So as I’ve mentioned several times, the good folks at Shock Totem, continue to inspire me with their quarterly flash fiction contest. The most recent one was held in September, with voting finishing last week. Thirty-five stories were entered, led by the winner, Roger Lovelace, whose piece “There’s a Tongue in the Drain” was fantastic….easily one of the most creepily imaginative works of fiction I’ve ever read.
My piece, “Real Monsters” got generally positive reviews, probably more than any other entry before, but only one lonely 3rd place vote. Most folks spoke highly about the voice and the style, but several dinged me for lack of action.
I’m not likely to market this one any time soon, though I thought I’d share. Take a look and let me know what you think in the comments!
So I’m walking home from school and I pass by this sewer grate, and out of the corner of my eye I see something move. At first I’m scared, because I saw this movie once where there’s these monsters called chuds that live in the sewer, and they come out and eat people. Only they didn’t start as monsters. First they were bums that got into some glowing goop, like the Ninja Turtles. But instead of becoming giant fighting turtles (Raphael is my favorite), they become really scary monsters.
I don’t think Deannie wanted me to see the chuds. She wanted to put on Spongebob, and told me to stay on the couch and not to go into her room, but she was acting weird, and I think she put on the wrong channel and I watched the chuds instead, only I got scared, especially when the chuds started eating people in the diner, so I went to her door and I heard her making sounds in there. And then I got more scared because Deannie was making the same noises that Mommy sometimes makes with Uncle Frank.
The first time that I heard Mommy making those noises, I ran into her room to make sure she was alright. Uncle Frank got mad and jumped out of bed and slapped me really hard a bunch of times and then my Mommy started to scream and cry and yelled at Uncle Frank to leave. He didn’t. He just pushed me out into the hall and slammed the door and did a lot more yelling and Mommy cried. A little while later Mommy started making the noises again.
Anyways, Deannie was making those noises and I was too scared to go in, because she might get mad at me, but I was too scared to go back to the TV because of the chuds, so I hid in the closet by her room and a little while later Deannie’s door opened and an old guy with a big gut walked out. Then Deannie walked out and the old guy whispered something to her and gave her a lot of money. Her hands were shaking when she took it, and it looked like she was crying and that made me sad because Deannie is the best sister in the world and always makes me smile when I’m crying, and I didn’t know how to make her stop. Deannie isn’t a GROWNUP yet, but she still is a BIG GIRL and BIG GIRLS don’t cry, which is something Mommy always sings to us.
Anyways, like I was saying, I saw something move under the sewer grate and I thought it was a chud but when I looked closer, I saw it was a big, white, round balloon with stuff drawn on it….like a face on one side and a flower on the other, though I couldn’t tell for sure, because it was dark down there. I got real close and put my face right on the grate, but then I remembered another movie that I saw when I was sitting on the couch with Mommy. Uncle Frank had given her a shot that he said was a FIX. I don’t know what was broke, but it made Mommy really sleepy and she started to nod her head like you do when you’re trying hard to stay awake. I fell asleep too, and when I woke up there was a clown on the TV. He stood in a sewer a lot like this one, and he had a balloon, a lot like this one, and he wanted to give the balloon to a little boy and when the little boy tried to take it, the clown grew sharp teeth and tore the little boys arm RIGHT OFF! And the little boy screamed and I screamed too, and I woke up Mommy. She got mad at me at first and told me to shut the eff up (only she said the bad word, which I’m not allowed to say) but then she saw me crying and she hugged me and called me her little Kayla-bug (which I like) and told me the clown was only make believe and he couldn’t hurt me.
And I wanted to tell her it wasn’t his sharp teeth, or even when he ripped off the boy’s arm that scared me. It was his eyes. They reminded me of this one time when Uncle Frank took me to the zoo and we saw the lions. One of the lions stared at me. Everywhere I went it followed me with its eyes and I got scared and Uncle Frank said it looked at me like that because I was its PREY, and if the glass wasn’t there it would jump on me and eat me, and then I started to cry because sometimes Uncle Frank’s eyes looked the same way when he stared at Deannie and me, and I wondered if we were his prey, and if he was going to eat us.
Anyway, I really did see a balloon floating in the sewer. I don’t know how it got there, but I know there wasn’t a monster clown in there, because there isn’t any such thing as monster clowns. I left the sewer behind and hurried to Uncle Frank’s friend’s house so I could give him the bags Uncle Frank put in my backpack. I have to bring back money from the friend. I hope he counts better this time, because last time he messed up and Uncle Frank got mad and said I stole some of the money and hit me over and over until I fell asleep right on the kitchen floor.
I don’t like it when Uncle Frank hurts me, but Mommy says sometimes I just have to be tough because the world is tough and sometimes the monsters are real. I just hope if one ever finds me I can be brave.
Real Monsters© 2014 James Knipp