Congratulations A.M.P. and Joe C! And thanks again to all the authors that entered and forum members that voted. Goodnight, Dragonslayer [536 words] Between George the elephant, Snuggles the monkey, Tiger the lion, and two dozen other stuffed animals, Tommy Baker lay motionless in bed. His Superman footy pajama kept him too warm under his Spider-Man sheets, making it hard to fall under Sandman's spell. The moon shone brightly into his room and with it came the shadows of quivering branches of the old apple tree outside. They zigged and zagged across the room and cut up the shadows of his toys splayed on the walls. Tommy knew not to be scared. The monsters aren't real and they're only in his dreams. He was still scared despite the comforting knowledge. It was different at night, and so were the monsters. Overhead was a troll, big nosed and covered in boils. “Goodnight, Billy,” Tommy whispered. “I'll give you my lunch money tomorrow too. I know you need it for food and new shoes.” By the top of the left wall was a witch on her broomstick. Her crooked nose jotted out from underneath her pointy hat. “Goodnight, Ms. Wickerbottom. I know you're mean to us because the other kids make fun of how you look.” Directly across from the window stood a pair of feathered harpies that whispered for him to come to the window. Tommy wiggled out from under his sheets, went to the window, and snapped the lock in haste. “Goodnight, Isabelle and Melanie, I know you'll pick on me tomorrow but that's alright. You both try to so hard to fit in and be pretty, I understand you need to vent your frustration somewhere. I'm just glad I'm there to help you.” Turning back to his bed, he saw the darkness that lay underneath. Anything could be hiding under there but Tommy bravely took a step forward. “Goodnight, Jason. I don't know what tricks and pranks you'll play on me tomorrow but I'm glad you found something you're good at,” Tommy said as he made his way back to bed. Shrugging back under the covers, he saw the shadow of a dragon draw across his jumbled sheets. “Goodnight, Daniel. Mom thinks you're saving to buy her a wedding ring but I know you're keeping it for a car but that's alright. Mom's car isn't very good and a new one would be good too.” No, Tommy knew monsters were not real. They were people, just like him who were hurting deep down. But he was a dragonslayer and he will be brave, he will be strong, and will defeat them. Finally, Tommy said, “Goodnight, me. Tomorrow is another adventure with new monsters to defeat. I'll need my strength so it's time to sleep.” With a squeeze to George the elephant, a pat for Snuggles the monkey, and a cautionary look at Tiger the lion, Tommy finally closed his eyes. 'Where's The Thing?' [1,114 words] The yellow wall. It’s by the yellow wall. ‘The yellow wall,’ he said. ‘I think it’s by the yellow wall.’ He (the other he, the one on the bed) nodded. ‘OK.’ He nodded too and walked out. Good work. He walked back in again, only this time two days later. He on the bed looked cross. He had his eyebrows pointing to his nose. ‘There wasn’t a yellow wall.’ Maybe they’ve changed the wall colour. Or changed the room. To confuse us. ‘Yes there is.’ ‘No, there is a brown wall, a red wall, a green wall and a blue wall.’ There is no green wall. ‘What green wall?’ ‘The one between the brown wall and the blue wall.’ This isn’t right. Something has gone wrong. ‘What sort of green is it?’ ‘Murky green.’ ‘Like a bruise?’ ‘Sort of.’ ‘That’s the yellow wall. It’s the bruise wall. It’s by the bruise wall.’ Didn’t think of that. Well done. Thankyou, he thought, and walked out. He sat on the third red chair, second nearest to the water cooler, facing the purple and black striped wall in meeting room B. Kromar T sat on the eighth red chair, nearest the corner between the purple and black striped wall and the orange wall. Kromar T sat on the back of the chair with his trainers on the cushion (and his feet in his trainers, obviously). ‘Where is the thing?’ asked Kromar T. Throw him off. ‘I’ve been thinking,’ he said. ‘I don’t think there is a thing at all.’ Kromar T looked unhappy. Don’t make him too unhappy. ‘There is a thing. You know where the thing is. Tell me.’ He shrugged. ‘I think that George created the thing.’ Kromar T stood up and walked over to the pink wall, opposite the orange wall, and folded his arms. You made him unhappy. ‘I want the thing.’ I shook my head and you say, ‘Goodnight Kromar.’ I think we’re being watched. Don’t say anything. Don’t open your eyes. It’s the nurse. It’s the nurses, they’re talking about you. Listen. I can’t tell their voices apart. Me neither, he thought. ‘The poor dear. Had to clean up his chin. His chin? And order him some new clothes. Likes his red shirts he does, won’t wear anything else. So the blood wouldn’t really matter. Well it’s more the smell to be honest. Where are they putting him? On his own for a few days. For his own good.’ Act natural. Pretend like nothing ever happened. Don’t let on. They know, he thought. They can see it. They don’t know why or what or who or when. Don’t let on. ‘What happen to you?’ ‘Where did you get that black eye?’ ‘Who you been fighting with ey?’ ‘What happen to Kromar? Who done that to him?’ ‘Shhh, the TV’s on. Look look, it’s Tom and Jerry.’ The television. You can hide the thing in the television. Everything is in the televsion, the whole world. They’ll never find it. There isn’t a thing, he thought, there never was a thing. They made it up. Shut up. Obviously there’s a thing. You have the thing. But I don’t have anything. It wasn’t by the yellow wall. Why would it be there? Well it was, so that’s fine. And now you have it. But what do I have? I don’t have anything. Don’t you see it. It’s there. It’s the thing. It’s in your hands, you’re holding it. Can’t you see the thing? He looked at his hands. But there’s just hands, he thought. Empty hands. Look again. He on the bed rocked backwards and forwards and sideways and other sideways. He stared at the end of the bed. He made a whining noise. ‘What’s wrong?’ he said. But he just kept making a whining noise. Tell him to snap out of it. ‘Hey! Hey! Look at me!’ But he kept whining and rocking. ‘Why are you whining? What’s wrong?’ He kept whining. ‘Look they sent Copter away for this. You don’t want to get sent away do you? They won’t give you anything there. They don’t even have beds. You don’t want no beds do you?’ Just whining. Try harder. Get him to talk again. He grabbed him by the scruff of the neck, but the whining just got even louder. He is trying to drown out the world. Wake him up. ‘Hey! Hey! Wake up! Hey! Come on! Wake up!’ But the whining got louder and louder. He said, ‘Goodnight.’ And he whined like he was screaming. ‘Where they take him?’ ‘I think they sent him away.’ ‘I heard he got cut up.’ ‘Who cut him up?’ ‘Ripped up.’ ‘What they send him away for? He ain’t crazy.’ ‘Maybe he went crazy overnight. Or maybe he had the thing. Maybe they wanted to get the thing and he wouldn’t give them it so they took him for questioning.’ What if he’s right? he thought. What if they’re after the thing? I should get rid of it. Give it someone else. No. Keep hold of it for now. It’s better to have it. Knock Knock. Don’t answer it. Knock Knock. Don’t answer it, they want the thing. They’re after it. Knock Knock. Stay silent. Don’t let them know you’re in here. ‘Will you let me in?’ Don’t answer. ‘I’m going to come in now. Are you ready?’ Just avoid eye contact. Don’t talk to him. Don’t give anything away. He came in. ‘How are you today?’ Just look at the wall. He’ll go away eventually. ‘Are you going to answer me?’ No. ‘Can you even hear me? Huh?’ After a few hours he looked to his left and saw there was a window, and there was someone else on the other side of it, face and hands pressed against the glass. Talk to him. Tell him where the thing is. He can look after it while you’re in here. ‘Can you hear me?’ The someone smiled, like a chimp. ‘Listen to me, do you know the thing? Do you know what that is?’ The someone tilted his head and looked at him. ‘The thing is in the television. When you get out and go back there, get it out and put it someone safer. Don’t let anyone else find it.’ The someone slapped his hand against the glass a few times, and then stuck his tongue out. He understands. Good, he understands. The thing is safe. He curled up to keep warm, and waited for food time. Sometimes when the nurses turned the light off and said, ‘Goodnight,’ some of them start screaming or cursing or whining, and then I just smile to myself.