Copyright is held by the author.
MICHAEL WATCHED his sister sleeping peacefully on her Teen-Monster Dolls pillow with her Teen-Monster Dolls quilt tucked up under her chin. Stupid Teen-Monster Dolls. He was sick of looking at the gothed-out plastic figures with their pouty purple lips, long skinny legs and green knee-high boots. And he hated sharing a room with Kimberley. All the girly stuff was embarrassing. He couldn’t have any friends over — they would think he was totally lame. It wasn’t fair. Even if he stripped away the ugly bedding, there were still the Fairy Tale High posters on the walls and the pink-framed mirror stuck all over with rhinestones and painted with glitter.
He listened to his sister’s ragged breathing. Even that was irritating. Her mouth was slack and hanging open. She drooled and she snored; she was a mouth breather because her nose was always stuffed up. Wiping snot on her sleeve or the back of her hand she would chase him around shouting “boogers!” Michael could hear the phlegm clogging Kimberley’s nostrils with every breath she took. Gross.
That morning she had filled a huge bowl with his favourite cereal — Frosted Chocolate Bites — and finished the whole box without leaving him any at all. She drank all the strawberry milk boxes his mom had bought for his lunches, and yesterday she left paint to dry on his paintbrushes so that they were hard as sticks.
Unable to sleep, he sat up in bed and looked at his own pillow. It was swimming-pool-blue with a picture of Captain Skyrider sailing in his airship among the clouds. The matching quilt was navy blue at the top with white shining stars, transitioning to a bright blue sky with clouds at the bottom. A whole fleet of sky pirates flew through the half-day, half-night world.
His pillow was soft and squishy, and Michael suddenly wanted to plant it right in Kimberley’s face. He picked it up, plumped it a little, and crept across the room through the ambient glow from the nightlight plugged in next to his sister’s bed — it was a fairy skipping on a flower head. So babyish.
He glared at the row of Teen-Monster Dolls posing along the shelf over Kimberley’s bed. They were accessorized with mini plastic shopping bags, zebra-striped purses and ridiculous fluffy pets. They were creepy — they watched Michael’s every move, as if to say come any closer and we’ll kick your ass.
Michael didn’t look at them as he snuck up on his sister who was mumbling in her sleep. Extra annoying. He lifted his Captain Skyrider pillow high in the air and brought it down full force on her face with a dull thunk. Perhaps he should have stopped there, but Michael couldn’t resist pressing the pillow against his sister’s face. She lashed out with grasping hands and kicking feet, her screams of outrage muffled. Then Michael heard what sounded like war cries. He looked up, dumbfounded, releasing the pillow from his sister’s face as the Teen-Monster Dolls leapt down from their shelf like an army of demented pixies.
Michael stumbled backward as the dolls pelted him with their fashion accessories — the pink plastic handbags, cat’s-eye sunglasses, snap-on body parts and glamourous high-heeled boots. Now it was Michael’s turn to scream. He deflected the assault with his pillow, trusting that Captain Skyrider — whose image was emblazoned across his pillowcase — would protect him. But as he staggered out of harm’s way he tripped over one of his own model airships and ended up sprawled on the floor with the wind knocked out of him. His pillow landed out of reach.
Kimberley cowered beneath her pink and purple Teen-Monster Dolls quilt while the onslaught continued. The sassy doll with the vampire teeth flapped her lacy wings and bit deeply into Michael’s ankle — her tiny, white fangs drawing blood.
“Owww!” Michael howled. His eyes grew wide as the snarling vampire grabbed the hem of his pyjamas and crawled up his leg. He tried to shake her off but her tiny hands had a strong grip on the fabric.
The Frankenstein doll sprang on to his shoulder and kicked him in the eye. He shrieked, momentarily blinded. The creature took off her orange shoe and swung, imbedding the sharp heel of it in Michael’s cheek. He cried out and folded his arms over his face, but he couldn’t prevent the werewolf girl from leaping up on to his chest. Growling, she raked her claws across his throat. And before he knew it he was covered in vicious attacking monster dolls, his attempts to fend them off failing miserably. As he acquired new scratches, bites and bruises he shouted: “Captain Skyrider! Help!”
With his half-closed, streaming eye he looked toward the chest-of-drawers where his Captain Skyrider action figures stood, immobile. Useless. The faces of the dread air pirates looked ferocious, but their snarling expressions remained as they had come right out of the box and although they held swords high over their heads they didn’t come to Michael’s rescue. The sky fliers — armed with pistols and ropes — didn’t move a muscle. Captain Skyrider himself stood with his silver sabre ready to strike — certainly capable of chopping off the dolls’ heads — but he only stood there, his frozen face implacable.
Michael crawled into the closet after finally struggling free from the small, but vicious monsters. He slammed the door shut and pulled his knees up to his chest. Breathless and shaking, he cried out. “Dad!”
“Dad!” Michael screeched louder.
After what felt like an eternity there was a knock and Michael heard his father’s voice through the door. “Michael, are you in there?”
“Yes.” His reply was a whisper.
The door swung wide. “What are you doing in the closet?”
Michael peered through his father’s legs into the bedroom beyond. The light was on and Kimberley lay sleeping like an angel. Her detestable Teen-Monster Dolls had resumed their positions on the shelf above her bed. Michael blinked. Confused. It was as if nothing had happened. But there was his pillow, across the room where he had left it, and when he put his finger to his cheek, it came away with a drop of blood.
“You’ve had a bad dream,” Michael’s father said. “Come on, I’ll help you back to bed.”
“I can’t sleep in here,” Michael said, crawling out from under the rail of clothes hanging over his head.
“Please, Dad, I want to sleep in the spare room.”
Michael’s father ran a hand through his tousled hair and yawned. “All right,” he said. “If you’re sure.”
“I’m sure,” Michael said, heading for the door.
“Wait. Don’t you want your Captain Skyrider pillow and quilt? You never sleep without them.”
Michael scowled. “I don’t like them so much anymore.”
Tomorrow he would put all of his Captain Skyrider stuff in a box and tell his mom to donate it. Then they would swing by the toy store so he could get some Extreme Commando action figures instead.