I love my toys. Each and every one holds a very special place in my home and heart. From Slugger and Stephen to Slick and Sylvie, they all have a defined point and purpose.
Plus, I think they saved my life last night.
Mom used to say –
“Good soldiers are ready for battle at a moment’s notice,” and so my toys needed to be too.
She also said –
“A great General should know all his soldiers’ skills,” and that was me.
I don’t have a lot of friends.
Cindy is my sister, and she says that is because of my condition. Even still, when I was thirty-one, my mother asked me to move into my own place. Everyone agreed that it was time. We had taken all the necessary precautions to make it safe. Mom helped me find a small apartment on the other, rougher side of town. My job is at a local grocery store and, sometimes, she helps me pay my bills.
At night, I have trouble sleeping if there are strange sounds. Last night was a lot like that.
The toys and I were tired. During the daytime, we spent the whole day roaming the green grass and setting sun of my apartment complex. There were monsters there. They were little red ones… with four legs and alien-like heads that covered almost every inch of the warm dirt. Most of the time, they hid in their small castles that dotted the field like spots on our old Shepherd, Sookie, before she died. My soldiers breached the bays of those mini-mountains with full numbers. We won every single battle.
But once it got dark, it was time to go inside. That was always the worst part of playtime… everything that came afterwards. Mom said once; “Some people just have lonely souls,” and that was why I hated going to bed so much. She was probably right. Sometimes, I watched television with the toys by my side. Other times, I would call my brother or sister to ask if they were seeing the same things on the TV screen. But they didn’t always answer. Cindy said it was because she couldn’t hear the phone. Chris never said much at all.
Before bedtime, I set my toys up exactly the way I was told.
Stephen was a crusty old sailor who knew a thing or two about keeping watch. He was bigger than the other ones, maybe almost a foot tall total, and he had a big camera perched on the top of his big red hat. Stevey went on the dresser by the front door. If any monsters ever moved in front of him, Stephen would send out signals to every house in my whole family.
Sometimes when my lonely soul acted up after midnight, I would move in front of him to see if Chris and Cindy saw. They always said that they did.
Mom said Slick’s job was to watch the windows. He was a cowboy that rode on a cold and true horse (Chris called him a colt) named Copper. Slick wore one of those old jean vests over a checkered shirt, with a wide-brimmed cap that was just high enough to hide his eyes. He went on the kitchen table; and his job catch any monsters coming in that way.
Then there was Sylvie. She was not my favorite toy.
Sylvie was christened after Cindy’s friend with the same name, and it fit her perfectly. She was a small doll with long strawberry blonde hair and wide outspread arms that were perfect for holding a sensor. Anytime my bedroom door opened after midnight, Sylvie and her sensor screamed so loud they could wake up the Devil. Just like the real one.
The last toy was Slugger. That was my Mom’s toy.
Only in case of emergencies, she would say. If the monsters got past Sylvie and Stephen and Slick, it is the General’s job to hide in the closet and wait for Slugger.
So last night, when a monster tried to get me, I knew exactly what to do.
At eleven, I stopped trying to call Chris and tried to go to sleep. The rain ringing against my window was really scary at first. But there was a radio by my nightlight that played soothing sounds from the sea. That helps me sleep, sometimes.
At three, Stephen woke me up. He was a lot better at that. Instead of screaming like a banshee, Stevey sent a soft song to my phone with a video of what he saw.
A second later, the front door handle jiggled. It twisted this way and that for a moment and then it opened all the way up.
A man stood in the frame curiously. He had tight leather clothes, and wore a pulled-over black mask with holes cut for his mouth and face.
Then he saw the camera.
It was not like Steve was hiding… he just sat there. Front and center with his sailor hat and friendly wave. When the man leaned into the camera, the hairs from his nostrils sprung out through the holes in his mask.
Then the sound cut and could not see anything at all.
Soon after, Slick saw the man too, and he sent out another signal to my mobile phone. In his last seconds, the shadow of a gloved hand moved swiftly across the screen, before Slick slipped and stared at the kitchen floor.
The monster-man took a little bit. He seemed to know someone was home. Even from behind the closed closet, I heard him circle every room in my little apartment before he finally paused outside my door. There was a soft sigh before he opened it. That was his last breath before Sylvie started to scream.
Slugger responded a second later. A shotgun appeared behind a false panel in the wall, and shot the man seven times in the face.
I apologized to the bloody stump, but I don’t feel too sorry. He should have known that my toys would keep me safe.