#FridayFlash: The Monster

Again, I open the door.

Again, I turn on the light.

Again, I descend.

The knife in my hand is heavy, but the balance is so fine that it seems to float at my side. The steel is a surgical-quality molybdenum alloy; the handle is hand-carved Sumatran rosewood. It's an excellent knife, capable of severing thigh-thick meat and bone with one swipe. I can't remember how I got it, just that I paid dearly for it, with money and with more than money.

How I hate it. How I hate everything.

I reach the bottom of the stairs and turn, eyes closed. After so long, I don't need to see it to know where it is. I don't need to see it, don't want to see it, wish I couldn't see it.

In the darkness behind my closed eyes, I step forward. Six paces will bring me to it. There is nothing else in the basement, nothing between me and it. No matter how many times I've tried to wall it up, to hide it, to bury it... it is always there.

Six paces.

Eyes closed or eyes open, it is at my feet. I can hear it rasping, hear the sucking, tubercular rhythm as it balances on the edge of its own kind of death.

I open my eyes, pretending to be brave in the confrontation.

Pretending I have a choice.

But you do have a choice, don't you?

Its voice licks at my mind like a split tongue, covered in weeping sores. Wrapped in the filthy, years-unwashed blanket, pale gray eyes stare up at me from the inhuman folds of flesh. Too human they look... too human...

Ah, but you know I AM human, on the inside at least. No matter what form I wear, I am as human as you are. As human as you allow me to be.

No, I want to shout, no, no, NO!

A mouth of fang and gore splits wide, the chest convulsing in what it means to be a laugh.

Have you forgotten? You made me from your own flesh. You are my father and my brother, my creator and, if you wish it, my destroyer. You disgust me, father, but I can do nothing to you. Do I disgust you? Then kill me.

I raise the knife, the perfectly balanced, perfectly beautiful knife.

The laugh presses against me again, the silent wetness of it filling me with loathing and disgust, bringing acid gorge to my mouth. Half-choking, I swallow it back down, as I always do.

You coward. Kill me and you kill yourself. Go on... do it. You are nothing without me. I give your pathetic life purpose and meaning. Am I the burden of this house? Am I the monster under the stairs? You know that to be a lie.

I am no burden; I am your blessing. I am no monster; I am your muse.

In the light and shadow, the knife gleams.

Feed me. NOW.


I hold my left hand waist high over the gaping mouth. The excellent blade slices deep into my palm, so deep and so quick I feel nothing. As ever, I feel nothing.

My blood rains down onto the thing on the floor, splashing on and around it, covering the face of it with a spattering wash of coppery slick. The tongue, impossibly long, snakes out and laps around, smearing and wiping from the spurs of broken bone on its crest to the black talons of its feet. I clench my fist and the blood pulses through my fingers, running down and away in a stream.

For as long as it takes, I stand and bleed. More than minutes, less than hours.

Enough.

My hand is cold and numb; I pull it in close to the warmth of my chest. The blade is still in my right hand, still hanging at my side, still perfect, still excellent.

Its eyes are closed. Soon, it will sleep. I retreat to the stairs and begin to climb.

There will come a week when I will challenge it. When I will withhold my lifeblood and watch it die crying. When I will slice the blade down and sever its grinning head from where its shoulders should be. When I will deny the truth that binds us together and embrace the lie that will set me free.

I will die when it dies. I live because it lives.

I die because it lives. I will live when it dies.

I live, and I will live.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

28 comments:

  1. Wow- very visceral. For some reason my mind had me going to a different place at the beginning, but I got back on the path you took it down and liked where I ended up. Some dark stuff here.

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    1. Plenty more where that came from, actually. ;-)

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  2. Awesome post! I never suspected until the end!

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    1. Nobody expects the Spanish Allegory!

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  3. Probably biased by our conversation tonight, but I was more willing to give the angry narrator a chance than usual. This also reads particularly well with Hans Zimmer's "Imagine the Fire" playing in the background like I do right now.

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    1. I was more willing to give the angry narrator a chance than usual

      There's a need for compassion here, that's for sure.

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  4. I have a feeling he'll never actually destroy it.

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  5. That is one dark view of a writer's life.

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    1. I'm sure there are writers for whom everything is wonderfully happy rainbows and kittens, uniformly frolicking in bright, clean snow, both inside their heads and out.

      They would have written this story differently.

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  6. Oozing desperation, despair... and also spirit. I think the narrator will manage to free himself

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    1. But what would freedom look like? Better? Or worse?

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  7. And in feeding the beast, you are fed.

    I think the narrator will never free himself, for that would only put him in a different prison - one of his own making.

    If this one is <500 words, you ought to sub it to the Pseudopod flash contest. They're taking entries through the end of the month. I've entered, but if this one beat mine, I wouldn't mind. ;-)

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    1. You're safe, Larry. This is 758 words.

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  8. This piece is quite literally soaked in great images and strong, evocative language. That tongue.....thanks for that Tony: nightmares for a week. (I have a thing about tongues...let's not go into that now).

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  9. Oh man, shudders all the way through. Visceral, with images drenched in shivery distaste. This will stay with me for a while. Well done.

    Take care,
    JC

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  10. this was an excellent take on male pro-creativity and the teratologies it spawns. You did a fine job of the cats cradle of emotions around killing the thing you gave life to as your lifelong dream and the inevitable self-effacement that entails.

    marc nash

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    1. This is an interesting interpretation. I'm glad you liked it!

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  11. I love this!

    As always with your stories I want to know more about the world and the circumstance of the characters.

    Thankyou for sharing

    Saffy

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    1. If I gave any more detail, Sarah, I'd kill the tension!

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  12. Whoa. Wonderful. Reminds me a little of the horror movie the little pet shop. I don't think the narrator will ever kill it.

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    1. And even if he were able to, what would happen if he did?

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  13. Oh blimey - I dont watch horrors as a rule - and the image of the tongue is pretty powerful!!! - Great imagery and visual descriptions Tony

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    1. Thank you! That tongue took a bit of work to make it come out just right. ;-)

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  14. The best part of this story is that you never tell us exactly what the monster curled up and rasping on the floor is. It's an all-purpose allegory. You (probably) wrote it as an allegory for writing, or for the creative process in general, but it could just as easily tell a story of addiction -- general or specific -- or any type of abusive relationship, or celebrity, or any number of things.

    That what makes this good -- it's universal, changing its meaning with every new reader.

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    1. Good eye! Yes, I had something specific in mind when I wrote it, but allegory, by its nature, is open to interpretation. I've been resisting the urge to "explain" it, since I can see that different people are seeing this in so many different ways.

      I'm glad you liked it, Andy.

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