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The Beast

by

Cailean Darkwater

I do not know where to begin ...

I suppose I should start at the beginning - that's traditional I would say ...

My early childhood is foggy. I remember being loved, being in a big house with my parents. I remember happiness, comfort, excitement, seeing the world through fresh eyes. I suppose we all have such memories. I believe that they become more delightful with every year that distances us from them. The nature of nostalgia.

Then the Change. That's how I came to view it, change with a capital "C". Something happened to change me forever. One minute everything was happy, the next I was forced out on to the street with nothing. I can no longer remember my parent's faces. Just their eyes - once full of love and care, now filled with horror and disgust. The most painful part of the Change - that extreme shift of emotion.

The physical effects of the Change were bad enough. My bones warped and twisted, my skin grew taut and then hung loose, the agony was excruciating. Finally, it was over.

My parent's revulsion continued far longer than my body's suffering. They could not understand how this ... creature ... could be their child. I was now neither son nor daughter but merely an "it", not any way connected with the family at all.

I suppose they must have named me something, but somehow I forgot. My voice was an early casualty in the Change, all I could manage was a watery gurgle. I couldn't share my name with others, so I lost it. I kept away from people normally, all I received were thrown stones, beatings and derision.

Just the hate they showed was pain enough.

I could always feel the distance separating us as tangible as a stone wall. We were now a breed apart. I was once human but now, no longer. They had ostracized me from species "Homo Sapiens".

When you are different, you are not understood. What people do not understand, they fear. What they fear, they hate. What they hate, they destroy.

The casual cruelty which normal, everyday people show towards beings not in their own group is indescribable. Beings of such limitless love that choose to give so much hate.

They just hate me for being me.

I'd like to join them, be one of the beautiful people, but obviously I can't. I don't feel that I think any differently to them, except if anyone, even someone more loathsome than I, would be my friend, it would make me so very happy.

But the beautiful people can afford to discard friends at a whim - they don't appreciate that what they reject some of us dream of in vain.

I do not understand. The beautiful people have everything, but they still resent me, even though I have nothing. What do they want from me?

It makes no sense. Seeing things objectively, looking from the outside in, I see people preying upon each other like animals. Yet animals would never have such hatred, such venom for their own kind. Humans are the only species that kill each other for no concrete purpose. We destroy each other over ideals, emotions or merely a whim.

A human being could be described as a beast that can ignore its true nature and follow the intoxicating piping of free will. Free will to commit horrendous crimes upon their own species and other forms of life.

As I had been rejected by humanity, I would reject humanity in turn. Discard the trappings of my former species and adopt a new breed. I would have purity of purpose, purity of essence, if not purity of form.

In this "dog-eat-dog" world that humans had created, a perversion of the natural order, I would be the ultimate predator. To these twisted mockeries of hunters in the concrete jungle I would be justice without mercy.

I am no longer human. I am a beast. The Beast. I shall cultivate a beautiful garden in the heart of the corrupt city. If the humans try and stop me, I shall say "You are not my kind. I am not bound by your foolish, petty laws."

I hunted and slew those who would prey upon those weaker than themselves. As I matured I grew stronger and more skilled, but I was never truly seen by my prey and my flock. I kept myself a shadow, a dream. Or more appropriately, a nightmare.

Those I saved lived happily, the evil had been repulsed, I was forever vigilant. I had protected my children from danger. It sounds arrogant, but I considered myself above them. Instead of a poor, broken, malformed human, I was now the Beast, the perfect protector, champion of the weak.

Then ... I thought all the changes were over, but things never stay the same. Unfortunately, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I saw her, beset by snarling jackals of humanity, sniffing and yelping their cruel cries. I bounded between them and their prey, scattering them as a tiger cowing curs. But the dogs of law had heard the prey's keening, they saw a predator and barked defiance at the beast that was me, entering their territory. Unheeding of the damage that may have been caused, steel mosquitoes whined through the air, seeking to feast upon the blood they craved. I did not let a single one of them bite into the prey's flesh, they bit deep into my hide, black blood soaking into the cold ground.

Knowing that she was still in danger if she remained here, I lifted her tenderly and took flight, dogs baying at our heels as I loped along darkened paths.

Arriving at my hidden den, I laid her still, but living form carefully on soft, clean rags. I gathered food and water for her return to the waking world, for when she would arise from the shock of her ordeal.

She awoke, I saw the fear in her eyes, in her scrabbling limbs, her huddling form. I tried to console her as best I could, offered her the meal I had prepared for her.

I was the predator, and she was acting still as prey. I tried to think as part of humanity once again; it was distant, alien to me now.

I had an idea!

As she suspiciously took the food from me, I opened up my secret vault within my den, brought forth my writings and offered them to her, never seen before by human eyes.

It seems that all creatures need to express themselves, and with no voice I had expressed my feelings in the only medium I had left. I had written many things, written them for myself, not meant for the world that had disowned me.

She slowly read them and with their comprehension came a gradual gamut from terror to sadness. My tortured pieces had touched something within her; she knew now that I was a fellow creature, a creature in pain.

I could see warm compassion in her eyes now, as she read more and more.

And then, she spoke to me! I was overcome with joy that she would see me as a person, a human whom even I had left for dead on the road of Time.

She spoke of my work, spoke of what she saw in it, what she saw of me in it, my pain.

Communication was laborious, I had to "speak" to her through gestures and writing short messages in the dust with fingers that had long been transformed into wicked claws.

She went on to tell me of herself, her life, her desires of the future. She responded to my questions and comments; not always agreeing with each other. We saw the world through different eyes; they did not always align, but we both delighted in the similarities.

I felt something awaken within me, something I had thought would never return. I had been a creature of despair, a creature of justice, a creature of havoc. Now as this half-remembered essence welled out from my soul, I could feel that I was also a creature of love.

Black ice of fear froze a shell around my inferno heart, I was terrified of revealing these feelings to her, of what her reaction might be. I could not live through her scorn or disgust; I thought that I could trap my love within my heart, never risking myself to the possibility of further pain.

But if my life of torment had taught me one thing, it was that fear chained love. Fear of my appearance had stopped people from even showing me the slightest sliver of sympathy. I would not let my fear suppress what I felt.

Therefore I opened my heart to her, let loose the torrent of love bursting forth in one massive surge.

As she read my declaration I anxiously waited for her response. Her eyes lifted, and I looked intently within those windows of her soul.

My futile hope dashed, my love was greeted with sadness and pity. She could not return the love.

As if I were not tortured enough! I had brought this upon myself - such things were unattainable for a monster such as I. I had hoped against hope to be wrong in my cynicism, attitudes that the world had literally beaten into my hideous hide.

The cold voice of Reason told the truth: such a thing was impossible. I had listened to the na´ve voice of Passion, emotion before logic, and had paid the price of pain.

Forsaking my humanity once again, I let loose a mighty howl, the cry of an animal in agony, tears disrupting the final message in the dust forever.

She fled; crying, rivulets of terror running down her features. I felt her pain, and knew that I had inflicted it. To have harmed the one I cherished so dearly brought another wave of suffering.

Exhausted, I just lay there unmoving, for days I think, consumed by loss and drowning in apathy. Then a white dove entered my gloom. It was a letter, there was only person who knew where I laired. Leaping on it hungrily, I eagerly read it, desperately hoping for something to indicate that I had been wrong, that everything was right.

A foolish hope.

But as I read the message again, I saw something which had been hidden from my eyes in my pain.

She accepted me as a person.

Maybe the fear was still there. But I was human to her, not the beast.

She still wanted to communicate with me, even after the pain I had caused her. She had given me a return address and wrote that she avidly awaited a reply.

Now we have a thriving conversation going on, travelling through words on paper. I have sent her more of my work; she encourages me and assists me where she can. We are both happy with what we share.

Gentle reader, you hold one of my works in your hands. Chances are, you received it from the one I love, or whomever you received it from had obtained it from her, ad infinitum. Perhaps you can understand why I love her so much to this day.

This is not meant to be a tragedy, but an expression of the wonder of Life. True, I have not received love, but I have received acceptance. I say to you: do not take that for granted.

In this world of prejudice, avarice and neglect, to be accepted by someone as a person is precious enough.

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