The monster doesn’t answer immediately. It continues sobbing at the bottom of the stairs, curled up in fetal position. My first instinct is to help it and, before I can change my mind, I head out in the hall. On the way to the stairs, I slapped the light switch.
At the stairs, I found the monster still on the ground. It didn’t look like it had moved.
“Do you need help?” I asked. “Can you stand? Did you break a leg? Or claw? Antenna?”
“I’m okay,” came the croaky voice. “I tripped.”
I go down one step. “That’s nice to hear.”
The monster ‘sat up’. It was hard to tell. It also didn’t help that I didn’t turn on any lights and the only thing going for me was the light from the hall.
“So, what you doing here? Were you assigned this house or something? I mean, is that something you guys do?”
The monster turned around. Three large eyes occupied its ‘face’. Even with the light, I couldn’t tell much about it. How many limbs was it hiding? Was it blue or yellow? As I continued to stare at it, the darkness around the body smoothed out revealing silhouettes of other arms and legs. And maybe I could see a hint of blue on it’s . . . fur. Was it scales?
“I did get assigned to this house,” the monster replied in that same low voice.
“Huh uh. Why though? My parents are the only ones who live here. I moved out a long time ago. I’m just house sitting for them.”
The monster . . . shrugged. There was a movement in its shoulders so I guess it was a shrug.
“There’s a child here,” was all it said.
I frowned. It felt a bit insulted. “And you have to stay here?”
“I won’t get in the way. You won’t even know I’m here.”
Confused, I crossed my arms. “How long have you been here?”
The monster had moved in the same time as I had. My parents left for their tenth honeymoon only two days ago.
“Well, alright. I guess you’re not bothering anyone.”
“You don’t even know I’m here.”
I shrugged. “I don’t mind company just don’t talk to the neighbors or show yourself to anybody.”
“I didn’t plan to.”
“I’m Ali by the way. What’s your name?”
The monster looked at me unblinkingly. “Name?”
“Yeah, what are you called?”
It didn’t answer. A pang of guilt twisted my stomach. Way to be insensitive.
“No matter,” I quickly said. “From now on, your name is Z . . . Xel.”
“Then, I’m Xel.”