Erin slept with a grin on her face. She dreamed of her birthday and the fun she would have when she woke up.
The quiet of her room was broken by a scratching sound at the door. “Hello?” came a muffled voice from outside.
“Who’s there?” Erin asked groggily.
The door creaked open. A hairy foot appeared, followed by an equally hairy body two feet tall. The thing wore a small purple hat. Two dark eyes glittered from under the fur.
The thing gave Erin a small wave. “Hi. I’m Larry, your birthday monster.”
"My what?" Erin mumbled.
“Birthday monster. I’m here to terrify you on your birthday.” Larry raised his arms and let out a growl. It sounded more like a kitten mewing. "Are you scared yet?"
“There’s no such thing as a birthday monster,” Erin said. She nestled under the covers and closed her eyes.
A few minutes later, she felt someone wiggle her big toe.
“Excuse me. Hello?”
Erin opened one eye to see Larry standing next to her bed.
“Wake up. I have to frighten you now." Larry bared his small teeth and crossed his eyes.
Erin sighed and sat up in bed. “I don’t know if you’re real or not, but why do you have to frighten me?”
"You're my homework," Larry said. "I'm supposed to ruin your birthday. I'm going to…." He stopped to scratch his head. "I can't remember. But it's really scary stuff.”
Erin frowned. "Birthdays aren't scary. They're about cakes and presents and parties and silly hats and—”
“That’s it!” Larry cried. “I’m supposed to frighten the birthday cake, scream at the presents, eat the silly hats and then…no, that’s not it.”
He kicked the bedpost in frustration. “Ow!” he cried, hopping in circles on one hairy foot.
“Serves you right,” Erin said. “Scaring people on their birthday is dumb.”
The monster stopped hopping. “You really think so?”
“How would you like it if I showed up on your birthday and frightened you?”
Larry shook his head. “I wouldn’t like that. But if I don’t frighten you and ruin your birthday, I’ll get yelled at by my teacher. Steve is the best birthday monster ever. One year he ruined fifty birthdays in one day.”
“Sounds rotten to me,” Erin said.
The monster began to pace next to the bed, deep in thought. “Okay. Maybe I should frighten the birthday cake, eat the presents, and…oh boy, my teacher is going to be mad if I don't figure this out.”
Larry began to sniffle. A tear trickled down his cheek.
“Okay, don’t get all gooey about it,” Erin said. “I have an idea.”
Later that day, all of Erin’s friends came to her birthday party. They brought presents, they wore silly hats, and they ate birthday cake. But mostly, they looked at the hairy thing sitting next to Erin at the head of the table. It wore the silliest hat of all, and held a piece of birthday cake in each paw.
“That’s the ugliest doll I’ve ever seen,” said Ruth, Erin’s best friend. “How do you get it to eat cake like that?”
Erin watched as Larry finished another piece of cake, candle and all. His furry face was covered with crumbs and icing.
“I don’t know how it works,” she said, giving Larry a wink. “Maybe it has a computer in it.”
Ruth shrugged. “It’s ugly and it just ate a birthday hat. What do we do now?”
“We’re going to play a game,” Erin said. “We’re going to run outside and scream as loud as we can. And the loudest screamer gets a big prize.”
And that’s what they did.
They screamed so loud that people blocks away opened their doors to see what was going on. Dogs began to howl. Huge flocks of birds flew from the trees. Somebody called the police.
It was the loudest scream anyone had ever heard.
The next day, in a classroom far, far away, a large monster patted Larry on the head.
“Good work,” Steve said. “We could hear the screams all the way down here. You are the scariest monster in the school.”
“Aw, it was nothing,” Larry said. He burped and a birthday hat flew out of his mouth. “People are weird. Those things taste awful.”
Email of the day
Dear Dr. Missy,
I am a newbie children's author and I'm ready to buy a computer. The trouble is, I don't know which kind to buy. I've heard that PCs are cheap but they all have trouble with viruses and whatnot. Macs cost more but don't have the virus problem. However, a friend told me that Macs are prone to being haunted. What should I do?
Dazed and Bewildered
Dear D and B,
It should be obvious from what I wrote above that I am a Mac Person and proud of it. At least with a Mac I don't have to worry about my computer bursting into flames or being infected with a new virus every five minutes.
Unfortunately, the reports of "haunted" Macs are true. Apple has acknowledged the problem, which is due to certain logic boards mutating into irrational boards that somehow summon the spirits of creatures from another dimension that take up residence in Macs.
Hey, what can I say? It happens.
My agent was the victim of a Technohaunting, and it changed the programming on her computer so that every third word she wrote was replaced with "poop." As a result, I received emails that read:
Poop was good poop to hear poop from you poop. About your poop: I sent poop to Ed poop at Random poop and he poop as soon poop he can. Poop.
Well, you get the idea. She had a Buddhist guy come in and do some kind of exorcism thingie and now "poop" only shows up every fiftieth word or so. That's not so bad and she doesn't have to worry about flames and poisonous fumes shooting out of her keyboard as is the case with certain other brands. I think you know what I mean.