The bare-bones idea for this story—set in the Tales of the Weird World War series developing between William Leisner and myself—had been rattling around in my head for well over a year, but I was planning on writing a second novella for the series before this. Then the open call went out for Castle of Horror 7, with a theme that just resonated with this story. It was written to stand alone, but you may want to read The Big Dark & Meet John Doe, the first two novellas in the series first; they take place several years earlier.

“The Loneliness of Monsters” appears in Castle of Horror 7: Love Gone Wrong, edited by Jason Henderson and In Churl Yo. The excerpt below is from the opening scene of the story.

The Loneliness of Monsters

Again a soft giggle wafted through the house. He was inside! Ginny jumped up off the couch and hurried into the hallway, turning into the bathroom out of desperation. The bathtub, with its translucent shower curtain, was no hiding place, so she found herself staring down at the cabinet beneath the sink, the same cabinet he’d barely fit into the last time. Bending over, she yanked the doors open.
        With a happy squeal, Danny tumbled out of the cabinet, various soaps, towels, and lotions falling out along with him. “You never woulda found me if I hadn’t laughed!” Then he saw the look on her face. “What’s wrong, Mommy?”
       Ginny sank down to the cold tile floor, glad she was wearing blue jeans not a skirt. She grabbed him tight to her chest. “I got scared when I couldn’t find you.“
        Danny squirmed in her arms. “I just wanted to hide real good.”
        She eased up, holding him at arm’s length, taking a long look at his uncombed dark-blond hair, without the summer-sun bleaching it used to get, his rumpled shorts and t-shirt that should have been in the dirty clothes pile. “I—I thought for a second that you’d gone outside.”
        Eyes wide, he said, “No, I wouldn’t do that. Never.”
        Ginny let him go, wiping at her eyes and nose. “I just get so scared, honey. I can’t lose you again.” Monday would be his second birthday since he died.
        “Don’t cry, Mommy.” He leaned forward to hug her. “I won’t ever leave you. I promise. . . .”

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