The Monster under Gretel’s bed was tired. Also, he was getting bored. Gretel was growing up and it was becoming harder to scare her. Twenty-first century kids were becoming desensitised to things too early and hadn’t he read in The Monstrosity News that children born between the human years of 2000-2008 were now proving that fact? He did some calculating in his head and worked out that it was 2014 and Gretel was almost eight. She fit in that group.
Sighing, Monster massaged his aching head. One of his three horns was hurting something rotten again and he was half worried he’d have to go and get it fixed. He remembered that he should never leave a problem as it could get worse. The issue was that if he left Gretel, he knew he’d never come back again.
Shutting his eyes he thought about the scenario of being resigned and how he’d miss her. Rubbing his shoulders and higher back on the floor, he flopped out an arm from under the bed. Then deciding there was nothing else for the numbness in his neck, he crawled out. Standing up, he stretched and cast a look around the bedroom. It had changed so much since he’d first moved in months after she’d been born.
He picked a dust ball of one of his spikes and let it drop to the floor. He’d always had his fur cut short, preferring it that way and finding it cooler. However, living in a snowy part of the human world, had caused him to keep his fur long again. He shook himself out and watched the dust fall in the thin light coming from under the door.
The gasping sound behind him, took a few minutes to compute in his tried brain. Turning, he found Gretel staring up at him, the duvet wrapped around her like a shield and a pink bear gasped in her hands. He took up his roaring pose and prepared to scare her, before shooting back under the bed. However, something made him stop. Dropping his stance, he gave her a little wave. Confusion crossed Gretel’s face and the duvet hood slipped from her head.
He cleared his throat, ‘Hi there,’ he said, before realizing that he sounded dumb and had just broken a handful of laws.
‘Are you here to take me away? Or just to scare me back to sleep?’ Gretel asked.
‘Neither really…well maybe the second one…’
‘I’ve seen you before,’ she spoke up, ‘do you live under my bed?’
He nodded, ‘I sometimes live in the wardrobe too and the attic.’
Gretel peered over the edge of the bed and looked into the dark space under it.
‘How do you fit in there?’ she asked.
Monster shrugged, ‘just do. It’s magic, I guess.’
‘You look different from the monsters in the movies.’
‘We are all different and there’s nothing wrong with that,’ he answered defensively.
Gretel nodded, ‘What are going to do now?’
‘I’ll have to go away. Far, far away. My time of scaring you was almost over anyway and now I’ve probably broken some rules behaving like this…so…’
Monster sat heavily on the floor and hunched his shoulders up. Waves of emotion rolled off him. He shuddered and felt like crying. Suddenly, he felt a warm hand stroking his fur. He glanced at Gretel and dropped his hands from his face.
‘I’m going to have a baby brother soon. I might not need a monster any more, but I could use a friend. And maybe you can scare him when he gets a bit older?’
‘Oh,’ Monster sniffed.
‘Do you think that would be okay? You can stay under my bed again and we could talk all the time and then neither of us would get lonely.’
‘Sounds like a good idea to me,’ Monster replied, ‘though it was rather late now, so you should get back to sleep.’
Gretel nodded and climbed back into bed, ‘you’ll still be here though,’ she asked sleepily.
‘Yes, I shall,’ Monster answered as he tugged her in.