Friday, September 29, 2017

The Promise

The Promise
By Michael Cannata  

He couldn't sleep, so he lay still thinking of tomorrow. It was going to be the best day of his life. He knew that in his heart. The way his life had been going, the promise the dawn held was a dream he looked forward to with anxious anticipation.

He’d made a lot of poor choices, but this wasn’t one of them. It was the smartest decision he ever made. He didn’t want to drag things out any longer. He needed a change. The routine was getting to him. Every day it was the same thing. Wake up, exercise, do some writing and a little work, take a walk for an hour, maybe some more writing to pass the evening before bedtime.

Writing had always come easy to him, words poured out of him like fine wine from a flask. But lately writing had become too much of a struggle for him. The ideas didn’t come as easy as they once had. Rather than write about things around him, he’d taken to writing about what went on deep inside him. He didn't enjoy that at all. He sat at his desk staring at his latest story. It was full of anger and pain. His hate for what he had become had poisoned his creative spirit.

There was a time that he had a dry, insightful sense of humor. He could make people laugh even when he explored the darker side of life. And he knew that dark side all too well. Aside from writing, he was also a great drinker. He was a lot more passionate when he was drunk; at least that’s what he told himself. Unfortunately, there were times when the passion morphed quickly into anger. Controlling the anger was even harder than controlling his passion.

The day he caught his wife with his best friend, he experienced both anger and passion to a degree he would have never thought possible. When the rage subsided, they both lay dead on the floor of his studio.

He had spent the first five years fighting the death penalty he received. Finally he consigned himself to his fate and stopped the appeals. He asked for the earliest execution date possible. The courts readily, almost eagerly, agreed. He’d lived with the pain and grief for too long. He regretted every day that passed as he sat waiting.

At dawn they would take him to the gas chamber. He made them promise to be on time. It was a promise his life depended on.

Where Evil Lurks

Where Evil Lurks

By Michael Cannata

He'd been a good Christian all his life. When the time came, he devoted himself to the church and its teachings. He fought evil with a passion that earned him the love and admiration of all his parishioners over the last 40 years. He arrived at his new appointment in the city a few months ago. Glowing articles in the local paper announced his arrival. The first few weeks were a glorious time.

He battled Satan and sin every day of his life. He sought out evil wherever it lurked. He counseled his flock with all the care and wisdom he possessed. He was able to move past the sins and look into the heart of all those who came to him for help and guidance. He judged no one and forgave everyone their transgressions.

Until that fatal day when he met Gregory in the market, he always believed in the innate goodness in all men… especially himself. The smile on his face that first appeared when he spotted Greg in the aisle froze as their eyes met. He saw the fear and hate they carried. It was clear from the look on Greg's face that he recognized him. He realized that the meeting wasn't accidental. Greg approached him and stood staring with an anger that was barely controlled.

At first, all he remembered was the young, shy smile of the lonely boy that hung around the church after school, waiting for his parents to pick him up. But the hateful look suddenly brought back other memories. Shame filled memories that he'd suppressed for years.

"Have they come for you yet?" Greg asked in a chilling voice. "Because they will, and I hope you burn in hell for what you did to me!"

He loved the boys in his charge completely. It was comfort that he offered them. Why didn't anyone see that? Now, after a lifetime of battling sin, he was finally about to commit the greatest sin of all. He would never get to meet Jesus.

"How?" he wondered aloud. How had he missed the evil that lurked in his own heart? He raised the gun to his head as the police started knocking on his rectory door. "Forgive me, Lord!" he prayed.

Hopeless, he knew better. After what he'd done to the children, God himself wouldn't answer his prayer.

The Horizon

The Horizon
By Michael Cannata  

Salt air stung his eyes as he stared off into the distance. The life-raft bobbed and tipped with the waves as it drifted with the current. He had stopped rowing, again. His arms felt like lead weights. He'd lost any real sense of direction days ago. He'd been drifting for two aimless weeks… maybe longer. Time was another thing he had lost all sense of.

He'd nursed his limited food and supplies as best he could. The food was gone; Today's water ration was almost gone.

"Damn! Damn! Damn!" He cursed loudly. He chastised himself again for drinking so much that first few days. Back when he expected to be found quickly. He was confident for the first few days. But that confidence had faded a long time ago. Panic was setting in and he was getting desperate. Help still hadn't come. Hopeless, he was sure now, it never would. He prayed for rain, hoping to catch some. The sky had been a dry, clear blue since the storm.

When the storm hit, he wasn't more than forty miles off the coast. The hull of his boat had breached somehow. Water rushed in too fast to pack any gear. All he had was what had been stored in the emergency pack in the inflatable raft. His wife had panicked with fright. She was terrified of water but she always enjoyed her rides on his boat.  She panicked and pulled away as he tried to hold her and get the raft launched. As the rising water covered her legs she jumped off the sinking craft before he could save her. He lost her to the churning waves in the dark; never hearing or seeing her again.

When the sun finally broke through, he tried to get a fix on his location. Without a compass or binoculars he had nothing to go on other than his best guess. Land should have been west of him. The only thing visible was a few birds and low clouds in the distance. Believing they were over land, he started rowing towards them. As time wore on he realized the sun was setting behind him. He'd been rowing east; away from land! It was a mistake he would make a few times.

The rising sun gave him a sense of direction for a short time. During midday, he felt himself becoming disoriented. He often got confused and changed direction. Heading back the way he came. What way that was, he didn't really know anymore. He hadn't seen any birds in days.

Exhausted, he could barely raise his arms anymore. He hadn't eaten in days. Increasingly desperate, every fiber of his being wanted to give up, surrender to his inevitable fate. Yet, each time he started to give up, something inside him would take over. The only thing he had left to count on. Hope.

Each time he tried to quit, he would shake his head and start rowing again. He had to keep trying. Direction became meaningless. There was only one way to go… towards where the ocean meets the sky. Land had to be just beyond that horizon.

"Please! Please!" he prayed with each weakening stroke… it just had to be!


By Michael Cannata  

Nothing seemed real anymore. He had been living a terrible dream for such a long time. He looked curiously at the gun in his hand. It seemed real enough, yet he had no idea where he got it. Based on the damage it had done, it was both very real and very deadly. The bodies that littered the halls would attest to that, if they could.

He tried to focus, there was a possibility he just might be imagining all this. He had lost his grip on reality some time ago. Killing people at random was not like him at all. He felt very light-headed and disconnected. Who was he? How the hell had this happened?

He’d given his entire life to the company! He had more than a few chances to move on to other opportunities. He possessed a very valuable skill set. Each time, his company had fought to keep him. In the end, he stayed because it wasn’t money that mattered. It was the security. His company considered him an asset! He was only a few years from a pension.

Unannounced, a year ago, after 27 years, he was laid-off.  And that was when reality was lost. His family depended on him, and he depended on that job. Everything depended on his job! He had two mortgages and two kids in college. It was too late to start his life over! He had plans! He still had dreams! And now all that was gone.

His security, his life, had been nothing but an illusion. He knew that now. His job was his life! The family he had loved wasn’t just partners, they were dependants. Now he had no way to provide for them.

He came to the office to plead for his job but he never got the chance. Security was called before he got past the front desk. Why? He had never hurt anyone in his life! He pleaded for them to listen as he fired his weapon at anyone that came into his field of vision.

He considered whether he should kill himself or just wake up. He wasn’t afraid of dying; it was waking up that terrified him. The last thing he wanted to do was wake up. Reality was just too much too bear anymore.

He put the gun to his head and pictured the illusion that had once been his life.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Leaving Home

Leaving Home
By Michael Cannata  

He was moving… again. He spent the entire afternoon telling her all the details. That she never heard a word didn’t matter. For the first time in his life, his mother would not be a part of the move.

He remembered the first time he left home. He felt more love in her embrace that day than he could ever hope to return. She was the smallest of woman with the strongest arms. She had a hug so strong it could leave him breathless. As a child he felt being in her arms was the safest place in the world. She had raised him alone. His dad was a non-entity. She used to joke that he was an only child and she was an only mom. His mother guided him with a gentle yet firm hand. She supported him every way possible.

Now, for the first time, he was leaving home. He was headed to a college four states and a universe away. On the outside, to anyone that looked at him, he seemed eager to get started. Yet, secretly, deep inside where the boy in him still lived, he was terrified to leave his moms arms.

She had always appeared fearless to him as he was growing up. He got so much of his self-confidence from her unwavering courage. Today, for the first time ever, she looked as afraid as he felt. He was always a little embarrassed at the way he loved and needed his mother. He felt it was time that he started to take care of himself and ease her burden. When he saw the look of confusion and fear in her eyes he finally understood just how much she also needed him.

 The house they had grown up in together was just that… a house. It was them… the two of them… that made the house a home. It became painfully clear, he wasn't just leaving her… he was leaving his home.

When he brought his future wife home from college his mother greeted her with the same brutally loving hug she had always given him. By the time the weekend was over his mother immediately pronounced her “The One!” His mother wooed her more than he did. She proclaimed her the perfect woman for him and the perfect mother for her grandchildren. Together they would be the perfect family his mother had always dreamed of. And that’s pretty much exactly what happened. His wife would declare at family gatherings that she loved his mother more than she did him.

He graduated from college with enough debt to sink a bank. He faced the daunting task of providing a home for his new family. Once again his mother helped him get started. His mother helped financially when he bought his first house. He raised his family there while his mother relished the role of, Nana.

Where most people dreaded living with their In-Laws, he and his wife were different. They pleaded with her to come live with them. His wife's parents had passed away long ago. His wife considered his mother her own. No matter how hard they tried, she resisted every effort they made to get her to move in with them. She stayed in her own home.

Suddenly, his mother started losing little things. She caught a severe cold while she stood waiting outside her door in the rain, waiting for him for an hour after she called and told him she had lost her house keys. He found them in the purse she was clutching. She quickly started to forget where she was frequently. When she started to forget where she lived it became life threatening. Before he ever got the chance to share his home with his mother she required the care of a nursing facility. She would never be coming to live with him.

His mother stared distantly at the wall. The disease had taken her off to someplace where she seemed happy. He took comfort in that. She got excellent care. He came every week… sometimes more and sat with her. Talking, reading… just sitting.

Leaving was the hardest. It was a painful and melancholic stab of pain both experienced and remembered. He felt it every time he kissed his mother gently and said goodbye.

It felt like leaving home… all over again.

Writer's Block

Writer's Block
By Michael Cannata  

His mind was a complete blank. He had nothing! This wasn't a usual case of writers block. He hadn't had a new idea for a story in months. Everything he tried to write about seemed old… rehashed. All the stories just seemed to be a different version of the same worn out tale.

If it wasn't a mundane, good vs. evil story, it was an equally banal, boy meets girl piece. He tried to write something upbeat, but he sucked at that kind of tale. He hated happy endings. He liked sad, desperately horrible endings! He'd made his reputation as a horror writer. People expected to be scared breathless by his work. Lately, his work was more like comedy… with evil characters that started out well, but soon turned into amusing caricatures of evil; more laughable than loathsome.

He had fame and fortune, and yet, none of that mattered. It was the creative drive that had carried him this far. He'd never felt so bereft of ideas in his life. He felt like taking an axe to someone just for inspiration. Then, suddenly, it came to him! Maybe stepping into his characters role in a more personal way would get his muse talking again.

Rather than create a character, maybe he should become one! Instead of imagining what a homicidal impulse felt like, perhaps experiencing one would help sharpen his senses; pull him deeper into the psyche! He'd concealed the small hatchet under his jacket and went into town late last night to research his idea.

He didn't know her name until he read it in the paper the next day. Her death was gruesome to everyone, except him. For him, it was nothing but pure inspiration. He grew excited again as he remembered how it felt when he struck her from behind. She never saw it coming. Touching the axe, he vividly recalled every movement, every twitch, every hair that flew away with the force of the blow. The warmth of the blood as it splashed on his face was exhilarating.

There was only one thing left to do. Admit it. He was finished as a writer. He at least owed his fans some sort of explanation. He'd found a new calling in life. He couldn't wait to tell his own tale. He sat at the keyboard and began typing.

"My mind was a complete blank…"

Loose Lips

Loose Lips
By Michael Cannata  

In his dream, he was talking to someone he couldn't see. He was explaining how he wanted his wife killed. "It must look like an accident," he insisted. "I get double the money if she dies accidentally."

His dream kept shifting and he saw his wife's face where the hit-man's should be. She was taking notes and smiling. "Maybe we should make it look like an intruder broke in," she said in the hit-man's voice.  He explained why that was a bad idea before he realized who he was talking to. When he looked at her, the face of the hit man had taken her place.

Relieved, he started talking again. "She has no idea. You're the only one who can ruin this! I trust you, but, if you turn on me, I've arranged to take you out as well." He was bluffing, but he had to try and make sure the hit-man did his job.

When the hit-man spoke, it was his wife's voice again. "I still think an intruder is the best plan," she insisted. "Whatever you say," replied the hit-man from the dark edges of the dream.

"What? NO!" he cried. "No cop is going to believe an intruder came into my home, killed my wife, and left me unharmed. That's crazy!"

His wife's voice came out of the hit-man again. "But, you'll be a hero when you save me by fighting him off, sweetheart!"

He rolled over in his sleep, sweating. Why did the hit-man sound like his wife? The last thing he saw in his dream was his wife's face. He heard the hit-man say, "Time to get up, buddy. I have a job to do."

He woke to find his wife sitting across the room, holding a small voice recorder in her hand. The hit-man stood beside her with a gun pointed at him.

"Did you know you talk in your sleep, sweetheart?" she asked coldly. He heard his voice coming from the recorder, revealing everything he'd been planning.

He scrambled from his bed, his dream quickly transforming into a waking nightmare. As he ran for the bedroom door, just before the hit-man killed him, he heard his wife's voice for the last time.

"Oh, look!" she said in a voice that was half cry, half laughter, "An intruder!"

Breach of Contract

Breach of Contract
By Michael Cannata  

"Your death won't surprise anyone," she sneered. The sardonic smile twisted her beautiful face into a hate-filled mask.

"Your heart has been ready to fail for years. The drugs I put in your drink is just going to speed things up a bit. I don't know how I lasted this long! Feeling your dry, withered hands touch my body was always disgusting! Tonight, while we're still married, it's all going to end. Your doctor… my latest lover… assured me no one would ever suspect anything. Putting the drugs in your nightcap was his idea."

The old man lay clutching his chest as he gasped for breath. Spasms gripped him as spittle started to run from his mouth. She loved watching him suffer in agony! She figured he'd be dead in about 20 minutes. In the meantime, she would get ready to be picked up by her lover to celebrate his death.

He was a ridiculously rich, 75 year old man. She was an incredibly gorgeous, 24 year old stripper. "A match made in hell!" his lawyer scolded him. "She makes a bimbo look like a Harvard grad. All she wants is your money!"

"Who cares!" he retorted. "I'm giving her a million bucks just to get her in bed with me! Just draw up the pre-nup contract so I can have her." And that's exactly what he did. One year of marriage and the money would be hers.

Once she discovered how much he money he had, a million dollars seemed like a pittance. He was worth a hundred times that! She would get it all if he died before the year was up. She'd been married a month when she started making plans. She heard the doorbell ring. One last look and she would be on her way to a life of luxury!

To her shock, her husband was sitting up in bed smiling at her. Her look grew even more confused when she spotted the cell phone he held in his hand. She heard the tinny voice on the other end of the open line through the speaker.

"Mrs. Collins! This is, Detective Moore. We have, Dr Sloan, here. He called us, right after he phoned your husband to warn him of your plan. We heard everything. The police are at the door. I suggest you answer it!"

Night Duty

Night Duty

By Michael Cannata  

He checked to be sure that all his police gear was in place, double checking his gun before getting into his car. He could feel the anticipation building deep inside. The next three days were a special time for people in his line of work. It was the first night of the full moon, the killing moon, the time of the month where people went just a little more insane than usual. He would hate to be put in a spot where he couldn't respond with the proper force if the need came about.

Police were always on a higher alert, as were most other emergency personnel in the city. They were on always on edge. They took shorter breaks, paid more attention to their radios and were ready to respond faster. The tension they felt was almost palpable. Like a dark electricity that permeated the night air.

Despite the usual anxiety, he also felt exhilarated. Maybe this would be the month where it all came to a head. He always fantasized about taking part in the big shootout. He was as prepared as he could be, but, so far, it never seemed to happen. Senseless, random violence erupted sporadically all over the city, but he was never in the middle of the action. He always seemed to be on the quiet side of town.

There was a reason for that. He planned it that way.  Drunks and violent altercations happened in almost every bar or club where booze and bad attitudes were a lethal mix. Real killers, those that preyed upon people without provocation, never struck in a crowded or busy place. He always tried to think ahead and patrol the areas where people wouldn't expect a lunatic to surface.

He drove his usual route, listening to the chatter over his police radio. Things seemed quiet on the surface but he could sense the impending surge of violence that came with the full moon. It was the quiet before the storm. Statistics showed that violent crime rose along with the full moon. Domestic violence and sexual assaults increased more than most. Murders also happened more often. Especially on nights like tonight.

It was a hot, stifling summer night. A lot more people would be out on the streets, seeking relief from the heat indoors. Arguments and bar fights would soon be taking stage as the hotter temperature and the shorter tempers it brought started to mix with the drinks. Parties would go sour. Soon, the sirens would be sounding across the city as the police found their night getting busier by the hour.

History was full of legends about the full moon. Werewolves were one of the most popular monsters that were brought to life when the moon was full. He didn't believe in werewolves. But statistics didn't lie. People really did go crazy during the full moon. It was where the term "Lunatic" came from.

Many people were superstitious and believed the legends. They feared the night and the monsters it harbored.  He knew better than to believe in such creatures. Monsters and the evil they committed weren't creatures of legend; they were real, living, breathing people.

People just like him. It was in his blood. He could feel the lust for blood coursing through his veins. He searched the quiet streets for his first victim. He always tried to kill at least two people during the full moon. Dressing like a police officer made it easy; almost too easy.

Everyone trusted a cop.

The Gun Shot

The Gunshot
By Michael Cannata  

The crowd around him reacted with shock and bewilderment followed closely by screams and shouting. Did you hear that? What was that? They had obviously been frightened by some kind of sound, but he hadn’t heard it.

As people dropped to the ground, he did the same. Not really sure why, he fell on his face on the sidewalk. He lay flat and still as pandemonium swirled around him. Minutes ago, everyone had been sitting in the sidewalk café enjoying a lunch, or perhaps a drink, while soaking up the afternoon sun. In an instant, all that changed. Now he lay on the ground confused and tried to get an idea of what was happening.

He'd taken a late lunch and was enjoying the last chapters of his book. He heard the gunning of a car engine and the squeal of tires as he lay on the ground. Perhaps a car had hit a pedestrian?  But why then would all the café customers be dropping to the ground or running for cover? It was when he tried to look around and see what the source of all the commotion was that he first noticed he was unable to move.

Shortly after he fell to the ground, people began to rush to his side. They were all shouting and seemed as confused as he was. He tried asking the guy who had knelt beside him, speaking into his ear, what had happened, but he found it impossible to speak. He was aware of a ringing in his ears. He felt a warm sensation running down his neck. His first thought was he must have spilled coffee on himself when he dived on the floor.

The funny thing was that he didn’t recall diving at all. And while he didn’t seem to be hurt and felt no pain, the people that gathered around him seemed to think he was in serious danger. He heard someone asking him questions but couldn't respond. He slowly felt himself drifting into something akin to a dream as his mind tried to reconnect to his body. It was then that an old saying from his days serving in Vietnam suddenly came back to him. 

“You never hear the sound of the shot that kills you.” 

And for a few final moments it all became clear.

The Undead

The Undead
By Michael Cannata  

Our planet is dying a slow, deliberate death. The human race is slowly choking the life from it with an ignorance that keeps us in denial. We continue to consume its natural resources at a rate that guarantees our grandchildren will inherit a wasteland.

The vast farms that we toiled for centuries to bring to life, fields that were lush with the fruits and vegetables of our labor, are rapidly dying. They've become dry and brown. The produce rots before it can be harvested. Water is in scarce supply. The toxins our machinery produce have destroyed the thin, fragile atmosphere that we worked so hard to protect.

The centuries of glory we experienced as our world grew unchecked, led us to forget just how tenuous the promise of a future with unlimited potential truly was. We established colonies in a new world. Regrettably, we brought with us the arrogance that had put us all in this situation to begin with. It's clear that human nature is one of boundless dreams and industry. Yet, while we rightly believed that we controlled our destiny, we forgot that the one thing we couldn't control was human nature itself.

We borrowed against conservative resources in place to ensure our tomorrows, to pay for extravagant excesses that the citizens demanded today. We falsely believed we could make up a deficit that wasn't one of money, but materials. The planet was so vast, with thousands of year's worth of untapped mineral wealth, one that held so much promise; it was unthinkable that we would ever run short.

Turning back was never an option when the first ships landed in the new world. But the faith and hope of the first settlers helped change the new world from a dream into a reality in 500 years. In less than 50 years the dream was dead.

Abruptly, without warning, the support system collapsed. Once the government support and assistance stopped flowing into the banks, warehouses and factories, the picture changed entirely. We went from dreaming of an endless future, to dreading an imminent fate. We have lived to see the end of not just one, but two planets.

There is no way to go back home and no way for those left on Earth to leave it. Alive with no future, we, the undead, sit helplessly in our biospheres, mournfully watching the vast colonies that once held the promise of a new future for Earth here on Mars decay steadily, along with the dream it offered. We sit in sorrow-filled silence, witnessing the inevitable collapse of a planet humans had brought back from the dead in just a few centuries.

       What we thought was a new home is Earth all over again.

Letting Go

Letting Go
By Michael Cannata  

He sat alone on her bed, holding her favorite stuffed toy tightly against his heart. He could still see her face so clearly; the face of a little girl nowhere to be found.

His little girl, his first born, had vanished over six years ago. On the short walk home from school she simply disappeared. A search that began at her front door and stretched clear across the nation, had failed to find the slightest trace of her. All he had left of her was here in this room.

He and his wife had left it exactly as it was the day she went missing. His wife used to come here with him. They waited for years hoping that, against all odds, she would come home someday. They would wish, pray, cry and cling to each other, desperately hoping she would return, as desperately as he clung to her memory now. Over the years, what had started out as a symbol of hope, silently morphed into a loving memorial. Gradually, it changed into a shrine of sorrow.

As the years passed and her hope faded, his wife refused to enter it anymore. Each time she did, she would experience too much hurt and lose too much hope. It wasn’t until he realized that the pain that had settled into his wife’s eyes when her daughter disappeared, had been replaced by a different pain, the pain she suffered as she watched her husband slowly slipping away as well, that he began to notice how much his refusal to give up was destroying his family. When he saw the pain his grief had caused, he knew the time had come.

He had always loved to sit and talk with his children. Feeling abandoned, his kids had stopped talking with him years ago. They had finally realized that he didn’t talk to them anymore. He only talked at them. And it was always about her. It was as if he was so obsessed with the fact that she was gone that he had forgotten that they were still here. And that they needed him still.

Finally, even if it meant leaving him behind as well, his wife, his family told him they were ready to move on with their lives together and salvage what happiness it held for them, His wife told him she planned to leave with them. She had given up hope that she would ever get her daughter back. It was destroying her knowing that she would lose her husband as well.

She kissed him gently and left him in her room. She told him she would wait at her parent's home with the kids. Wait until he decided whether he would return to the family he had, or forever mourn for the family that once was.

Despite the fact that he felt he could never give up hope, he knew in his heart finding his daughter was a hopeless cause. Slowly, reluctantly, he began to pack her things away. His son would need a room of his own when he brought them back home. He had to let go of all hope of saving her, if he was to have any hope of saving what was left of his family.

Heartbroken, he knew what he had to do. Reluctantly, he steeled himself against the task. And for now, for one more moment, alone with her things for the last time, he would clutch the tiny toy closer to his heart for just a while longer before finally letting go forever.

The Thing Under the Bed

The Thing Under The Bed
By Michael Cannata  

He woke with a start, cold sweat running down his face and chest. He lay still, listening for the sound again. He was alone in the house. There shouldn't be anyone moving around at this hour. But still…The sound seemed close, as though it came from inside his bedroom. A slithering sort of sound.

Memories of when he was a little boy came flooding back with terror. He'd lived in crippling fear of monsters under the bed. He was convinced there was a door that opened into a world of horrible creatures lurking in the dark. Creatures that were waiting for just the right time to snatch him away.

His father would come running, alarmed by his screams. He'd check all the places monsters could hide; especially, under his bed. Despite his patience, there were times his angry father would give him a spanking, leaving him even more frightened.

The feelings of terror came back that night. He was sure the noise came from under his bed. He was a grown man. He knew monsters weren't real, but, that didn’t make him feel any better. He tried to dismiss the fear. Yet, despite reasoning, he couldn't get back to sleep. What if it wasn't his imagination?

He got up and walked around the room. He checked the closets and the hall outside. The house was still, as it should be. He sat on the edge of his bed as a shudder of fear shook his body. There were no such things as monsters or creatures under the bed! How foolish was the thought? In spite of knowing, he had to be sure. He got down on his knees and lifted the covers, peering beneath the bed.

He looked at the long plastic container hidden in the shadows. He reached in and pulled it out. It was the only place he hadn't checked. He knew he wouldn't get any sleep until he did. Slowly, fearfully, he raised the lid. A breath of relief escaped his lungs.  He was right. There was no monster under the bed.

Whatever he thought he heard, it wasn't coming from under his bed. The dismembered body of his wife was lying still and motionless, just as he left it. Even so, he'd be sure to get rid of the body in the morning. He didn't need to suffer another night like this.

Finally, satisfied he was safe, the monster climbed back into bed.