Monster in the Closet
There is a monster in my closet, waiting to rip my throat out.
I wake up, exhausted. I don’t want to do this again. I just want to get up and leave the room. I look towards the closet and in the deep gloom of the nighttime room, I can barely see that it is open a crack. The monster inside is quiet: you never hear anything until that snort of discharged steamy breath when it charges and it is too late. I close my eyes. I don’t want to die again.
Eight feet from the bed to the door; six to the closet. I should be able to make it but that thing is always too quick for me. I have tried it fast and I have tried it slow but it never matters. Once I even had my hand on the doorknob before I felt pincer-like jaws clamp down on my calves, crushing my tibias and fibulas and pulling me backwards towards its lair underneath my dress shirts. I even remember the hem of that red sweater tickling my face as the creature slashed my stomach and I felt my vital organs tumbling out like sausages from a slit shopping bag. I woke up in bed, thinking of that sweater. It was always too big for me, but I couldn’t give it away since my grandma had given it to me.
I have even tried just waiting. Once, I waited for what seemed like hours, biding my time until the sun rose and burned away the mists of this unending nightmare. But the sun never rose and I waited until my bladder was bursting. I wet the bed and waited some more until I was cold and stinking and frantic. I screamed, “Come get me, you bastard!” and ran for the door.
It came. It got me.
After that, I woke up in bed, in that same eternal half-darkness. I thought I could smell a faint aroma of urine, which scared me almost as much as the monster, but I didn’t know why.
Now, I sit up in bed. No reaction. Slowly, I take one pillow and hold it to my back. I prop the other in front of me and pulling out the thinnest blanket, I tie them to me. I cinch it so tight that I can barely breathe. Slowly, oh so slowly like a sloth on tranquilizers, I lower my foot to the ground.
As soon as I touch carpet, I’m off. There is a roar and a shriek of angry, Stygian breath. My hand is on the handle when I am yanked back. I scream and pull hard. There is a ripping sound and the pillow is torn away. I yank the door open and then I am out, in the dark hallway, running hard for the front door. The monster crashes through the bedroom door behind me and I can hear the wood of the frame splintering. I can’t make it to the door in time. It will be on me in a second. Then, it feels like time slows and just before those ravenous fangs sink into my flesh one more time, I flick on the light switch.
I wake up in bed to my cell phone buzzing angrily. It is my co-worker Larry.
“Where are you?” Larry asks. “Are you coming to work today?”
“What time is it? How long have I been gone?” I ask. I must sound like a wild man because Larry suddenly sounds disconcerted.
“Settle down. You’re only fifteen minutes late. Are you sick?”
“No, I’ll be there,” I say. I hang up. Daylight is streaming into the room through the slits in the blinds. I look at the closet.
The door is open, just a crack.
There is no sound, but of course, there never is before it charges. But now it’s day. There has never been a cell phone call before. The nightmare must be over.
But I can’t explain why my heart is pounding so hard or why I can’t make myself step onto the carpet. Because as long as I stay on the bed, there is a chance that everything is fine and my closet is empty.
I find myself straining to hear breathing.
I don’t want to die again.
I don’t want to die again.
I don’t want to die—