Old Love of Monsters: Part 1 The Monster
High up in the arctic, soft snow falls and covers the slippery ice of the glaciers. At the edge of an icy cliff, harp seals dive into frigid waters to catch fish for their young. A splash startles them out of the water, and as a creature swims toward the beach of ice, the seals flee farther inland. A polar bear observes the rippling water as this unknown beast slides closer to the icy cliff, seemingly without care of the cold or the predators hunting in these arctic waters. As the creature reaches the ice a large, pale and horribly scarred hand emerges from the water to find a good handhold on the slippery ice. Grasping at the edge of the glacier the monster pulls itself out of the water, revealing its horrifying appearance.
Scars cover the man’s body, for it was indeed a man, like puzzle pieces taken from different games and forced together until they fit. Skin pulled taut over large and lean muscles, and near translucent from the cold waters it had left. Clothes, nearly as patched and torn as he was scarred clung to his frame, dripping sea water onto the ice beneath his feet. In one scar covered hand it carried a large net full of fish and a seal pup, and slowly the man’s long legs carried him to a small boulder of ice. There the man’s disfigured face gazed at his catch, his bald head tilting slightly at the sight of the caught pup.
Fish spilled out onto the ice and the monster releases its dinner, the seal cries as it is tangled in the net, unable to escape it or the monsters clutched. A large hand reaches for the fidgeting seal, grasping it around the middle, its fuzzy fur trapped against its young body. With a cry the seal pup is released from the net, the net falling on top of the fish, wiggling across the ice. The pup makes soft, fear filled noises as the monsters other hand joins the one holding the baby penguin. A CRACK sounds as the man crouches, hands releasing the penguin onto the icy floor, the pup lays still.
A groan sounds as the man sits on the boulder of ice, rubbing creaking knees, evidence of old age and the wear and tear of living. Squeaking at his feet brings the man back the seal pup, sitting in a patch of fluffy snow. Bending down once more, despite protest of his back, he reaches for one of the fish wiggling under the net. Scarred hands offered the treat to the pup and waved it off. He watched as it slid across the slippery ground, most likely in search of its mother, before gathering up the scattered, flopping fish.
Picking up the full net once more, the monstrous man stood from the boulder and began making his towards a large rock face were a dark crack betrayed the only evidence that within was a moderately sized cave. Inside was a pile of furs, furthest from the entrance, piled in a way that vaguely resembled a bed. A misshapen piece of metal sat between the bed and the door way. A flickering and diminishing fire burning on top of it. This was likely to keep the rare driftwood the man would find away from the melting ice caused by the fire so that it wouldn’t get damp and smoke out the cave.
With an old, rusty knife taken from the corner, the man began to precisely gut and scale the fish before sticking them by the fire to cook. Sitting on the pile of furs as he waited for the fish, he thought about his life, as there was not much else for him to do. He was not made as other were; his creator, a scientist flirting with life after death, had made him in a mad attempt in proving he could bring the life back from the dead. Influenced as he was by the passing of his mother to scarlet fever. In his eccentrics, he had been created. A monster made from pieces of man. Ugly and misshapen. Cast out.
He had been angry, as monstrous as his appearance, and his anger had led to the death of many. Though his guiltiest crime had been the death—no, murder—of an innocent boy. His first act of monstrosity that had been but the beginning of actions that would lead to the death of his creator. Not far from these frozen lands.
The monster had been lonely, desperate for companionship that was taken from him every time he reached out for kindness. First his creator who had drawn away and been revolted by his own making. Then the kind peasant family that had attacked him, called him monster and pushed him away. Despite the kindness of the old blind man, and the monsters own fondness towards the family that had inadvertently taught him to read and write.
So many people had been revolted by him, screamed, ran, called him horrible things. He had tried to draw away but no living thing was designed to be alone, even a monster. He had gone to his creator, begging for a wife and his creator agreed. But he had lied and took away the only chance a monster like he could ever find love. So like the monster he was, he destroyed his creator. But not physically, no. he had destroyed him with words and actions against those he loved and in retaliation his creator had vowed to destroy his creation. It was glorious. Finally there was something more than revulsion. There was anger, fury, loathing action. If he could not have a friend he would have an enemy. But his creator died in the chase for his life and all that was left was his anger; nothing else to look at but the demon he had become. His actions without retribution.
He had planned to kill himself, he said he would go to furthest point in the world, high up in the arctic, and light himself on fire. But it had been cold and incredibly windy and no matter how much he tried he could not get a flame. He had tried other ways to kill himself, exposure to cold, starvation, but in the end he could survive the cold, hunger drove him mostly mad rather than dead. So he had decided to live out his life in this arctic hell, depriving himself of the one thing he had wanted in life, companionship.
However, over a century had passed since the death of his creator and he was old and weary. He could feel it in his bones as they ached and in his fingers that sometime shook when he used his knife. He was going to die and though it was selfish, he did not want to die alone.
Dreams of warm sunshine filtered through leaves and bare feet on soft, lush grass haunted him as he slept. His only memories of happiness, that small peasant family and their farm. How he wished to see the land once more.
So why shouldn’t he? The family had abandoned their house to escape him. Surely no one lives there now. It was rural with hard land to farm and the family surely spread tales about how monsters roamed the land. If no one was there then there was a place a way from people he could live out the rest of his days, years, in peace and warmth.
The sound of sizzling and the smell of well cooked fish split his attention towards his meal. Yes, he thought as he bit and chewed on the flakey fish, I will pack what I have and leave this land of desolation. It is surely not too much to ask after so long of cold solitude for a death in warm sunlight.
The next morning he began packing the furs he had and the last of his food, he could hunt more on his travels, and after so long he began to backtrack the path he had taken. Over the course of several months he walked down from the frozen land he had been inhabiting towards that cottage in Germany. He passed many settlements and marveled over the change. Strange, horseless carriages roamed the street making horrible noise and spewing the occasional cloud of black smoke. Many things were different, building, clothes; and there were more towns and more people than he remembered there being.
He travelled through the night and found shelter during the day to keep away from the eyes of man. It was during those nightly walks that he would notice some homeless men, gravely injured or missing limb. Propaganda on windows spoke of a war won against something called a Nazi based in Germany.
The closer the man got to where he remembered the cottage to be, the less he was sure that he should continue. A lot seemed to have happened since he was gone. And not a lot of that seemed good. Perhaps there was nothing left of his fondest memories.
As he entered Germany he began to hear about what had been going on in the war that had only just ended. The horrors of Jew camps, the iron curtain as they called it that has been rising and separating the land. He made his way through towns in search of the cottage in his memories and everywhere he looked there were crumbling buildings or construction and rebuild. Worst of all the land and roads had changed during the time he had been away and without meaning he had become lost. Wandering a war torn country searching for memories that seemed to fade in the onslaught of change. Before it had just been him and his memories and he had guarded them fiercely, now there was so much he was seeing and learning those memories from long ago seem to slip through his fingers.
He wandered the country side with nothing but clothes he had traded with his bundle of fur and ancient hunting equipment nearly falling apart with age. Stumbling through muddy back roads he cursed ever coming back. Turned around as he was he feared he would never leave this tragic country.
It was as he thought this that he passed an old, wooden sign with the name De Lacey on it. He had seen a few signs along the road he took, marking off shoots of roads that lead to rural private property or farms, so he thought nothing of it. But the name struck his slipping memory and brought a face from the depths of despair. A face of an old man, blind but kindness filled his unseeing eyes. De Lacey. That was his name.
He turned and looked at the road marked by the sign. It wasn’t new, but it wasn’t as old as he was. Someone lived there after the De Lacey’ first left. They had, perhaps moved back after sightings of a monster had moved from their region. Perhaps they stilled lived there. After all this time, so many miles on old bones to get nothing. No one would let a monster live on their lands and share their time. Yet dreams of sunshine and lush grass pushed him forward down the road. A lonely monster, desperate for companionship.