Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Monster

A short story by Kylyssa Shay

The monster crouched behind the dumpster, blood dripping from its nostrils. It whimpered softly, shifting its limbs to achieve a more comfortable position as it waited for night to fall.

It had made the mistake of coming out in the daylight to seek food. Clutching the loaf of day-old bread to its chest it scampered towards the alley and cover. As it rounded the building two young men almost bumped into it. Face twisted in disgust, the shorter man struck out with his foot sending the creature sprawling to the pavement. Dropping the bread it covered its face with upraised forelimbs and hunkered in a defensive position. The man kicked it in the side.

"Oh, God, that's disgusting!" said the taller, brown-skinned human, tossing his longish dark hair out of his eyes. "Stop it!"

The smaller man seemed disinclined to take his companion's advice and the monster could see the muscles bunching in his thick, pale arms. The creature lurched to its feet and staggered away from the pair as swiftly as it could. The darker man put his hand on his friend's shoulder and he did not pursue the beast.

In its hiding place behind the dumpster the animal began to rock its body in reaction to the pain. As the day wore on the creature's haven became uncomfortably hot and the smell of decay made it feel sick. It moved its body awkwardly, trying to relieve the pain in its cracked ribs without success. Despite the pain, the hunger, and the heat the monster began to drift to sleep. Its sleep was broken and filled with haunting dreams. The thing dreamed of fresh, running water gurgling into a basin where it quenched its thirst. It dreamed of a time when it lived in peace and safety, its den amid fields of lush grasses bordering a deep, wild forest.

Its comfortable den was long gone, taken over by new tenants after the monster's dam and sire mysteriously disappeared. There was no going back. The creature, still a juvenile, wandered aimlessly, seeking food and shelter where it could. Its fur had been sleek and glossy, its muscles strong. Now it lay shivering in the heat of an alien city, its muscles wasted, its fur patchy and dull.

The thing woke up shortly after dusk, dehydrated and maddened by thirst. It uncurled its tortured body and stiffly crawled from behind the dumpster out into the parking lot. Looking around carefully for predators the monster limped towards the city park. It had seen a fountain there and imagined it could smell the water.

The creature arrived at the park, gasping from the effort, each breath bringing a new order of pain to its broken ribs. Cautiously it crept towards the lighted fountain. Thirst dissolved its caution and the monster plunged its face into the water sucking in great gulps of the cool liquid.

Suddenly, hands grasped the weakened monster's head, shoving it into the fountain. Terror gave the animal greater strength and it managed to throw off its attacker for a moment, allowing it to suck in air with far greater thirst than it had shown the water moments earlier.

The man grappled with it, shoving it down against the fountain. The creature's head cracked into the rim of the fountain. Snarling, it desperately lashed out at the man, its teeth bared.

Just after sunrise several police officers and a CSI unit were in the park, called by an early morning jogger. Approaching the twisted corpse near the fountain, one policeman asked, "Another runaway, you think?"

One of the Investigators said, "What a shame, she couldn't be more than 18."


Candace said...

Great commentary on one the tragedies in our sad old world. I did wonder why she was 18-ish and not younger, though, because I kept thinking at some point we (society) feel more sympathy for 12-yr-olds, say, than 18-yr-olds who are supposedly adult enough to take care of themselves. It is so well written, and I love how she was portrayed as a monster.

Kylyssa said...

Thank you. She's portrayed as 18 because that's how old I was when my parents ran away from home and I landed on the street.

Candace said...

Oh that makes sense - I didn't realize it had autobiographical elements. I can certainly see how one would feel like a monstrous being after being abandoned like that.

Have you read The Glass Castle (I think that's the name of it)? The author's parents didn't run away from home, exactly - they ran away from normal society, usually with their kids in tow, and lived on the street. The kids were neglected and malnourished, etc.