Submitted into Contest #169 in response to: Write about someone finding a monster under their bed.... view prompt


Fantasy Funny Science Fiction

   Theo strutted through the park, hands in coat pockets, slushing through the carpet of reds and yellows leftover from the trees above. Passing a giant oak, someone he recognized came ambling from the other way. It was Old Man Bob McKimson, a regular among the beaten paths sporting his fisherman’s cap and wool tweed overcoat as usual. He was carrying a walking stick found among the fallen branches and cordially waved it, hoping to stop and talk. Theo obliged, always fascinated by the old man’s tales from days of yonder, but his eyes had that piercing glance even from afar that something serious was afoot, and it gave pause to casual conversation.

   “Been a while, Bob,” Theo started.

   “I’d say. Strange things going on around here. Some fellow came up to me a day ago asking if I found something that belonged to him.”

   “If he lost anything here, I’d say good luck to that,” he said, looking around his environs. “Did you know what it was?”

   “From the way he kept beating around the bush about it, you wouldn’t know he even understood what he was talking about. Kept saying it was bright and shiny and about yay big,” he held two fingers an inch apart. “Didn’t say whether it was jewelry or…I don’t know, a music player––.” He flicked up his shoulders. “Ah. Silver. That’s what he said. But it was a deeper kind of silver, whatever he meant by that, and there was a little black gemstone in the middle. I was thinking of a pearl when he said ‘a stone with no facets.’” He shook his head, punctuating the end of each sentence with a gesture of puzzlement. “Well, I told him I’d let him know if I found anything that fit his description, and that I wished him all the luck in the world. As you said about losing things here, especially in the fall, the odds are pretty slim.”

   “It doesn’t sound like anything out of the ordinary, from the way you described it.”

   “That. Well for starters, he had a pumpkin for a head, I mean, on his head, and why he was wearing it…search me. Plus, anyone who came up to my sternum like this,” he held an open hand over his chest suggesting height, “dressed cap-a-pie like he came back from Antarctica…I mean covered, gloves and all, would leave the keenest of folks scratching their heads.”

   “Wearing a pumpkin over his head? A little late for Sleepy Hollow.” Theo kept his sense of humor, as he often did in his column publications.

   “I don’t know. He didn’t act like he was pulling any kind of prank as far as I could tell. His mannerisms, for one, were a bit phrenetic, like he was acting out a role in a silent film. It was all theatrics every time he spoke…well-choreographed too! At least that’s what I gathered.”

   “He could be a dancer. I suppose we get all types wandering through here. The eccentrics from the theater and the mystic shops sometimes make their rounds, especially after a night on the town.”

   “Could be, but I saw him in broad daylight, unless he was looking to get buzzed before dinner. But I’m a pretty good judge of character, and this fellow didn’t act drunk, he just acted peculiar, not natural in the slightest. It was like he wasn’t from around here, like he was from a far-off planet if I had any say.” He sighed and shrugged, tilting his walking stick as he shoved his hands out. “But you’re probably on the money. I mean, he seemed friendly enough, just different. Sometimes a little too friendly, and when he was done, he thanked me with a quick pat on my back and scurried away like a little forest critter.”

   The old man paused for a moment. “I don’t know. Maybe it wasn’t anything to get too worked up about.”

   Theo gave a slight tilt to his head.

   “Anyway,” McKimson continued, “I better be on my way. Wanna get a little wind in me before the day’s end. We’re expecting company tonight.”

   “Will do. Give her my best wishes.”

   They parted and he returned to his promenade without another thought.

   Coming down an incline through another bed of leaves, Theo felt something kick against his shoe, and he looked down. An object flung through the brush, reflecting the light of the late afternoon sun. Curious, he picked it up. Odd. It was metal with a sharp luster, and finely crafted as he flipped it around analyzing its little features, especially the rounded stone that looked like––

   “Well, I’ll be!” Theo said aloud, recognizing the artifact from McKimson’s story. How ironic to find it so soon after hearing about it. It was closer to serendipity. He looked back from the direction he came; certain enough time had passed to make finding the old man improbable, especially a few hours before dusk. But how long would it take before he encountered the stranger with the pumpkin head again? It didn’t matter. Theo would hold onto it until he met up with McKimson the next day, if he was fortunate to find him, and pocketed the item before heading back home.

   In the midst of late-night tranquility, the bed jittered after it was struck with a resounding thump, waking Theo up in a chill of fright. On impulse, he reached out into the darkness and switched on the night table lamp, scraping the edge of the shade and nearly knocking it over. Light flooded the room, and he swiveled his head back and forth like a servo on a gudgeon. The room was silent, apart from the ticking from the quaint clock mounted across from his bed, which itself was temporarily drowned out by the retreating echoes of what had gone bump in the night. It had to have been a dream, even though he was abruptly cut off from a spell of deep sleep where even REM didn’t apply.

   Another knock jolted his bed.

Theo jumped as if electroshocked and barked, “Whoever’s down there! Show yourself and get out!” He felt his teeth chattering.

No response. His words were empty.

He inched forward, the old floorboards creaking as he went, and stopped a foot or two away. With caution heightened by arbitrary ticks of flinching, he slowly bent down, craning his neck like a cantilever, hoping his nervousness wouldn’t overthrow his balance. Nestling under the box spring between the cleats of the bedframe was a black sprawling mass darker than the shadow within which it laid. Whatever was present in his room, it was better Theo never found out. He retreated, creeping backwards as carefully as he would step on eggshells, ready to pivot and gun from the premise and preferably lose himself in the cold of night. A firearm would have come in handy at this moment. The range––next time, the range.

For a split second, he was caught off guard. The room was suddenly shrouded in a dark pall whooshing past, trailing a host diaphanous tentacles. There was no question, he didn’t know what it was, but he had to escape. Aiming for the door, he froze in horror, unable to take another step. The door was blocked by what he guessed was a giant black carpet snugged airtight against the threshold. A pair of rounded eyes opened just above its center, solid white with bold black pupils staring right back at him. Had they not looked so simplistic they would have been ghastly. After a moment of shock, they arched into a look of puzzlement, furrowing the fur in between. He wished self-preservation eclipsed the fear and helplessness that paralyzed his judgment, or he would have hurled the first piece of furniture closest to him at this eldritch beast about to tear him to shreds. Yet, those gazing lobes emoted something else, almost empathetic, belonging to the saucer eyes of a pleading pup.

The great shag jostled and snapped out of its rectangular conformation, reconstituting itself into a nondescript living shape, a gargantuan reverse ink drop, bereft of identifiable anatomy but the leering eyes and fuzzy gaping maw that could swallow a car in one gulp from the way it squashed and stretched with each swing of emotion. It was still a monster, one hard to describe other than as a living expression, boasting graphical features and nacreous colors inherent in what Theo recognized as that of a cartoon.

The great shag instantly warped its morphology into what appeared as a question mark. Theo’s nerves turned to ice. The creature seemed confused, or it was reacting to Theo’s shattered emotional state on what constituted a lifeform.

Sifting through the fear that kept him from flapping his gums, Theo tried verbal communication to break the ice. “Please don’t eat me…” He wanted to slap himself over such a dumb comment, but under the circumstances, he knew no other way to address something so out of the ordinary.

The question mark snapped back into the creature’s natural form, lifting its front appendages into a broad shrug.

Theo pondered before coming up with the only offhand response he could muster. How about this? He reached his hand out, ready to feed or pet the creature. The tableau viewed in profile would have etched out the iconic gesture of pacification during first contact. Reciprocating, the great shag popped into an exclamation point, leaving a jittering recoil. Theo blurted out as he shuttered. The massive cartoon eyes popped from the furry shaft before turning back, carrying over the scrupulous look. It leaned into an exaggerated curve above Theo who was certain he was about to become a midnight snack. Was that just stubborn bias? The brow undulated like the waves of the sea, or a funhouse mirror. Theo suspected it was the creature’s way of scrutinizing him, every detail picked and parceled and collected into some invisible database. In a morbid way, it was rather cute.

The shag snapped back, its fur rustling from the impact as an afterthought. Leaning back, it proudly shut its eyes smiling ear to ear. Theo read it as a look of satisfaction, hopefully, but then it quickly reared back and swooped in a smear over to the night table where the lamp stood. Theo gazed in fascination at the way it shapeshifted with such grace and fluidity, a beautiful work of evolution, or artful design. No explanation came to mind; science remained his weakness, but he saw that it was clearly finding ways, usually physical, to communicate. Hovering over the table, its fur, unchanged in its cartooniness despite its exposure to direct light, jerked a visible set of fingers toward the trinket he found in the park.

A lightbulb went on. The connection was made obvious. Old McKimson’s tale held enough merit to resurface the Titanic. Theo could have jumped for joy, instead, his shoulders slumped. This monster had been looking for that item all along. As a natural changeling, it must have taken humanoid form when approaching McKimson, though Theo had yet to see it casually talk to him as it did in the old man’s story; and where did it get the idea of using a pumpkin for a head?

Not fully recovered from being spooked, Theo crept over to the table and picked up the piece. The shag’s head looked him over approvingly and arched its maw into a wide friendly smile, then waved its burly paw gesturing Theo to follow it. Despite the late hour, he was too wide awake with consternation to request going back to bed. Instead, he readied himself to sneak out of the apartment with what amounted to a magical alien. The usual route through the building was risky, but the creature pointed at the window and lifted it. A biting draft filled the room, flapping some of the papers bound in the loose-leaf. Theo shut it before any loose paper blew into the vorticity, and turning around, he watched the creature morph into a spiral slide extending three flights down to the ground. He resigned himself without protest, grabbed his jacket and followed.

They settled upon a small glade open to the nighttime sky. Everything here was pitch-black.  A gale rustled the trees etched out in shadowy silhouettes against the starriness above. Out of the void, came a thumpity-thump, an animal pounding on wood, not brush or grass. The scuttling grew until a large figure came down with a thud a few feet away. Theo was startled.

When the new arrival spoke, it was the last thing Theo expected, but it strangely fell in line with what McKimson was talking about.

“Looks like Spizzy found you!” Theo barely made out the character throwing up his hand and palling the glade with a shroud of gentle red light. He could see now, and he recognized the pumpkin head, dressed in full garb from head to toe. “Just a flare so we don’t bash into each other. It’s made to stay in place by itself.” his mannerisms were smooth and supple, but dizzying as he snapped from pose to pose

Theo was aghast. “You’re the one who the old man spoke to!”

“Affirmative,” he said, tipping his crown. “I see the word got around. But looks like you found it nonetheless! That’s why Spizzy here was able to trace your location.”

“So, his name is Spizzy,” Theo remarked shyly, looking back up at the creature. “May I ask why you wear that pumpkin over your head?”

“Oh, this?” He pointed both hands toward his head. “Ha. Just a little bit of off-world fun.”

“Off world?”

Without giving a response, the mysterious stranger threw off the pumpkin and spun around like a top. Clothes were strewn in all directions; Theo even ducked as one of the shoes flung past him. The spinning abruptly stopped with the interloper poised still with a smirk, his arms flamboyantly extended.


“Wait. You’re a cat…a cartoon cat, or something akin to a felid…” His fur was as black as Spizzy’s, and he had an extra-long tail trailing his movement as he pranced about at breakneck speed. Maybe he was arboreal.

“A case of parallel evolution, I guess. The name’s Vup, from just around the corner of the Eagle Nebula.” He smirked at the astronomical pigeon speak. “By the way, I think you have something of mine.”

“Oh.” Theo reached into his pocket and, hesitating a beat, proffered the trinket. Vup took it in his scruffy paw and held it up to his inquisitive eye.

“Yep! Just like new.”

“Uh…what is it anyway?” Theo said sheepishly.

“It helps me open a few doors up there.” He gestured up to the sky. Theo followed his hand and craned back down with his brow askew. “It’s a cosmic key; opens up wormhole vectors to get me around the galaxy. Can’t leave home without it!”

“That’s pretty remarkable. But how are you getting back without a spaceship?”

Vup dropped his paw carrying the gate key and leaned toward Theo. “Spizzy’s my hitch. He’s been my resourceful symbiote for a while now, kind of like a handy bot.”

“You mean he’s a robot?” he said, eying the shag.

“M-hm. I’m sure you saw what he’s capable of.”

“Jeez. I most certainly have––”

“Show ‘im, Spizz!”

Theo watched in amazement as Spizzy swelled like a blowfish into a fuzzy pod and opened up what was probably his distended mouth. Vup pounced on all fours into what became clear was the ship’s cockpit.

“This…this is absolutely incredible! You’re a cartoo––I mean you’re a cat from deep space with a spaceship for a pet! I…I don’t…it makes no sense…” Theo felt himself breaking down, his perception of reality warped into a tangled burlesque.

“Hey! Hey! Don’t worry,” Vup said, leaning on the hairy dashboard, his arms scrunching into creases. “Take everything in stride. You gotta nice little world here full of sights and sounds. A few good dispensaries to boot!” He jabbed the air with his elbow and hopped back into his seat.

“You’re kidding.”

“I kid not. Helps on all the wild corners in super-space.”


“Gravitational wells close to the gates. Don’t wanna veer off the Ein-bridge, so to speak. But don’t worry your little head off. I always come back. Tell you what. Next time, when you have a moment, I wouldn’t mind taking you along for a weekend joyride. I’d think you’d like our world. It’s kind of like here, except less building and a whole lot more of this,” he sprawled his hands out alluding to the park.

“Um…it sounds wonderful.” He instinctively knew not to ask if the home planet was a cartoon as well. “Please keep me in mind to be the first human to get an impromptu tour of the Milky Way…inside another creature. And my name is Theo––”

The cat reached out and grabbed Theo’s hand with both his paws and vigorously shook.

“Nice to meet ya, pal. Anyway, we gotta bounce.” He yanked his thumb back. “I’ve got a date over on one of the moons of Aliod––my home world.” He broke into a chuckle, twitching his shoulders and elbows.

Settling into his seat, he waved goodbye before the hatch shut into a pucker of fuzzy folds and wrinkles. The ship, Spizzy rather, levitated, recoiled into a squashed anticipation, and zoomed off into the vast gulfs above.

Theo was left addled in disbelief, but he supposed such an occasion was now a fact of life, and he looked back, realizing he had a way to go to reach town. Thank God it was a Saturday. Huffing out a sigh, he placed his hands in his pockets before setting out for home, when he felt a small plastic sealable that wasn’t there before. Taking it out, he could scarcely make it out. But he could certainly smell it. That son of gun stashed this on me when I wasn’t looking. Very Clever! Maybe it was his little going-away present.

October 28, 2022 17:07

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Graham Kinross
00:57 Nov 18, 2022

As Mitchell already said, this is a very different take on the normal monster story. Have you seen Werewolf by Night? Probably your sort of thing. Similar ideas. Great story, R. J.


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Mitchell Awisus
03:57 Nov 04, 2022

Very imaginative! Thanks for the story, Richard. I loved the exclamation and question marks that the monster would turn into based on what I believe to be its emotion. I could really see the monster changing in my mind. I also enjoyed that this was not a scary monster or an evil monster, but one that was just looking to return to it's friend. It was a refreshing change of pace to the average monster story. Looking forward to reading more of your stories!


R. J. Garron
21:01 Nov 04, 2022

Thank you so much! I really appreciate your feedback. The funny thing is that a lot of my stories tend to be cynical perspectives on human frailty and dystopian nightmares, only to be juxtaposed with whimsical fantasies and hard science fiction. So, in the event I submit a flash fiction piece a shade darker in tone, please don't balk. The next time I'll post something more in line with this. By the way, I liked your last story! I wonder if some of us would be have time to collaboate on a little project at some point.


Mitchell Awisus
03:40 Nov 05, 2022

Thanks Richard, I appreciate it! I'm on and off Reedsy depending on the prompt but let me know what you were thinking.


R. J. Garron
07:23 Nov 05, 2022

Likewise. I'm very busy, plus I'm trying to finish a few short stories of my own, and I'm waaay behind on those! I was thinking when time permits, we could try a compilation involving several authors here on Reedsy, maybe something thematic, lime sci-fi/fantasy. We could all contribute a new story and perhaps, and this is a strong maybe, convince Reedsy to promote it as a sample of their contributing writers. Its just a thought.


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