About two hours ago, I thought to myself, "'There's a monster in my closet' would be a neat way to start out one of those scary short stories I loved to read when I was in middle school."
I wrote it down, then wrote a little more and a little more. Right around the time I realized I had no idea how it ended, the ending tapped me on the shoulder and said "boo!"
I've never done this before, but I thought it would be cool to publish it here without the usual editorial and rewrites I do on everything, because the idea of conceiving, writing, and releasing a short story in just a couple of hours is intriguing to me.
Added on 10/19: I made free-free and DRM-free ePub and Kindle versions of this story. You can get them at my virtual bookshelf if you like.
So, without any further introduction, here is my scary short story that I hope 12 year-old me would enjoy...
The Monster In My Closet
by Wil Wheaton
There is a monster in my closet. It’s standing in there behind my clothes, and it wants to come out. I don’t know where it came from, I don’t know how it got in there, but I know that it’s been there for a long time, waiting.
Mum and dad don’t believe in monsters (and until yesterday, neither did I), but during dinner tonight, I had to tell them.
“A monster,” dad said, wiping mashed potatoes off his beard. “Like, with claws and fangs? That kind of monster?”
“I haven’t actually seen it,” I said, “but I know it’s there.”
“How can you know it’s there if you haven’t seen it?” Mum asked.
“It’s like…” I thought for a moment. “It’s like when it’s cloudy, and you can’t see the moon, but it sort of glows behind the clouds, so you know it’s there.”
“So your closet was glowing, eh?” Dad said.
I shook my head. I could tell that they thought I was making the whole thing up. “No, dad,” I said, “but I could feel it in there, and --”
“And what?” He said.
“And if it comes out,” I said, carefully, “It’s going to kill us.”
“Well, I should expect so,” dad said. “Monsters are usually very serious about that sort of thing.”
Mum scowled at him. “Richard! Don’t make fun.”
Then she looked back at me and said, “you can have a night light in your room to keep the monster away.”
“And keep your closet door shut,” dad said, gravely, “everyone knows that monsters can’t open doors.”
“But nothing. Now stop all this chattering and eat your peas before they get cold,” mum said.
I’m trying to deal with a monster, and all mum cares about is me eating my peas. Typical parents.
They walked me into my room when it was time for bed. Dad made a big production of opening the closet and looking inside. “Well, it looks like we scared it off,” he said. He didn’t notice that the lid of my toy chest was lifted up slightly, and I didn’t bother telling him. He pushed the door and it shut with a click. He shook the knob and pantomimed looping a chain around it that he secured with a pantomimed pad lock. He swallowed a pantomime key and rubbed his belly.
Mum brought in one of my old night lights, the one with the blue pony on it, and plugged it into the wall next to the bed. “There, sweetheart,” she said as she turned it on, “let’s just leave this on tonight.”
She kissed me goodnight. Then dad kissed me on my forehead.
“There’s a good girl,” he said, “sleep tight! Don’t let the monsters bite!”
“Richard!” Mum smacked him on his arm. “Sorry, sweetie, he’s just having a bit of fun.”
“Good night, mum,” I said. I tried not to frown too much at dad.
I heard them talking as they walked down the stairs.. “She just has a wonderful imagination, doesn’t she?” Mum said.
“She’s a dreamer, that’s for sure,” dad said. I heard ice clink into glasses, then, a moment later, the creak of their armchairs as they sat down to watch television.
I was starting to fall asleep when I heard it.
I thought that maybe I was dreaming, but I pulled the covers up to my neck, as tightly as I could, and listened.
It came from the closet. “Psssst. Hey, kid. Come and open the door, hey?”
I felt my eyes widen, as a chill ran down my spine.
“Come on, kid, I won’t hurt ya, I just want to get out of here. Open the door and I’ll be on my way.”
The voice -- its voice -- was gruff, but not as gruff as I thought it would be.
“No,” I said in a small voice, barely a whisper. “You… you just stay in there.”
The handle shook a bit, and I screamed. Mum and dad were in the room before I knew it.
“It’s in there!” I cried, “it’s in there and it told me to open the door and let it out!”
They looked at each other. Mum walked across the room to me and sat down on the edge of my bed. “There, there, sweetie,” she said, “you just had a bad dream is all.
“Richard, open the door and show her that there’s nothing inside but clothes and toys.”
“No! Dad! Don’t open it!” I practically screamed.
“Fear not, my petal,” he said, gallantly, “Any monsters inside this closet will get the thrashing of their lives!” He walked to the closet and knocked on the door. “Anyone in there? Hmm?”
He winked at me and shadow boxed the air in front of him.
“Richard, stoppit and just open the door. She’s had an awful fright.”
“Daddy, don’t do it,” I said, suddenly feeling like I was seven years-old again. “Please.”
He smiled and said, “it’s all right, sweetheart. Daddy’s just going to show you that there’s nothing to be afraid of, and then we can all go back to sleep.”
Mum squeezed my hand. An audience laughed on the television downstairs. Dad turned the handle on the closet door and opened it. “Now, see? There’s nothing to--”
The monster was covered in dark scales, like a lizard. Its eyes were jet black, but reflected something red in their centers. It grabbed my dad by his shoulders and bit into his neck with long, sharp, white teeth.
Dad screamed and struggled against it. Clawed hands held onto him and a spray of blood shot across the back of the closet door, black and shiny in the dim light.
It slurped and gurgled and crunched, and in a few seconds, dad stopped moving. I realized that my mum hadn’t made a sound, but had let go of my hand.
She stood up, and walked toward the monster. It dropped my dad’s body to the floor and grinned at her, dad’s blood dripping off of its teeth and running down its chest. They stood over my dad’s body and embraced.
“I’ve missed you, darling,” the monster said to my mum.
“I missed you, too, my sweet,” she said, in the same gruff voice.
“Mu-- mum?” I said. She ignored me.
“I would have come sooner, but you know that we can’t open them from the inside,” the monster said.
“Everyone knows that!” Mum said, and they laughed together. She turned to face me. Her skin was starting to crack on her face, revealing dark grey scales beneath it. Her eyes were turning black, reflecting something red in their centers.
“Come on over here and give us a hug,” she said, as sharp white fangs pushed her teeth out of her mouth and onto the floor where they bounced around like marbles. “Come and be mommy’s little monster!”
“WHAT IS HAPPENING?” I screamed.
“Stop that horrid racket and say hello to your dad -- your real dad,” she said.
I reached around for something, anything, to use as a weapon to protect myself. When I stretched out for the lamp on my night stand, the skin on my arm cracked and split open. There were grey scales underneath it.
“Oh no. No no no no no,” I said.
I reached up to touch my face, and pulled the soft pink flesh away. I felt the rough scales underneath.
“What’s happening to me?!”
I looked at my mum.
I looked at my dad.
I looked at the body on the floor.
I realized that I was ever so hungry, and my food was getting cold.
I got out of bed and joined my family for dinner.
Copyright 2011 Wil Wheaton.
The Monster In My Closet by Wil Wheaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.