When I was a child, the world had its share of Monsters. Not that my particular neighbourhood was over-run with them or anything… but… they were there. And there were more than a few of them.
Luckily for me and the other kids in the neighbourhood, Monsters were honour-bound to adhere strictly to The Monster Rules. They were and, as far as I know, still are in full force and effect. Without this ancient code of conduct, Monsters would be completely free to do as they choose, childhood would be intolerable and the streets would run red with the blood of grade school kids.
I was never altogether sure exactly how The Monster Rules came about. Presumably, their origins were ‘lost in the mists of time’ and all that. But, just as puzzling, I am completely unaware of how I myself came about knowing the Rules. I don’t recall ever hearing them or reading them. I don’t remember anyone telling them to me. I think children instinctively grasp what the Rules are. They come about that knowledge through The Great Childhood Collective Unconscious. Kids just “know.” I don’t think learning has anything to do with it.
Back in the days when parents let their offspring run amok, completely unsupervised, blocks from their homes and for hours on end, children knew when and why to come home. When? When the street lights came on. Why? Because that’s when the Monsters came out. Now, the Rules provide a 15 minute grace period from the time the street lights come on, allowing even the dullest little squirt plenty of time to run home. It was a fool-hardy youngster indeed who wandered more than 10 minutes running distance from his home just before sunset. The smarter kids, safely at the dinner table, knew that young punk in question would pay for his reckless behaviour by being attacked and quite possibly ripped apart, maybe even ending up at an altogether different dinner, hosted by the Monsters.
This is not to say that one was safe merely because one made it across the threshold within 15 minutes. Heavens, no. Places in house were also infested with Monsters! It never seemed to occur to any of us at the time… but why were we dashing home at breakneck speed to avoid being on the Monster Menu when all the while there were Monsters in the basement and in the bedroom closet of the very places to which we were running?
The Rules vary according to the needs and circumstances of the child/potential victim. For example, at night when lying directly over the Monster Under the Bed, one is safe provided however that one does not peek over the edge and check under the bed. The Rules provide that eye-contact with most Monsters allows them to attack. This Rule even works when, tucked in and lying on your side, you know that there is a Monster in Bed with you, right behind you, teeth bared and claws distended, just ready to slash and tear. No matter how much the Monster in Bed is dying to pounce, it is powerless… as long as you do not look over your shoulder.
The “See the Monster” Rules do not, however, apply to The Thing in The Bedroom Closet. You can stare at it all night and it is more than content to stare right back with full shadowy malevolence. The fact that you are looking at it and seeing it is all part of its power… its weaponry. Just knowing it is there is enough to scare you. You are otherwise quiet safe… even if you look at it… because it won’t attack you. It doesn’t have to. That’s not what it’s there for.
Thank goodness, Monsters are bound, as always, by The Monster Rules.
At least… they were when I was a kid…