MONSTER MUNCHING DREAD
Dinner took longer than usual. Jenny and Ben were desperate to work through their plans but for some reason their parents wanted to talk about their school day. They also asked more about the monster costume. Luckily Jenny and Tabitha had spent time coming up with the perfect story about the monster outfit because they knew parents always asked questions. After everyone cleared the table, and they all did the washing and drying up together, time ran out.
‘It was lucky that you went and looked for the Monster Pit earlier otherwise we wouldn’t have had time,’ Jenny whispered. Ben and Jenny returned to the dining room and checked there was nothing left on the table.
‘What are you two whispering about?’ asked their father curiously.
‘Monsters,’ replied Jenny honestly.
Ben gave her a look that told her she needed to be careful.
‘Do you think anything else needs to be added to the monster costume to make it look real?’ Jenny asked.
That was it, her father began to chuckle again.
Their mother jabbed him in the ribs. ‘Darling!’ she said sternly. ‘No Jenny, I think that monster costume has everything that a monster outfit could ever need. I think if you add anything more then you might ruin it.’ Her mother took a deep breath and watched her husband crumble.
Jenny and Ben’s father put down his tea-towel. ‘Excuse me a moment, I need some air.’
Jenny and Ben watched their mum smirk as their father went and stood on the patio and proceed to cry with laughter.
‘Why does dad keep laughing?’ Jenny asked seriously.
‘I just think your dad is surprised by how monstery that monster outfit is darling. I also don’t think he has ever seen anything quite like it. I also doubt that your teachers will have seen such a magnificent monster creation. Not many people would consider providing a monster with such a perfect hairstyle.’
‘I just wanted the monster to have a nice hair-do,’ said Jenny thoughtfully. ‘I doubt that monsters have many good hairdressers, so I thought I would make a really nice hairstyle for him.’
‘Ah, so it is a him… And that is why I love you so much darling. You are so considerate and always go above and beyond,’ with that their mum gestured for her children to give her a group cuddle. She might have had suds on her rubber gloves but that didn’t matter because Ben had soap suds on his washing-up gloves too. Jenny put down her tea-towel and glanced out of the patio window. Her father was crouched down and wiping his eyes after laughing so hard. He was being very silly!
After their baths Jenny and Ben went to their separate bedrooms and their parents, as always, read them a story. This time Jenny’s mum read to her and her father read to Ben. Jenny laid listening to a story about witches and found it all very funny because a witch had turned a boy into a mouse and the mouse was going to turn the witch into a mouse using the same potion.
‘Mum, do you believe in witches?’ Jenny asked.
‘Why do you ask Jenny?’ Her mum replied.
‘I am just curious about witches and magic,’ Jenny said with a yawn.
Her mother smiled and stroked Jenny’s hair. ‘There is a lot in this world that we can’t explain Jenny.’
‘Do you think there are monsters?’ Jenny asked seriously.
‘Possibly. Who knows? There are lots of stories about them, so maybe there are.’ Her mother answered thoughtfully.
‘Do monsters eat children?’ Jenny asked.
‘I doubt it. There isn’t much meat on a child is there?’ Her mother whispered softly.
‘Good,’ said Jenny drifting off. ‘I don’t want to be eaten by a monster.’
Her mother tucked her into bed and studied her daughter. What a strange thing to say before sleep.
On Saturday morning Ben burst into Jenny’s bedroom with a piece of paper and his phone. Jenny jumped and almost screamed. ‘Ben!’
‘Shhhhh! We don’t want to wake up mum and dad,’ he whispered.
‘I thought you were a monster coming to get me,’ she said rubbing her eyes and sitting up in bed.
Ben smirked as he stood beside her bed, ‘No I am not a monster but we need to look at this plan so that you understand it. George is coming over shortly before his parents are up and we are going to take the costume over to the hiding stump.’
‘Is the costume ready?’ Ben asked noticing her reaction.
Jenny was half-asleep. It was all a bit overwhelming. ‘I just wanted to check it one more time and make sure it was perfect. I wanted to test that everything was sewn together properly and all the bits were correctly glued on.’
‘Don’t worry about that. We can take tape with us and double tape everything if we need to. Look Jenny, don’t take this the wrong way – I know you like everything to be perfect but this costume just gets us into the dance. There is no prize for the best costume because all the monsters are not dressed up because they are actual monsters.’ Ben thought about what he had just said and frowned. It was really rather weird when he thought about it.
‘It isn’t about winning a prize. It is just that we haven’t tried dancing in it yet. We need all four of us inside to see if we can dance in the costume while wearing the glasses.’ Jenny was right. There had been no costume testing to take the costume through the rigors of being able to dance properly in it.
‘We don’t have time for that. We need to get the costume ready and in place. Everything else we are going to have to figure out today. We will research dances on the internet and send them through to Tabitha and George. They can practice and we can practice. Then when we all get together we will know what to do.’
‘I don’t think that is a good idea,’ Jenny said thoughtfully.
‘Well do you have a better one?’ Ben was sharp with his response.
Jenny sucked her lip as she thought. Finally she shook her head. There wasn’t enough time to do a full dance rehearsal and that annoyed her, she liked things in order and right!
Ben studied Jenny, ‘You do know we are not going to the Monsters’ Dance to win the dance contest Jenny. We just want to go and see if there are really monsters. It doesn’t matter whether we dance or not.’
Jenny glared at her brother, what was the point of going to all that effort to make a really good monster outfit if they weren’t going to do their best to win the dance contest?
Ben sat on the bed beside Jenny, arranged the paper and also displayed the photo on his phone. ‘I have sent you the picture. So we followed the path that runs parallel to our back fence and went to the Centennial trees. There are two giant trees in the centre of the forest. Quite close to them there is a bridge on the path and a series of very knobbly trees. Just beyond that there is a hundred year stump with a hundred rings. Close to that there is an angry looking stump and a fallen tree beside a bouncy bridge. On the other side of the bridge is something that looks like a stump with a face on it. If you carry on walking there is another fallen tree with loads of roots spiralling in all directions. In that particular stump there is a hole and a whole load of branches arranged over the side. That is where we are going to hide the costume. That is what we wanted to tell you last night. Plus there is plenty of room for us all to put the costume on inside the space beneath that fallen tree. If we are seen, we can say we came from under the stump.
‘I thought we were all going together so why are you telling me this?’ asked Jenny.
‘So you know where the costume is and if anything goes wrong then you can get back. Remember to take your torch tonight.’ Ben had even considered the group being split up.
Jenny hadn’t thought about much going wrong. Her main concern was being eaten.
‘Ben what could go wrong?’ She asked in a gentle tone trying to conceal her fear.
Ben had just said the worst thing that he could to Jenny. ‘I mean, if you need to get home without us…’ he replied.
Images of Ben, Tabitha and George filling monsters’ mouths popped into Jenny’s mind and she looked frightened. Ben shook his head, he had made another huge mistake… ‘Jenny forget all the scary stuff. You just need to check the map is on your phone. That way you will have it – just in case. When I say just in case. It is so that we have a back-up plan. Remember what dad always says: code word survival!’
Jenny laid in bed thinking. ‘I am going to read a book on nice pretty ponies to get the monsters out of my head.’
‘Well George and I are going to take the costume to the hideout place before our parents get up. Oh and Jenny, once we are all in the costume we will all walk in time together to the pit. It is less than a five minute walk away from the hiding stump. Okay?’
‘Oh and George will be at the front, Tabitha will go second, then you and then me,’ he said.
‘Why is it that way round?’ Jenny had wanted to go at the front that way she didn’t have to be close to anyone’s bottom. Also in films the people at the back always got eaten first.
‘George is the best at talking and can make a good monster voice.’ He picked up his phone and played George saying ‘My name is A-Mystery monster in five different ways. We chose number three for the monster voice. We did that before we climbed back over the fence,’ said Ben.
‘You chose the best one,’ Jenny replied with a yawn.
Ben glanced out of the window. George waved from beyond the back fence.
‘Right I have to go…’ Whispered Ben. With that Ben crept onto the landing and down the stairs. Jenny felt odd, she hadn’t double-checked the costume. They hadn’t tested it and she didn’t like that. What made her feel most uneasy was they hadn’t even prepared their dance or practiced together. She had always been told poor planning resulted in project problems. She liked everything to be perfect and there was no way there was anything perfect about their dance!