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The glow from the flatscreen was a dim screen saver of upcoming Netflix suggestions: the worst sequel in a Spiderman series, a new season of Working Moms, and yet another true crime documentary. She was just falling into REM when the rustling came from the corner of the room. Not one for nonsense, she flicked on the light with the urgency of someone wanting to immediately turn the lights back off.


The voice was a strangled kind of surprised yelp. It definitely wasn’t one of the kids.

“Please, turn the light off!” It sounded fearful.

“Um, okay?” Off they went. The shadow was next to the floor lamp, too big to hide behind it, though it might have wanted to at that moment.

“Why would you turn the lights on after hearing a noise? Don’t you sit and cower like everyone else?” The voice was calming down, sounding less shrill, but certainly irritable.

“I don’t have time for that sort of thing.” She began flicking through the Netflix categories, adding titles to her queue, may as well be productive.

“I don’t understand. This isn’t the way it’s supposed to happen.” The voice was getting panicked. “I’m supposed to come into the room at 11:00 P.M. and keep my post until 3:00 A.M., when “the damage is already done”–that’s a direct line from the textbook. I remember because I highlighted it in green.”

A beat. She had no clue what he was talking about, but it was getting in the way of sleep.

“Don’t you know what I am?”

“Nope. But I guess you’re gonna tell me.”

“Well, I’m, uh the–I mean I’m YOUR–”

“Speed it up, pal.”

“I’m your Sunday Scary!”

A snort, not a full chuckle, but amusement.

“That’s a thing? Are you telling me the Tooth Fairy is next?”

“Well she can’t be, you don’t have any teeth in jeopardy. Anyway she’s in another department and I don’t get to associate with her.”

“Okay well then what are you doing here? Can we get on with it?” She was back on Netflix.

A throat clearing, the massive limbs seemed to be stretching in the dark.

“Yes, so,” the voice had gotten deeper, like when women exaggerate a male’s voice in retelling a story, “have you thought about that awful work meeting tomorrow?”

“Yes, I already panicked while washing the dishes. What else?”

“Aren’t you missing the permission slip for John’s class trip?”

“I’m sending in my own note. I paid for the ticket, they won’t turn him away. Next?”

“Um well, what about the fact that you’re not eating properly or fitting in any exercise?” The stakes were rising.

“Meh, I’m not going to fix that now.”

A long pause. She could almost hear them calculating and rejecting figures in their head.

“Well how am I supposed to scare you?” It was desperate.

“You can’t.”

“But that’s impossible. We’ve done extensive research on the human brain—we know more than your own species! The anxiety levels alone have been rapidly climbing since the 1996 Olympics!”


“I don’t understand.”

“Did you ever see The Avengers? You know when Bruce Banner says the secret to him turning into the Hulk at any given moment is because he’s always angry? Well, I’m always anxious.”

“But especially on Sunday, right?”

“No, Sunday isn’t even close to my worst night. You should come back on a Tuesday, those are trash for me.”

It was dumbfounded. There was a rustling of pages–was it taking notes?

“But we don’t have scaries operating on Tuesdays. I didn’t train for this, I–”

“Do you want to sit down?” She slid her nightstand glass of water over to it. “Take a sip.”

A gulp drained the glass and it was placed down on the floorboards with a definitive bang. zz

Determined, it continued.

“I cannot leave you without scaring you, I have a quota to meet.”

She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.

“Okay, do you want to start with climate change? That’ll scare me. What about rising inflation? Bank accounts going into the negative…”

Marybeth McDonough

Marybeth knows the correct movie quote and the filmography of the actor who said it; she does not need to look it up.

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