Flash Fiction: The Monster In My Closet

About two hours ago, I thought to myself, "'There's a monster in my closet' would be a neat way to start out one of those scary short stories I loved to read when I was in middle school."

I wrote it down, then wrote a little more and a little more. Right around the time I realized I had no idea how it ended, the ending tapped me on the shoulder and said "boo!"

I've never done this before, but I thought it would be cool to publish it here without the usual editorial and rewrites I do on everything, because the idea of conceiving, writing, and releasing a short story in just a couple of hours is intriguing to me.

Added on 10/19: I made free-free and DRM-free ePub and Kindle versions of this story. You can get them at my virtual bookshelf if you like.

So, without any further introduction, here is my scary short story that I hope 12 year-old me would enjoy…

The Monster In My Closet

by Wil Wheaton

There is a monster in my closet. It’s standing in there behind my clothes, and it wants to come out. I don’t know where it came from, I don’t know how it got in there, but I know that it’s been there for a long time, waiting.

Mum and dad don’t believe in monsters (and until yesterday, neither did I), but during dinner tonight, I had to tell them.

“A monster,” dad said, wiping mashed potatoes off his beard. “Like, with claws and fangs? That kind of monster?”

“I haven’t actually seen it,” I said, “but I know it’s there.”

“How can you know it’s there if you haven’t seen it?” Mum asked.

“It’s like…” I thought for a moment. “It’s like when it’s cloudy, and you can’t see the moon, but it sort of glows behind the clouds, so you know it’s there.”

“So your closet was glowing, eh?” Dad said.

I shook my head. I could tell that they thought I was making the whole thing up. “No, dad,” I said, “but I could feel it in there, and –”

“And what?” He said.

“And if it comes out,” I said, carefully, “It’s going to kill us.”

“Well, I should expect so,” dad said. “Monsters are usually very serious about that sort of thing.”

Mum scowled at him. “Richard! Don’t make fun.”

Then she looked back at me and said, “you can have a night light in your room to keep the monster away.”

“And keep your closet door shut,” dad said, gravely, “everyone knows that monsters can’t open doors.”

“But –”

“But nothing. Now stop all this chattering and eat your peas before they get cold,” mum said.

I’m trying to deal with a monster, and all mum cares about is me eating my peas. Typical parents.

They walked me into my room when it was time for bed. Dad made a big production of opening the closet and looking inside. “Well, it looks like we scared it off,” he said. He didn’t notice that the lid of my toy chest was lifted up slightly, and I didn’t bother telling him. He pushed the door and it shut with a click. He shook the knob and pantomimed looping a chain around it that he secured with a pantomimed pad lock. He swallowed a pantomime key and rubbed his belly.

Mum brought in one of my old night lights, the one with the blue pony on it, and plugged it into the wall next to the bed. “There, sweetheart,” she said as she turned it on, “let’s just leave this on tonight.”

She kissed me goodnight. Then dad kissed me on my forehead.

“There’s a good girl,” he said, “sleep tight! Don’t let the monsters bite!”

“Richard!” Mum smacked him on his arm. “Sorry, sweetie, he’s just having a bit of fun.”

“Good night, mum,” I said. I tried not to frown too much at dad.

I heard them talking as they walked down the stairs.. “She just has a wonderful imagination, doesn’t she?” Mum said.

“She’s a dreamer, that’s for sure,” dad said. I heard ice clink into glasses, then, a moment later,  the creak of their armchairs as they sat down to watch television. 

I was starting to fall asleep when I heard it.

“Psssst.” 

I thought that maybe I was dreaming, but I pulled the covers up to my neck, as tightly as I could, and listened. 

“Psssst.” 

It came from the closet. “Psssst. Hey, kid. Come and open the door, hey?”

I felt my eyes widen, as a chill ran down my spine.

“Come on, kid, I won’t hurt ya, I just want to get out of here. Open the door and I’ll be on my way.”

The voice — its voice — was gruff, but not as gruff as I thought it would be.

“No,” I said in a small voice, barely a whisper. “You… you just stay in there.”

The handle shook a bit, and I screamed. Mum and dad were in the room before I knew it.

“It’s in there!” I cried, “it’s in there and it told me to open the door and let it out!”

They looked at each other. Mum walked across the room to me and sat down on the edge of my bed. “There, there, sweetie,” she said, “you just had a bad dream is all.

“Richard, open the door and show her that there’s nothing inside but clothes and toys.”

“No! Dad! Don’t open it!” I practically screamed.

“Fear not, my petal,” he said, gallantly, “Any monsters inside this closet will get the thrashing of their lives!” He walked to the closet and knocked on the door. “Anyone in there? Hmm?”

He winked at me and shadow boxed the air in front of him.

“Richard, stoppit and just open the door. She’s had an awful fright.”

“Daddy, don’t do it,” I said, suddenly feeling like I was seven years-old again. “Please.”

He smiled and said, “it’s all right, sweetheart. Daddy’s just going to show you that there’s nothing to be afraid of, and then we can all go back to sleep.”

Mum squeezed my hand. An audience laughed on the television downstairs. Dad turned the handle on the closet door and opened it. “Now, see? There’s nothing to–”

The monster was covered in dark scales, like a lizard. Its eyes were jet black, but reflected something red in their centers. It grabbed my dad by his shoulders and bit into his neck with long, sharp, white teeth.

Dad screamed and struggled against it. Clawed hands held onto him and a spray of blood shot across the back of the closet door, black and shiny in the dim light.

It slurped and gurgled and crunched, and in a few seconds, dad stopped moving. I realized that my mum hadn’t made a sound, but had let go of my hand.

She stood up, and walked toward the monster. It dropped my dad’s body to the floor and grinned at her, dad’s blood dripping off of its teeth and running down its chest. They stood over my dad’s body and embraced.

“I’ve missed you, darling,” the monster said to my mum.

“I missed you, too, my sweet,” she said, in the same gruff voice.

“Mu– mum?” I said. She ignored me.

“I would have come sooner, but you know that we can’t open them from the inside,” the monster said.

“Everyone knows that!” Mum said, and they laughed together. She turned to face me. Her skin was starting to crack on her face, revealing dark grey scales beneath it. Her eyes were turning black, reflecting something red in their centers.

“Come on over here and give us a hug,” she said, as sharp white fangs pushed her teeth out of her mouth and onto the floor where they bounced around like marbles. “Come and be mommy’s little monster!”

“WHAT IS HAPPENING? I screamed.

“Stop that horrid racket and say hello to your dad — your real dad,” she said.

I reached around for something, anything, to use as a weapon to protect myself. When I stretched out for the lamp on my night stand, the skin on my arm cracked and split open. There were grey scales underneath it. 

“Oh no. No no no no no,” I said.

I reached up to touch my face, and pulled the soft pink flesh away. I felt the rough scales underneath.

“What’s happening to me?!”

I looked at my mum.

I looked at my dad.

I looked at the body on the floor.

I realized that I was ever so hungry, and my food was getting cold.

I got out of bed and joined my family for dinner.

Copyright 2011 Wil Wheaton. 

Creative Commons License
The Monster In My Closet by Wil Wheaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

178 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: The Monster In My Closet”

  1. It’s times like this that I really remember why I absolutely love your writing style (times like this, and any time I read your blog, or hear you speak, or watch you act, or etc. etc.). I’m so glad that your blog isn’t blocked at work, so that I can keep up to date with you even from the confines of my cubicle.
    Don’t let the man keep you down! ::storms the Bastille::

  2. Holy Crap! That was not what I was expecting at all! It started out so sweet and innocent and then BAM! Dead guy on the floor and bloody fangs and all. That was a great read Wil! Thanks for posting it!

  3. Fun short story! I’ve been playing with short stories a lot lately. I think they’re under appreciated. Sometimes you just want the reading version of a “snack,” not an entire “meal.” Have a great day!

  4. Very nice. I really enjoyed it. When I write I have difficulty keeping a story short (focusing on the essential). This felt very complete despite the short length. Excellent!

  5. I love it, and I’m sure my younger self would have too, even as she cowered under the blanket in delicious fright. Very nice for a piece that’s unedited!
    (By the way, you support the OWS movement right? AND you’re obviously a writer. How come you’re name isn’t on this list? http://occupywriters.com/)

  6. Yes! The Boogeyman was my first thought, too (which is yet another story I can no longer read now that I have children, something I found out far too late). A great twist on the monster in the closet. Loads of fun!
    Also–listen to This American Life’s “Adventure” podcast from a few weeks back. Dave Eggers has a terrific campfire monster tale that you might enjoy.

  7. Greaaaat. I just recently got over my fear of open closet doors after reading Stephen Kings The Boogeyman some 30 years ago. I do hope you plan on paying for some therapy for me! Sheesh.

  8. Great story! It reminded me of Goosebumps and Steven King as well. The beginning reminded me of a movie I watched growing up who’s name escapes me currently. I just remember it was about a monster under a bed and starred Howie Mandel and Fred Savage.
    And I think “I envy you” goes without saying. :)

  9. Absolutely loved this Wil.
    I especially loved the little details in the story that make it real… such as:
    The ambient noises the little girl hears as her ‘parents’ settle for a night in front of the TV..
    And I loved.. LOVED this piece:
    “Mum squeezed my hand. An audience laughed on the television downstairs. Dad turned the handle on the closet door and opened it. “Now, see? There’s nothing to–”
    The monster was covered in dark scales, like a lizard.”
    The Audience laughing on the TV just put us in the moment and creates a delicious sense of irony.
    Great stuff.

  10. Wil, did you watch the Doctor Who episode Night Terrors recently? Just wondering… :-)
    Also, every time I hear a story like this, I remember the joke “Before the boogieman goes to bed, he first checks the closet for Chuck Norris”.

  11. Delicious! I’m a big fan of the horror short story, and this one is really good, Wil. :) I love how you went from an idea to execution to publishing in 2 hours, too ~ brave choice, and (if you had chosen to charge for it!) it paid off. :)
    Thanks for a great story, just in time for Halloween – my most favorite holiday of all. :D

  12. That was a fun read. Reminded me of the Junior Great Books from years gone by. Started out fun and interesting, then came back and kicked you in the nads with a strange and somewhat devious ending. And I kept seeing Calvin from the old comic strip popping into my head. :)
    Again, great and fun to read. But I will read your blog a lot more cautiously from now on. :P

  13. Nice, dude! Didn’t read all the comments, I’m sure some say the story was like this or that or seemed to take the twist from some other thing, but it was new to me and that’s what matters to me. Good job!

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