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MONSTERS – My Submission for the 3rd Annual Kids’ Choice KidLit Writing Contest

Hello everyone!

It’s amazing what you discover scrolling around on no-longer-Twitter when you should be doing other things. A little over a week ago, I ran across Kailei Pew’s post about her Kids’ Choice KidLit Writing Contest.

I’d actually seen it last year, but it was too late for me to enter. This year… well, let’s just say that after participating in Kaitlyn Sanchez‘s Fall Writing Frenzy Contest a few months ago, I’ve realized how much fun these kinds of contests can be. (It probably didn’t hurt that my entry was picked as one of the winners.)

Plus: a kidlit contest judged by kids? Amazing! (And a bit terrifying, if I’m being honest. I’ve had a few age-appropriate kids read my work, but mostly adult eyes have been judging it. Does it really work for children the way I want it to? This will be an interesting test.)

Thanks so much to Kailei for putting this all together, and for the amazing kid judges reading the work.

I’m not sure exactly how the contest differentiates — or if it does — but my entry is meant for upper middle grade readers. It’s a fantasy-horror about what we mean when we say “monsters” and how, in different ways, they can hide right under our nose.

Here’s hoping you enjoy it!


Why can’t Mom see he’s a monster?!

Elice flew into her room and slammed the door, pressing her face against it in a rage. 

Stupid Rick. Always picking, always threatening. “Why am I paying a tutor if your grades never improve? One more scratch from your demon cat, I’m putting him down. You’re twelve–don’t you care about your appearance?”

And Mom’s silent like a chastised puppy–

“How the devil did you get past my ward, girl?”

Elice yelped at the gruff voice behind her, spinning to find a middle-aged man in a trench coat frowning, a strange blinking device in one hand.

What the—? Elice fumbled with the doorknob, eyes locked on the stranger. 

It wouldn’t turn.

He shook his head, the wrinkles on his weathered face deepening. Elice scrunched her nose at the scent of old cigarettes and damp radiating from him. 

“Now it works?” he huffed. “You must have slipped in just before the spell finished. I’m stuck with you until I catch the monster.”

Spell? Monster? “Mom!”

Her intruder’s look was withering. Elice knew that look. “Are you deficient? It’s warded. Should. I. Speak. Slower? Mommy can’t hear. Now, be still. Or I might accidentally flay you.”

Picking? Threatening? Another Rick. Elice needed protection. But what? 

He swung his device through the air, the blinks slow and steady. “Where are you?” he growled. 

There! Her aluminum baseball bat lay next to her bed. While the man ran his device over her closet, Elice dove and grabbed the bat, raising it in front of her defensively.

The man scoffed. “Surely you’re joking.” 

But Elice was focused on his device, which blinked much faster as he pointed it toward her. His brow furrowed as he noticed. “Really? You?”

He finally gave her his full attention, literal fires burning in his eyes but somehow leaving them unscatched. 


He twisted his free hand up, fingers curled, and the bat dropped from Elice’s grip as she went numb and rose a foot off the floor. Panic filled her.

Not real, not real, can’t be real.

The man chuckled. “Not always easy to spot a monster, I suppose. Even right in front of you.” He sauntered over, rubbing his chin. “Now, to claim my reward money.” He pulled an animal carrier from under his coat. “They said you were smaller.”

“I am.” Elice’s orange tabby leaped onto the bed right behind her and sat. “Looking for me?” the cat crooned.

Mr. Whiskers?!?

The device went mad, blinking ferociously. Elice thudded to the floor as the intruder whirled on the tabby, but Mr. Whiskers was faster. His shadow flowed up the wall, spreading and darkening and sprouting dozens of undulating shadow tentacles. They arced out, enveloping the man, and yanked him screaming into the deepest darkness at the shadow’s center. 

Then everything was normal again. 

Elice blinked at Mr. Whiskers. He blinked back.

“You’re a– I’ve been living with a–”

“Yes,” he purred. “We should probably have a chat about monsters.”


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