Thursday, March 16, 2017

Flash Fiction Friday: Create Your Own Monster

Today's Flash Fiction is in response to a challenge to create an all-new monster. Chuck Wendig posed the challenge, so you follow the link to see all the other responses, if you're in the mood for fear and loathing! Or just read on. Chuck gave us 1500 words; I used 1239 of them.

The End of All Delight

Archibald D. Jones, to the Royal Geographic Society, July 16, ----
Sirs:
The Delighter, named not for giving light, but for removing it, appears to be a unique monster, not part of a species or clan of delighters. For this blessing we should all be grateful. I have examined the victims of this creature, and the effect gave me great sorrow, despite my years in the field and my necessary anthropologist’s distance. That my eyes watered during this time was no doubt due to the incense being used in an attempt to cure the victims. One witness to an attack, who was himself spared, claimed that I wept because of the residual effects of the attack, but this is ridiculous, as I am not subject to emotional reactions to research subjects.

Those most directly attacked by the Delighter were generally unresponsive, unable or unwilling to address my questions. They prefer to sit in a dim room and generally weep, unable to force themselves to any action or exertion. As the creature attacked single victims, there were witnesses who, though greatly sobered by the experience, were yet able to tell me what they had seen. From those accounts I pieced together the following description of the monster.

When it comes forth to hunt—villagers believe it lives underground, though none could point to any entrance to its lair—the Delighter is a deep black in color. One woman, who wept all the while she spoke of the attack on her husband, said the Delighter was not black, but rather that it is a deep shadow, an area utterly lacking light.

Others, who witnessed it only after it fed on the soul and joy of the unfortunate man, said it seemed to them then to be streaked with ever-changing patterns of light in many colors, though predominantly an odd shade of orange. Whereas the victim’s wife reported that the creature moved in a sluggish, flowing fashion; after it fed, it moved quickly and lightly.

I proceeded to visit several nearby villages where the monster had likewise attacked, and was given similar reports of its behavior. Several also reported that they attempted to shoot the Delighter with firearms and also—as a form of experimentation—with bow and arrow. Neither type of projectile appeared to harm it. From these reports, I began to draw conclusions regarding the habits and purpose of the Delighter.

From the change in the Delighter’s movements and appearance after feeding, it is apparent that the life and joy that are drawn from the victim are the sole source of such feelings for the creature. That it preys upon humans despite the mixture of joy and sorrow that is the ordinary human condition, suggests that the Delighter is both unable to generate such feelings within itself, and that it requires them for some reason yet to be determined.

The monster’s apparent insensitivity to weapons suggests to me that it has an essential, rather than corporeal, existence. It will be necessary to learn more of this in order to devise a plan to stop its depredations.

I believe that it may be necessary to discover the creature’s lair in order to learn more. At this time, I am uncertain whether the Delighter feeds only upon human emotion, or if it also requires some more tangible form of nourishment. Nor has sufficient time elapsed to learn if the victims of the monster will recover. To date, approximately two months since the first attack, none of the victims has been able to throw off his lethargy to discuss the experience.


Archibald D. Jones, to the Royal Geographic Society, July 25, ----
Sirs:
I am determined to enter the lair of the Delighter, if it can be discovered. Another attack has left a number of children in a state of constant weeping and despair. Like the adult victims, they have to be restrained to prevent them doing harm to themselves. The villagers fear that the Delighter will return to attack the schools repeatedly, having once discovered the happy nature of the very young. The future of the region is in danger.


Archibald D. Jones, to the Royal Geographic Society, July 30, ----
Sirs:
I have begun explorations to discover the entrance to the lair of the Delighter. The villagers want to locate and seal the opening, but I believe that in the interests of science I must enter and confront the beast myself. It is my belief that a scientific turn of mind may offer some protection from the creature’s attack, as tending to leave me, as I have heard some colleagues claim, “dull as dishwater.” If the monster cannot find an adequate source of that which it seeks, it may leave me alone.


Archibald D. Jones, to the Royal Geographic Society, August 2, ---- Sirs:
I have discovered the entrance to the lair of the Delighter and am preparing to enter, laying forth all possible precautions. The creature comes and goes via a cave on the hillside between the two villages that have suffered the most.

I watched the cave for two days, and at last witnessed the egress and ingress of the monster. I believe my hypothesis about my scientific mind protecting me are correct, as the monster did not appear to be aware of my presence nearby. My observations confirmed the reports of the radical change in appearance of the Delighter after feeding. Indeed, I might almost have said it danced as it returned to its lair. I shall take great pleasure in discovering its manner of living between attacks.

All being prepared, I shall enter the cave two days hence. This, by my calculations, should put it midway in the feeding cycle, a time at which I believe its interest in humans may be at a minimum, thus maximizing my safety in this expedition.


Headwoman, Village of Kufu, to the Royal Geographic Society, August 20, ----
Dear Sirs,
It is my sad duty to inform you that your explorer, Mr. Archibald D. Jones, has been incapacitated in his quest to better understand the monster which haunts our village and has been called the Delighter, or, more accurately, the De-lighter. Despite our advice to the contrary, on August 4 he entered the cave into which the monster retreats after preying on our villages. He was convinced that his own nature would offer protection, and I confess that I had never met a drier and less empathetic man, who seemed to express little pleasure beyond an academic satisfaction in his work.

It appears that even so simple a pleasure as that is a meal to the De-lighter, and on August 10, Mr. Jones crawled from the cave and collapsed near our village. We have taken him in and are feeding him, but he does not stop weeping, and cannot utter any sense. The only words we have been able to make out from all his weeping are the cryptic comment, “I didn’t know it would be like this.”

We are unable to continue to support and nurse your explorer indefinitely, and humbly request that you send a rescue party to remove him. Perhaps with adequate care he may eventually recover. I am pleased to report that the first victim in our village, the husband of our excellent midwife, has begun to work once more, though he remains morose and silent.

Yours,
Kala Ma’anua, Headwoman of Kufu

The entrance to the cave of the Delighter? Hard to say.

This may be a photo of the monster after feeding. Or not.

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2017
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!

4 comments:

  1. I like it - the style especially :)
    As I said in my own preamble - I think imagining a unique monster these days would be pretty well impossible for anyone with any ounce of sanity. But I like your take on it.

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    Replies
    1. The world seems to be producing monsters faster than we can dream them up :(

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  2. Historical fiction with a grandeu to its language.
    Well done Rebecca.

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