by E.C. McMullen Jr.
Deep into the night while everyone slept, five year old Ankar sat on the foot of his bed.
His feet dangled over the floor as his hands firmly gripped the edge, ready to launch himself off … if need be.
Meanwhile, with his head tilted slightly to the left, so his ear was pointed to the source, Ankar gave his closet door a wary look.
Something moved in there, the soft noise woke him up. Now there was silence but Ankar was certain that, whatever it was, was biding its time.
It waited for Ankar to let down his guard.
Ankar was pretty sure he knew what was in his closet. The same thing he saw with his Uncle Terry that night his parents were out on a date. Over fresh hot popcorn and cool lemonade, they watched an old movie with music and nothing else. No color, no talking, no noises, just the music and moving pictures. His Uncle Terry insisted Ankar read the title cards out loud as they came up.
“Why can’t we hear them when they talk?”
“That’s how people talked to each other back then before sound,” his Uncle Terry said.
“But they have sound. Music is sound.”
“Just watch,” Uncle Terry said. “History is important.”
Ankar was certain the monster in the movie was the monster in his closet.
Ankar leaned closer, his ear turned and tuned ever more toward the closet, but not so turned that he couldn’t see it from the corner of his eyes.
A rustling sound.
A monster was in there.
No, THE monster was in there.
All the other times, when Ankar ran to his parent’s bedroom, pleading, pulling on his father to catch the monster, the creature escaped before they returned, making Ankar look dumb.
Ankar wouldn’t let the monster get away this time.
There it was again!
Within the closet, the hangars clattered against each other. Ankar was sure of it: something rustled amongst his clothes.
He launched himself off his bed.
He walked toward his door.
Ankar was brave. Ankar was scared. He was ready to run should that closet door open without him.
Having crossed the floor, Ankar stood before his closet door.
His bedroom door was open and he stood in the dim rectangle of light from the hall. It gave him courage. He wasn’t entirely in the dark. Not like he was on his bed.
As quietly as he could, Ankar gripped the closet door handle and slowly, as noiselessly as possible, he turned it.
The door came forward from its frame a bit.
It was now or never.
Ankar opened his closet door wide.
Blackness, nothing but dark in his closet.
So dark he couldn’t even see his clothes. Ankar nearly sighed in frustration. Fooled again.
Then he thought, ‘Wait. There’s enough light here. Why can’t I see my clothes?’
His small body trembled without chill at the thought. Apprehensively, he slowly raised his face to look up at the darkness.
A hideous white face at the top, nearly glowing, smiled down at him.
This face smiled without a trace of kindess: Malevolent not Benevolent.
It was the creature from the movie. His monster: Nosferatu.
Ankar wanted to run, but feared he’d be easily caught and, whatever the monster had in mind, it would be so much worse if he ran.
But he had to do something!
“My Pop says you’re not real.”
For but a moment, the creature’s consummately confident, predatory smile froze then faltered. Its enormously wild hairy eyebrows drew in with concern. Then it regained its composure.
“But,” it grinned. “What does your Mother say?”
“She told me to ask my Pop.”
Ever so slightly, the Nosferatu’s features crumbled again. This was apparently – not good news. Once again it thought a happy thought – a private thought that was happy for it – and its evil smile returned.
“Yet here we are,” the thing grinned, so wide that its sharply prominent, ratty teeth, came out. “So all that really matters is, what do you think?”
The question chilled Ankar into shivering. The creature’s two front teeth were long and sharp as needles. Neither his Mom or Pop were here to protect him from something that wasn’t real, and here was something that looked very real!
“Yesss?” The creature interrupted him, dragging out the word, the smile stretching.
Doubtfully Ankar continued, “- under the circumstances -“
“Ye-ess?” the creature interrupted again, drawing its white, hideously clawed hands out from where it had hid them in its sleeves. It spread its long fingers out, the razor claws slicing the air into whispers. Each claw pointed toward Ankar’s face. The Nosferatu wanted to terrify the child into submission.
“I think I should do what my Pop says.” Ankar finished.
“Oh shi-!” The creature *popped* out of existence.
Surprised that it worked, Ankar stared dumbfounded at the clothes in his closet.
A shadow fell across him!
Ankar looked toward the hall!
His Pop, half asleep and holding a glass of water, stopped in front of his son’s open door. His hair was pillow pulled into bed head. A bristle of beard growth dirtied his face, and his eyes squinted at Ankar. Father sussed the situation as he blearily looked at his son. His child, standing wide-awake in the middle of the night in front of his open closet.
“Did you say what I told you?”
“Did it work?”
With awed wonder, for Ankar was effectively surprised that it did, he said, “Yeah…!”
Ankar’s Pop made a Click-Click sound in his mouth, pointing his index finger at his son with a thumb’s up, and said.
Ankar turned to stare at his amazing, pudgy hero, while Pop closed the door against the hall light. As the light squeezed to black, he heard the hero say,
“Now go to sleep.”
FIRST MONSTER, copyright 2013, E.C. McMullen Jr.
Artwork: FIRST MONSTER. Artist, Feo Amante.
Music while writing,
Edvard Grieg – In The Hall Of Mountain King
If you enjoyed this short story, watch the further adventures of Ankar in the online short film, THE NIGHT MY MONSTER DIED.
Then read more about Ankar in, CEDO LOOKED LIKE PEOPLE, in the anthology Fear The Reaper, edited by Joe Mynhardt. Available in Print and eBook at Amazon and Barnes & Noble!
“Cedo Looked Like People” – E.C. McMullen Jr.: A boy’s strange next door night- and day-divided neighbors make for equally strange – and later disturbing – friendships. This Ray Bradbury-esque is one of the most memorable and one of the more original stories I’ve read in a long time.”
– Amazon Reviewer
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By E.C. McMullen Jr.
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Also look for my story Cedo Looked Like People, in the 2013 anthology, FEAR THE REAPER, edited by Joe Mynhardt and available in Paperback and eBook.