There are Monsters

Maddy Stella Fletcher

Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.

-G.K Chesterton

Gilda knew about the monster in her closet.

She was eight, but that didn’t mean she was stupid, and Gilda had discovered that many adults believed the two were interchangeable. Gilda had mastered tying her laces years ago, could ride her bike without the training wheels, make peanut butter and banana sandwiches entirely unsupervised without spilling anything and even knew how to operate the DVD player in order to watch Dora explore something. She knew that four quarters could get her exactly twenty pixie sticks from the convenience store down the block. She was also somewhat informed of where babies came from: at least she was certain that there were no birds involved. Gilda also knew three swear words, including the really bad one her father had accidentally said in front of her that time when he had run over one of her roller skates while mowing the lawn and had made her promise never to repeat in front of her mother.

It didn’t take long for Gilda to realize that there was, indeed, a monster living in her closet. Lying in her pale yellow bedroom, the glow-in-the-dark plastic stars staring down at her from the ceiling, Gilda would be tucked in by her parents and told to sleep tight. Gilda always smiled as her father kissed her forehead, and made a show of closing her eyes and burrowing deeper into her pillow. She had tried, once, to tell her parents of the creature that lived amongst her jackets and sweaters, that hid amid her hung up dresses and skirts during the day, only to emerge, hulking and snarling at night, but she had only been chided and told that there was nothing to fear. Gilda thought to herself that, really, there was quite a lot to fear, but that, for her parent’s sake, she would take care of it.

She listened as her parents retreated down the stairs to finish the dishes and catch the last of the news. Gilda listened to the clink and clatter of soapy plates for a while before slipping out of bed and reaching under her mattress. Pulling out her father’s red plastic flashlight and a croquet mallet from the set in the backyard, Gilda kept a close eye on her closet doors. She finally pulled out a sheathed fillet knife that she had found in her father’s tackle box, and concealed it in the pocket of her dressing gown. Crossing the room towards her closet, she could hear the start of a low growl coming from inside. She took up station in front of the doors just as they began to slide open. Long, filthy, ragged claws appeared on either side of the opening, forcing the doors open. Gilda could see two awful, glowing eyes peering out from the darkness inside the closet. She quickly clicked on the flashlight and shone its beam into the creature’s face. The eyes quickly disappeared, and the claws retreated a few inches. Gilda heard the monster hiss.

“No! Not the light again!” The monster growled, it’s voice grating and rough, deep and hateful.

Gilda clicked the flashlight off, and the two points of light returned as the monster opened its eyes and narrowed them at her.

“I still have the mallet,” Gilda asserted, hefting the small wooden cudgel and holding it as menacingly as she could, “so no funny business, like last time.”

“I still have a bump from when you hit me,” the creature whined, its luminous eyes flashing, “I had a headache all the next day, too!”

“Serves you right!” Gilda scolded, “I said I would hit you if you tried anything and I guess now you know I mean it!”

The monster seemed to sigh from the gloom of the closet. “So you haven’t changed your mind then? About your parents?”

Gilda rolled her eyes, “the answer is still no I’m afraid, I’d much rather you didn’t eat them.”

The beast barked out a deep growl, which Gilda imagined was its equivalent to swearing. “They wouldn’t suffer,” it insisted, “I’d hardly chew at all, just one big gulp and it’d be over!”

Gilda raised the flashlight in warning.

“Alright! Alright!” the creature said hurriedly, raising its claws protectively in front of its face, “I get it! No eating…”

“ Why do you want to eat them so badly anyway?” Gilda inquired, lowering the flashlight again.

The monster seemed to hesitate for a moment, as if in thought. “Well… I… I suppose it’s because, well… that’s just what monsters do, isn’t it? We gobble people up.”

“That doesn’t seem like a very good reason,” Gilda rebuked, “to go around eating people’s parents…” She thought for a moment, spinning the croquet mallet absent-mindedly, “Are you a boy monster, or a girl monster?”

When the creature spoke, it came out as if it had rehearsed its answer: “I am the deep and creeping dark,” it declared, “I am malice incarnate; fear personified. I am your nightmares, your terror, and your dread. I lurk behind every door and wait under every bed for my chance to pounce and wreak my havoc…”

“A boy then.” Gilda concluded, unfazed, “Do you have a name?”

“I am Terror! I am Fright! I am Hate and Scorn and—“

“So, no proper name then?”

The monster thought for a moment, “I’ve always liked Gavin,” it conceded, “I ate someone named Gavin once, and I’ve always liked the name…”

Gilda felt herself smiling, “Gavin is a nice name.” She lowered the croquet mallet and leaned on it, like a cane, the monsters eyes followed the mallet’s descent. “It’s too bad the Gavin you ate didn’t get to enjoy it.”

“You know, maybe you’re right...” The monster let out a long sigh, and Gilda felt his foul breath sweep past her, reeking of rot and corruption, “it’s lonely, you know, being a monster…”

Gilda’s grip on the mallet slackened, “Lonely? How?”

The monster drew itself closer to the gap in the doors, its ragged voice hushed, “Who would want to be friends with a beast like me?” It sounded, to Gilda, almost mournful. Leaning the mallet against the dresser beside her, Gilda took a step forward and placed her small hand on one of the monster’s filthy claws that were still gripping the closet doors. She patted the gore-caked talon sympathetically. “Well,” she began, “you eat people, dummy, that’s why you don’t have friends.”

The hulking shape in the closet shifted towards Gilda again, its two flashing eyes ablaze in the shadowy bedroom. “Do you think,” the dark shape growled, “that maybe… maybe we could be friends?” Its talons were digging deeper into the wood of the closet, it’s eyes growing brighter, and narrowing, and Gilda could make out the flash of long, stained teeth being exposed a few feet in front of her. She took a step back.



“Never. Monsters don’t have friends. That’s what makes you monsters.”

The creature moved so fast that Gilda barely had time to react. With a visceral growl that involuntarily sent shivers down her spine, it launched it’s distorted, stinking body from the closet and knocked her to the ground. Gilda felt the flashlight go spinning away across the carpet, and knew that the mallet would be of no use, even if she could reach it. As she hit the carpet, she quickly rolled away from the slashing claws, and pulled the fillet knife from the pocket of her dressing gown. The demon, shrieking, bore down on her a final time, intending to tear out her throat, but as it brought it’s foul head down for the kill, Gilda forced the knife upwards, feeling it pierce the throat of the beast. Warm, fetid blood flowed over Gilda’s hands and onto her pajamas as the monster let out a hideous bubbling scream and, clawing hopelessly at the wound in it’s neck, collapsed in a foul heap next to Gilda.

Gilda leapt to her feet, and, retrieving the croquet mallet, raised it over the beast. Yet the creature let out only a few more wet gasps and croaks before falling silent and still.

Pushing and pulling, Gilda managed to maneuver the fiend back into the gloom of her closet, and, stripping off her blood soaked dressing gown and pajamas, she tossed them in with the beast and closed the doors. Changing into a fresh nightie, Gilda retrieved her father’s flashlight, the croquet mallet, and fillet knife and replaced them all in the space under her mattress. Casting one last look on her closet, she climbed into the cool safety of her bed, and, under the calming luminescence of her glow-in-the-dark stars, fell asleep.

Gilda knew that all trace of the monster and its demise would be gone in the morning. She knew that, however piercing or horrifying the monster’s screams had been, her parents would not have heard a thing. She knew that her dressing gown and pajamas would be spotless, and she knew that the ragged claw marks, gouged deep into the wood of the closet doors would be healed by the time she awoke for school.

Gilda was eight, but that didn’t mean she was stupid.

© 2010 Maddy Stella Fletcher. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Maddy Stella Fletcher is a native of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and is currently an English major at the University of Ottawa. Her whole life people have been telling her that there is no future in writing, and, fearing the worst, she tried many other professions, including photographer, waitress, landscaper, tree-planter, toy-store clerk, camp-counselor and receptionist. Currently, Maddy is looking into publishing her own local zine, and has just won second place in's fall fiction contest with her short story: "Life in Many Days".