At first I was numb.
I began to notice them two weeks later:
The hole across the morning breakfast table;
The hole in the recliner facing the television;
The hole on the left side of our bed at night.
I wanted to fall in.
Years later, they sometimes still appear.
Alison hates holes.
Now a time-worn 22-year-old, after ten successful years hunting monsters under beds, Tommy was washed up and ostracized, no longer hero but villain.
His insatiable appetite for monster flesh and increasing expertise in the slaughter had brought his prey near extinction.
A protected species, the last monsters cowered in zoos.
Alison would like to give thanks to Ran Walker, who made her think about those poor monsters under the bed in a different light.
Editor: This story is a follow-up to Ran Walker’s “Hunting Nightmares.”
He’d nibbled fingertips and the occasional toe, but he awoke Christmas morning to an entire arm dangling over the bed.
Yes! There was a Santa Claus.
But as the monster relished the impending feast, fit for the most discerning palate, little Bobby snorted and rolled over, dashing his Christmas dreams.
Because Alison and every sleeping child knows that only dangling arms and legs are fair game for the monster under the bed.
Philip sought a good book to live in.
He’d tilted at windmills with Quixote, rafted rivers with Huck, and fished with the old man in the sea.
Finally he decided to make a permanent home. With eyes closed, he chose the first book he touched and entered.
“In the beginning…”
Alison just loves a good book, or a short story for that matter.
She’d stalked him for months.
Fantasized about the intimacy of his bite.
About eternal life.
She imagined the momentary pain, and the rapture of desire.
She followed him to his lair and awaited nightfall.
His teeth grazed her compliant neck.
Backing away, he muttered, “Sorry, not my type.”
Alison does not like vampires. They are not her type.
He’d treasured that winter. Record snow. Briskly cold.
Mother had carefully arranged a scarf around his neck while he watched the children’s snowball fight. He stifled a chuckle when father clumsily slipped on the ice.
Only when his charcoal eyes slid down his melting frame did the reality set in.
Alison treasures the winter and loves lots of snow.
We watched the eclipse and the darkness that crept over the land.
No one expected that the darkness would remain.
We waited and watched in disbelief.
They emerged from the muck, the bowels of dusty towns, and neighbors’ dens, emboldened by the shadows and the promise of a new order.
Alison witnessed the solar eclipse, and wondered what would happen if the darkness stayed. Then she wondered whether the darkness has already prevailed.
If all the misbehaved, screaming children in restaurants were eaten for dinner.
If tailgaters grew tails, and road-hogs were butchered for bacon.
If lying politicians were publicly flogged by their constituents.
If gossipers were muzzled.
If what goes around really came around, and karma decided the fate of future existences.
He was a handsome young man. In the counseling session he spoke of politics, love, plans for college.
I marveled at his many strengths.
Tentatively, he then announced that he’d written the Beatles’ songs.
He wept in painful awareness of the impossibility of false memories, the cruelty of his illness.
Many years ago, as a mental health professional, Alison worked with this young man. His anguish is still fresh in her mind, yet his resiliency prevailed. Alison hopes that this small story will make you stop and reconsider your assumptions about those who have a mental health diagnosis.
It was a nightly ritual. “Daddy, there’s a monster in my room.”
All the parenting journals promised: “Let her cry; two nights, and the crying will stop.”
Proud Daddy noted that after only fifteen minutes the crying had indeed stopped, as the monster dragged little Dana into the closet’s depths.
Alison spent many a night tucked under the supposed safety of her sheets, crying for Mommy and Daddy to rescue her from night terrors and other perceived threats. She is still wary of the closet and what lies under the bed once the darkness comes.