Home Stories Poems Site Reviews Writing Tips Charlie Fish
FICTION on the WEB short stories by Charlie Fish

by Kate Woods

View or add comments on this story

There's a monster under my bed.

Green, obviously. Scales? Most definitely. It smells odd too, like a stagnant bog, the kind of stench that curls up into my nostrils and settles there, stinging me every time I breathe in. And it makes me do things. Crazy irrational things. Things I'm not proud of.

My boyfriend and I broke up.

He was one of those sorts controlling, domineering, emotionally brutal. Beautiful. But brutal.

I didn't mean to hurt him back; I'm not a selfish person; I have compassion for other people and lots of it; too much so sometimes.

It was the monster under the bed, you see.

They came round asking if I'd seen him of course. I told them no. Not technically a lie I hadn't seen him. I should have smelt him coming a mile off, the way spiders have that sense for danger.

But love is blind. Well. It certainly is for him now anyway.

"You cant fire me."

"You're not being fired Jessica. You need to just calm down, okay. Here. Have a drink."

My boss was an evil old hag; long bedraggled black hair, dead at the ends. She spoke through a missing tooth at the side of her mouth and only ever smiled with the very corners of her dried lips.

The water she handed me tasted bitter. I wondered briefly if they'd slipped something into it.

"We just think maybe you could use some time. What with Simon and all..." Carole paused to drum her misshapen claws on the expensive tabletop. "You are clearly feeling the strain. To lose someone is terrible, but to simply disappear... people need closure and that's just human nature."

I glanced around the room. How had I ended up here? Working in administration, shuffling papers and making tea the exact colour of peanut butter - not a shade lighter or darker god forbid. I had once had a dream of something more. I think I did anyway. It all felt like a lifetime ago now.

Carole was still chattering at me through the missing tooth.

"So no one can blame you for... what you did."

We both glanced over at reception.

"That wasn't me," I told her. I wasn't lying.

Carole shuffled on the wooden chair, and cleared her throat.

"Take a few weeks. Get yourself together."

I packed up a few bits from my desk and left for the day. The curly-haired temp on reception was still holding an ice pack to her right eye.

I wanted to apologise for hitting her but that would have made it look as though I was to blame. Instead I nodded grimly at her, as though I agreed that the monster had stepped over the line this time and I knew what I had to do.

I'm pretty sure she nodded back.

The flat seemed so empty without Simon.

I dialled the number of Sergeant Willis and made a cup of tea.

The hot steam curled from the mug to sear my chin.

I ran my hands over a mark on the work surface. I had scratched it while cooking a roast a few years ago. My kitchen knife had slipped and damaged the wood.

He had certainly made sure it never happened again. My fingers still ached in cold weather.

When we were kids, well before we ever became something more, Simon used to sneak into my room at night, even though were weren't allowed to be friends, and he would tell me stories about strange creatures that lived under the bed.

I found it all so intoxicating.

I would be afraid to put my fingers around the rim of the mattress for fear of getting them snatched by an unearthly green being, all steaming warts and skin-ripping fangs. And yet, I felt safe by the idea of another being in the room, something there to protect me from the nightmares.

There were so many memories locked up within the walls of my house. Most were of words that scarred like the dent in the kitchen surface. Words that he told me were truth about myself. Words that made me feel like I was worth nothing.

And sometimes real cold hatred as he struck my face with his hands. I could see it in his eyes. And the eyes don't lie. That's what made me wonder if maybe he was right and maybe he had been right all along.

Even about the monsters.

Upstairs, the phone was ringing. I let the machine pick up.

"Sweetheart. It's mum. Are you there? I called you at work. They told me they had sent you home. Are you okay?"

Her soft familiar tones made me slump quite suddenly to the floor. The carpet near my bed was slightly ruffled where I had not been able to fit it back into place properly.

"Jessica, I think we need to have a chat. About your message on my machine the other day. You sounded quite upset. Is it Simon? Has he been doing it again? Is that why he has gone away? Jessica -"

A knock on the front door made me jump.

The police, surely. Finally. Or perhaps Simon?

I picked up my kitchen knife, still by the bed. I hadn't felt able to move it. Not while the monster still had control of me. I had felt almost protected by the weapon, as I had once done by his stories.

As the door to my bedroom opened and Sergeant Rebecca Willis entered, my mum's voice on the machine became the only thing filling the spaces between us.

"We worry, that's all. And you know it's because we care. We just wish... he's just such a monster Jessie. Such a monster. And you're worth so much more. You always have been."

I didn't say a word as I was led from the house.

They knew where to find him.

I caught Rebecca Willis' eye as she lowered me gently into the police car, cupping the crown of my head. I wanted to apologise for causing all the fuss but it would have looked as though I was to blame. Instead, I nodded at her.

I'm pretty sure she nodded back.

View or add comments on this story

Back to top
Back to list of stories

Web www.fictionontheweb.co.uk


Home Stories Poems Site Reviews Writing Tips Charlie Fish