The Care and Keeping of Monsters

“How are we supposed to explain this to the kids?” Adrienne asks her partner Malcolm, her hands bloody.

At their feet, lay the family dog Scruf, motionless with his torso hanging from his body in meaty tatters.

Malcolm uses his foot to nudge the dog over the edge of the cliff to fall into the dark forest below. The night is black and starless. A storm recently blew through and left a thick blanket of dark clouds that hangs low in the sky.

“We don’t tell them anything,” he says, watching the blackness below like he can see the dog falling into it.

She looks at him. “You want to lie to them? Just pretend like nothing happened?”

Taking a step closer to the edge, Malcolm looks out over the town, its lights shining orange and red in the dense fog. “You want to tell them the truth? Say, ‘hey, kids, sorry about your dog, but it turns out you two are bloodthirsty monsters—”

“Malcolm!” Adrienne chastises. Her eyes dart around the clearing surrounding the cliff. She uses her flashlight to help pierce the areas that are overlaid with shadows.

After making sure they are still alone, Adrienne whispers, inching closer to Malcolm on the ledge. “One thing is for sure they are our children.”

He glances back at her, holding her gaze for a moment. “I never said they weren’t.”

“I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page. Whatever we saw tonight, whatever happened…” Adrienne pauses and touches Malcolm’s elbow. Her eyes search for their home out in the fog. Down there Danny and Danielle are no doubt trying to escape their binds. She shakes her head free of the imagery. “They are ours and we need to protect them.”

Malcolm sighs. “I know. We should get back and check on them, so this doesn’t happen again.” There is a tightness in his voice that causes Adrienne to shiver and withdraw her hand. He reclaims it sternly. “Let’s go.”

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