The monsters under the bed — they come every day
My name is Bob. I am a child warrior. You probably don’t know what the word warrior means. I didn’t either. But when the man who came to give me my hammer came, he said he was coming specially for me. He had to give me the hammer in person, as he didn’t trust those damn flying birds.
When I asked him if he meant, airplanes, he looked at me if I had grown two heads.
I had never met an adult who didn’t know what an airplane was, so I kind of tried to avoid him after. But he was the one who told me I was a child warrior, and when I asked him what a warrior was, he was really happy to explain it all to me.
He said, with one of his front tooth wiggling the whole time, “There are monsters under every child’s bed. They are there because they know children are smaller and weaker, so they can take advantage of their smallness and weakness. They scare them, and the more a child gets scared, the more power these monsters get from us. It’s like we are little battery packs for them. The more afraid we get, the stronger they get. But I am a child warrior — there aren’t many of us.”
I interrupted him then. I am a great interrupter, my mother says. She knows she will never be able to finish any of her conversations with me, because I always interrupt. I am curious, she says. I think it’s a good thing to be curious. It means you ask lots of questions and you think a lot. But for my mother, all of these interruptions means time wasted, so she thinks my curiosity is a bad thing.
“How many child warriors are there, Mister Winnebago?” I asked. I tried to polite with him, even though his wiggling tooth made me want to giggle the whole time he spoke.
“Ten. No wait, there are twenty. Hmm, maybe 50. Actually, son,” he said, putting a dirty hand on my shoulder, and said, “We don’t know. And don’t interrupt me. I’m just getting into my story now. So as I was saying, children like you, aren’t afraid. Actually, the monsters are afraid of child warriors. They know that they have weapons that people like me give them, and they know they can be beaten up by a child warrior. So they like to stay away from them. Now, you have the hammer, right? Don’t forget to take the hammer everywhere you go. It might be invisible to everyone else, but it is important that you keep it by your side. Then, when you get the SOS signal, like so,” he showed me when the cracks on my wall that normally spell nothing, start spelling S.O.S. in big bold red letters. “When you get the SOS signal like so, you have to grab your hammer, and step up to the window, this window here, it can’t be any other window, right? Then, you step up here, and you say the words. You have to say those words, right. Now copy me, when I say them. Shalabazoo, Kalamazoo, Monsters Beware, Child Warrior Bob to the rescue.” He made me repeat the words several times, until he was satisfied.
I was actually surprised my parents weren’t in my room asking me to keep it quiet. This Mister Winnebago was a loud talker. But they hadn’t shown up yet, so that’s all good.
Finally, he was satisfied with my words, and he said his final words, “So you say the words, and you will be in the little child’s room who is wishing for someone to come help him with the monsters under his or her bed. Now this is the important part.” Every part seemed to be the important part with Mister Winnebago, but I didn’t interrupt him to tell him this. Adults don’t like to be told when they are being silly. I have noticed this and so I pretend like I don’t notice it when they make mistakes, and because I am a child, they expect me not to notice.
“You are going to be in their room, but they won’t see you or the hammer. You will just have to fight the monsters and then step up to the window, say, Mission Complete, Child Warrior Bob is going home. And a second later, you will be home in bed. Right? Right. Seems simple enough. You seem like a smart child, even though you are a little bit slow on the uptake. I’m sure you will do great. Just great.”
He was saying it in a way which made me think that he didn’t really believe his words. Sometimes adults say things that they are trying to convince themselves of. They will tell themselves over and over again, I can do this, or I am thin, or I am smarter than Jill or Josh. Things like that.
One day, I am going to write a book called, ‘The Darndest Things Adults Say.”
The man clapped his hands above his head twice, and a second later, he was gone, twirling away, singing a jolly old tune to himself. I liked him. He was fun.
I looked at the hammer in my hand. It didn’t look like it could do any damage to monsters. It was gold, and silver, and bronze. It was as if the person who was making it couldn’t decide what colour to use, so he used all of the colours he could think. It was also a soft toy, not a real hammer, that could be used to hammer a nail into a wall.
Why do I get a hammer and not a sword or a bow and arrow? I wanted to complain to the people who chose child warriors, but I didn’t know who I would go to.
It was dark out, and I know that if I was going to get a call for rescue, it would happen soon. Soon, all the parents would start walking up stairs to their children’s room, tucking them into bed, and then switching off the dreaded lights before closing the door and going downstairs to watch another few hours of TV. This was the dreaded monster time.
I had monsters under my bed, too.
I switched off the light in my room. My parents weren’t the tucking in kind of parents. They let me do my own thing, even though, I was only 7. They said, I was mature for my age, and they were way too busy with work, to worry about if my lights were out or I was sleeping.
The monsters under my bed started waking up as soon as the lights were out. But they cowered in the corner as soon as they saw that I was lying on the ground watching them, my chin in my palms, my elbows on the ground, holding my head up, my feet tucked into each other in the air.
I had two of the ugliest and weakest monsters ever. They were both covered with scars, and old white hairs. Purple, green, and brown fur on them. Bald in places. Scrawny. No real heart in them to scare me. They never even tried anymore.
It was so boring!
I think they must have sent me the monsters who were ready to retire, because the monsters management knows I don’t scare easy. I smiled at Joey and Boe as I called them, and said a loud hello.
They shivered as if I had yelled at them, and they tried to become even smaller.
I think the first time I had monsters under my bed was when I was 5. I was still a baby then. But even then, I knew that monsters under the bed couldn’t do anything to me. The first time I saw them slimily moving around under my bed, I went downstairs to grab a flashlight from my Dad’s study, and came back with it to flash them dead. Monsters under the bed don’t like light. They especially don’t like the light from flashlights. It burns through them. Maybe, I’ll take a flashlight with me when the SOS signal comes.
I kept a flashlight in my underwear drawer now, as a sort of emergency, in case they send some bigger monsters to scare me. I wriggled out from under the bed, and I grabbed the flashlight, placed it next to the hammer, and noticed that the SOS signal was beaming red.
Yay! I said goodbye to Joey and Boe. I wouldn’t have time to play with them today. Duty calls.
I remembered exactly what I was supposed to say at the window. I repeated it to myself in my head a couple of times, so I wouldn’t make a mistake standing at the window.
I grabbed the hammer with one hand, and the flashlight with another, and stepped up to the window to save a child from the monsters under his bed.
Child warrior Bob to the rescue!