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Where Monsters Lurk

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Monster SlayersReal, imagined or orchestrated — monsters lurk in the dark places of our world and minds. Times may call for us to slay the monsters or flee. That is, if we can recognize the monsters or separate the monstrous from ourselves.

Writers confront monsters this week. They lurk in the stories that follow. Some are actual monsters of lore and others are surprising additions.

The following stories are based on the March 9, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a monster story.

***

Mountain Dew Must Die by Roger Shipp

“No… … Must not… … In three weeks, only one calculated misstep… a celebration with a friend. That one does not count.”

I carefully allocated the water into my pitcher. Using a paring knife, I purposefully sliced the top of the plastic sleeve containing my miracle rejuvenator. Upending the wrapper, it emptied into the pitcher of water turning the once bitter elements into a refreshing herb-sweetened ambrosia.
Reaching into the upper-right cabinet, I selected a huge, 16-ounce receptacle and filled it with filtered ice cubes.

Pouring the tangy nectar into my glass… I had once again overcome my cravings.

###

On the Road to Union City by Bill Engelson

Along about noon, the twice weekly stage from Coryville whizzed by. After we waved it on, Aggie and I dismounted to give our horses and our saddle sores a breather.

“If I’m not being a nosy old woman, what takes you to Union City, Mr. Dobbs?”

“Time you called me Clancy, Aggie. Hell, we’re almost engaged.”

“Well, fiancé, same question?”

“I don’t wish to darken your bright beautiful day.”

“I am resilient, sir.”

“Mmm, okay. There is man waiting for me there by the name of Brace Caldwell.”

“Just a man?”

“By biblical measure, he is a fire-spitting leviathan.”

###

Behemoth by Jane Dougherty

It was coming. He felt it through the soles of his feet, the heavy tread of millennia-old feet. Would it have claws, he wondered, or toes like an elephant? As it plodded up from the ocean, the river roared, waves swelling higher and higher. The screaming was audible now. It must have reached the city limits. His brain was frozen, like his limbs. Try to reach Kate at work or cross town to the school…the kids? He did neither. The roaring wasn’t the swollen river. It was the beast. Its ancient hate-filled voice told him there was no point.

###

The Monster on the Beach by Gordon Le Pard

It was the teeth that caught his attention, black and shiny. He bent and picked it up, looking closer he could see the shape of the jawbone.
His aunt, seated beneath a parasol called out,
“What have you found Ronald?”
He ran across the beach to show her.
“Oh, a fossil. Do you know what it is?”
He knew, had visited the museum and seen the great skeletons, it was an ichthyosaur.
That night as he lay in bed, the jaw dark beside him, a word crept into his mind, Dragon, and a name, a name of fear – Smaug!

***
Author’s Note: At the beginning of the twentieth century J R R Tolkien, then a schoolboy, came on holiday to Lyme Regis in Dorset, long famous for its fossil rich cliffs, and found the jaw of an ichthyosaur. Though he knew perfectly well what it was, he labelled it ‘Dragons Jaw’ and kept it for the rest of his life.

###

The Artist by Etol Bagam

When he was still on diapers, he drew his first squiggly line.
A wind blew and a piece of colored yarn flew squiggling past him.

As a toddler, he would draw clouds, and the wind would bring some clouds to an otherwise clear sky.

As a kid, he would draw cars, and his parent never understood how come he had so many toy cars.

Then, at age 13, he started to draw monsters.
Family and friends from school or the neighborhood were suddenly disappearing from earth.

Not him!
He was always spared, as he was the beasts creator…
Their father!

###

A Monster...by Ruchira Khanna

“Mom!” shouted my kid from his room in the middle of the night.

I woke up with a jerk!

Moved rapidly towards his room while rubbing my eyes.

“What happened?” I inquire with anticipation while holding his hands that were stretched out in discombobulation.

“There is a monster!”

My eyes widened, and I looked around puzzled.

“Where?” I inquired.

“Under my bed.” as he jumped up and down on it.

“Listen” he urged.

Bulged my eyes even further to awaken the mind so that I could register the noise.

“Aha! you forgot to turn off your car, sunny boy!”

###

The Monster Known as Shy by Ann Edall-Robson

“When the riders come I’m going to tell them they can’t ride Ginger. He’s my horse.”

The little girl peaked from behind the kitchen curtain watching the men saddling the gentle horse. The giant that was her friend.

The bold conversations were with herself. She watched, year after year as the gathering crew left the barn. Her Ginger was always with them and she was always going to give those guys what for!

She was timid and shy. Her voice and nerve buried beneath the monster. Slaying the demon that kept her quiet and alone would happen, one day.

###

Old Miss Maben by Pete Fanning

We creep up to Miss Maben’s room, giggling through the finger on our smiles. She sits slumped, crumpled, her face lost in a gentle wheeze.

My sister shoves me, then burst down the hallway. Miss Maben’s eyes flicker then widen before she snaps to life. I scamper off as she shrieks about the kids in her yard.

Back in Gram’s room, we catch our breaths and howl with laughter. Yard! How silly! Do it again?

Miss Mable is terrifying. Fascinating. How she thinks she’s at her porch. She sees grass on the floor.

And yet, she always sees us.

###

Green Monster by Pat CummingsThe monster has teeth that tear at me in the dark. “You’re obviously missing something the successful writer needs, or you’d have a dozen books on Amazon now, instead of three partly-finished novels and a co-written memoir, half outline and half disorganized notes in a file-cabinet drawer.”

Plugging my ears doesn’t help. I close my Kindle, and it hisses again. “That last book was a good one, wasn’t it? We especially liked that last phrase you highlighted. Genius, really. Not at all like your stuff.”

Only one way to slay this monster: finish the fiction, polish the memoir, PUBLISH!

###

The Monster in the Room by Geoff Le Pard

Mary moved the map and re-read the detective’s letter for the umpteenth time. She could see the seaside cottage, imagine the blond girl leaving for school.

‘How’s it going?’ Peter, her husband stood in the doorway, red pinny incongruously tied to his waist.

‘There’s so much here. It’s her, I’m sure. I spoke to Rupert. He said we need to go back.’

Peter regarded his wife with affection. ‘Of course if it looks like it’s her. Dinner in ten.’ He turned away, hiding his grimace. If it gets this monster off your back, he thought, it’ll be worth it.

###

Never Cry, Wolf by Elliott Lyngreen

100 years in each backwoods step

We enter white wooden door, into classic cabin,

Cynically, “jagetit?”—rage, “Yes!”—

In pulse rubicund skies, elongate the only window

Suck down these anecdotes immediately

We know in our deepest deepest hearts this is the last hope

Creep sneering, .. I breathe lighter and lighter,

Arrest flaring nostrils approaching

Swallowing chests until the last bit slinks, throats

Claw crawling cure, seizes in, around,

“What’s wrong?”—“What’s Wrong?”—

Silver elixir fails, red hairs sliver

Moon, reflection, beast grins

‘Yea?…, C’mon my RedWolf!

You’re nothing without me’

We shatter out, through sounds just in pieces

###

Adrena’s Insides by Kerry E.B. Black

It claws its way through her serenity, mangling Adrena’s insides. It squeezes, and she knows soon, truth will stain her soul and bleed into the open. She can’t care. Glinting garnet pools congeal into stinking, blackening clots. Her face contorts as clawing rips her insides.

Transformation burns. Her screams turn to howls haunting virgin’s dreams. Gasps rip through the wilderness of abandoned reason, and she ignores tears for what once she hoped.

She prowls, catches their scent, pursues. Her feet make no sound as they pad after prey.

A bang sears, and she falls, shot by a wary foe.

###

Put Up a Fight by Kerry E.B. Black

Sylvia scowled at her ruined manicure as the family served breakfast. Quiche again. Sylvia’s sister only made quiche. When Sylvia chewed her second bite, a hair tickled her throat. She extracted it, disgusted. Long and black. “Gross.”

Mother set a napkin on her lap. “You girls be careful. Police found another body last night. Pauline Prescott.”

Sylvia’s mouth fell open. “I know her!”

Her sister flipped her blonde strands. “Knew. Mom said she’s dead.”

Mother’s brows knitted. “Pauline was that brunette cheerleader, right?”

Sylvia nodded.

“Police said she put up a fight.”

Sylvia thought, “Enough to ruin a manicure.”

###

Regret Has a Serrated Spoon by Sarah Brentyn

I just did something unforgivable.

Shakespeare says, “What’s done cannot be undone.”

I know the pain of this truth.

I have felt the words “blind rage”. I don’t remember all of what I did in my fury.

No one talks about the confusion that follows, when you’re in a heap on the floor wondering what happened. Or the regret that scoops you out like a cantaloupe.

I am hollow.

How fortunate I am that regret has a serrated spoon. As an empty husk, there’s a chance I can live.

With the fragmented memories of this thing that I did.

###

The Itis…Monster Flash Fiction by Rowena Newton

Neither awake nor asleep, she could hear his gravelly voice huffing in her ear: “I’m going to get you!”

She knew that voice too well and flinched. His grotesque form leaning over her bed, she could almost feel his fingertips touching her skin. With the stench of rotting flesh, this monstrous beast came from the very pits of hell.

Trembling, she shrank into a very tight ball.

No! She was still determined to get the bastard. Wring his neck. Finally, destroy the beast.

But there was nothing there.

No monster to slay with her almighty sword.

Yet, there was!

###

Monster Pandemic by Paula Moyer

1918: Frieda rejoiced on Armistice Day. The war was over! Harwood would return! They could marry! She had eyed a little white house in Shawnee, their hometown 40 miles west of Oklahoma City.

Then it came, that stealthy ogre. At the school where she taught, a fellow teacher started coughing. The next day came the news. Stella was dead. Then another and another. The school closed. Miraculously, Frieda’s family was spared.

What kind of monster was this thing? 18 million died worldwide, more than during the war.

Afterward, she would shudder and say, “The flu. The flu is treacherous.”

###

Monster Hunt by Charli Mills

Wilstach patted his mustache with a lace hanky. Sarah, lost in thoughts of Rock Creek, heard her friends speak in her head.

“A fine dandy for lunch, Rosebud,” Cobb said.

Nancy Jane scoffed. “That man for real? Sarah, you need to kick him in the shins.”

“I’d play poker with him. Strip his money and ego in minutes,” added Hickok.

Wilstach repeated a question. She had to snuff the voices, bury secrets with the dead. Lunch was not so tempting that she’d betray them. Her stomach growled in protest.

“Mrs. Devald. Tell me, which one was the real monster?”

###

Excerpt from Keepers by Sacha Black

I pulled my lips away and glared into his wild, panicked eyes as he realised what I’d done. My chest burnt with the pressure of his air and mine locked inside my lungs. He clutched at his empty throat realising I was suffocating him. He reached out with a desperate hand and for the briefest moment I questioned who was the real monster.

“Your parents deserved to die,” he choked.

I batted his fingers away like a dead fly and watched as his face jumped from violent red to ghostly white and his eyes rolled back in his head.

###

Monster Under My Stairs by Susan Zutautas

There’s a monster living under my stairs
How do I know? I’ve heard him there

While trying to be as quiet as a mouse
He’ll sneeze and shake the entire house

He’s big, he’s hairy
He’s very scary

One step, two steps, three steps, four
Did the monster hear me open the door?

Five steps, six steps, then onto seven
Will I make it down to eleven?

Holding my breath all the way down
Hoping the monster has gone and left town

If you dare go down my basement stairs
Watch out for the monster
He may be there

###

Pitring by Lady Lee Manila

In a remote village of Madilim
Lived a woman called Pitring
Once a month she changed
To a monster called WakWak
Black wings appeared on her back
She separated her top from her torso
And flew away as the night grew dim
She needed some foetus
Fresh blood that she could suck
She said she could smell pregnant women
She tried to stop herself but in vain
What she did, she tried to fly far away
Away from her village, away from neighbours
So they wouldn’t be her victims
This power was passed on to her
By her mother

###

Am I? by Carol Campbell

“Death to all pink people”, I screamed at the loudest volume possible. I looked out over that sea of faces cheering me on and I should have felt filled with bravado, but I didn’t. I believe in the purity of the human race. In fact, it’s my core belief but that woman called me a monster. I was their leader. I’m not a monster, am I? Suddenly, I could not talk. The whole auditorium got quiet enough to be a church, not a rally to change the world. Softly, I turned from the podium and walked off the stage.

###

Open, Close Them, Open Anew by Norah Colvin

The picture was clear. Taken with wide open shutters and long exposure, then developed in black and white for extra clarity, the result was undeniable and exactly what would be expected.

“You’ll never amount to anything.”

“That’s rubbish.”

“Pathetic.”

“You’re always the troublemaker.”

“Because I said.”

“Shut up!”

“Stop asking questions.”

An existence devoid of value was drilled with reminders hurled unrelentingly from birth. Well-schooled in self-loathing, the lessons were regurgitated without effort or question. The monsters without had created the monster within. How could one escape from what was recognised only as truth?

###

The Constant Nightmare by Imagenn793

She felt them every night.

Every morning, afternoon, evening.
They were there, posting comments, spreading hatred.

Trembling, the girl looked over at her desk.
Even though her laptop was shattered, their thoughts made their way into her soul.

“Ur so rude.”
“I hope u die!”
“Monster!”

No, she thought. I’m not a monster, they are!

But still, their words left ice on her heart. The girl’s vision blurred as tears streamed down her face.

“I hate u!”
“Die already!”
“How could u say that?!”

The monsters haunted her, in and out of her dreams.
They were her constant nightmare.

###

True Monster by Nageshwar Nath

It was hottest morning of the year. Varun was sitting under the shades of mango tree. His thoughts wandered from monsters, how increasing of temperature will one day end the world…

Suddenly, few known peoples came near the tree. “We are here to cut this tree,” one of them said. “Your tree HAHAHA but you can’t cut it,” Varun exclaimed.

“I was thinking of true monster’s of world. One who will end greenery of world, raise global heating and lead world to sink in water is true monster. Trees provide us with everything for our need. I will not let you to do this.”

###

Put Up a Fight by Kerry E.B. Black

Sylvia scowled at her ruined manicure as the family served breakfast. Quiche again. Sylvia’s sister only made quiche. When Sylvia chewed her second bite, a hair tickled her throat. She extracted it, disgusted. Long and black. “Gross.”

Mother set a napkin on her lap. “You girls be careful. Police found another body last night. Pauline Prescott.”

Sylvia’s mouth fell open. “I know her!”

Her sister flipped her blonde strands. “Knew. Mom said she’s dead.”

Mother’s brows knitted. “Pauline was that brunette cheerleader, right?”

Sylvia nodded.

“Police said she put up a fight.”

Sylvia thought, “Enough to ruin a manicure.”

###

Autodidacticism by Jules Paige

The Monster had always been in the not-knowing. Jack’s
Mother left his father before he could make any memories
of the man that shared two out of his three names. His
half brothers had always wondered what Jack’s Mother
had told him about their father. It turns out she said absolutely
nothing at all.

Jack’s Mother was barely there for him, but she was The
Monster he knew. When Jack was eighteen he had the
opportunity to visit and then live with his father for a while.
Now Jack had to figure out how not to become ‘A Monster’.

###

Monsters in the Dark (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Jane lifts her head from the pillow, listening. Did she hear something? Yes, there it is again. Skittering. Leaves in the wind? She listens again. No wind. Skitter.

Great. That’s what she’d liked best about this place. Decent neighborhood, secluded, well cared for and shut up tight. No vermin. She considers how to get a mouse trap free. She has better things to spend her limited money on, but she doesn’t want mice chewing her clothes, droppings everywhere. She needs her clothes nice, for job-hunting.

Skitter. Ugh, mice!

As if unemployment and homelessness aren’t big enough monsters to banish.

###

Cover and Hide by Anthony Amore

She could feel briars dig into exposed skin on her arms and thighs; she pressed herself deeper into the leaves. Just play dead, she thought. Play dead or be dead.

She tried to regulate her breathing just like yoga class, but she worried about rustling leaves covering her face. If he hears, she thought. Focus, Marine. Focus. On the ridge a scuffing metal sound against roots and rocks. Cover and hide, she thought. I survived Fallujah. I survive this.

She should have declined the ride. Monsters blend all to well. Near her head, a pointed shovel strikes a stone.

###

Neon Tetras Flash By by Christina Rose

Five years old, innocent eyes attempting slumber. Distracted by rhythmic pumping from the bedroom closet. Focused on the neon tetras, stripes of cobalt and blood-red flash behind waxy, plastic ferns. Bubbles churn the sound of water in her ears.

Sour coffee breath exhales on her skin. Fixated on the macramé basket, knotted hemp, walnut beads. Grime clings at the rope; a luminous, dusty halo.

Thirty years old, buying dog food at the pet store. Neon tetras flash by, the familiar gurgle sends shivers reverberating down her spine. Memory of the childhood monster in the closet still threatens her sanity.

###

Closet Monsters by Irene Waters

The oedematous black bags surrounding her huge eyes grew with each sleepless night. She had to keep alert, prepared to fight, should the monsters leave the closet. During the day they hid in the dresses and blouses hanging in the cupboard. At night they came alive, dancing in the shadows cast by the moon, waiting for her to sleep but night after night she stayed awake. Not without cost as her hair fell out, her teeth blackened, her cheeks hollowed.

Looking out at the grotesque monster the closet creatures were frightened. They’d have to stay awake to protect themselves.

###

Perfect Order by Anne Goodwin

His shirts are white; his ties straight and narrow. His words are clear, and in perfect order. He knows what must be done: by him, for us, about them. He, and only he, can save us. If he pauses for even a moment, they’ll pounce: to steal our jobs; threaten our way of life; our very existence.

He reminds us to do our bit, tighten our belts, build fences around our treasures. We must make sacrifices. Can’t you hear them, hammering on the door? The monsters are outside: not in him; not in me; not in you.

###


6 Comments

  1. Rachel says:

    Yet another great collection!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Annecdotist says:

    A great collection of monsters, Charli! And I’ve just remembered another novel about the monsters inside and outside — The time of the beast:
    http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal/christmas-chills-time-of-the-beast-by-geoff-smith-and-sugar-hall-by-tiffany-murray

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Etol Bagam says:

    Very nice!

    Liked by 1 person

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