It was dark in the tiny room. Bob sat there holding his head in his hands, listening to the tiny arguments that were ensuing outside. Andy didn’t want to go to bed. There was either a monster under his bed, or in his closet. Or maybe there were two monsters! In either case, Andy wasn't going to go to bed without arguing his case.
“It wants to eat me,” Andy insisted, as his mother ushered him into the room.
“I am sure no monster would ever eat you,” his mother insisted, “and if he did, he would spit you right back out.”
Behind her, his brother laughed. Andy shot him a dirty look. “You just wait Joe, I bet there’s one in your closet too!”
“Oooh, I’m so scared.” Joe waved his hands in front of his face and pretended to be frightened.
“Joe, that’s enough,” his mother said. “Now get to bed.”
“But it’s only eight o’clock! Why do I have to go to bed at the baby’s bedtime?”
“I’m not a baby!” Andy balled up his fist and punched Joe in the gut.”
Tossing Andy into his room, their mother turned towards Joe and sighed. “Because you told him a scary story. You know how easily he gets frightened…”
“But it’s fun scaring him.”
“He’s your brother, you are supposed to watch out for him, not torture him. Now off to bed.”
Grumbling under his breath, Joe stomped off to his bedroom and slammed the door. Bob jumped at the noise and then shook his head. This kid lacked subtlety; that would have to be trained out of him. He listened to the sound of Joe’s feet shuffling across the floor and grinned. The show was about to begin.
Stepping inside his closet, Joe pushed his clothes out of the way, revealing a small hole in the wall. Through it, he could see Andy lying in his bed. His blanket was pulled up over his head, as though the cover created a force field around him. Joe snickered, reaching for the remote on his shelf. Aiming it through the hole, he turned his brother’s SpongeBob Television on. Andy sat straight up, his eyes wide as saucers. Joe pushed another button and turned the volume all the way up. Andy scooted towards the top of his bed, pressing his back against the headboard and pulling the blanket to just below his eyes. A few seconds later the bedroom door banged open and their mother marched in.
“What part of go to sleep don’t you understand,” she asked, shutting off the T.V.
“I didn’t turn it on! It was a ghost.”
“Honestly, I would think you could come up with a better excuse than that. Blame it on your brother or something…” Mother’s voice trailed off as a light bulb went on over her head. In the room next door she heard a scraping sound, like the closet door being shut.
“But I didn’t do it!”
“I’m sure you didn’t.” Walking out of the room, the boy’s mother headed down the hall into the next room, where Joe was in his bed, snoring obnoxiously. Switching on the light, she watched as her son stretched and slowly opened his eyes.
Joe sat up and looked around, confused. “Waz up?”
“Where is it?”
“Don’t play innocent with me. I know what you’ve been doing.” Opening his closet door, she stood on her tiptoes to see on top of the shelf. “Ah hah!”
Joe sat on his bed, plotting how he would get his revenge. If Andy wasn’t so scared of everything, he wouldn’t be in trouble, but now, just because he had played a few pranks on the little whiner, he was grounded for a week.
“Maybe I’ll put fire ants in his bed.”
“That will just get you in more trouble.”
“Who said that?” Joe looked around his room. He didn’t see anyone. It sounded like it came from his closet. “Andy, is that you?”
Joe opened up the closet, expecting to find Andy looking through the peephole. Instead, he found an orange furry creature standing there, literally holding his head in his hands.
“I’m sorry,” Bob said, holding his head up, “but I can’t get it back on. I’ve had trouble with it ever since the Jenny Christine incident”
“Ever since the what?” Joe backed out of the closet, hoping to make a run for it, but when he turned, the creature was there, blocking his way. He held his eyeballs in his hand and rolled them across the floor. Startled, Joe danced as the eyes whirled around him, tripping his feet and knocking him to the ground.
“We need to talk,” Bob said, bending over Joe and drooling on him.
“Who … who are you?”
“I’m Bob. Andy’s Boogie Monster.”
“I’ve been scaring this kid for a while now. He’s mine and I thought I had pretty good thing going. But then you come along and try to one up me.”
“I wasn’t trying to …”
“I know what you were doing kid and I respect it, really I do. You’ve got some good moves. But, you need some finesse. Lucky for you, I put in a good word. You’re in the program.”
“Why the Boogieman Training Program, of course. We’ve been short-handed, so they probably would have let you in anyway …especially after your demonstration of ability.”
“I don’t want to be a Boogieman,” Joe protested.
“You should have thought of that before you applied.”
“But I didn’t!” Joe was looking around the room, wondering if he was dreaming. Yeah, this had to be a dream.
“Just relax,” Bob said. “Come here, I want to show you something.”
Joe found himself following Bob into the closet. “This is insane,” he thought, as his feet moved across the floor.
“See that?” Bob was pointing to a dust bunny in the corner of the closet.
“It’s some dirt fuzz.”
“Nope,” Bob said. “It’s a portal to the Monster Realm.”
Smething hard hit him in the back and Joe felt himself falling forward. Putting his arms out to catch himself, he yelled out in surprise when the floor opened and he found himself falling through a hole.
“Well that takes care of that,” Bob said, shutting the closet. Standing in front of Joe’s mirror, Bob began to change his appearance. Gone was the orange fur, being replaced by pinkish skin and blue pajamas. Hearing feet coming down the hall, he set his head back on his shoulders and popped his eyeballs back in. They too had transformed, no longer red, but a sea foam green.
“Are you okay? I thought I heard you scream?”
Bob turned and looked at the mother. She looked tasty. Maybe when he was done scaring Andy, he would eat her.
“I’m fine,” Bob said, making sure to change his voice to sound like Joe. This was going to be fun.
Copyright © 2018 Lisa McCourt Hollar
Copyright © 2018 Lisa McCourt Hollar