I heard him chuckle softly. When he closed the door I let myself smile and I went back to sleep.