top of page

Shortlist Saturdays: I'm In This Story And I Don't Like It by Melissa Ridley Elmes

Listen, I know this whole thing is going to sound crazy as all get out but bear with me.

The thing you need to know is, I didn’t ask for it. Did not. I was in my new apartment I’d just moved into the week before, by myself, minding my own business, trying to figure out what I was going to have for dinner, a little pissed off I hadn’t stopped by the store on the way home from work for a six-pack, because the only thing in the fridge was a can of lite beer someone who lived here before me left behind and fuck if I’m drinking that. I should probably just throw it out, but you know, I might have a party sometime. Might. And it could come in handy then, you know? Someone might drink it. Anyway, it was definitely not what I was in the mood for.

So I’m standing there, holding the fridge door open, leaning on it peering in like you do when you know there isn’t anything in there you want but you kind of, sort of hope there might be, maybe on that bottom shelf or in the door, or maybe there are house elves or fairies or some magic crap after all, and if you keep looking, things will resolve in your favor—don’t judge, you know you do it, too. And, I shit you not, this mouse-sized person, little old grey-haired dude wearing a bathrobe and slippers, comes walking out from behind the milk jug and looks up at me and says, “Do you mind closing the door? You’re letting all the cold air out. Did you grow up in a barn?”

And I glance over my shoulder at the front door to my apartment, because that’s what my mom always used to say when we were kids and we left the door open and it was instinct, you know? But of course the front door was closed. Like anyone living in a city is dumb enough to leave an apartment door open. And I turn back and I’m about to say, “it is closed” and that’s when it hits me, this little dude means the refrigerator door. Look, okay, I was a little slow on the uptake, but in my defense I was tired, it’d been a long, crap day at work dealing with people, and I hadn’t been sleeping so good, which we’ll get to in a minute.

So I catch myself mid-reply and say instead, “It’s my apartment and if I want to stand here with the refrigerator door open for an hour, I will.”

And this little person flat-out calls me on it: “Oh, James, no you won’t; you can’t afford the electric bill as it is.” Like, who the hell is this little dude who knows who I am? Which I ask him.

“I’m Kyle,” he says, like I should already know that. But I’ve never seen him before, and frankly, a little dude hanging out in my refrigerator was not on my Bingo card this morning, and I tell him so.

“Well, I guess you won’t be too pleased to learn that I’m the least of your worries,” he says. “You know you have a pretty serious impestation in this apartment, right?”

“A what?”

“An impestation. A rather large horde of imps.”

“You mean an infestation, like ants or something?”

He shakes his head and looks at me with pity in his eyes. “No, much worse than that. It’s imps, a whole impestation of imps, living in your walls, and they’re practically impossible to get rid of. You mean to tell me you haven’t heard them?”

Well, I mean, there’ve definitely been noises coming from the walls at night, and some thumping on occasion, all of which interrupted my sleep several times throughout the week, but I thought that was just my neighbors banging or something. You don’t get to choose your neighbors when you live in an apartment, ask me how I know. It’s why I’m here in the first place, let’s just say my last upstairs neighbor definitely didn’t work out and I’m not at all sorry I beat that guy over the head with his guitar and kicked in his amp, he played for shit anyway and frankly, no one living in an apartment should play their electric guitar after midnight on weeknights unless they’re The Edge, and even then, we’d need to have an understanding.

“And as if imps aren’t already more than anyone ought to have to live with, you’ve also got a shapeshifter problem,” Kyle continues, and he leans up against that milk jug and folds his arms and grins at me like he’s enjoying this.

“An I’m sorry what kind of problem?”

“A shapeshifter problem. Werebats. In the closet in the back bedroom,” he answers.


“Yeh. Not as bad as werewolves, but still pretty nasty little things.”

“What, bats, like vampires?”

“Oh, heavens no. There are no vampires around here, at least not yet. But werebats’ll definitely do a number on you if you don’t keep them occupied and supplied with regular meals. Between you and me, they really prefer raccoons, possums, some of those larger rodent-type creatures, so you and your cat should be fine.”

I glance over at Mr. Pooh, my giant orange fluffball cat, who is sitting on the counter staring at us like he’s listening to every word. He twitches his tail and I swear he lifts his eyebrows at me like: Human servant, what’re you going to do about all this?

Like I know what to do about a little man living in my refrigerator, and imps in the walls, and closets full of shapeshifting bats—

“What do these werebats shapeshift into?” I ask Kyle.

“Oh, well, I suppose for someone like you, that’s the plus side,” he answers. “They’re mostly models.”

“You’re telling me I’ve got models living in my spare bedroom?”

“No, I’m telling you you have werebats living in the closet of your spare bedroom. Most of them happen to shapeshift into models, but don’t let that fool you, a werebat’s a werebat.”

“Excuse me,” I say.

I hear Kyle shout “thank you!” from inside my fridge as I close the door. I walk across my apartment and down the little hall to the second bedroom, which I haven’t actually been in since I dumped the boxes I didn’t bother unpacking right away into it and closed the door last weekend. I open the door now and turn on the light. The room is completely empty except for the undisturbed boxes sitting right where I put them. That Kyle is full of shit, I think, but just for good measure I go ahead and open the closet door and look inside.

I don’t scream, but there is definitely a little shrieking action because I did not, did not, expect to see what I see in there. I mean, Kyle did tell me, but at the same time, Kyle is a little grey-haired dude in a bathrobe and slippers living in my refrigerator, so I could be excused for maybe not actually believing every word that comes out of his mouth.

My closet is full of tall, beautiful, naked women. And one that looks a little like a cross between a supernatural crime lord and somebody’s grandmother, which is pretty damned freaky TBH. She’s why I shriek, swear to God.

They all look at me. I couldn’t say what the expression on their faces is, but I’m pretty sure they expect me to be bringing take-out or something.

Finally, I say, “Hi, I’m James, this is my apartment.”

They just stare at me with that inscrutable expression on their faces. And then, naked crime lord granny takes a step in my direction, which is when I close the closet door, run across the room, and close that door behind me, too. I hear flapping sounds as I leave.

I go right back to the refrigerator and open the door. Kyle peeks out from behind the milk jug as soon as the light goes on. “Can I help you?”

“So, the werebats,” I say, and he nods in understanding.

“Terrifying, right?”

“The old one is, for sure. Thing is, I introduced myself and they just … stared at me.”

He nods again. “Like I said. Werebats gonna werebat.”

“What does that mean?” I press for answers.

“Look, they’re werebats. They’re apex predators on the food chain, natural born seducers. They take on human form, they stare, they make you feel uncomfortable, then they pounce and it’s off to the races. It’s what they do.”


“I mean, did you get a good look? They’ve got sex and violence written all over them. Faces screaming for it.”

“I couldn’t tell what their faces were screaming. No one’s ever looked at me like that before.”

“You’ve never met a shapeshifter then. Trust me, you never forget.”

Well, he’s right on that account, no way am I ever going to be able to forget what I just saw. “So, you’re telling me they wanted to have sex with me?”

The image of naked crime lord granny coming at me expecting a fuck is so cringe. But the idea of an orgy with the others is clearly not the worst thing I could imagine, I mean, I am a twenty-four year old cis-gendered guy. This whole situation is getting exponentially more complicated and confusing.

Kyle nods. “And then they’d want something to eat, of course. Don’t go in there again without an offering, or they’ll sub you in for dinner. Like I said, raccoon or possum’s a good option, but they’re not choosy. They just expect to eat after mating, full stop.”

I think about this for a minute. “So what, they’re like praying mantises or something?”

Kyle looks frustrated. “I told you, they’re werebats.”

Like I’m supposed to just know what that means. “Maybe I’ll just stay out of that room for a bit,” I venture finally.

Kyle nods. “Good call. And anyway, they won’t bother you if you don’t bother them, which is more than I can say about the fairies.”


I don’t say the word out loud, but Kyle nods as though I did and keeps talking.

“Yeah. There’s just three, but they’re real assholes.”

“Fairies are assholes?” This time I do ask it out loud.

Ohhhhh, yeh,” Kyle answers, and shakes his head.

Tinkerbell’s an asshole?” I look over at the wall where my Disney calendar is hanging, open to October, Tinkerbell just happening to be the image for the month. Yes, I have a Disney calendar, don’t judge.

Kyle laughs at me. “Disney gets shit wrong all the time, you think they’re gonna nail fairies? Yes, AFAA, All Fairies Are Assholes.”

So look, I won’t bore you with the details but this story goes on for a bit, with Kyle telling me all about the weird supernatural shit that lives in my apartment and me only sort of, kind of believing him and checking things out and finding out he’s not even lying to me, it’s all true, but then we get interrupted by Sherlock Holmes stalking across my living room area solving a mystery because why the fuck not, and the mystery involves crime lord granny and the imps and the fairies and the can of lite beer and how it got there and what happened to the person who left it, and now there’s blood and body parts involved and what the hell, I just wanted to come home after work and have dinner and maybe a beer, but instead I’m in this weird surreal/supernatural/horror/fairy/mystery story with a cold little dude named Kyle and a fluffball orange cat named Mr. Pooh, and I don’t like it.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page