A scene involving a monster and a fire
May 13, 2012 § Leave a comment
The house of his grandmother and grandfather, the old red stained wood which had been the first place he’d seen an insect eaten by a spider – the first place he’d torn his flesh open with clumsiness and gasped in horror at the sight of his own blood fleeing from him – the place where his father had shown him how to climb a tree, or use a slingshot, the house that they’d spent summer after summer in for years after both those grandparents had died, the house that held the books and papers and boxes of old photos store up in the attic, with walls built in the 1700’s by ancestors who would fight in wars for England up in Acadia, then in a war to be free of England – that house exploded with him still in it.
He was hurled into the air by the blast. It was as if a club made of wind and sound had battered him away, reeling, up into the air. He actually crashed through the wood of the walls before the blast itself did, and then hung in an arc, his clothing on fire, before crashing to the embrace of the soil in a tumbling mass throwing up clouds.
A second passed. Several followed it, as seconds usually do. Aside from the flaming wreckage of the farmhouse there was nothing moving.
Then a bloated, twisted, wart and pustule speckled form strode out of the burning house, bearing with it a twisted and gnarled length of tree complete with dirt clods in the exposed roots on the end. It grunted and smashed the tree into the soil, flames singing the filthy cloth wrapped around it that kept most of its monstrous body from sight.
On the ground, the projectile stood slowly, shaking his head and limbs as he did so. The impact along should have killed him. His long grey-black hair and wiry reddish beard were caked with soil and the impression of his hawkish nose and pointed chin were visible in the dirt.
They stood, facing each other. Again the tree slammed into the ground, and this time it bellowed, a sound equally as loud and terrifying as the explosion had been. While it did so, the other pulled the ragged remainders of his jacket and shirt off and tossed them aside, revealing a body lined with scars and covered in thick black and yellow hairs. He was massive in the chest and limbs, although dwarfed by the thing with the tree trunk.
They didn’t speak to each other.
With a heave of flesh like an avalanche the tree trunk flew spinning end over end directly at the bearded man in the dirty crater. He made no move to step aside, letting it crash directly into him, letting it splinter from the terrible impact. The ground shuddered more from the impact than he did.
He began walking forward. Not running, not even moving particularly quickly, but no hesitation. His eyes set in a squint, like bottle glass coughed up by the sea polished smooth green, visible in the fire. Another bellow washed over him like foul wind, making his eyes water at the smell. He kept walking.
When he stepped into range of those massive, knobby fists both crashed down like wet sacks of meat, and bones splintered from the impact. The bones inside those arms, that is. For himself, the half-naked man with the singed beard had to actually pull his legs out of the ground with great effort, as the impact had driven him several inches straight down, yet there was no sign of injury or discomfort. The giant, for his or her part (aside from a vague suggestion under that twisted mass of dirty rags there was nothing to say either way) howled in pain and worse, a sudden understanding of what pain was aside from something to inflict on your food.
Now within his own reach, he reached out and seized hold of the thing’s massive leg by the calf, using only one hand, and sank his fingers into the meat of it so that they disappeared from view. Those iron fingers tore skin and rent flesh until they hit bone, and then cut grooves into that, a grip of pure metal, or earth, a grip that ignored what was possible. He then turned, and as if the form towering above him mewling in sudden comprehension weighed nothing, hurled it up into the air above the trees on the far edge of the old property, and well out of his sight.
It crashed into the woods – that much he could hear, the sound of many trees cracking and squeals of pain as impromptu wooden stakes impaled it. He didn’t go after it. Having felt pain, it would either retreat back to where all things like it ultimately went, or it would return, and he would kill it. Neither prospect mattered.
Instead he turned and looked at the fire that ate away at the house. He couldn’t see it burning the books and papers and photographs in the attic, because those were likely already destroyed. It wasn’t that he could actually see the fire destroy his last pieces of his mother and father, his grandmother and grandfather, those few precious memories he’d managed to preserve. It simply felt like he could.
He stood there until it was nothing but cooling ashes, and the sun was beginning to come up over the trees. He stood there until every last piece of his past was dead, and only then did he shudder with the cold and drop the small chunk of rock with a picture of an child’s ankle clutched between two fingers. His grandmother had made it for him. And although it was still a piece of that past, he’d used it up. It held nothing more for him.
When he turned to walk away, he left it with the rest of his life, burned away.