Alexander and the Monsters
The boy woke up with a start, heart racing and his forehead sweaty and knew he was not alone in the room. He looked out into the darkness and saw two small pinpoints of orange light that hovered not far from him and he let out a sob. A tear slid down his face, unseen but sensed and a hand, large and soft, reached out and wiped the tear away and the conversation started back from where it had been left a day earlier.
“But…why? Why do you have to go away? Why do you have to hide?” Asked the boy, trying but failing to keep his voice from quivering.
There came a pause then a long sigh that moved the covers on the bed, and then came the voice, deep and resonating other times but now low and gentle –
“Because they don’t want us here, Henry. They have never wanted us here.”
“Who never wanted you here?”
Another sigh, another pause –
A sob broke out and filled the dark room. A small, frail hand reached out for the course, furry one but found only cold, empty air. Another sob. The boy sat up quickly and swung his arms around in great arcs –
“Alexander, Alex…ander? Are you, are you still here?”
There was no response and the pinpoints of light were gone. Henry dropped his hands to the bed and his shoulders slumped forward.
He whispered –
The air was still another moment then it heated and the orange eyes returned and with it the voice, though more far away.
“I am here, cub, but not for long. Not for long at all. I am not meant for this place. I no longer belong here. I am…no longer needed.”
The boy reached out blindly for the monster, his small body shuddering under the pressure of his heartbreak and the illness that had brought him to this cold, lonely place.
“But I need you Alexander, I need you.”
The boy broke into coughs that doubled him over and splattered his hands, arms, and bedding with fresh blood.
The boy swooned, weakened, and began to lean towards the edge of the bed, the side where the steel rails were down. Henry tried to catch the bedding with his hands but it slipped through them and his vision started to flicker. Just as he lost the last of his strength and was about to fall from the bed he felt strong, soft arms encircle him, steady him, and lay him back gently. The orange eyes are brighter now, wider, and ringed with wild fire that seems to warm the air and the breath that falls on the boy.
“And I need you, cub. I will never abandon you. No matter the danger, no matter what they say. I will remain with you. Somehow. But you have to fight, fight what is eating away inside you. I will help you, but you have to be the one to defeat it. You have to be strong. No matter what happens.”
Suddenly an alarm sounded from the wall behind the monster and the boy rose off the bed.
“Run, Alexander, run…”
“I won’t. We have run long enough.”
The door swung inward and the room was filled with the harsh, cold light of the hospital corridor. Henry clamped down onto Alexander’s arm as he realized what was happening. Three guards and a nurse rushed in to see how Henry was doing and, seeing the monster, the guards changed direction and went after it. Henry spun towards Alexander as the guards neared him but it was too late, the light had already hit the monster and he was fading quickly, his furry outline, marked with one ear always folded down, and his eyes were all that remained.
The shadow raised a paw to the boy then was gone. Gone to wherever it was that monsters were banished to, whatever dark, lonely world where there were no humans; where there were no children.
One of the guards let out a scream at the sight of the disappearing form and dropped his weapon. In a moment it was gone completely and in another so was the darkness.
And laying in an adult’s bed, in an adult’s wing of a hospital, and with an adult’s disease lay Henry, a very little boy, who had no words for what he felt, but had a name for what had taken it away before and it was that name he whispered to the unrelenting light – Alexander.