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The Beast Within

A sweet melody filled the night as the air around her thickened. Bursts of light broke through the dark hall as she followed the captivating song. Lyrics drowned in beauty and sorrow pulled her soul, bringing a wave of emotion she hadn't expected. She closed her eyes and let it wash over her.

A feral howl overtook the melody, forcing her back to reality. The possible danger lurking beyond the door settled over her. What am I doing? Her heart agreed with her brain as every beat pulsed through her body trying desperately to pull her back to the safety of her room. But the howl stopped and the song began again with an urgency begging to be found. With a deep breath, she reached to open the door. The cold handle offered a warning of its own, shooting a spark that crackled across her fingertips.

“Ouch, darn door!” Marie shook her hand. “Enough of this. Get it together, girl! Ready?”

She looked around, feeling foolish for giving herself a pep-talk. Out loud. Thankfully, there were no witnesses. Deep breath. You got this. 1, 2,

The door flew open on 3 and she burst in, letting out a quiet scream. The dark room was untouched. Curtains gently swayed in the momentum that followed her. The blinking of the overhead fire alarm announced it’s protection over the space. Bed, wardrobe-nothing to explain what she had heard or the light she had followed. Weird. She jumped out slamming the door, then quickly reopened it.

“I don't,” she started, opening and closing the door again. “What's going on here?”

One more quick peek into the still room and she softly closed the door. I've lost my mind. I'm going-

The door shuddered in her hand with a hard hit landing only a few inches from where she stood. Her mind raced with possibilities of what was waiting opposite of the door she clung to. The handle slowly turned in her fingers. Unsure if it was her doing or an invitation, she stepped inside.

Marie gasped; dread covered her, and she dropped to the floor. A child, at least she thought it was a child, stood before her, features changing quicker than her brain could follow. Cheekbones shifted, jaw unhinged then reconnected, hair darkened. She watched in horror as the little girl shrieked in pain and doubled over. The distorted frame jerked and she could hear the soft pop of bones giving under the strain.

“Help me,” the girl mouthed. There was something familiar in her eyes, sparkling like the bluest spring sky. They locked onto Marie's with such intensity neither could look away.

Marie stretched out her hand as the beautiful creature winced. She could feel its pain.

“Hey, it's ok. Let me help you,” she said, slowly getting back to her feet. “What's been done to you?”

The creature stood tall; legs grew and muscle formed before her eyes. Its arms reached out to her, stretching further and further. Black feathers emerged, completely concealing the once porcelain white skin. Its wail, so loud, forced Marie to cover her ears and bend under its intensity. The boards below her feet shook as the creature's wings slammed against the floor.

“Whoa, easy now!” Marie whispered, noticing a darkness spread through its countenance. The sparkling eyes that drew her in were now piercing and ice cold like the eye of a storm. Concern quickly replaced with fear. She was in danger here. If she didn't escape now, she may not have another chance.

Move Marie! A small nail dug into her palm as she grabbed the door frame, using it for leverage to aid her abrupt departure. She could hear the beast scramble to follow. Its clumsy attempt bought Marie time to clear the long hall and reach the front of the house. The cool night air offered safety, but it was no match for her lack of grace. Anger warmed her veins as she tripped over the same loose porch step that always grabbed her foot, sending her face first into the railing. The bright red stream brought a sting to her eye. She grabbed her head, wiping away the blood, and ran to her truck.

Another cry tore through the night as the creature’s figure, much larger than before, slid into the entryway.

“Come on!” Marie yelled, dropping her keys in the floorboard. “Come on, come on, come on!” One last shout and the truck's engine fired up. Gravel and grass flew into the air as she kicked the pedal to its limit.

“Jesus! I'm scared. Please protect me.” Marie tried to breathe, but tears mixed with blood stung her eyes and she could feel herself falling apart.

She cried and sped until her rearview was free of the house and fields surrounding it. No signs of anyone or anything following her. She slowed for the dirt road and replayed the night in her mind. The captivating song, the lights, the feel of the door and walls shaking, the girl turned monster.

Marie’s thoughts were interrupted and she screeched as the truck jumped and tailgate folded under the weight of the creature. “No! How-”

She jerked the steering wheel to free its hold and stood on the gas once again. The old F150 clamored under her demand but found it's strength and pushed forward.

The tree line just ahead offered cover she was searching for. She looked back, praying this would work. With a sharp left, she was headed towards safety.

Long claws dug into the hood, slicing the metal with ease, as she spun into the field, marrying sparks and dust. Panic filled her bones as the creature's wings slowly crawled across her windows. Its face leaned into the windshield, eyes desperately searching.

“Open the door,” it growled, clicking its talons against the metal frame. “Open the door!” Its breath steamed the glass.

Marie closed her eyes, sobbing in protest. The passenger door groaned with the crushing power in the creature's jaws. Saliva sprayed fiercely as it spit the chunk of metal and went in for seconds. The gaping hole was just big enough for the feathered arm to squeeze through, talons spread and ready.

“No, no, no!” Marie cried, pushing herself as far as the seat would allow.

The truck rocked as the creature pulled its arm out and peeked through the window, eyes locked. Another scream from Marie. Another attempt from the beast to fill its grasp. The tires hissed, begging for relief of the tremendous force being pushed against them.

“Open the door!” the creature demanded. Its immense strength lifted the truck and slammed it like a toddler in a fit of rage. “Ah, ha!” it exclaimed with joy not fitting for the situation.

She watched, confused, as it carefully reached through one last time. Claws turned to fingers as it desperately reached for the box that had fallen from the dash. It doesn’t want... me? She watched its eyes, bulging as it barely made contact with the white and green squares decorating the container. Close enough to touch but not secure. She reached towards it, and the beast growled. Slowly, Marie brought her foot close and kicked the box to the opening. The truck rocked back and forth as the creature removed its arm and the box was ripped through.

Silence. Stillness. Marie pulled herself up and leaned over to look out the window where the beast had just been.

White and green confetti laid all around the ground just outside the truck. She searched for any signs that she wasn’t alone in that field. Satisfied, she cracked open the door and listened. Nothing. The door creaked as she pushed it open. She sat, waiting, but nothing appeared. No danger. No signs of the nightmare that had pursued her. Marie took a deep, slow breath to steady her nerves as she dropped her feet to the ground.

“Hello?” She called out. “Hello? Is anyone out there?” She took a few careful steps.

Hmm, her face wrinkled up in the confusion lurking within her. Marie stood straight, realizing her frightened posture, and allowed her arms to drift towards the ground, mindlessly letting them follow beside her. A deep rumble echoed behind her and her heart quickened. She tightened her sweat covered grip and anxiously turned to face her demise.

The beast stood before her sucking the sweet covering from each of its fingertips. Another rumble. Was that a... burp? Marie stood baffled. Beautiful black feathers with deep purple inlays began falling away from the creature’s shrinking body. The melody once again began to dance on the night, bringing a peace that covered both as Marie marveled at the sight before her. In an instant, the monstrous being was once again a little girl. Her precious girl! Her eyes, once again sparkling blue; her face beaming in delight.

“I feel better. Can we go home now, Mama?” Claire reached up, brushing crumbs from her shirt and licked her fingers one last time.

“What? Claire?” Marie stammered, and she sunk to her knees. “Baby, you scared Mama! What? How? Aren’t you supposed to be camping with Daddy? Goodness, come here.” She grabbed her tight and looked her over. Holding her hand and squeezing up her arms. No feathers. Bones perfectly in place. She lifted up her dark blonde hair, checking her neck and back.

“Uh, Mom. What are you doing?” Claire stared at Marie, unaware of the events she had unfolded.

A long hug brought wholeness to both of them. She kissed Claire’s sweet face and helped her into the truck.

“Let’s get you home.” Marie smiled, still unsure exactly what she had happened.

The long ride was mostly silent as they stole quick glances of one another. As the tires crunched the gravel in front of their house, Claire’s stomach began to rumble. The doughnuts had only been a temporary fix. She needed something. Now. Lord Jesus, help me. Marie reached to unlock the house, and Claire’s eyes flashed. A slow smile spread across her face and she licked her lips.

“I’m hungry,” the beast howled as it pushed past Marie and broke for the kitchen.

Jayres Green
Jayres Green

Lost in the mountains of the South, my passion to write burns deep. Creativity rising till the dam bursts, spilling endlessly through my fingertips. To intrigue, my goal. Like a puppeteer, I'll guide your mind on a journey of my choosing.

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