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“Tell me a story, daddy!”

It was a familiar refrain. Every night, they followed the same routine; kiss Mummy goodnight, go upstairs and beg for a story.

“Alright, bubs. What story do you want to hear?”

Another familiar phrase. Every night he asked the same question, and got the same reply.

“Tell me about how you saved the world!”

He smiled and opened the drawer to take out his son’s pyjamas.

“Years ago,” he said, “When you were very little, I was working at night time in a big factory. The factory was a very important place, and it needed somebody to keep watch over it all night, every night. That was my job. I had a uniform with a smart hat and smart shoes, and I walked up and down all night with a big powerful torch, watching out for bad people and naughty people, for people who shouldn’t be where they were.”

The little boy smiled, his eyes sparkling in the dim glow of the nightlight.

“On this night,” his father continued, helping the boy get dressed for bed, “I saw something that I hadn’t seen before. It wasn’t a bad person or a naughty person, it wasn’t a person at all. It was a thing.”

“What kind of thing was it, daddy?”

“Well, at first I didn’t know! I took my torch and I went to look at this new thing. It was like a big box. It was taller than I was, and wider than my arm was long.”

He smiled as his son took a deep breath and joined in on the next line.

“And there were things inside!”

“As I watched, one of the things inside jumped down to the bottom. There was a door there. Well, when I saw that I knew straight away what was going on. The big thing was a spaceship, and all the little things inside it were monsters!”

The boy gasped as if this was an unexpected statement. “Monsters from out of space!”

His father nodded sagely. “Monsters, from outer space. And they were trying to invade my factory! So I did what any night watch man would do. I grabbed that monster, and I tore its space suit off.”

He leant in close to his son, their noses almost touching.

“And I ate it!”

He tickled his son and they both giggled.

“The next day, I found out that there were spaceships like that one all over the place. There was a really big invasion, and the monsters wanted to take over the world! But I knew how to stop them, didn’t I? So every time we see one, what do we do?”

He took a miniature chocolate bar out of his shirt pocket and handed it over with a wink.

“Tear off its space suit,” the boy said, fumbling slightly with the wrapper, “and eat it all up!”

“Eat it up quick, then what do we do?”

The boy shoved the chocolate into his mouth in one go. “We brush our teeths,” he mumbled around it, “so that the chocolate monsters can’t take us over from inside!”

His father laughed. “That’s right. Come on, then- teeth then bed!”

© Kari Fay