It was like I had suddenly materialized there. I was in what appeared to be a medieval castle, torch sconces on the granite walls, coats of arms visible across the great hall. For the life of me I couldn’t remember how I’d gotten there, what I’d been doing before.
I made my way out of the great hall and down a passage. I passed an opened door, and in my peripheral vision I saw these large, hairy manlike creatures, just standing there in the room. I startled. Then I felt a tugging on my sleeve. I startled again. I looked down and spied a little girl looking back at me. She couldn’t have been more than four.
“They’re sasquatch—and yeti,” she said. “They don’t think they’re really real.”
“Sasquatch?” I parroted as I began to move, not wanting to be in their proximity whether or not they thought they were real. “Why are they here?”
“They’re all here—all the monsters.”
“All?” Just then I passed another opened door and saw a variety of creatures, all of whom appearing to be straight out of Hollywood vampire casting. Several of them hissed at me. I flinched away severely. “Mother fuck!”
“I don’t like them either. They’re way too creepy—but they won’t hurt you.”
“What the hell’s going on? What is this place?”
“It’s the place where the monsters all stay.”
“Where they stay?” We passed a room full of clowns, but there were bars on that door. “What does that even mean?”
“When writers need a monster for their story, they come here to get it.”
“Girl, that doesn’t even make sense. I’ve written lots of stories and used lots of monsters, and I’ve never been here before now.”
“You don’t really come here—just your mind. Your mind gets the monster, and when you’re done writing about it, it comes back.”
“That’s crazy.” Then again, I still couldn’t remember how I’d gotten here. The next opened door caused me to pause. “What’s that?”
“It’s a skinwalker. Nobody comes for him anymore.”
“That’s sad.” It looked like a Native American—but it didn’t. “Truly.”
“It is. He mostly just sits around muttering about the old days. He doesn’t even come to the mixers.”
“Yeah. They’re like big parties—but there’s usually just a lot of fighting—and biting.”
“I don’t like it.”
I looked down at her. She sort of giggled.
“Question,” I said. “What are you doing here? Do you write?”
“No. I’m one of the monsters.”
I felt a tingle. “A monster?”
“Well, I’m not really a monster—but they all say I’m the scariest creature here.”
“Creature? What kind of creature are you?”
“I’m a missing child.”
I had to think about that.
“We’re here,” she said. “Good luck.”
“Wait!” I entreated. “Why am I here?”
“You were writing, and then you had a stroke. You died.”
She slammed the door…with me outside…in the dark…suddenly in the midst of a writers circle…