Crazy Slumber Parties
Sleep would elude Justin on this night. Fortunately, tomorrow was Saturday so he didn’t have to work or be anywhere. He knew in the morning and all day he would pay for being so restless. Rapping his pillow around his ears, he attempted to block out all that giggling at his daughter’s sleep over birthday party. It came on his weekend with Kiera and he promised her that she could invite up to ten friends because it matched what her age was now. Only three showed up. However, the way they carried on out in the living room, each curled up in her own sleeping bag, it certainly sounded like more than four girls.
Downstairs Kiera sat upright on her sleeping bag entertaining her other friends with a scary story about the ghost of a lady who accidently cut her toes off with an ax back in 1853 and since no one in the town would help her due to her dark skin color, she died from her injuries. The lady’s ghost was out to seek revenge by hacking off the toes of unsuspecting people while they slept. Sometimes, she had mistaken people’s heads for feet. However, she always left a note to apologize for the accidental beheading. Her friend Lacey had burrowed her head into her sleeping bag, quite frightened by the tale. She propped her knees up underneath herself.
Angel, who had turned ten a month before Kiera, pushed her long brown hair from her eyes. She was not scared in the least, and her face just sneered in disbelief over that story. “I heard that before. My dad says it’s all baloney.”
Kiera, adding sound effects to enhance the fear level, said, “It is said that when you hear a pounding at ten, you know Ms. Gale is around.” With her hands concealed within her sleeping bag, she thumped her fist on the floor. Angel noticed the clock on the wall and it was going on ten.
Lacey screamed inside her sleeping bag. She was one girl who hated scary stories. Other girls knew her to be “jumpy,” and at school waited for Lacey to come into the bathroom while one of them stayed hidden in one of the stalls. As soon as Lacey came in, the prankster in the stall would leap out with a “boo,” a roar, or a growl. However, one day it went too far, and Kiera copied this same trick only she had on a fake bloody ghost mask. Lacey peed her pants and complained to her parents, teacher, and principal. Anyway, after a three day suspension and a month long grounding at both her mom’s and her dad’s, Kiera had to make it up to Lacey by being nice to her, even eating lunch next to her. The girls became friends at that very meal, and Kiera would look out for her in case anyone else tried to scare her.
As for Rachel she had her legs tucked away in her sleeping bag, and her upper body had been supported by her elbows. The dark red-head with hair that just curled around her ears browsed through a graphic novel on her seven inch tablet. She was an avid fantasy and science fiction fan. Her novel had a sword swinging heroine who was on her way to rescue the daring prince who originally set off on a quest to save her from an evil wizard. However, it was all a trap to capture the young royal lad. Rachel only half-listened to Kiera’s story.
Back inside his bedroom, Justin heard the hair-raising scream from Lacey, and realized he would have to set some limits, if he was to get any kind of rest. With a groan he tossed his covers off, found his slippers and robe, and stumbled out the door. He wandered down the tiny hallway and turned towards the staircase. Thumping his heavy feet against the wooden steps as he descended, he passed the front door and left into the living room. Another shriek from Lacey made his heart skip a beat it seemed.
A flash light up against her chin, Kiera could barely make out the shape of her father—until he turned on a lamp. He looked right at her. “Hey, girls…please, keep it down. I know how girls are at a slumber party, but you’re depriving me of my beauty sleep. Look at these eyes.” He cupped his right hand over them. “You see how blood shot they are. Now, imagine the bags that will be under them for sure. You really want to reduce me to that.”
Rachel laughed. “Sorry. Hey, my mom’s got a cream for bags under the eyes. I could text her.”
“Just…keep it down, girls.” He noticed Lacey half-buried in her sleeping bag. “What’s wrong with Lacey?”
“Oh,” answered his daughter. “She’s afraid of her own shadow.”
Lacey denied that. “I’m not afraid of my own shadow. Just…I get scared easily. Like when you came down those stairs and I heard thumping and,” she explained with her voice muffled by her insulated bedding. “I thought you were this ghost lady who—”
Justin chuckled. “The ghost lady who cuts off her toes and is out to seek revenge? Kids still tell that story? That story’s been around since…I don’t even know.” He already began feeling the giddiness of the girls and felt himself ready to just give in to them and give them the run of the house. In his mind, though, he was the dad—he could stand up to a bunch of girls. No one would ever accuse him of being a wimpy parent. Clearing his throat, he said in his best “father-knows-best” voice, “Okay...I know how girls are at a slumber party. But, I'm old and I do need my beauty sleep. Please, keep down the screaming.”
Hearing the seriousness in his tone, Angel reassured him. “Okay Mr. D, we'll keep it down.”
His attempt to avoid wimpiness had suddenly put him at odds with his intention to also be a “cool dad.” Angel's expression had given him the message that his laying down the law knocked him down a few pegs on the cool dad list. “Okay...I'll make a deal with you. I'll tell you a scary story, you can get all your screams out, and then after that—no more screaming!”
Only, Kiera scoffed at her father. “You don't know any scary stories.”
“Oh, yes I do. I used to be a kid and I used to camp in the backyard and my friends and I used to tell ghost stories. See...your dad can be fun.” Kiera rolled her eyes at him because she really didn't want him to be around. His very presence was spoiling the female bonding going on in the house.
Undaunted, Justin sat at the edge of the couch and nearly began his story. Lacey piped up her voice, and questioned, “Should I keep hiding in my sleeping bag or is it not that scary?”
“Well,” he retorted. “Maybe you should take a few gulps of fresher air, but keep your head buried...it's about to get frightening up in this place.” He raised the pitch of his voice since he believed that was how all the cool rap artists spoke.
“OMG, Dad. That's so not cool,” his daughter responded with great embarrassment. However, the other girls only laughed at him with the exception of Lacey who took his advice to get some breaths of cooler air outside of her heated oxygen inside her sleeping bag.
As soon as Justin inhaled to utter the first words of his story, she stuffed her blonde head back into hiding. He said to her, “How do you manage on Halloween?” Not waiting for her to reply, he started. “Once upon a time...”
“Lame!” shouted Kiera.
“I haven't even really started,” her father protested.
“Dad...you start fairy tales with 'once upon a time,' not ghost stories.”
Her friend Rachel also added a critique to his storytelling manner. “Mr. D, maybe you should turn off the lamp and light your face with a flashlight. You gotta set the mood.”
Annoyed at being interrupted and getting criticism from a child, despite her truthfulness, Justin found the flashlight on the floor next to Kiera, walked over to the lamp and darkened its bulb, and then resumed his spot on the couch. He muttered, “You know, this is better for ghost stories. Okay, a hundred years ago or so when Kiera's great, great grandfather was ten years old, he and his buddies were skipping stones in the river and taking turns swinging off a rope and plunging into the water.”
“Gee, Dad...when does this get scary? Oh, yawn.” Kiera feigned a yawn.
“Just hold on,” he assured the girls. “Well, your great, great grandfather jumped into the river and completely lost his skivvies. That's what they called underwear back then.”
“We know, Dad. We're not stupid.”
Getting clarification, Angel asked, “So, they were all swimming in their underwear. Didn't they have swimsuits in those days?”
“Well, it was common for boys, anyway...I'm not sure what the girls did, but the boys on a hot, summer day would find the nearest swimming hole, strip down to their skivvies, and just jump in. They didn't have air conditioning in those days, so people did what they could to stay cool.
“Anyway, as he searched for his skivvies, he spotted them flowing down river. They weren't too far out of his reach. His buddies all laughed at the sight of him, as you can imagine. After he caught up to them, he put them back on, but discovered wedged into the side of the river bank, a wooden figurine of man with a head shaped as a rain drop, painted red. His eyes were all bugged out. He was intricately carved. Now, lying close to him was a wooden box that the figurine must have fallen out of.”
“Let me guess,” mumbled Angel. “The figurine comes to life and goes around and attacks everyone.”
Justin gave out a sigh because Angel was on the right track, but not quite. “Well, on the outside of the box were words scratched into it that read 'if opened, close quickly and don't let him out.' Well, your great, great grandfather just took the figurine and chucked it farther up the river. One of his friends whined, 'Why didn't you keep him?' In which, he replied, 'I don't know. It seemed really stupid.
“They all left to go home, and just as they turned their back, they heard a high pitched screech behind them. When they turned, the figurine had indeed come to life, as Angel suspected. Freaked out, they screamed and ran to go home. However, the thing suddenly appeared right in front of them. No matter where they turned, the strange looking man, who was no taller than these 12-year-old boys, would pop up as quickly as they moved.
“Realizing they could not run from him, your great, great grandfather cried, 'What do you want with us?' The weird being snickered, 'My pet needs feeding. One of you must sacrifice himself. Who do you choose? Choose one or I choose.'
“One of your great, great grandfather's friends, I think his name was Bob, questioned, 'Where is your pet?' The being answered, 'I don't know at the moment. He's here somewhere. But I think I choose you. Come here Lilly.' That's what could only be described as a cross between a crocodile and a python emerged from the center of the river and swallowed Bob whole. It disappeared as quickly as it came from the river. He was never seen again.”
Kiera wondered, “I never heard this story.”
“Well,” continued her dad. “The being went back to what he was before...a wooden figurine. Your great, great grandfather Jim put him back into the box and took it home hoping to burn it.”
“But wait,” interrupted Angel. “Did those boys tell anyone?”
“Oh sure,” Justin nodded. “Well, Jim told his dad, who knocked him upside the head for making up a wild story. But, then his dad went and told the other boy's parents. Next, the Sheriff was notified and he organized a search of the river since the boy was missing...But, they never would find him. Would find no evidence of the creature that ate him. They all assumed the boy just floated down the river.”
“So,” mentioned Rachel. “Did they burn the box and the figurine?”
Chuckling quietly, he explained, “Jim tried to burn it, but the box wouldn't catch fire. So, Jim kept it in his room and over time the family all believed it to be an heirloom. Your great grandfather inherited it and then your grandfather.” Justin knees cracked as he left the couch over to an end table where he pulled open the one drawer and withdrew the very same box that he described in his story.
Poking her head out of her sleeping bag, she gasped at the sight of it. “Are you saying that whole story was real?”
With a quick shoulder shrug Justin said, “I don't know. I got this from Kiera's grandfather who is in a nursing home and just couldn't look after it anymore.”
Clicking the lamp back on, Angel went over to Justin and looked at the box with the warning carved into the top as he had related to them. “You guys...it's just like he said. Can I see if the little wooden dude is inside?”
“Well...maybe a little peek.” All the girls, except Lacy who buried herself under her sleeping bag, bolted to their feet and gathered around Kiera's dad. “Okay, I'll count to three and open it for three seconds. Ready?” They all gestured their eagerness to view it...if it indeed existed. “Okay...one, two, three.” Justin slid the locking mechanism and bent the box open on its hinges. There was the figurine with its red rain-drop-shaped head, bugged-out eyes, and bib overalls. Counting again, he snapped the container closed and relocked it.
“Mr. B, do you really think that thing could come to life?” inquired Angel both with intrigue and skepticism.
“Well...I don't know. To be on the safe side, I'm just going to shove it back in the drawer.” He did just that and then turned to face the girls. “So...how was that? What do you think, Lacey?”
The girl was actually crying within her bedding. “I can't sleep knowing that thing is in the same room as me. Can I go home?”
“What about the rest of you girls? Kiera?”
“Well...it was rather lame, but not as lame as I thought it would be.” Justin would take that as a compliment because he knew Kiera would never come out and say the story was a good one. “It's pretty cool...coming from a dad.”
Both Angel and Rachel were much more willing to give him credit. “Mr. B,” Angel said. “That was pretty decent.”
“So, now can you girls keep it down?” he pleaded.
“Sure thing, Mr. B,” Angel consented. “But...what do you want us to do with the little devil dude in the box? You don't really believe it would come to life, do you?”
“I would just leave it alone. Better safe than sorry.” He considered the whimpering Lacey. “Lacey? Are you gonna be all right? Should I take you home?”
“I—I don't know. I'm terrified right now.” Justin was pleased that at least his story frightened one kid, but he also didn't want Lacey to feel trapped here.
All the other girls encouraged her to stay. They begged her and explained they wouldn't let anything bad happen to her. Kiera said to her, “C'mon, Lacey. It's just a story. That thing couldn't possibly be true.”
Succumbing to the peer pressure, Lacey decided to tough it out, despite her own objections. “Okay...I'll stay.”
“Yeah!” The other three girls were ecstatic.
Handing Kiera the flashlight, Justin went back up to his room, and even thought the girls giggled and gossiped, they did manage to keep the noise-level to a minimum. Even so, he flipped on a fan on low speed to block out the girls' murmuring voices. In his brain he wished he had a costume of the little figuring and come out to spook the girls even more, but he didn't have such a thing and he certainly didn't want to torture Lacey. Finally, he drifted off and since he usually slept hard, now the girls could make as much loud sounds as possible and he wouldn't wake without someone shaking him awake. The only exception was his alarm clock. For some reason it would always get his attention.
Of course, downstairs the girls, all except Lacey, were now tempted to open the box and see if the figurine would spring to life. Lacey urged them to leave the thing alone. Angel, however, told her, “Lacey...nothing's gonna happen.”
“Well, I don't want to get swallowed by some alligator-snake thing. It'll probably be me who'll get eaten just because I'm the most scared. Isn't that how it is in a scary movie?”
“No! It's always the stupid ones who just have to open the one creepy door. So, if anything, it'll be one of us who gets eaten. We're the ones stupid enough to open it.” Kiera viewed enough horror films to know this was often the case.
“It'll still freak me out. Why do you even want to take the chance? Why do you want to be the stupid ones destined to get killed?” Lacey tried to talk sense into them.
Angel plainly said, “We're young, adventurous, and curious. And don't say 'curiosity killed the cat,' okay?” She brushed her long, black bangs out of her eyes as she reached for the end table. Although, she had trouble seeing because the way Kiera pointed the flashlight created one big dark spot in front of Angel's eyes. “Hey, Kiera. I can't see.”
“Here, catch.” Kiera underhand-tossed the flashlight to Angel, but it was quite underthrown and thudded on the floor right at her feet covered with toe socks. Giggling at her inempt throw, Kiera apologized. “Oops, sorry. My fault.”
As she picked it off the ground, the flashlight suddenly went off in Angel's hand. “Dang, Kiera. I hope you didn't ruin it.” After shaking it, the light went on, but Angel had to keep the it slanted downwards. Angel finally retrieved the box from the drawer and went back to her sleeping bag. The flashlight completely died. Rachel flickered the lamp on so they could get a better look at it. Perched on top of their sleeping bags, they first stared at the plain box that resemble a miniature pirate treasure chest. Those words of warning were not that easy to read. They looked faded and worn down. Lacey poked her head out of her sleeping bag for some fresh air and to also see the box with own eyes. She wanted to assess the possible danger from such an item.
“Well,” blurted Kiera to Angel. “Are you gonna open it?”
“Let's count to three—”
Not waiting for that, Rachel snatched it out of Angel's hands. Angel protested, “Hey!” Rachel just ignored her and opened the box, sliding the tiny lock first. Turning it over she let the figurine inside fall out onto her sleeping bag. There it lay—staring up at them, stiff and motionless in the way inanimate objects were supposed to be. Lacey dodged back into her sleeping bag at the sight of it.
Laughing at the figurine, Rachel mumbled at it. “Okay...come to life now. Come on. You're free now. Feed me to your pet if you dare.” It did not respond to her, but remained just a figurine. Then, she held him between her fingers, and pretended to speak for him in a false bass tone. She animated him right before Kiera. “Thank you. Thank you very much. It's time to feed you to my pet.” Kiera only chortled and snatched it out of her hand.
The birthday girl took a turn to play with him. “Hey...hey Lacey. Wanna dance with my pet?”
“That's not funny, Kiera!” Lacey's sobs under her bedding told Kiera she better back off.
Kiera got an idea to increase the level of excitement with the figuring. “Hey, Angel. I dare you to sleep with this thing in your sleeping bag with you.”
“Really? You don't think I'll do it? Give me that thing. I'll shove it all the way to the bottom.” Kiera handed it over. “That things not scary at all. All right, now. I'm tired. Rachel, kill the light. And you freaky dude...sleep tight.”
Lacey gave a shout out to the figurine. “Remember, I didn't let you out! Eat anyone else but me.”
“Lacey...he doesn't eat anyone. It's his pet,” reminded Rachel. She turned the light off, and they each snuggled into their sleeping bags, tired and ready to finally settle in.
While Angel stuffed her feet into her sleeping bag, she positioned herself with her head and shoulders sticking out. She tried to feel for the figurine with her foot, but as soon as her big toe bumped it, a stinging pain erupted from the bottom of the appendage. Screaming, she pulled herself out of her bag, and felt along her toe. A tiny mark with some blood leaking out was smack dab in the center part of the bottom of her big toe. “Where's that flashlight?” Kiera tossed it to her.
Wondering what was the matter, Kiera probed, “What's the matter?”
With the light on it, Angel clearly made out two teeth marks surrounding the small wound. “I think that wooden dude bit me. Where's your band-aids?” She winced at her aching toe. “Man, that hurts.” Kiera turned the lamp on once more as she fetched a bandage strip from the bathroom's medicine cabinet. Angel did her best to refrain from bleeding onto the carpetted floor, but all she had was her hand. Luckily, Rachel found some facial tissue and gave it to her friend to help absorb the red liquid escaping her digit.
“Um,” muttered Kiera. “Do you want me to put it on?”
“No, but can you at least take the bandage out.” Kiera did as requested. The bandage was a large size and it fully wrapped around the girl's toe. She wiped as much blood off her hand as possible with the tissue and after wadding each piece, threw them into a small waste basket near the end table the box and figurine had been stored in. Grasping the bottom of her sleeping bag, she shook it until the figurine tumbled out. The girls, minus Lacey, watched it and saw that it did not show any signs of life. Angel grumbled, “Dare or not, I'm not sleeping with that thing in my sleeping bag.”
“You're chickening out?” Kiera questioned.
Nodding, Angel divulged, “Yep. That thing bit me or something. Why don't you do it? It's your birthday party.”
Kiera announced, “Uh, I'm chickening out of that, too. I'll just lay him on the couch and leave him there.”
Lacey added, “Put him back in the box before something even worse happens. That thing is evil.”
“Maybe Lacey is right,” Rachel retorted. “That was freaky, what just happened to Angel.”
Even Angel, the bravest one in the bunch, agreed. “Please, Kiera. Put that thing back.” However, Kiera wanted to really determine if this wooden guy would actually come to life or was her dad just trying to rile the girls up.
Sighing, Kiera said, “All right. I'll put it back.” Finding the box, she returned the figurine inside and feigned shutting it locked. When she got to the end table and drawer, she positioned her body so the others couldn't really see what she was up to, emptied the figurine out of the box and into the drawer. Kiera closed the drawer the figurine resting next to the box, but not inside.
“What are you doing, Kiera?” Rachel asked suspiciously. “You did put him back into his box, right?”
“Oh, yeah. Of course,” Kiera lied. “I'm as freaked out as you are. Turn the light off and lets get some sleep. Look at the time. It's like 1:30 in the morning already. Or instead of sleep we could talk about how Phil Nappers and his crush on Rachel.”
“Eew, Kiera. That kid is freakier than that wooden doll.” Kiera only brought this up because she knew Rachel hated Phil Nappers and the thought of him being her boyfriend sickened her. It would get her mind off the doll.
They all wormed their way into their sleeping bags as soon a Rachel squelched the light. One by one they each yawned and before lone, they fell asleep. Roughly, an hour later, a hand caught Rachel by the shoulder, and then it rocked her upper body violently. “Hey...red-head. Wake up. My pet needs feeding. Hey. You volunteered.”
Instead of Rachel Kiera woke to the sound of a voice that was reminiscent of a parrot. She thought she saw the feet of a stranger planted next to Rachel's head, and he was hoping to get her friend's attention. Fumbling for the flashlight, Kiera attempted to flick it on, but the thing wouldn't work—except for a few seconds. In that brief moment she saw the being her father described in his story. He was an exact duplicate of the figurine she left outside of the box, only he was life size. She screamed at the top of her lungs, waking all her friends. Her dad, though, with his fan humming was oblivious to the sound.
“Get up, Red!” it cried. This startled Angel who rubbed her eyes.
“What's going on?” inquired Angel.
Bounding to her feet, Kiera, who was really as tall as the man, pushed him. “Leave her alone. Get away from her.” The man stumbled off-balance.
“Hey, no pushing!” Rachel couldn't really see anything in the dark, so she got up and turned the lamp on—now it was her turn to screech. Even Angel now joined her friend, while Lacey had already burrowed her head into her sleeping bag.
“I told you so!” Lacey hollered.
Angered, the man shoved Kiera hard against the couch and she hit the cushions before bouncing to the floor, and she did all this while screaming. She cowered in her nightshirt. Even though stricken with fear, Angel's anger at the assault on her friend gave her the bravado to confront him. “Hey, you can't hurt my friend like that!”
“Look,” he pointed his weird, twisted hand at the girls. “My pet is hungry. He hadn't eaten for well close to a hundred years.” They could hear a thunderous growl vibrating through the house. “She,” he gestured towards Rachel. “She volunteered to be his next meal. I heard her plainly. You said, 'Feed me to your pet if you dare,' and I do dare. He's on his way. And you're a sizable gal. A fantastic morsel, I must say.”
The ceiling above them cracked as something collided forcefully against the roof. Pictures tumbled from their spots on the walls and shelves. Another crash and the plaster of the ceiling began to crumble into pieces. Now, the girls were all in a full-blown scream. Outside the picture window, through a small part in the drapes that were mostly drawn, Kiera could make out a monstrous serpentine body. With another strike on the roof, the beastly man sneered, “Great, Crock's head is stuck. Wiggle free. Snap the timber. Get this one right here!” Again, he attended to Rachel. “She'll be so nice after that one kid...he left you with a century's worth of indigestion.”
“Let's go up to my dad's room,” demanded Kiera. Rachel led the way up the stairs, but Lacey was paralyzed with fear. Angel in the back of the line ascending the steps realized one of the friends still remained.
“Lacey!” she shrieked. “Get up! Get out of there!”
Only, she just whimpered. Looking down at the lump that was Lacey, the beastly creature was pleased that there was an easy victim. “Oh...so, you're volunteering. Hey, Lilly. Get this one! I hope you're a blonde one. He sure loves them.”
Meanwhile the other girls didn't even knock, but entered Kiera's dad's room and shouted his name while pushing at him to wake up. “Dad! Dad!”
“Wake up, Mr. B!”
He only mumbled, “We can go to the park. Sure.”
“Dad! Dad!” Kiera continued. “Wake up!”
His eyes opened to observe three girls in a panic surrounding him, all in nightshirts. “What?” That's when he detected the noise of wood splintering above his head. “What's going on? Did you girls let that thing out?”
“It was my fault,” Kiera confessed. “I didn't know. I thought it was all fake. That thing's pet is trying to go through the roof of the house. Lacey is downstairs.”
Justin bolted to his feet. Pulling out a 365 Magnum revolver from his nightstand drawer, he motioned for the door of his room. He dashed down the stairs to see the man and the cracks in the ceiling. Fortunately, this was a two-story home, so it would give him more time. He yelled at the man, threatening him with the revolver. “Get away from her.”
“Oh, come now. You know, just let my pet feed and we'll be on. This one will do.”
“You're not feeding your pet anyone in this house. Now leave us be or I'll shoot you.” Justin had never thought the day would come that he would need to use his weapon. The little beast man vanished from his sight and had reappeared right behind him. With his gnarled hand he nudged the revolver out of Justin's grip and stepped on it, crushing it beneath his foot.
“Now, I'm not leaving until my pet is fed. Would you care to volunteer?” Justin was going to if it meant the girls would be unharmed. “Oh, wait. He doesn't care for grown ups. Indigestion is pretty rough. No, it's gotta be one of these girls. Lilly, go through the wall. There's two floors in this house.”
The monster's head crashed through the picture window. His snout snapped open and shut but it didn't have enough clearance just yet. Justin yelled to Kiera, “Kiera or one of you girls. Go in the kitchen. Find the peanut butter.”
“Don't listen to him, girls, he doesn't know what he's talking about.” the little beast man threatened. Kiera, however, did listen to her father and entered the kitchen to the pantry. Back in the living room the monster pet continued to try and push itself further into the house. The wall strained from the pressure and it was obvious to Justin it would soon give way.
The little guy reassured Lacey, “Don't worry. It's quick and painless. Well, it's quick anyway.”
Back from the kitchen with the jar of peanut butter, Kiera asked, “What do I do with it?”
“Unscrew the lid and when that monster comes through...” he began to tell her.
However, the little pest sneered, “No. Don't do that. It won't work. It just makes things worse.”
“No, honey. That thing can't tolerate peanuts. Unscrew the lid and throw it at the monster.” Kiera fumbled with the lid. In her panicked state, simple tasks seemed impossible. Seeing her struggle, Rachel grabbed the jar from her, pried the lid open, and ran behind the close to the couch. The crocodile-python monster pushed on through into the house. Just as Rachel prepared to launch the peanut butter down its throat, the creature had her in its mouth and swallowed her.
“Rachel!” screamed Angel and Kiera together.
“Oh, how nice of her to volunteer,” the little man taunted. “Well, I guess—”
Just as the pet withdrew its head to go back from where it came, it suddenly thrashed around, completely smashing the entire section of the living room up by the window. It seemed to cough and the thing vomited Rachel up. The red-headed girl, all covered in a slimy filth, thumped against the floor, injured, but very much alive. As for the monster it shriveled right before their eyes until it was no larger than an earthworm before turning into nothing but river sediment. The little man burst into tears and jumped up and down in a rage.
“No! Lilly! Oh, my pet! You'll pay for all this.” In his great rage he exploded into a ball of mucus, covering Justin and the four girls, although Lacey was still inside her sleeping bag.
Justin hugged his daughter and all the other girls. Rachel had a fractured arm, so he didn't hug her but just patted her head. “That was awesomely brave of you. All you girls are just awesome.” He called for paramedics via 9-1-1, as well as her parents. Lacey's mother was notified and she planned on breaking speed limits on her way. Phoning his parents he made arrangements to stay with them. Explaining all that happened would be a challenging feat—who would believe him?
Eventually, the police would arrive and the news media. No one else even saw the monster crocodile-python. On their way to Kiera's grandparents, after all the other girls were taken home or to the hospital, as in Rachel's case, Justin apologized for her chaotic birthday party. “I'm sorry, honey, for all this. I should never have told you that story. Really, I thought it was a myth.”
“Well, curiosity did get the best of me. So, it was partly my fault.”
“So, am I still a 'cool dad.'”
Kiera scratched her chin. “Dad, you're a pretty cool dad. A geeky, cool dad.”
They both smiled at each other. Why were girl slumber parties so crazy?