“Bedtime,” Jenny’s mom called down the massive hall.
Jenny looked up from her Kindle and sighed. She didn’t bother to ask for more time to finish the chapter. Mom didn’t react kindly to the nightly routine being altered. Jenny went to the bathroom and attended to her own nightly ritual.
Returning to her new bedroom, it was time to face the monsters. When Jenny told her parents there were monsters in the bedroom, they didn’t believe her. But she knew. She heard them fighting most every night, ever since they had moved into this rambling, almost castle, that her mother inherited.
“Time for a monster check.” Her dad came in and checked for monsters under the bed and in the wardrobe. That was his nightly routine. “Nothing here, pumpkin. Sleep tight.” He kissed her on the forehead.
“Thanks, Dad.” Jenny appreciated his efforts, even though she knew he didn’t believe. Besides, the monsters weren’t in the closet or under the bed.
Mom entered the room, turn on the nightlight, tucked Jenny into bed, and placed another kiss on her forehead. Her parents left, closing the door.
Jenny looked around the bedroom. It had once been her mother’s. This place didn’t feel like home. It was too grand in size, but also run down. She heard her parents talk about the upkeep. It was why they lived in one wing. Tours were run through the remainder of the estate house and the estate. There was even a bed and breakfast where people paid a lot of money to sleep here where everything was inconvenient.
It was a warm spring night, with a full moon shining in the open windows. She reached over and turned off the nightlight. She wasn’t afraid of the dark. She was afraid of the monsters.
She lay in bed, listening to nothing. There was no noise. Nothing at all. Maybe they wouldn’t show up tonight. It happened sometimes. Jenny snuggled into the bed, reveling in the silence.
The scratching was soft at first, then it got louder. Jenny squeezed her eyes shut so she wouldn’t see them. She never looked. She was afraid if she did, the monsters would do more than make noise.
As usual, the scratching was replaced by clanging, scuffling, and other sounds of fighting. She expected this to continue for an hour or so before it stopped. It always did. As long as she kept her eyes shut and didn’t look.
“Ow! That hurt,” a gravelly voice said.
Jenny shut her eyes tighter. The monsters never spoke before.
“Shh, you’ll wake her.” The second voice was feminine, but still gravelly.
The sound of metal hitting metal was followed by the first gravelly voice’s gleeful boast, “Ha! Take that you cowards. Fly back to where you came.”
Jenny couldn’t stand it. She cracked her eyes open, just a bit, and was amazed. Monsters were small. Two little stone gargoyles, if she remembered the name correctly, stood between her bed and a crack in the wall. Flying into the crack were fairies. The fairies looked like people, with delicate wings. A bit larger than butterflies, the fairies were the same size as the gargoyles and carried swords.
The male gargoyle, with a sword in one hand, shook his empty fist as the fairies left. “That’s right. You better run. This is our human and you shall not bother her.”
Jenny gasped. The ugly, stone creatures were protecting her from the pretty, delicate fairies? When the gargoyles turned to face her, she forgot about hiding and asked, “You protect me?”
“Of course dear. The fairies like to play tricks. Hide things. Sometimes they even steal,” the female gargoyle explained.
The male gargoyle bowed. “It is our honor to protect you, as we did your mother, and her mother before her. Topaz at your service. This is Ruby, my wife. Sleep, little one. You are safe.”
Jenny didn’t go to sleep immediately. She had too many questions.
Topaz eventually tired of the questions. He jumped up to the bed and secured the covers around Jenny. “Enough questions. You must sleep and we must stand guard to prevent the fairies return.”
Jenny yawned, but didn’t want to sleep. She was too excited. Ruby jumped up and kissed Jenny’s cheek. Jenny was asleep before Ruby jumped back down to the floor.
Over the next few nights, Jenny watched the battles and asked questions after the fairies were defeated. It reached the point where she couldn’t wait for bed. Jenny sat with her Kindle, waiting for Mom to give the word. Unable to concentrate on her book, it seemed like forever before Jenny’s mom said, “Bedtime.”
Once Jenny was in bed and her parents left, she sat up and looked toward the crack. “Topaz? Ruby? Are you here?”
“Of course we are. Now, lay down. You need your rest. You have a busy day tomorrow.” Ruby waved from the floor in front of the crack.
“We’ll protect you. Sleep well, little one.” Topaz bowed once again.
Jenny snuggled into bed and nodded off to sleep just as the first clang of metal sounded, secure in the knowledge that she was safe.
More flash fiction by N. R. Tucker.