A few days passed, Nathan woke and stretched. Their relationship had not grown much, but slowly Nathan liked the idea of Melvin. He saw the creature lying on the other end of the bed, sleeping away. He was most active at night, which made sense given the creature’s purpose in life. He eyed the sleeping being, slouched over the edge of the bed on his stomach. Down his spine were a series of black, small spikes, much like a porcupine, which seemed to be folded downward. His breathing deep, much like a large dog.
Sitting at the table, sipping coffee Nathan skimmed through some news articles on his iPad, researching monsters under beds and if anything would connect. When he felt a pair of hands leap over his shoulder, he flinched. “Melvin!” he said in a slightly loud tone. He chuckled darkly and sat by him, his voice chipper. “Sorry. I can’t help it.” Nathan couldn’t help but softly smile, he thought Melvin did have a somewhat charming personality after having sometime to process things. “Look. Your purpose IS to scare. I get it. It really does bother me though. I feel like we’re on speaking terms and you don’t need to do that.” Melvin shrugged. “Fine. I’m itching to scare though. So, tempting. So, fun.” Melvin is super odd, that’s for sure, but something in his mannerisms told Nathan he was far from evil. His scaring was more playful at this stage than life threatening. Perhaps it had been that all along.
His office hours, work seemed to go by a bit slower as he constantly checked his watch, on the hand he didn’t feel quite as lonely. A bit more confident perhaps. Typing in his usual spot, Melvin was in the back of his brain the entire time. What was odd was Paul didn’t show up to perform his normal greeting. A moment passed. Nathan decided to sneak into the break room.
Paul had a large box, putting items away. He certainly wasn’t himself. His slow mannerisms spoke volumes. Rolling his sleeves up, Nathan knocked gently and opened the door. Paul smiled at Nathan-a fake smile. “Paul? Are you okay?” With a sigh, he closed the cardboard box. “Mr. Hardy doesn’t want me here anymore.” Nathan rolled his sleeves up. “That’s ridiculous. You’re so hardworking.” Again, Paul sighed. “He went on this whole tangent on how ‘uncomfortable’ I make him. How quote ‘girly I look’, how he couldn’t stand being near me.” Nathan’s heart goes to the pit of his stomach. Paul carried the box and walked toward his best friend. “Sadly, this is only a sign of hateful times.” His tone so low and defeated. Exiting the room, Nathan stood, his throat closed. He knew his boss was picky and annoying, but prejudice to the point of firing a worker? This threw him off.
Nathan sat in the break room, in a corner alone. No longer having Paul’s fun commentary to brighten his day. Sadness came in waves this day. The feeling loneliness at work hit him. More so than ever. After the break, he goes to his sitting area a bit earlier than usual. Opening his email browser, he typed his boss’ name. Every worker had their own file which could be accessed by any employee. Mr. Hardy preferred snail mail as opposed to email. With this information, Nathan found Mr. Hardy’s address and hits print.
Melvin knew something was wrong right when Nathan entered the apartment. “Are you upset?” Nathan took a seat on the couch next to Melvin. The scales on his body shined a tiny bit as the light from the lamp nearby struck him just right. “I yelled at you. The first night we met. I’d like to make it up to you.” Melvin cocked his head. “Remember my friend I told you about? Paul? He was fired from work.” Cocking his head again, the creature had no idea what that word meant. Nathan quickly explained. “He was removed from his job. Like if your master told you, you couldn’t scare people anymore. Paul’s boss kicked him out.” “Well, surely to get that sort of treatment, he did something wrong?” Nathan shook his head. “I’m afraid not. His boss simply didn’t like his clothing or his ideas.” With a sad sigh, Melvin looked to Nathan. He had never heard of such a thing. For a monster to get removed from scaring others, you’d have to do something against the master personally or break one of the few ‘rules of scaring.’ Judging someone by appearance was never something Melvin was faced with.
Nathan looked at his feet. “Look, I have someone you can scare.” The spikes on his back slowly went up. “Is that so?” he said with a slight sneer. “I don’t have the guts to yell at my boss or put him in his place for the horrible thing he did.” With a clawed hand on his shoulder, he stopped talking. “Nathan. This is what I do. This isn’t my first time.” Nathan sighed and decided to get out of his work clothes, putting on a hoodie and jeans.
His wife was out on vacation. His kids away at a friend’s house for a sleepover. Hardy had the entire home to himself, wearing a bathrobe and pajama pants he finished his glass of wine as he turned off the living room lights and turned off the TV. The tidiness of his home showed how truly obsessive he was about neatness. Not a single thing out of place, the windows shined, everything shined as a matter of fact.
Lying in bed, he closed his book and took a deep breath as he flicked off his bedside light, lying in complete darkness. His heating pipes began to make a rattling sound, which always woke him as soon as he started to drift off. This was not natural. Melvin was rattling it. Melvin softly chuckled an evil sound that made Mr. Hardy sat up. He began to sweat a bit as he sits up. “Who’s there?” he asked as a lump formed in his throat.
Before he could get up and get a weapon, Melvin leaped onto his bed with a growl. Hardy lets out a terrified shriek as the creature pins him down with two hands by the shoulders. Melvin was in his glory. Feeling sweat of a terrified victim was what he relished in.
The spikes on his back stood up, Hardy’s eyes wide open as he gazed upon something he had never seen, Melvin was able to change his voice to the most sinister tone one could wish to hear. “WHO ARE YOU?” Hardy yelled as he struggled to get out. “The monster under your bed for the night.” Hardy thrashed about, but the creature kept him in a tight grasp. “You’re not real!” Melvin held Hardy’s jaw in a tight grip. “Fear would do you some good, Mr. Hardy. Give Paul back his job and stop treating Nathan like he isn’t trying his best. Understood?” Hardy nodded as his hand slowly reached to the bedside table. Melvin gazed into his eyes when suddenly he felt a sharp pain go through his shoulder. Melvin let out a monstrous yell as he tumbled off the bed and onto the floor. Hardy took the butcher knife he always kept there and ran out of the bedroom.
Halfway down the stairs, he tripped on the sleek wooden texture of the staircase and fell on his side, rolling on his back. The knife flew in one direction. Groaning in pain, he slowly tried to get up, when suddenly Melvin had made his way to him. His arm bled, but that didn’t seem to stop him as he placed one of his clawed feet on Hardy’s chest. “Kill Me! Come on! Creature from hell!” Melvin sighed deeply. “I repeat. Give Paul back his job and stop treating Nathan like trash.”
Shrouded in darkness, Melvin exited Hardy’s home, standing near the doorway and looking out onto the sidewalk and the surrounding suburban area. Nathan who was just about to check on him, ran to him like an owner finding his lost dog. “Melvin! You’re bleeding!” He held the creature’s hand and walked by his side. “I’m so sorry! I should’ve gone with you. I was too scared, and I knew I wouldn’t be much help anyway. I should have gone to keep watch.” Melvin couldn’t help but gently smile, this time it looked genuine and not terrifying. “I had fun actually.”
Sitting at the kitchen table, Nathan wrapped Melvin’s arm in a bandage, the sounds of crickets could be heard outside. The air conditioning made a low humming sound. Melvin sat eating a snack, looking at Nathan as he finished patching him up.
He still found humans a bit fascinating, in a way he thought he never would. For so long, he was taught that humans were nothing more than scared victims, but Nathan proved the opposite. That there’s more to the human condition than just one or two emotions. Perhaps Nathan had become a bit more open-minded to the unknown world, before fearing what he didn’t understand, maybe now he realized that just because something is not known, doesn’t make it bad. For so long his life was a series of boring events, even now, he still couldn’t believe that a creature sat a few feet from him. In a way, he felt lucky. Lucky to have something that not everyone had. Something to make him feel special. “How did Mr. Hardy take your words?” he asked as he did the dishes, Melvin shrugged. “I hope well enough. I did my best.” Nathan glanced over his shoulder to Melvin. “Well, you are scary. But kind of adorable.” Pausing, Melvin felt a sense of happiness when he said that. Maybe he was tired of being called scared and wanted to show that there was another side to him.
Paul happily entered the office the next morning, Nathan hugged him tightly as he did so. “I don’t know what got into Mr. Hardy. He called me and apologized. Not like him at all! Maybe his superior came down on him?” Shrugging, Nathan made his morning coffee with a smile. “I certainly didn’t yell at him.” Paul grabbed a few files he needed to get going on returning to the office, last minute assignments. Walking passed a nearby window, Mr. Hardy gave a gentle wave to Nathan, he waved back in the same manner. Giggling, Paul approached Nathan. “Okay. Who killed Mr. Hardy and cloned him?” “Maybe someone scared him into changing his attitude?” “Who could do that? Mr. Hardy’s a scary guy when he’s mad. I can’t imagine someone putting fear into him.”
Nathan walked by Paul’s side the cubical area. Speaking in a low tone. “I’d feel dishonest if I didn’t open up a bit. I do know. Exactly what happened. Meet me at my house next week.” Paul eyed him. “What have you got up your sleeve?” Nathan stops him, speaking lower. “Look, you’re my best friend. I’m not going to keep secrets from you. I can’t get into it now. Trust me. You won’t want to miss it.”
The two sat on the couch, the TV on low. An odd emotion stirred through Melvin. One of comfort. As a creature built on fear, this was new to him. Sure, he felt happy scaring people, but comfortable? His whole life was spent either in Nathan’s closet or under a bed. Comfort wasn’t something he was used to. Being with someone. Talking to someone when they weren’t wide-eyed in terror was a feeling of warmth he didn’t think he had in him. For so long he was alone, no one to talk to. No one to confide in. Now he had found his goal. He once thought to bring terror to others was his goal, but maybe deep down it was to find a friend in Nathan. To find love instead of fear. The creature rests his head on Nathan’s leg, taking a deep breath. The human smiled softly and placed a blanket over him. Normally he slept during the day, but this night had proved to be an energetic and emotional affair. The human felt a sense of warmth as his friend slept deeply, his breathing so calm and so odd at the same time. Nathan knew Melvin needed a sense of comfort and acceptance, instead of getting up like he wanted to and go to bed, he let him sleep there. Melvin needed him as much as Nathan needed Melvin. Two unlikely species, living in harmony.