"Wait! Don't turn out the light!" cried Taylor.
"What's wrong?" asked Mom.
"Uh, I want to read some more." said Taylor. Actually, this was only half true. He was dreading the moment the lights went out.
"Oh, Taylor! You're not reading those monster books again are you?" asked Mom. Taylor's look of shame told her everything.
"Oh, sweetie, I told you not to get any more of those books from the library. You know they give you nightmares."
"But I'm not scared," protested Taylor. "I like them. Just leave the lights on so I can read." he whined.
Dad walked by, peeked his head in the door, and said, "We're not leaving the lights on all night. You're too old to have a night light. Besides, it wastes electricity."
"Ok," said Taylor pouting.
Click! Off went the lights. Taylor buried himself under the covers with only the pale moonlight shining through his window to light his room.
Upstairs, Mom and Dad were talking. "Do you think we were too hard on him?" Mom asked Dad.
"No, no. The boy's got to grow up sometime." said Dad.
"I think it would be nice if you would go down there and reassure him." said Mom.
"Psshh," Dad exhaled while hardly opening his lips. "Honey, I just laid down in bed."
"Please?" said Mom. When Dad didn't budge Mom reminded him that two nights ago Taylor came yelling into their room about a werewolf being outside his window. It took a long time to calm him down and convince him that it was only the same noisy dog barking in a neighbor's yard as it was every night.
Dad threw off the covers and grabbed a small flashlight from a drawer in the bedside table and went downstairs.
"Hey buddy," said Dad. "I brought you a magic flashlight."
"Really?" said Taylor.
"Yep. You can't keep it on all night but when you need to check out something in the room it will show you that there's no monsters." said Dad. "Well, goodnight, then."
"Thanks, Dad, goodnight!" Taylor replied.
Just as soon as Dad was up the stairs, Taylor clicked on the flashlight. He knew he should go to sleep but he pulled out a monster book from underneath his pillow instead. A week ago Taylor had found some books in the "young adult" section of the library about ghost stories, monsters, and unexplained mysteries. Some of the drawings in the ghost book were so freaky that Taylor could not bring himself to read the story with it (like that moaning, bloody head on p. 25!) Even though the stories terrified him he could not stop reading the books. He wanted to know what defeated werewolves (silver) and vampires (garlic, wooden stake) in case he ever met one. Plus he was curious to know what happened in the stories. What was in that old house on the hill? Why did people keep disappearing at Camp Murky Lake?
"I'll read this one." Taylor thought. "It looks like a kid's book and shouldn't be too scary."
MONSTER ABCs by Gaye Ping Maw
A is for an Amoeba absorbing adolescents
Taylor saw a picture of two teenagers sitting in a car at a drive-in movie theater with a look of terror on their faces as a gelatinous blob was eating them and the whole car. He continued to read.
B is for a Banshee bobbing by the bedsideTaylor thought the picture of Frankenstein was really cool. The monster was snapping chains from the laboratory table and lurching towards a wide-eyed doctor. He also liked the picture of the dragons. He hurried past the picture of the banshee though. It looked rather like a ghost and the bed it bobbed by looked rather like his. Taylor read on.
C is for a Cyclops cracking craniums
D is for Dragons dragging damsels
E is for an Evil Eye eliminating enemies
F is for Frankenstein flinging fetters
G is for Gremlins grinning at Goblins.By the time Taylor got to the last picture he was thoroughly creeped out! Monks frantically threw holy water down from the top of the abbey walls onto the legions of zombies closing in. But Taylor could tell by the hopeless expressions drawn on the monks faces that it was only a matter of time before the zombies ate their brains.
H is for a Headless Horseman haunting the hollows
I is for Insects invading institutions
J is for a Jabberwock jutting jagged jaws
K is for a Kraken killing kayakers
L is for Leprechauns licking lips
M is for a Minotaur munching men
N is for Nosferatu nibbling necks
O is for Ogres ogling outside
P is for Python pinning prey.
Q is for Quasimodo quartering quietly
R is for Robots rioting rebelliously
S is for a Sea Serpent swimming silently
T is for a Troll tricking travelers
U is for Undead ululating unpleasantly
V is for Vampires vexing villagers
W is for Werewolves watching wayfarers
X is for eXtraterrestrials eXhuming autopsy X-rays
Y is for a Yeti yanking youths from yurts
Z is for Zombies Zeroing-in on Zealots
Taylor clutched the magic flashlight and prayed to God that its tiny battery would last all night. He fell asleep thinking about monsters new and old.
Suddenly, Taylor woke up and cautiously peeked through half-closed eyes. The magic flashlight had gone out—but worse there was a (gulp) Presence in the room!
Taylor laid as still as a corpse with the blanket pulled up to his chin. "Perhaps," thought Taylor, "if I am very still the Presence will not notice me and go away."
But the Presence came closer, making the faintest of sounds while disturbing the stillness of the room. And now Taylor felt something lightly touching the foot of his bed.
Taylor did not dare move or he knew he would be eaten although his heart beat so hard he thought he would die.
The Presence brushed Taylor's leg and then his elbow. It came so close to Taylor's face he could feel it through his clenched eyes.
Skittles the cat jumped and then tore out of Taylor's room like it was on fire.
Taylor continued to yell and cry while trying to find the light switch. He blubbered and stumbled and finally clicked on the light.
Dad was the first one down the stairs but when he realized there wasn't a burglar or break-in he turned to go back up the stairs. Dad's messed up hair and groggy state made him look like a zombie as he shuffled back upstairs. Mom came down in her robe and sat next to Taylor on his bed rubbing his back and soothing him.
The next day at breakfast neither Taylor nor the cat were happy with each other. The morning sun brought a bright new day without monsters and Taylor felt really silly about all the commotion the night before. He also swore to take back the monster books to the library—that day!
"It's a shame I didn't finish the last book." thought Taylor.
Later that night, Taylor pulled a book from underneath his pillow. He had a new battery in the magic flashlight and it illuminated the title of the book he held, "Ghoulish tales of Ghastliness."