Scary Monsters

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Scary Monsters

Post  Vorgain on Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:09 pm

Scary Monsters
C.A. Donnelly
6/9/2011

She was cleaning her last table when she heard the whimper. It was soft and low, barely audible. But it was there.
At first she thought it was just the wind, or the creaking floor. The restaurant was old, and it – like all old buildings – had its quirks. Like the squeaky hinge on the kitchen door, or the sagging areas of the floor. So it was perfectly natural that something would be creaking.
But the third time she heard it was different. The third time the sound was unmistakable. The scared whimper of a child. She’d had enough children to know what it sounded like. Well into her sixties now, her children had moved on. But she never forgot that sound. A child, scared and alone and in the dark.
“Hello?” she asked. “Is somebody there?”
In hindsight, that was a stupid thing to say. Of course someone was there.
“Where are you?” she asked. “I know you’re here. You don’t have to be afraid.”
The whimper came again. Louder. From under one of Claudette’s tables. Claudette had left an hour ago. Obviously she hadn’t checked her tables well enough. Or the child had crawled there after Claudette had left.
She walked over to the table, and bent down, then knelt, and peered underneath. Sure enough there was a little boy, curled in a fetal position. His eyes were clenched tight, and he was whimpering slightly and his body moved in a rocking motion.
She reached out to touch the poor child, her heart moved with compassion. How many times had her children come running to her, afraid of the dark?
The moment her hand brushed against the boy’s head, his eyes snapped open and a scream flew from his lips. He batted her hand away and scampered backward into the corner of the booth, sitting down and wrapping his arms around his legs, drawing them close to his chest. He tucked his chin low, and peered out at her with bulging, fearful eyes.
“Sssshhhhh,” she said. “It’s all right. I’m not going to hurt you.”
The boy clenched his eyes tight, and began rocking back and forth, whimpering and murmuring something she couldn’t hear.
“My name’s Jen,” she said, extending an open hand. “What’s yours?”
The boy opened his eyes at the sound of her voice. “B-b-b-brian,” he managed to say. The fear in his voice was unmistakable.
“Brian,” Jen said back. “That’s a good name. A strong name. My brother’s name was Brian. He was a soldier. Do you want to be a soldier?”
The boy shook his head.
“No?” Jen asked. “Why not?”
“They kill bad guys,” Brian said.
Well, she thought, at least she’d gotten him to say something.
“Not all of them do,” Jen told him. “My brother trained other soldiers. He didn’t kill anyone.”
A little stretching of the truth couldn’t hurt, she figured. Telling little Brian that her brother had been in the Special Forces and couldn’t even talk about what he’d done wasn’t something she thought the boy should know.
“They kill bad guys,” Brian said again. He clenched his legs tighter to his chest, and started rocking again.
“Would you like something to eat?” Jen asked, changing tactics.
Brian’s eyes lit up at that. “Food?” he asked, raising his head and seeming to smile a little.
“Yes,” Jen said. “We can get some food and you can tell me where your parents are.” She smiled warmly at him.
He cringed at the mention of his parents. “The monsters got them,” he said. “Ate them up.”
Jen raised an eyebrow. The monsters?
“Were you dreaming about your parents when I found you?” she asked.
Brian nodded.
“I’m sure they’re fine,” Jen said. “Let’s go get some food. What do you say?”
“Okay,” Brian said. He began to slowly crawl out from under the table. Jen smiled at him.
“Is it okay if I hold your hand?” she asked. “I don’t want you getting lost. It’s dark in here!” She laughed a little hoping to ease the boy.
“It’s really dark,” he said. “There’s monsters in the dark.”
Jen smiled at him as he clenched her hand tightly with two of his. “There’s no such thing as monsters, sweetie,” Jen told him. “It’s just your brain playing tricks on you.”
“There’s monsters,” Brian said again. “Scary monsters. They’re hiding. They like to eat little boys.”
“Don’t be silly!” Jen said in her happiest voice. “There’s no monsters here. We don’t let monsters eat at this restraint! Now come on, let’s get some food.”
She led him into the kitchen. All the other waitresses had gone home, and there were just two cooks on the line. The manager had left for the night – Jen had cashed out earlier, and was finishing her sidework before finding Brian. So the cooks had no problem cooking a small helping of macaroni and cheese for Brian, along with little hot dog bits and some apple sauce.
Jen brought it to Brian, and he ate it greedily. When he was done he seemed to be in a better mood. Less frightened. Jen smiled. She knew how children worked.
“What are your parents’ names, Brian?” she asked after he’d set his fork down.
“Phil and Gabrielle,” he said.
“What about your last name?”
“Gilbert,” he told her.
“Do you live nearby?” she asked him. She’d tell the police all the information she had, but first she wanted to see if she could find them in the phone book.
“Daddy works here,” he told her. “Mommy isn’t around too much. She sings songs. She has to be doing her concerts a lot and Daddy can’t always go to them and I have to stay with Daddy.”
“You must love your daddy,” Jen said.
“The monsters got him,” Brian said. “They ate him up and he isn’t even a little boy. Why did the monsters eat him?”
“When did the monsters get him?” Jen asked, deciding to play along.
“When he was having dinner. The monsters got him and Mommy. Ate them up. I hid under the table.”
“Wait right here,” Jen said. She walked over to the phone on the wall, and dialed Claudette’s number.
“Hello?” Claudette answered on the third ring.
“It’s Jen from work. Was there a couple and a little boy eating at table fifty-two tonight?”
Claudette was silent for a moment. Then she answered. “Yeah, there was! They left without even paying the bill and they hardly touched their food!”
A slight chill went down Jen’s spine. No one left without paying. Not in this town. Someone that worked in this town wouldn’t just up and leave.
“And you know what’s weird?” Claudette said.
“What?” Jen asked.
“They were regulars. They knew me specifically. They’ve never done this before. I figure something must have come up and they had to leave suddenly. I paid for their food out of my own money. I’ll have them pay me back next time I see them. I’m sure they didn’t mean it – something must have come up.”
“Right,” Jen said, wanting to believe it. “Sometime came up.”
But why would they leave their son behind? No parent in their right mind would leave without their child.
Jen hung up the phone without waiting to hear the next thing Claudette had to say. She loved to talk, and Jen couldn’t listen now.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, Brian came running toward her. He wrapped his arms around her leg, and started screaming.
“What’s wrong?” Jen asked, her voice slightly panicked.
“The monsters are back,” he said. “They’re coming.”
“Don’t be silly,” Jen said, but found her eyes drifting over to the rack of knives across the room.
“They’re coming,” he said.
Then the door to the kitchen swung open. Jen spun around, only to see the door swinging shut. Nothing had come through.
Nothing? Why was she thinking nothing? No one. She’d meant no one. No one had come through.
Then there was a muffled gasp from the line. And then another. Jen spun to face it, and both cooks were gone. She stood on her toes, craning her neck to peer over the counter.
What she saw sent her heart racing. A slowly spreading pool of blood and two legs. The rest of the body was hidden from her view.
She turned again, and made an awkward dash to the rack of knives. Brian was still clinging to her leg, which made moving difficult.
“Where are they?” she shrieked at him. “Where are the monsters, Brian?”
“Coming!” he said. His face was buried in her thigh, and his nails were digging into her skin through her pants leg. “They’re coming!”
Jen reached the knives, and ripped one from the rack. She rotated to face the rest of the kitchen.
“What do they look like?” she asked. “Where are they? Brian, help me. Brian!”
She was panicked. Her heart was racing and her breath came in short bursts. She was too old to have this much adrenaline rushing through her veins.
Then she saw it. A dark shape against the wall. Even in the bright lights of the kitchen, she couldn’t make out what it looked like. It was like a blob of darkness, slowly moving toward her.
She brandished the carving knife in front of her with her right hand, pushing Brian behind her with her left. “Get back!” she shouted.
The dark shape paused. It almost took a step back, and seemed to shrug. Then it moved forward. It was both slow and fast, moving like liquid. Tendrils seemed to thrash from the shape, and it lurched toward her as she jabbed with the knife.
The knife sliced through it, and Jen felt a hot liquid pour onto her arm. But the monster didn’t stop moving. A tendril whipped out, encircling Jen’s neck. It dug into her skin as it dragged her into the dark shape. Then she saw teeth and felt them biting down on her body. The darkness of the monster’s mouth engulfed her, and the last thing she heard was Brian screaming.

Vorgain

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Re: Scary Monsters

Post  Nirdian on Sun Jun 12, 2011 1:09 am

I don't know what it is exactly, or how you do it, but you managed to get my heart pounding there at the end. Damn you know how to build tension! Awesome work, genuinely scary!

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Re: Scary Monsters

Post  The Magic Tuba Pixie on Sun Jun 12, 2011 4:42 pm

YOU SHOULD HAVE TOLD ME NOT TO READ THIS WILE SLEEPING IN A TENT.
Gah, that's freaky. You, sir, are an incredible writer. You command tone and diction with professional grace.
You're like our own personal Stephen King. Have you ever thought about being a published writer?
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