This week's theme is about monsters.
The Cthulhu poured the last of the beer into his glass. “Looks like we need another pitcher. Who's round is it?”
“Mine, I guess,” said the giant spider. He waved one of his legs at their server. “Angie?”
She nodded and brought a fresh pitcher to the table. “One more round for the Ugly Club. Then that's it. It's Sunday night, you have all had your limit, and we need to close up soon. I'll be in the back cashing out.”
“She's right,” said the ogre. “It will be another long night, and we need to stay alert if we hope to scare anybody.” He nodded at the Medusa. “Want to split on a cab? Or will your control slip again and turn the driver into stone?”
“I'm good,” she said. “Hopefully we can all focus and have a more productive night scaring people in dreamland.”
They used to be quite good at scaring people, in the old days. Then a generation ago all the videos and action toys and movies about monsters came out, and kids saw them all as entertainment, as collectibles. Right now when they met in the tavern they had to use their powers to look like a table full of pensioners in the corner, sharing pitchers of beer. However, the less they could scare people, the less scary they actually were. Soon they wouldn't need their cover-up. They'd lose all their identity as monsters, with all those tentacles and hairy legs and green flesh, and just be some quiet old guys in the corner. Strangely enough, Angie had always been able to see right past their cover. She claimed it was from years serving in the tavern. At any rate, their appearance didn't seem to bother her at all. Maybe because they tipped well and were always well behaved.
The gang was just finishing off their pitcher when a skinny white haired man stumbled in from the street, then headed right to their corner. “Hey guys, buy me a beer? Got a smoke?”
“Sorry buddy,” said the ogre. “Can't help you. Move along.”
“Move along? What are you, a cheapskate?”
“No, we just want to be left alone,” said the Cthulhu. “It's late. Go home. And maybe grab a shower.”
With that the stranger started swearing at them, as he wobbled back and forth.
“Oh dear,” said the Medusa. “Want me to deal with him?”
“No,” said the spider. “Then Angie gets stuck with a stiff. Let me handle this.”
With that he stood up on all eight legs, leaned toward the old man, and dropped his disguise. Their uninvited guest froze for a good ten seconds, his eyes bulging, his mouth opening and closing soundlessly. Then he turned and ran screaming out the door.
“Awesome,” said the spider, high-fiving his friends. “What a rush. That felt great.”
The ogre sniffed. “He may have wet himself on the way out. But it's good to see that you still have it in you.”
“Maybe that's it,” said the spider. “We can still scare the older folks, so let's concentrate on them for a while. And don't waste our energy on anyone else.”
It was a good plan, at first. The monsters had a much better success rate, scaring more and more people every night. Just older people, but it didn't matter. Being able to scare people fed right back into their powers, making them even scarier. When they next met in the tavern they were flushed with success, feeling more alive than ever, even buying a round of shooters for the surrounding tables. They tried to get Angie a shot too, but she just shook her head. “Not in the mood, boys. It's been kinda rough around here. We lost a few regulars.”
After she left the Cthulhu pulled out his smartphone and started scanning some sites. “Guys, look at this. There's been a big jump in deaths lately. Not just people I recognize from here, but all over the city. Almost all old people.”
“Damn,” said the spider. “I think that's from us. We're zoomed right in on these old folks, hammering them with all these fears, and they just can't take it.”
“But at least we are staying alive as monsters,” said the Medusa, “right?”
“Yes, but it's just delaying the inevitable,” said the spider. “Once we use up all our targets in the seniors homes and geriatrics wards – what then?”
“You're right,” she said. “We have to stop. But now what?”
They all sat quietly, sipping their beer, until Angie came over. “Hey guys, what happened to the party?”
The Cthulhu explained that their attempts to keep themselves alive as monsters may have brought about the increased death rate. She was pretty pissed off at first, but was reassured by their decision to stop.
“But I kind of like that monster look,” she said. “And we need you in our imaginations, in our dreams. Let me think about it.” She frowned. “And let me go turn down the jukebox, someone's playing a god-awful tune at full volume, some hip-hop country mash-up.”
“A mash-up?” said the ogre. “What's that?”
As she explained the style to them she paused. “Hmm, maybe that's it. You do a mash-up of yourselves. Invent some newer scarier creatures. Like spider, add some tentacles. Ogre, you add some snake hair.”
“But then I wouldn't be an ogre,” he said.
“But you'd be new and scarier,” she said, “to all the youngsters used to seeing the same old monsters. Add some laser eyes too.” She smiled at his blank look. “Buy some comic books, and improvise.”
“Hmm,” he said. “I guess it's worth a try guys.” He paused, furrowed his brow, then transformed. “Hey Medusa! Look, snake hair.”
“Oh yeah,” she said. “How's this? Werewolf head and dragon claws. Hey, this is fun!”
“Whoa, whoa, guys,” said Angie. “You'll scare all my customers away. You're off work now. Save this for later.” She paused. “Or for when that spare change guy comes back in – yes, I saw what you did last time!”