“I know you’re in here,” Isabell said.
Four-Fang dematerialized, blending with the shadows. He slipped beneath the closet door. Though he could not see in his current state, Four-Fang’s mental senses were immutable. He sensed the floorboards and submerged himself in the long shadows running the length of the room until he settled beneath the child-sized mattress in the middle of the room.
Slowly, Four-Fang surfaced. He took a slow breath as he emerged from the shadows, ears alert for any tell-tale sign of his victim. From beneath the bed, the monster glanced across the room. He listened to the bed above him, waiting for Isabell to give herself away.
“You know,” a voice beside him said, matter-of-fact, “it’s customary to knock first.”
The voice gave Four-Fang such a start that he half-fell back into the shadowy depths. With one monstrous paw, Four-Fang clutched the floorboards and dragged himself out of the abyss. He turned his glowing yellow eyes toward a small child to his left. Isabell, dressed in polka-dotted footie pajamas, lay on her stomach beside him, nose almost parallel with the ground.
Four-Fang gathered his wits. It wasn’t too late.
“In eighty years,” he intoned, “you will probably be dead.”
Isabell’s gaze narrowed. Four-Fang felt those eyes on him.
The floor thumped as Isabell slammed her forehead against the floorboards. “You are the worst bedtime monster ever.”
With a frustrated sigh, she slid from underneath the bed and hauled herself onto her blankets. Four-Fang materialized beside her bed moment later.
“This is the fourth time this week!” she complained.
Four-Fang frowned. “Sorry. I’m not very good at this.”
Isabell scratched her head, frustrated. “You’re supposed to scare me.”
“Being probably dead in eighty years doesn’t scare you?”
She gave him a flat stare. “I’m ten.”
Four-Fang took the initiative, flailing his arms madly. “That’s ten years already gone! Wasted! What are you doing with your life?”
“Kid things. School. Friends. Sleepovers. Dealing with bedtime monsters. Would it kill you to just say, ‘Boo!’?”
“Sorry!” Four-Fang said. “It’s just so overdone.”
“That’s the point,” Isabell said. “You’re supposed to scare me until I’m old enough to realize that you’re imaginary. Then I stop being afraid of the dark.”
“ . . . are you scared of the dark now?” Four-Fang asked.
“That’s not the point!” Isabell fell backwards into her pillow, draping a forearm over her eyes. “I think your content needs work. Try again tomorrow, and remember: scary now; life stuff later.”
Four-Fang nodded and started back toward the closet.
“And don’t come in through the closet next time. It’s so overdone!”
The monster turned toward her. “But you just said –”
“Go.” Isabell commanded as a knock sounded at her door.
As Four-Fang shut the closet door, he heard Isabell’s father rush in.
“Sweetie, are you okay?” he asked.
“I’m fine,” she said. “Just monsters telling me that I’ll be dead in eighty years. Probably.”
“That’s terrifying,” her father said.
“What is wrong with you people?” Isabella screamed.
Four-Fang grinned and faded into the shadows.