's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Camille "

Submitted by Esther Roman

Camille walked down Umbral Street
Already regretting having taken that shortcut
But she wanted to be in time for dinner
She looked at the flickering streetlights

"Monsters don't exist, that for sure I know"
She kept telling herself
"I am a big girl, I am already ten.
Monsters do not exist"

"Oh, but we do!" said a whisper behind her
She turned back, afraid to watch
And the monster was there.
She stood paralyzed

He was big and nasty, he was made of night
Twelve feet of thicker darkness
No eyes in his awful face
And arms as thin as tendrils

She ran back home, and it followed her
matching her speed effortlessly.
And, when she closed the door behind her
it was already inside the house.

The next day he was still there
In the corner of her bedroom
He didn't talk, he sat with her in the kitchen
As she ate her breakfast.

She got used to it, to the horror
Lurking in every corner
She could have almost forgotten it
Until the day it talked again.

"That is not the square root of 144", it told her
"You should pay more attention in class"
She put down her homework and looked at it, startled.
But she dared to reply.

"If you know so much, come solve this problem"
And it climbed down from the ceiling
and finished her homework in a whim.
"Wow" she said. "You are good at this"

"Thanks" said the monster, blushing darker.
"I have always liked math, but I could never take lessons,
Being a monster and all.
You are the first person who ever talked to me"

"And you? What are you?" Asked Camille
overcoming her fear. "Well I don't know"
admitted the monster. "I just follow people around
being all spooky. It gives me something to do"

Monsters live in a world of dust,
cobwebs, shadowy corners,
and that one room in every building
that is always one degree colder than the rest.

He introduced her to others:
the man who is only there
if you really squint your eyes,
the hundred hungry mouths

The faceless lady haunts empty offices,
corridors, staircases. The color of her suit
mimics the paint on the walls, so when you see her
It's already too late.

The upside-down face
pressing against the glass at night
The twitching kid, the ragged figure
Beckoning under a streetlight

Once Camille saw something white
And swollen disappearing around a corner
But when she asked about it,
The monster just hushed her and told her to go home

"Monsters and people, it's complicated"
It told her raising a skeletal finger
"We live to haunt you, to feed on your fears
Without you we are nothing

And yet we are scary, or so you say
We are not, we are scared
Hungry and cold, we miss the old darkness
Before electricity, before the cities."

Camille was no longer afraid of the night
For her monster was with her.
Who guided her gently into the darkness deep
And whispered her secret things

while falling asleep.