Without further ado...here is Monster/
The word screams through my brain, plays on my tongue, but leaves my throat in a strangled gurgle. Troubled eyes scan the darkened corners of my room, probing the comforting shadows that have become home. A cold trickle of sweat creeps down the back of my neck and the memory of my nightmare remains as vivid and haunting as that cursed day. My hands, still trembling, drop back to the mattress, no longer reaching for the ghostly specter of my mother. She is gone, taking with her the small shred of humanity that lingered in this hell.
The stench of death and decay permeates the air, though I am not sure if it is the labyrinth beneath the shack giving off such a putrid smell. My clothes are as filthy and tattered as my surroundings, a reflection of the stagnant recesses of my soul. Wounds, both internal and external, fester with raging infection that seeps through my veins. I am the embodiment of all that is dying. Like withered ivy clinging to the side of an abandoned building, I cling to the last remnants of life.
“Make them pay.”
Mama’s voice echoes in my mind. It lingers with the searing effects of a brand and spurs me out of bed. Leaden limbs protest as I make my way across the room. The grime covered mirror taunts me from the wall. I refuse to give in and let my gaze roam to where it never should be. Mama used to promise me I was not a monster. Her loving hands would glide across my skin, leaving tingling warmth in their wake as she told me how beautiful I was. However, the fear and disgust stamped onto the faces of others always told a different story.
Twisted and deformed, my face never resembled the porcelain beauty of my peers. They hated me. I was an outcast, an abhorrent beast, always taunted, teased, and tormented. I can still feel the bite of their words, the thud of their fists, or the hard crack of shoes against my flesh. I can still taste the blood and tears I shed as they spit on me. Most of all, I remember the fear I felt as they left me in the icy lake to drown, and the blistering inferno of rage that has consumed me since the day I watched my mother die.
The dull glint of moonlight reflecting off that machete doesn’t just haunt my dreams. It chases me well into the blinding sun where daylight burns. The memory of that moment stays with me always. It’s the demon residing in my soul, for in that moment, I lost everything. Mama was the only one to show kindness, my only source of love, a lone beacon of hope in a cruel world where nothing made sense.
They took her from me.
My fists clench into wrecking balls at my sides, nails biting deep into the fleshy mounds of my palms. Pivoting on heel, my boot collides with a rusty car battery, sending it flying. It smashes into the clouded mirror and glass shards tinkle to the floor in a shower of razors. Determination swells to clash in a full-blown battle with the pain. They may have stripped my world away once, but I won’t let it happen again. Fueled by vengeance and misery, my soul screams from the pit of its blackened depths that it will never happen again.
Slamming through the twisting corridors of dirt and wood, I make my way through the desolate tunnels beneath my home. I strike out, pummeling and kicking anything in my way, body straining. At last, salvation reaches my ears in the form of a whimper so faint, it might as well have been a reckless sigh from the wind. Relief floods my veins, bringing with it a blessed reprieve from all else.
Whitney sits coiled on the filthy mattress, her slender body arching as she attempts to press deeper into the wall behind her. Despite the fear and loathing reflected in her hazel eyes, I see a glimmer of my past. It doesn’t matter that her once vibrant copper tresses are now matted against her scalp in lank clumps. She’s covered in dirt, grime, and dried blood, but I’ve never seen a more beautiful sight in my life.
Head cocking to the side, I regard her from a distance. Breath coming in heavy pants, I struggle with an overwhelming surge of emotions. She looks so much like Mama. The mere sight of her floods me with longing and the same confusing mixture of fury and agony I have lived with for years. I cherish and loathe her all in the same heartbeat. Part of me wants to keep this woman and protect her. The other realizes this is not a second chance to do all the things I failed to do with Mama, and I ache to destroy her, to shatter all hints of the painful illusion she casts.
Her fingers curl around the locket clutched in her fist as if the tarnished heart is capable of banishing me to the depths of hell. It isn’t the golden locket that halts my steps, but fear she might destroy the picture it holds. This woman, this faint glimmer of hope and a reminder of all things past, holds in her hands the only tangible image left of Mama. My heart slows to a faint flutter in my chest and I take a step forward, only to be halted mid-stride.
Her voice is soft, like the caress of a butterfly’s wings. It propels me back to another time and place. Uncertainty settles in my core, making me numb. A prickle of unease creeps up my spine. A name, once so familiar, now sounds foreign as it lingers in the air between us. No one has spoken to me or uttered that word for decades. It brings back faint memories of love, and much stronger ones of torment. Enraged, I grab my machete.
Shoulders bunched and coiled, I wait for the mocking words to come as tension hums through my frame. Whitney’s heels scrabble against the filthy mattress in a desperate bid for traction. She chokes back a sob and lifts an imploring hand, unsuccessful in her attempt to escape. Unmoved, I step forward, determined to smite her before she draws first blood.
“Jason! Jason, no!” Cornered against the wall, her fingers fumble across the latch and she flips the locket open.
My gaze settles on the picture and a floodgate of memories is torn open. Flashes of birthdays, kisses, the protective shadow Mama always cast, laughter, smiles, tears. I remember my father leaving and the long nights I spent waiting for him to return. He never did; he never loved me. I wasn’t his son, but a hideous and shameful blemish on his existence. The hell endured at camp that summer burns brighter. The embarrassment of always being pushed away, excluded, and tortured all returns, prompting the ongoing chant that echoes in my head.
“Jason, make them pay. Make them all pay, Jason!”
Mama’s last words hit with the force of a thunderbolt. Violent tremors run rampant through my core. Life and death, love and hate . . . all wage a war for precedence, for control. Destruction whispers in my ear, reminding me what a loyal and constant companion it has proven to be over the years.
Lifting the machete, I feel the familiar press of plastic within my grip. Fingers curled around the handle, it feels as if death will win. Red haze clouds my vision. The urge to annihilate anyone who dares to tread this sacred ground reigns supreme. My footsteps fall with a heavy thud, each one accentuated by fresh tears from Whitney.
I approach on swift feet, slicing the long blade through the air in a sinister arc. It makes an ominous whistling sound before Whitney’s scream drowns out all else. The steel collides with the metal grate behind her, sending a crippling wave of vibration up my arm into my hand. I struggle to maintain my grip as my shoulders heave with silent rage. Like the night I found her running through the woods, the desire to hunt this woman is there; yet I cannot bring myself to destroy her.
Whirling, I abandon myself to the rage. Boxes, chunks of rusted metal, and other debris goes flying as my wrath unfurls. Soft sobs convey Whitney’s relief. I hate her for finding comfort when I can find none. I know there are others out there, lurking and waiting, trespassing in the woods that have become my desolate cage of loneliness. They seek to destroy me, to rip away what remains of Mama, to take away the only thing capable of easing that void. The raw wound left when I watched her head tumble across the grass is eased by my pet. Sometimes, I can forget she is not Mama and slip into a comfortable world of make-believe where I am loved. No one will rip that away from me again.
“Don’t leave me here! Please! Jason!”
Whitney’s voice cracks with the raw force of her anguish. Her wailing fear of being left alone echoes the underlying terror I felt as a child. It follows me as I make my way outside, into the wilderness I know so well. Unlike Mama, I will return. But not until I’ve erased every last threat lurking in the world outside. Then . . . then we can be alone. She will remind my shadowed heart what it is like to be loved. I will pull the strings, and she will dance like a puppet to a symphony of our own making.
Blood glistens against the dull sheen of steel. I revel in the crimson bath I have created, but my celebration is cut short. Gooseflesh erupts across my skin and the fine hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Body frozen, my eyes scan the rustling abyss around me, searching for the cause of such imminent unease. I haven’t felt so unsettled since the day that counselor murdered Mama as I hid nearby.
A familiar scent carries on the wind, the barest hint of sweetness, like the lilac bushes that used to bloom outside Mama’s kitchen window in the spring. I spot Whitney, my Whitney, slinking along the house where the others partake in a fit of debauchery and drugs. Panic sets in, threatening to cripple me in its vise-like grip. The fear of losing her is much stronger, spurring my leaden body to charge across the grass with the determination of a rampaging bull.
Before she can move, before she can make a sound, my arm snakes around her slender frame and my hand clamps over her mouth in a menacing press. Anger unlike anything I have ever known before boils within me. I drag Whitney backward with ease, away from the house, closer to where she belongs. Her kicking and bucking is no match for my size or strength. Before she brings the others with her protests, I lift her, flinging her in an effortless toss over my shoulder. We return home; me in silence, her kicking and screaming, begging for a salvation that will not come.
The woods don’t care. Dark and silent, they watch and listen, but never answer the calls of the desperate and forsaken.
The Earth quenches her thirst with the crimson offerings I leave. I feed her as no one fed me when I was a child, alone and afraid in these woods. I am at home here, and only wish to be left in peace. It is all I have ever wanted. Here is where I hid, when the world thought me dead. Within the folds of trees and thickets, I remained invisible as my mother went on her rampage, avenging a son the world hated. They will meet their death, just as she met hers. Two got away, but they cannot hide. Not here.
I make my way back to the crumbling remains of my shack, knowing they will be there. They hunt for Whitney, just as I hunt for them. Anger and hurt swell within until the pressure inside my chest grows so intense, I fear I will burst. Why can they not just leave me in peace? Why do they have to trespass in my life . . . in my home?
They found her, my Whitney, and tore her free of the shackles and chains I used to bind her. If only the ones placed on me at birth were as easy to break. Three is now two, and I fight tears, yearning to release the howl of rage burgeoning in my chest as she runs off with another. A perfect man whose face is not hideous and deformed like mine; a man who does not belong here in our world. She leaves me no choice but to follow in pursuit.
I chase them through the tunnels and into the old storage shed. Whitney lashes out at me, screaming my name, as I break through the doors, and, in full attack mode, start to tear the male intruder apart. With fists of iron, I pummel the thief, throwing him with ease across the shed where I cornered them. My ire will not die until he draws his last shaky breath, until he pays for all that he has done . . . for everything that they all have done. I am the avenger, and the day of reckoning has come.
The fight presents little challenge. The man was weak, pathetic in his attempts to live, to rise above the fate waiting for him. He no longer struggles, but hangs limp and bloody in my grip. Churning spikes of metal grind, the noise echoes in my ears as I push his head closer to the gaping maw of gnashing teeth. The burning in my chest increases as Whitney continues to cry and scream for me. The raw pain in her voice gives me pause at the last second, and I turn to confront her.
Through the holes in my newfound mask, I stare back at this discordant angel. With my eyes, I beseech her to tell me why. Why did she leave me? What did I do wrong? For weeks, I fed her and treated her with kindness and love, just as Mama had always shown me. I don’t understand this outburst of anger and pain when I am only trying to keep her safe.
My gaze drops to the locket she holds out. Mama’s face stares back at me, so soft and beautiful. If my eyes were capable of shedding tears, they would, for I feel my heart breaking all over again. My head tilts and I shift my attention back to Whitney, more confused than ever. I beg her with all that I have to ease my pain, to end this vicious cycle of anguish.
She seems to hear. Her face becomes gentle again, and when she speaks my name, it is as if she sings to me the most beautiful song ever heard. Nothing else matters. The rest of the world fades away, like we are the only two people that exist. She smiles through her tears, exuding a magnetic pull. I step forward, eager to feel her embrace, to once again feel the arms of love, and return home.
Then, the world spins. It collides with darkness yet again and spirals completely off axis. She turns on me in an instant, before I can register the pain, the betrayal, and the scorching rise of fury. The metal blade of an axe pierces my skull and blood seeps beneath my mask, blinding me once again to the world I sought in vain. I struggle against the chains around my neck, caught in the whirl of grinding metal of the wood chipper behind me. Desperate, I reach for her, screaming inside, begging her to help me, not to leave me . . . and then the world turns black.
Weightless and floating, I stare through a rippling haze at the dim shaft of light filtering down from above. Bitter, icy cold engulfs me and water fills my lungs as it did so many years ago. The world dances above as I listen to the muffled sound of Whitney’s sobs, but my heart no longer cares.
Rejected and spurned by the world once again, I feed on the hatred seething in my soul. Twisting and turning, I fight my way to the surface, determined to grab that lying, deceitful bitch and drag her back down to the depths of hell with me. Oh, I once had a dream of being loved. But that was then, and this is now. Dreams fade, and over time, become replaced by the bitter pangs of reality.
I will crush and destroy the world, making it as ugly as my soul. I will kill all who set foot in my woods, showing them the true depths of darkness and despair in which I linger. I will show them a rampage of vengeance and violence unlike that of which the world has ever seen. I’m no longer a weak little boy fighting for air, crying, and begging for someone to save him.
I am what the world has made me; I am a monster.
© Copyright 2009 Adriana Noir. All rights reserved.