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The Nightmonster and the Shelf Teddy
“…And then you poke the offender with some sharp object to release the negative energy… you could use this pen here, see? Okay, now do you get it?” Sarge explained hurriedly. He watched the little red haired girl tossing and turning in bed from the windowsill. “We don’t got much time, cadet-”
“I get it, but I’m not doing it. I’m not risking my life for some kid. Just use another guy-”
“Roy, she needs you right now. She chose you. It’s almost midnight and-”
“I know what happens.” He said abruptly, then lowered his voice when the girl stirred. “The veterans at the factory told me all about it- all the horror stories.”
“Well, like it or not cadet, ‘some kid’ is your girl now. She’s your girl, Roy, and as her guardian it’s your responsibility to protect her! She’s had it rough- I’m not gonna lie, when the Nightmonster materializes in-” He glanced up at the clock. “Six minutes, it ain’t gonna be pretty.”
Roy shifted his weight nervously. “You know I’m not cut out for this job, Sarge. I’m a collector’s item- that’s what the guys at the factory called me, said I’d be fine, then started laughing…”
“Oh, pull yourself together. You’re a teddy bear! I’ve seen guys three times more delicate than you, porcelain guys... well actually, the dollhouse guys didn’t make it…”
Roy shot him a look.
“Sorry. Listen, I know you were literally born yesterday. This is a lot to take in, I get it. But think of it this way- the shelf life IS nice. Cushy. Lengthy, even. But what’s it for? When the humans finally decide to get rid of you, all you’ve done is sit pretty. But guarding the kids, making ‘em feel safe… now, that’s something to live for.”
The large grandfather clock downstairs struck twelve.
“Well?” Sarge asked. “What’s it gonna be, shelf teddy?”
The silhouettes of the stuffed bear and the partially deflated rubber duck cast onto the floor from the moonlight disappeared. A foggy, black monster slithered out from under the bed, whispering all sorts of terrible things into the girl’s ear.
The bear’s button eyes would’ve widened if they could have. “I’m all she’s got, aren’t I?” Roy whispered.
“You and her dreams- and without you, the dreams’ll get devoured.” Sarge glared at the beast with contempt.
“Pass me the pen, I’m going in.” Roy said. “And watch it with the shelf teddy stuff- I’m a guardian.”