The single author’s collection began with the story We Make Our Own Monsters Here. The start was with a voice filled with dread and with an atmosphere that showcased that something wrong was about to happen.

The opening lines read:

Check Harding dropped his travel bag on the tiled floor of the Palmerston Hotel and jumped when the receptionist barked, “Mind the marble floor.” The floor was neither marble nor something that needed minding. Several of the scuffed tiles peeled at their corners, especially around the base of the reception desk. Even the receptionist looked as if he didn’t need minding with his dandruff-laden comb-over and threadbare suit, which had shiny elbows to match his shiny nose. All the same, Check picked up his bag, which was no weight at all. It only contained socks and hope.

Socks, the instrument that sum Check’s hope of escaping the kind of life he was living. A life that was a despair, struggling. And check hoped that when he gets the job of being a puppeteer, it would become a liberation to a new life full of possibilities. A sort of a similar dream echoing in the minds of the young people all around the world with the aim that a new step, maybe a degree or a training, was the gateway to a new dawn. 

But such expectation often had its challenges.  For Check, it was a dark force that was interested in his dream more than he even needed it himself. 

“Room vacant, sir,” she said, and it was definitely a statement and not a question. He replied as if it were a question. “Yes. Thank you. Pleasant stay.” His shadow led the way, rushing down flight after flight of stairs to the lobby. He stopped on the final step. There didn’t seem to be anyone behind the desk, but the strange receptionist could be on his knees again and hiding just out of view. Check crept by, waiting for a tile or shoe leather to creak and betray him. His hand pressed against the front door. “We’ll see you this evening, Mr Harding,” the receptionist said. Check didn’t intend to return. The previous night’s shadows still haunted him. An appointment awaited him at a puppeteer’s house and then he would catch the coach home.

The force would follow him to the puppeteer’s house to ensure a grand performance. And even when Check was doing nothing but to sit and watch, the darkness claiming him was playing to the gallery securing for Check a one-way ticket where Check would actually be a puppeteer in every sense of the word.  The performance was so outstanding that even before the interview ended, the interviewer wanted to become an apprentice under Check.

Check had a dilemma confronting him, to go back to his old terrible life or to choose a new dreadful unknown life of being both a puppet and a puppeteer?

This story had multifaceted interpretations and resonated so intimately to anyone on a threshold of making a life changing decision.

I will leave it up to you to discover for yourself the juicy in the second story.