The Monsters In Your Neighborhood Chapter 1
Which sounded like a ridiculous statement if it was said out loud. And that was why she wouldn’t. Ever.
But ridiculous or not, it was true. Because Bob the Blob (yes, the giant hunk of a man that that term conjures up images of ) had died six months ago, now Natalie Gray was in charge of the support group for monsters that met twice a week in the basement of the Holy Heart Church on East 125th Street in New York City.
She shook her head as she looked out over the small group of men and women before her. Kind of men and women. Things was more like it, though they masqueraded as human. They certainly were as annoying as any human. Case in point . . .
One of the women in the circle got to her feet and smiled nervously. “Hello, my name is Linda, and I’m a Swamp Dweller. It’s been fifty-seven years since my identity was last uncovered.” Her smile fell. “Unless you count that thing six months ago with that awful Van Helsing woman. Which I don’t.”
She collapsed back into her chair and folded her arms with a shiver like she’d been the only one to go through “that thing,” like she was the only one with problems in their group.
Natalie sighed. Since their group was attacked and several of their members were killed six months ago, she had grown closer to all the monsters . . . a lot closer with some of them. Now when she looked at them, she saw their strengths, their weaknesses, the moments that bound them all together. Except for Linda. Fish Sticks, as Natalie’s boyfriend, Alec, occasionally called the Swamp Dweller, was so whiny. It was hard to see her as anything but an irritant.
Still, even with nights like tonight, Natalie could admit that in the past month or so, Linda had actually gotten a bit better. The makeup that covered her green scales was of higher quality. Her clothes were cuter. She even had increased confidence. So maybe she’d figure things out eventually and become bearable. Maybe.
“Hello, Linda,” the group droned. Natalie nodded to the next person in their circle. “Pat, why don’t you go next?”
The newest member of their group rose to his feet. He pushed at the tentacles that blocked his mouth and spoke in a deep, low tone that would put Darth Vader to shame.
“Good evening,” he intoned with great gravitas that seemed to bring something important to the room. “My name is Patrick. I am what Lovecraft called a Cthulhu, although my people have never adopted that silly, hard-to-pronounce name.”
“What do you call yourselves?” Natalie asked. She had learned from the group notes Blob had left behind that it was best to respect what a monster liked to be called. She got that. Nothing annoyed her more than being called a Frankenstein. That was the damned doctor, not the monster.
“Actually, our word for our species is not something that can be pronounced by human vocal cords. It is really not worth trying to say it, as it may burst some eardrums.” Patrick nodded toward her, and if the crinkles around his dark eyes were any indication, he was smiling.
“Well, we wouldn’t want that,” Natalie said with a light laugh. “I’m not sure we could explain the bleeding and crying to the church.”
Patrick nodded. “Indeed. That would be quite awkward. Thank you for asking, though. As to the second part of the introductions, up until a few weeks ago, I did not leave the sewers, so I have not been discovered for decades. Drake has been encouraging me to join your group for a very long time, and so I decided to take the chance.”
“We’re glad you did,” Natalie assured him. “I realize the trip aboveground is difficult for you.”
She said she realized it, but understanding it was something different. Unlike the others, Patrick had to fully cover himself in heavy robes to sneak into the basement of the church. Here with his fellow monsters, he had disrobed, and his dark gray wings, swirled with touches of vibrant reds and regal purples, folded against his back like a fallen angel’s, but they couldn’t really be hidden under normal clothing. And he had no way to mask the massive, thick tentacles that covered the lower half of his face. He could not walk in the world of humans and still avoid being seen. So he had to cower, only revealing himself at night for the occasional peek at the outside world.
It was sad to Natalie, really. Too bad she didn’t know anyone to set him up with. Matchmaking had kind of been on her mind lately.
“Aren’t you worshipped like a god?” came another voice from the circle.
Natalie shot a glare at Alec. The Wolf Man of their group (and her boyfriend of six months, and the reason for her new matchmaking tendencies) tilted his head and stared at Patrick with interest.
Patrick nodded. “Yes. That part of the mythology created by my stories is true, indeed.”
“And your name is Patrick,” Alec mused with a cocky grin. “Is it All Hail Patrick, then?”
Natalie was ready to smack him with a rolled-up newspaper and call him a very bad dog, but Patrick’s deep, rumbling laughter kept her from doing so. He leaned back in his chair and shook his head, sending his tentacles swaying gently around his face.
“I do not think that would be very powerful, would it? But my human name is easier to pronounce. I do not think you even have the syllables in English to attempt the original. Perhaps, when I know you better, I shall whisper it to you for when you wish to worship.”
Alec grinned first at Patrick, then at her. “I like this one, Nat. He’s a keeper.”
“And you are an idiot.” Natalie sighed. “So introduce yourself and get it over with.”