Stuff & Nonsense

All grown up: Monsters inc

This is the first in what may (or may not) be a regular series, which takes the universe of a children’s classic and intersects it with the cynicism and harshness of reality…. I thought I’d start with monster’s inc, since the idea of monster’s being able to pass into our world whenever and wherever they like lends itself to some interesting ideas.

1: Monstropolis

Sulley lent back in his chair, letting out a sigh of relief as the tension drained from his shoulders. These last 5 years had been tough, changing the way an entire civilisation procured its energy, not to mention changing the direction and mindset of a huge corporate institution…it hadn’t been easy, but things had finally started to turn around. He glanced at a framed picture on his desk, ‘Boo’, the little girl who’d made it all possible… she’d shown that human laughter was a much stronger and more energetic source of power than the traditional fear, and in doing so had paved the way for everything that had happened since their last meeting. Sulley smiled wryly, now that the conservative old guard had finally been put down and their leaders exiled in one of the strange worlds on the other side of the barren doors he could really start to consolidate his powerbase. It was a pity about Mike, if anyone deserved to be a part of the shining future that lay ahead it was him… but at the last minute the cyclops had blinked, his nerve had broken and Sulley had to choose between their friendship and the greater good.

The intercom on Sulley’s desk flashed, interrupting his reverie. The display indicated it was Dr Hertzner in the research labs, his permanently worried face filling the small screen.

“What is it Doctor?” asked Sully, trying to keep the impatience out of his voice. The Dr’s research project had hit some stumbling blocks recently, the new doors opening onto strange universes filled with physical impossibilities. Some of the explorers had come back… changed. Some of them hadn’t come back at all.

“We’ve found her.” The doctor found himself talking to an empty screen. On hearing those 3 words, Sully had leaped from his chair and was already bounding through the complex towards the research labs.

Boo, the girl who had catapulted Sully into a position of power… her door had been lost, presumed destroyed during the civil war but now, after months of probing the human universe with exploratory doors the doctor had finally found her again.

“we have no way of knowing how old she is you understand” The doctor’s monotone voice, more attuned to the lecture hall than the halls of power he now moved in irritated Sully as he gazed at the door in front of him. “Time in their universe is… different than time here. Once a doorway is established the flow of time is synchronised between a specific pocket of space on the other side, traditionally a child’s room but as we’ve seen with our recent..”

“Yes yes Doctor” Sully cut him off impatiently “So she may be much older than I remember, I understand… now stand aside”

The Doctor sighed and moved to the control console next to the doorway. The Ancients, founders of the monster civilisation now lost in the mists of time, had passed down grave warnings about the kind of research he was now involved in. The master control mechanism threw up a set sequence of co-ordinates for the doors, using those co-ordinates invariably created doors that led to the rooms of children in the human universe. The Doctor’s use of unapproved co-ordinates and the realisation that other worlds, other people lay on the other side of those doors had led to the priesthood’s revolt and the blood strewn mess of the civil war.

“Open the door Doctor” Sully grunted “I’m ready”

The Doctor made a final adjustment on the control panel, overriding the warning lights that just a few short years ago would have meant this door was consigned to the ‘never use’ scraphead and made the connection…

2: The human world

Somewhere else a similar warning light flickered into life. Rather than override it though the man watching this light stared, almost disbelieving what his eyes were telling him. After an almost comical double take, he picked up the phone next to his desk and almost yelled down it “It’s…it’s happening, get the director… she needs to see this”

In another part of the complex the director was dragged from her recurring nightmare of a snake drilling into her skull, back into the land of the living by the insistent blaring of the red phone she kept next to her bed. After a brief moment of confusion, she snapped into alertness and grabbed the handset. Minutes later she was running down the hallways towards the lab, her mind racing. It had taken years of waiting, millions of dollars of funding but the moment she had waited for had finally arrived. She was going to finally get her own back on that blue bastard who had swanned into her life, taken her from her home and subjected her to an ordeal she’d never truly recovered from. If it hadn’t been for the institute, a group of shadowy figures who understood what she’d been through and, more importantly, believed her she’d probably still be rotting in St Genevieve’s now. The institute had existed for in one form or another for decades, and their sole purpose was to research and eventually destroy the strange world of ‘monsters’ that had been haunting humanity for centuries.

Her gaze flickered to the side as she passed the entrance to the vivisection labs. In recent years the incursion teams had made great strides in capturing specimens of exiled monsters, apparently there’d been some sort of power struggle on the other side of the doors and the losers had been dumped unceremoniously over here. Although they’d been scattered across time and space due to the strange quantum effects that surrounded the interdimensional portal technology several of them had ended up in the 20th century to be captured by the incursion teams, interrogated and finally dissected… their bodies giving up hints that had led to the construction of the laboratory she now raced towards.

She arrived in the observation room to a scene of tense anticipation, looking down into the replica of a child’s bedroom she had a brief pang of nostalgia…the bedroom below was based on her own memories of her childhood home. The ‘child’ in the bed was a lifelike dummy, but it was the glistening metal box next to the bed that her eyes were drawn to. It had been discovered very early on that the portals, the doors that the monsters used to make their raids into this world were drawn to children. Prolonged research had finally discovered the strange quantum vibration produced by a child’s mind, a unique vibration that each doorway was attuned to. The supercooled box below contained a piece of the Director’s own brain tissue, clone cultured to resemble that of a child. She’d hoped that this would be enough to fool the weird, poorly understood science of the other side… and it seemed her gamble had finally paid off.

Light filled the room below, creeping out from around the doorway that stood in the shell of a closet. The director held her breath as the handle started to turn..the door slowly opened and, silhouetted against the light flooding through from the other side stood a figure she recognised from her nightmares


That one word, a hesitant question from the huge blue monster now creeping across the floor broke the strange paralysis that afflicted everyone in the room. The director blinked, and slammed her hand down on the red button next to her station. Below, Sulley froze as lights flared around him… and a few feet away, in another universe Dr Hertzner stared in horror at his control panel as the emergency shutdown failed, the doorway held open from the other side as blackclad troops poured into the laboratory.

Sulley looked up at the woman glaring at him from the observation room above… no longer the child he was expecting, but he’d finally found her.

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