The Scientists in the Wardrobe
Leila stood in the doorway, her little legs shaking in her blueberry pjs.
“I don’t want to, Daddy,” she whispered.
“Come on, sweetheart,” Michael said, striding into the room with the confidence of someone who hasn’t believed in monsters for years. “Here, let’s check under the bed.” He knelt, his knees clicking louder than he would have liked, and pulled up the covers. “Nope, no one there! How about behind the curtains?” He jumped up and pulled back the curtains, noting to get them dry cleaned. “Nope, no one there! See, my little blueberry, there’s no one here to hurt you.”
“But that’s not where they hide,” Leila whispered.
“Okay, where do they hide?” He knelt in front of her, gathering her little hands in his.
Her eyes whipped to the wardrobe. “In there.”
Michael checked his watch. His meeting started five minutes ago. “There’s no monsters in the wardrobe, I’ll—”
“Of course there’s no monsters in the wardrobe,” Leila replied seriously. “They’re scientists.”
“Scientists. They do experiments.”
“Yes, scientists usually do—”
Michael furrowed his eyebrows. “There are scientists in your wardrobe and they do experiments on you?”
“Yes, they come out at night so the sun’s radiation doesn’t interfere with their serums and they inject them into my feet to see how I react. Sometimes I sleep well but usually I have terrible nightmares and wake up all sweaty. But they’re not as smart as most scientists and I’ve learned to curl my legs up so I’m a little ball and then they poke their needles into the end of the bed. But still, Daddy, I don’t want to go to bed. What if I stretch out my legs in my sleep? What if they figure out my plan?”
Michael was starting to worry. Monsters under the bed was one thing but evil scientists in the wardrobe? Was this normal? Perhaps Leila would grow up to be a writer such an avid imagination. His phone vibrated in his pocket—work, wondering why he wasn’t there.
“Okay, blueberry, let’s see what we find. If we open the wardrobe and there’s no scientists, you have to go to bed right away, okay?”
“And if there are scientists?”
“Leila, there aren’t any—what the?!”
Her father pulled open the creaky wardrobe door, expecting nothing more than smelly shoes and expensive school uniforms. Instead, he saw five scientists, huddled in the tiny space before him, clutching vials and needles and beakers, each looking as if they were in the midst of something very important.
“What are you doing?” the short one with bright red hair yelled. “You’re ruining our experiments. Shut the door!”
Too bewildered to think straight, Michael shut the door. He turned and stared at Leila with a complete lack of understanding. Leila raised her eyebrows at his confusion; she’d been very clear about what he could expect to find.
Then she stood tall, determination creasing her brow.
“So, Daddy, what’s the plan?”