Warnings: Not this time
Characters: Sam Emerson, Edgar Frog, Alan Frog
Synopsis: Sam doesn't believe in the thing in his closet any more. Neither do Edgar and Alan, but when it comes to monsters, there's no such thing as too careful.
Sam stretched out in his sleeping bag on the bedroom floor and smiled in contentment. The floor wasn't especially comfortable, but it didn't seem right to take the bed and make Edgar and Alan sleep down there alone. Not fair on Sam, that was. He didn't want to miss out on half of the fun of a sleepover because it happened to be taking place at his house.
The main light was switched off, but his bedside lamp was still on and filling the room with enough light to see by. When the intensely bright glare of a flashlight beam hit Sam straight in the eyes, he covered them instinctively, squinting and turning away from the dazzling light.
“What are you smiling about?” Edgar demanded. He was standing almost directly above him, staring down. “Need I remind you we're on a very serious mission here?”
“Guys, I told you,” Sam said, reaching up and batted the flashlight to one side, “it was just a bad dream. I kind of wish I hadn't mentioned it now.” That was an outright lie. If he hadn't mentioned it, there was no way he would have convinced the Frogs to forfeit a night of patrolling for vampires in favor of camping out on his bedroom floor reading comic books and munching on popcorn and potato chips.
Edgar shook his head disbelievingly and crossed the room to the closet. The flashlight was still switched on in his hand. “You said the door was closed when you went to bed, right?” he said.
Sam nodded, “Yeah, but...”
“And when you woke up, it was open.” Edgar opened the door and shone his light inside, seemingly checking for anything out of the ordinary. Part of the collection of dead things his grandpa had given him stared out glassy-eyed into the room. Edgar appeared unconcerned about them.
“Wide open,” Alan corrected. “He said wide open.”
Edgar turned, glanced at Alan and then at Sam and nodded. “That's right, you did.”
Sam sighed. It was true, he had said that. Alan had an irritatingly good memory for things people said and did.
“And in the meantime,” Alan continued, speaking to Sam now, “you saw something crawl out of the closet and up onto the end of your bed.”
Sam shook his head. “No, I dreamed it. It didn't really happen.” This was not how he had envisioned the night going. Sure, the monster thing provided his friends with a good excuse to come over, but by now they should have discounted the idea and be half way through the pile of comics, reading by flashlight under the covers, whispering to each other and pretending to be asleep if his mom popped her head around the door. A little later, when she and his Grandpa had gone to bed, they were supposed to creep downstairs and watch a video on the second hand TV that his months of nagging had finally earned him.
At this rate, that was never going to happen. Edgar and Alan appeared determined to spend the whole night staring in fascination at the door to his closet.
“Correction,” Edgar told him. “You might have dreamed it, but it's also possible that the thing woke you up for a few minutes, just in time to see it. You were semi-concious and interpreted the whole thing as a dream.”
Sam squirmed uncomfortably in his sleeping bag. “Come on, you're kinda freaking me out here, guys. Can we talk about something else.”
“Like what?” Edgar asked.
“Well...” Sam paused, thinking. There were a million and one things that they could talk about that would be better than this, but in that instant every single possibility escaped him.
Alan reached for the bag of chips laying on the floor. He took out a handful and crunched as he stared thoughtfully at the closed door. “It can't actually live in there,” he said. “You'd have seen it in the daytime when you opened the door.”
Edgar glanced at him sharply. “What are you thinking? Some kind of gateway?”
“Could be.” Alan shrugged, and turned to Sam. “Ever see anything else?”
“School!” Sam blurted loudly.
At either side of him, both Edgar and Alan frowned and turned confused glances in his direction.
Sam felt his cheeks glowing in embarrassment. “That's something else we could talk about,” he explained. “Or comic books. Or TV! We have one now, did I tell you? We've finally re-joined the 20th century!”
Edgar shook his head. “Sam,” he said, “we're dealing with the very real possibility that your bedroom closet is a doorway to a parallel universe populated by who knows what kinds of unspeakable monsters, and you'd rather talk about what happened last night on MacGyver?”
“It was pretty good, actually,” Alan said. Edgar shot him a look.
Sam sighed and chewed quickly on his bottom lip. “There's nothing in the closet,” he said. “I've always had this thing about it, and I thought since the vampires it was over. You know, because there are real monsters to worry about instead. And I'm pretty sure you guys are just messing with me, but can you stop it, please?” He glanced nervously at the closed door. “It was just a bad dream. I know it was.”
“We're not messing with you,” Edgar said.
Alan shook his head solemnly, showing his agreement with his brother.
“Where do you think ideas like the closet monster come from?” Edgar continued. “It's something that people know instinctively. Like a fear of the dark. No one ever tells you that dark is scary, you just know that's where the monsters are. Every kid the world over knows there's something in the closet or under the bed. Chances are, sometimes they're right.”
Sam flicked on his flashlight and shone the beam quickly under his bed, just checking. There was nothing there but dust bunnies and an odd sock.
“Was there ever anything hiding in your room?” he asked.
Edgar closed the closet door, switched off his flashlight and shrugged. “Not that we know of, but we took preventative measures.”
Sam glanced at the closet. He was sure there was nothing in there, but on the other hand, not so long ago he had been sure there was no such thing as vampires. “How?” he asked.
Edgar glanced at Alan. Sam followed his gaze. Alan reached into his pocket, fished around for a few seconds and then triumphantly pulled out a length of string. It was the kind that could be bought at any store in town. In typical Frog style, Alan had wound a fairly long piece around his hand and then tied the end around the loop to keep it neat. He unfastened the knot. “We tied the doors together,” he said.
“Stopped anything coming though, whether it was there or not.” Edgar added. “Not that there was, but you can never be too careful.”
Alan waved the string in the air. “Want me to?” he asked.
It was such a simple, obvious solution. Sam felt a wide grin spread across his face. The handles on the doors were perfectly shaped for tying together, and it would keep anything that might be in there from getting out. “Okay,” he said. “I still don't think there's anything in there, but if it'll make you guys feel better, then go ahead.”
Edgar and Alan shared a glance containing a small conversation, and Alan got to his feet, walked across the room and secured the length of string around the two handles in a quick but complicated pattern of movements. When he was done, he stood back and invited Sam to inspect his handiwork.
Sam wriggled his way out of his sleeping bag and tried the door. It refused to budge even an inch. If there was anything in there – and he knew for a fact that there wasn't – it had no chance of getting out. He felt immediately safer. Which made no sense, since he already knew there was nothing in there.
He sat back down on the floor on top of his sleeping bag, and nibbled on a chip from almost untouched bag. “Cool,” he said. “Even if it was a dream, like you said, you can't be too careful, right?”
“Right,” Edgar nodded.
“Definitely not,” Alan agreed as he sat back down.
On the other side of the bedroom door, the floorboards creaked as someone walked past. The door handle turned, and Sam's mom poked her head inside. She appeared not to notice the anti-monster protection, and looked instead at the three boys sitting on the floor in the middle of the room. “I'm going to bed,” she said. “I think you boys should too, don't you?” She smiled pleasantly, but there was no mistaking that it was more than just a suggestion.
Sam stretched theatrically and threw in a yawn for good measure, “Yeah, mom,” he told her. “We were just saying the same thing, right guys?”
On either side of him, Edgar and Alan both nodded once.
“All right then,” Lucy said. She smiled knowingly and closed the door behind her.
Sam turned back to Edgar and Alan, grinning.
“Now what are you smiling about?” Edgar asked him.
Sam checked the clock for the time. “In about fifteen minutes, my mom'll be fast asleep and we can go downstairs and watch the videos Michael rented for me,” he explained in a whisper. “We just need to make her think we're asleep when she comes back to check.”
“New mission,” Edgar whispered. Alan nodded as though he had been given a command, quickly got to his feet, switched off the bedside lamp plunging the room into darkness, then switched on his flashlight to make his way back across the floor.
Sam crawled back into his sleeping bag and zipped it closed. After a moment, Alan's flashlight was switched off and the sound of artificial sleep filled the air. Sam smiled again in the darkness, safe in the knowledge that Edgar couldn't see him this time.
The sleepover was back on plan.