Mysterious Monsters: Bigfoot – Chapter 1
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 hair. “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. Someone is claiming that the alien the government has supposedly been hiding there for over fifty years has escaped and is running around the desert. So now, of course, people are rushing there from all over the country to catch it.”
“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.