Title: Scary Monsters (Or, Why we keep the door closed)
By: C Cawthorne
Author's Note: This was inspired by P.L. Wynter's "Stupid Monster Challenge" from back in March. This is pretty much Crossover territory, very AU — and I really hope it works! I don't own Dean Winchester, Supernatural, or the critters that appear throughout. I wrote this for fun, not profit, as a way to keep me sane until season two starts.
"But I don't want to go to sleep the monster will come and eat me!"
Melanie sighed and pulled the pink fluffy blanket over her wriggling 5-year-old's shoulders. "It was just some bad dreams, Katy. There's nothing in there— didn't you just see me? I checked. There aren't any monsters in your closet."
"Yes it is!" Katy shook her head and grabbed at her mom's hands. "It'll eat me."
"No, it won't," Melanie soothed, smoothing down Katy's copper curls. "You're too sweet. Monsters only like sour, smelly boys."
The girl blinked and smiled tentatively. "Really? Like Josh?"
"Just like Josh," she smiled. "So you don't have anything to worry about. But I'll stay with you just to make sure, okay sweetie?"
"Sing me a lullaby?" the little girl asked.
"I'd love to."
It didn't take long for those big brown eyes to close. Melanie sang the lilting melody a few times in a soft voice until she was sure her daughter was truly asleep, and even then continued to sing a little longer.
Two nights. Two nights in a row she'd run into Katy's room, appalled by her girl's terrified screams. Melanie never wanted to hear anything so horrible ever again. A few nights in a row were already too bad; if there was another incident tonight she'd have to take Katy to the doctor, even though they couldn't afford it.
Finally she sighed, and then rose; she had bills to pay, and there were dishes to wash as well. So she tiptoed out of the room, turning the light off and pulling the door half-closed behind her. Her bedroom was right next door; at least she wouldn't take too long to get there this time if Katy had another nightmare. Sighing again, she switched on her bedroom light and sat on her bed, picking up the first of many bills.
The gentlest of metallic clicks whispered in Katy's darkened room. She shifted, not quite waking. Wood slid against carpet with a hiss. The little girl woke and poked her head up from under the protection of her sheets.
The closet door gaped open, its empty recesses an inky black against the faint illumination of a My Little Pony nightlight. Katy curled into a ball and gripped the sheets, whimpering. Another soft noise disturbed the night— a rustling, dry shiver— and the little girl's eyes snapped open.
The thing hissed, light glimmering off razor edges of fangs and upraised talons.
The phone rang almost the second Dean stepped out of the shower. Biting back a curse, he wrapped a towel around a waist so he wouldn't drip all over the place and then half-ran to the kitchen to answer. He'd had a bad feeling about the hunt dad had gone off on alone— he'd even told him to wait a day so he could go with him — and if John was in trouble... "Hello?"
"Is this Dean?"
He smiled automatically at the sound of a female voice, but he already knew this wasn't one of the girls from town. Not with a southern accent that deep. Besides, this girl was scared.
"Yes, it is. Who's this?" Knowing this was likely a job, Dean jammed the receiver between his chin and shoulder so he could tuck the towel on securely. Then he grabbed a pad and pen off the kitchen table.
"Oh thank God." The response was so rushed it almost came out as one long word. "I don't know if you remember me. Melanie Jones, from Louisiana? Turkey Creek? You and your father helped us out a few years ago?"
Dean's brow furrowed a moment as he thought. "Oh, right, the swamp lights. That giving you trouble again?"
"No." She sounded a little relieved, but he wasn't sure if it was because he remembered her or because she wasn't losing neighbors to the swamp anymore. "No, this is — there's something in my daughter's closet!"
Anyone else might have laughed, but Dean just frowned. Already his mind was making a list of the different types of ghoulies that were partial to closets. "Is she okay?"
Melanie sighed, a sound of relief and stress. "She's terrified, but she's not hurt."
"And you're certain it's not just a nightmare?"
"Yes, I'm certain. I found... found something. It's why I called your father, but he said he can't come and please if you'd-"
"I'll be there," he said, cutting her off before she disintegrated on the spot. "You still in the same house? I can be there by..."
He checked the clock. "Tomorrow morning."
"But what if it comes back?" she demanded, panic clear as crystal in her tone. "What if it-"
"Melanie, calm down." His commanding tone normally had good results, and this was one of those times. "Pack an overnight bag and stay in a hotel or with a friend. You'll both be alright."
"O-okay. Thank you, Dean. Just please get here, as soon as you can."
"I will," he promised. "Give me a call when you know where you'll be staying. I'll see you tomorrow."
Dean was scowling as he went back to his room to pull some clothes on. He remembered little Katy and her mom — he'd met them two years ago, when they'd been mourning the loss of a husband/father who'd fallen victim to a drunk driver and dealing with a deadly mystery they couldn't understand. The little girl had seemed so lost — so quiet and wide eyed. Truth be told, she'd reminded him of Sammy at that age.
"Casper is so dead," he declared as he threw his duffle bag into the Impala's passenger seat. It didn't matter that he was going in blind and without backup. Nothing was going to hurt that little girl.
He'd had to drive all night, but it had been an easy drive — mostly just him and the 18-wheelers sharing the lonely highways. He was restlessly tired by the time he pulled into the Budget Inn parking lot, having staved off the need to sleep with hours' worth of caffeine and sugar that left him jittery. Dean knew he'd need to catch a nap before confronting whatever was lurking in Katy's closet — he wasn't so stupid as to go in alone the way he felt now.
Melanie opened the door almost as soon as he knocked. Two years had hardly changed her. She still wore her red hair pulled off her face in one of those cheap plastic clips he'd seen at every drug store in the country. Freckles still decorated her pale skin. And unfortunately she looked just as stressed and upset as last time.
"Dean, oh, goodness, come in. You must be so tired." She stood back and beckoned him inside.
"You and Katy okay?" he asked as he accepted her invitation, walking into a room that looked like any one of hundreds of cheap hotel rooms across the country.
"Yes we are. Oh, I shouldn't have made you rush like that, I–"
"Who's that?" a voice piped up, interrupting Melanie's headlong rush of words.
He blinked and peered into the dim room, finally spotting a mop of curls barely poking up over the edge of the bed. "That you, Katy? I'm Dean. Haven't seen you in ages; I bet you're tall as me now."
The red mop ducked a little, but she did giggle. "No I'm not."
"Well come out and let me see," he said, putting his bag down on top of the TV where it'd be out of reach. The tell-tale clink of metal in the duffle didn't even register in Dean's mind, and Melanie seemed to expect it.
After a moment of making up her mind, Katy came out from behind the bed and shyly approached Dean. He squatted down so he could see her eye-to-eye. "Well, you've still got a bit of growin' to do, but you're sure a pretty little thing."
"Are you going to kill the monster?" she asked him solemnly. "Like last time?"
He nodded. "Yep, just like last time. Can you tell me what happened, Katy?"
The little girl glanced up at her mom, eyes wide. Melanie nodded, so she looked back at Dean. "It's in my closet. It has big teeth and claws bigger than a bear's and it sounds like a snake."
Dean tried not to frown as he struggled to think of anything that fit her description. He wasn't coming up with much. "How does it sound like a snake? Does it rattle?"
"No, it hisses. Hsssssssss."
Still nothing. "Okaaay. And... what does it do?"
"It wants to eat me," she said certainly. "It's going to soon."
"I won't let it," he reassured, then looked up at Melanie. So far this was sounding like nothing more than a nightmare, but it had to be more than that. "You said you found something?"
The woman nodded tightly and walked over to the cheap chest of drawers that served as the only real piece of furniture in the room besides the bed. She drew something out of it, then turned back and handed it to him wordlessly.
It was a feather. A foot-long, fluffy, yellow feather with green stripes. Dean's eyes widened as he took it and turned it over, then brought it up to his nose to sniff. He even tasted it, but it just tasted like feather. "Where'd you get this?"
"Next to her bed," Melanie whispered, kneeling nearby so she could wrap her arms around her daughter's shoulders. "Last night, after it disappeared."
Dean glared at the mysterious feather again, but if he couldn't put a name to this creature before he was doubly mystified now. "And it just... comes out of the closet, scares her, and then disappears?"
He exhaled and sat down on the edge of the bed, scratching his head absently. "I'm not sure what it is, but I'll figure it out. I need to go to your house. Are you okay with staying here right now?"
Melanie nodded, still firmly holding her daughter with one hand and extending her house keys with the other. "You want to rest first?"
"It just appears at night, right?" When they nodded simultaneously, he did echoed the gesture. "I need to see what I can find in the daylight. You stay here until I call, got that?"
"I don't want it to eat you," Katy said softly, her brown eyes big and puppy-like. Dean felt a wave of nostalgia — Sammy used to look at him just like that — and forced himself to smile. "Don't worry, Katy. I'm more likely to eat it."
He grinned at her, then stuck out his tongue and made a face until she giggled.
There was nothing. Nothing at all. No EVP, no sulfur residue, no flickering lights or scratching or backed up sinks. Katy's closet was just a kid's closet: a jumble of toys and dolls and clothes.
Dean swore as he walked out of the closet. He had no ideas, and his dad wasn't answering his phone. He felt helpless as he stood in the middle of the room, and without thinking he pulled out his cell to call Sam.
His fingers froze before he hit send. What in hell are you thinking?He snapped the phone shut and shoved it back in his pocket. It'd been over two years since he'd talked to his little brother; what made today any different? Sam didn't want to talk to him now any more than he had the other times he'd called. He certainly wasn't going to want to talk about a hunt— he'd just get all huffy, accuse Dean of trying to pull him back into a life he'd escaped, and then hang up.
"Katy flashes the big brown puppy eyes and all you can do is think about Sam?" he muttered, annoyed with himself. "Get it together."
Rubbing his forehead, he decided that it was obvious he needed to get rest. He turned to go, then noticed something out of the very corner of his eye. Dropping to his hands and knees, he crawled across the carpet until his eyes were inches away from what he'd spotted.
It was a footprint — a big one, strangely shaped, with three big toes. Dean placed his hand in the middle of it; it was a few inches bigger all around, even with his fingers spread out. Whatever this thing was, it was big. More importantly, it belonged to a physical creature.
Dean knew how to deal with physical creatures.
"Gotcha," he murmured, a grin slowly spreading across his tired face.
He'd called Melanie and told her to stay at the hotel, then helped himself to a nap in her bed and lunch out of her fridge. As the sun slipped down toward the trees he began setting himself up in Katy's room.
A strategically placed pillow and a doll were playing the role of Katy tonight, with sheets pulled up so only a little red hair peeked out. Dean loaded a shotgun with regular rounds; then he tucked a handgun loaded with iron and another with silver in his waistband. He also had a baseball bat leaning against the wall next to him, just for good measure — it was better to be prepared since he didn't really know what he was facing. All he could say was that it wasn't a werewolf, unless it was a werewolf that had suddenly sprouted yellow and green feathers. The nightlight was on as he switched off the main light and then took his sentry point next to the closet door.
Half an hour passed. It was dark now, and so quiet Dean could hear himself breathing against a background of crickets. Still, he held himself ready, using tricks John had taught him to keep his thoughts from straying, resolutely thinking of anything — especially not how he wished his dad or (even better) Sammy was here to watch his back.
There was a click — the subtle metal signature of a doorknob turning — and then the door slowly opened. Dean could see one large and very clawed hand pushing it. If you can call something with claws like that a hand! Gripping the baseball bat in both fists, he swung hard at what he guessed would be stomach-level.
The thing let out a yelp of surprise and stumbled back into the closet, even as Dean grabbed his shotgun and chased after it. "Like scaring little girls, bitch?" he yelled, bringing up the shotgun and stepping through the closet door.
Where he stopped, shotgun pointed straight ahead and bat over his shoulder, his green eyes widening.
It was difficult to comprehend the scene. A big pile of yellow and green feathers cowered before him on the floor, but that really was the most normal thing that met his eyes. The warehouse-like room in front of him held what appeared to be a giant purple lizard, an orange jello creature with three eyes on stalks, and— perhaps most disturbingly— a multi-eyed, fat, crab-like creature wearing a black jacket, red vest, and black tie.
The thing at his feet was gibbering helplessly, so he pointed the shotgun at the tuxedoed crab-man. "What the hell are you?"
Other creatures, too strange for his brain to really accept, were running around the background in a state of panic. The lizard fainted even as the crab thing clicked a few feet back. "Now, son, no need to panic..." it began.
"Oh, believe me, I'm not panicked. You might wanna consider the option, though." He kicked the ball of yellow feathers, which howled and curled into itself tighter. "What do you want from Katy? Tell me or so help me God I'll-"
"Who's Katy?" The crab-man sounded like it was playing at innocence. Dean cocking the shotgun soon cured it of that and it shook its head manically. "She wouldn't have come to any harm, young man, I promise you. Just a little scare, that's all. Just a scare. We wouldn't hurt any child."
The reassuring tone grated on his nerves. "Funny, doesn't look that way. I should just take you all out, right now."
The crab-man skittered back, pincers clicking against the stone floor, waving its arms in a warding motion. "It's a harmless arrangement! Children's screams provide our city with clean, renewable energy! If we hurt them we'd soon have another energy crisis on our hands! Then we'd have to come to your world! It's better this way!"
Dean shook his head as he tried to absorb what he was hearing. All the panicking around him wasn't helping him think, so he fired the shotgun into the air, resisting the urge to make a boom-stick joke. All that resulted in was more panic, though a few more did faint and two ran into each other, knocking themselves out.
"Shut up! Is this hell?" he demanded. "Is that where I am? 'Cause this really ain't what I pictured."
"Heavens no, young man," the crab-man said, having the gall to actually sound affronted. "This is Monsters Inc., the factory I'm building with my son."
"Factory?" This was getting more and more difficult to absorb; in fact, Dean figured he was past the point of understanding any of it. He glanced around, this time spotting the closet door open behind him showing Katy's dark and empty room. It was just the door, though, held in place by some metal gate and not the house walls. Somehow that was even more difficult to accept than the monsters.
"You create some kind of portal to Katy's room. You sneak in at night and scare her so you can... watch TV?" he asked, wondering if perhaps he was hallucinating. That would explain everything.
"Basically... yes." The creature cringed, as if anticipating a blow.
Dean swore roundly, knowing that he was completely out of his depth. If this was a factory – an entire realm of monsters— there was no way he'd take them all out before they figured out he was just one guy with limited bullets. He'd at least need an AK-47 to make a dent in their numbers.
"Okay, this is what we're gonna do," he said, in a full-on imitation of his father's Marine voice. "You are never going to scare Katy again, you hear me? She's going to live the rest of her life thinking this feathery bitch here was just a dream."
He kicked the thing again as it tried to crawl away, and was satisfied when it froze once more. "And if I hear of one child getting hurt by the monster in the closet I will get all of my friends and we'll come in here and see how you like a good scare. Got it?"
"Got it, of course," the crab-man said, nodding eagerly. "We thought this source of energy was harmless, but obviously we were wrong. We'll find something else. I promise."
Dean pointed the gun back at the creature and at least got the satisfaction of seeing all those eyes blink worriedly. "Don't ever doubt that I'll hold you to it."
He paused for one last look around him, then stepped back through the door. There was squishy carpet under his boots once more, and he could hear the Louisiana crickets outside.
The door slammed shut all on its own. Cursing, Dean dropped the bat and raised the shotgun, aiming it steadily with both hands. But nothing happened. The cacophony of the monsters was gone; not one sound issued from the closet. After a good ten minutes had passed he finally moved. Shotgun gripped tightly in one hand, he threw open the door.
It was just a closet. The same dolls and clothes that he'd seen earlier were right back where they were supposed to be. Not even an abused feather remained as evidence to what he'd just experienced.
"I am so not telling dad about this," he muttered, closing the door and retreating back to Katy's bed. "I'm in Louisiana. I'll just say it was a voodoo thing."
He exhaled. "Voodoo. Yeh."
Work crews were repairing damage to the testing laboratory that had been decimated so thoroughly by one human. Truthfully, the human hadn't actually done much damage (other than to Roger, who was in therapy). Most of the damage had been caused by panicking technicians.
Still, Mr. Waternoose Senior was not one to take chances. Once burned, and all that.
"It can't happen again, son. Has the door been shredded?"
The son, a slightly smaller version of Waternoose Senior with the exception of an extra eye, nodded. "Shredded and burned."
"Good. We'll have to have new rules in place now that we're out of the testing phase. No child is to be visited more than once a month to avoid just this kind of fiasco. And our Scarers must be vigilant— they can't ever go into a room when there's an adult present. Leaving a door open will now be the worst mistake that any employee can make."
"They'll get sloppy eventually," Waternoose Junior grouched. "We'll need some way to keep them alert."
Waternoose Senior just smiled coolly. "If this incident has taught me anything, it's that humans are... toxic. Contaminated. In fact, if one ever steps into our world, it may bring a plague that would wipe out all of Monsterkind. We could even create an elite corps of ... decontaminators. To neutralize any threat that comes through the doors."
Junior smiled sycophantically and together they clicked out through double doors onto what would soon be the factory floor.
Author's Note 2: I know. It's kind of weird. If it doesn't make any sense, then either I haven't written well or you haven't seen Monsters Inc. I do hope it works; constructive feedback is sought and very much appreciated. And yes, one day I'll write something with Sam actually in it. I'm kind of working my way up to that.