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Preface to "Monster Hunter"

Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but has lived in Pittsburgh for over twenty years. She writes both fiction and poetry, and has won the Rhysling Award and the Elgin Award. Her two latest books are from opposite ends of the poetry spectrum: Elemental Haiku, containing haiku for each element of the periodic table (Ten Speed Press, 2019) and The Sign of the Dragon, an epic fantasy with Chinese elements (JABberwocky Literary Agency, 2020). She tweets @MarySoonLee and reports that her antiquated website (marysoonlee.com) has finally been updated.

I was five years old when I met the monster under my bed. First I heard a muffled shuffling, like the noise the neighbor's dog made turning in a tight tail-chasing circle before he settled down for a nap. But we didn't have a dog.
I clutched my stuffed rabbit, Sister Resistance, and told myself there was only a mouse under the bed. A friendly talking mouse, like the ones in the books Mom read to me.
Then I heard, quite distinctly, a burp. I didn't think mice burped, at least not loudly. A fishy smell wafted up.
Maybe if I'd shrieked or run to Mom, my life would have taken a more normal course. I might have become a beekeeper, or a race car driver, or a quantum physicist.
Instead I leaned down over the edge of my bed and hissed, "Be quiet."
In the dark, behind a scattering of toys and fugitive socks, a glowing orange eye looked back at me, a single oversized insectile compound eye in an undersized puny brown monster. Even at five, I couldn't be scared of a monster no bigger than Sister Resistance.
"Go away," I told it. "This is my room."
The glowing orange eye slowly blinked at me. "Prithee," said the monster in a raspy growl. "May I stay until thy mother hath read the nightly fable?"
"Ummm. You want to listen to Mom's bedtime story?"
"Exactly so."
And that's why I became a monster hunter, seeking out the remnants of the supernatural, trying to create a refuge for them. That's why I became a monster hunter. As to the how of the matter, you'll have to read the book.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, June 24th, 2021

Author Comments

This is a very short story and I only made minor changes between my first draft and the version I submitted, one of which was renaming the stuffed rabbit. The rabbit began as Mister One Ear, then briefly became Mister Resistance, before I finally settled on Sister Resistance. N.B. I had a much-loved stuffed rabbit myself, named Mitzi, which I've passed on to my daughter.

- Mary Soon Lee
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