Bigfoot, page 1
BOOK 1: BIGFOOT
Mysterious Monsters: Bigfoot
This book is a work of fiction. The characters, places, incidents, and dialogue are the product of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real, or if real, are used fictitiously. Unless other intended, any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, either living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2017 by David Michael Slater
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
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For my students
About the author
About mysterious monsters
At night, when you call your mom and dad into the spooky darkness of your room, is it to have them open your closet? Are you the type to leave a dish of chocolate chip cookies under your bed, with a sign reading, “There’s more where these came from”? Do you cry your eyes out at the end of monster movies, when the poor, innocent, man-munching creature dies?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then read on, because the story of the mysterious Mattigan monsters is most definitely for you. If not, then perhaps it might be best to tuck this book away. Maybe put it on your baby sister’s bookshelf. Go ahead and pick up her glow-in-the-dark, scratch-and-snort edition of “The Fuzzy Little Unicorn Who Pooped Rainbows,” instead.
Because this book, and those that follow, are about things that could eat and poop you. They’re about three kids, the Mattigans, who do some awfully strange things. For example, when they learn that mysterious monsters might really exist, they don’t hide under their covers with their fingers in their ears, humming the “Rainbow Poop” song.
Instead, they go looking for them.
Which is especially tricky, since it’s their father’s job to prove that people who say things like “mysterious monsters exist,” are liars.
Excellent, you don’t scare easy.
Let’s begin, then, with how it all began, in a big house at the edge of a forest — in Oregon.
AN INTERESTING FAMILY
“Theo!” Maddie called. “Where are you? The sitter’s here, and Dad has to go! Come say goodbye!” She was using her twelve-year-old-big-sister-boss voice. Maddie not-so-secretly liked being in charge. But with no mom and two rascals for little brothers, she often had no choice, anyway.
“On it!” said Max, the shaggy-haired, ten-year-old, middle Mattigan brother. He grabbed his extendable “spy-nocular” from his spy kit and got into “the crouch,” which he thought made him look dramatic when he was in search mode. Even though it was hard to get around that way, he began crouching in and out of the many rooms on the bottom floor of the Mattigan Mansion.
Technically, it was a mansion because it was huge. It had dozens of rooms sprawling across three floors and a massive, maze-like basement. But it wasn’t the least bit fancy. In fact, it was old and sort of falling apart. The kids didn’t mind, though, because they weren’t fancy types.
Marcus Mattigan, the kids’ dad, stood at the open front door with his travel bag at his feet. The tall, green trees of Portland’s Forest Park stood shoulder to shoulder behind him. Their tops looked a lot like his: capped with wild tufts of upswept hair. “Theo!” he called, “I’m in a hurry!”
The kids’ sitter stood next to him, holding her bag. She was a small lady with wrinkled, but rosy cheeks, and kind eyes. Maddie was sure the poor woman was in for a hard time. “He’s probably hiding somewhere watching “Hansel and Gretel” again,” she explained. “Even though he knows perfectly well our dad doesn’t approve of fairy tales about made-up — ”
“Ah-ha!” Max had crouched into the living room and sniffed his way over to the two giant built-in benches that ran under the giant windows, which made up almost the whole side of the house. The side-by-side benches were both big enough to hide two Theos, so Max tapped along them with his spy-nocular, hoping to make his prey give itself away. When he thought he heard chewing, he pointed triumphantly to the bench on the right.
Everyone went over. Marcus lifted the seat.
Eight-year-old, mop-topped Theo Mattigan was curled up on pillows deep inside the tunnel-like bench, munching a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich. He had a sack full of peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches in there with him, because he never went anywhere without a sack full of peanut-butter- and-banana sandwiches. He was watching something on his phone.
When Theo finally looked up, his eyes bugged out. He shoved the phone into the pillows, but it was too late.
“Theo,” Maddie sighed, pulling the ear buds out from under her brother’s heap of curls. “The Madam Blavatsky Hour”? That phony psychic’s show was cancelled because of Dad! Teachable Moment!” she declared. Their father was big on delivering on-the-spot life lessons. “Her husband, Ivan, cyber-stalked her clients so they’d believe in the strange voices he made from under her crystal-ball table!”
Marcus took a deep breath.
“I know Dad proved she was a faker!” Theo promised. “I know people can’t really talk to you from the future! And I know ghosts and vampires and haunted houses aren’t real! I’m just — wouldn’t it be neat if they were?” Then he gulped, and blurted, “I think this house is haunted!”
“Really, Theo?” Max said, rolling his eyes.
Marcus took another deep breath. “Theo,” he said calmly, “the real world is amazing enough without making up fantastic — ”
“Humph!” Theo protested. “I’m gonna lock the sitter in a haunted basement room, anyway.”
“Theo!” everyone yelped, completely embarrassed. “The sitter is right here!”
“Oops,” Theo said. “Here.” He held out a bitten sandwich wedge to her as a peace offering.
“It’s okay, really,” the sitter said, chuckling. “You can call me Betsy.”
“If that’s your real name,” Max said, looking at her face through the spy-nocular.
“Actually, my real name is Elizabeth.”
“And you were using Dad’s account!” Maddie realized, ignoring Max’s usual nonsense. She’d fished Theo’s phone out of the bench. “His records show what he orders,” she explained to Betsy, and then went back to scolding Theo: “Dad’s a famous skeptic! Can you imagine how damaging it would be for him if the world thought he was watching “The Madam — ”
“It’s fine, Maddie,” Marcus interrupted. “I often watch those kind of shows to see what the latest hoaxes are. In fact, just this morning I saw one about Area 51 in Nevada. S
“People,” Maddie, Max, Theo and Marcus all sighed.
“Is that where you’re going, Dad?” Max asked. “To prove it’s all a fake?”
“No,” Marcus said. “I’m going to West Virginia, to do a show about a silly legend they call the Mothman. It’s a seven-foot-tall flying creature with red eyes that glow in the dark. Locals are claiming to have seen it lately.”
“People,” the Mattigans all sighed again.
“‘Course, all I need to catch it is a really big flashlight,” Marcus added. He waited a second, then said, “See what I did there? Mothman? Really big flashlight?”
His kids just stared at him.
Maddie turned to Betsy and said, “We apologize in advance for our father’s sense of humor.”
“Sigh,” Marcus said. “And I apologize in advance for my children’s lack of funny bones. They were removed after a tragic accident with a car full of clowns. Very sad. Hilarious, though.”
“You guys are an interesting family,” Betsy said.
“True story!” the Mattigan kids enthusiastically agreed.
AN UNEXPECTED GUEST
Marcus gave the kids each a hug, then said, “You guys know the getting-along rules — ”
The Mattigan kids all sang out: “Notta fist!”
“In which case — ” Marcus replied.
“Do they often speak at the same time?” Betsy asked.
“No,” the kids all replied.
“I wouldn’t take their word for it,” Marcus said, shouldering his bag. And then, finally, he turned and left.
“Here,” Theo said, offering Betsy the sandwich wedge again.
“Thank you, dear. But, no, thank you.”
“Not everyone likes peanut butter and banana, Theo,” Maddie pointed out.
“I’ll just head upstairs and unpack,” Betsy told the kids. “Then I’ll come back down, and maybe we can have some fun! To me, this house looks perfect for Hide-and-Go-Seek. But then again, I’d be afraid no one would ever find me!”
“We love that game,” Maddie said, trying to be accommodating. When her brothers didn’t say anything, she Eyeballed them.
“True story!” they finally agreed. They hated getting Eyeballed, especially about manners, but Hide-and-Go-Seek actually was one of their favorite games. And the Mattigan Mansion was the best Hide-and-Go-Seek house in the world.
“Alrighty then,” Betsy said, heading upstairs. “You’re on.”
When she was out of sight, the kids looked at each other.
“This might actually be fun,” Maddie said, then immediately began the process of wrangling her untamable tangle of frizzy black hair. It often gave her away in games of Hide-and-Go-Seek.
But then the doorbell rang.
“On it!” Max announced, already crouching toward the door in full-on spy mode. Theo hurried after him, excited for the show.
“Max,” Maddie warned, following him for the opposite reason. “People don’t like it when you — ”
“Ah-ha!” Max cried, whipping the door open.
Standing on the welcome mat was a startled old man in a fancy, but rumpled coat and tie. He looked ill, leaning on a cane while trying to hold onto both a video camera and a thick, disorderly book of some kind. Its pages were held together with fraying twine and scruffy rubber bands.
“Oh, my goodness!” the old man exclaimed, when he’d recovered from the shock of Max’s greeting. “Look at that hair! It’s just like your father’s!”
All three Mattigan kids narrowed their eyes. They loved their Mattigan mops and didn’t tolerate anyone making fun of them. But before they got the chance to say so, the old man added, “It’s just like your mother’s, too!”
“But — ” Maddie sputtered, taken completely off guard. “Our — our mom vanished. Two years ago!”
“I know, poor children,” the old man said. “I know! But not all missing family members need to be missing forever, and I am living proof! I’m your long-lost Grandpa Joe!”
THE MONSTER JOURNAL
Grandpa Joe hobbled into the house while the Mattigan kids stood staring at each other with their mouths hanging open. They’d never laid eyes on Grandpa Joe in their lives. They’d never even seen pictures. He made his shuffling way to the puffy couch in the living room and collapsed onto it. With a bit of a groan, he set his book and video camera on the coffee table.
The kids remained standing at the door until, finally, Theo said, “But you weren’t long lost. Dad hates you.”
“Theo Mattigan!” Maddie snapped, jolted out of her daze. “That’s just plain rude!”
Maddie cautiously approached Grandpa Joe, so her brothers followed. He looked terribly weak and weary. No one knew what to say.
“I earned your father’s hatred,” Grandpa Joe admitted. “I was hoping to speak with him about that very thing. It’s been too long — far, far too long. Is he here?”
“He just went out of town,” Maddie said. “He won’t be back until later in the week.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that.” Grandpa Joe let out a long, disappointed sigh.
“Why did you leave him?” Max demanded, anyway. “He was only a kid — like us! It’s no fun having a missing parent!” He glared at Maddie, daring her to call him rude.
She didn’t though, because she wanted to hear the answer.
All three Mattigan kids stood there waiting to hear it.
“I have no excuse,” Grandpa Joe told the kids. “But I do have a reason.” He gestured weakly to the book on the coffee table. “It’s my journal,” he added. “Have a look.”
Max couldn’t help but approach the battered bundle of pages. He loved books, especially old books, the more beat-up the better. His favorite thing in the world, besides spying, of course, was searching for cool used books at garage sales with his dad — which felt a bit like spying, actually. His room was positively bursting with their finds.
As Max carefully removed the twine and rubber bands from the journal, Maddie and Theo moved behind him to look over his shoulder. There was nothing on the dirty cover, so he gently turned it over. Sloppy writing on the first page said, “Mysterious Monsters.” He turned a few more pages and found an entry on were-wolves. There was a drawing of a vicious, human-like wolf with dripping fangs. Page two had maps and all kinds of notes scribbled by hand. Max loved maps, too.
“Gross,” Maddie said. Theo’s eyes were as big as saucers.
Max turned the page to reveal a ghost, but this was not the cute and friendly cartoon type. It was a frightening black shadow with a devilish grin. There was a creature on every pair of pages: Sasquatches and vampires and aliens. It seemed there was a page for just about every creature from every nightmare the kids had ever had. When Max got to the end of the book, all three Mattigans looked up, having completely forgotten where they were.
“What do you make of it?” Grandpa Joe asked.
“Awesome,” said Theo.
Max said only, “Well — ”
“Very imaginative,” Maddie admitted. “But we’d rather read a book about real animals, so that we can learn something useful.”
“I swear to you,” said Grandpa Joe, “that every monster in that journal is one-hundred-percent real. I have spent a lifetime gathering the evidence on those pages. Unfortunately, I have never been able to prove the existence of monsters by actually finding one.” He looked even more tired now.
“Is this why you left Dad?” Maddie asked. “To search for these monsters?”
None of the kids knew what to say to this. Now they all felt sad for Grandpa Joe, but they were still mad at him. They were also beginning to understand why their father was so serious about not wasting time on imaginary things.
“May I tell you the real reason I came here today?” asked Grandpa Joe. He was leaning back on the couch now, looking weaker by the moment.
The kids nodded.
“I’ve been waiting for your father to leave. It’s you I wanted to see. I was hoping you kids might help me.”
“Find these made-up monsters?” Maddie asked. “But you know very well that Dad is a famous — ”
“Just one,” Grandpa Joe said, softly. It came out almost in a whisper. “Just one would show him that I wasn’t crazy and didn’t waste my life.”
Maddie’s outrage fizzled. Seeing this, her brothers’ did, too.
The three Mattigan kids looked at each other, unsure of what to do now.
“What’s going on, kids?” Betsy suddenly called down from the staircase’s second-floor landing. She’d been coming back down, but stopped when she saw Joe. “Do you have a visitor?”
“It’s our Grandpa Joe!” Theo announced.
“If that’s his real name!”
“Max!” Maddie Eyeballed her brother, but she knew it was a waste of time. “I’m really sorry,” she said, turning to Grandpa Joe.
“Actually,” Grandpa Joe said, “my real name is Joseph.”
“Well, this is wonderful!” Betsy said, hurrying down the rest of the stairs. When she came into the living room, she looked at Joe with concern. “Will you be staying over?” she asked him. “You look positively exhausted.”
by David Michael Slater have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes