Monster of Business Administration

Submitted into Contest #149 in response to: Write a story about an unlikely group (or pair) of friends.... view prompt


Horror Funny Friendship

I became aware of the silence, and a thick blanket of dread came over me. I lay in my bed, in the space between being asleep and awake, eyes closed against the darkness.

Click. Click.

It started softly, like the sound a mouse makes running across a floor. I wanted to go back to sleep and pretend I didn’t hear it.

Click. Click. Click-click.

Then a scuffling sound, as if an unwieldy bag of rocks was being pushed out of the closet. More clicks, more scuffling. I could feel sweat on my forehead.

Click. Click. Click.

Louder and undeniable. Getting closer. I felt something at the foot of the bed. I wanted to move, but couldn’t. The clicking got faster and more intense. It was coming from everywhere. Something started sliding up under the sheets, moving up the sides of my body, getting closer to my face. Multiple things, slithering. Even louder shuffling and clicking filled the room around me until I wanted to scream. I felt a hot breath on my face. A low growl started to grow in front of me, building and building until it was a full shriek that filled the room. Panic thrilled through my chest and ripped the scream from my throat.

I bolted up in bed. The silence was back. But as my eyes adjusted to the gloom I saw two sets of long, curved claws wrap around the footboard. Then seven eyes, staggered across an ashen forehead appeared, followed by a gaping mouth filled with sharp teeth and two large tusks growing up from the lower jaw. The entire head was shrouded with an undulating sheet of sharp quills, sliding past each other and jutting out in terrifying patterns.

The figure rose and grew larger. It stared at me with its jet black eyes. Its body writhed like a mass of snakes under its prickly shroud. A grating sound filled the room again, but eerily soft until it became a harsh whisper saying just one word. My name.


That’s all the monster ever said. It filled my dreams with terrifying images and said my name, over and over again in that unearthly growl. But tonight I was wide awake, shaking in terror and trying to get as far away as possible from the nightmare at the end of my bed. Until suddenly it contracted ever so slightly, as if demurring, and said in a clearer tone:

“May I use you as a reference?”

I crouched as close to the headboard as I could go and stared incredulously at the beast. 

“What?!” It was somewhere between a scream and a legitimate question.

“I was just wondering if you’d be willing to be my reference.” Its seven eyes blinked, slightly unsynchronized. It was unsettling.

“Your reference?! For what?” Was I actually having this conversation? 

“Well…” The monster gathered itself up in its cloak and walked around to the side of the bed and sat down. I nearly peed. “As you’ve probably noticed, I haven’t been coming around as often. You’re getting older, and I think my work here is essentially complete.”

Its voice was calm, almost pleasant. Its diction was as precise as a creature with two large fangs growing out of its mouth could manage. The quills of its cloak cascaded and shifted around on top of the sheets. The powerful hooked fingers lay circumspectly in its lap. 

“So, and I’m embarrassed to say this, I think I’ve fallen into what you humans call a ‘midlife crisis.’ I’ve started seriously thinking about what I want to do next. And I’ve decided I need a change.” It looked at me intently. Its eyes got wider and the quills on its back stood on end. “I’m going back to school to get my MBA!”

My brain turned to mush. Something between a laugh and a sob spilled out of my head. There was a moment of silence as we stared at each other. The eyes blinked. It was serious.

“Wait. You’re telling me that the monster that’s terrorized me for practically my whole life… who’s hid under my bed and shrieked at me from the closet… you’re telling me you want to go to business school?”

“Personally I think it’s the perfect career pivot. I’m surprised I didn’t think of it sooner!”

“And you want me to… to what?”

“To be my reference. I need someone who’s familiar with my work. Someone who knows my character.” The quills smoothed themselves out as if to make a good impression.

“You kept me awake for almost all of tenth grade!”

“Think of all the extra time you had to do your homework while you were avoiding me. And the time you spent lying here anticipating my arrival, pondering the meaning of existence, life and death…”

“Mostly death.” The slithering shape under the cloak moved as if to shrug. “I was so jumpy the summer before high school my parents put me in therapy!”

“Where you worked out your self-esteem issues if I remember correctly.”

“And my ‘irrational fear’ of porcupines!” I was yelling.

“I wouldn’t exactly call it irrational…” The quills bristled… playfully?

“I wet the bed until I was 7!”

“Now Neville, you can’t blame me for everything.”

I stared wide-eyed at the monster from under my bed. He stared back. Two eyes to seven. I shook my head to try and clear it.

“Wait a minute. What makes you think you can go to business school? Why would any business school want… you in their class?”

“That’s the spirit! This is wonderful interview practice!” It slithered and shifted to get more comfortable. The quills around its head perked up. The ones around its body smoothed themselves into a shape that almost resembled a business suit. “I’m a highly motivating individual who can move the needles to help any group get outside the box.”

“I don’t think that’s quite… Look, you’ve got seven eyes.”

“It’s true. I have a unique perspective on problems and can manage the optics of nearly any situation.”

“You have raptor claws for hands.”

“All the better to ‘growth hack’ your start-up.” It reached out and slashed the air in front of me with a fistful of bone hooks. 

“You literally shape-shift into multiple terrifying forms!”

“Yes. I like to think of myself as a change agent. I transform disruption… into opportunity.”

I had to stop myself. This was starting not to sound so crazy after all… but…

“What if I did give you a reference? And what if you did get into business school, get your MBA, and make it out into the corporate world? How could I live with myself?” The quills drooped and I immediately felt sorry for being so harsh. “I mean, your whole job has been to scare the crap out of me every night. What would you do out in the real world?”

The monster perked up a little. It thought for a second. Then the great maw of teeth formed itself into a pointy smile.

“Neville, I’ve always thought of us as friends.” The corner of my lip curled and my eyes widened. “No, really! Every time I scared you, I made it easier for you to do things that would otherwise frighten you out in your everyday life. I mean, if you have to face down a terrifying, serpent-bodied, seven-eyed, quill-covered hellbeast every night, speaking in front of the class or asking your crush out on a date doesn’t seem quite so… well, scary, now does it?”

“You mean you tortured me to help me become a better public speaker?”

“No, I mean my job was to help you stop being scared of being scared. To get your blood pumping and to give you perspective.” Its form had relaxed into an almost human shape. It seemed less strange and frightening, the longer we spoke. “And a little perspective is something everyone in the C-suite needs.” It was in interview mode again. It drew back the quilled cloak just a little. I got a glimpse of the slithering mass underneath. “Believe me. When I open this kimono people tend to see the world very differently.”

Despite the unearthly site of its underpinnings, I was relaxed. I sat there with the monster as if this is what we did every night. And I felt sad this might be the last time. 

“I’ll be your reference.” I heard myself say. “It’s the least I can do for a friend.”

The quills trembled and the fangs grinned. “Thank you. You don’t know how much that means.” It rose off the bed and started towards the closet. Turning back it said…

“You know, with me busy at business school you’re going to have to terrify yourself now.” It was growing and becoming more ethereal at the same time. The quills started shifting and sliding across one another like before. Its shape clicked and slid towards the closet. Its voice went back to its harsh, eerie tone. “Do something that scares you, Neville, every day.” 

“I will.” I watched as it disappeared behind the closet door. It was moving on to scare the dress pants off the unsuspecting business world. And maybe to scare the quills off itself a little in the process.

The monster’s head suddenly swung back into the room with a violent shriek. An involuntary scream escaped my mouth. I scrambled back towards the headboard. The seven eyes fixated on me. The tusks twitched and the quills around its face bristled. “I almost forgot…” The voice was calm and pleasant again. “I’ll need a phone number where they can reach you.”

June 10, 2022 17:56

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Shea West
19:53 Jun 10, 2022

You really set the stage here... Then you hit us with this line--“May I use you as a reference?” DYING!!!! What a transition of a line. "This is wonderful interview practice!" Okay, here's what I really liked about this story. You took a classic monster under the bed or in the closet against little kid approach and turned it on its head. You made the monster relatable and compassionate, and as you mentioned "an agent for change." Which was comical in and of itself. But then you took this terrifying monster and made him tell the kid, ...


Jared Lenover
22:51 Jun 10, 2022

Thank you Shea! 😀


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Riel Rosehill
18:11 Jun 18, 2022

Jared! It took me some time to get to your story, but my god was it worth it! I loved this so much. Wholesome monster story with great humour - excellent work, well done! 🤩


Jared Lenover
01:59 Jun 19, 2022

Thanks Riel! 😀


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Victoria Hillis
20:12 Jun 14, 2022

This made me laughed. I started thinking that this was what the Monster Inc. monsters do when the children they would scare are no longer afraid of them… ask them for a reference. Great story!


Jared Lenover
21:30 Jun 14, 2022

Thanks Victoria! 😀


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Katy Borobia
00:07 Jun 14, 2022

This is so much fun! I loved how you managed to poke fun at MBAs as well as at the monsters under our beds. And that title - what an eye catcher! Well done.


Jared Lenover
00:43 Jun 14, 2022

Thanks Katy! 😀


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
J.C. Lovero
02:45 Jun 12, 2022

Hi Jared, What a fun interpretation of the prompt. The title alone was a hook, and then the silliness of a monster going to grad school was just a treat. As someone who interviews people on a regular basis, the questions and answers sections was absolutely hilarious. You also had some really nice descriptions here, particularly of the monster and his seven eyes and porcupine body. Thanks for the laugh! Was an enjoyable story. Fave lines: “I’m a highly motivating individual who can move the needles to help any group get outside the box...


Jared Lenover
02:49 Jun 12, 2022

Thanks J.C.! 😀 I'm glad you liked the interview lines -- and the description of the monster! It's hard to know when you're getting a description like that across. 😱


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Michał Przywara
20:32 Jun 10, 2022

Very funny :) The idea of these monsters teaching us to tolerate being afraid is an interesting one, and the descriptions were on point. I've never seen this particular monster, and yet I *could* see it.


Jared Lenover
22:52 Jun 10, 2022

Thanks Michal! 😀


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply