A Horror Story
I just hit 1000 followers on Twitter, and to celebrate, I’m dusting off this short story I wrote a few years ago, and putting it here for folks to enjoy. It’s only ever been printed once before, in a short-lived horror anthology magazine, so I doubt anyone’s read it.
It’s a horror story, and a bit different from other things I’ve written. I guess that’s a bit of a trigger warning, just to make clear. It’s horror, so if you don’t like that sort of thing, don’t read it.
For those who do like that sort of thing, enjoy.
By Ben Monroe
Junior likes to play.
He loves his toys dearly. They’re his only friends, really. He sits down there in his room playing with them in gleeful innocence. He props them up against boxes and chairs, and pretends to have conversations with them. He’ll talk and laugh and sing for hours upon hours. The toys don’t do any of that, of course. But he still pretends.
Most of his toys are broken now. The stuffing spilled out onto the floor creates a mess which is hard to clean up. Junior has tried to clean them up, but it’s too big a job for him. He’s just little after all.
“My little Man” is what Momma used to call him. Junior and Momma used to play games like hide and seek, and they would make god’s eyes and sing songs together. Junior liked the song about the dragon with the strings and wax and stuff. But Momma doesn’t play with Junior anymore, because she ran away with the Bad Man.
Poppa calls the Bad Man “That No-Good Sonofawhore” but that doesn’t make any sense to Junior, those are grown up words, and he’s just a boy after all. He knows that the man who took Momma away was bad, so he just calls him the Bad Man. Sometimes, when its night time, and Junior is trying to sleep, he hears creaking noises in the house, and he thinks the Bad Man is coming to get him, so he is extra quiet, and hides behind a chair. It must be a good place to hide, because that’s where he always hides, and the Bad Man never gets him.
Poppa hasn’t really been very happy since Momma left. He was never really very happy to begin with, but he’s been worse lately. Some nights, Junior sits down in his room and he can hear Poppa stomping around upstairs. Those are the nights when Poppa’s been drinking his Funny Juice, and then Junior knows he’d better hide.
Eventually, Poppa comes down the stairs to Junior’s room and starts screaming at him. Junior never knows what he’s done, but he thinks Poppa’s mad because Junior made Momma run away. Poppa screams at junior with more of those scary grownup words “Half-wit freak!” is one he uses sometimes. “One-eyed fucking moron!” is another. Junior doesn’t know what these words mean, but when he hears Poppa screaming them, he knows he’s in trouble.
That’s when Poppa gets out the stick. It doesn’t hurt as much as it used to, but Junior still remembers when he was little, and Poppa would get mad and beat him with the stick. That’s how he lost his eye. It makes him mad when Poppa yells at him for only having one eye, when it was Poppa who whacked him in the head and knocked his eye out. Junior thought Poppa would take him to the doctor, but he didn’t. He just told Junior to “shut up and quit your whining you fucking mutant!” and then he left Junior in the dark. With his toys.
That’s the one good thing about when Poppa gets mad. He always brings Junior a new toy afterwards. Junior loves his toys. He likes them when they’re new and shiny the best, when they run and jump and yell with him. But Junior always plays too hard, and eventually the toys break. He can still play with them then, but it’s just not as much fun. He once asked Poppa to get him some new batteries for the toys, but Poppa just backed away from the room. He came back a few minutes later, and threw a carton of milk at Junior. The milk splashed all over Junior and made a big mess. “There’s one of your toys right there, you fucking monster” Poppa said, then slammed the door.
Junior looked at the milk carton for a long time, waiting for it to do something fun, but it never did. Poppa must have been wrong. It wasn’t a toy, it was just a milk carton. There was a picture on the carton though, and it did sort of look like one of his toys. But that toy’s broken, too.
Junior started to cry. He wanted a new toy, and all Poppa had brought him was a lousy old milk carton. The door to Junior’s room flew open and Poppa was standing at the top of the stairs. “Shut your hole you shit!” Poppa yelled down at Junior. Junior couldn’t help it, he started to cry more.
Poppa started down the stairs towards him, and then Junior saw that Poppa had the Stick. “I’ll give you something to cry about you useless fucking miscarriage” Poppa yelled and started to beat Junior with the Stick. Junior curled into a ball as the stick beat against his humped back, over and over. And then it stopped. Junior kept still. Had Poppa finally had enough?
Junior slowly raised his head, and opened his eye. Next to him, he saw Poppa, lying on the ground, one hand still clutching the Stick, the other grabbing his chest. Junior went to Poppa and sat next to him. He sat that way for a long time.
Poppa didn’t move.
Then Junior realized what had happened. Poppa had been so sorry for beating Junior and for giving Junior a Milk Carton instead of a toy, that Poppa had actually turned himself into a toy!
What a great present! Junior picked up Poppa, and put him with the other toys in the corner. Some of those toys were really broken now, all their insides turned to muck, and the bones inside them all cracked and broken.
Junior thought it was nice to have a new toy. A Poppa toy.
What a treat. Junior could play with the Poppa toy for a long time. They would sing songs and play games, and the Poppa toy would never hurt Junior. Would never beat him or curse him.
They would be the best of friends.