Monsters Are Not Real
Novel By, J. M. Lilin
It’s only half-way through that I can’t stand the consuming, dark gloom of the room any longer. I stand, my movements clumsy from my quivering legs. With shaky steps, I make my way out of the room. The grief and misery was too overpowering, and I wanted to be subdued to the soothing, isolation of outdoors.
I keep my head bowed down low, oblivious to the hands reaching out of the aisles. Those who were tall and had longer limbs touched my shoulders, some of them relatives, some of them only friends to who was lost. Those that were short could only reach my elbow, but they all had a sign of sympathy in their gentle, understanding touches.
I press past them all, unaware of the guilt they felt. I just wanted to be free of the dark room. The dim lights, the closed curtains, the black-clothed people. People with handkerchiefs, others holding itchy clumps of flowers that were meant to be set down with a purpose, and those that stood stone-still, unsure of how to react.
I don’t realize where I am until I’ve made my way outside. The buzz of insects hits my ears and a gust of wind tears into my skin and brushes back my hair. I take a deep, grateful breath. The church that hosted the funeral was small, but the graveyard was not.
Across the street from the church was the grave-yard, and it was the grave-yard they had chosen to bury my parents in. Lines and lines of smooth stones laid out under the sun. It was like a crowd of grey figures.
I wasn’t exactly sure who made the decision to bury them there, but I didn’t disapprove. The trees around the tomb-stones were tall and graceful, and wildflowers grew all around, sprouting off the flowers people left for their loved ones.
Before I can make up my mind, whether to go over there or wait, the doors open, and clouds of black clothes flow out. It’s like a storm of darkness, spreading and tumbling past me, like desperate vultures ready to find a prize. Most of them, as I already suspected, get in their cars and leave.
The ones that stay, I recognize. Some close friends to my parents, and of course, there was my grandparents. My brother hadn’t shown up, but he had promised he would come visit soon. I can’t even move as I watch them set down beautiful, colorful, fresh flowers beside the one, huge gracefully carved stone, and shed tears for my parents.
That is, until I feel a strong hand on my shoulder. I look to my right to see the Uncle Jake and when he sees my face, his eye-brows arch in concern, and that’s when I realize tears had started to escape the prison from behind my dark eyes. I quickly look back down before he can say something and wipe them away. He leads me to the graveyard, and he hesitantly leaves me to stand with my Grandparents.
When I get a good look at my parent’s grave, and see their names carved in flawless, cursive, writing, I feel a chill go through me, grabbing my heart. ‘“There was a river, and they never found the bodies,’ I remember my Grandpa telling me the night they died. I realize that my parents aren’t even resting in the flawless grave made just for them. What if they weren’t really gone? What if my parents were kidnapped? No, I tell myself. I shouldn’t be getting my hopes up with stupid fantasies. I stand at their grave, Grandpa Abbot at my side, as everyone slowly leaves. It doesn’t take long before the only people left is myself and my grandparents. The bishop had gone back in the church, and the rest had simply got in their cars and drove off to continue their lives.
“Ledger, are you okay?” Grandpa asks, forcing his sky-blue eyes away from the grave-stone to look at me with concern.
“Yeah,” I murmur, though we both knew I wasn’t, but he nods anyway, much to my relief.
“Well then, we better get going, Willow’s ready to get home,” Grandpa Abbot says.
“I think I’ll stay,” and when I see he’s going to argue I add, “I’ll walk myself home.”
He closes his mouth, and studies me for a moment more before he nods “Okay, then, Son, see you in a bit.”
I could tell he was hesitant to leave me, especially after everything that had been happening lately, but he walks towards the car where I realize, Grandma Willow, is waiting. Grandpa Abbot gets in the car, and sends me one last glance before driving off, leaving the church parking lot empty.
I turn back to the grave and fall to my knees. I stare at it for the longest time before I bow my head and give in to my emotions. I begin to cry in great, heaving sobs, my shoulders violently shaking. I almost half-expected my mother to come and put her arms around me, but I knew it was impossible, and it only made me hurt more.
It could have been twenty minutes, or an hour before I finally stopped crying. Or at least not so hard; I still had tears dripping down into my lap and my thin frame was trembling. I didn’t feel a need to be insecure since the place was empty and I was alone besides, I hoped, the spirits of my parents beside me.
I feel a sudden chill go through me, and I get the feeling I’m being watched, so I quickly wipe the tears off my face. I had gotten the feeling of people watching me before. Even if it was just my parents or grandparents and the eerie part was, I could usually tell the difference. This wasn’t a good chill. It was dangerous.
I glance around at the chilled stones and the rustling trees, but I don’t anyone or anything that is alive besides the greenery. I turn back to my parent’s grave and that’s when I gasp, my eyes widening.
The grave-stone’s surface was moving in a weird blurry looking motion and looks familiar. Then I remember, it was the same movement I saw on the giant, grey, oak tree, when I found myself caught up in the woods a few days ago. Like a million bugs having a celebration.
This time it was different. There was more of whatever it was, and it was a darker colored motion. It was hard to explain. I want to stand and take a couple steps back, but grief weighs my down, and all I can manage to do is watch as the motion on the grey rock becomes rapid.
I feel the blood drain from my face as I watch it suddenly slow and a familiar shape forms in the grey stone. A face. It has eyes like a cat, and an odd stretched out looking mouth. Everything on the face is grey, except for its cat-like eyes which are an abnormal blue color. It has a completely grim expression as it studies me with its blue eyes. Then a grey hand shoots out of the rock, grabbing my shoulder. My mouth opens to scream, but nothing comes out. I watch with horror and dread as another grey-stone hand shoots out, clenching the grass. Then using my shoulder for help, the thing pulls itself out and a body, and legs come out. Then it stands, and all that I can think is Monster.
Its tall, the tallest walking thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. He had to be at least 8’9 or maybe 9’2. It towers above me, and its long skinny arms reach down to its legs giving it a very peculiar look. It had small wolf-like ears, not a nose in sight, and a skinny frame. Its mouth was long and stretched looking, but I wasn’t sure if it had teeth, because it still wore its grim expression. It had a completely bald head, and it was completely made of stone except for its uniquely blue eyes, that peer back at me.
“Do you believe in Monsters?” it asks.
Its voice is very deep, abrasive, and gravelly. It reminds me of the sound of tires going over rocks. To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure if the thing would be able to talk, even with its gaping mouth of teeth. I’m confused why it’s asking me such a question, since I was looking right at one. Wasn’t I? I couldn’t think of anything else this thing would be called. I’m not sure what to say, so I just nod, clamping my jaw shut.
“Are you afraid?” it inquires, as it straightens its back, standing its full, shocking height.
His question took me off guard, since I should be afraid, but for some reason, I wasn’t. I had been afraid at first, but now that I saw it standing in front of me, I felt different. I was startled, that was for sure, but I wasn’t afraid of it.
For some reason, I didn’t think it could hurt me. Nothing could hurt me more after what happened. I feel like I had this odd feeling that I knew this would happen, like I was expecting it. It studies me as if it knew me all its life, and it suddenly grins, its mouth stretching, and stretching abnormally. It was the widest smile I’d even seen. It was literally grinning from ear to ear, and it had a million tiny, long, and pointed teeth. Of course, nothing was normal about this, but the smile still unsteadied me.
“You’re not afraid, I see, though it’s not very wise of you,” It says, as it takes a step toward me.
Small pieces of stone fall from its shoulder, and then I remember my parents. I glance back at their grave and I’m surprised to see not even a single chip in the stone, it was still flawless, and this confuses me. I had just watched this thing come out of it, and the stone fall apart, and even bits of it fall of his shoulders, but the stone was still intact. Then I remember the Monster had spoken to me, and I still hadn’t answered.
“No, I’m not…should I though? Are you going to eat me?” I ask. My voice is steady, but I can feel my heart slightly racing. Should I be afraid? Did it really want something with me?
“Eat you?” it repeats, having an expression of what I guessed was surprise, or maybe disgust? It looked revolted with the idea of eating a human. I couldn’t be positive though since I didn’t spend time with Monsters every day. “I don’t eat people” it spits.
“Then what is it you eat?”
It seems to ponder my question a minute before answering “I feed off of anger…and other strong emotions. The human mind is a paradise for the hungry.”
I’m stumped by his answer, and I quietly study the Monster as it takes in its own surrounding. It breathes in roughly through its unseen nose, and he exhales heavily “It’s been forever since I’ve transformed into my body.”
“You’re made of rock?”
“No,” it answers, as if it was the most obvious thing, but it couldn’t be since I didn’t believe it, and I just watched it come out of a rock.
It senses my confusion and answers as if I asked the question out loud “My body becomes whatever surrounds me,” and after a minute he adds in a growl, “watch.”
Then his long arm stretches out and touches the grass and almost immediately the green color of the grass started spreading up his arm, and his entire body became the same color as the grass and he even had little grass sprouts on top of his hands and feet.
“Can you be in other humans?”
“It’s not pleasing, but yes,” the Monster answers, its stretched out mouth transforming into a frown. He reaches over and touches the rock, transforming back to the grey color which suited him in a more intimating manner.
I wonder if I made it angry, though it didn’t really have a huge reason to be angry. If anyone should be angry, it should be me. I was the one that lost everything that I cared about. Not the Monster. The Monster was, in fact, ruining my time alone. It should be bothering someone else, someone with a boring day.
“Well, good, then you can get lost,” I say, unsettling even myself, with the sudden anger.
The Monster doesn’t even glance at me. Its voice comes out calm and intense, “I can’t get lost, I know everywhere, everything, and everyone, and it’s my job to know.”
Its blue eyes look away from me, glancing at our surroundings again. As its eyes reach the gravestone, with my parent’s name in it, its blue eyes suddenly go dark, like the storm rapidly taking place in the sky.
“What do you want?” I ask.
Its dark blue eyes look into my dark, tearful ones, and its eyes suddenly go from their blue color to a turquoise color and transform to a jade, green color. “It’s not about what I want, Ledger Tracker, it’s about what you want.”
“How do you know my name?” I ask, trying to ignore what he was saying. I could feel myself getting emotional again, since the only thing in the world that I wanted right now, was my mother’s comfort and my father’s protection, but of course, there was no way I could ever have them back. It knew that just the same as me.
It studies me for a moment more before saying anything “What is it you want, Ledger Tracker?”
“I-I don’t want anything,” I say weakly. I could feel my chest tightly constricting, and my heart beating against it.
Its eyes suddenly turn from green to orange, to red, “Don’t lie to me, I know everything, and you better get used to that.”
It suddenly becomes hard to breathe as I blink rapidly against the tears trying to escape. “I don’t know,” I whisper hoarsely.
“I can read your mind, Ledger Tracker,” it says slightly bending to see my face better. Its body had a weird way of moving, it was almost like it had no bones, and was one hundred percent flexible.
“Then why are you asking?” I choke out, as a slight shower of rain starts falling to the earth, the clouds in the sky moving rapidly.
“Because if you don’t say it out loud, you won’t understand yourself,” it says.
“I don’t need to understand,” I yell at It, “Why should I?”
“Why shouldn’t you?” he asks, standing straight again. His eyes were still red an orange tint around them, reminding me of an angry sun-set.
I look up at the sky as the rain begins to get worst, pounding the graves numb. I watch as the dark-clouds overwhelm the sky, reminding me of my own thoughts, going through my mind and trying to destroy me. Much to my favor, the rain hid the tears streaming down my face. I turn to look back at the Monster, hoping maybe the rain washed away my imagination but it was still there, and right in front of my eyes, it transformed again.
Streams of water ran through its rock skin, making cracks like a fancy tattoo. It kept going until there wasn’t any rock left, and the Monster was made only of water, its red eyes glaring in the dim light of the falling day. That’s when I realized that this was real, and it could be dangerous.
“Leave me alone!” I scream standing up. Deafening thunder cracked through the sky, as my voice slightly choked up, “Just leave me alone! I don’t need your help, and I don’t need to understand anything!”
His eyes glance behind me and he frowns, his eyes turning maroon, and transforming to a purple. Then his body crumbles and becomes only a puddle on the ground. The puddle of water starts going in streams and surrounding me and I watch as the streams swim their way up my parent’s grave-yard. I knew the Monster wasn’t gone forever.
“Don’t come back!” I scream “Don’t ever talk to me again!”
I jump, and then shout wordlessly as arms suddenly wrap around me from behind. I’m prepared to fight back but I recognize the voice assuring me over and over that it’s okay, and the rough arms reminding me that I’m not alone, and the strong but gentle hands grabbing onto my own shaking ones. I immediately go limp with the relief of knowing its Grandpa Abbot, and I shakily exhale in his firm grip, the only thing keeping me from falling to the ground or running away.
Now as I calm down enough to recognize and be alert to my surroundings, I can hear his truck running behind us, and I can hear the rough breathing of Grandpa Abbot, exhausted from the effort of controlling me.
The rain was still pouring down, and I was soaked now but it was worth it since my tears were now hidden from Abbot. I knew I couldn’t always hide from Grandpa Abbot, but somehow, I also knew I would never be able to hide from the Monster.
It would find me again, and it would slowly pick me apart, destroying me one by one. Its words echo in my head “I can’t get lost, I know everywhere, everything, and everyone, and it’s my job to know.”
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