by Anthony Pearson
Jackie scrambled behind the couch. She checked The Beast Menagerie. (her favorite book. She’s read it like a million times). The hairy foot. The long curling toe-nails. The scraping sound on the floor as it shuffled through the house.
It had to be the Ancient Gray-Footed Troll. (favorite food: goldfish. sleeping habits: nocturnal. Magic Powers: None).
“Jackie, what are you doing back there.” It was mom. With breakfast.
“GAH! You let him get away! Can’t you see when I’m trying to catch an Ancient Gray-Footed Troll?”
“Sorry, dear. I made you toast.”
Jackie ate breakfast. But her mind was on the day. Today was THE DAY. The day where she finally, FINALLY, caught her first monster. She was going to be the youngest monster hunter in the history of history. They’d probably even put her picture in the back of The Beast Menagerie, right next to all the other famous monster hunters. (Her favorite was Artimus Finkle. He had caught 9 monsters in one year!)
The basement was another great place to catch a monster. The Squid-Tooth Crunchbone (likes: crunchy animals, favorite food: porcupines) was known to lurk in dark corners near musty old clothes. There were no clothes mustier than her dad’s yard clothes.
She heard it. She heard the low grumble of the Crunchbone’s stomach. The womp womp womp of it chewing through old power tools and the sewing machine. “This is it,” She whispered to herself.
It was Michael. He was home from college. Washing clothes.
“Hey squirt. Whatcha doing?”
“You aren’t the Squid-Tooth Crunchbone! You scared it off! Thanks for nothing!”
She moped her way to her room. This wasn’t going to be easy. The life of a Monster Hunter was not easy. Jackie couldn’t give up. That’s not what the next great Monster Hunter would do.
Where to go next? Where would a monster put it’s lair? She flipped through The Beast Menagerie.
Ah-ha! That’s it! She pulled the cord in the hallway. Thump. She pulled down the ladder. Clomp. Dust trickled and must stenched it’s way down the ladder.
Jackie smiled as she stared up into that dark space. Of course! Why hadn’t she thought of the attic before? It would be a perfect place for the twitchy-legged, bug-eyed, Marmalark (sleep habits: never, favorite drink: coffee).
The Marmalark was quick. It was twitchy. She knew it was no time for lurking. Sneaking was out of the question.
(next pages in total darkness except for the small light from the attic entrance)
“I GOT YOU!”
No! It was getting away! She crashed around in the dark. There was pushing and shoving–she couldn’t see a thing! Booms. Bangs! Crashes!
The light flipped on. Jackie had not caught the Marmalark.
Dad asked, “Jackie, please tell me you have a good reason for destroying the attic in the dark.”
Jackie let go of the coat tree.
She explained it the best she could. “The only way to catch the Marmalark is to move fast. I didn’t want to break everything. I’m sorry. I’ll clean it up.”
A million hours later, Jackie was in her tree house. What a terrible day.
Then a sound drifted in…”Ma-Scree! Ma-Sckaw!”
She called back, “Ma-Scree! MA-SCKAW!”
And there, perched on the chimney of her house, was a Flying Wombus (Habitat: Dirty places. Favorite Food: Soot).
She slowly walked out of her tree house. She slowly went and got the ladder. She slowly made her way up the chimney.
All the while talking to the Flying Wombus.
“Ma-Scree! Ma-Sckaw! Ma-Scree! Ma-Sckaw!”
This was her chance.
(image of her leaping, grabbing the Flying Wombus’ wing, but then it spins and flies away. Jackie falls into the chimney)
This was bad.
Her mom and dad had many words for her. (image of dad and mom fussing and yelling at her, Jackie is sitting at the bottom of the chimney covered in soot, a la Mary Poppins)
Michael had to fix part of the chimney she broke.
She was in trouble for a billion years.
But worst of all was the fact that she never caught her monster.
That night after dinner she went to bed. An awful day. A terrible day. she was the worst monster hunter ever…
(image of a note on her bed with a large colorful feather taped to it)
When I was fixing the chimney I found this. Never seen a feather like it. Is it yours?
(image of Jackie smiling, laying on top of her bed, holding the Flying Wombus feather, her Beast Menagerie flipped open next to her)
But no one ever said Monster Hunting was easy.