Milo’s Monster by Olly McDonald

Milo’s body lay rigid in his bed, His eyes darted from side to side, the fear crept up his spine. “Wh-who’s there,” he whispered, scooting closer to his pink night light at the side of his bed. “It’s me!” said a peppy little voice coming from the darkest part of the room. Two large blue orbs stared at Milo from the corner, if you squinted you could see the faint outline of what seemed to be a large furry egg. The creature crawled toward the boy and up his bed. It had 6 legs, a large head, and a giant toothy smile. It’s body was slightly opaque and reminded Milo of TV static. The boy quickly sat up to move away from the creature. “Who-what are you?” 

“I’m a monster! My name is-” the monster made a low rumbly sound followed by a high pitched squeal, “But you can call me Gossamer! Since you human-folk can’t produce those sounds.” “Ok, Gossamer. What are you doing here?” asked the boy in a hesitant tone. Ignoring his question, Gossamer explored Milo’s room, going through his bookshelves, drawers, closet and under his bed. It made odd squeaks and noises as it roamed the small room. “How rude.” it purred. “What?”

“You ask me questions and I know nothing about you.”

 

“Oh uh sorry, I’m Milo.”

 

“And your family?”

 

“Why do you want to know about my family?” he said in a defensive tone, “Sorry, just curious,” Gossamer replied, “I just figured since we’re friends now… I’m sorry it was rude of me to ask, it’s okay, if you don’t want to tell your best friend.” Milo’s eyes widened, “YOU’RE MY FRIEND! I HAVE A FRIEND!” He jumped up and down with excitement, eyes wide and sparkling. Milo gasped and covered his mouth when he saw a thin stream of light shine from under his door, his heartbeat quickened and the noise filled the quiet room when he heard gentle footsteps outside, along with the slow, silent, turn of the doorknob. “Darling, why are you awake this late? It’s time for dreaming, love,” said a quiet, sleepy voice. The words are as sweet as honey, “I’m sorry mama, I was talking to my monster, it’s name is Gossamer and it’s my friend,” he said, beaming from ear to ear. Milo’s mother chuckled gently and walked over to him, intertwining her long fingers in his wavy hair, “Is it a nice monster?” she asked. “Mhm. I-I think so.”

“Good,” she kissed his forehead gently, “Say goodnight to Gossamer, it’s time for bed Milo.” His mother walked away gently, her gentle footsteps echoing through the silent house. “Goodnight,” Milo whispered.

 

Milo awoke bright and early, springing out of his bed as if it was covered in hot coals. He looked around the room, trying to identify the furry little creature that visited him last night. The boy’s face fell, assuming it was all a dream and dragged his feet on the way out of the room. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a dark tint in his room, so translucent that at first glance you wouldn’t notice anything. “Gossamer?” he whispered, he felt a cold chill down his spine, feeling a light weight on his shoulders. Gossamer rested it’s two front paws on Milo’s back, it’s wide toothy grin taking up the majority of its face. “Hello my bestest friend!” it said, winding its tail around his legs, perhaps it was a form of hug. Milo’s face lit up, each time he heard the word friend it was like he was being filled with a pure ball of energy. “Why can’t I see you?” he asked, Gossamer ignored his question yet again, walking around the room finding a place to sit. “That woman seems nice, the one who came to see you last night.” “Oh my mom? Yea she’s the best!”

“Oh? Tell me more,” it purred. 

Milo told Gossamer about his mom excitedly, the monster watched intently. His hands flew around excitedly, acting out all the parts. Gossamer seemed to become more solid with each story he told, as if it was literally soaking in the information.

Milo bounded down the stairs, some hours later, with Gossamer draped around his shoulders. The monster seemed to get bigger overnight, and now fit around his neck like an oversized scarf. He decided to jump down the last few steps, causing the oversized six-legged cat to dig its claws into Milo’s shoulders, making him wince. “If you keep acting like that, people are going to think you’re childish,” it grumbled. “Oh, sorry Gossamer.” “You still talking to that monster of yours honey?” called a sweet voice from the kitchen. “Yep! I like it!” his face stretched into a wide smile and his mother gave him a hug. “You be careful ok? Not all monsters are good, it might hurt you,” she warned, Gossamer’s throat rumbled. “I won’t have to mama! I know it’s a good monster!” Milo said, bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet. Gossamer leapt down and nodded curtly. “That’s right Milo, I’m good and I’m your best friend.” it purred, winding its body around the boy. “Hm. Ok then love,” she said, kissing his cheek, “Do you want some breakfast?” “Yea!” he replied, Gossamer wrapped itself around Milo tighter, “You better say please and thank you or your mother might never cook you food again,” it scoffed. “Sorry Gossamer,” he whispered. “I mean yes please mama!” 

After eating Milo and Gossamer left to go outside, “Are you sure you’re not hungry?” the boy asked, “Yes, but I’m not hungry for food.” “Well what are you hungry for?” he asked. “I cannot tell you,” Gossamer said simply, “Where are we going?” “The creek! You’ll love it. We can play there every day! Until it’s time for school.” “Hm, can I come with you to school?” “I’m not sure, wouldn’t people see you?” “Only you can see me Milo, to everyone else I am nothing but air.” “Oh, well I suppose it’s ok then!” “Good,” it said.

 

“You’re a good friend Gossamer,” Milo said, beaming. 

 

“Thank you Milo. Let’s make it official, us monsters have a special way to make friends, and since we’re best friends we should do it.” Gossamer said, sitting by the creek edge looking at the water.” “Yea lets do it!” Gossamer’s razor sharp talons cut into Milo’s hand, drops of blood traveled down his hand slowly and dripped onto the grass. Milo screeched in pain, holding his hand and trying to compress the wound with his shirt. “There, we’re bonded now. Official best friends,” it said, washing its claws, “Now, you must never tell anyone about this bond, understand? If you do something very bad could happen.” Milo nodded, trying his best to smile. “Let’s go back so you can heal.” Gossamer said, weaving between Milo’s legs, forcing him to move back toward the house. 

Milo laid on his bedroom floor, his hand wrapped tight with a bandage, staring mindlessly at the little stars painted on his ceiling. In the corner Gossamer sat, its icy eyes glared at the boy but still maintained that cheshire grin. 

The rest of Milo’s few summer days went by quickly, especially with Gossamer to play with. Soon, the night before the first day of school approached, and Milo was picking out his outfit for the next day. Gossamer watched silently, “How old are you?” “Fifteen, sixteen in a few months. What about you?” The monster ignored the question and continued, “You shouldn’t be wearing those clothes. They look bad and childish. Only wear those clothes at home.” it said, “Oh ok, I’ll pick out new clothes in the morning.” Milo replied sleepily. 

Gossamer woke Milo early, about an hour before school started. “Quick get up, what if you’re late already?” He sprung out of bed, adrenaline rushing through his body. Milo’s heartbeat was so loud you could practically hear it echoing in the silent room. He checked the clock, “Gossamer, it’s almost an hour before I need to go to school,” he said, annoyed. “Better safe than sorry.” it replied. Milo sighed and put on his clothes for the day, brushed his teeth, and packed his bag with still a bit of time to spare. His mother wasn’t awake yet, and he figured he’d be taking the bus to school today. Milo nudged his mother gently to wake her up, she replied with a sleepy groan. “Mama, did you pack me lunch last night?” His mother’s eye shot open, “Oh I forgot! I’m so sorry Milo!” she said, “Here you can take some money and buy lunch.” She handed him a twenty dollar bill. Gossamer tsked, “Don’t accept that money, it’s your mother’s. Don’t be such a burden and make your own lunch,” it said. Milo’s face fell, does she really think I’m a burden? “Oh most definitely, you ask her for everything and she receives nothing in return,”  Gossamer said. “Oh no mama that’s ok! You go back to bed and I’ll make myself lunch, I’m old enough to.” His mother frowned, but went back to sleep anyway. Milo walked down the stairs slowly, “I don’t know how to cook, but I can try,” he said, determined. 

Milo hopped onto the bus, his lunch packed snugly on top of his books and art supplies. Gossamer rested underneath the seat, grumbling in complaint. “Have you been to school before Gossamer?” Milo whispered. “No, I haven’t. Don’t talk to me out loud, people will think you’re weird,” it scolded, “Speak to me with your thoughts. I can hear those.” Ok, sorry.

The first part of the day was a mix of boredom and anxiety for Milo, the long grueling hours had exhausted him. Gossamer seemed to get heavier and bigger each day, yet still insisted on resting upon Milo’s shoulders. You’re heavy, could you walk? “You don’t want your best friend to get trampled on do you?” it replied, wrapping its tail around Milo’s waist to balance himself, “Hurry or you’ll be late to lunch.” Milo walked under the canopy where rows of tin tables and benches sat, his eyes darted around looking for a place to sit. Gossamer pointed a claw in one direction, by a group of girls, “There?” Milo walked over there and asked if he could sit. “Hm, he’s cute, looks smart, sure you’re allowed to sit here.” said one of the girls, “My name is Alice.” She had tanned skin and chocolate hair with pink highlights. Alice motioned to three other girls, “This is Olivia,” a dark skinned girl with wavy caramel hair smiled at him, “Sophia,”  the girl with short black hair waved at him, “And Mia,” a more tomboyish person waved at him, uncomfortable somehow. Milo smiled shyly, “Ah thanks for letting me sit here, it’s crowded today. I’m Milo by the way,” he said, smiling. 

The four had exchanged numbers to keep in contact and Milo left school that day feeling light as a feather despite having a giant oversized cat resting on his shoulders. 

That night Milo barely slept, newfound thoughts swirled in his head and his mind was too loud to sleep. He turned around in his bed, staring at the dull pink night light beside his bed. Gossamer had disappeared after Milo showered, which was odd because it usually sat in a corner and stared at him until he went to bed. Maybe it doesn’t care anymore. Maybe it has a new friend. What if something happened? Is it ok? It could be hurt and it’ll be all your fault, because you don’t care enough for your friend to make sure it stays safe. The thoughts plagued his mind and body, words of worry and various scenarios echoed in his mind until it was too exhausting to stay awake.

The next few weeks were the same as the rest, waking up too early, making breakfast and lunch for himself, lugging Gossamer around, who was larger than when they first met. Staying up late studying and getting good grades. Milo felt tired, but he didn’t want to sleep. All he wanted was to lay down and stay there forever, like an oyster at the bottom of the ocean. He spent all day forcing a smile. Even his friends were exhausting to talk to. Milo felt like he could only be himself around Mia, whom he was closest to in the group. 

“I haven’t been able to sleep at all,” he said, pressing his fingers against his eyes, “There’s this-” Milo paused, “My friend, has been keeping me up lately.” “Do we know them?” asked Alice. “No I don’t think so, my friend’s name is Gossamer.” 

Gossamer what an ugly name, they must hate their parents.” she laughed at the thought, Olivia joined, making Milo’s stomach churn. Milo opened his mouth to protest, but Gossamer silenced him, “You don’t want to disappoint your friends do you? Let them have their fun.” He pushed down the anger, the feeling felt like bile in his throat, “I don’t think Gossamer has any parents,” he mumbled. “Well I would get rid of my parents too if I were named that ha.” Milo nervously played with his white hair and stared at the ground the rest of the lunch period. He felt so out of place and not comfortable in the ironed jeans and shirt he wore. “Hey Milo, would it be ok if I copied your homework? It’s too hard for me,” chimed Alice on their way back from the lunch tables. “Yea, sure. I’ll give it to you in class.” His heart ached, the pressure on his shoulders and the heat from Gossamer overwhelmed him. He couldn’t wait until he could get home and just lay down all day thinking of nothing. 

He stared at the paper in his hands, dumbfounded. “I-I can’t believe this. I failed. I failed a test,” He pressed his palms on his face, digging his nails into his skin. Mia was beside him, trying her best to offer comfort with no avail. “Think of your mother, how disappointed she would be in you. When she finds out she’ll get mad for sure, oh she’d be so hurt,” said Gossamer, his toothy grin widening. “Shut up Gossamer,” seethed Milo, Mia looked around confused, Alice and Olivia overheard from the other side of their bus row. “That ugly friend of yours? I thought you said they weren’t here Milo,” they sniggered. Milo’s heart quickened and his throat dried, he felt a giant heavy pit in his stomach. “It’s a monster.” “What?”

“Gossamer, it’s a monster. It lives with me,” he stammered, trying to find words, “It appeared in the summer and-” “You have an imaginary friend? Aren’t you a bit too old for that lame stuff?” Alice cut him off.

“No Gossamer isn’t imaginary, it’s real, and it likes to rest on my shoulders and,” Milo was close to tears and his chest was tight. “They’re such awful friends, you’re a bad person for being with them.” “You’re so weird, you should get rid of that ‘monster’.”

Milo reached home and dragged his feet through the door, his eyes filled to the brim with tears. “Hello Milo, how was school? Are you alright?” asked his mom, it was obvious she was concerned and walked over to him, cupping his face in her smooth hands, “What’s wrong?” Milo’s face hardened, “I’m fine. Everything is fine and I don’t need you to baby me.” “Oh, ok then. That’s alright darling,” she said cheerfully, her voice breaking slightly. Milo felt like he was choking, What did I just do… He ran up the stairs and slammed his door shut. Milo stood there against the door, his beautiful olive eyes held great pain as his body slid slowly down the door frame. Milo’s body instinctively curled up, his shoulders tensed and trembling. The room became blurred and wet drops streaked down from the boy’s face. He looked at the glistening icy orbs across from him, the blue eyes seemed to pierce him. “I can hear you, you know.” said Gossamer’s deep gravelly voice. The large dark creature struggled to untangle itself from its many limbs and slithered toward the boy, wrapping its great tail around his body. “It’s ok,” it purred, resting a heavy paw on the boy’s back, petting Milo’s hair with another. 

“Why does it hurt?” The boy sobbed,

 

“It just does.” replied Gossamer, “She knows you don’t hate her. I hope, with how much of a burden you are to her, she must be so tired of you. She does everything and yet you ignore her.” 

 

I am a failure, she hates me. Milo’s thoughts jumbled and tangled together, his quiet sobs overwhelming his body, holding back screams of agony. I’m an awful son. I shouldn’t exist. Why do I exist? Milo stiffened his body and stifled sobs staring back at those eyes belonging to the monster. “Yes, you are a failure, you’re lucky to have me. I’ll always be around, I am the only thing you have now. You pushed away your friends, you hurt your mother. I’m all that’s left. That’s not so bad, is it? I’m your best friend.” 

“You’re not.” he sobbed, “I know you’re not.” “What?” Gossamer seethed. “You’re not my best friend, you’ve done no good, you made me this way.” “What are you talking about? I have done nothing but good to you! I am the perfect friend, I am the one who stayed beside you. You lost your friends, you lost your mother,” the monster’s eyes glowed, a blinding white light. Milo gave in, That’s right, Gossamer did nothing wrong. It can do no wrong, it has been your friend for months. It never left you. Thoughts swirled in his mind, “You’re right Gossamer, I’m sorry.” He dragged his body, flopping onto the bed and lying there in silence. 

Milo was awoken by the buzz of his vibrating phone next to him, showing text messages from his friends. 

Oliva[7:30PM]: Hey guys! Christmas party over at my house!

Pretty much the whole school will be there! 8:00!

Alice[7:30PM]: I’ll be there! 

Mia[7:35]: I’ll go too.

Olivia[7:35]: Great! Milo?

He stared at the phone, contemplating.

Milo[7:45]: Yea, I’ll be there.

Milo slowly sat up, groaning. “Where are you going?” asked the dark creature, Gossamer was huge, compared to the small character Milo met half a year ago. It’s paws were almost as big as his face, and it’s tail could wrap around his entire body. “A party. With my friends. Are you coming?” \

“No I can’t, there’s some things I need to tend to.” 

“Oh, what’s wrong?”

Gossamer ignored the question. “Go on.” it said, “Oh wait-”

“Yea?”
“Nevermind.”

Milo shrugged and walked out the door, not a second later he saw a stream of red light show from his room. He opened the door and saw a odd bright light from under his bed. A burning heat blasted his face, closing his eyes for a second, and all of a sudden he was in a different world. Milo looked around in wonder, a red dust was under his bare feet, ragged buildings and random junk littered the floor. He saw a long black tail turn around a corner and ran after it. “Gossamer! Gossamer!” he called, “Gossamer come back!” the black figure turned around, Gossamer was larger now, with its giant toothy grin and wide blue eyes full with greed. Its body seemed to glitch in places and distort. Milo looked at it in fear, this terrifying nightmare was nothing like his cute cuddly best friend. “Hello Milo, welcome to the monster world.” A large crate rose from under Milo’s feet, trapping him. “What? What’s going on! Gossamer!” The creature’s eyes seemed to soften slightly, being filled with fear. It lifted a giant paw, and slowly reached over to Milo. “I’m sorry.” In one swift motion, Milo was knocked out.

He awoke in the same crate, swinging from a chain. He looked at the healed scar wounds that Gossamer gave him not long ago. I’m bonded to Gossamer, there has to be some way to get to him. “Hello, Milo,” called a familiar voice, Gossamer’s rough, echoing voice broke, “I’m sorry but I have to. It’s my job.”

“I don’t understand,” Milo choked, “You kept saying you were there.” “No I wasn’t, I’m not even real. I’m made up of the bad thoughts from you. I’m not even sure I’m real. All I know is I have a job, and my job is to stay alive.” it sighed, “I have lived many lives, I have ruined many children, some worse than what I did to you. I am supposed to be makeup of children’s bad thoughts. Without it, I die,” Gossamer stared at Milo, “I care for all of my children. I truly love all of my children, but my species is greedy, that love is often obstructed by fear. You’re a good person Milo, I just wish you had a bit longer to live.” 

“What?” Milo stuttered, tripping over his words.

“Oh you don’t know? Milo you’re dying. I killed you, or, to be more accurate, you did,” it said, “You will manifest in this place, and be forced to live a thousand lives just as I have.” 

“I’m dying? So I’m still alive?” he asked hurriedly. “Well, yes-” Milo cut Gossamer off, “My mother. Gossamer you need to get me back there. Now.” 

“I can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“I just can’t, I’d die.”

“You said you cared for all your children. You care for me, bring me back there,” he argued. Gossamer’s eyes darted around, looking for an argument, a solution, anything. It’s face fell and for the first time Milo saw it without it’s cheshire smile. “Fine,” Gossamer picked Milo from his cage and dropped him down into the abyss. 

Milo awoke in a pool of sweat on his bed, he didn’t remember anything of what happened in his world. He heard his mother sobbing in the other room, walking tenderly over to her, he hugged her from behind, tears streaming down his face. Gossamer was gone, even though it wasn’t a good monster, Milo missed him. He felt as if a piece of him was ripped violently from his body. “I’m sorry mom, I’m sorry.” The two sat together in silence, tears staining their clothes. “I didn’t mean to lash out at you, Gossamer, it was bad.” He couldn’t find the words, but his mother looked at him so kindly as if she understood. “I’m sorry darling.” Was all she said, and right now that seemed enough.

After a few days Milo started to feel things again, the whole experience caused his body and brain to go numb, but now the anxious feelings were coming back slowly. His mother offered counseling for him to help with the stress of school, and it helped.

“Hello Milo,” said a disembodied voice. “Gossamer? What are you doing here,” he said sternly. “You chose to live, so I cannot leave you. I will continue to feed off your fear.” 

“Well, since you’re attached to me, is there any other way you can live without ruining my life?” he asked. “No, my species has never tried.” 

“It’s worth a try now, since you’re going to be sticking around,” Milo said, hugging the monster and burying deep into its soft fur.