There’s No Such Thing as Monsters!
By Jeffrey Bishop
Tell Time: 5 minutes
Scare Rating: 3 / 5 Ghosts
It was two in the morning when Sandy was awakened by the soft padding and the deep, wet, snuffling sounds. They were loud in the night’s stillness. And they were coming toward her bedroom. By the time the source of the sounds had crossed the threshold to the bedroom, Sandy was ready.
“What’s wrong this time, honey?” she asked as she flicked on the small lamp on the bedside table.
“The monster in my closet!” answered Max, around wet sobs.
John, Max’s step-dad, snuffed loudly in frustration and pulled his pillow over his head. “There’s no such thing as monsters, Max!” he added for good measure.
“There IS a monster!” Max wailed in protest.
“There, there,” Sandy soothed as she pulled her son up onto the bed beside her to comfort him. As she stroked his hair — wet with panicked perspiration — she shot John a dirty look, but it bounced off the pillow and did no good.
“There, there,” she repeated as she flicked off the light and settled in with her son to help him get his needed rest.
“John, I know you’re getting fed up with Max’s nightmares, but can’t you be a bit more understanding?” Sandy asked her husband over her cup of coffee the next morning.
“I wouldn’t mind it if it was a nightmare, but it’s not — the boy thinks there really is a monster in his closet!” protested John. “And besides, every night for a week is getting old!”
“I get it, John,” Sandy replied. “Y’know, I’m the one that’s up with him each night, remember? Just keep in mind that he’s just six, and that he’s going through a lot right now: our marriage, this new house, having his own room … ”
“And a new pet monster in the closet,” John added sarcastically.
“Nice.” Sandy replied dryly. “Can you just try?”
“Fine,” John said. “I’ll do even more than try. I’ll prove to the little tike that there’s no such thing as monsters.”
“No! No!” cried Max emphatically. The boy clung to John’s pant leg. “Don’t go in there with the monster!”
“Max,” John said with firmness mixed with a surprising degree of sensitivity. “There’s no problem, because there’s no monster in your closet. There’s no such thing as monsters!”
“But there IS! In my closet!” Max wailed. “Don’t do it! Don’t go in there!”
Sandy stood in the doorway watching the scene. She held her hand over her mouth, wondering if she should intervene. John shot her a look that said, “I’ve got this under control,” then limped over to the closet; Max was hanging off his leg like a young monkey.
“Look, Max,” John said with more firmness. “Look in your closet. What do you see?”
Max cautiously peered into the open closet. “Just your sleeping bag and pillow,” Max said.
“That’s right, Max. Just those things. No monster. And there’s not going to be. I’m going to be here all night.” John climbed into the sleeping bag and signaled for Sandy to retrieve Max.
“Good night, Max,” John called as Sandy tucked her still-sobbing son into his bed and shut off the overhead light. He slid the bi-fold door closed to block out the light from the boy’s nightlight and turned over in the small closet.
“Maybe tonight I’ll get a good night’s sleep,” he thought to himself. And in moments, he was indeed deep asleep.
“Mommy! Mommy HELP!” came the blood-curdling shriek from Max’s room.
Sandy threw off the covers and ran into her son’s room, where she found Max sitting up on his bed. He had pressed himself deep into the corner and held his blanket over his mouth. The digital clock cast a menacing red glow on his face; it read 1:58.
“The closet!” was all Max could say; he stuttered it, and his eyes were wide with terror. “It’s in there with John in the closet!”
Sandy was getting spooked at her son’s conviction. She looked from his pale face to the white paneled door that concealed the innards of the closet. There was no sign of activity in the closet; indeed, she couldn’t even hear John’s typical snoring — assuming he’d been able to sleep through her son’s hysteria.
Sandy’s fear turned to anger when the idea crossed her mind that John might be playing a cruel trick on young Max.
“Why, if he’s hiding in there to spook my son, I’ll kill him!” she thought to herself.
“Honey, let mommy open the closet and find John and show you everything’s OK,” she said to Max as she got up from the bed. Any fear she might have had dissipated in her new anger.
“No mommy NO!” Max screamed — but he didn’t leave the dark corner to stop her. He was too afraid.
Confident now that John was indeed pranking Max — and now her — Sandy strode over to the light switch, flicked it on, and stepped to the closet.
She flung wide the door. Then let out her own scream of terror at what she saw there:
John’s pillow and sleeping bag lay shredded and soaked through by heavy red blood.
Despite the crime scene and the consistent story that both Sandy and Max told them, the police classified the case as a missing person — and they didn’t pursue adult run-aways.
To explain the horror, they reasoned, without the benefit of a motive, that John must have trashed the closet — and hurt himself in the process — before deserting the family.
After all, they told Sandy and Max:
“There’s no such thing as monsters.”