I had the great pleasure of meeting with Arthur Slade yesterday for the second time and we went over a couple of my short stories. Full of imagination and resolve I have once again decided to re-write one of the stories we went through and post it. I left the original in it’s place on the blog so you can see the difference between the two if you are inclined to do so.
Thanks for all the excellent help, advice and praise Arthur!
The New Friend
“Bedtime,” said his mom.
“Aw, do I hafta?” the boy whined from the floor of the living room where he was busy playing with his toys.
“Yes sweetheart, it’s that time.”
“But the monster comes at night!”
“Oh, don’t be silly, Honey! There are no such things as monsters. What gave you that idea?”
“He talks to me sometimes in the dark. I don’t like what he says to me. He’s scary.”
“That’s no way for a big strapping boy of ten to talk,” said his Dad looking at him over his evening paper. “Stop making things up just to try to stay up longer. Now go on, up to bed. There’s nothing to be afraid of. And don’t forget to brush your teeth!”
He didn’t want to go to bed. His parents didn’t understand. He wasn’t lying.
He went upstairs, got into his pajamas and brushed his teeth, moving at a snail’s pace.
“Are you ready to be tucked in?” his mother called.
“Well get your butt in gear up there!” his father shouted. “Stop wasting time and get moving!”
“I’m doing it!” the boy shouted back.
He finally got into bed and his mom came up to tuck him in.
“Good night Hon,” she said, kissing him on the forehead.
“Can we leave the light on please, Mom?”
“Oh don’t be silly!”
She turned out the light and shut the door, and the darkness settled over his room like a suffocating blanket.
He lay there in the dark, waiting for the voice he knew he would hear. The monster didn’t come every night, but he had a feeling that because he’d told about it that tonight it would come. He lay there trembling in fear, waiting for it to speak. After a few minutes when nothing happened he began to relax. Eventually he fell asleep.
“Hello,” said the voice out of the pitch black.
He jerked awake, sitting up in bed, his heart racing.
“Oh you know that doesn’t work,” replied the deep voice.
“What do you want?”
“Want? Why should you think I want anything? Can’t we just talk?”
“Please don’t hurt me,” whined the boy.
“Now why would I do that? We’re friends you and I. Aren’t we?”
“Now you’ve hurt my feelings. Why can’t we be friends?” inquired the voice.
“Because you’re scary.”
“Oh really? And why is that?”
“Cause I can’t see you,” explained the frightened child.
“Oh my dear boy, trust me, you don’t want to see me.”
“Why not? Are you ugly or something?”
“Let’s just say I would look too familiar and yet like nothing you’d seen before.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I know,” said the voice with a deep throated chuckle.
“Why are you here?
“I told you, I want to be your friend.”
“I already have friends, friends at school and stuff.”
“Oh I know. But none of them are like me. None of them know you like I do. Do they?”
“I guess not,” the boy agreed.
“And it’s nice to have a friend you can share your deepest secrets with, isn’t it? You don’t have a friend like that, do you?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Well. There you have it then. We should be friends.”
“You’re not going to hurt me?”
“No, of course not.”
“Ah, good. And friends do things for their friends, right?”
“Uhm, yeah. I guess.”
“Excellent. I want us to be the best of friends. I have something that we can do together that will make us both terribly happy and we’ll get to do whatever we want to from now on.”
“Oh yes. You just have to do as I say tonight. Think you can do that?”
“Sure, I guess so.”
“I knew I could count on you,” said the voice happily.
They talked for nearly an hour more and by the time they were done talking, the boy was never going to be afraid of the monster again. They were now good friends.
“My god, what happened?” asked the Chief of Police when he arrived at the scene.
The master bedroom was like something out of a horror movie. There was blood everywhere. It was splashed on the walls and the ceiling, it dripped off the edges of the bed onto the floor and there were the small footprints of a child in it everywhere. There were two lumps on the bed covered by the sheets. He went to pull a sheet back to take a look.
“You don’t want to do that if you’ve had breakfast Chief!’” said a detective.
Gently dropping the sheet back into place he asked “What’s the situation?”
“We got a call from the maid this morning; she found them when she got here for work around eight. Near as we can tell, at about four this morning the kid went downstairs and got a butcher knife, came back up here and went to work on Mommy and Daddy. The Medical Examiner lost count of wounds at over a hundred plus they were cut up pretty bad.
“What do you mean cut up?”
“Into bits. He switched parts of them too. Mom had Dad’s arms and vice versa. And other stuff too. I told you didn’t wanna look under the sheet.”
“Jesus. You get anything from the kid?”
“Yeah, well that’s the weird thing.”
“He switches their body parts and you tell me there’s a weird thing?”
“Yeah. He was just sitting on his bed smiling when we got here. Covered in their blood. We asked him what happened and all he said was that the monster told him to do it.”
“I told you it was weird. He just kept saying that now they are best friends and he can do whatever he wants to. The kid really freaked me out. He’s showing no emotion at all.”
“Where is he now?” asked the Chief, looking around the room.
“On his way to psych of course. He’s only ten.”
“Jesus. OK people! Let’s get this place photographed and cleaned up so we can get the Coroner in here. Wait a sec, what’s that odd mark in the blood over here?”
“As you can see Chief, the kid’s foot prints are everywhere and we found those markings in a few places too. Best we can guess is it’s the footprint of some toy of his. We have a couple of guys going through the kid’s room right now. My guess it’s from a toy dinosaur. It’s gotta be with only three toes and claws like that.”