The ticking of the clock, much like a mechanical heartbeat, marked the passing of the seconds as Marcella lay awake , fingers blindly tracing patterns on the top of her blankets.

"I told you before, it's not your damn money to spend!"

"I'll do what I damn well please with it!"

A sound like a flat stone hitting water; a brief slap, and then a moment of silence before something heavy was scraped across the hardwood floor.

"Don't talk back to me, bitch!"

A cry of pain and of outrage. Why outrage, Marcella wondered. This wasn't the first time this had happened.

The closet door across the room creaked open. Marcella paid it no mind.

Across the hall, a woman's voice spoke up, angry with an edge of fear.

"Get off of me! Get off of me, you bastard!"

Something hit the bed, springs protesting the sudden weight loudly. There was a grunt and something stumbling. Meanwhile in Marcella's room something moved across the floor with gliding footsteps, growing nearer to the bed.

"I told you once, and I'll tell you again. You don't touch anything that's mine, bitch. It's mine! It's my money, and I work hard to earn it. You just stay at home and sit on your fat ass all day and expect to get everything you want. Well, I'm done with it."

A sharp blow delivered to something weak. A broken cry and the shifting of the mattress again.

The thing stopped at the edge of Marcella's bed, looking down at her.

"Stop crying! Stop crying, damn it!"

Another cry cut off by an impact. The brief sound of someone choking, then nothing but the pounding of fists on a fabric surface.

"Not a scene for a little girl to be hearing," the figure looming over the bed remarked. Marcella turned her head to get a better look at him. He didn't look like anyone she'd ever seen before - his body seemed to be made of shadow, the lines slightly blurred. His hair was long and curly and matted up, some of it hovering over the blankets and some of it remaining behind bony shoulders.

"Are you the monster from the closet?" Marcella asked. She wasn't scared, not really. There had been a monster in her closet for as long as she could remember. Sometimes at night he would come out and creep along, slinking across the floorboards and sliding under the crack beneath the door to disappear into the darkness. He'd never bothered her before, never threatened or spooked like the monsters in the stories her mother read her sometimes.

The man smiled sadly down at her, black lips twisted oddly over his pale face.

"Yes," he answered, with a slight bob of his head.

The bedsprings creaked loudly as the sound of someone hitting the furniture reached a momentary crescendo before falling away.

"You should probably close your eyes for this part," said the monster.

"Who are you?" asked Marcella. She still wasn't scared. This wasn't supposed to happen, she knew. Monsters weren't supposed to be real, and they weren't supposed to talk to you or tell you what to do. But she doubted there was anything she could really do to make the monster go back to the closet.

The corners of his lips twitched as if he thought he might want to frown but wasn't sure. He raised a cold, heavy hand and set it down carefully on the pillow next to her head.

"Your guardian angel," he whispered.

"Damn it!" a man's voice pierced the otherwise-quiet air with his muffled exclamation. Marcella glanced at her bedroom door again, wondering what was about to happen.

"An angel?" she asked, turning her attention back to the monster. "Like the ones my mother told me about?"

He nodded again.

"Do you have wings?" she asked.

"No," he replied. "No, I'm not that kind of angel."

She frowned, studying him like she would a difficult puzzle.

"Where are you from?" she asked.

"Someplace very far away," the monster answered. "And yet very close. You could reach it, if you really wanted to."

Something in his face made Marcella think that maybe he didn't want her to visit this place.

"How do you get there?" she asked.

The monster's too-bright eyes went to the bedroom door for a moment.

"You just close your eyes. Close your eyes and breath out - hard," the monster said.

Marcella shut her eyes and sighed, letting all the air hiss out of her lungs. When she opened her eyes again, nothing had changed.

"I'm still in my bedroom," she said.

"I know," said the monster. "It's not really like that."

"What do you mean?"

The door opposite Marcella's opened. The monster flinched and looked down at her, desperation pouring from his lips as he opened his mouth and spoke.

"It's really not so bad there," he said. "Really, it isn't. Marcella, you'll come and join us soon, and it's not bad, it's not bad at all. We'll go anywhere you want, someplace fun, any place in the world you think of, we can visit. And oh, the things we can do! We'll go to the beach and swim in the ocean, we'll climb to the top of mountains and watch the sun rise, we'll watch men build skyscrapers and ride the elevator to the top when it's done, we'll do lots of things. It won't be bad, not at all. So just close your eyes."

Marcella had just started to ask him what he was talking about when the door opened. In the dim hallway lighting, the monster looked even less real, like a watercolor figure somehow painted on thin air. Marcella's father stood in the doorway, staring unseeingly into space. Slowly, with footsteps that scraped across the floor, he dragged himself to her bedside. He didn't seem to notice the monster as he pulled the pillow from beneath Marcella's head.

"Close your eyes," said the monster, voice urgent. An icy hand found hers and squeezed, hard.

The room went dark as the pillow was placed over her face. The last thing Marcella was aware of was her hand going limp in a frigid grasp.

A/N: Maybe I should talk to... someone... about this?

Well, it's my annual Halloween story again. I haven't been active on here at all recently, and I do regret that, but I'm hoping that things will change soon when I'm caught up with my schoolwork. I've fallen behind, unfortunately, and now I'm playing desperate catch-up. It's no fun. But I'll try my hardest to make time for updating stories and posting new things.

Well, thank you for reading this! Feedback is always appreciated. Happy Halloween, everyone!