The fire was very small, smaller even than a bird’s nest. The fire was small, but hungry. “Whatever-it-was” knelt beside the fire, feeding it moss and twigs. The moss was dry. It burned white hot, like phosphorus when dropped on top. “Whatever-it-was“ licked its lips every time the moss ignited, in anticipation of the flash, eager for the “pop“ it created across the little copse, bursting like a lightening bolt in the night.”Whatever-it-was” loved the lightening, thrilling at it, scampering up the mountain top to catch it, and to howl.
No, man is not the only beast with dominion over fire; man is only the “known” beast. “Whatever-it-was“ did not need the fire. “Whatever-it-was” did not get cold, nor did “it“ cook. The fire was only a diversion, a snapshot of home.
Someday “Whatever-it-was” would go home, but first it must die. ”Whatever-it-was” did not know how long it would live. “Whatever-it-was“ longed to be killed, but had not yet met the creature capable of the killing. The creatures here died quickly... easily. “It“ had recently begun playing with “it’s” prey before feeding, letting them see “Whatever-it-was” that was about to kill them. It enjoyed watching their eyes ”pop” like the moss in the fire when they did see.
And “Whatever-it-was” had begun to feed first, before the kill, sometimes whole, sometimes from the feet up, the better to watch the eyes. It was exciting that way, to see the fear. The cougar was the hardest to kill. The cougar was wary, strong, and fast, but not that strong, nor that fast.
The wolves seemed to smell him when he was upwind, but they were the only ones. The wolves were hard to kill too... it was hard to get them all.
The humans were different. Each one reacted differently. One had even fired a weapon at him. That one had been strong. That one had pulled a knife at the end, while “Whatever-it-was” fed upwards from his feet. That one had sunk the knife into “its“ muscular neck, but that had not been enough to save the human, nor to kill the beast.
”Whatever-it-was” would like to find another human, or any creature as strong as that one had been. A creature strong enough to send “Whatever-it-was” home.
In the meantime, “Whatever-it-was” swallowed “its” fire, enjoying the arrousal the fire’s heat stirred inside him prior to the hunt. It is hard, to feed the hunger.
A Night in the Woods
It was the first of November and following a long evening of haunting human beings on Halloween night, the various demons, ghouls, witches, and monsters sat in the deep, dark woods, huddled together in front of a crackling bonfire. This was an annual tradition of theirs -- a chance for them to unwind after all their hard work and dedication. Some of the little monster children wandered off a ways, and the werewolf warned:
“Beware, little ones, I saw a princess riding a unicorn in yonder forest. She was being escorted by a handsome knight in shining armor, too.”
The children shrieked, their eyes wide with terror, and quickly scampered into the comforting arms of their hideous mothers.
The witch directed a reproachful glare at the werewolf, and hissed, “Don’t frighten the children like that. Speak to them of nice things like savage cannibals, or bloody beheadings, or deadly plagues and such.”
“Where’s the fun in that?” asked the corpse, wriggling itself out of a freshly dug grave. “I thought that exchanging spooky stories in front of a bonfire was standard practice?”
“Indeed,” agreed the vampire, sipping blood from a flask he had brought with him from his castle in Transylvania. “The little ghouls must learn how to be dreadful. Last night, I saw your child, Witch, shrink away from a drooling baby costumed as Mary’s little lamb. It was a disgrace, I tell you. Let the mummy tell the spooky stories -- he’s the best storyteller we have. It’s for the good of the children...”
“Yes, let the mummy tell us a story,” pleaded the grotesque little rotten ones.
“I will,” nodded the mummy, rewrapping his loose bandages by the light of a silvery full moon. “Listen carefully, children... it all began on a clear, sunny day --”
“Eww!” the ghastly children cried.
“Hush,” their mothers reprimanded. “No rude interruptions.”
“The sky was so blue, and the puffy clouds looked like cotton candy --”
“I think I’m gonna vomit,” groaned a little skeleton boy. “Oh, wait... I forgot that I don’t have a stomach.”
“Dozens of beautiful human girls and boys with bouncing golden curls frolicked in the meadow collecting fragrant wildflowers. Adorable birds chirped from their nests, and the warm sunshine bathed everything in light...”
“No, not light!” Screeched a young banshee. “Anything but light!”
“Soon a lovely princess riding the most gleaming white unicorn ever born trotted into the meadow and delivered the darling youngsters a basket full of the most delicious red apples...”
“Were they rotten apples?”
“Not rotten in the least.”
“No worms, or bruises?”
“None whatsoever. The apples were ripe and juicy, and... and...”
“And what?” the young ghouls cried out in unison.
“And the princess is coming up behind you right now!” the mummy shouted, pointing to the woods beyond the little monsters.
“Egads!” they whimpered, before bolting off in opposite directions.
The mummy laughed, but their hideous mothers were not impressed. “You’ve gone and frightened them. Now we must track them down, and that can take hours.”
“They’ll be fine,” said the elder zombie. “The experience will be good for them in the long run.”
“But the mummy did not have to make the story so horrid,” the witch protested. “Couldn’t he tell them a cute, soothing tale -- like the time Joan of Arc was burned alive at the stake?”
Soon, the first signs of the sun’s rays began to lighten the sky. The monsters would have to depart, shortly, before daybreak turned most of them into heaping piles of ash.
“Well, I must be off,” the vampire bid farewell to all. “See you next October 31st.”
“Yes,” the mummy added. “We need to wrap things up. Get it? Wrap things up.”
All the other ghouls grumbled and rolled their decaying eyes for none of them were overly fond of puns.
You Heard It Here First
Sometimes, every once in a while, when they’re not too busy with their dastardly deeds, the monsters, ghosts, zombies, witches, and whatevers all congregate in a dense forest. It doesn’t matter where, because they all know, somehow. When the night is darkest and even the moon, afraid, hides behind the clouds, this group of beings gathers around a campfire to tell stories. What kinds of stories do they tell? It’s a secret, the most important one there is.
“Get on with it already, I’m tired and hungry,” the ghoul exclaims. He’s a very impatient sort, you know. All ghouls are, it's a fault in the species.
“AAAAAH!” The banshee screeches - I don’t know what she thinks she’s accomplishing, but every time, every damned time!
“The ghosts are arriving. Now we can start,” the demon says, and we all agree with him. It’s important to respect rank.
“Does anyone want to start?” asks the witch. She’s actually very nice, when she’s not trying to boil your organs into a potion, that is.
“Me, me! I’ll start, I’ve got one!” The ghoul shouts. Predictable as always.
“I was walking along, you know, just checking out the humans in town, minding my own business, when - you know what I saw? Guess,” the ghouls starts.
“A...skinny human?” the demon asks. He’s got a great sense of humor, and we all laugh appreciatively. No one wants to find out what would happen if we didn’t.
“No, no! It was worse than that, your greatness! It was - it was - a vegan restaurant!”
“I know,” the ghoul cries, “Who even thought of that? It’s awful, it’s terrible. I mean I never, in all my life and death, have seen such an atrocity. I couldn’t stay there after seeing that! It was traumatizing! You know this trend isn’t going away - I ate a vegan the other day, and it was simply the worst. I could literally, and I do mean literally, taste the plant-based lifestyle. What am I going to do?”
“Yes, I do agree, vegans are against everything I stand for,” the zombie joins in.
Nods all around, we acknowledge our mutual distaste for vegans. But we’re just getting started, don’t you worry. In case that wasn’t terrifying enough, the witch decides to tell a story. I’m particularly fond of her stories, there’s just something, I don’t know, magical about them.
The witch starts, “I recently discovered that humans do something, it’s called a job -”
The mummy wants clarification on what a job is, the poor ignorant (lack of a) soul.
“Anyway,” the witch continues, “they do this job five days a week, for eight hours a day! And it’s often the same types of tasks, the whole day, for the rest of their lives, until they die! The monotony!”
“You’re referring to a nine-to-five. I helped invent them, you know,” the demon says, proud of himself.
“And may I say, what an invention it was. The absolute dullness! And they never ride a broomstick, or make a potion, or make use of the dark forces in their evil schemes,” the witch says, looking at all of us in turn, really emphasizing the horror of it all.
The ghost shivers dramatically, which I think is a bit much. We all get it, humans have an endless capacity for horrifying us.
“I’ve got a story,” the demon says, and we fix our attention on him. This promises to be a horror to end all horrors.
“I was doing my everyday work of ruining humans’ lives, when I saw a human, collecting money for - it’s a difficult phrase, excuse me - helping the poor. The terrifying thing was that he wasn’t stealing the money for himself, which would be acceptable and proper, but he was actually - another difficult word - donating the money to a - here we go again - charitable organization. The complete audacity of humans- they can do such terrible things sometimes, and I really thought I had seen, and even pushed them into, all of it. They continue to surprise me with their capacity for horribleness,” the demon states.
The demon’s story truly is the most horrifying of all. Charity, goodness, care for the fellow soul? These ideas are despicable to us, even speaking about them out loud is discouraged.
The night wraps up and everyone goes their separate ways. There are things to be done, of course, but I know we will all be a bit more wary. These stories will continue to haunt us long after the night turns to day.
What am I talking about, you say? You asked for a true story, and I told you one. Oh, I see. You think I’m being witty. Really, I wish I had the talent for storytelling. You’ll notice that in my so-called story, I stayed silent. There’s nothing special or creative about what I just told you. After all, I was there.