A Bump in the Night

(I wrote this when a literature professor asked for three pages of just dialogue. I thought it would be a fun challenge to use as little dialogue as possible.)


“…and they all lived happily ever after. The end.”

“Wait! Don’t leave yet!”

“I’m still here, Julia. Do you want me to read you another story?”

“No! I want you to check under my bed. For monsters.”

“Well, let me lean down and see… Nope, no monsters down here! Just your toys. Would you like Mr. Bear?”

“Gimme.”

“Here he is. ‘Oh, I’m the happiest bear, because Julia is my friend! Can I sleep in your bed tonight, Julia?’”

“Climb in, Mr. Bear! Thanks, Mommy! Now check the closet.”

“Sure! Here’s your rain jacket and your rain boots. Here are all your board games.”

“Is that a skeleton?”

“It’s your kite. Remember when we flew kites in the park?”

“Do you feel any ghosts? They can turn invisible and you can only feel them because they’re cold.”

“I made sure to vacuum up all the ghosts when I cleaned your room.”

“Oh. Okay!”

“Goodnight, Julia!”


“Mr. Bear, if there were a monster here, you’d protect me, wouldn’t you? ‘Of course I would, Julia. I’m the toughest bear there ever was! I’d bash a skeleton’s bones to bits! I’d inhale a ghost and blow it out the window! I live under your bed during the day to keep monsters out, so it’s totally safe!’”

“And he’s not the only one,” said a voice under her bed like a bump in the night. “You’ve got loads of toys down here!”

Julia gasped and said nothing.

“Well, don’t be a stranger! What’s your name, kiddo?”

“Mommy!”

“That’s not your name! You can’t fool me. Say, which of these toys down here is your favorite? Is it this stuffed giraffe? Or maybe this plastic elephant? I’ll try not to get slime on them.”

“Slime?”

“Oh, yeah, tons of slime! I secrete it from my tentacles.”

“Tentacles?”

“With hundreds of suckers! Here, lemme pass you your giraffe.”

“No! Stop! Aaaugh!”

“What, my tentacles didn’t freak you out, did they? Well, at least you have your giraffe. Shall I pass you your elephant with a more acceptable appendage? Maybe one of my tails? Not all of my tails are tipped with poison, you know. Just most of them. Here comes your elephant!”

“No! Please!”

“What’s the fucking racket?” boomed the closet. “Don’t make me come out there!”

“It’s okay, we’re just having some fun! Isn’t that right, kiddo?”

“Have fun quietly!”

“Or what?”

“Or I’ll come out and get you!”

“Oh, wow, I’ve never heard that one before, closet-boy! Get some original material!”

“I’m scarier than you are, slimeball! Listen to this booming voice! Look, I can vent fog under the door jam! Human child, isn’t that terrifying?”

“Fog? Pfeh! I belch black smoke! Black is a scarier mysterious-gas-color than white. And listen to me drag my fingernails across the floor!”

“That’s nothing! I once made a teenager wet himself by slamming the closet door over and over again, like this! And this! And this!”

“Mr. Bear commands you to stop it!” Julia shook her bear. “Mr. Bear is the strongest, toughest, meanest bear ever, and if either of you lays a finger on me, or any other appendage for that matter, I’ll have him maul you both!”

“Ha. Yeah right!”

“It’s not even a real bear!”

“Mr. Bear is as real as either of you! Here are his jaws, and here are his claws! His fur is matted with the blood of ten thousand monsters whose mere sight would make either of you bawl like babies! When he roars in the dark forests of the night, he fills the woods with fire which spreads as far as the roar he bellows, and the moon is burned rusty crimson by the shadow of the earth! His stomach is a bottomless pit, and every monster he’s ever eaten is still inside him crying and screaming for forgiveness!”


“Julia, are you alright? I heard you talking.”

“I’m okay. Mr. Bear had to chase some monsters out of my room.”

“Aw, I’m sorry. I thought I checked well enough.”

“Don’t worry, Mommy. If monsters didn’t come, what would Mr. Bear have to eat?”

“What happened to Miss Giraffe? She looks like she’s covered in drool.”

“It’s slime. Tentacle slime!”

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