Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Short Story: The Monsters of Men

The Monsters of Men
by, Melissa R. Mendelson

It was raining hard on a Tuesday night.  The courtroom was packed and livid.  Tensions denied the knife, and security was tight.  The man of the hour was dressed in orange and chains, and each chain rang with the death of his victims.  No regret shined in his eyes.  Only his lawyer paled like a ghost, knowing what the verdict would be, and those in attendance hoped for the worst.  I sat in the corner, hoping to be ignored, but when he looked at me, they knew that I was there.  They knew that I was there for him, and right now, he was safe in their custody.  But I wasn’t.  I had to go outside alone on this rainy night, hounded by a bloodthirsty mob.
I tried to park as close as I could to the courthouse, but I couldn’t find a spot.  I was now drenched by the pouring rain, and as I approached my car, something flew past me.  My front passenger-side window shattered, and then something struck the trunk.  I raced to the driver-side door just as a rock slammed into my shoulder, and I tried to see where the rocks were coming from.  One just missed my face, and I quickly got into the car, revved up the ignition and flew down the road.
I thought that I would be safe at home, if you could call a crappy, small apartment home.  I was wrong.  My apartment door was vandalized in red with harsh names, but maybe it was just the door.  Again, I was wrong for they had gotten inside, and the apartment was trashed.  They even shattered the picture frame that held a photo of my brothers and I, and someone even pissed on my bed.  So, I had no choice but to call the police, and they were no help.  They didn’t feel sorry for me, and I couldn’t stay here.  There was only one place left to go.
The bus station wasn’t too far from the apartment building, and it was still open.  I was able to get a bus ticket and catch the bus fifteen minutes later.  I left my car in the lot.  It didn’t matter what happened to it or my apartment.  Nothing mattered, and the last place that I wanted to go to was home.  But I had nowhere else, and even the people on the bus were giving me looks.  Did they know?  I hoped not, but I still slept with one eye open.
I had not seen my mother in ten years.  I ran away when I was seventeen, shortly after my younger brother was gunned down by the police.  They claimed that he had raped many young girls, and they caught up to him before he could do it again.  They told him to freeze, put his hands over his head.  Instead, he reached into his pocket, and they lit him up.  They killed him over a piece of gum, but my mother didn’t blame him.  She said that it was the monster’s fault. This was what it wanted, chaos and death.
My mother would go on and on about this monster in the woods, where she used to live.  She claimed the monster would come into her home and then rape her.  I often wondered, if it were my father that she was referring to.  I never met him or the father of my brothers.  We were only a few years apart, and as we grew up, my mother was often institutionalized.  When she was home, she was heavily medicated, another reason that I ran away.
My mother’s home was at the edge of town.  It was small and rundown, and the windows were nailed shut.  The door had a deadbolt, and when she was finally convinced that it was me, I was allowed to come inside, walk into a house full of garbage and boxes and newspapers.  And the door behind me slammed shut, locking in place.
“Why are you here?  You should never have come back.  Why did you come back?”
“Have you seen the news?  Do you know what tonight is?”  I watched my mother fold her hands together.  “Do you even care?”
“It’s not his fault.  It’s mine.  If only I didn’t summon it.  I was stupid, so stupid.  A foolish girl playing with dangerous things, and it marked me.  It marked you.  You should not have come back.”
“Mom, did you take your meds?”
“Why are you here?”
“He was sentenced tonight.”
“It doesn’t want me anymore.  I’m old.  It wants you.  If you stay, it will find you.”
“I have nowhere else to go.”
“You can’t stay.  Promise me something?”  I didn’t like the look that she gave me.  “When I die, burn me.  Burn everything.  It can’t find you then.  You’ll be safe,” and she grabbed hold of me.
“Mom, you’re hurting me,” but she didn’t let go.
“It can’t find you,” she nearly screamed in my face.  “It’s been looking.  I’m sure that it’s been looking.  It just hasn’t found you yet.  You need to leave here.”
“I’m not leaving.”  I was grateful when she finally let me go.  “Is there a doctor that I could call?”
My mother looked at me.  “I think I will take a bath,” and she walked away.
I waited for my mother in the living room.  Half an hour passed, and I began to grow nervous.  How long does it take for someone to take a bath, and she wasn’t acting right.  Maybe, she wasn’t on her meds, so I approached the bathroom door.  I knocked.  No answer.  I knocked again.  Still, no answer, so I kicked the door in.  And there she was in the bathtub, smiling beneath the water.
The funeral was two days later, but it wasn’t much of a funeral.  I kept my promise.  My mother was cremated, but I wasn’t going to keep the other half of that promise.  I wasn’t going to burn her house down.  A lot of the stuff in the house was garbage, but some of it could be donated.  And as I got everything in order, I decided to check the attic.  I was curious as to what she had kept up there, but the only thing I found was a small, broken chest with a piece of paper inside of it, a drawing of some kind of creature.  And there was something familiar about that creature.
That night, it started to snow.  I used to love the snow, but the house felt like a tomb.  It took a lot of effort to even use the bathroom and not look at the bathtub.  Maybe, I should call it an early night, so I went into my old bedroom and curled up on the bed.  I couldn’t bring myself to even look into my brothers’ bedrooms.  Maybe, I should have burnt the house down.
Sleep was just settling over me when I heard crunching outside like deer stepping onto snow.  Funny, I hadn’t seen any deer, and I glanced over at my bedroom window, which began to fog up as if hot breath were falling against the glass.  I continued to stare out the window, and I could have sworn that I saw piercing, blue eyes that stole the last of the warmth away from me.  And despite an unsettling feeling, I fell asleep.  As I slept, I could have sworn that I heard the front door open, but I knew that it was locked.
Hot breath fell over me.  Piercing, blue eyes melted into mine.  My body froze, laid bare as its shadow fell over my skin.  Its weight bored down on me, coming inside, and I gasped.  I writhed and twisted and turned, clutching at the sheets, and then I came as my lips parted with white breath escaping out into the air.  I curled back against the sheets, and something stirred in my belly.  It was an odd sensation, but I already knew what it was.  Another dark seed had been planted.

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