Monster of the Week Tournament

by Sheridan Saint-Michel

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Undead and Cephalopods, welcome one and all to the most unpredictable of all reality shows. Welcome to the Monster of the Week Tournament!”

The roar of the crowd made Stabhorn stamp his hoof on the ground in anticipation. This was his moment. This time, he would make it happen. He would finally make it to the big time. He just had to show the crowd he was cruel and destructive.

“On Monster of the Week, the strange and unusual battle it out. Creatures who go bump in the night, but can’t make it onto the silver screen compete for a horror film of their own. The tournament has three rounds, first the duel, then the obstacle course, and finally the scare round. Each round, the winner moves forward while the loser goes home. Who’s ready for some action?”

The crowd erupted in cheers again and Stabhorn’s fur stood up in excitement. More than one horror legend’s career had started on Monster Of The Week. The Sliced Bread Slasher had gone on to make not just one movie, but five sequels after winning. Not to mention the Abominable Snowcone, the Serrated Swizzle Stick, and the Tomato Tornado. Now, it was Stabhorn’s turn.

As the gate in front of him rose, the announcer called out, “In our first match, we have the killer baby goat, Stabhorn!”

The crowd applauded as Stabhorn galloped forward. He looked across the arena, his heart pounding as he made ready to charge. The gate on the other side of the arena rose as Stabhorn’s adversary was named.

“Facing Stabhorn is the Killer Sunglasses of Deadly Shade!”

Stabhorn shook his head in disbelief. Sunglasses? Had the announcer actually said sunglasses? Stabhorn’s momentary surprise was almost his undoing. A pair of red sunglasses flew from behind the gate, flapping its arms like bat wings. Before Stabhorn could react, they landed on his face. Stabhorn was literally blinded with pain as the sunglasses stabbed him in the eyes.

Killer sunglasses indeed!

Stabhorn blinded and hurting before he had even stepped out of the gate! Panicking, he turned toward the wall closest to him and charged. His head smashed into the wall, sending another shock of pain through his body. The effect on the sunglasses, however, was far worse, and the broken pieces of the Killer Sunglasses of Deadly Shade fell to the ground. Stabhorn still couldn’t see, but from the roar of the crowd, he knew he had won the first round.

Once his eyes healed, he went over to the competition board to examine the brackets. Most of the competitors who had lost the first round were monsters Stabhorn didn’t know. He noticed that Killer Green Gelatinous Mold had lost his duel. He pitied old Moldy. It was hard enough to find a producer willing to take a risk on a Jello mold monster movie. Receiving a cease and desist letter demanding he no longer use the Jello name, though, had pushed his dream farther out of reach. He went from sounding like a picnic gone wrong (with the possibility of an evil mother-in-law) to sounding like something you might find underneath the refrigerator.

Every monster was here for the same reason. They couldn’t get a movie deal on their own. Stabhorn had received the same answer from all the movie studios. “You’re too small and cute to be scary, come back when you grow up.” He tried to explain that he was a corporeal evil spirit, so he would never “grow up.” The studios just didn’t seem to understand.

In desperation, he tried to break into children’s entertainment, but despite his cuteness, they couldn’t see past the killing. “Clean up your act and then come back,” they would say. Again, he would explain that as a manifestation of evil, killing was integral to his nature, but they would respond with blank stares. Stabhorn filled a niche that no one wanted.

Stabhorn passed through the second round of competition with ease. He was grateful he hadn’t faced the Decapitating Pile Of Dirty Dishes in the duel. His goat feet (regardless of how small and cute they were) propelled him through the obstacle course with ease.

Though the final round, the scare round, was the one that unnerved Stabhorn. In this round, the last two contestants would face a nine-year-old child. The first to make the child flee in terror would be the winner. Stabhorn made it to the final round once before, only to fail miserably.

“Release the girl!” the announcer’s voice bellowed. A girl came walking out of the shadows, already looking scared and clutching her doll. What were the chances Stabhorn’s opponent would be a monster less frightening than a baby goat?

“For the final round, we have Stabhorn, the killer baby goat, versus Killer Pink Rainbow Unicorn!”

Stabhorn looked up in surprise, his confidence swelling. He saw his opponent walk out into the arena, and she was incredibly cute. Well, she was incredibly cute, except for her fangs. Their eyes met, and Stabhorn felt an instant connection. Here was a monster who understood him. A monster who was both deadly and cute. Hell, she could have used the name Stabhorn herself. It would actually fit her beautiful unicorn horn better than Stabhorn’s little baby goat horn nubs.

The little girl looked back and forth between the unicorn and the baby goat and then yelled out, “Oh my god, so cute!”

“Remember,” the announcer’s voice boomed, the contestants have three minutes to scare the little girl. If neither of them succeeds, they will both be disqualified.”

The girl ran over to Killer Pink Rainbow Unicorn and began petting her mane and kissing her on the neck. The unicorn bared her fangs, but the girl didn’t seem to notice. Killer Pink Rainbow Unicorn would be formidable in the duel between her hooves, fangs, and horn. Unfortunately for her, in this round, the contestants were banned from hurting the girl. If the little girl got so much as a scratch, the offender would be immediately disqualified. This round was all about scare factor.

Stabhorn had to come up with a way to scare the girl. He rushed forward while she was focused on petting the unicorn and did what goats do best; he began eating her doll.

“Bad goat!” the girl yelled, ripping the doll from his mouth. She hit him over the head with the doll, getting angry rather than scared. This wasn’t going well. Maybe if he used some scary words?

“Run little girl,” he growled, “Or this baby goat will eat you up next.”

The girl began giggling. “Oh, baby goat, you are too cute! I could eat you up too.”

She reached over and began running her fingers around on the short fur on top of Stabhorn’s head. Stabhorn looked over at Killer Pink Rainbow Unicorn, and she rolled her eyes. Stabhorn chuckled and then had a thought. Only a few seconds remained, but this round didn’t have to be a total loss.

“Will you go to dinner with me?” Stabhorn asked.

The Killer Pink Rainbow Unicorn’s ears flicked forward in surprise.

“You might be the only monster in this crazy world who really gets me, who really understands what it’s like to be this cute and this evil. Let me take you to dinner.”

The buzzer sounded, and the announcer said, “I’m sorry, folks, it looks like there is no winner this week. We’ll be back with new contestants next week. Thank you all for coming and remember to tell your friends about the Monster of the Week Tournament, the only tournament that turns mediocre monsters into movie stars!”

Stabhorn started to walk back toward his gate, but stopped when he heard Killer Pink Rainbow Unicorn say a single word, “Yes.”

They started to walk out of the arena together. As they mingled with the crowd, a spectator looked down at Stabhorn and said, “Better luck next time, kid.”

Stabhorn looked up at Killer Pink Rainbow Unicorn and smiled. For the first time, in a long time, his luck was changing.

The prompt for this story was to use at least one horror trope. This story was inspired by the trope Monster Of The Week (albeit with a twist) and by the Attack of the Killer Whatever.Originally featured in The Weekly Knob, October 26, 2019

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