(This is a self-contained story in its own right, but I will also admit it’s an excerpt from my hypothetical novel, “The Bed Monster Completely Fails To Save The World“)
Of all the things Bed-Monsters really want to do (the vast majority of which are “be comfortably unconscious and snoring in a frequency completely undetectable to other species”)—risking our skins isn’t one of them.
We are the undisputed world champions of hide-and-seek. It’s indisputable, in part because we are so good at it that nobody else knows we are playing. We’re Hiding; they’ve forgotten they’re even Seeking anymore.
Ironically, I suppose, that might make us part of the problem. Humanity’s not wrong in thinking that there are beings which lurk outside of their view, nor are they incorrect, either in folk-tale or modern thought, to believe that many of those creatures are inimical to humanity.
But most sentient beings are, to one extent or another, potentially inimical to each other. There are lots of ways to create winning solutions in the competition for, say, food. Depending on various factors of biology, methodology, and geography, you might eat all the food and leave the others to starve; you might eat all the others; but you might also switch to a different habitat. You might switch to a different food. You might even assist each other. I’m not saying it always works out well; just that it doesn’t have to work out poorly.
Take my own species. The Land of Nod is present in the myths of many nightbreed, even playing what is (to us) a rather surreal role in certain Vampire heresies. Others don’t tend to explore it as a “real” place, which is rather a hoot, considering how weird their ideas of reality are. But we did. We found you could go there, if deep in dream, and find certain nourishments of the spirit which, curiously enough, supplant what might ordinarily be needs of the body. We spend most of our time being quite actively asleep, in dreamland.
And so we learned to conceal ourselves. And so we changed in body and mind. And so we pass through evenings of phantasm (and, to be fair about it, days of phantasm; really, we’re there pretty much all of the time)—and spend not a lot of hours in the waking world.
It’s part of why we inhabit, not faraway places, but those very near to humans: they have such a rich subconscious life, and the brainwaves they emit though slumber are like little trails going to astonishing places, where one finds the best goblin-fruits and assorted slumbering sundries which meet our needs.
Until they started leading us into madness.
We think we know why.
Humans have always thought we exist, because we do. They’ve always thought we meant to harm them, which doesn’t speak well for the public relations of our ancient ancestors.
They have not always thought that we, the nightbreed, were everywhere and planning to kill them all, and we aren’t, and we never have been, but:
I don’t think anything will convince them of that. I think they’re determined to smoke us out by setting fire to everything.
Which is horrible long-term planning.
And very, very human.
* * *
Which brings me to where I am here, now, and today, namely:
not safely under the bed of some relatively sane fellow sentient, but rather, out from under my bed, and trying not to get eaten by werewolves.
The best way to avoid being eaten by werewolves, in my opinion, is to exist on some entirely different planet, where no werewolves have ever been conceptualized. This won’t actually keep you safe in the longterm, but it’s a substantially more effective survival strategy than many of the likely alternatives, such as living on Earth.
If you want to be slain and devoured by Loup-Garou, though, here are some excellent things to try:
For instance, you could do something they’d consider bad for “the environment”. I find the sentiment laudable, but the eagerness with which they rend the flesh of miscreants is troubling to me. Terra’s not the largest planet in the galaxy, but it’s quite a lot older than any of us, and quite a lot larger than anything a reasonable person might try to put into their mouth. So while I think there are plenty of quite actionable offenses—if somebody out there is manipulating comets and wants another Chicxulub crater, I’ll aim a couple of claws in their direction myself—but not everything’s quite so clear-cut.
I feel like their supposed ability to detect when “something’s wrong with Gaia!” is not unlike my own ability to detect that something’s wrong on the Internet: possibly subjective, not necessarily productive. Have a factory that pollutes a river, kill some fish, maybe make some humans ill, and they’re on top of you like hippos collapsing into mud, which makes sense to me.
But eat all the top executives, shut down the factory, throw the humans out of work, reduce the available machine-usable energy in that area, destroy a piece of the manufacturing base, cause longterm poverty leading to a lower quality of life and therepon fewer resources to devote to environmental challenges rather than survival? Oddly enough, they find that less inspirational, particularly if the last place said executives were seen was within the jaws of the aforementioned lupines. For an ancient species, the Garou sure care a lot more about whether you drive a shiny electric car than how much coal had to be mined and burnt to charge the batteries. Either there was am esoteric segment of the Industrial Revolution which involved unscrupulous use of Garou fur, or they’re bad at economics.
Also, no matter how Goth you’re feeling at a given time, try not to say nice things about Vampires in front of Garou. I mean, I get it; as everyone knows, they resent the time they spent being pets of blood-sucking angst-machines. Reasonable. I mean, know who really likes Vampires? Nobody, least of all Vampires. Still, there’s no need to pick an eternal fight with the Kindred. The Kindred are already doing that. I understand holding a grudge, but if you’re really a species of warriors, maybe—from a tactical point of view—it makes sense to choose an enemy that’s not already hell-bent on exterminating itself? I mean, the Technarchy’s likely to create a fairly clean and sterile world, buat replacing flesh with cybernetic magicks doesn’t feel environmentally friendly to me. Why not tackle them?
(My cynical answer, if I were to respond to my own question, is that it’s much easier to bite an individual than to deal with a large and well-organized opponent, even if said opponent is significantly more important than the individual in question. But don’t trust what I say; I’m up way past my bedtime; my alarm was set to go off in 2157.)
And really, really: Don’t ever let on that you take them anything less than 100% seriously at all times. The Garou are an honored and significant element of the Nightbreed, and they are fearsome and…and…
…they look like very big people who are overenthusiastically cosplaying Wookies. I’m sorry, they really do.
Or giant, really ugly teddy bears.
What they ACTUALLY are is teeth and sinew rolled up in a massive all-encompassing blanket of fur and anger management problems. Which is why so many things upset them.
So yes. All these things will make the Garou terribly irascible. All of them stand a good chance of getting you killed. Although, I suppose, if you really, REALLY want to be torn to segments so small that your pathetic remains could, if placed in a salt-shaker, be sprinkled over a catered meal for forty, if you sincerely want to make werewolves howlingly, barkingly, unspeakably beyond unreaged, you could show up uninvited when they’re having a Moot.
That’s where I am now, of course. Because I’m an idiot.
* * *
They haven’t noticed me yet. I’m underneath something. As legends suggest, Garou have preternaturally incredibly senses, even before you bring various types of magical or hunter training into the equation, but nothing hides better than a bed-monster. Bed-monsters aren’t exactly the most glamorous of beasts, but if you ever want something capable of making even your shadow wheel about in sudden panic and shout, “Who’s there?”, call upon us.
(It’ll have to be your shadow. We don’t have shadows. Because even our own shadows can’t find us.)
We hide. You really won’t know we’re here unless we make ourselves known. Hell, there’s one of us behind you right now.
…of course you can’t see it. If you could, it wouldn’t be hiding, would it? If you want jump scares, find a species that likes attention.
Like these murderous walking carpets all around me, for example.
The Moot is a sacred meeting of the varied tribes of the Garou, and is conducted with all the dignity and efficiency you’d expect from a bunch of bad-tempered dogs on Godzilla-grade sorcerous steroids.
I’m no expert in these things, but if I had to guess, I’d say the optimal time to interrupt something like this would be a week after it was over.
From really far away.
By registered mail, if possible.
I know what you’re thinking. If I were dead, I wouldn’t be writing this. To which I respond: what part of ‘supernatural being’ do you not understand? Oh, if I die, it will be intensely bad; the Afterlife of my people is not a good place, and also, it’ll mean I’ll have failed, and also, it’ll probably mean you’re doomed, too.
But I’m pretty sure I’ll be telekinetic enough to type.
If I do die, please be comforted knowing that I will not haunt you.
I won’t even go near you.
Because you’ve already got someone under your bed.
Good luck to me, and sweet dreams to you.
The unspeakable Villainpunk Jeff Mach frequently seeks new, interesting ways to rewrite this part, and then often ends up just shifting a few words around, going back in time to before he wrote this initially, and hitting “Publish”, so that this is technically new. Don’t tell anyone.
Jeff is a writer and creator who has long aspired to be the sort of person who neither needs to promote his other work at the bottom of his short stories, nor need speak of himself in the third person. Sadly, in both regards, he has failed.