“Becky, that’s mine! You can’t take it!” Harry yelled after his sister as she goose-stepped across the house toward the kitchen, her black patent-leather shoes tap-tap-tapping across the wooden floor. “Mom! Becky stole my Human Hammer action figure.”
Their mother didn’t answer, but Becky yelled back. “It’s not your toy, Harry; you stole it from an assigned Child, and you know you’re not supposed to take their stuff. You’re only allowed to move it to an Odd Location where they will find it weeks later and be Very Confused about how it got there.”
“I didn’t steal it! It was in the trash. See how the arm is hanging loose?”
“Stealing from the Humans’ trash is still stealing. Though trash is certainly where this thing belongs. Pink skin? Only two eyes? It’s disgusting. And it probably uses that hammer to murder innocent Monsters!”
Harry came out of his room to confront his sister. “So, what if it does? It’s just a toy, Becky. You had a Firefighter Fred doll two years ago, and I remember you used to let him pretend-kiss your Slithery Sallie doll. Monsters and Humans killing each other is way less weird than Monsters and Humans kissing.”
“That’s not the point, Harold,” Becky said, invoking her brother’s first name. “Firefighters are heroes to monsters and humans. They don’t hunt and kill monsters. Besides. I’m older now and I know better.”
The children continued their argument, unaware that their mother was watching from behind her half-open bedroom door. When the verbal shots escalated to tentacle pulling and slime spitting, the older woman sighed, and slid out of the cool darkness to confront her offspring.
“Rebecca Jane and Harold Maurice be silent.” She didn’t raise her voice. A firm tone and the invocation of middle names was enough.
“Sorry Mom,” Harry said.
“Mother, did we wake you?” Becky asked.
Their mother didn’t address either statement directly. Instead, she said, “I’m going to say this once, and I expect you to remember. Playing with human toys is a phase we all go through. Becky, if I remember correctly, your Firefighter Doll was left behind when your Child’s family moved.”
“And Harry, dear, you know you’re not supposed to scavenge from the Humans’ trash bins.”
“You are almost eight hundred and two, Harry. I know their toys are tempting, but if they catch us playing with them, we cease to be scary.”
“Becky, give him the doll.”
Becky held the thing pinched between two fingers, as if it smelled like roses, or something equally disgusting. “Fine. Take it.”
Harry snatched back his prize, and looked toward their mother intending to thank her but the older Monster wasn’t done.
“Harry, you may continue to play with the… Human Hammer… for one more week, and then you must return it to your Child’s house.”
“But they threw it away!”
“I know. But our job is to Scare Children. A toy returning from the trash after a week – ”
” – twelve days – ”
“Don’t interrupt me, Harry. A toy returning from the trash will be Very Scary. You might even get a Putrid Pentacle for the act.”
“A Putrid Pentacle? Really?”
“Really,” their mother said. “Becky was nine hundred before she got her first one.”
Both children responded at once.
“I’m going back to bed for a while. All this sunny weather is making my head hurt. I expect you to honor our agreement, Harold… and Rebecca…”
“Mary-Janes are a Human affectation. Do we need to have our talk about proper attire again?”
Becky rolled her many eyes at her mother and said nothing.
“I didn’t think so.”
And the older Monster glided back to her room and closed the door, praying her children never learned of her addiction to Ghost Hunters.