PLOT: Working a humdrum office job and having a nagging boss will be the least of Nathan’s issues when he soon learns that his childhood fear-a monster living under his bed is much more than fantasy…
IN THE BEDROOM: A Fairytale
He felt the feeling he was being watched. Every night. He checked his surroundings, but never saw anything there but shadows playing tricks on him. When he was younger, Nathan Bennet was afraid of a monster in his closet or under his bed. His parents assured him nothing like that existed. Now at twenty-one years of age, he certainly didn’t believe in such things. Sometimes in life, however, beliefs are challenged, and you can be proven very wrong.
The email he wrote was a long and boring. Nathan was never one to argue if he didn’t like to do something. Deeply he felt his life had become meaningless. Working at an office, coming home, watching TV and going to bed. The endlessness of his tasks offered him nothing but boredom. He tried creative writing. He tried taking art classes, but nothing stuck. This was his life. Mundane.
Loosening his tie, he entered the break room to make some coffee. A bland looking area with a counter and a few tables. After his coffee was made, he decided to sit and watch the traffic below. He turned on some music from his phone since no one was there. As the moments passed, a few of his co-workers walked in and out. Saying a quick hello, but ultimately leaving him to go somewhere else.
That is until his energetic best friend sat by him, a long-time friend from high school. A good-looking guy who prided himself on fashion and happiness and someone who made Nathan smile. “Nathan! You’re sitting alone again. You know you can always chat with me. No reason for you to be alone.”
His name tag read Paul Tompkins. Placing his purple purse down, he looked to Nathan as he spoke. “I think the boredom of this place gets to me and I forget I have someone I can trust and actually have fun with.” With his one diamond earring, pink sweater and black skinny jeans and high heels, Paul never failed to look glitzy every day. “I’m always so surprised you’re single.” Paul admired how nicely Nathan dressed for work and his personality. He often tried to compliment Nathan, sensing the hatred of his workplace. “Well, thank you for that. What can I say? Being single is the one thing in my life I’m content about.” His tone confident for sure, Paul could tell he truly didn’t long for a girl or boyfriend. “I hope you are more than content. I think happiness is a good goal to strive for.” Nathan nods and sips his coffee. “Agreed. Maybe I’ll find a hobby or maybe I’ll get a puppy or something.” Paul nodded with a friendly smile. “There you go! I think life has plans for you, Nathan. You’re a kind and hardworking guy. I hope good things come to you. I hope you find happiness.” Nathan knew Paul was wrong. His life wouldn’t change. It hadn’t since he was eighteen working at the same humdrum office.
Evening came slowly as the workday had ended. Nathan sent a text to Paul to make sure he drove home safely. He always did, driving worried him and he didn’t have a license. Another thing in his life he was content with. Perhaps Paul was right. Happiness should be what he strives for. With that in mind, Nathan changed into a tank top and black pajama pants and began to cook dinner for himself. Turning on some 80’s rock, he hummed as he cleaned his small kitchen area and readjusted some items. A tiny spark of happiness did go through him as he listened to his music.
Taking a deep breath, Nathan curled up in bed. An average sized bedroom for an apartment. Another boring day is done and over with. He debated on calling Paul just for someone to talk to. Sleep got the better of him and he soon drifted off. A few moments after closing his eyes, he heard a strange sound. A kind of growl. He slowly sat up, thinking it was only a nightmare or maybe a creek from one of the heating pipes. The noise was prominent enough for him to stay sitting up in bed, cocking his head left to right. With a shrug, he lied back down. The creature saw everything. Peeking his head out from under the bed. He knew he had Nathan a bit creeped out. He smiled and retreated to the shadows.
Mr. Hardy left a pile of paperwork to be done once Nathan walked in. With a sigh and coffee in hand, the tired worker began his routine. Dreading every moment of painstakingly looking after Hardy’s writing. Correcting spelling and grammar errors. Nathan had a knack for correcting spelling but doing it for someone else other than one of Paul’s poems he often put online, made him want to faint of nervousness.
Always worrying about failing. Always worried about causing a commotion. He took a deep breath and rubbed his eyes. I can do this. He repeated softly. It’s only grammar. His heart raced. A lump formed in his throat. Should he get up and leave or sit and take it? He leaned back in his chair, his cubical becoming blurry, he loosened his black tie and unbuttoned the top of his blue dress shirt. The sound of footsteps approaching made him more nervous. Luckily, it was Paul. He eyed his friend worriedly. “Hon? You okay?” Nathan went wide eyed for a moment. “Oh! Paul. Yeah, just fine” he lied. Paul softly approached him, his brown hair styled nicely as always. “You don’t look good.” Observed Paul. “Really?” Nathan asked in fake confusion. “Why don’t you get a drink and take a walk? I’ll watch your stuff.” He nodded softly and left. Paul sighed, debating on whether to follow him or not. He decided against it and sat. Worried about his friend. Leaning up against a wall, he took deep breaths. This was not the first time these feelings had come up. Not by a long shot. This felt like the tenth or fifteenth time at least. Soon it’ll be over. Then what? Then back to his boring house. Why was life either high stress or boredom? It didn’t seem right.
Moving the blankets over, Nathan sat up again. Feeling a cold shiver run up his spine. This time, he knew someone, or something was in his room. He looked to one side, near a burrow. He swore he saw a tall figure. Lurking. The shadow hard to make out, the young man spoke into the darkness. “H-hey!” Of course, after he said this he expected to turn a light on and realize it was a lamp or a jacket hanging from a chair. He didn’t expect to hear the deep tone of another “Hey”. He rolled out of bed, he yelled loudly as he backed himself into a corner. He shivered, his palms sweating. His entire body shaking. Dizziness struck him next. The figure walked over to him, his mannerisms so odd. Nathan turned on his bedside lamp, expecting to wake up from this vivid nightmare.
The light shined on him, a very tall reptile humanoid. Dark green skin, a tuft of black hair on his head. His nose pointed, his tail quite sharp looking, so were his tiny pointed teeth when he spoke. The creature smiled at him. “I got you good, boy.” Nathan stood up and attempted to shove the creature away in-between tears of pure terror. Shoving him back, the creature giggled. “I’ll be back little man. Sadly, for you, this is my job.” He slithered under the bed like some large snake. With a scream, Nathan looked under the bed, but nothing was there. He began to knock items over, ripping the blankets off, seeing if he could find the creature. Running to the bathroom, he ran his hands under the sink and splashed his face. “Pull yourself together! There’s NO such thing as monsters.”
Spilling coffee on the floor, Nathan cussed quietly and grabbed napkins. Paul quickly helped him as he always seemed to appear out of nowhere. He looked at Nathan and saw dark circles under his eyes. “Nathan? Did you sleep at all?” He shrugged. “No. Never do really.” With a sigh, Paul held his hand. “I know you hate this job, and I know you live alone. I want you to call me if you’re feeling unhappy. Really. I can’t stress it enough. I can even bring you food!” Nathan smiled softly at his friend’s offer. “Maybe sometime. Thanks, pal.”
After being called into Mr. Hardy’s office, Nathan sat nervously. Going through his head, thinking if he had done anything wrong. The boss is slender, has a hairstyle that would be a throwback to the 1950s. He wore a grey suit as he sat across from him. On his desk, a picture of his family. “Nathan, I wanted to tell you what you did wrong with your paperwork.” Of course. It was always what he did wrong. Never did he seem to do anything well. It was always whiny criticism. “I noticed that you missed a few periods and you didn’t use the right size font. I’m going to ask you to do it again.” Just like that, he tossed out the challenging work he had done. Truth be told, he did as best as he could. “Sir, I’m sorry. I’ll do better next time. I promise.” Hardy nodded and smiled. “It’s a waste of time to do all that and do everything wrong.” Nathan had all he could do not to tip a chair over or kick the desk in front of him. Nathan left without a single word, heading back to his cubical. He took deep breaths and tapped a nearby pen on the desk, trying to get his mind off Hardy’s tone and annoying little nitpicks. He closed his eyes, repeating…the day’s almost over. The day’s almost over. He had no idea what waited for him at home.
Stepping into his kitchen, he yelped loudly as the very creature from last night was raiding his refrigerator. The creature at full height is about seven feet, dark green scaly skin and a pointed snout much like a Komodo dragon. His eyes yellow and kind of pretty in a mysterious way. Nathan gently backed against the wall. Gazing on something he had never seen. It spoke. “You weren’t supposed to see me.” His voice so odd and otherworldly. Nathan sat in a corner but didn’t seem as terrified as before. “What are you?” Nathan said a bit loudly, the creature dropped what he had in his hand, a box of cereal. “The monster living under your bed.” He states rather plainly. “Those don’t exist! You must be some weird undiscovered creature living in my house.” “I’ve been under your bed for quite some time.”
In a sort of rush of flashbacks, he remembered complaining to his parents when he was quite young about a haunting presence in his bedroom. Like all parents, they told him monsters don’t exist. Here one was, plain as day standing in his living room. “I don’t believe you, but whatever the case, can’t you leave me alone? You’ve scared the shit out of me.” The creature eyed him softly. “I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that. You see, when a monster picks a quote ‘victim’ they live in their home until the day we die. We are born to scare. It’s in our nature. We never leave your side. Typically, of course, no human sees us, and they shrug us off thinking we were just a phase in childhood. You are the first human to communicate with any monster under the bed.” Nathan stood up and took a deep breath. Calling the police was out of the question, what if bullets didn’t hurt it? What if the creature himself killed the officers?
“Did you pick me on purpose to scare?” The creature picked the box of cereal up and munched once he got a handful. “In a sense. We are born in caverns hidden from society. Our masters teach us how to scare others in unique ways and then we are sent to houses. Most kids are easy to scare, but some aren’t. It’s all luck of the draw.” Nathan rolls his eyes, he truly hated having a monster living with him. Especially one that tormented his childhood. “Well go back to your master and leave me alone, I’m too old to have ‘monster in my closet’ problems. You scared me enough when I was a kid.” Nathan walked to the kitchen as he spoke, getting a salad prepared for himself.
The creature followed him, staying a few feet behind him. “We can’t go back. Once we pick a house, that’s it. I will live here until I die. Which won’t be far way away lucky for you.” Perhaps a tad bit of sadness hit Nathan, enough for him to reconsider his emotions. “I’ll make you a deal. You stop trying to scare me, and I’ll let you stay.” Never had anyone treated him with such kindness. The creature smiled a bit. Nathan cocked his head. “Don’t smile. Please. It’s scary.” The creature giggled. “Do you have a name?” With a shrug, he spoke. “Not really.” Nathan paused, he tapped his finger on a nearby surface. “Melvin was the name of my first dog. Does that sound good?”
Melvin sat on the nearby counter as Nathan did the dishes. Melvin cocked his head to the various sounds of glasses being clanked and the warm, soapy water running from the faucet. Doing nightly chores as a tall, reptilian creature watched was far from normal. The human didn’t talk much, he found this whole thing a bit to jarring. What would one talk to a creature about? The weather? Emotions? It all seemed so alien to him. Was Melvin lying? Would he come out with something scarier than before?
As he stole glances towards Melvin and watched him innocently sitting and doing rather normal human behaviors, another thought went through his head. One he didn’t expect. Melvin looked rather innocent. It felt like a silly thought, something that scared him so much, now shown in a different light. No longer shrouded in darkness, but sitting right by him, it gave Melvin a sort of lively appearance. As eerie as some of his movements were, his other features didn’t seem all that bad. ‘Who am I kidding?’ Nelson thought as he finished up and dried his hands. ‘He’s not bothering me now, so I won’t say anything negative. But I won’t be one to start personal dialogue about my horrible work day or anything like that.’
Sitting on the couch, Nathan watched a stupid sitcom, just something to have on as his tiredness ever so slowly began to grow. Melvin sat on the other side, again in a very human-like manner. “Want me to go back under your bed?” Nathan eyed him sternly. “No. You’ll scare me again. Believe it or not, I like when I can see you.” Melvin nodded and coughed softly, his lizard-like long tail sat in his lap, the tip nearly touching Nathan. “Guess I did an excellent job.” Due to the bad day he had and due to the anxiety he had over the past few weeks, he snapped, leaning forward. “I hated it. I hate being scared, I hate having some freak in my house! I hate what you did to my childhood. You know how many kids are freaked out due to monsters in their closets? Lots! You’re part of the problem. Just shut up.”
Leaning back, he sighed deeply. Melvin’s eyes went from curious, to down. He played with his tail. “It’s all playful fun” he finally said, Nathan scoffed. “Right. Fun for you. You never, ever stopped to consider the kind of terror you put ME through.” Again, Melvin’s eyes looked down. This time his whole head went with the motion. “It’s the only way I knew how to communicate with someone else. It’s how I was brought up.”
Listening to his remorseful voice, Nathan rubbed his eyes slowly. This wasn’t a human. This was an otherworldly being, taught to scare and that’s it. No other interaction. Not until now. “I’m sorry I yelled at you, Melvin. Honestly, I should be in awe. I’m experiencing something probably no one else has.” The creature stood up, Nathan watched him not blinking-a stare of nervousness. Would he attack? Would he yell? Who knew? He braced himself for the worst. “Goodnight Nathan.” Watching Melvin leave, Nathan turned off the TV.
As his weary eyes began to close, he heard and felt something among the blankets. “Melvin! Get out.” He whispered harshly, the creature sat in a ball at the end of his bed. His eyes glowing in the darkness. “I won’t scare you, I promise. I’ve never slept in a bed before.” Remembering his outburst and how horrible he felt after, the human took a deep breath and let him stay.
A few days passed, Nathan woke and stretched. Their relationship had not grown much, but slowly Nathan liked the idea of Melvin. He saw the creature lying on the other end of the bed, sleeping away. He was most active at night, which made sense given the creature’s purpose in life. He eyed the sleeping being, slouched over the edge of the bed on his stomach. Down his spine were a series of black, small spikes, much like a porcupine, which seemed to be folded downward. His breathing deep, much like a large dog.
Sitting at the table, sipping coffee Nathan skimmed through some news articles on his iPad, researching monsters under beds and if anything would connect. When he felt a pair of hands leap over his shoulder, he flinched. “Melvin!” he said in a slightly loud tone. He chuckled darkly and sat by him, his voice chipper. “Sorry. I can’t help it.” Nathan couldn’t help but softly smile, he thought Melvin did have a somewhat charming personality after having sometime to process things. “Look. Your purpose IS to scare. I get it. It really does bother me though. I feel like we’re on speaking terms and you don’t need to do that.” Melvin shrugged. “Fine. I’m itching to scare though. So, tempting. So, fun.” Melvin is super odd, that’s for sure, but something in his mannerisms told Nathan he was far from evil. His scaring was more playful at this stage than life threatening. Perhaps it had been that all along.
His office hours, work seemed to go by a bit slower as he constantly checked his watch, on the hand he didn’t feel quite as lonely. A bit more confident perhaps. Typing in his usual spot, Melvin was in the back of his brain the entire time. What was odd was Paul didn’t show up to perform his normal greeting. A moment passed. Nathan decided to sneak into the break room.
Paul had a large box, putting items away. He certainly wasn’t himself. His slow mannerisms spoke volumes. Rolling his sleeves up, Nathan knocked gently and opened the door. Paul smiled at Nathan-a fake smile. “Paul? Are you okay?” With a sigh, he closed the cardboard box. “Mr. Hardy doesn’t want me here anymore.” Nathan rolled his sleeves up. “That’s ridiculous. You’re so hardworking.” Again, Paul sighed. “He went on this whole tangent on how ‘uncomfortable’ I make him. How quote ‘girly I look’, how he couldn’t stand being near me.” Nathan’s heart goes to the pit of his stomach. Paul carried the box and walked toward his best friend. “Sadly, this is only a sign of hateful times.” His tone so low and defeated. Exiting the room, Nathan stood, his throat closed. He knew his boss was picky and annoying, but prejudice to the point of firing a worker? This threw him off.
Nathan sat in the break room, in a corner alone. No longer having Paul’s fun commentary to brighten his day. Sadness came in waves this day. The feeling loneliness at work hit him. More so than ever. After the break, he goes to his sitting area a bit earlier than usual. Opening his email browser, he typed his boss’ name. Every worker had their own file which could be accessed by any employee. Mr. Hardy preferred snail mail as opposed to email. With this information, Nathan found Mr. Hardy’s address and hits print.
Melvin knew something was wrong right when Nathan entered the apartment. “Are you upset?” Nathan took a seat on the couch next to Melvin. The scales on his body shined a tiny bit as the light from the lamp nearby struck him just right. “I yelled at you. The first night we met. I’d like to make it up to you.” Melvin cocked his head. “Remember my friend I told you about? Paul? He was fired from work.” Cocking his head again, the creature had no idea what that word meant. Nathan quickly explained. “He was removed from his job. Like if your master told you, you couldn’t scare people anymore. Paul’s boss kicked him out.” “Well, surely to get that sort of treatment, he did something wrong?” Nathan shook his head. “I’m afraid not. His boss simply didn’t like his clothing or his ideas.”
With a sad sigh, Melvin looked to Nathan. He had never heard of such a thing. For a monster to get removed from scaring others, you’d have to do something against the master personally or break one of the few ‘rules of scaring.’ Judging someone by appearance was never something Melvin was faced with.
Nathan looked at his feet. “Look, I have someone you can scare.” The spikes on his back slowly went up. “Is that so?” he said with a slight sneer. “I don’t have the guts to yell at my boss or put him in his place for the horrible thing he did.” With a clawed hand on his shoulder, he stopped talking. “Nathan. This is what I do. This isn’t my first time.” Nathan sighed and decided to get out of his work clothes, putting on a hoodie and jeans.
His wife was out on vacation. His kids away at a friend’s house for a sleepover. Hardy had the entire home to himself, wearing a bathrobe and pajama pants he finished his glass of wine as he turned off the living room lights and turned off the TV. The tidiness of his home showed how truly obsessive he was about neatness. Not a single thing out of place, the windows shined, everything shined as a matter of fact.
Lying in bed, he closed his book and took a deep breath as he flicked off his bedside light, lying in complete darkness. His heating pipes began to make a rattling sound, which always woke him as soon as he started to drift off. This was not natural. Melvin was rattling it. Melvin softly chuckled an evil sound that made Mr. Hardy sat up. He began to sweat a bit as he sits up. “Who’s there?” he asked as a lump formed in his throat.
Before he could get up and get a weapon, Melvin leaped onto his bed with a growl. Hardy lets out a terrified shriek as the creature pins him down with two hands by the shoulders. Melvin was in his glory. Feeling sweat of a terrified victim was what he relished in.
The spikes on his back stood up, Hardy’s eyes wide open as he gazed upon something he had never seen, Melvin was able to change his voice to the most sinister tone one could wish to hear. “WHO ARE YOU?” Hardy yelled as he struggled to get out. “The monster under your bed for the night.” Hardy thrashed about, but the creature kept him in a tight grasp. “You’re not real!” Melvin held Hardy’s jaw in a tight grip. “Fear would do you some good, Mr. Hardy. Give Paul back his job and stop treating Nathan like he isn’t trying his best. Understood?” Hardy nodded as his hand slowly reached to the bedside table. Melvin gazed into his eyes when suddenly he felt a sharp pain go through his shoulder. Melvin let out a monstrous yell as he tumbled off the bed and onto the floor. Hardy took the butcher knife he always kept there and ran out of the bedroom.
Halfway down the stairs, he tripped on the sleek wooden texture of the staircase and fell on his side, rolling on his back. The knife flew in one direction. Groaning in pain, he slowly tried to get up, when suddenly Melvin had made his way to him. His arm bled, but that didn’t seem to stop him as he placed one of his clawed feet on Hardy’s chest. “Kill Me! Come on! Creature from hell!” Melvin sighed deeply. “I repeat. Give Paul back his job and stop treating Nathan like trash.”
Shrouded in darkness, Melvin exited Hardy’s home, standing near the doorway and looking out onto the sidewalk and the surrounding suburban area. Nathan who was just about to check on him, ran to him like an owner finding his lost dog. “Melvin! You’re bleeding!” He held the creature’s hand and walked by his side. “I’m so sorry! I should’ve gone with you. I was too scared, and I knew I wouldn’t be much help anyway. I should have gone to keep watch.” Melvin couldn’t help but gently smile, this time it looked genuine and not terrifying. “I had fun actually.”
Sitting at the kitchen table, Nathan wrapped Melvin’s arm in a bandage, the sounds of crickets could be heard outside. The air conditioning made a low humming sound. Melvin sat eating a snack, looking at Nathan as he finished patching him up.
He still found humans a bit fascinating, in a way he thought he never would. For so long, he was taught that humans were nothing more than scared victims, but Nathan proved the opposite. That there’s more to the human condition than just one or two emotions. Perhaps Nathan had become a bit more open-minded to the unknown world, before fearing what he didn’t understand, maybe now he realized that just because something is not known, doesn’t make it bad.
For so long his life was a series of boring events, even now, he still couldn’t believe that a creature sat a few feet from him. In a way, he felt lucky. Lucky to have something that not everyone had. Something to make him feel special. “How did Mr. Hardy take your words?” he asked as he did the dishes, Melvin shrugged. “I hope well enough. I did my best.” Nathan glanced over his shoulder to Melvin. “Well, you are scary. But kind of adorable.” Pausing, Melvin felt a sense of happiness when he said that. Maybe he was tired of being called scared and wanted to show that there was another side to him.
Paul happily entered the office the next morning, Nathan hugged him tightly as he did so. “I don’t know what got into Mr. Hardy. He called me and apologized. Not like him at all! Maybe his superior came down on him?” Shrugging, Nathan made his morning coffee with a smile. “I certainly didn’t yell at him.” Paul grabbed a few files he needed to get going on returning to the office, last minute assignments. Walking passed a nearby window, Mr. Hardy gave a gentle wave to Nathan, he waved back in the same manner. Giggling, Paul approached Nathan. “Okay. Who killed Mr. Hardy and cloned him?” “Maybe someone scared him into changing his attitude?” “Who could do that? Mr. Hardy’s a scary guy when he’s mad. I can’t imagine someone putting fear into him.”
Nathan walked by Paul’s side the cubical area. Speaking in a low tone. “I’d feel dishonest if I didn’t open up a bit. I do know. Exactly what happened. Meet me at my house next week.” Paul eyed him. “What have you got up your sleeve?” Nathan stops him, speaking lower. “Look, you’re my best friend. I’m not going to keep secrets from you. I can’t get into it now. Trust me. You won’t want to miss it.”
The two sat on the couch, the TV on low. An odd emotion stirred through Melvin. One of comfort. As a creature built on fear, this was new to him. Sure, he felt happy scaring people, but comfortable? His whole life was spent either in Nathan’s closet or under a bed. Comfort wasn’t something he was used to. Being with someone. Talking to someone when they weren’t wide-eyed in terror was a feeling of warmth he didn’t think he had in him. For so long he was alone, no one to talk to. No one to confide in. Now he had found his goal. He once thought to bring terror to others was his goal, but maybe deep down it was to find a friend in Nathan. To find love instead of fear. The creature rests his head on Nathan’s leg, taking a deep breath. The human smiled softly and placed a blanket over him. Normally he slept during the day, but this night had proved to be an energetic and emotional affair. The human felt a sense of warmth as his friend slept deeply, his breathing so calm and so odd at the same time. Nathan knew Melvin needed a sense of comfort and acceptance, instead of getting up like he wanted to and go to bed, he let him sleep there. Melvin needed him as much as Nathan needed Melvin. Two unlikely species, living in harmony.