This story not only includes characters from my earlier story Jenny and the Monster but the titular monster from The Monster Under My Daughter’s Bed and Elaine who previously appeared in Why I Don’t Buy My Daughter Sweets Anymore and Magic Chocolates. Enjoy!
It was the season of giving, they said. God loves a cheerful giver, they said, and this was the time of God’s son’s birthday. So, as young Jenny Sayers went out Christmas shopping, she not only got a present for Bert on Christmas Day – a t-shirt depicting a sword-wielding dog under a “Game of Bones” logo – but a present he could have when she got home. Bert couldn’t go to the shop on his own, so when Jenny went out to the shops, he usually gave her some money to buy him some junk food with. This time, however, Bert hadn’t given her any money, but she decided to buy him some donuts anyway. Tis the season.
For most of the years Bert had lived under her roof, Jenny had never really thought about Bert that much. He liked to be left alone, so she left him alone. However, after the last Halloween, when he began to think about where he might have come from, she thought about that as well.
She thought about the fact that Bert was a monster.
When she was a kid, Jenny found a little furry three-eyed monster in the woods, one who didn’t know where his home or his parents were. Little Jenny took pity on him and took him back to her home, where he had lived for about ten years. Though he rarely left the house – only partly due to fear of being discovered by humanity – he learned about the world thanks to the internet, movies and television, which he had made money writing about. Until recently, he had never gave much thought about where he might have come from, though Jenny’s friend Chris had tried to find out. Ten years, and he still hadn’t had much luck.
Bert hadn’t looked for his true home because he had been happy to stay where he was, and when Jenny got back home, he was where he usually was. Jenny knocked on the basement door, and she actually heard a “Come in”. Usually when she brought Bert his junk food, he wanted her to leave it at the door and then to go away, and when she had to tell him something, she told him through the door. After Halloween, however, when Bert remembered Jenny and her family first taking him in, he had welcomed Jenny into his little corner of the house more.
Jenny had even gotten used to the smell.
Bert sat at the laptop, reading a digital comic book he had recently bought before turning his swivel chair around to face Jenny. ‘Hi, Jenny,’ he said with a small smile, ‘what brings you here?’
Jenny pulled out the donuts from her shopping bag. ‘Here’s an early present.’
‘Aw,’ said Bert, ‘you shouldn’t have.’ After Jenny handed Bert the donuts, Bert’s mouth became like that of a python. He opened it wide, and dumped the donuts inside before swallowing.
With a chuckle, Jenny said, ‘Well, I’ll go now.’
‘Wait,’ said Bert, rubbing his lips to make sure there was no jam in his fur despite not chewing the donuts, ‘I thought you might help me with something.’
‘What do you want help with?’
Bert leaned back to give Jenny a better look at his laptop screen, at the digital comic he was reading. ‘I recently bought the Christmas issue of The Great Green Laser, and I want to write a funny review of it. I was just wondering if you can have a read of the comic, so you can give me suggestions for jokes to make. You’re pretty good at this commentary stuff.’
Jenny chuckled. ‘Oh, thank you. What’s the comic about?’
‘The evil Dr. Meow is planning to steal all the children’s Christmas toys and replace them with catnip toys.’
‘Stealing toys? Isn’t that like a certain other Christmas special?’ asked Jenny.
Bert laughed. ‘There you go. See? You’ll enjoy it!’
Jenny sighed as she looked at the screen, then back at Bert. ‘This isn’t about Mark, is it?’ She had broken up with Mark the last month and Bert actually asked Jenny if it had anything to do with him, given that he had complained about the times Mark had come over. Jenny had told him things just weren’t working out between them, but Bert admitted he still felt slightly responsible.
‘Oh no,’ said Bert, ‘it’s just a bit of fun. This season is all about fun, isn’t it?’ He looked at the picture on his desk, of him and Jenny as children. ‘You don’t remember when we both stayed up late on Christmas Eve to see if we could see Santa?’
‘Oh yeah,’ said Jenny, tapping her chin. At one time, Bert slept in her bedroom before moving to the basement, and during his first Christmas with Jenny, he looked out of the window for any flying sleighs, and Jenny joined him. It was when they were looking out that they heard bumps downstairs. Both of them crept to the living room, steeling themselves for Santa. When they got down, however, they found the mince pies already eaten and the presents under the tree. Both of them were tempted to open the presents, but they decided it wouldn’t be good form. ‘Kinda weird that Santa wasn’t real, when, you know, you are.’
‘So you’d rather Santa be real than me?’ said Bert with a smirk, ‘Well, fuck you too.’ His “fuck you” was not a serious one, so he laughed just to make that clear.
‘No, I didn’t mean that,’ sighed Jenny, ‘You know, I was talking to Chris the other day.’
‘Oh,’ said Bert, ‘how’s the search for my real home going?’
‘Not that well, apparently,’ replied Jenny, ‘but what he told me is that he’s treating every legend, every myth as fact. Soon as he hears an old fairy tale that may relate to you in some way, he thinks it might be true. When his family went to Scotland, he made sure to spend a lot of time around Loch Ness in case the monster came from the same place you did.’
‘The Loch Ness Monster,’ said Bert, ‘I liked its cereal.’
‘Yes,’ replied Jenny, ‘but anyway, didn’t you want to have me look at a comic?’
‘Oh yeah,’ said Bert, hopping off of his chair, ‘knock yourself out. Don’t you think it’s funny that Dr. Meow’s robot has the same name as me?’
Ten years. An entire decade. And nothing.
No magical portals. No secret villages. Not even any sign of a mad scientist’s experiments.
At times he considered just giving up the search for Bert’s origins, especially considering that Bert himself didn’t care about them. Though he didn’t have the heart to give up on the search completely, he did think he should have some breaks from time to time. What better time than Christmas to take a break, at least from Bert-related work?
He still had work to do over the Christmas period: babysitting gigs, even if he had done his Christmas shopping. Never hurt to have a bit of extra money. His services had been requested by a man named Robert, who wanted Chris to babysit his daughter Elaine while he was out at a Christmas party with some friends. He told Chris his mobile number, what to serve for dinner and above all, not to give Elaine any sweets or chocolates.
Also, apparently Elaine liked monsters. In the living room, there was a shelf full of DVDs, a lot of them being Godzilla movies, and when she greeted him, she was holding a cuddly monster toy, one that even looked a bit like a two-eyed Bert. Maybe it was that which kicked the “Bert part” of his brain on, or maybe it was never off to begin with.
After he made dinner and served it out, he sat down with Elaine and decided to have a little conversation with her. She talked a bit about herself, her school, and her part in her school’s nativity play, but eventually, Chris said, ‘So you like monsters, eh?’
‘Yeah,’ replied Elaine, ‘the best movies are the ones with monsters!’ She added that her favourite movie was Godzilla vs. Mothra, which made Chris think all the more of a certain someone.
‘You think they’re real?’ Chris asked, smiling.
‘Oh, they are real,’ said Elaine, ‘I’ve seen them.’
All kids believed monsters were real – Chris himself could account for that even before he met Bert –but Chris knew he couldn’t really take any chances. ‘Have you? Tell me about them?’
‘Well,’ she said, ‘don’t tell Dad I told you, but you know how he won’t let me have sweets? He bought me a chocolate bunny and a chocolate chicken, and had them decorated like monsters. Then on Easter, they came to life and had a fight!’
It was definitely the type of story a little kid would make up, but when Chris said he believed her, he partly meant it. ‘Where did you get the chocolate monsters from?’
‘The chocolate shop.’
‘The one in town.’
‘Not one that appeared out of thin air or something?’
‘No. He doesn’t go there anymore though.’
Chris, without even thinking that much, then said, ‘Have you seen any other monsters?’
She actually nodded. ‘Sometimes there’s this monster that comes out from under my bed.’ The oldest chestnut when it came to children’s monsters; Chris actually sighed. ‘She’s a big blob with three eyes. She says she reminds me of someone called Clara.’
Chris had seen lots of cartoons and clip-art of monsters that fit that description, but as he had constantly been telling himself, anything that resembles Bert is worth taking a look into. Elaine was a kid, but she did seem a little old to be believing in monsters under the bed. Both he and Elaine had monsters and Christmas on the brain, so they watched The Nightmare Before Christmas together before Elaine went off to beddy-byes.
After Elaine changed into her pyjamas and tucked herself in, Chris asked her if he could look around the bedroom for monsters. Look for the monsters in the wardrobe, look for the monsters under the bed, the same old routine.
‘Okay,’ said Elaine, ‘but I don’t think Aggie would like that.’
Aggie. The thing had a name, which made it – her – more solid to Chris. When kids made monsters that haunted their room, they didn’t give them names or personalities.
Chris looked in the wardrobe. ‘Hello, any monsters? Any beasties or bogies?’ He then looked under the bed, and even he couldn’t believe what he said while under there. ‘Any monsters? Hello? I’ve got a friend who’s a monster, you know. He’s purple and furry, with three eyes and green striped arms.’ He thought saying this wouldn’t arouse suspicion from Elaine and that she would probably think he was lying, but he didn’t expect an answer either.
He got one though.
Hearing it made his heart pound. Hearing it left him unable to talk or breathe. After all these years, finally, something. An answer, that felt like it had been delivered by God Himself:
‘You better not be bullshitting me.’
Another monster. Another monster poking her head out from the floor. No, it was a portal. A portal to another world. Chris opened his mouth to say something but found himself speechless.
The monster, Aggie, fully emerged from the portal and slithered out from under the bed. ‘Well, now that I’ve gone and exposed myself again,’ she said, ‘might as well come out. Now,’ she said, turning back to Chris, ‘we’ve been looking for a monster with that description…’
The only thing running through Chris’ mind was “Oh my god” over and over again.
‘Are you telling the truth or did I expose myself for n…’
‘BERT,’ he cried, before shaking his head to get his thoughts in order, ‘his name is Bert and he’s been, he’s been…’
‘Yes, Bert was his name,’ said Aggie, ‘but…’
‘Jenny!’ said Chris before taking a deep breath, ‘Jenny’s been keeping…keeping him.’
‘And who’s Jenny?’ Aggie put her tentacles on what counted as her hips.
Chris took a quick look at Elaine; she was wide awake and watching the whole scene with a big grin on her face.
‘Jenn..Jenny’s my friend,’ he said to Aggie, bringing his face closer to hers, ‘Bert is a monster who lives with her. I can…I can give you her…’ He pulled out his mobile phone and showed Jenny’s entry in his address book.
Aggie looked it over. ‘Oh yes, I think we’ve been in that area before. Nobody’s seen any other monsters there.’
‘Well, Bert’s…kept in the basement.’
Aggie’s eyes bulged, and it was then Chris realised how wrong that came out, though he didn’t correct it. ‘I’ll go there, but if I find you’ve been lying to me…’ She opened her mouth and tapped her sharp teeth with her tentacle. ‘I’ll find you. Don’t think I won’t.’ With that, she slipped under the bed, and Elaine actually applauded. ‘Do you really have a monster as a friend?’ she asked.
Jenny had read the comic with Bert. She made a lot of jokes, Bert made a lot of jokes, every joke was written down, and Bert said he would make an article out of it. He told her he would put her down as his co-author, but she urged him not to give her credit. Another early Christmas present; people online thinking he was funnier than he actually was.
So she had learned the importance of spending time with Bert, but she still recognised that “me time” was important too. Thus after reading the comic, having a little chat with Bert and then dinner, she went back up to her room just to be alone with her music. For weeks she had been bombarded with the tired Christmas tunes, and her ears deserved a rest.
She played the tunes through the music player on her phone, meaning that soon, her musical appreciation was interrupted by a call from Chris.
‘Yeah?’ she said, but all she heard were attempts at talking. The first syllable of her name said over and over. ‘Chris, if you have something to say, spit it out.’
‘I’ve found another monster! She knows Bert!’
‘What did you say?’
Before she could get an answer, a huge green blob slithered right from under her bed. Jenny had thought that since she had had a monster in her house for so long, another wouldn’t surprise her, yet this sight left her unable to move. She froze in place, not even paying attention to Chris talking on the phone.
The monster turned to her. Its three eyes and fangs reminded her of Bert, giving her an iota of comfort, meaning she could move.
‘Hello,’ said the monster narrowing its – or her – eyes, ‘I’ve been told you’ve been keeping a monster here. Have you?’ She shoved her face into Jenny’s, making Jenny cringe from her stench. ‘Well?’
‘He says you keep him in your basement,’ snarled the monster, ‘I’ll just go there, shall I?’ In seconds, she burst open the door and seemed to glide down the stairs, looking more like a ghost than a monster. Whatever she was, Jenny raced after her, her heart feeling like it would explode. She managed to catch up to the monster when she found the basement door. When the monster saw Jenny, she managed to crawl under the door, even with it shut. Seeing her force herself under the crack actually made Jenny pause before slamming open the basement door.
Bert sat there in his chair, staring at what had interrupted his gaming time. Not a move or a sound he made as the blob approached him.
‘Leave him alone!’ cried Jenny.
‘Leave him alone?’ said the blob, folding her tentacles, ‘I’m here to help him. You’re the one who’s been keeping him in this…’ She lifted a sweet wrapper off of the floor. ‘…this dungeon for a decade. I just want to take him back to where he belongs.’
Jenny had suspected that, though she didn’t want to say it. ‘So, you’re…’
‘That’s right,’ said the blob, nodding. She looked around the room, seeing the posters, the rubbish and the unmade bed. ‘You’re supposed to be better than this,’ she said to Bert.
All Bert could say was, ‘What?’
‘Okay,’ said the blob, taking a deep breath, ‘we haven’t been properly introduced. My name is Aggie Ayar, and I’m a monster like you. I come from a world full of monsters like us, one without humans who go after us.’
‘Oh,’ sighed Jenny, ‘oh, it is.’
‘What is it?’ Aggie asked Jenny.
‘Oh…just…I thought this would never happen.’
Bert hopped off of his seat. ‘So, you’re going to take me to your world.’ He turned to Jenny. ‘This is goodbye?’
Aggie sighed. ‘I’m afraid so,’ she said, ‘but you can’t spend your whole life down here.’
‘But…’ Bert wringed his arms. ‘But, there’s so many great things here. There’s all these great movies and food, and…’ He turned to Jenny. ‘I can’t leave Jenny. She’s…’
‘Well, you’ll still be able to visit her,’ said Aggie.
‘She’s…you know, my sister.’
The blob paused for a moment, before saying, ‘Look, just come with me. I mean, if you do, you can actually have a normal life. I could help you get a job…’
‘I already have a job!’ cried Bert, gesturing towards his computer, ‘I write articles…’
‘A real job. A job and a home of your own. You can actually be out and about, talking to others like you…’
‘I can’t go with you,’ said Bert, ‘I have a family here, I have work here, I have everything here…it’s…it’s…can’t I at least have Christmas here?’
Aggie rubbed her head. ‘Ten years,’ she said, ‘ten years. Most monsters wouldn’t even last an hour here. He really does seem to like you,’ she said to Jenny, ‘and it doesn’t seem like Stockholm Syndrome either.’
‘Thanks,’ said Jenny, turning away from Aggie.
‘Where are your parents?’ asked Aggie, slithering towards the basement door, ‘I need to talk to them about this.’ Before Jenny could answer, Father actually came towards Aggie with a ‘Oh great, another one.’
‘I need to talk to you,’ said Aggie and off they walked to the kitchen. Jenny and Bert just stood in the basement, the latter rubbing his head. ‘This has to be done,’ said Bert, ‘I seriously thought it would never happen, but it has to be done. I mean, in all the kids’ movies where they make friends with a dinosaur or alien or whatever, isn’t there usually a teary goodbye scene?’
Jenny would have normally rolled her eyes at Bert linking everything to pop culture, yet here she laughed. ‘I’ll miss you, Bert,’ she said, ‘you know, if you’re really going.’ She still felt like something was going to happen that would mean Bert staying in her home forever.
‘This has to be done,’ Bert repeated, ‘but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Humans have to leave home sometime, so I guess monsters have to as well.’
‘Yeah, I guess,’ said Jenny, ‘but…you know, just as we were becoming friends again.’
‘Well, we’ll still be friends,’ said Bert as he and Jenny walked out of the basement, ‘we’ll just be in different places, is all.’
They stood in the hallway for a while, listening to Aggie talk to Mother and Father, and soon there came a pounding at the door. Jenny almost said, ‘What now?’ but she knew who it was. Chris was at the door, nearly out of breath. ‘Sorry I’m late,’ he said, ‘had to wait until he got back…had a babysitting job…Bert…I did it.’
‘We know,’ said Bert.
‘After all these years,’ said Chris, still puffing.
‘Hard to believe, it is,’ replied Jenny, ‘and that monster you brought to us, she’s talking with Mum and Dad right now about Bert.’
‘Yeah,’ said Bert, rubbing his arm, ‘I’m glad you came…you know, if I have to say goodbye now. I’m hoping to stay over Christmas though.’
The three entered the kitchen to see Aggie sat at the table, still discussing taking Bert back to her world. ‘Well,’ said Mother, ‘it’s like I said to Jenny when she first brought Bert here, we couldn’t keep him here forever. Eventually, someone was going to find him and do who-knows-what to him.’
‘You’re right,’ said Bert, ‘but can I just stay a little bit longer, you know, just so I can have Christmas with Jenny at least?’
‘Very well,’ said Aggie, turning to Bert, ‘we were just discussing that with your parents…Jenny’s parents. It’s just a few days, I don’t think there’ll be much harm in that, but if you stay any longer, there is a chance you’ll get discovered sooner or later.’
‘Thank you,’ said Bert.
‘I would, however,’ said Aggie, waving her tentacle about, ‘recommend coming with me for a while just so I can give you a tour of my world. Just so you can see what it’s like.’
‘Well,’ said Bert, ‘why not? I’ve been watching all these fantasy films and reading all these books, and sometimes I’ve wished I can go to a fantasy world. Now I can go to one, so I might as well go to one. Got any gryphons?’
Aggie sighed. ‘Yes, we’ve got gryphons and magical cats. Seriously, come with me. See what you’ve been missing. You’ll be back in an hour.’
‘Okay,’ said Bert, ‘I’ll go with you.’
‘Okay,’ replied Jenny, and in a second, she grabbed Bert and held him as tightly as if he were a teddy bear.
‘Hey, whoa, whoa,’ said Bert, ‘I’m not leaving…’ He returned the hug, and after that, gave a handshake to Chris. ‘Thanks. For everything.’ When he let go, Aggie put her tentacle around Bert’s shoulder, and with a ‘Come’, they went up the stairs.
Chris, Jenny and her family knew Bert was in the house. They knew Aggie was in the house. Yet there was another monster that they didn’t know about. An eyeball, attached to the body of a slug, its eyeball acting as a miniature camera. Out of the three monsters in the house, it was the first to dive back into Abnorlia, so as Aggie and Bert entered themselves, Dana knew they were coming.
She had been watching over her precious little Lix, the tiny snake-like creatures who, with a single lick, could either kill or knock anyone unconscious. The “Kills” had red bows, and the “Knock-Outs” had blue bows, clothes that would disintegrate with them once their job was done. She had been feeding them by injecting them, making sure that their tongues were covered, when in flew a disembodied mouth with wings and a claw that held cash.
‘Dana,’ came a voice through the mouth, though not really belonging to the mouth, ‘do I have a job for you.’
‘Well, this is a dump,’ said Bert as he walked under a green sky, besides medieval houses and carriages pulled by what looked like underfed, shaved deer illuminated by glowing orbs held by what looked like long disembodied arms. The novelty of being able to walk on the streets without a disguise had quickly worn off as Bert had already found himself wishing for his basement.
Other monsters walked the streets, but not many. There were a couple of blobs like Aggie, and Bert was sure he saw someone that looked like him, but none of them paid attention to him. Thus the idea that life in this world would be more or less the same as his life in the human world except without Jenny popped into his mind.
‘Don’t be so negative,’ said Aggie, ‘I’m sure you’re just trying to find flaws.’
‘No,’ said Bert, ‘I don’t need to try.’
‘You sound like a little kid starting a new school,’ said Aggie, looking up, ‘In fact, I’ve seen way too many kids like you.’
‘Thank you,’ sighed Bert, ‘I mean, since you’ve seen Jenny’s world, you have to admit yours is a bit, well, old in comparison.’
‘Come now,’ said Aggie, pointing at a building that resembled a giant, elongated tombstone, ‘we have modern amenities. Look, you can live here, this is a flat.’
‘You know,’ said Bert, ‘maybe it would be for the best if I stayed with Jenny and her family. I mean, did you hear them? They treated me like I was Tiny Tim or something.’
‘I thought you said this had to be done,’ said Aggie, ‘You wanted to come with me.’
‘I did…I do…I…I just don’t know,’ said Bert, looking down at the pavement, or what resembled one, ‘I guess it just happened so suddenly that…’ He looked up and noticed that there were no other monsters on the street except for him and Aggie. The streets, however, did not feel empty.
‘I understand,’ said Aggie, ‘but hopefully, with my help, you’ll settle…’
She said nothing, and for a moment, stared into nothing, looking like a zombie.
She fell to the ground, and Bert was certain he saw something on her back disappear. Also, out from her gelatinous form came a small device that resembled the remote control that often went missing and caused frustration for Jenny’s father.
Bert picked it up off of the floor and took a quick look at it. Only a quick look, however, for soon, everything faded to black.
Being “out” felt like a five-minute nap, so Bert was wide awake to see who had knocked him out. Another monster, one with a face like that of a crocodile and tentacles where there should have been legs, holding the remote-like device in her elongated fingers. ‘You should be glad I saved you,’ said the monster, bouncing the remote in her palm, ‘I wasn’t going to let you become a bedhider.’
‘A bed-what?’ said Bert as he noticed he was tied to a chair. Of course, he thought.
‘A bedhider,’ she said, ‘a monster who invades the bedrooms of human children and scares them, in an attempt to make them braver and more independent.’
‘They go into the bedrooms of little kids?’ said Bert, cringing, ‘That’s a little creepy.’
‘Indeed,’ said the monster, pacing, ‘it was actually widely practiced by our people in the old days, but it did cause the humans to attack us, so we outlawed it. Good riddance, I say to it, it was old-fashioned, and as you say, creepy. However, there have been some that have been trying to resurrect the tradition, say that human children have become more dependant and unruly…but who cares about human children?’
Bert’s only response was a squeaking sound.
‘The bedhiders are too risky,’ continued the monster, ‘so it’s up to me to kill them.’
Bert had thought that Aggie had simply been knocked out like he had been, but hearing she had died made Bert struggle against his ropes, desperately looking for a knot.
‘Calm down,’ snapped the monster, ‘look, I’m not the bad guy here. I just care about the safety of our people. And that is why I want to talk to you about your time with the humans.’ She then leaned over Bert, resembling a buzzard looking at its prey. ‘How you managed to survive for so long among them.’
‘Oh, very cute,’ snarled the monster, ‘I assume you learnt that from the humans.’
‘I’m not letting you go near them!’
‘My employer heard what you and Aggie were saying to each other,’ said the monster, ‘about how you’ve been kept in a human house like a pet.’
‘No,’ replied Bert, coming out as a wheeze.
‘I’m doing this for you,’ said the monster, undoing the ropes on Bert’s arms, ‘I’m doing this for you. Oh, let me introduce myself, my name’s Dana. You’re Bert, you’re fairly well-known, actually.’ She gestured towards the remote. ‘Your mother…’ Bert’s eyes widened and his entire body was paralysed. ‘…had one of these. She wasn’t a bedhider, but she knew one. She liked the scenery of the human world and their little gadgets…’ The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, Bert thought. ‘…so one day Margaret Munchester and her son take a little trip into another world, and neither of them return.’
‘So…my mum…my real mum…’
Dana put a hand on Bert’s shoulder. ‘I’m sorry, Bert. Look, the thing is, my employer wanted me to kill you too…’ Bert flinched. ‘…because he thought you would lead the humans here, but I’d much rather you have a normal life here.’ She undid the ropes around Bert’s waist. ‘I know someone who can help you get a new identity,’ she said, placing a card into Bert’s hand, ‘if you keep your old one, you will arouse unwanted attention.’ Dana threw the ropes on the floor. ‘You’re free now. You can be your own monster, and you never have to go back to that world ever again. You never have to be treated as a pet.’
Bert sprung from the seat and snatched the remote from Dana’s hand, pushing her aside. As he landed, he smashed the buttons on the remote as if he were playing a video game, in hopes of finding something that would allow him to return home.
‘Drop the controller,’ said Dana coldly. Bert turned around to see her holding her world’s version of a gun; what looked like a giant shaved green rat.
‘So much for caring about me,’ said Bert as a portal actually formed. Bert was sure it was Jenny’s bedroom; it was the last place the control had been used for.
When Aggie had taken Bert away for a personal tour, Mother and Father stayed in the kitchen while Chris and Jenny went up to the latter’s bedroom where Bert and Aggie had made their exit. After they left, Jenny looked under the bed and simply stared.
‘I don’t think they allow humans there,’ said Chris, ‘We didn’t want any other humans to come near him.’
Jenny pulled herself out from under the bed. ‘Well, maybe we should let him do this alone…’
‘Yeah,’ replied Chris, ‘he’s an adult.’
‘Not exactly a mature one,’ laughed Jenny as she sat on her bed, ‘Still, I hope he’s alright.’
‘Why wouldn’t he be?’ said Chris, as he sat beside Jenny, ‘As Aggie said, they’ll be back in an hour. You know, I wonder what that monster world is like.’
‘I wonder if there’s other kinds of monsters there,’ said Jenny.
‘What do you mean?’
‘You know, like vampires and werewolves and Frankensteins. The world is a big graveyard filled with castles and houses that look like the Bates Motel. Bert’s going to have parties with zombies and ghosts.’
‘Bert’d probably like the world if it’s like that. I imagine it being like some kind of cave, where the houses are on the walls.’
‘Yeah,’ said Jenny, ‘and maybe some spelunkers find it and they get lost forever.’
‘That sounds like something Bert would say,’ replied Chris.
‘I think I actually watched a movie like that with him.’
They spoke for a while about Bert and their memories about him until Jenny placed her hand over that of Chris’. ‘Thank you, Chris,’ said Jenny, ‘thank you very much.’
‘Hey,’ said Chris with a chuckle, ‘it was the least I could do.’
‘No,’ said Jenny, ‘don’t be modest.’
They both laughed. Then all of a sudden, they came closer to each other, Jenny’s hand still on Chris’. She let go, so she could wrap her arms around Chris, and Chris could wrap his arms around her. They closed their eyes and brought their faces closer to each others’.
Then Bert slid out from under the bed.
‘Oh god, how do you work this thing?’ Bert dropped what looked like a remote control on the floor. ‘Oh crap!’
‘What is it, Bert?’ asked Jenny.
Just as Bert had picked up the remote, out came another monster – a reptilian looking creature with tentacles for legs, holding what looked like a giant rat. It stood up, holding the rat in front of Jenny’s face. ‘Let’s make this quick,’ it said in a feminine voice. Chris, however, kicked her right in the chest, knocking her over. Out from the rat’s mouth, there launched a small snake with a red bow, which was reduced to a green puddle when it hit Jenny’s ceiling.
The monster rose, still holding its gun, only for Bert to grab a lamp from a dresser and toss it at her direction. It hit the back of her neck, making her turn her attention to him. ‘It’ll be for your own good if you die,’ she said, which was Jenny’s cue to grab her by the neck, surprising her enough to drop the gun. Bert then kicked the gun under the bed.
The monster shooter was still in Jenny’s grasp, so Chris hopped off of the bed and kicked her in the stomach. Jenny released the monster and Chris then shoved her under the bed as well, before Bert finally managed to smash the right button to close the portal.
‘Thank you,’ was all Bert said before burying his head in his hands.
‘She…’ Chris rubbed his head. ‘She came from that world? Someone there actually wanted to kill you?’
‘She wanted to kill you,’ said Bert, lifting up his head, ‘They didn’t want to take any chances when it came to humans attacking them.’ After taking a deep breath, Bert told Chris and Jenny about his little adventure, about Aggie’s profession and her death, about how the armed monster – Dana – tried to get him a new identity before going after Jenny and her family. ‘She’ll be back,’ said Bert, ‘she or another monster. So I can’t stay here or go back there.’
‘Bert,’ cried Jenny, ‘we can…well, we can do something. I mean, we could move…we…’
‘No,’ said Bert, shaking his head, ‘I know what I have to do. They were right, I can’t keep hiding.’ With that, he threw his t-shirt to the floor and ran out of the bedroom.
‘Bert!’ screamed Jenny, knowing full well what he was planning to do, ‘No!’
Jenny and Chris ran out to see Bert strolling down the streets, screaming about how he was a monster and had been living in the town for ten years. Cars stopped to get a look at him, people ran out of their houses and took pictures of him with their mobile phones. Jenny almost went out there to grab Bert, but she saw little point.
Bert didn’t come back home that night. However, the next day, Jenny’s house was swamped with journalists, reporters and people who were simply curious. Seeing them made Jenny’s stomach sink, believing that her friend, her brother had been taken to a laboratory and was being dissected.
Bert returned to her house safe and sound, however, ready to do the thing he was best at: writing. Not a film review or a pop culture article, a book about his life among the human race. When I’m The Monster In Your Basement was published, it shot to the top of the bestseller charts, and Bert often showed up at bookstores for signings. A portion of the proceeds went to the Sayers, who were already making a lot of money selling merchandise.
Bert’s outing inspired the “bedhiders” to make themselves well-known, and all over the world, kids went “told you so” to their parents. Monsters like Dana with murderous intent also came out, but they were detained and arrested. Abnorlia even ended up becoming quite a honeypot site, with the two worlds sharing each other’s technology.
Jenny and Chris, of course, got a lot of media attention, and collaborated together on their own book about their experiences with Bert. When they got older, they got married, with the wedding attended by both human and monster alike, and they even let Bert live with them.
So, remember: if you’re alone in a dark, gloomy wood, and you see a hideous beast with fangs and claws, take him home.