With halloween just around the corner I thought it proper to tell you this true story.
When I was a little boy I had a monster that lived in my closet. I know all children think there are monsters in their closet but I had a REAL monster that lived there. He was green most of the time but sometimes he would change colors. Sometimes I would open the closet door and he would be black. Sometimes he would be red, other times still he would be blue. I never knew what color he would be. Sometimes, on those particularly scary nights he would be multicolored. The one thing that was always constant was the trickle of blood that flowed from his forehead. He was always hunched over, never stood erect and fortunately for me he could not move very fast.
I could hear him there at night… scratching at the door, clawing at the round shiny doorknob. Waiting for the inevitable moment when I would open the door. I could never figure out why I opened the door. I knew when I did I would hear first the laugh. Sometimes, he would hear me coming and start to laugh as I approached. As I opened the door I could hear him re-positioning himself, getting ready to pounce on me and devourer me, maul me to a bloody mass, quivering and jerking as the tendons in my legs and arms were ripped from me. But I still could not stop myself from opening the door.
Sometimes I could get a good look at him before he reached for me with his hairy hand, claws that were sharpened ready to tear at me. I could see the expression on his face, the rippling muscles that had ripped small children to shreds in the past. I could smell his sweat; and always that trickle of blood on his forehead. It was a horrible existence for a small child.
As he got ready to jump at me I would race back to my bed, slam under the covers and shiver with fear. I did not dare come out from under the covers for the remainder of the night. I would hear him breathing inches from my head, just waiting for me to make a mistake and allow even the smallest part of my body to come from under the covers. Even if my smallest finger slipped out he could grad it, pull me across my floor and slam me against the wall. I’m sure he would pull my arms off and swing them over his head, laughing as I bleed to death. He would look at me as I had, in the past, after pulling wings from flies and looked at them, wondering if a fly could feel pain.
As morning came I would listen intently; waiting for any evidence that he was still there waiting on me. Slowly I would peak and listen; but each morning he was gone. There were times that I would see blood spots on my covers, obviously from the trickle of blood that dripped from his forehead. I told my parents about it but they never believed me. On those occasions when I found spots of blood I would run down stairs, get my Mom and have her come and look; to prove there was a monster living in my closet. I would run back up the stairs with her slowly following. My intent was to show her the blood but by the time I had returned to my little chamber of horrors the blood would be gone. This attempt at proof would take place a number of times in the early stages of my multiple encounters and each time the blood was gone. I eventually stopped calling my Mother because I knew by the time she got there all the evidence would have been removed.
I’m not sure where he came from, never knew why he was there. I knew other children who had monsters but none were like mine. None were so vivid, so intent on my demise. I could not imagine my existence without him. It seems he had always been there. Sometimes, even during the day while in my room I could hear him. I hated the weekends when my Mom made me clean my room. To have to pick things up and put them in the closet surely meant instant death. As I got a little older I learned that if I opened the door, but stayed behind it, not look at the monster I could throw things in and he would not or perhaps he could not come out. It became like a game after a while. If I opened the door fast and threw the shoes in I could hit him. That would make him so angry and I always knew, on the days I hit him with things, the coming evening would be a particularly bad one.
When I was 10 years old my parents told me my Dad had received a promotion at work and we were going to move to another town. They were afraid I would be disappointed. Everyone knows children do not like to move. If you move as a child your life will be over, leave your friends, your familiar environment. I was overjoyed. I had to keep it a secret. If the monster learned of my plan he would move there too. If I could keep it a secret I could be rid of this pestilence for life. I could grow up a normal boy. Sleep soundly every night. Yes, I was ecstatic about moving.
The day came. I was so sly. I told my Dad I would help him pack up the garage and the work shed. I told my Mom I would help her pack the kitchen, the dinning room and the living room. Anything I could do to keep me from packing up my own room. I certainly did not want to pack the closet. Seems the monster always went away when Mom or Dad opened the closet. I knew, if I opened the closet, the monster would grab me and kill me; at best he would make me tell where we were moving.
As we pulled away from the house I dared not look back. I could hear him; I could not help but look back. There he was, in the window of my room. I had seen him mad before but the look on his face was a look I can never forget. Anger, rage, disappointment and evil desire were mixed all together. I quickly turned, looking straight ahead. As we got farther from the house the sounds of him drifted away.
My first night in the new house was the most restful sleep I had ever had. For the next several years I slept well, grew up normal and eventually forgot about the monster. Once in a great while I would wonder whose house he was at now. Was he still in the same closet? Did the new owners of our old home have a child? Was the monster tormenting him or her? Were there other children living the horrid life I had left? I wondered as a child about these things, but as time passed I didn’t even think of that anymore.
Fifteen years passed; I had not thought of the monster for years. Most things we think as children drift away like smoke from a fire. I eventually convinced myself the monster was not real. Children have fears and they manifest those fears into monsters. Perhaps I dreamt of monsters because of childish insecurities; for whatever reason maturity taught me that there are no such things as monsters in a child’s closet.
Everyone eventually takes a nostalgic trip. Check out the old places where we grew up, look at the old school; take a drive down that old lane. During one of my work related tips I drove through my old hometown. There was the old house. I laughed inside as I thought about the silly fears of a small child. I thought of the monster and laughed. All those nights I lay in my bed, so afraid to look, too afraid to sleep.
The house was empty and was in disrepair. It saddened my heart. This is the house were I spent my young years and now it was in a state of serious decay. A building permit was taped to a small hand made sign in the front yard. The building permit said the house would be totally remodeled for the new owner. I figured it would not hurt to go in and look around a bit. I wanted to see the kitchen where my Mom made me chocolate chip cookies. To stand under the stair steps where I pretended to be a secret agent, hiding and listening, gathering information to use on my next mission. And yes, to open the closet and think of memories long gone.
I expected to see an empty space; I expected to see dust and empty hangers. I did not expect to see what I saw. The instant I opened the door I saw him. The monster was still there… multicolored and angry; blood dripping from his forehead, drool dripping from his long teeth. I was stunned; I was scared to the point that bordered on stupefaction. I turned to run but my slight hesitation was all the time the monster needed to jump out and grab me. For the first time I felt his fingers upon me; fingers that were cold, clammy and slick, like oil. How could this be! How could the monster, that I had convinced myself was in my mind, have me pinned to the floor. His hot breaths steamed across my face with each exhale. His drool and spit splattered my face as his head shook back and forth. He tightened the grip with his strong putrid smelling hands around my neck and slowly steadied himself on his hind legs. He was leaning over me; I knew my life was going to end. This monster had waited in this closet for 15 years, hoping and probably knowing that someday I would return, knowing that someday he would have the opportunity to kill me, to rip my arms off of me like I had done to the fly. For all those days I hit him with shoes and toys he would now reap his revenge.
He turned his head toward the door, turned back to look at me. He then turned to look toward the window. His breathing slowed, his grip got tighter. He rearranged himself a bit and I though he was going to position himself to slam me against the wall.
His head bent down low, toward my face. Would he rip my throat out? Those long fangs would rip through my neck like a knife through soft butter. Why did I come back to this house, why did I open that door? My life was seconds from ending. I thought of all the things I had done, all the things that I wanted to do knowing there was no chance now.
He pulled his head away and with his right hand he extended his index finger. That claw looked to be the longest and sharpest. With the very tip he touched me on the forehead and pierced my skin. Blood trickled out. A burning sensation started to come over me. The monster loosened his grip on me and stood up more erect than he ever had before and with a smile on his face said, “Tag, You’re it.” I could not move… My body seemed to have gone numb, like I had been drugged. I saw him change and reshape before my very eyes. As he changed I could tell he was taking on a resemblance of a man. The man looked like me. I could feel myself changing as well. My hands, my face, my entire body was changing in a matter of seconds. The burning sensation on my forehead was starting to subside. The numbness was going away but try as I might my movement was restricted, like slow motion. I slowly extended my arms and saw my hands were not my own. They were the hands of a monster with long claws. I touched my forehead and realized I had a trickle of blood flowing from the tiny wound he had inflicted on me. The monster, who now looked like me, picked up the keys to my car, smiled at me and walked toward the door. I heard my car start and as he drove away I heard him laugh.
There was nothing I could do but take my place in the closet and wait for the next child.