Sponsor-A-Monster?

Auntie Yaga’s Home For Wayward Monsters

Sponsor-A-Monster?

Yaga turned on the tv and flopped backwards onto the reclining chair with a groan.  She’d been staring at bank and budget spreadsheets for hours, and desperately needed to turn her brain off for a bit.

She’d bought the old farmhouse at auction for practically pennies.  It had been empty for a couple of years after the previous owner passed away, and had needed a fair amount of repairs to make it livable again.  It had taken months to fix all of the things that had fallen to entropy and reclaim it from the spiders, even with Glatis and a couple of other Lurks helping, but eventually it had been turned into a habitable place again.  Unfortunately she’d spent the majority of her savings doing so, and recouping from it was taking longer than she’d hoped, no matter how frugal she was. Due to her rather unique circumstances it was almost impossible to hold down a “normal” job (monsters were not very good at understanding that they couldn’t just show up whenever they wanted), and after the Broom Closet Incident, it had become clear that she had to figure out a non-traditional path of acquiring a paycheck.  Sadly, freelance gigs for a folklorist who specialized in childhood monster lore and whose availability was erratic at best were hard to come by and didn’t pay as well as one might wish, which brought her to her nearly empty bank account.  She had to find a way to bring in more money on a reliable basis, or else she and the crew would be living in a camper.  Again.

A commercial, overflowing with images of tragic puppies and kittens came onto the tv screen, accompanied by a woman singing mournfully about salvation and angels, begging for people to rescue these poor, pitiful animals.

“Hah!  Easy for you.  Your strays are cute and cuddly and unlikely to give someone screaming nightmares or attempt to eat your houseguests!” she grumbled at the television.

“To be fair, that only happened the one time, and it was an honest mistake,” said a soft, hollow-sounding voice from the dark hallway.

“It was twice, and last I heard, great-aunt Cecilia is still in therapy for it,” she replied.

Glatis chuckled, a low, guttural sound that would have been deeply unnerving if it wasn’t so familiar, as he came into the room.  His shadow-black form made no sound as he crossed the ancient floorboards, despite being more than 6 feet tall, with claws that would intimidate a bear.  Glatis was a Lurk and had been her dearest friend since elementary school, following a rather unorthodox deal she had offered him regarding her status as a menu option.  He was also the reason she lived amicably with a houseful of Humanity’s childhood nightmares.

“Why are you snarking at the television?” he asked as he settled himself on the couch nearby.

Yaga groaned and dropped her head against the back of the chair.

“I need to figure out how to reliably come up with several hundred more dollars a month, and fast,” she replied.  “It’s a lot more expensive to run a house and several acres of land then the camper was.  At this rate, I’m going to have to hold a bake sale to keep the electricity on.”

“What is a bake sale, and would it help?” came a soft whisper from the shadows behind her.  One of the other Lurks, who called herself Marsalette, was tucked in the corner.  She’d joined them only a few months before, and was still learning about the human world.

“It’s where humans bake cookies and things and sell them for far less than the amount of work they put in, to fund charity things.  Sadly, it wouldn’t really, amusing as it would be to watch you lot try to be tragically adorable at the humans to convince them to buy lemon squares”, Yaga replied.  “You can come out and sit with us, you know.  It’s okay.”

“I know.  I’m comfortable here, though.  This house has nice shadows.”

Yaga shrugged amiably.  The three sat in comfortable silence for a while, watching the tv.  The pet adoption commercial played again in the rotation.  Glatis tapped a claw slowly on the wooden end table his arm rested on, thinking.

“There might be something to that idea,” he said, after a moment.

Yaga burst out laughing.  “You can’t be serious!  Leaving aside the fact that you lot aren’t exactly cute and fluffy by human standards, a number of you are legitimately some of our main predators!  There’s no way that I could talk people into giving me money to let you around their children.”

Glatis grinned broadly, the blue light from tv glittering on wickedly sharp teeth.  “I didn’t eat you when you were small.”
“Only because you couldn’t catch me,” she replied, sticking her tongue at him.  “So, what is this idea of yours?”

“While actual adoption wouldn’t work, aren’t there human organizations that offer symbolic adoptions and sponsorship programs in exchange for things like certificates, tote bags, and that sort of thing for wild animals?”

Yaga chewed on her thumbnail, thinking.  There were some major differences and practical concerns she could think of right off the bat. 

“There are, but doing something like that would require exposing the fact that you lot are, in fact, real and not just figments of overactive juvenile imaginations.  I don’t know that any of us are really up for that, do you?”

“Humans have a remarkable ability to ignore anything that doesn’t fit with their assumptions of how the world really is.  Most would assume you were simply creating some kind of interactive artwork and look no further. “

“Good point.”

She looked back at the tv, but wasn’t really paying attention to it anymore, still considering the idea.  Oddly enough, it did have merit, and Glatis was right that humans don’t like to acknowledge that the world is vastly weirder than they insist it should be.  A number of crowdsourcing and support options had sprung up online in recent years, and if she started small she could probably manage to come up with a cute design to put on tote bags and maybe stickers.  Maybe a monthly newsletter with stories about the general goings-on around the farmhouse?  She wondered if she could convince them to make little ornaments or something that could be periodically auctioned off?  She should get a notebook and start making a list of ideas….

She paused in her musing and looked over to see Glatis watching her curiously.
“It might not be a bake sale, but if we can pull this off,  we may be able to save the house  and not have to crowd back into the camper again, after all.  What do you all think about the name ‘Auntie Yaga’s Home for Wayward Monsters’…?”

(If you liked what you just read, please feel free to toss a few coins at your mostly friendly resident word-witch! Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com )

The Thing In The Attic

Auntie Yaga’s Home For Wayward Monsters

The Thing In The Attic

There was a polite tapping on the office door frame and a small, violently yellow and mauve colored form oozed into the room.  Auntie Yaga looked up from the paperwork she’d been avoiding dealing with, glad for the interruption.

“Susan!  Your timing is excellent,” she said, smiling.  “What can I help you with?”

Susan was the self-appointed receptionist at Auntie Yaga’s Home for Wayward Monsters.  Visitors weren’t allowed without appointments, and Auntie Yaga hated talking on the phone, so Susan had taken on the job of screening and handling the majority of incoming calls.

“We just received a phone call from a couple who have run into a problem with their home renovation.  The woman, Jeannie Harrigan, said that Marika told them to contact us, as it’s likely more up our alley then hers” Susan said, her voice a warm, honeyed alto, entirely at odds with the fact that her appearance was an amorphous, jelly-like blob with a large number of eyes and pseudo-tentacles.  (Some of her relatives had once terrorized Lovecraft himself, a fact which she was rightly proud of.)

Marika was a friend of Yaga’s.  She was a professional spiritworker who specialized in poltergeist haunts, which explained why she’d been called for issues with a renovation.  Poltergeists are very territorial and extremely averse to changes in their homes, and often react aggressively to major upheavals.  The nature of both of their career paths led them to periodically send prospective clients to one another.

“Did she say what the issue was, by any chance?”  

“There’s something in the attic that’s been throwing things and stomping around all night, and it’s making it next to impossible for the family to get any rest.  They’ve ruled out raccoons or other wildlife, and Marika ruled out poltergeist or demons, but said that it was possibly some kind of lurk and to contact you.”

“Alright. Please call her back and set up an appointment.”

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Late the following morning, Auntie Yaga arrived at the Harrigan home.  It was an old Victorian that had clearly seen better days.  It wasn’t unlivable, but it had obviously not been well-cared for over the years and had probably been sitting unoccupied for quite some time.  Just as clear, though, were the telltale signs of restoration work being done to return it to its former glory.  The age and structure explained why they’d called a spiritworker when wildlife had been ruled out.  Yaga was pleased that they’d not automatically assumed ghosts first, which was less common than one would think.  She knocked on the door, which was answered by a younger man in his early 30s.

“You must be Tom,” she said, nodding her head, “I’m Auntie Yaga.  My assistant spoke with you yesterday.”

“I am,” he confirmed, nodding back.  “Please come in. Jeannie’s in the back.”

Tom led her through several rooms in various stages of repair to the back of the house where a woman of similar age was rolling painter’s tape around a window.  Introductions and general niceties were exchanged, and they got down to business.

They’d bought the house a few months earlier for a ridiculously low price, both due to its state of disrepair and the local rumors that it was haunted.  Eager to begin the restoration, they’d moved in and got started almost immediately after signing the paperwork.  

The first few weeks had been quiet, but then they had started hearing noises, like someone banging on the walls or dragging heavy furniture across the floors, but investigation turned up nothing.  First they called in a plumber, thinking that maybe there were problems with pipes, but everything was in order.  They tested for things like carbon monoxide, black mold, and other hallucinogenic elements, all of which had come up negative.  Next, they thought maybe a family of raccoons had taken up residence in the attic and contacted the local wildlife control, but turned up nothing.  The house was surprisingly free of rodents, which was odd given how long it had sat empty, but they’d just been glad to not have to call an exterminator on top of everything else.

Nothing explained the ongoing banging and dragging noises.  So, at their wits’ end, they thought maybe the rumors about a haunting had something to them after all, and contacted Marika, who came out to check for ghosts or poltergeists, but even that turned up nothing.  That was when she told them that they might have a monster on their hands, and had instructed them to call Auntie Yaga at the Home.  They admitted being highly skeptical of the entire idea of monsters, but nothing else had turned up answers.  They were desperate and willing to explore all possibilities.

Yaga listened to them, asking a few questions here and there as they told their story and when they were done asked to be shown to the attic.  Jeannie led her upstairs, while Tom took over taping the window frames.  When they got to the door, she asked that she be allowed to go up alone, to see what she could find out.  Jeannie consented, visibly relieved, and so she continued up the stairs.

 *  *   *  *  *  *  *  *  *

The attic was in better shape than she’d expected, given the general disrepair of the rest of the house.  It had a high ceiling with the original beams still strong and solid, and most of the floorboards were still intact.  There were a number of storage trunks, boxes, and pieces of old furniture scattered around left by former residents, but surprisingly little dust and cobwebs.  Auntie Yaga closed her eyes and listened carefully.  After a moment or two, she smiled, opened her eyes, and said “I know you’re in the corner behind that fainting couch, my friend.  You can come out.  It’s alright. “

There was no response, but she could hear the soft sound of something roughly human sized breathing in the shadow.  There was a faint rattling rasp to it that concerned her a little, but she’d be able to deal with that soon enough.  For now, she sat down on top of an old steam trunk and started talking about the Home for Wayward Monsters that she ran, along with her childhood friend and former Monster-Under-The-Bed, Glatis (named for the Bête Glatisant, or Questing Beast, of Arthurian Legend), and how they helped humans and monsters learn to live with one another.  After a little while, she heard the sound of something moving and a shaking, slightly-hollow voice whispered “They’re destroying my house.  Can you make them stop and go away?”

She turned to look at the speaker.  He was roughly 6 feet tall, but quite hunched over and painfully thin, even for a shadow-lurk.  He was also very, very old and frail.  It was entirely possible that he’d been living in the house for several generations.  She sighed, and mentally swore at the world for the thousandth time.

“Sadly, I can’t.  It’s their house now, and they don’t want to leave”, she replied, gently.

The elderly shadow-lurk bowed his head, and sat down on the fainting couch, his slight form barely moving the dust.

“They aren’t destroying the house, you know.  They’re trying to fix it.  Other than you, it’s been empty for a very long time.”

He huffed.  “I’ve been here since this house was built in 1842.  It’s my house more than it is theirs.”

“I know, but you and I both know that human laws don’t recognize that.”

He huffed again, but nodded in agreement.  She sighed regretfully.  He was so old, and had been here so long.  She had to find a way to either convince him and the homeowners to co-exist, or to convince him to move to the Home with her and the others. He was just too old to do anything about the humans in his territory anymore, and they both knew it.

He was silent for several moments.  She waited, patiently.  After a time, he spoke again.

“I don’t want to leave.  This is my home, but I’ve been around long enough to know how the human world works, and I’m too old to fight it.  If you think you can convince them to let me stay, I will stop trying to drive them out.  I’ll even make sure that they never have any problems with wildlife or trespassers, to the best of my ability” he said, then added in a conspiratorial whisper “I’m too old to be a threat to anyone, anymore, but don’t tell them I said that.”

She smiled.  “I won’t.  Let me go talk to them and see what I can work out.  I’ll be back in a little bit.”

With that, she went back downstairs to tell the Harrigans what she had found and see what they would decide to do.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

About an hour later, she made her way back up the stairs to the attic, this time with Jeannie and Tom following somewhat nervously behind.  They’d agreed to meet the elderly shadow-lurk and were willing to let him continue to live in the house for the rest of his days, with some stipulations.  In short order, an arrangement that was amenable to both the Harrigans and Eliphalet was settled on, and Auntie Yaga promised that she would check up on them all regularly as they got settled in their new lives together.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Later that night, back at the Home For Wayward Monsters, as she wrote up her report and documentation for the day’s newest adopted family, she smiled in satisfaction.  In addition to adopting Eliphalet as a member of their own family, the Harrigans had offered to have him help with the restoration plans to include more shadowed areas for him to live comfortably in. She had a feeling they were going to get along well.  

Hers was an odd life, to be sure, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

(Originally posted at https://www.patreon.com/riversdaughter. Patreon subscribers get to see posts 3 days before they open to the general public.)