Apparently, it’s National Flash Fiction Day. So, I wrote you some flash.
The Monster Under My Bed
It turns out there really are monsters under the bed. Which is an odd thing to discover at the age of thirty-four.
I say ‘monsters’; I guess I default to that because it’s what children would say are monsters. Not human. Nightmarish to look at with human eyes. Not something you want under your bed, anyway. I mean, I don’t really want anything under my bed, do you? That’s quiet time. Alone time. Unless you have a partner.
I newly don’t have a partner. She left me for a girl with long red hair and a collection of ‘vintage’ My Little Ponies. I hadn’t realised My Little Ponies were a thing I needed to have to keep her heart.
So, anyway: me, alone, in bed, newly single. About a month. Still not sure if I should change the double-bed in for a single to fit my new ‘relationship status’. And there I was, 4am, woke up from a dream where all my friends could fly, and I was still stuck on the ground. Couldn’t get back to sleep. Made some tea. Decaf, of course, I’m not that stupid. And I thought, well, time to sort out the room.
I’d kind of let it all go to hell since she left. Revenge. You know, ’cause me living in a shit-heap is revenge on her for leaving me. Or something.
My clothes had started not making it to the laundry basket, and then slowly creeping under the bed. And then getting covered in biscuit crumbs because I’d basically retreated with my laptop to my bed when I got home from work – insulating myself from the world with layers of Internet and duvet.
So. I put my tea on the floor and crouched down to see what had slipped under there, and I saw them:
Eyes looking back at me.
I screamed, of course.
I mean, I’d been worried about spiders, but great, big, human-sized-but-not-human-coloured eyes were not what I was prepared for.
The eyes opened wide – as shocked to see me as I was to see them.
I stared at them, unblinking. Not wanting to lose sight of where they were even for a second. Not that much unlike how I react to spiders, to be honest.
The eyes stared back.
Finally, they broke the silence:
“Hello,” they said.
“Hello,” I said back.
“Well, this is awkward.” The eyes looked down, shiftily.
“Would you care to explain what you’re doing under my bed?”
“I thought you would be asleep,” said the eyes.
“That’s not reassuring.”
“Well, you usually are at this time.”
“Not getting better.”
The eyes sighed. “I suppose I’d better come out, then.”
“I’d appreciate that.”
I’m not sure what I was expecting to crawl out from under my bed. Man? Woman? The voice was that middling pitch that makes it hard to tell, but even so, how did I think a man or a woman would get under my bed – repeatedly – without my notice?
What crawled out from under my bed was not a man or a woman. And I suppose it didn’t really crawl. It sort of oozed. Its body, in as much as you could say it had a body, was composed of a sort of shifting, shadowy darkness. It almost seemed to melt into the shadows cast by the mess on my floor from my bedside lamp. Except for the eyes, which glowed blue on feathery shadow stalks.
“Hi,” it said.
“OK,” I said.
It rolled its eyes. Which is something of a more dramatic move for something whose eyes were on stalks. “I’m a sentilamia.”
“Are you? That’s nice,” I said. “And why were you under my bed?”
“You’ve let a lot of stuff collect down there.”
“I know. I was going to clean it out.”
“No, not that stuff,” it sort of shivered with what might have been annoyance. “Feeling stuff. Sentilamias, we eat waste emotions. Well, you’d call them waste. I’m not dirty – I don’t want you to think that!” It drew itself up, shifting up the shadows of my open dresser drawers.
“I’m honestly not sure I’m thinking anything with any certainty right now,” I said.
“So, you don’t mind?” it ventured.
“Of course I mind!” I snapped. “I don’t want anybody under my bed when I think I’m alone!”
“It’s a perfectly healthy ecological relationship,” it said, primly. “You don’t want this stuff collecting. You’ll be wallowing in it within a week and then you’ll never get over her!”
“‘Get over her?’ – what do you know about that?”
It rolled its eyes again. The motion was quite disconcerting. “Only everything, of course,” it said. “I have been eating your waste emotions for the last three weeks. She’s not worth it, you know. If her head could be turned by that redheaded bint you deserved someone more committed to you anyway.”
“Uh, thanks, I guess,” I said. “Look, I don’t want to interfere with your ‘ecology’, or whatever, but you really can’t just hang out under my bed when I’m asleep.”
“It’s your ecology too,” it said, a little huffily. “You don’t want to know what happens to people who don’t have a good sentilamia on hand when they get really low.”
I thought about it for a moment. I only had its word to go on that it was providing some kind of psychic service, but what it was saying did make a certain amount of sense, and it did seem to know all about Alley and her new lover. That, and I didn’t have a better explanation for the presence of something I didn’t even know existed living under my bed.
“OK,” I said. “But do I need to be asleep for you to eat my ‘waste emotions’?”
It seemed to consider this. “No, I suppose not. I’m consuming some of them right now. Don’t you feel a bit better?”
Oddly, considering I’d just confronted a home-invader shadow-monster, I sort of did. “Yeah… I guess.”
“I could stop by in the evenings, just before you go to bed? We could even have a bit of a natter. Venting verbally is a good way to expel the waste.”
“Uh, sure. And you won’t come again without announcing yourself first?”
“I swear on all that’s dark and mysterious.”
And… she did. It turns out she’s a she.
And that’s how I met my first monster, and a strange new friend. Shoshi the sentilamia.
She even helped me set up wards to stop other monsters getting into my room uninvited. The undersides of beds are apparently prime doorways to the underworld. (Although they don’t like you to call it that – who’s to say that our world is not on the underside of theirs?)
Shoshi helped me get over Alley, and I sleep better now than I ever have in my life. On Saturday nights she takes me down to her side of things and shows me what real nightlife is like.
I can’t say that I miss Alley at all.