The Cobs (A Very Small Story) by Jason Anderson

By Jason Anderson

His father always reminded him wherever he saw a cob’s web he was safe. Cobs could sense monsters and Other Scary Things, and they never, ever made their webs in harm’s way.

He wondered how cobs knew. He didn’t know much about them, anything else, really. He’d never actually seen one. But their webs were proof they existed and as bellwethers they were always right, even in the darkest spaces that smelled of ghosts and burnt dust.

He stared at the bare scraped-paint walls of his empty closet. From two of the four high corners dusty veils hung like tapestries. There was no monster here. There was no sign of how one might have escaped to avoid detection, except through the door, and monsters don’t use doors. That was one of the few things he knew for sure.

His closet spent years stuffed to the gills with clothes, toys, games – a jumbled pile just perfect for hiding a monster of the kind he knew lived in there. Somewhere, somehow. It was another thing he knew for sure.

But where was the monster now?

A small, bright red plastic brick lay in the back corner among light blue paint chips, missed in the packing. He stepped gingerly through the doorway, crouched down with exaggerated care and took it in his short pudgy fingers. Far above his head, the cobwebs waved.

No sound. No sudden movements. No razor-sharp claws or needle-like teeth flowing with thick saliva. Nothing pierced his body.

He stood and tiptoed out of the closet. Silence. Maybe the monster had been an illusion all along. Maybe monsters only live in the night crevices between toys and games, and not in empty spaces in the light of day. The only thing he knew for sure was that it was not there.

He missed it.

©2012 Jason Anderson

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