Not That Kind of Monster

Marguerite slid under the bed, trying not to disturb the dust bunnies. It was bad enough to have to spend hours lying on top of misplaced LEGOs and runaway toy soldiers. If the dust blew around and made her sneeze, she could potentially wake up the kid above her and it was guaranteed that at least one of them would puncture her skin and be the cherry on top of this night.

She hated this job. Just because she was a monster didn’t mean that she should be relegated to scaring children in the middle of the night. Marguerite had dreams of her own; she didn’t want to take up the “family business.”

Her watch buzzed. Midnight. Her target, Johnny Schiffer, should be asleep. She tried not to bang her head on the kid’s floor at the thought of how stupid this whole thing was. Having scared children for generations was not a reason to continue doing it.

Sliding out from under Johnny’s bed, Marguerite hit the largest dust bunny ever created, causing it to explode in her face. She sneezed so hard her head jerked back and hit Johnny’s bed frame.

Scuttling back across the floor, she pushed herself against the wall, trying to blend in with the wallpaper. Unfortunately, her bright pink sequined tutu worked against her.

“Mommy?”

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March Stories at the Confabulator Cafe

Hello everyone! We hope you enjoyed our February stories. Our return to the Cafe was a success, and we’re ready to share another month of free fiction with you.

For the March stories, the Confabulators were given two words and told that we had to use both words in our story. The words didn’t have to appear together so long as both appeared somewhere. Those two words were: unlikeable midnight.

As always, a diverse range of stories emerged from the prompt. We hope you’ll come visit us every Monday and Friday during March to enjoy our tales of unlikeable midnights. Here is the schedule for the upcoming month:

Monday, March 2 – “Not That Kind of Monster” by Christie O. Hall
Friday, March 6 – “The Midnight Star” by Kevin Wohler
Monday, March 9 – “Midnight and the Boogieman” by Jack Campbell, Jr.
Friday, March 13 – “Burning Bones” by August Baker
Monday, March 16 – “Mischief after Midnight” by Sara Lundberg
Friday, March 20 – “Unlickable” by Amanda Jaquays
Monday, March 23 – “Eight Hours” by Dianne Williams
Friday, March 27 – “Hallways” by Neil Siemers

No Regrets

The machine let out a mellow chirp- a light-hearted sound that betrayed the gravity of the situation.  Officer Julius W. Young raised a frail, quivering hand over the large transparent button, the light inside now glowing a soft green to let the user know that the chamber was primed and ready.

It was such a simple sight, yet it still brought tears to his eyes.  To think of how much time and effort he had devoted to this moment!  It had taken him seventeen years simply to be promoted into the Chronoguard, and another five before upper management would let him go solo.  They had to be convinced that he didn’t have any ulterior motives for wanting to police time and space.

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My SAD Valentine

Valentine’s Day is the absolute best and worse for people like me.

I work for a singing telegram agency. I won’t tell you which one. Are you kidding me? After telling you this story, I would most definitely get fired if they knew.

So, for the last several years, in addition to singing telegrams, I’ve also been a member of the sad group of people who call Valentine’s Day for what it really is: Singles Awareness Day. Is anyone else aware of the irony that the acronym for that actually spells out the word SAD?

Yeah.

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Everything Changes

She looked out at the building from the backseat and scowled. “It didn’t look like this last year.”

Her husband killed the engine in their little car. Without the mechanical whining the vehicle, the lack of life in the outside neighborhood seemed that much more stark. “It looks fine. We’ll only be here for a few minutes.”

Abby looked up and down the street at the neighborhood surrounding. The homes were all in disrepair – but it had been that way during college college, hadn’t it? The upstairs apartment they’d rented through her undergrad had always been falling apart. At the time it had seemed charming. They’d made do with what they had.

It was different, though. Having the baby made it different.

“It’s a tradition, Abby.”

She swallowed her uneasiness. “Sure. Of course.” She unbuckled Maisy while Bart retrieved the camera and tripod from the car.

The first Valentine’s Day they had taken this photo – their first Valentine’s Day, four years ago – it had been a selfie against the cement wall. A whim, nothing more. Someone had spray-painted hearts on the smooth surface, all different shapes and sizes to create the perfect romantic backdrop. When they eventually married, Abby featured it on their save-the-date card.

When they were still together the next year, they did it again. That year Bart had the tripod and remote. The next year, the picture had announced her pregnancy. Abby supposed, if she looked back, she remembered the other graffiti too near the hearts that second year. The cracks in the wall when she was pregnant with Maisy. Abby had loved the neighborhood dearly, but the crumbling houses had always had feeling paint, it had always lacked the life and verve she’d invented in her nostalgia.

She pulled her baby close to her chest, carefully adjusting the little flowered headband covering Maisy’s downy hair. By the time she climbed out of the car Bart was already setting up his tripod, muttering to himself.

“Go on, hon – I need to frame the shot.”

She did so.

Maisy nestled her little head against Abby’s chest, rooting for the breast and yawning. They’d tried to plan the picture around her nap time, but the car always lulled her right to sleep.

“Hey, baby – it’s time to take your picture.” She tickled the baby’s cheeks and nose, smiling as Maisy giggled and stretched her whole body in Abby’s arms. Bart joined them, the remote trigger nestled against his palm. He ruffled Maisy’s hair. For a moment, it was calm.

Not far enough in the distance, a dog began to yap and growl – quickly joined by another. Abby startled and looked up at the camera, then down at the baby. “I don’t think this was a good idea,” she said quietly.

He kissed her forehead and squeezed her around the waist. “Don’t worry. In the photo it’ll all look perfect.”