CW: Domestic violence, murder
Because of the nature of this prompt, it will appear in bold as it occurs in the story rather than at the beginning like usual.
“Just come meet him, Molly. He’s nice, I swear. And besides, Mark will vouch for him.”
Molly rolled her eyes. “That’s the same thing you said about that Davis guy, and he ended up being really weird, and far more into Dragon Ball Z than any grown man probably ought to be.”
She could practically hear Elle rolling her eyes. “Okay, I was wrong that one time. Sue me. But, I checked, this guy–Brad–isn’t into anime at all.”
Molly snorted. “Fine. I’m off at eight. I’ll meet you guys at O’Toole’s.”
When she finished her shift, all she really wanted to do was go home and go to bed, but she’d promised Elle. The pub was loud and crowded by the time she’d arrived, but she’d spotted Elle, Mark, and Mark’s roommate at a high-top table near the back. She’d started toward them when she noticed shiny black tentacles gliding out from under their table.
Nausea and fear coiled in her belly, and she ducked behind a server then darted toward the door. She couldn’t believe she was seeing them again after all this time. Nope-nope-nope. Not meeting Brad. No chance. No way.
Head swimming and tears brimming, she slid into her car and locked the doors before pulling out her phone to text Elle.
–I’m so sorry, hon. Migraine hit before I left work. I’m going to have to pass on meeting Brad.
Elle’s response came back almost immediately.
— 🙁 Feel better, sweetie. We’ll try again next time.
Molly couldn’t remember how old she’d been when she’d first noticed the monsters, but she had to have been young–too old for a crib, but too little to feel comfortable sleeping in a regular bed. Most nights, she couldn’t see or hear them. They only ever appeared under her bed when the screaming started. She didn’t know how he’d done it, but she was sure her father had summoned them with his booming voice and his big, meaty fists.
One night, she’d laid awake long after her mother had put her to bed. It was summer–too bright to go to sleep and too warm to have the door shut, but her mom had shut it anyway. It hadn’t been enough to mask the sounds of dishes shattering or the screaming. When Molly heard her mom crying, she’d tried to go to her, but when she’d dangled her feet over the side of the mattress, undulating black tentacles slithered out from beneath the bed. She’d pulled her feet back up and dragged a sheet over her head and stayed there until she’d finally fallen asleep.
She’d seen them again the summer she’d turned thirteen. She’d been walking to her friend’s house. Annie had a pool and had invited Molly swimming. It had started to rain, and a car pulled up next to her and asked if she wanted a ride. She’d been considering saying yes when the tentacles had snaked out from beneath the car, and instead, she’d turned and ran, cutting through yards not slowing until she got to Annie’s.
What the hell were those things doing in the middle of a crowded pub? Hadn’t anyone else seen them? Taking a shaky breath, she drove home, checking all the shadows as she made her way to her apartment.
The next morning, her phone woke her. Molly glanced blearily at her screen. It was Elle. She wasn’t up for that conversation right now–didn’t want to try to set up another time to meet Mark’s friend–so she let it go to voicemail. Elle called right back. Three more times.
Molly finally picked up. “Hey. What’s going on?”
“It’s Brad.” Elle was crying–hard.
Molly’s stomach sank as she remembered the slithering tentacles from the night before. “Is he okay?”
Elle sniffled, and it sounded like she was trying to muffle a sob. “When you bailed, he picked up another girl who was there with her friends.”
“Okay. That’s fine.”
“No, it’s not,” Elle wailed. “She was just found murdered this morning, and Brad is gone.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean he’s gone! Mark spent the night at my place last night, and when he got home this morning, all of Brad’s stuff was just gone. I think he killed that girl.”
“Oh my god.” Chunks of ice slid through Molly’s veins and somehow made their way to her stomach, sloshing around like icebergs made of horror.
“I know. I can’t stop shaking,” Elle gulped. “If you hadn’t gotten that headache, that could have been you.”
Molly froze, and chilling realization swamped her as she suddenly saw things in a far, far different light. Her entire life changed. The monsters had been protecting her.
Okay, so technically, the prompt was: His/her entire life changed when she learned the monsters were protecting him/her. But…close enough.
Be sure to check out what the other bloggers did with this prompt!