The Monsters Beneath Our Beds

I want to dedicate this to my old English teacher, Mrs McAllister. Thank you for being there for all of the students in our class.

Here's a proper summary of what the story should have been but was limited due to FictionPress:

The monsters beneath our beds

that exist only in our heads

Are given form, given life

In the world we create

From old stories, they lurk and wait

Leaping out from the page to cause strife

Nightmares though they may be

Yet when dawn comes, watch them flee

In the end, they are simply

Figments of everything that came from me

i. Explanations

Everyone knows that when the sun goes down, the veil between worlds is thinned. With the darkness serving as their cover, the monsters come crawling. From beneath our beds to stepping out of closet doors. By breaching into our world, they changed familiar objects into horrible things from our worst nightmares. A tree branch becomes a hand, reaching out to grab you. The cat next door turns into a ferocious tiger.

It's scary and frightening.

But worse of all is the fact that the monsters love the taste of naughty children. The ones that don't listen. The ones that refused to do their homework and are always in front of the TV playing silly video games like The Legend of Zelda. At least, that's what mum always said.

The only way not to get eaten is to have a night light plugged in and ensure that no hands or feet are dangling over the side of the bed.

Tucked tightly under the covers, I kept my eyes screwed shut with the pillow covering my ears. The monsters always came just before I managed to fall asleep. Right when I was on the cusp of the world of dreams. They were big and nasty and they stank a lot, too. More often than not, they would stomp around my room, looking for something to eat. Like dogs, they tried to sniff me out. When they couldn't, because of my expertise at keeping myself hidden, they would let out a loud roar before they crossed back through the portal underneath my bed. Thwarted, once again.

Unfortunately, Teddy wasn't so lucky last Tuesday. He fell onto the floor when Mandy curled up next to me that night. Too late, I realised that he was out in the open. Before I could reach out to grab him, the monsters came and spotted him immediately. It took everything that I had not to gasp out in dismay – lest they find me too. And as quick as a flash, they gobbled him up.

No more Teddy.

For two days, I mourned the loss of my friend. He had been a comfort to me when I was younger. Though he might have been a little torn up around the ears and his overalls needed a bit of patching, he was still a dear friend. Mandy understood that. And perhaps because of that, she clung to me closer.

Mandy had been my special friend ever since I was really young. We went everywhere together. To school. To the park. Sometimes even to the local library to do some research for my class projects.

Both mum and dad disapproved. It was strange, they said, that I only ever played with Mandy. In their minds, it simply wasn't right.

"Evelyn, dear, you need to stop playing make believe," dad had said one time, pulling me aside just before school began. "I know Mandy is important to you. I can see that she makes you happy. But you need some real friends. What about Piper over there? Or the twins? Why don't you try talking to them and see how everything pans out? Please, Evelyn. For me."

Torn between wanting to please my parents and scared that I would only get hurt, I agreed to reach out on the first day of school. But Piper had never liked me. Not even when we were in pre-school together. And the twins – Gertrude and Belladonna – were quick to turn up their noses when I tried to introduce them to Teddy and Mandy.

By lunch time, I was sitting in a corner of the library, munching on my soggy sandwich. Mandy, the only one beside me.

In the end, there wasn't much mum or dad could do. I know that they worried about me, but I never felt lonely with just Mandy and Teddy by my side. In my first year of proper school, mum introduced me to Jester. She was a tiny rabbit doll with a silly hat and a patchwork outfit. And after some persuading from Mandy, I even befriended Nemean, our next-door neighbour's Pomeranian.

Every afternoon, after I'd finished my homework, Mandy, Teddy and Jester and I would have a picnic and tea in the garden. Sometimes Nemean would join us, but he'd often steal the snacks I had painfully collected instead of sharing it with the rest of us. One time I gave him a smart rap on the nose for being mean and being greedy. That was a mistake. If it hadn't been for Mandy, Nemean would have bitten me. Hard. Dad would never have allowed me outside if that had happened.

But maybe if I had some 'proper' friends, everything would still be all right. If I had only been the good girl that mum and dad had wanted, the monsters wouldn't have taken them away in order to punish me.

Why else would mum have told me to hide when there were noises downstairs? And why didn't mum look for me afterwards?

Hiding in my room, I was shaken by the frightening sirens and loud roars. As time dribbled past, I knew that mum and dad had been taken. I wanted to crawl back out from the covers. But to do so meant putting myself in harm's way. The monsters would take me next.

Fear paralysed me. I couldn't move.

I was so scared that when my grandma finally found me in the morning, the bedsheets were wet. Grandma didn't say much as she drew me into her arms. Except only that she had received a call around midnight. And she had come as soon as possible. I could just imagine her leaping out of bed like the heroine from one of the old western movies I used to watch, clambering on a horse and galloping down to our house that was twenty minutes away by car.

It's been hours since then. Grandma said it was nearly dinner time. But there's been no sign of mum or dad. Grandma was on the phone for most of the day and she had me bundled up in blankets and seated on the couch, a cup of warm cocoa in my hands.

I took a sip, feeling the warmth of the cocoa spread through me. Even with Jester and Mandy seated beside me, I still felt completely alone. Mum and dad were gone. The monsters had taken them. Yet none of the adults believed me when I told them that the monsters had done it.

If none of the adults were going to do what was needed, then I had to. I set the cup down on the coffee table and rose to my feet.