Two monsters crept into Charlie’s room every night.
The monster under the bed was long, like a snake, with a twisted rabbit’s head, and a shock of bright orange hair that ran down the length of its back.
The monster in the closet was fat and short with a face like a wolf, one giant eye, and horrible, slender fingers that ended in wicked claws.
When his parents had gone to bed and the house was quiet, Charlie could hear them as they slithered and waddled into his room and debated who would get to eat him.
“It’s only fair that I should,” said the monster under the bed. “I haven’t had a good meal in ages.”
“Yes, but I have a family to feed,” said the monster in the closet. “There’s barely enough of the boy to go around. I can’t spare any.”
“I saw him first.”
“But boy is my favorite food. And this one looks so delicious.”
“You can’t have him.”
“You can’t have him either.”
The monster would fight. They were very quiet as they tore and bit at one another. They whispered curses and murmured howls. Charlie would hide under his blanket and hope they would kill each other. But monsters couldn’t die. They could only wound each other so badly that they slinked off to wherever monsters went to lick their wounds, only to return the next night to continue the debate.
Charlie didn’t sleep very well.
One night, the monster under the bed and the monster in the closet were seconds away from another pointless fight when the monster under the bed said, “This is stupid. We’re never going to eat him if we keep doing this.”
The monster in the closet snorted. “We could always flip a coin.”
“Yes, it’s only sensible.”
Charlie threw off his blanket. “Stop.”
“One second, boy. One of us will be with you shortly,” said the monster from under the bed.
“Or you could listen to me,” said Charile. “I have a better idea.”
The monster from under the bed slithered its twisty, long body over to Charlie. The monster from the closet trundled to the foot of the bed.
“Before I tell you,” said Charlie. “You have to promise that you won’t eat me and that you’ll go away forever.”
“This is highly irregular,” said the monster from under the bed.
“But if we like what we hear, we promise not to eat you,” said the monster from the closet. “And a monster never breaks its word.”
Charlie wasn’t sure he believed that, but he was willing to take the chance.
“Just down the hall, there are two grownups, one for each of you.”
“I don’t like the taste of grownups,” said the closet monster.
“But you have a family to feed,” said Charlie.
“Highly irregular,” said the bed monster.
“But you’ll each get something instead of one of you getting nothing.”
The monsters whispered among themselves for a moment before going down the hall. There were screams, but they were brief. The monsters came back into his room, where they disappeared whence they came.
“Good night, Charlie,” said the monster under the bed.
“Yes, good night,” said the monster in the closet.
True to their word, he never saw them again.
It was a shame about Mom and Dad, Charlie thought as he drifted off to sleep. But he’d always liked staying at Granma and Granpa’s better.