About a month ago, my cousin and I, who frequently encourage one another to write, decided to experiment with co~writing a story. She wrote from one character's perspective and I wrote from the other. The following is the never before published prologue to the story published for Gloaming Gap, Sleep Tight.
Dr. Frederick von Bedstein hid under his girl's bed, a silent tear running down his cheek. His girl knew he was real, but no one else believed in him. Her parents had long since killed their bed monsters and even her friends were skeptical. Bed monsters life spans were getting shorter and shorter. He sensed he would outlive many of her friends bed monsters, but it was hard to hear himself describe as “nothing.” Eventually he would be called nothing enough times that he would become nothing, but not as long as his girl still believed in him. He gave a gentle loving tug to her blanket. The blanket jerked back out of his hand, telling him his girl was still awake.
Emmi giggled nervously and jerked the blanket back. "Mumbly-Boo!" she whispered fiercely. This was the name she'd given to this creature when he first arrived. She was barely able to talk then, but she'd been fascinated by the chartreuse tail that he never quite seemed to pull out of sight in time. It had been like he actually wanted her to know he was there. She'd been mildly afraid of him in the early days, but her fascination and the fact that he never hurt her had earned a wary trust from her that gave way to familiarity. He was her oldest friend, even if he terrified her sometimes.
He could show her parents he was real... Frederick silently cursed himself for considering breaking the oath he took. The greatest law of all was to never harm your child and he was actually considering leaving a mark on her... It would be better to turn to nothing. He again cursed himself for the stray thought he'd allowed to penetrate his mind, and comforted himself in knowing she still believed in him. After all she was the only one that really counted.
Emmi's blonde pigtails brushed lightly on the floor as her head poked under the edge of the floor. All she could see in the dark was two glowing red eyes which could be mistaken fairly easily for her brothers evil cat if she didn't know better. "Hello, Mumbly... Whatcha doin'?" She tried to speak as softly as possible so that she wouldn't alert the rest of the household that she was awake. At 7 and a half, no one believed she could be "sociable" (whatever that meant) if she didn't go to sleep "at a decent hour." Seriously, sometimes grownups said the silliest things. At least Mumbly made sense.
Frederick smiled at his girl's nick name for him. He didn't know where the silly name had come from, but at least she didn't call him Boogie Man. His friends all thought it must suck to get a kid that talks to you and won't just go to sleep so you can leave and have some fun, but he loved his girl and wouldn't trade her for anyone. He flicked his tail out from under her bed and watched her eyes get big. When he was new to the job he wasn't always quick enough to hide his tail, but now that he was quicker he sometimes flicked it out just because he knew she liked it when he showed her his tail.
Emmi squealed delightedly at the sight of the familiar tail, and then quickly covered her mouth to stifle the sound from traveling outside her room. She tried uselessly to catch it before it disappeared but, as always, Mumbly was too fast for her. She pouted playfully and threw her head dejectedly back on her pillow. She sighed dramatically to begin the next part of the nightly ritual, "Come out Mumbly!" She tried to sound as whiny as she could without raising her volume, "Wanna see the rest of you!" She knew it was pointless, but she'd almost gotten to the point that she couldn't sleep without this. he never came out, but she'd never stop asking him to.
Frederick snorted at her request, and tried to sing the lullaby he'd heard her mother sing so many times. The words came out in a low grumble, but it didn't matter. He knew what he was telling her, and he could tell by the way her breath got slow and quiet that she recognized the tune.
Read Sleep Tight at Gloaming Gap.
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