The school-bus stopped in front of Theodore's house. He looked out a dirty window expecting to see his mother waiting for him but he saw no sign of her. The bus driver honked the horn a second time as Theodore made his way to the front of the bus.
"Have a good day," the bus driver said to him.
Theodore walked to his front door and opened it. Confirming that the kid was inside the home, the bus driver then drove away.
"Mom?" he called out, as he walked through the house.
He tossed his backpack on the hallway chair and noticed long cotton-like strands on the rug next to it. He knelt down to touch them with his hand. The patch of strands was grayish-white in color and sticky to his touch. So sticky in fact that when he pulled his hand away some of the stuff stuck to his finger tips. He rubbed the unusual substance off his fingers and went into the kitchen.
His mother was standing over the sink in a odd position. Her body was bent forward and her arms where bent with both her hands placed flat on the counter top. It almost looked as if she was doing push-ups on the sink, but she wasn't moving. Her head was down and from where he stood it would have seemed to anyone else, that she was skrying for some kind of mystical knowledge, in the kitchen sink water. He moved over to where he could see her face. Theodore did not expect to see what he saw, as he came closer to her. Her mouth was opened and her lower jaw was submerged in water, that he couldn't see whether or not was clean or filthy, because of his height. He could, however, see that her eye lids were shut.
In a state of perplexity he spoke to her saying, "Mom, what are you doing?"
A large bubble grew from the water in her mouth then silently popped into nothing. Her eyes opened and she stood straight. For a flashing second, as she turned her face toward him, he thought he saw something black inside her mouth.
"You are home now I see, Theodore.", she said to him.
"Were you drinking from the sink?" he questioned her, and then looked from her to the sink and then back at her.
"Your teacher called and said that you are not strong. We have talked about this, have we not, Theodore?" she asked, and obviously avoided his question.
Ms. Lawson knows that I'm afraid- was all that he could think about now. He looked at his mom and for the first time didn't like her. Theodore ran out of the kitchen and up the stairs to his bedroom. He was almost certain that his mother wouldn't follow him, but he couldn't explain why.
He stayed in his bedroom most of the evening and played video games to pass the time. His mom didn't check on him to see if he had done any home-work or to ask if him he was hungry. Sometime after it had gotten dark outside he opened his door to go and get something to eat. Just outside the door and on the floor he discovered that his mother had left him a bag of food. He looked at it and puzzled over what it was. It was a bag of boneless chicken breasts. A frozen bag of boneless chicken breasts, to be exact! What is this?- he wondered. My mom knows I can't cook! I'm just a kid. Confused and nervous he contemplated what he thought his mom was trying to do. Why does she want me to be so grown-up like her?- he thought to himself. She doesn't love me anymore- he finally decided. It was night-time now and he had a plan. A plan that would show his mother that he was a strong boy. He would not call for her when the closet monster came for him tonight. Instead he would be strong like she wanted him to be and if the monster got him then she would be very sorry. A little movie played in his head and the scene was his mother crying because the monster had taken him away.
He awoke because of a thudding noise, and suddenly realized that his bedroom was completely dark. Remembering that he had fallen asleep with the lights on, he assumed his mom had turned them off, sometime while he slept. He then reached for the night-light and turned it on. What had woke him up?- He thought about it. Maybe it had been his mom checking in on him? Maybe it had been when she turned out the lights? Or maybe it had been something else? Something he didn't want to think about anymore. Ironically, just as he began to dismiss the thought from his mind, a noise was emitted from behind the closet door.
Terror seized him and he thought- It's trying to get out! The monster wants to eat me! I can't get my mom because it will leave before she gets here! I must be strong!
Theodore hid within the shelter of his blanket and sheets. Maybe, just maybe, it couldn't find him in them if it got out of the closet. With any luck it would just go away. All he could do was close his eye's and wait.
He made himself a bowl of cereal the next morning while his mother watched television. She was watching all the boring news channels on Cable TV. Theodore hugged her goodbye but she weakly hugged him back with one arm. There was no mention of how proud she was of him having not called for her during the night-time hours. He rode the bus to school.
When he arrived at school, he was apprehensive about being there, because he didn't want to be teased about what had taken place the day before. Also, he definitely did not want to be the closet keeper. Eric Ingman had explained to him a long time ago about how the monster uses the closets as some kind of portal, from it's world to ours. Eric, at the time, seemed to be a dependable source of information on the monster.
As he walked into his classroom Ms. Lawson leaned toward him and asked him if he had talked with his mother. With a somewhat embarrassed reaction he told her, Yes. She smiled and then let him put away his things, in the walk-in-closet.
The time went by fast and the school day actually turned out to be good. He found the picture he had drawn on the inside of his desk and he knew his teacher must have put it there. At the end of the day he was elated when Ms. Lawson took over as the role of closet keeper. He realized how much he really liked Ms. Lawson. Before he left the room, his teacher handed him a book and told him that she thought that it might help him. Looking at the cover he noticed that it was the same book the guest-speaker had read to his class, the day before-- Greg faces his fears. In his mind he hoped to be as brave as Greg in the story had been.
That evening at home his mom seemed to act as distant towards him as ever. In his bedroom, alone, he read the book. Some of the words gave him trouble but the illustrations helped to convey clearly the stories meaning. The fictional boy named Greg gave Theodore some confidence and by the third reading had him looking at his closet door and thinking.
Maybe it's time for me to be brave. Greg found out that the things that scared him were not so bad. Maybe there's another reason for what's making the sounds in my closet.
He surveyed his room. His eye's traveled from the light-switch, to his night-light, then over to the closet door. In his mind he began to formulate a very serious ideal. Staring intensely at the closet door, he finally, against all his inner voices of reason , chose to do the thing that he feared the most.
Theodore Wicker decided to open the closet door......In the dark!
Before he could venture boldly forth on his quest for bravery, he had to make a few preparations. Rummaging through drawers, cluttered toys, and the junk scattered beneath his bed, he found the objects he needed. A spider-man flashlight would be used to blind the monster if indeed it was in there. And a metal roller-skate would be thrown as a distraction so he could run away, should the creature attack him. One final and important item needed, was his library identification card. The card would be taken just incase he happened to disappear into the other-world portal. If anyone was to ever find him dead or alive, they would be able to identify him that way. He stuffed the card into his pants back pocket. Theodore set the book Ms. Lawson had given to him on his bed and looked at the pictures of Greg, overcoming his fears. He was ready.
The night-light was already off and he walked over to the wall switch by the closed bedroom door. Then in an act of notable courage, seven year old Theodore Wicker switched off his bedroom light. He broke through the abysmal darkness with his hand held flashlight. Spider-man's plastic web-slinging hand was outstretched in the direction of the light-beam. In Theodore's opposite hand he gripped the roller-skate and held it up like a club. Moving at a deliberate pace he came within reach of the closet door, and stopped cold.
I can't! I just can't! I don't want to become monster food!- he began to doubt himself. Then images flashed in his mind. Images of his mom not hugging him and scorning him for being a coward. More images of his classmates laughing at him and Eric, his best friend, not playing with him because of the embarrassment. The last image gave him a boost of encouragement, because he didn't want to lose his friend. So he thought about Greg and how Greg had survived when he was finally confronted with the things that he feared. He must do this! He had to do this! He didn't want to be afraid anymore.
He placed the flashlight into his arm pit and pinned it there. This allowed his hand to have the freedom that was needed to turn the door knob. The door knob was cold to his touch, but holding it firmly he began to turn it to the right. The inside mechanism clicked and he slowly pulled open the door.
He did it, he opened the closet door! He couldn't believe it. If they could only see him now! -he thought with pride.
Excitedly, he took the flashlight out from under his arm and aimed it into the dark closet. The light exposed some of his hung up winter-clothes and an over-head shelf. The wooden-shelf was too high up for him to see what objects lay upon it. Scanning the closet he thought to himself- There's no crummy monster in here. Eric Ingman was going to hear about this alright! But just then, the light hit something that made him freeze entirely.
What is that?- he thought as he shinned the light directly on it. He moved the flashlight a little closer. It looked like feet. Feet with red-colored ladies shoes on them. His mother wore shoes just like that! The revelation was quite disturbing. Fear crawled over his skin like a dozen platoons of marching Army-Ants.
Smothered by uncontrollable fear, he began to shake as the light revealed more of what was in his closet. Laying on the floor of the closet was a bloated body. Most of the person's body was wrapped up in a thick cocoon-shaped covering, of thick grayish-white cotton-like strands. The exposed body parts and odd-stringy substance, that formed the main shell, looked to be attached to the interior walls of the closet in the corner, by more of the same grayish-white stuff. The areas of the person not completely covered: such as the arms, legs from the knees down, head and neck, were all swollen. The skin looked inflated and distorted. The color of the flesh was a sort of maroon with dark green patches. Theodore saw that the person's mouth was agape and that their head was tilted backward. A thick dark bile began to slowly spill out of the mouth and cascade down the silky strands, that bound the person.
Unexpectedly the feet began to kick. Thump, Thump, Thump .... then they stopped.
The horrific convulsion was too much for him to handle, and he freaked out. He dropped the flashlight and the roller-skate as he turned to run. The metal roller-skate struck the floor with a clunk and the plastic flashlight cracked and dimmed upon impact. Theodore sprinted for the door, that would open into the hallway. Before he could get to it, it swung open.
His mother stood in the doorway. She reached to flip on the light-switch and at the same moment he wrapped his arms around her. The light came on. A cold ominous look shown on her face, then she lifted him up with her hands and literally threw him across the room. His propelled small body bounced onto and off the bed and then crashed into the video game desk. Video cartridges were strewn across the floor, along with the book his teacher had given him. Theodore was rendered senseless by the blow. Miss. Wicker calmly crossed the room and stopped to stand in-between Theodore and the opened closet.
"You were correct Theodore," Miss Wicker said. "It was in your closet. Your mother has been there since I put her there." She spoke this information to him, as he began to become cognizant of what had just happened to him. "The test is complete now, Theodore. I am just one, of the first of my kind, sent here to observe and learn about you humans. The Overlords with their infinite wisdom have a master plan that will ensure your worlds demise." There was no real emotion behind the words she spoke to the child. "Your kind is nourishment for our superior race. You are food, Theodore."
Theodore was in a state of shock. He couldn't move and he couldn't feel the open cut on his left forearm.
"Look at me Theodore," the thing that looked like his mother, demanded him to do.
"Look at Me," it insisted.
After drawing his vacant-minded attention, the stranger he had since believed to be his mother, dug its fingers, with both hands, into the top of its head. It began pulling apart the skin. Beneath the flesh colored disguise was a grayish-white cotton-like substance that stretched and snapped apart. Pulling down the two halves of what had been an exactly detailed replica of Theodore's mother's face, it showed it's true appearance to the boy. It was monstrously abnormal, with thick black-colored coarse hairs, and small black beady-eyes. The features were a mismatch of human/spider parts. On both sides of it's neck was pulsating silk glands. Hairy spinneret appendages extended from both sacks and wrapped around the neck. Two black-colored long fangs were partially exposed from within its lip-less mouth.
This was the monster! And it just so happened that things were not what Theodore Wicker had envisioned them to be. The monster was real and it had been wanting to eat him, but it wasn't in his closet. Eric Ingman, his best friend, had been right all along. The monster hovered over Theodore. It's shadow cast across the now open book, Ms. Lawson had given to him. The book lay open to a page that displayed an illustration of Greg, the main character. Greg was holding a small spider in his hand and smiling at it. A few of Greg's friends, standing around him, were observing the spider he held. Theodore like the boy in the story, had faced his fears.
The next day at school Theodore Wicker's seat was empty. His best friend, Eric Ingman was still shaken by the strange noises he heard, coming from his closet the night before.
In deep space a colossal fleet of invading warships continued on a course of destination Earth.