Rated R, for a rowdy band of righteous monsters.
Field Reports from the Department of Monster Resettlement
by L. Chan
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: two ghosts, a pontianak and a manananggal are sitting around the third floor of a community centre after dark. The trick isn’t getting them to come to the support group, the trick is getting them to agree to be resettled.
I arrange swiss rolls, cream puffs and savory pastries in company lines that would have impressed a drill sergeant, but would the Assistant Director down at the department or my guests care? I don’t know. What do monsters eat anyway? Puppies. The blood of virile young men. Hapless neophyte civil servants.
The carpet used to be a garish orange and brown, pattern reminiscent of bolognese regurgitated by a dog. Greying fabric wallpaper went threadbare over dented dry wall. The hole by the door was the right size and shape for a fist. Goodness knows what they used this room for. At least the department got it cheap.
First job, first resettlement, first time I’m on my own, no more training, no safety net, no screwups. I’ve got the profiles of all the monsters printed out. Twelve point font, double-spaced, one inch margins, colour-coded plastic tabs for each profile by ethnicity. That’s the whole point of the policy. Have to mix them up, nobody wants all the jiang shi and kuei to be in one place, all the toyols and hantus to be in another. Not to mention those that we’ve imported into this melting pot. I accept the sugar coated logic pill, down the hatch with a cool draught of my own university education, not pausing to think about what’s at the heart of the medicine. It’s all good.
For a moment, there’s a stiff stage fright breeze, a whiff of the air beyond the curtains, that the monsters won’t turn up, that I’m going to slink back to the office tomorrow in some reverse walk of shame.
Then there’s a scratching at the dust speckled window. The manananggal is here. They’re coming, all good little monsters, every one. That’s Singapore for you. (Continue Reading…)