The noise startled me from a restless sleep. It was a metallic grinding outside my bedroom door. I was only eight years old then, but I remember the event clear as day.
My mom convinced herself I was dreaming. My dad thought I was making it up for attention. But the truth is, it was real. It was real and no one in the whole boring world believed me.
As I said, I wasn’t sleeping well that night. It was one of those hot, airless summer nights where you get to the point of almost sweating but never actually do. I tossed and turned for the better part of an hour before I heard the noise.
It started as a light clanking against the door. It was almost inaudible, and I wasn’t sure if it was real at first. But slowly the pitch of the sound grew until it was an unmistakable grinding. If I had to compare it to anything, I’d say it resembled that of a pair of bad car rotors. How my parents didn’t hear, I have no idea.
When I realized the noise was real I froze with fear; as if an icy wind had blown through the room. Whatever it was, I knew it wanted in. I had to alert my parents, but I was too scared to say anything. Remember, I was only eight. Back then monsters were still real and they loved to eat little boys.
I’m not sure how long I stayed in that bed—hiding under the covers and wishing it would go away—but at some point the doorknob began to rattle. That’s when I knew I had to take action.
“Mom! Dad!” I screamed, springing from the bed like an acrobat and rushing to the door.
i put all my weight against it, but whatever was on the other side was slamming with such a great force that I thought the door would explode into a billion tiny splinters.
The door started shaking violently and the hinges jiggled loose from their moldings. I couldn’t hold it any longer.
With the force of a shotgun blast the door crashed into me and sent my small body flying across the room. Luckily, I landed in an open space of floor next to my bed—only suffering minor rug burn on my elbows and a little bump on the head. But in that moment, rug burn was the last thing on my mind. Because standing in the gaping hole that was once my door was the most unbelievable, strangest looking collection of junk I’d ever seen!
I know it sounds ridiculous but that’s what I saw. It was like random car parts from a junkyard were cobbled together by a mad Frankenstein-like scientist, struck by lightning, then reanimated as Turdatron, the worst Transformer in existence.
In that moment I found myself more confused than scared. Monsters were suppose to eat you, not pester you for gas money. But that thing, it was so stupid looking. Or at least that’s what I thought before it started grinding toward me again.
Pressed up against the wall I couldn’t do anything but watch as the rocking, sparking collection of refuse made its way toward me. The scent of burnt oil stung my nostrils and I had no idea how to get out of the situation.
The thing was upon me now and I had no choice but to run past it. Fiery air blew from its bowels and the metallic grinding threatened to gnarl my young, innocent flesh. It had three spinning spikes on what looked liked two iron hands. A dented up half circle served as its head and it had a razor-thin slit full of fire that served as a mouth. It was much more frightening up close.
I tried cutting past it on the left but its base was too wide. It looked like half a bumper was hanging off its side. I spun around—just barely escaping its clutches—and jumped off to the right of the metal beast where I landed safely on the bed.
“Someone help,” I managed to get out with a quivering voice. This plea was my weakest yet.
By this point the thing was making an awful lot of noise. Steam blasted from tiny holes in its head and big orange flames shot from its mouth at random intervals. And as it closed in on me—my bed was in a corner so I didn’t have anywhere to escape to—I did the only two things an eight year old could: I peed my pants and hid under the covers.
Just as I pulled the blankets over my head the metal monster touched my forearm with an instant sizzle of its searing hot appendage. I immediately pulled away in pain and pressed my body into the corner of the bed. With the blanket covering my face the world went dark, except for the occasional burst of yellow light that spewed from its mouth.
That was it. I knew I was toast (no pun intended). The thing was going to grab me and bake me like a fresh loaf of sourdough. So I curled up in a ball, closed my eyes, and waited for the end. But as I waited for what felt like forever, I at some point noticed that the noise had stopped and the heat was gone.
Like a groundhog sticking its nose out from its hole, I peeked over the blanked and saw only the faint glow of my Superman night-light in the opposite corner. The junk monster had vanished.
Still too scared to move, I sucked up all the bravery I had left and called out into the silent night. “Mom!”
The volume of my voice shocked me. I had no idea I could yell like that. And like I had just pulled a fire alarm, my mother and father came rushing into my bedroom through the not at all destroyed door to save the day. Unfortunately, the only thing needed saving was my pants.
“Mikey. What’s wrong?” my mother asked with the most worried expression I’d ever seen her wear. And I explained everything that had happened—ending on the part about peeing my pants and hiding under the covers. “Seriously?” was all she could manage to say.
My dad went straight back to bed without a word, but she took me to the bathroom and stood on the other side of the cracked open door as I took a fast shower. While I dried off, she told me all about how we can see things in the dark that aren’t really there and how our minds play tricks on us sometimes. You know, the basic “monsters aren’t real” spiel.
I tried my best to convince her that the junk monster was legit. I wasn’t dreaming or seeing things in the dark. The weird bastard really did come into my room and tried to roast me like a Thanksgiving turkey. But I couldn’t explain how the door got fixed; this was the most damning piece of evidence against my case. In the end, I went to bed without much of a choice. Though, I didn’t sleep at all.
“Back then monsters were still real and they loved to eat little boys.”
See, you probably don’t believe my either. Just like my parents and friends. The funny thing is, the next morning my mom came in to check on me, and there, seared into the floor just like the burn mark on my forearm, was the crispy residue of that stupid metallic monster.
Mom couldn’t find any matches, lighters, or anything else I could’ve used to start a small fire in my room that night. But she couldn’t deny what she saw on the floor or the mark on my arm (a lovely scar I still have as a reminder of that thing). Being a grownup—and entirely incapable of believing in the world of the fantastic—grounded me for two weeks.
Fortunately, she never told my father, but somehow she concluded that I burned myself playing with fire and made up the junk monster as an excuse.
Ten years later both my parents died in a tragic fire. I just happened to be visiting that weekend and had slept in my childhood bedroom when smoke woke me up that Saturday night. I rushed to my parents bedroom but the smoke was too thick and the fire too out of control. I had no choice but to run outside and collapse in a fit of coughing.
At first the fire chief thought faulty wiring was to blame. But after a more thorough investigation, they found some anomalies. Mainly, random hunks of metal scattered from the main entrance all the way up to my parent’s bedroom.
A week later the cops pinned me for arson. Said I had drug in a homemade contraption filled with gasoline that would explode a few minutes after being lit. That’s why I’m writing this from prison—the place I’ll be staying for a minimum of 15 more years.
Obviously the cops didn’t believe me when I told them about the junk monster. They said the only monsters in this world are human. Yeah, if they only knew the truth.
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