Flash Fiction Challenge – Mad Monster Sleep Over
So in this random challenge, I got whodunnit and creature feature, and I let my weirdest impulses take over. Leading to this …
Mad Monster Sleep Over
It was the Swamp Monster that found Doctor Herring’s body in the kitchen. Or at least his torso. It was assumed he’d need it to survive.
There were several problems, all of which were tricky indeed. Gathering the suspects, for example. It was a class reunion weekend, if you accepted the meaning of class could be stretched to accommodate a reunion of monsters created both deliberately and accidentally by the old Academy of Psychical Research. Portsmouth. Of course the building had burned down in the great escape of ’75, but there was a spooky mansion down the road that more than fit their needs. Yes, it had seen better decades, and one of the back bedrooms had an unintentional skylight, but it was super cheap on Airb&b, and monster didn’t exactly bring in the big bucks.
The advent of CGI had been especially unkind to the monster community. At one time, you could slither into Hollywood and get a one picture deal with the first company that spotted you, but nowadays, computer designing was cheaper and easier to handle. Oh sure, no one was going to miss a PA or two, but eat more than that, and the studios would get pissed.
Some had turned to being barely glimpsed “Bigfoots” or other mythical beasts in the many ridiculous reality shows that cluttered the airwaves, but it was considered gauche, and a shit job all the way around. Lurking in sewers and preying on stupid, horny teens was okay, but appearing as a fleeting shadow in Bigfoot Hunters or Ghost Interrupters was a level of embarrassment that even the Catfish Creek Monster – a walking humanoid fish that occasionally kidnapped bikini babes, but mostly just sucked mud at the bottom of rivers – found beneath him. Along with lack of camera time and dignity, they didn’t pay well either, and they got really huffy if you ate a soundman.
But Diggory was determined to see that the killer of poor Doctor Herring – a/k/a Mad Doctor Crab Hands – got some justice. Monsters didn’t eat other monsters, even if they were one in name only. Technically, did a guy with deformed hands and eyestalks on the top of his head count as a genuine monster? He was more of an abomination, if you wanted to get technical. Still, he had been one of the Academy’s unfortunate experiments, and deserved that bit of recognition at least.
On the plus side, the reunion was kind of small this year. There were only four water/wetland based creatures around – Swamp Monster, Catfish Creek Monster, Mad Doctor Crab Hands, Sharkazoid – because global warming was shrinking their habitats and making everything unpleasant. The rest of the class was made up of the various land and air based ones that had avoided capture or prosecution, including himself, although if you wanted to get technically, Diggory was a below the land based monster. Not that it was all sunshine and roses for his kind. In fact, with all the fracking, there had never been a worse time to be a Mole Man. He had to keep moving to higher elevations, just to avoid getting pressurized water shot up his ass.
That night, he was able to wrangle everyone into the living room with the promise of Jell-O shots. As soon as they had their opening round ones of lime Jell-o and tequila – what Leopard Woman called a “rita”, as in abbreviated margarita – Diggory laid out the facts that were known. 1) Someone dismembered Doctor Herring the night before, and left his torso behind. 2) Monster didn’t kill monster.
Diggory knew the most brutal of their lot – Leopard Woman; Mammon, The Twenty Foot Spider; Razor Face: Meat Man, The Man Eating Man Made of Meat; Sharkazoid – couldn’t have killed Herring, simply because there wasn’t a lot of blood at the scene, and the torso looked surgically detached, not rent off the rest of the body by force. Also, they were sloppy eaters. No way would they have been able – or even willing – to clean the scene afterward. Ant Queen was also out, because she would have, to use a human phrase, used all the parts of the buffalo. Or Crab Man, as the case happened to be.
Motive was trickier. Because, to be honest, no one liked Herring very much. He stank, and sometimes he couldn’t control his eye stalks, especially during the best parts of a TV show. And when he ate, it was like someone threw a bunch of coleslaw into a high speed fan. There were still pieces of dried linguine on the burned tiles from the Academy, crystallized long before the place burned down.
“Couldn’t he have killed himself?” Khotep, the Cursed Mummy said, as Ant Queen’s minions passed out the strawberry Jell-o shots. “I mean, if I was him, I would’ve.”
Man Dog stared at him from across the room, where he was seated on a dog bed. Never mind that he was mostly human – he preferred living like a dog most of the time. He found humans and other creatures generally mean. Although, ironically, no one had ever sicced dogs on him. “How would he remove his chest from the rest of him?”
“Especially with those stupid hands of his,” Lizardo the Comet Beast said. “They weren’t even proper claws. They were like fucking safety scissors. He couldn’t cut through shit with them.”
“We’re getting off track,” Diggory said. “One of us killed him.”
“Oh sure, blame the monsters,” Meat Man said. “Why couldn’t some monster hater have broken in here and killed him as a message to all of us?”
They all looked at him, trying to figure out if he was making a joke or not. It was hard to read Meat Man’s expressions, because his face was basically a pork chop. In fact, no one was sure how he managed to see, but he seemed to have excellent vision. “Umm, if there was a human within fifty feet of this place, we’d all know it,” Man Dog said.
There were nods and attempted nods all around the room. Most of them ate people, so they usually knew where their food was. “No human would break in here, kill Crab Hands, and leave either,” Khotep said. “That’s idiotic.”
“Thanks for the input, toilet paper man,” Meat Man snapped.
“Can we stop with the stupid bickering?” Diggory asked. “Who killed Doctor Herring?”
“Fine,” Clthulop, The Horror From Deep Space, said. It was hovering near the ceiling, a swirling cloud of black smoke and glittery silver. Behind its back, Ant Queen called it the Disco Cloud, and now Diggory could never look at it without thinking that. “I killed him.”
“What?” To be brutally honest, Clthulop never even crossed Diggory’s mind as a suspect. Then again, he now thought of it as the Disco Cloud, which was in no way a fearsome name for a monster.
“What the hell, cloud?” Lizardo asked.
“I am not a cloud, I am the physical manifestation of an ur-dimensional space god of hell,” Clthulop replied, sounding as angry as a genderless monster cloud could. Which really wasn’t very much. “And I am tired of you third dimensional clods getting it wrong.”
“Is that why you killed him?” Diggory wondered.
Clthulop hovered in the upper corner of the ceiling for a moment, silvery strands swirling in the blackness of what passed for its body. Disco Cloud indeed. “No. His snoring kept me up last night, and he smelled like rotten sardines.”
“How do you smell anything?” Ant Queen asked. It was a good question.
“You could have just swapped rooms,” Man Dog said. “I’d have traded with you. I like the smell of rotten sardines.”
“We should punish you somehow,” Diggory said.
“How do you punish a cloud?” Khotep asked.
“Window fan?” Ant Queen suggested.
“I am not a cl-+” Clthulop began, but then interrupted itself with a big sigh, little silver flashes going off deep in its blackness. “You know what? Screw you guys. I’m outta here.” With that, Clthulop floated through the ceiling, and presumably out of the house.
“Poor Crab Hands,” Man Dog said.
“You know, he was kind of a dick,” Ant Queen said.
Even Diggory had to nod at that. He was. He used his crab hands as an excuse for everything, from not doing the dishes to sometimes forgetting to wear pants. That couldn’t possibly be the reason he didn’t have them. He wore them all the time back in his Academy days.
“So. s’mores?” Man Dog suggested.
“Sounds good to me,” Lizardo said, heading towards the backyard. They probably could have used the fireplace, except some monsters were extremely flame phobic, and couldn’t even look at a fire without freaking out. As a courtesy to them, the ones who didn’t mind it grilled stuff in the backyard.
“Last one out there is a stupid villager,” Ant Queen said, her throne made of ants scurrying towards the doorway. The ants loved marshmallows.
Diggory sighed, running his paws over his head. His first shot as a detective was kind of a disaster, and there was no closure at all for Crab Hands.
On the plus side? At least he wasn’t a disco cloud. That would be super embarrassing.