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You pull yourself from a deep beautiful slumber early Monday morning with a knot in your stomach.
It’s to remind you of something, that knot. You know it.
Like when people put knots in their handkerchiefs… only with it in your stomach, you’ll be easily reminded, as it constantly pulls at your guts and heartstrings. And anyway, you don’t have a handkerchief to tie reminders in.
Only you’re not quite sure what you put it there for, though. It might be to tell you you’ve got a dentist appointment, and you need to start plotting your escape. Or that you need to buy your mum a gift for Mother’s Day. Or that your homework is to be handed in today, but you haven’t actually finished it, because you were too busy constructing a life size statue of a peacock with nothing but papier-mâché.
This time is a bit different though. This time you know something freakier than having no gift for your mother on Mother’s Day is at stake.
You shift your weight on the sun-bleached mattress. Your body feels light, like a floating cloud, but your arm is heavy against your cheek and your eyelids are tired and sticky from sleep. You don’t want to wake up, but the fear of missing the something you reminded yourself to do is too strong, and you heave your eyes wide, and your head up and force your brain into activity.
As the gears in your head begin to turn, you realise that your bedroom is not empty. Your eyebrows drown themselves in your messy hair, your eyelids rise to capacity, because a figure is looming above the morning like a zombie with a gun. Only worse.
The knot in your gut expands, punching holes in the roof of your mouth and bulging against the twisted elastic around your waist.
For surely this is what it was warning.
A creature is breathing your oxygen. Slobbering on your bedsheets. Cleaning its discoloured fangs on a piece of gold-painted Lego from your goldrush history diorama.
A monster is in your bedroom, and not tidily packed away under your bed or in the closet like good bedroom monsters have the manners to do. The beast slurps a string of spittle back into its slime filled gob, flicks a piece of its last meal from the gold Lego in its claws onto your quilt, and slowly turns all three of its gooey yellow eyes until its slitted pupils meet your fear dilated ones.
It's third eyelid blinks, separately to the rest, leaving a fresh film of milky mucus on its amber ball, and returning into its flesh with a wet pop.
Then the creature speaks.
“I think,” It states, with a mildly posh British accent, “That you are due to be consumed today.”
And only then do you scream.
The thought that this horrifying creature can indeed communicate, and sounds like some sort of English royalty, is simply too much for your already lacking braincells.
But wait. Surely you knew this was going to happen. After all, you did tie your gut together to remind you.
Your birdlike screech fades of into a series of inhuman gurgles. You choke on your own voice, clear your throat, and proceed to make conversation with the monster.
“W-what do you mean, I’m due?” You could have asked any number of questions that started like that, but this was the right one. If you’d said, ‘What do you mean, consumed?’ The monster may simply have demonstrated by eating you right then. If you’d asked, ‘What do you mean, you think?’ the monster would have checked its pocket calendar quickly and informed you that it knew you were to be consumed today, and then eaten you.
This way, it must explain to you that, months ago, on the 17th exactly, the council of very important monsters decided that you would be one of the few privileged children to be devoured on a day such as this.
And that this time, it knows it’s got you for good.
“Why didn’t I get a say in this?” You demand immediately, because you finally remembered, “I’m the one being eaten! Didn’t you know it’s impolite to eat someone without their permission? It clearly states it in the Bedroom monster rulebook. Unless… you haven’t read it? Surely no one would be that incompetent.”
The monster flatters. Goo slips from its stumbling lips and seeps into the carpet. Its eyes, flickering from you to its slimy pockets to the shadows under your bedframe, are suddenly cautious.
“Of course I’ve read the monster rule book!” It says, hurriedly.
It watches you wearily for a while, then leaps to the floor, shoves its head under the bed, kicking furiously to unstick its bulging middle. “Just give me a second,” It’s British accent sounds muffled between the carpet and its face. “Just wait there! Don’t move!”
You hear a low squelching voice muttering under your bed. “Child safety… blah di blah… whatnot… I know that… hang on… rules and – here… the victim’s rights…”
The monster pops back above you, “Well, you seem to be… correct.” It grimaces. “I’ll still get you! next month – the seventeenth, remember? I don’t know how long I can take this… stupid job… been happening for years… the council will hear about this… get them to change the rulebook.”
The creature leaves, grumbling to itself.
You settle yourself into your bed, a smirk plastered under your nose, and a roll in your eyes.
You just can’t lose, can you?
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