Concept Art Writing Prompt: Me and My Carpet Monster

Illustration for article titled Concept Art Writing Prompt: Me and My Carpet Monster

What adorableness lurks in this otherwise ordinary rug? This week's concept art writing prompt stars a fuzzy and unusually flat creature and the human who loves it. Can you come up with a story to go with this image? Write one up and post it in the comments.

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This week's concept art is "Rug Monster" by photographer Todd Baxter. We previously featured Baxter's whimsical photos here.

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Alright folks, get your "munching rug" jokes out of the way and get to writing.

As always, here's my story. Post your own in the comments:

When Erik arrived, the group was already four rounds and three sheets into the night. Most of the tube maintenance crew were still in their jumpsuits, but Erik had been working the Gleeson transit tubes — the ones the 'Phibs mostly traveled — and the cleaners needed to dissolve the slime made his skin itch. So he was freshly showered and dressed in a pair of navy canvas pants and a wool sweater.

"Look at Mr. Hygiene," Paolo laughed as Erik sat down and pulled a mug from the stack. The bigger man, his cheeks already pink, poured Erik a drink from the kettle. Erik sipped, letting the heated alcohol burn though his nose and throat, clearing out the residual chemicals of the day.

"Where's Gem?" Cora asked. Her face was still smudged with fungogrease. The girls swore it was good for their skin, and would leave it on for hours after work. Erik was sure it was just plain old dirt, with as few magical properties as any other dirt on the station, but right now he would give anything for some old-fashioned dirt. Well, anything but the luxury credit bump he got for cleaning the Glesson tubes.

Erik swallowed another mouthful of drink. "She's got an eval."

Cora arched an eyebrow. "Routine?" she asked, trying to keep the quiver from her voice.

Erik swayed his head from side to side. "She's trying to get another bump."

Paolo narrowed his eyes. "Her too? You guys aren't applying for repro, are you?"

Erik grinned. "No, but I do have news. Gem and I are going to be quartering together."

A cheer went up from the table. "Finally!" gasped Malese. "Where are you moving?"

Erik scratched absently at his arm. The team medic had warned him that scratching would just send the chemicals deeper into his skin, but sometimes he couldn't help it. "Hobson's Farm."

"Ooh," Cora said. "Fancy digs. You guys getting a Glo-Suite?"

"Actually," Erik stared into his mug, "we're getting a monster."

Paolo's eyes went ride, then he let out a rough chortle. "What does Gem need with a carpet monster? She's already got you, right?" He smacked his wet lips together in Malese's ear.

Malese rolled her eyes as she pushed him away. "Right, because no one's ever made that joke before."

"How long have you guys been planning this?" Cora asked. "I hear the wait list for monster pups is like, two years."

"It's not a pup," Erik said. "The couple that was living in the unit took off for Truman last month. No one even knew until yesterday."

"A second-hand monster?" chimed in Petrovsky. "Are you sure that's a good idea?"

"It's not 'second-hand,'" Cora corrected him. "It's a rescue." She turned to Erik. "I think it's great. And it means we'll have lots of parties at your place. Give your little guy lots of attention."

"If it doesn't bite," Petrovsky muttered. Even Paolo glared at that. "Hey!" Petrovsky raised his hands, palms out. "I'm just saying, those things don't handle abandonment well. And it's not like a cat that you can just crate when its bad."

"It's fine," Erik said. "Gem and I saw her last night. She's in really good shape. Just a little shy."

Petrovsky poured himself another drink. "Are you sure about this man? A monster's a big commitment, bigger than repro even. You guys are never going to be able to move off-station. Hell, you won't be able to move across the hall, especially if the thing's already been abandoned once."

Erik thought about his own childhood. His own parents had split shortly after their repro came through, his father opting for a cryo job in another system. His mother moved them to the sun domes, where there were few children his age, and never applied for a second repro. Erik had spent lonely years in their quarters. Chatting online with other kids in his learning cohort was never the same as human, animal contact. Once, when his mother was working a particularly long shift, he'd crafted large fabric eyes, gold like a monster's, and glued them all over the carpet of their quarters. He smiled at the memory of his mother screaming at him, ordering him out the door to request the safe solvent needed to dissolve the glue.

Then Gem walked into the bar. Erik turned to watch her. She was still in her jumpsuit, a line of fungogrease traced deliberately beneath one eye. Her kinky red hair was pulled back and teased into a puff ball. When she spotted him, her lips widened into a tired but happy smile. Erik was ready to never be alone again. It would just be him, her, and their monster.

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Angela's house slippers made a whooshing sound as she crossed the linoleum kitchen floor with the tray of finger sandwiches. Her friend Lois sat on the far side of the counter, the living room side, swirling a glass of Cabernet in her hand.

"Watch the carpet," Angela said as she set the tray on the counter. Lois nodded absently and stuck her nose in to inspect the bouquet of the wine.

Lois considered the fragrance carefully. "Smells like..." She looked at her hostess. "Smells like you spent $6.99 at Safeway." And she let out a cackle.

"You've had enough," said Angela coldly. "Have some sandwiches."

There was a rustling underneath them. Lois froze. "What was that?"

Angela tried to look innocent. "I didn't hear anything. I would certainly never—"

"I think there's mice in your floorboards, Angela." Lois tossed her hair back and raised her glass into a swift pose of haughtiness, but the wine in that glass wasn't prepared for the gesture, its fluid dynamics combining the energy of the motion into a single wave which rose in a spiral around the rim of the glass to spill over.

"Watch the carpet!" Angela shrieked, but it was too late. The red droplets had already landed in the tan shag carpet. Angela sprinted to the fridge for club soda. She ran to her pantry for the carpet cleaner she kept in rich supply, her slippers now slapping the hard floor with every step.

Lois stayed on her stool. She looked down at the mark she had made without concern, but then the rustling noise started again, louder this time, and it seemed to be coming towards her. "Angela—"

The stool jostled underneath her, and Lois's hands moved reflexively now to steady the wine glass rather than herself. She stood up and looked at the living room floor as a whole. She watched it ripple and twist with a shape she could now almost make out. It seemed to move underneath the floor, but it also somehow was the floor.

When she saw the eyes, she put her glass on the counter and took a cucumber sandwich.

Angela came back with an armful of cleaning supplies. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," she kept muttering, but she wasn't talking to her terrified friend. She was talking to the carpet.

The shape moved across the room, a wave headed for Angela and her Resolve. The eyes faced her, with a tiny set of pink horns trailing behind them where they would be on the forehead a creature which was not made of carpet. Angela's voice became soothing.

"Did she surprise you?" she cooed to the floor monster. "I should have warned you I was having company."

Lisa backed away, stuffing the tiny sandwich into her mouth.

There was a noise from the floor, almost like a purr. Angela rubbed the floor between the eyes and turned with a tender smile to her friend. "I'm sorry. I should introduce you. This is my husband, Matt."