I had finally made it to the end of the long gravel driveway. I put my car in park, turned it off, and took out the keys. I looked down at my sleeves making sure they covered my bruises. I took a breath and reached for the handle on the door, stepping outside the car. In front of me was a lonely little house in the middle of a field. The grass had grown up and Ivey climbed the siding. As I walked up the rotting stairs I saw an old woman sitting in a rocking chair. Long silver hair cascaded down her shoulders.
“Are you the journalist who called earlier about my story?” The old woman asked.
I was the one who called but what she didn’t know is, I am not a journalist.
“Yes, I am,” I replied as I sat down on a small stool beside the rocking chair. A gentle breeze began to pick up as tiny debris flew around the porch.
I looked into her light brown eyes as she rocked rhythmically back and forth.
“You hunted and killed a terrible monster. A white scaled beast with black eyes and sharp claws. Its body was found in the woods by a lake in 1948. I found a few pictures from people claiming it was the monster and a few articles, but nothing I could prove was real. So I have driven all the way here to hear it straight from the source.”
She stopped rocking and leaned forward putting her hands in her lap.
“It’s true you know, I did kill it. All by myself, but before I begin I have to tell you what connected me to the creature.”
She took a shaky hand and reached out to grab a mason jar on a table beside her. I noticed an envelope beside the jar. She brought it to her lips and took a sip of what looked like tea. Then she put it back down.
“I was married off at 16 to an evil man. I had 12 siblings and my parents could barely feed us all. They believed marrying off the oldest daughters would take the burden off their shoulders. On my wedding night, I was beaten and raped by my husband.” She sat back in her chair and began to rock back and forth again.
“I was plunged into motherhood. Nine months later I gave birth to a beautiful little boy and he was my saving grace. No matter how many beatings I took being his mother made life livable. No matter how many nights my body was used for my husband to play out his disgusting sexual fantasies, my son was the reason I kept waking up. For 4 beautiful years, I was able to hold him, kiss him, and cherish him. One cold morning I had decided to head into town because we were out of food. Our local grocery store was on a strip beside the main road. As we were leaving my son chased his bouncy ball I had just bought him into the road. He was struck by a vehicle. He died instantly and I sat in the road holding his bloody body in my arms. A part of me broke that would never be fully mended. As we planned his funeral my husband punished me for his death. I was not able to grieve in peace. He blamed me and I partly blamed myself as well. For 2 years after that, we tried for another child but I was not able to conceive. I knew it was my husbands doing, all the torture to my body caused me to be infertile. He never saw it that way. Every month when my cycle began he would take me by my hair and throw me into the basement locking the door. He would yell through the door the nastiest things. That his life was ruined when he married me. That I was a burden and useless because I couldn’t bare him another son.
Around this same time, some horrifying things began to happen. It started with just one dead body that was discovered. The body belonging to a young woman was found in her back yard ripped to shreds. Newspapers were flying off the shelves. People couldn’t believe we had a killer right here in our perfect town. Everyone knew each other and suspicions began. People had their own suspect in mind but it was pointless to make accusations. Eventually, it was brought to the light that it wasn’t a human that was doing the killing. More bodies began to turn up, mangled, some half-eaten. A witness had said they saw a light-skinned monster drag one of the bodies into the woods. After that last testimony, people began to live in fear. Stores only opened during daylight hours and a curfew was put into effect. Efforts were made to hunt and capture the beast but the creature was crafty. It was never caught until one strange night when its consciousness was awoken.
The old lady stood up weakly in her rocking chair and walked over to the rail on her porch. She leaned over it looking out. A long blue nightgown moved around her legs.
“One morning I heard a knock on my door. I went to it and was greeted by a kind police officer. He informed me they had found my husband’s body by the lake. They said that he was killed by the monster. They also told me they found a woman’s body beside his. They were both found naked and brutally murdered together. He was an evil man who died in the act of adultery. Something inside me settled at the hearing of this news, and another part of me awoke at the same moment. I wasn’t sad but I still needed answers. I got dressed and ran into town to begin my own investigation. I grabbed a newspaper and combed it looking for clues. Where was the monster last spotted? I began to ask some of the people shopping in the stores if they knew anything. I got a lot of mixed responses. No information I could use. It was tiring and furthermore I wasn’t sure what I would even do if I found the monster. I just knew I had to search. As I was walking out of our town’s country diner from questioning locals, an elderly man with milky eyes and a cane bumped into me. I turned to him and when I did he grabbed my wrist hard. He looked deep into my eyes.
‘You will find her tonight’, he said. When he spoke chills ran down my spine and it frightened me. I decided I would go home and rest and begin again tomorrow. The incident with the man had made me nervous but I still wanted to find the monster. I wasn’t sure exactly why but I felt a connection to it. A deep unknown force was reeling me in and I couldn’t stop it.”
She walked back to her chair and sat down. I could tell this was hard for her to tell. I looked down at my own arms and pulled my sleeves down further. One of them had ridden up and a dark bruise peeked through. I wasn’t sure if she had noticed, but without missing a beat she began again.
“The next morning I woke up to start my day as I normally did and got dressed. I turned around and saw light streaming through the curtains on my vanity. As if it was a spotlight gleaming down I noticed a letter lay perfectly on top addressed to me. I sat down on my vanity chair and read it.”
The old lady leaned over to the table beside her and picked up an envelope. Inside it was that same letter. She unfolded it and with a frail hand held it up to her eyes. With the other hand she reached over to the table again, picked up her glasses, and put them on her face. She began to read the letter.
“I was the monster terrorizing your town and killing your people. Last night my consciousness was awoken. As I was walking through the woods after a late night of searching for innocent victims, a man stepped out into my path. He had a cane and walked towards me. As he got closer I noticed he had milky eyes.”
I interrupted her and said, “The man you ran into at the diner?”
The old lady shook her head and continued.
“He held up his cane and pointed it straight at me. I began to feel something sticky under my feet. Black tar began to seep out over the Earth. It pooled around my claws and became a tiny black lake. Bubbles from the tar began to pop up into the sky. As they floated up they became transparent. Each bubble held a memory, like small circle T.V. screens all around me. A bubble to my right showed a monster ripping a woman to shreds. A bubble to my left showed a monster dragging a man’s body into the woods. Every bubble showed more dead bodies back to back from my own doing. I had killed more people than I had anticipated. As I watched each memory they began to change. Soon it was no longer a monster in the memories but a beautiful woman with light skin. In one bubble she was lying in a corner with her hands over her head blocking blows from a tall man. In the next bubble she was in bed screaming as this man held her down and sodomized her. In another bubble I saw the same woman in the road screaming as she clung to a small child’s body. A man stepped out of a car and ran over to her. ‘I didn’t see him in the road.’ He cried. All the bubbles disappeared and the black tar turned into a beautiful field of red poppies. I fell down on my 4 legs and dug my claws into the Earth. Acid tears scorched my eyes as they dripped down and burned the flowers around me. I realized I was the monster.”
The old woman put the letter down a minute and looked at me. I looked at her and was shocked, my mouth open.
“You were the monster?”, I blurted out.
“Yes, she was me. Anger, hatred, and grief had consumed her and turned her into an evil force. She had allowed it but when she realized this she was saddened by her own choices. I never doubted monsters could cry.” The old lady said as tears trickled down her face.
“I thought you hunted her down and killed her?” I asked the old lady leaning up in my chair.
“I did. Hold on and listen.” She picked up the letter and began to read again.
“The elderly man with a cane walked over to me and bent down. His milky eyes revealed my reflection. A horrible and ugly monster looked back.
‘You know what you must do.’
After he said those words he got up and walked into the woods disappearing. I stood back up on all 4 paws and lifted my face into the night sky. I let out a shattering howl that pierced through every leaf on every tree and I took off running past the field of poppies. Tears blinded me as I ran. I fumbled and tripped leaving a crater in the dirt as I stood back up running again. Each paw striking the Earth leaving deep prints trailing behind me. A cliff was up ahead. I picked up speed crying out, screeching. The things I had done, the misery I had brought on others reeled in my mind on repeat. I hit maximum speed and as I reached the very edge, I pushed off as hard as I could flying through the sky. As I fell I was forced on to my back, my limbs flailing in the wind. I let out one last agonizing cry as I hit the water below like concrete and everything went black. I was dead.
A warm light hit the black behind my eyelids and I opened them. I rolled over choking up water. I looked up and in front of me was a beautiful blue sky. I shakily stood up and looked down. I had human feet and I noticed my human hands. I turned them over in the sun. Smooth soft hands. I was no longer a monster. I turned around to face the lake and across the water on the other side was the body of a monster. It lay lifeless and pitiful, stripped of any strength. My eyes followed a trickle of water coming over the cliff. I noticed from down here how far the fall was. It should have killed me, but I recognized our bodies split when we hit the water. Killing the evil inside of me and giving me a second chance. I lifted my face and took a deep breath of the pure air.
I ran through the woods barefooted until I found my backyard. I slipped inside the door and ran up the stairs. I pulled out a piece of paper and a pen and now I am frantically writing down everything you are reading right now. As each moment passes I can feel my memory of last night leaving. Do you know how you just know something? I knew if I didn’t write this I would forget forever. I hope you find this letter easily in the morning so you can tell this story. You killed the monster and you must never let it come back. No matter what you go through, you can’t allow it to consume you. With newfound love for myself. – Abigail”
Abigail looked up at me and waited on my response. She folded the letter back up and tucked it into the envelope. I looked down at the wooden floor nervously.
“I am not a journalist. I came because I need your help. I believed you were the only one who could help me and now I know for sure you are.”
I stood up and took off my shirt and then bent down and pulled off my pants. I stood there almost bare before the old woman. Abigail’s aging eyes got wide and then she shook her head in understanding. There was a moment of peace as I realized she knew exactly what was going on and for the first time in years, it was comforting. It was comforting to have someone know my deepest darkest secret. Not even my dad, nor my mom, or even my best friend knew.
Abigail stood up as her eyes flicked over the dozen deep bruises on my body. The deep cut on my chest. The purple fingerprints across my collar bone. Her eyes trailed down to my legs. Light scales were popping up like blisters on my skin. I took off my shoes. Abigail cocked her head to the side as she saw long claws growing out of my feet. I bent down and let my knees hit the planks of wood. I let out years of pain in one single cry. Tears stinging my face. It kept coming and I couldn’t stop it. I had held this in so long and hid it from everyone. Abigail bent down and lifted my face to hers.
“You have to leave him. You can’t stay. You are strong enough to do this. You must have courage. I will help you but once you leave you can never go back. I have a small cabin a little ways from my house that you can stay in. You need to take this time to heal. If you don’t you will become this monster. This life your living is already changing you. If you allow this to consume you, you will hurt everyone around you. If you don’t heal what hurt you, you’ll bleed on people who didn’t cut you.”
The old woman gathered my clothes and helped me dress. I would take her up on her offer and stay here a while to heal, but first I had to call my family.
I walked off the porch and got into my car. I dialed my dad and told him everything. I told him how the man I married was abusive. How I was finally filing for a divorce. How the pain I had experienced in life had turned me bitter. How I was withering away mentally and hurting everyone around me. My dad sobbed with me on the phone as he learned his little girl had carried these secrets alone. He agreed staying with the old woman was best but begged me to return home once I felt like myself again. He promised no one would physically hurt me again and that he would be there by my side every step of the divorce. I called the rest of my closest family and when I had finished I put the phone back in my pocket. I stepped back out of the car and bent over to the other seat grabbing my backpack that contained a few of my belongings. I shut the door and walked back up to the stairs of the old house. Abigail smiled and pointed. I followed with my eyes to where her finger pointed behind me. I turned around and there on the ground was a trail of white scales. I pulled my pants leg up and noticed the scales had begun to fall off already. I smiled and turned back to Abigail. She stood with her arms stretched out eager to take me in for a short while.
That night we walked out to the old cabin. She lit some candles as there was no electricity. It would be nice to get off the grid and disappear for a while. Electricity wasn’t important when your healing. I sat down on the side of the bed in the cabin. Abigail asked if I was going to be ok. I shook my head yes and she slipped out the door and back to her house. I pulled out my phone and cut it off. I opened the creaky door to the end table and laid it inside. As I did I noticed a black book with a note on it. It said, “Read this, I promise it will help you on your healing journey.” I flipped the book over and it was a bible. I blew out my candle and went into a deep sleep. I knew tomorrow was going to be a beautiful day.
This story is not to romanticize murder or monsters. It is a fictional story told to make a strong connection to the monster within us. People may have hurt you, you may be in a bad situation. You may have experienced a type of pain that you can’t shake. Or have grief that is unbearable. I want this story to help you understand that not all people are the same. Just because one man hurt you or one woman hurt you doesn’t mean everyone will. You can’t allow the hatred and anger to consume you, or you will hurt everyone around you as well. Heal, move on, and have courage. Tomorrow will be another step in the right direction. Pain doesn’t end quickly but enjoy the slow journey through it. Life will make sense again if you hold on but don’t become bitter while you wait.