I’ve never really gotten the hang of mornings.
Most days, I drag myself out of bed, my eyes squeezed shut as I fumble around for the damn beeping of my alarm. Once I silence the repugnant device, I sit there for a few more moments, just wishing that I could flop back down, that I didn’t need to get up for work.
Shave, brush teeth, splash some water in my sagging face in the bathroom. Pull on some khakis after running a quick check for any stains or tears, stumble downstairs to get some coffee into my still-sleepy system before departing.
I always make sure that I have enough time to sit at my kitchen table for a few minutes, just sipping at the steaming mug of brown water and caffeine. Every morning, I’m tempted to sleep through those five minutes, but I never do.
Those five minutes are my own time, the only five minutes of my life that belong to no one but me.
So when someone thumped into my kitchen and set a cup of coffee down on the other side of the table, I looked up with annoyance. My mouth started to open, an annoyed little comment on my tongue.
The words died there, shriveling up and drying my mouth until it filled with dust.
Across from me sat a… a creature. Black and brown patches of uneven hair obscured most of its features, for which I felt grateful. The thing had to stand at least seven feet tall, however, and I saw glinting claws at the ends of its limbs, their tips stained black with some unknown substance that occasionally shed flakes onto my table and floor. Yellow eyes, shot through with burning blood vessels, stared back at me.
I stared, and the creature grunted as those deadly claws delicately lifted a chipped mug to its… mouth?
“Wh- wh- wh-” I stammered, my mouth too numb to form words. I had to squeeze my hand around the hot ceramic of my mug to force the sentence out. “Who are you?”
It glanced over at me again, piercing me with those scarred, bloodshot eyes. “Boogeyman,” it replied in a deep baritone that rumbled and echoed in my stomach.
“Yuh. From under the bed.”
I sat and digested this for a minute as the coffee roiled in my stomach. “There’s no such thing as,” I started, but let the sentence die. How would I feel if someone told me that I didn’t exist? Yes I did, give me a feel, thank you very much!
The creature, supposedly a boogeyman, didn’t seem to pay much attention to me. Finally, I managed to seize onto another thought. “What are you doing here?” I asked, fearing what it might say in response. Was I about to die?
The boogeyman just took another sip of coffee, and then looked at me. Come on, mate, isn’t it obvious? those eyes said. Even with its face mostly hidden by fur and mats, it still managed to hit me with definite sarcasm.
“Um,” I tried next. “Have you been scaring me?”
I could see the creature wrestling with whether it was worth answering my question. Maybe it was in poor taste, like asking a midget if he flew for half off on airplanes. Finally, it shook its big head.
“Just crashing here,” it grumbled. “No open kids’ beds in the neighborhood.”
“What about the Thompsons, down a couple doors?” my mouth asked as my brain gibbered.
A shrug. “Already taken. Immigrant.”
“Ugh, taking our jobs,” I offered sympathetically, as part of my mind wondered what the hell I was doing.
The boogeyman nodded, however, and it seemed to shrink slightly, not loom quite so much. “Good coffee,” it offered, tossing back the rest of its mug’s contents. “Wash yours?”
I held the cup out wordlessly, and the monstrous creature took the cup gently from my hand and turned to the sink. “Have a good day,” it muttered over its shoulder.
Thankfully, even though my brain had decided to clock out early and take the rest of the day off, my body knew the routine. I rose up, grabbed my briefcase, and started driving towards work. Thank goodness for routine; I even made the tricky left turn at Franklin across traffic without any actual input from my brain.
What do I do? Hire a psychic or exorcist? Charge him rent? Could he cook? I never managed to get the trick of flipping an omelet without the whole thing coming apart.
Jeff greeted me as I staggered into work. “Morning, Owen,” he called out cheerily. Jeff had the hang of mornings. “You look pale, mate! What’s the matter, seen a ghost?”
“Not a ghost,” I said, shaking my head, and headed off to my desk to spend the day googling “what to do about boogeyman”.