Inner Reflection
Jeremy Stipano
Monsters in the Dark
Elizabeth Alexander

The lights go out and he screams. He screams because he knows it is in the dark that the monsters come.
The lights are out and the house is dark and the block is dark and the city is dark and everyone is asleep. He screams to himself because he knows it is in the dark that the monsters come. The monsters with hundreds of hands and fetid breath and razor claws that live under the bed and in the closet. That is how he would describe them to anyone else, monsters with a growl that is better suited to a beast than to the truth. The father that sneaks out of bed and slips away from his wife and into the boy’s room where roaming, burning hands and whispers and pants run just under the screaming in his head. And the boy has to be brave and in the morning he faces his mother and his brother and his sister and his aunts and uncles and grandparents and teachers and his friends and he has learned to keep the screaming inside his head.
The lights go out and the boy is screaming in his classroom. He screams out loud this time because this place should be safe and the whispering isn’t telling him to be quiet and not wake up his mother and his brother and his sister down the hall.

There is a girl in the back of the classroom. The lights go out and she knows as he does that the monsters come out at night. Her monsters have wings that flap and cries that are high and harsh and loud. The sound of yelling voices and breaking dishes and glass and broken sobs from either end of the hall by parents who have forgotten how to say “I’m sorry” and “Help me” because it always seems too little too late. She listens and screams silently to herself beneath her blanket after the lights go out and the city is asleep.
The lights go out and the boy is screaming and the girl screams too. She screams because there is supposed to be screaming in the darkness and she can’t stay quiet without the sounds of breaking.

Another boy is curled in the corner. The lights go out and he is crying and screaming and knows that the monsters come out in the dark. His monster is ten feet tall with burning eyes and razor claws and a whiplike tail. That is what he would tell anyone else but the truth is scars and bruises and cowering and tattered clothing filled with angry yelling and blows that hurt but are drowned by the screaming in his head.
The lights go out and the boy in the front is screaming and the girl in the back is screaming and the boy in the corner is screaming because they all know that the monsters come in the dark. The screaming brings the intruder to the classroom and he comes in the door and he recognizes and he knows. He knows the monsters and the screaming and three shots ring out and the screaming stops. The silence is oppressive. The screaming has stopped but not really. The silent screaming in his head has always been there and it’s grown and it is a chorus of screams now. It never stops never pauses never dims but grows and grows and grows and a last shot rings out and now it is finally silent. Except it isn’t. The whispering of silent screams echoes in the room and in the teacher and the students and the parents and the police and the crowds of public. A silent screaming that grows and grows and grows and finally they all know what the boys and the girl and the intruder have known. The monsters come when the lights go out. In the dark.