Free Fiction Friday – The Monster Bed


THE MONSTER BED

by Judy Lunsford

Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Billy, and he was terrified of the monster that lived under his bed.

It didn’t live under his bed at home, where he always felt safe and warm. Only here, in the unfamiliar white room of the hospital, filled with machines and things that beeped all the time.

Late at night, in the rare moments where all was quiet and calm, he could hear the rumbling, growling snores of the monster that he just knew lived under his bed.

Every night Billy would say goodbye to his mother after her visit was over and pull his favorite orange blanket tight up to his chin. He would wait until he heard the rumbling, growling snores of the monster. Sometimes, his mother would spend the night, curled up on the couch under the window. And other nights, a friendly nurse would sit with him for a few minutes and maybe even sing him softly to sleep. On those nights, the monster didn’t dare show himself.

But most nights, after his mother’s teary goodbyes, he would wait, quietly, alone in his room. The only sounds that kept the monster at bay were the occasional beeping of a monitor or an empty IV indicator and the quiet lull of noise from the nurses whose desk was just outside of his partially opened door. And Billy just knew that those sounds wouldn’t keep the monster away for long.

Billy would sneak the crackers from his lunch tray and hide them under his flat white pillows. Just in case he needed them to bribe the monster into eating something else besides him, if the monster finally decided to come out.

Each morning, the nurses would find the crackers, now crumbled up into little bits in their crinkly plastic bag. Some nurses would take them from him. But others would leave them by his bedside, because Billy felt much better when they were close by.

But one night, an exceptionally mean nurse came into his room. She took Billy’s crackers from him, and when she left the room, she shut the door behind her.

Billy laid in his bed, covered by his thin white sheet and the faded orange blanket he had since he was a baby. His mother had brought it to him so he would feel more at home. He pulled the blanket all the way up to his nose and smelled the familiar smell of home. It usually made him feel better, the smell of his own blanket, but the room was eerily quiet with the door shut. He could no longer hear the nurses’ voices out at their desk, or the beeping from all the machines on his floor.

The blinds over the window were open, but the curtain was drawn. The moon shone in through a crack in the curtains and beamed down a laddered white streak of light that stretched across the foot of his bed.

He watched the broken streak of light and thought that maybe that little bit of light might keep the monster at bay. But the quiet darkness closed in around him, and he could feel that the time had come.

Suddenly, the streak of light moved, shaking just slightly. It took Billy a moment to realize that it wasn’t the streak of light that was moving, it was the bed.

Billy pulled the soft orange blanket up around his ears and stayed as quiet as he could. He wished his mom, or the nurse, even the mean one, would come through the door and drive the monster away.

But no one came through the door and the bed shook even harder. Billy grabbed the sides of the bed to keep from falling out of the bed and onto the floor. He knew that if he hit the floor, the monster would get him.

The top half of the bed started to rise, slowly forcing Billy to sit up as it pushed him forward.

“I thought she’d never leave,” a growling voice said.

Billy froze in place, eyes wide, too afraid to make a sound. Too afraid to move. Too afraid to do anything but clench his blanket even tighter in his fists, until his knuckles were white, and the panic started to burn in his chest.

“You’re Billy, right?” the growling voice said.

“Uh, uh, yes,” Billy stammered.

“I’m Linus,” the voice said.

“Wh-where are you?” Billy asked, still clenching his blanket. Still unable to move.

“Why, I’m right underneath you,” Linus said.

Billy took a deep breath and summoned up his courage. He leaned to one side and peeked over the edge of the bed. There was nothing under the bed that he could see, except the housing of the motor for the bed hydraulics.

“Where are you?” Billy asked again.

The bed started moving again, so that it was almost sitting upright itself. Billy’s pillows and an extra bag of crushed crackers that Billy had hidden from the mean nurse tumbled down behind him.

“You’re sitting on me,” Linus said.

“I’m sitting on you?” Billy was genuinely confused.

“Yes,” the voice said.

“You-you mean you’re the bed?”

“Yes,” Linus said. “And now that the nurse is gone, we can finally play.”

“You want to play?” Billy was still trying to make sense of the fact that he was talking to a bed.

“If you do,” Linus said.

“So, you’re not going to eat me?”

Linus laughed and it jiggled the bed. “No! Of course not. I don’t eat children.”

“Oh,” Billy said. He reached behind himself and got the bag of crumbled crackers. “Are you hungry? I saved you some crackers.”

“Sure!” Linus said. “Just sprinkle them over the sheets.”

Billy ripped the little bag open, pulled back his blanket, and sprinkled the contents onto the sheets. The bed rocked back and forth, and the crackers started to disappear into the creases of the bed.

“Thank you!” Linus said. “Very salty. I’ve always liked salty treats.”

Billy turned to face the top of the bed that was now sitting up straight and sat cross-legged in the middle of the foot of the bed.

“What would you like to play?” Billy asked.

“I noticed you have a ball,” Linus said. “I like to play ball.”

Billy reached over to his bedside table and grabbed the blue rubber ball is mom had left for him. She had called it a racket ball. He settled back into his place and tossed the racket ball at the top of the bed. The mattress puckered and moved and swatted the ball back to Billy. They played catch like this for a few minutes, with Billy and the bed both giggling and laughing as they played.

Until the nurse came into the room, flipped on the light, and told him to stop laughing and making so much noise and to get back into bed.

Billy obediently scrambled back into bed and laid down as the nurse stepped on the pedal that lowered the bed back down flat.

Billy’s eyes adjusted to the light and he could see that her hospital badge said her name was Edna. She had red hair with silvery gray roots that was cut short and stuck out in all directions. Her makeup was just a bit too heavy and her lipstick went far outside of her lip line. It made her look like an angry clown that Billy once saw at the circus.

Edna adjusted his pillow and blankets. As she flipped the orange blanket to make it lay flat, the cracker crumbs flipped up and scattered all around and tumbled down to the floor.

“What have you done?” the nurse scolded. “You have cracker crumbs everywhere!”

The nurse swept the cracker crumbs out of the bed as best she could, scolding Billy the whole time.

“What a mess,” she said. “I should just make you sleep in it and have the day nurse change your sheets.”

She threw away a handful of cracker crumbs and looked down at Billy.

“Now you be quiet,” Edna commanded.

She flipped the sheet and blanket to straighten them out over Billy, but as she did, the racket ball mysteriously jumped out of the bed and popped her in the side of the head.

Billy giggled and the nurse gave him a sharp look that quieted him immediately.

“You think that’s funny, do you?”

Wide eyed and silent, Billy shook his head no.

Edna finished making the bed in angry silence and she took the ball as she turned to leave the room.

“Now go to sleep, and I am telling your mother how uncooperative you are,” Edna said, holding the ball in her fist with one scolding finger outstretched at him. She flipped out the light and took the ball with her as she shut the door behind her.

“I’m sorry I got you in trouble,” Linus said quietly.

“It’s okay,” Billy whispered. “I won’t get in trouble.”

“But she’s going to tell your mom,” Linus said.

“Don’t worry,” Billy said. “My mom doesn’t like that nurse either.

Billy and Linus both giggled.

“I am getting tired though,” Billy said.

“You just go to sleep,” Linus said. “I’ll keep watch for the nurse.”

Billy snuggled down into the bed and pulled his orange blanket close to his face. Not out of fear this time, but so that he could smell the comfort of home.

Linus hummed a quiet lullaby as Billy drifted off to sleep.

***

The next morning, Billy awoke to a new nurse in his room. Billy sighed with relief when he saw her. Billy liked her. Her name was Maria. She was short and rather round and had her dark hair pulled up into a tight bun on top of her head. But Billy knew her, and they had talked many times.

“Good morning,” she said. “I hear you gave Edna a hard time last night.”

“But I didn’t-” Billy started.

“I know,” Maria said. “That’s just Edna. She’s off tonight, so you don’t have to worry.”

Maria opened the curtains to let in the bright sunlight that made Billy squint until his eyes became used to the light.

“Let me get your vitals, and then we’ll see about cleaning up your bed.”

Billy sat patiently as Maria took his blood pressure and temperature, and all the other things nurses do in the mornings.

When she was finished, she pulled back the blanket and laughed as she saw Billy in his Superman pajama bottoms and hospital gown, sitting in a large amount of cracker crumbs. They were stuck to him and the sheet. Billy looked at all the crumbs that surrounded him.

Maria chuckled to herself.

“I thought Linus ate more than that,” Billy said.

“Who’s Linus?” Maria asked. “Is that the name you gave your blanket?”

“What?” Billy asked. “No. That’s the name of my monster bed.”

“Monster bed, huh?” Maria laughed. “Is that because it moves?”

Billy’s eyes opened wide. “Yes! You know?”

“Yes, Billy,” Maria said. “You know too. The pedals on the floor, they make the bed move. Remember?”

“No,” Billy said. “It didn’t move like that. He actually moved!”

Maria laughed again. “Well, movement or not, we need to change Linus’ sheets. And you my dear, need a shower.”

***

Maria helped Billy get ready for his shower and changed his sheets while he got cleaned up.

Linus never showed himself throughout the day. Billy waited for him, but it was too busy with the hustle and bustle of the doctors and nurses going in and out of his room all day.

When his mom got off work, she showed up to have dinner with Billy, like she did every night.

Billy forgot about Linus while his mother visited. They played cards and watched TV and giggled and laughed as his mother tried to keep Billy’s mind off of the fact that he was in the hospital.

When it came time for his mother to leave, they both had tears in their eyes. Billy’s mom kissed him goodnight and gave him a big hug before heading to her night job.

After the nurses had checked on him, Billy asked them to close the door.

He waited in the darkness for Linus to show himself.

“Your mom works a lot,” Linus said.

“She has to,” Billy said quietly. “To be able to pay my medical bills.”

“Oh,” Linus said.

They sat in quiet for a few minutes. Linus wiped the tears from Billy’s face with a corner of the bedsheet.

“Would you teach me that game?” Linus asked.

“What game?”

“The one you were playing with your mother,” Linus said.

Billy looked at the deck of worn and tattered red playing cards that sat on the rolling table next to his bed. He wiped his nose and reached for the table.

Linus reached out a sheet like a tentacle and pulled the table close enough for Billy to reach. Billy pulled it close to the bed and scrambled around it so that he sat on the foot of the bed. Linus raised himself up so that the head of the bed was up as far as it would go as Billy positioned the table between them.

Billy slid the rubber band off the deck of cards with a snap and started to shuffle the deck the way his mom had been teaching him. As he dealt the cards, he explained the rules to Linus.

They played cards until a nurse came into the room, and Linus’ cards immediately fell to the bed. Maria had gone home for the day and the night nurse was one of the nice ones.

“What are you doing?” the nurse asked.

“I’m playing cards with Linus,” Billy said, as he rearranged the cards in his hand.

“Okay then,” the nurse said, looking at the bed sitting at a 90-degree angle on the opposite side of the table. “Let me take your vitals and give you your evening meds and then you can get back to your game.”

“Okay,” Billy said. He placed his cards face down on the table.

“So is Linus your invisible friend?” the nurse asked.

“Linus is my bed,” Billy said.

“Your bed?” the nurse chuckled. “I’ve never had a patient name their bed before.”

“I didn’t name him,” Billy said.

“Oh, so your mother named your bed?”

“No,” Billy said. “That’s just his name.”

The nurse bit her lip and finished her visit with a slight smirk that never left her face.

“Shut the door when you go,” Billy said as she readied herself to leave.

“Please,” the nurse said.

“Please,” Billy repeated.

“Good night, Billy,” the nurse said on her way out the door. “And goodnight Linus.”

The nurse shut the door behind her.

Linus picked up his cards and Billy retrieved his from the table.

“I thought she’d never leave,” Linus said.

Billy and Linus finished their game and started a new one. They played hand after hand, with Linus winning most every game.

It was getting late, and Billy and Linus were still playing when Billy saw a card slip out from behind the pillows.

“You’re cheating!” Billy squealed.

“I’m not,” Linus said. “I’m just a better player than you are.”

“No,” Billy pointed at the card next to the pillow. “You had that jack behind your pillow.”

Billy stood on the bed and yanked the pillow away from the crease in the bed. Two more cards flew out from behind the pillow and fluttered down to the floor.

“I knew it!” Billy yelled. “I knew nobody could win that many times without cheating!”

Billy was standing on the bed now and still yelling at Linus.

“I thought you were my friend!”

“I have no thumbs,” Linus said. “It’s hard to hold the cards. They just slipped.”

“They’re all jacks!” Billy yelled.

“The nurse came running into the room and found Billy standing on the bed, hitting the raised portion with his pillow. “You cheated!”

“Billy,” the nurse said sharply. “Sit down and stop yelling. Other patients are trying to sleep. I can hear you all the way down the corridor!”

Billy dropped into a sit at the foot of the bed. He crossed his arms and glared at the top of the bed.

“It’s time for you to go to sleep,” the nurse said.

She moved the table aside and collected the cards that were now scattered most everywhere.

“Are you going to help?” she asked crossly.

Billy started cleaning up the cards with the nurse.

“What were you doing?” she asked.

“We were playing cards,” Billy sniffled. “And Linus was cheating. He had three jacks behind his pillow.”

“Oh, I’m sure he wasn’t cheating,” the nurse said. “Maybe he just dropped them.”

“Or maybe he was cheating,” Billy said, now with tears streaming down his face.

“Okay, Billy,” the nurse said as she put the rubber band back around the deck and placed it on the table next to the bed. “You need some sleep. You are getting tired and cranky and you need to rest. It’s after midnight.”

Billy reluctantly climbed to the top of the bed and got in it properly as the nurse lowered the top end and straightened out the sheets.

Billy laid down and she tucked his orange blanket around him.

“Do you need anything else?” she asked as she used a tissue to wipe away his tears.

“No,” Billy sniffled.

“Should I shut the door?” she asked.

Billy paused a moment. “Yes, please.”

“Okay, no more noise,” she said on her way to the door. “Goodnight, Billy.”

Billy laid on the bed with his orange blanket pulled up around his ears.

“I’m sorry,” Linus said.

Billy said nothing.

“Am I still your friend?” Linus asked.

“As long as you don’t cheat anymore,” Billy said, still pouting.

“I promise,” Linus said. “No more cheating.”

“Okay then,” Billy said. “You’re still my friend.”

Linus sighed happily, “You’re my friend too.”

They were quiet a moment.

“Do you want to play some more?” Linus asked.

“No,” Billy said. “I’m tired.”

“Okay,” Linus said. “G’night, Billy.”

“G’night, Linus.”

Billy drifted off to sleep as Linus quietly hummed a new lullaby.

***

The next morning, Billy was tired and cranky. He slept a lot of the day when he could but was constantly interrupted by the comings and goings of the doctors and nurses.

When his mother came to visit that evening, she was stopped by one of the nurses before going into Billy’s room.

He watched in fear, wondering how much trouble he would be in when his mother came into the room.

He tried to hear what they were saying, but there was too much noise on the floor. Dinners were being delivered and there was the constant drone of TVs coming from many of the other rooms.

When his mother came through the door, her eyes were red and puffy, and she was dabbing her nose with a tissue. She was still in her waitress uniform from her day job and had a large brown stain on her white shirt and was carrying a big, full, white plastic bag.

“Hi, baby,” she said.

She rushed over to his bedside and hugged him tightly.

Billy hugged her back.

“Mom, it wasn’t my fault, I swear,” Billy started.

“What wasn’t your fault, sweetie?” she asked.

“Last night,” Billy started. “I was-”

He stopped and stared at his mother. Her eyes were still welling with tears.

“What’s wrong?” Billy asked.

“Oh nothing, baby,” she hugged him again. “Everything is fine.”

She released him, but still held him by the arms as she looked at him.

“You know I love you, right baby?” she asked.

“Of course I do,” Billy said. “Mom, what’s wrong?”

“Oh nothing,” she said dropping her head to wipe her eyes again. “I just had a bad day, that’s all.”

“Is that what the stain is from?” he asked.

“What?” She looked at her shirt. “Oh, yeah, a customer poured his coffee on me.”

“He poured it on you?” Billy asked in amazement.

“Yeah,” she said. “He said I brought him decaf. But I swear I didn’t. But I don’t know, maybe I did. It’s been so hard to focus lately.”

“He’s lucky I wasn’t there,” Billy said. “I would’ve poured the whole pot on his head!”

“Oh, my big defender,” she laughed and hugged him again. “Let’s talk about something fun. Isn’t a new episode of your show on tonight?”

“Yes!” Billy said.

“And I brought you your favorite,” she pulled a Styrofoam container out of the plastic bag.

Billy opened the white Styrofoam box and saw a bacon cheeseburger and tons of French fries.

“Oh yes!” Billy said happily. “Thank you, mom!”

“No hospital food for you tonight,” she said.

Billy and his mom sat back on the bed and shared Billy’s fries as they watched TV. When it was time for his mom to head off for her night job, she gave Billy a big hug and kiss goodnight and headed out, shutting the door behind her.

“Your mom seems sad,” Linus said.

“Yeah,” Billy said. “She worries.”

“Do you want to play?” Linus asked.

“I don’t want to play cards,” Billy said. “It just makes us fight.”

“Let’s play a new game,” Linus said.

“Like what?” Billy asked.

“Didn’t your mom bring a bag of toys the other day?”

“Oh yeah,” Billy scrambled off the bed.

Over in the corner there was a large beige and blue striped tote bag and Billy grabbed it and lugged it back onto the bed with him. He unzipped the top and started to sort through the contents.

“Score!” Billy exclaimed. “Mom put my Nerf guns in here!”

“What’s a Nerf gun?” Linus asked.

Billy drew a large orange and blue gun out of the bag and loaded it with soft darts with suction cups on the end.

“Watch this!” Billy aimed the gun at the door and popped of a round. The dart flew towards the door and suctioned itself to the back of the door.

“Neat!” Linus said.

“I know what we can do,” Billy said.

He climbed off his bed and ran over to his whiteboard, where the nurses kept all his information and wrote what day it was on them. He grabbed the erasable pen and drew a large, crooked target over the middle of the board.

“Perfect,” Billy said, standing back to admire his work.

He climbed back up onto the bed. Linus had already raised himself up and was ready to play.

Billy took time to teach Linus how to use the Nerf gun, but using sheets for fingers was difficult. Linus learned how to shoot the gun and he and Billy got fairly accurate with it.

“Let’s play army!” Billy said.

“What’s army?”

“It’s what my dad is doing,” Billy said. “We can be on a mission and we can shoot the bad guys.”

“Sounds like fun,” Linus said.

Billy and Linus crept through the jungle and jumped out at their enemies. They shot their guns at the target and at the door.

Right when the bad guys were ready to retreat, Billy gave the order to charge. Linus had just pulled the trigger to get a retreating bad guy and his dart flew through the air as the door opened. Edna appeared in the doorway just in time to have the suction cupped dart hit her square in the forehead and bounce off her face and onto the floor.

Billy gasped and watched as Edna’s eyes grew wide and she started turning red with anger.

“Just what do you think you are doing?”

Maria came up behind Edna in the doorway.

“Oh, he’s just playing, Edna,” Maria said.

Edna picked up the dart and held it up for Maria to see, “You see what I have to put up with?”

Maria took the dart from Edna and walked over to Billy, who was scrambling madly to get back into bed.

“You should put these away now,” Maria whispered to Billy as she pulled Billy’s orange blanket up around him and gently took the dart gun from him. She slipped the gun and a few stray darts back into the bag on the floor.

Edna turned and looked at the whiteboard.

“Are you kidding me?” Edna pointed at the whiteboard. “This is for nurses’ use only.”

Maria plucked some Nerf darts off the board and gently erased the target, being careful not to erase any of the information that was written there.

“I can’t read that,” Edna pointed at a section of the board where the target line had been drawn through words.

Maria erased the area and rewrote in the information.

“There,” Maria said. “Good as new.”

“Hmph,” Edna grumped. “There better not be any nonsense on my shift.”

“Edna,” Maria said. “Would you go and get a new blood pressure cuff? This one has been giving me trouble today.”

Edna turned on her heel and walked out of the room.

“You can’t leave me with her,” Billy whispered.

“I have to,” Maria said. “She’s the night nurse tonight. I’ll be back in the morning.”

“But she’s mean,” Billy whispered.

“You just read or watch TV this evening,” Maria said. “And then go to seep. I’ll be back before you know it.”

Billy sighed.

“Did I break the blood pressure cuff?” Billy asked.

“What?” Maria asked. “Oh, no. There’s nothing wrong with the blood pressure cuff. I just wanted her out of the room for a minute.”

Billy and Maria both giggled.

“Now you just settle down and I’ll get you a book from your bag,” Maria said. “How’s that sound?”

“Narnia?” Billy asked.

“Narnia it is,” Maria pulled a book out of Billy’s bag and gathered up a few more stray darts and dropped them into the tote and pushed the tote up against the side of the bed.

She handed Billy his book just as Edna walked back into the room.

Edna glared at Billy but said nothing. Maria and Edna discussed the things nurses discuss when they change shifts and took Billy’s vitals together.

When they were finished, Enda headed towards the door.

Maria followed Edna and before she left, she turned to Billy and said, “Back before you know it!”

Billy spent the evening reading to Linus. After a while, Billy slipped off to sleep. Linus took the book from Billy’s hand and let it slide down the side of the bed and dropped it into the tote on the floor.

***

The next morning, Billy was woken up by Edna taking his vitals once again. She didn’t say much and just let Billy be.

The lady with the rolling table of breakfast came in as Edna left and gave Billy his tray. He lifted the lid to looked at the food and made a face and put the lid back down.

“Not hungry?” Linus whispered.

“Not really,” Billy said. “I’m kind of tired this morning.”

“Maria should be here soon,” Linus said.

“Yeah,” Billy said. “Maybe I’ll be hungry when she gets here.”

A few minutes later, Maria and Edna appeared in the doorway together.

“At least he was quiet last night,” Edna said, as they came in the door.

“Good morning,” Maria said cheerfully, ignoring Edna. “How are you feeling this morning?”

“Tired,” Billy said.

The nurses took Billy’s vitals and did a few other things while they were in his room.

Maria came over and sat on the edge of Billy’s bed.

“Try to eat something,” she said. “And I will be back after I check on the other patients, okay?”

Billy nodded and the nurses left.

Linus lifted the lid from Billy’s breakfast with a corner of the sheet.

“Any of it look appetizing?” Linus asked.

Billy took a piece of toast off the plate and nibbled the crust. He put it back on the plate and laid back down.

Linus tucked Billy’s orange blanket around him and let Billy fall asleep.

***

Later that morning, the doctors and nurses were in and out of Billy’s room more than usual. Linus could do nothing but wait until they were all gone. But soon after the last of the doctors left, Billy’s mom came earlier than usual and sat quietly at the side of Billy’s bed while he slept. She went through a whole box of tissues as she sat there, holding her son’s hand.

The next few days were similar, with the doctors trying new and different medicines and treatments.

Linus cradled Billy throughout, keeping his orange blanket tucked around him and hummed some of Billy’s favorite songs.

One night after Billy’s mom left for her night job, and the nurses had left the room, Linus wrapped the sheet tightly around the boy.

“You’re the only one who ever played with me,” Linus whispered. “I am going to give you something that I can only give once.”

Linus hugged Billy one last time and then the sheet drooped down to the floor.

***

Maria was on shift again the next morning. When she came in the room, Billy’s eyes were open, and he had color in his cheeks.

“Hi, Maria,” he said.

“Billy!” Maria’s eyes were open wide. “You look great this morning.”

“I feel much better,” he said.

“You’re doing great,” Maria said, after taking Billy’s vitals. “I’ll be right back.”

She rushed out of the room, closing the door behind her.

“Linus?” Billy called.

There was no answer.

“Linus? Where are you?”

There was still no answer.

Billy sat back in bed and waited for Linus to answer. But the room stayed quiet, and the bed never moved.

A little while later, Maria came back into the room with several of Billy’s doctors.

One of the doctors stepped on the pedal to raise Billy’s bed, but nothing happened.

“Hmm,” the doctor said. “It seems to be broken.”

“What?” Billy asked. “Can we fix it?”

“It’s not important,” the doctor said. “We can change it out with another one if you’d like.”

“No!” Billy said. “I mean, I like this one.”

“Okay,” the doctor shrugged. And he turned to speak to a nurse.

***

Billy tried to call Linus all day. But Linus never answered.

Later that evening, his mother came in to see him and she looked happy and rested.

“You look wonderful!” she said as she came over and kissed and hugged Billy.

Billy smiled and hugged her back.

“Why do you look so glum,” his mother asked. “I know that smile, you’re hiding something.”

“Linus is gone,” Billy said.

“Who’s Linus?” his mother asked. “One of the other patients?”

“No,” Billy shook his head. “He was the monster bed.”

“Don’t you mean the monster under the bed?” she asked.

“No,” Billy said. “He was the bed. But now it won’t move.”

His mother got up and tried the pedals to raise the bed. None of them worked.

“It must be broken,” she said.

“No,” Billy shook his head. “He’s gone.”

“Well, sweetie, it’s okay,” his mom sat back down and held his hand in hers. “The doctors say you can probably go home tomorrow.”

“Really?” Billy was suddenly excited.

“They think the medicines are finally working,” she said. “And they think it will be safe for you to go home.”

“Cool,” Billy smiled, for real this time.

***

The next morning, the nurses buzzed about, getting Billy ready to go home.

Maria was especially happy and gave Billy lots of hugs.

His mom showed up to deal with paperwork, and she seemed more excited than usual. Billy had been checked out of the hospital many times, but this time, she was very excited.

As they got all his things ready, Maria asked if she should call for help to carry all of Billy’s things downstairs.

Billy looked around and didn’t think there was much, a tote of his toys and books and a small duffle bag with his clothes and medicines, but his mother excitedly said yes.

Maria left the room and came back very quickly.

“Here you go, Billy,” Maria seemed extremely excited. “I’ve got someone here to carry your bags.”

Maria stepped aside and behind her was a tall muscular man with dark hair who was wearing a military uniform.

“Dad!” Billy jumped up and ran across the room and hugged his father.

They embraced for a long time and everyone had tears streaming down their faces.

“You ready to go home, son?” his dad asked.

Billy nodded.

“Me too,” his dad said.

Billy’s dad gathered up the bags and Billy and his family walked out to the hallway.

Right next to the doorway, there was a new bed waiting to go into his room. He looked back over his shoulder while waiting for the elevator. Billy saw Linus being wheeled out of his room and the new bed go in the room in Linus’ place.

The elevator dinged and the shiny doors slid open.

Billy, with his mom and dad, stepped into the elevator and the doors slipped quietly shut.


The Monster Bed
Copyright © 2021 by Judy Lunsford


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Free Fiction Friday is coming back!

Due to a surprising number of requests, I am going to be bringing back Free Fiction Friday. Pretty much starting tomorrow. I mean, why wait? Right?!

So starting tomorrow, I will be posting a short story every Friday morning. It will be up on the website for one week, and then it will be replaced with another story the following week. Subscribe to my blog post updates if you don’t want to miss any stories. I will have some old ones and some new ones mixed in the bunch, and once I cycle through what I currently have (I am at 59 short stories) I will hopefully have all new ones written to keep the cycle going.

So welcome back to Free Fiction Friday!