I doubt you’d want to hear of what I do in my free time. I’m really very boring; you’d lose interest very quickly if I told you about my writings, projects, books, and practice in excruciating detail. Why would you be here if you wanted to hear tale of the Monstrumologist, when you could read it first hand? I highly doubt that’d interest you, so I’ll spare you the trouble. While yes, I will admit I spent quite a bit of time practicing various pieces on my dear violin and viola, in hopes to match one fictional Erich Zann, and even more time on stances and techniques in the saber I adored, all of this only amounted in maybe four or five hours of distraction. Those crooked clock hands crept ever steadily over time, only to rest on 10:48, signifying the late hours of the night. It was only Thursday, so seeing this time made me only frustrated ever still. To Hell with the notion I’d ever get a full night’s sleep; I was doomed to exhaustion. Fate seemed to loathe me, molding my life to the way she saw fit. No, I’ll say it now: sleep was the one thing I didn’t get that night.
Per my norm, I idled about my room, not really wanting to sleep as I saw it as an unfortunately necessary waste. Life is unbearably short, and having to take six-to-eight hours out of your day, every day, to just lay there and do nothing but “recharge” is just silly in concept. You lose a third of the day to something as ridiculous as sleep. But if you try to avoid it, well, you die an early and embarrassing death. While there’s been no confirmation of anyone dying due to sleep deprivation, I refuse to be the first. I had my pride to uphold.
So naturally, I had to force myself through the arduous task of getting ready for bed.
I’d yet to even change into my pajamas when I heard the tell tale cacophony of one of the many spirits that inhabited my home. It was no secret as to who it was: I knew immediately by the loud screaming, crying, and crashing of the child who refused to give me his name. He liked to wander this house and its many corridors, and cause an absolute ruckus, knocking our things around, and being a general nuisance. With the trend I’d noticed, his cries sounded near demonic and hellish. He sounded as if he were being tormented, though I knew all too well he was simply throwing a temper tantrum. It was honestly to be expected; when you walk around with your skin mostly burned off, and ribs crushed almost comically, you’re allowed a bit of time to scream out in misery.
But that dreaded night was different from all others before it.
When I first started to see him, he cried and spoke normally, with no hindrance or filter. Over time, however, his voice began to warp into that chilling wail I heard that fateful night. Shrieking, wailing, and other sounds that would fit in perfectly in a demonic chorus, the sounds that haunt nightmares, and hellish fever dreams. I’ve tried to help him act like what he was - a child - but nothing’s worked in my favor, as I’ve only succeeded in incurring his wrath. Almost consistently, night after night, I’ve been forced to flee onto the balcony, risking further anger from the boy should I run into him. Ghosts shouldn’t be able to harm the living, as most can’t even touch corporeal objects, yet this kid...
I wasted next to no time at all spurring myself into action. I grabbed the lighter I kept on my desk and bolted out of my room. It was just my misfortune, as normal, that no one tended to inhabit the upstairs. Despite having their own rooms in the upper part of our home, my mother and sister stayed downstairs, more often than not. Roxy oft’ knocked out on the kitchen table, while my mother seemed to live in her office, leaving me dreadfully alone up here. So naturally, the burned boy’s only target was yours truly. And as Luck would have it, he patrolled my home, the remnants of his decimated one, on an irregular schedule – always everyday after dusk, and always upstairs, however. So during those nightly excursions, all that could be heard downstairs by the abnormal was shrieking and loud footsteps – the normal heard only the latter.
It was nights like this one that made me believe my luck was truly rotten to the core.
Not even moments after I burst from my room like a horse in a frantic dash from the starting gates, the hallway was filled with ungodly shrieking, a demonic wailing that no human should ever be able to create. It felt as if my heart jumped into my throat and was making its way to my ears to pound repeatedly in my head like a muffled funeral bell. Every instinct told me to hide in my room, to lock the door and pray til the charred boy went about his way and remain that way ‘til dawn broke, despite how fruitless that thought was, seeing how ignorant my normal instincts were. To hide would mean death, as the ghost kid had free reign of the upstairs – my room was no exception. A locked door wouldn’t faze him; just imprison me.
I couldn’t falter, I had to keep going. I had to. But even that was difficult, as any and all light that thrived in the halls began to flicker and die. One by one, each light flitted out of existence, leaving nothing but intangible darkness, a blackness so thick I swore that even if the lights were to turn on, they’d do nary a thing to penetrate the confines of this earthly void.
This was one of the reasons why I brought my lighter.
I’ve tried to keep flashlights with me on these nightly excursions, in vain attempts to break the darkness, but the boy held domain over them, along with any electrical source of light. The only light I could hope to use was the most primal: fire. One not dictated by his otherworldly control over all things modern, but unfortunately feeble in comparison, allowing a fair trade off of usable versus competent.
Just as darkness blanketed itself over the hall, surrounding me in its suffocating blackness, I flipped the lighter open as a small dismal light came into being, barely doing a thing visually. The level of light wasn’t my concern, as I knew these halls like the back of my hand.
My concern was the boy directly in front of me, forcing me to skid to a halt.
Those sad, hollow eyes bored right through me and seemed to pierce my soul as the child stood there, continuing to stare directly at me. I needed not the feeble light that emitted from the lighter to look upon him, as the boy was visible despite the deep darkness. So there he stood in his charred, horrific glory, appearing like a queer hallucination so starkly contrasting with the black backdrop that were the darkened halls of my home.
A dead boy was a sad sight. One should only ever feel sorrow for what could have been, feel grief for a life that was ended so soon and obviously so tragically.
Though all that I felt about him was fear.
Fear from what he’s done, fear from his ghastly appearance, fear from that cold, lifeless stare that would make Mrs. Peters seem alive, fear stemmed from the result that remained unknown – was he going to continue staring, or move? Was he going to just stand there, or make a move and attack me?
He wasn’t allowed the right to make the first move in that standoff, as I ripped that right from his charred hands.
Taking the initiative, I darted around the ghost boy in a few precise movements in the direction of the balcony, tearing away from that horrific sight. By precise movements, I mean a frantic dash to the balcony, barreling down that long corridor and swerving around that ghastly specter to what I considered a safe haven. Nothing about that mad dash was precise, or even remotely graceful, as it was fueled by fear, and fear alone.
I instantly regretted the decision to run. For the moment I slipped past him, the child began to shriek his horrible shrieks, demonic screams echoing ‘round me. His pained wailing rang in my ears, and dare I be redundant, painfully so. If he had done that while I stood there like a statue, I’m certain I’d be deaf now. But as it was, with my escape down the hall, that scream still threatened to burst my ears and make them bleed.
The hallway felt like an endless dream. It seemed to stretch and warp into some nightmarish form, turns seeming to be where they weren’t supposed to. Even though I knew my house like the back of my hand, it seemed like an alien world when drenched in the black curtains of shadows; was that wall supposed to be there? Fear warped my perception as I fled from that specter, trying my absolute damnedest to think clearly. I knew that in healthy doses, fear kept you alive, but all it was doing was clouding my better judgment.
Thanks to how frustratingly large my home is with its hallways that seemed to go on for seemingly an eternity, I was, to say the very least, relieved when I skidded onto and almost off of the balcony. A different fear reared its ugly head as I had to catch the railing to not topple over it and plummet to my assured death, this one felt by many a villain that dare to appear in a Walt Disney film. Blood pounded in my ears in time with the ringing from the apparition’s hellish screaming, that aforementioned fear reaching a height that I thought for sure would never be matched again in my life – the looming fear of death on two fronts, with outlasting one being my only hope of escape. The horrific amalgamation of all it all was a disorienting and disheartening feeling as I tried to regain my balance and turn to face the ghost that haunted me so, attempting to put on a brave face and, well, face it head on.
When I turned confront the specter that haunted me so on his supposed place of death, fire gripped in my fist as I knew it kept him away for the most part, all I could see was the boy’s disfigured visage. I’m not above admitting that I let out a scream equally worthy of his position in that unholy chorus. Do you blame me? Such a malformed appearance – burned and tormented – dominating my field of vision with that ghastly expression. For once, I hadn’t the slightest of clues as to how to deal with him. Fire usually repelled him, terrified him to the point of petrifying fear. But for some curious reason he stood there, uncomfortably close to both myself and the active lighter and the frail flame that danced upon it. How was he not affected by it? He should have been loosing his ear rupturing shrieks, reeling away from me and off of the balcony! Not standing there, staring me down and breathing unnecessarily like some deranged smoker with that distorted rasp, and shrill wheezing.
Allow me to be blunt, and admittedly crude: I fucking hate being short. If I were just a few inches taller, I wouldn’t have nightmares to this day of staring that ghoul right in the eye.
But no, I was still of diminutive stature. So when he shoved me towards the ledge with his surprising strength, I felt every last bit of it as I was thrown into the railing. And while this is where you’d think he’d be looming above me like some villain as my back crashed into the railing painfully, I assure you it was scarier. He shoved me in a manner that would suit what he should be; he threw me like a petty, bratty child would in a fight, trying desperately to assert dominance. And of course, it wasn’t just my back that was hurt, no, my ears felt as if they were about to rupture, about to burst and render me deaf. I had to catch myself on the railing to even hope to remain standing. Only one good thing came of it, and that was the new distance between the child and I. Unfortunately, I had no use for it. I was having a hard time standing up as it was; there was no way I could take advantage of the gap between us.
Pain coursed through my back, spiking in intensity every time I attempted to straighten my posture. Each time that jolt of pain shot through me, I cursed every god I could think of and humanity in general for how frail our bodies are. Humans are weak; that’s a simple fact I had accepted long ago, and was reminded of now. We are fragile, I’d remind myself with each failed attempt to stand up straight. And damnation to the one or ones who designed us this way, with the want to push ourselves to our limits, but the frailty that kills us when we try. To the ones or one who designed us as these stupidly determined beings of glass, I offer up to you the most generous of, “Fuck you’s,” and a simple bird raised to the heavens. I will forever and always hate your sense of design.
As always, Lady Luck was yet again in my favor. And I feel the need to specify my meaning in this particular passage, as tone translates terribly through text: while you should know by now what I mean when I say, “in my favor,” some of you may not. So to those who don’t understand my manner of speech, I mean another highly anticipated middle finger to my face for the umpteenth time this evening, gracing me with the Lady’s cruelty and harshness.
The boy rushed at me as he halted his tormented tantrum, lashing out in his primal rage. He struck me in the gut with a force so shockingly strong it winded me instantly, leaving me gasping for air, and grasping at my composure. For as devastating as that hit was, it was unfortunately just the first. He didn’t stop at one strike; no, he kept on assaulting me until he had beat me to the ground. And though I had prayed that would be the end, my hopes were dashed as he didn’t even stop then! Instead of stopping, as continuing would’ve been cruelly redundant, the boy moved from punching to undignified and outright barbaric kicking. In an attempt to shield myself from these blows I had no hope in blocking as he’d break my arms if I even dared to try, I did the next best thing and listened to my instincts, curling up into the fetal position in a fruitless attempt to protect myself. Surely at this rate, he was going to break every bone in my body and leave me in a state akin to his own – mangled, broken, and very much so dead.
But like the damn sadist she was and remains to be, Luck didn’t want to see me dead; just battered and bruised.
As the boy made to kick me again, a kick that got added to the uncounted mass of them, he faltered in his actions. I thought he had a momentary lapse in his cruelty, a change of heart so to speak, or finally realized where he stood, what with his feet planted so firmly on the site of his assumed death. It was none of those things, however. Instead, he faltered due to reasons unseen – well, unseen at first. I could only assume as to what was happening, as he reeled back, screaming, gagging, and clutching at his throat. Maybe this was how he truly died, and he was finally coming to terms with it? Or maybe he finally realized how cruel he was being, and decided to stop. I wish it had been one of those two guesses, but neither of those explained the gagging noise he produced, and definitely wasn’t the real reason why he reeled away from me.
No, it was the one thing I never considered to ever be a problem; the one thing I ignored on the daily, but never fully registered due to it seeming like it existed for aesthetic purposes only:
It was the large chain anchored firmly in the boy’s chest that pained him so.
Until that night, I never knew what those chains were. I always thought they were cruel metaphors, representing the fact those poor souls were chained to this mortal world and unable to pass on. I thought they were simply aesthetic, and served no purpose beyond a sick reminder. I never thought much on them, as they didn’t seem to share many similarities between one and another; they all appeared very differently, from long to short, to bound or free. I mistakenly thought they held no significance, and treated them as I did to others in that category: ignored it.
I should’ve paid attention to those accursed irons, those metaphorical anchors – it’s something I still regret to this day. For the moment I decided to take notice of it, was a moment that would be forever etched in my mind: the links of that chain anchored to his chest sprang to life, thrashing about like feral animals. When I thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse for this child, Life decided to horrifically correct me, as I was forced to watch the living chain whip around and begin to devour itself, in a near attempt to replicate the Ouroboros imagery. This action seemed to bring the boy tremendous pain, his hellish screaming reaching a height that surpassed any I’d heard to that point. He howled, wailed, and loosed those screams into the night as the chain grew shorter and shorter, only bringing him pain, or whatever the equivalent was for those sorely departed.
I couldn’t imagine it possibly getting worse for him, as this demented scene that deigned to play out before me revealed more and more twisted actors in this grim performance of his afterlife. But lo and behold, my expectations and worst fears were called on as apart of some sick audience participation by the worst of the worst, the star of this horror fest known as the Act of Rebellion Against One’s Own Self. The part it played was the role of the chain, gleefully acting out its namesake in a manner most cruel and unjust. Those ethereal irons lashed about in an exaggerated manner as they grew ever closer to their anchor point, and once at their destination, turned on their owner and began their vile work. Teeth, uncannily human in appearance, tore into spectral flesh with an edacious eagerness akin, almost, to weeks-starved scavengers finally coming upon long-awaited prey, scattering the bits of flesh it rent from the departed child in every which way. Though it would seem this would be the part in the show in which the child looses his most dire, and pained shrieks for the audience to contemplate whether or not they were genuine, strained gargling muffled his voice and put a stop to that cacophonous noise. Thin, charred hands shakily rushed to his throat and clutched it in an iron grip, desperate to stop whatever it was that muted his screams. Eyes seemed to bulge out of their sockets as he began to choke, gag, and sputter, his body contorting in a wild, spastic manner I never had the pleasure of witnessing until that dreadful moment. His suffering was beyond what I could comprehend, and it just seemed to get worse as the seconds crawled by at a horrendously slow gait.
As much as I wished to help, to participate in this performance in the stead of my fears and expectations and possibly ad lib my way to a better ending, I was relegated to being a useless member of the audience, bound to the ground upon which I was forced to sit by the wounds he had placed upon me. It wasn’t just my wounds that held me in my seat, no; if every obstacle in my way was some form of audience member that held me down, then it was Fear that held me back by my throat, Cluelessness’ incessant need to speak up for no reason other than to make it glaringly obvious that I had no idea what I was doing, and my own Wounds that made me a prisoner in my own body, forced to watch this macabre display. I struggled against them as best I could, trying to fight through pain, come up with some form of a game plan, and reason out my fears to actually do something, but nothing seemed to work! Even though he was responsible for the state I was in, I couldn’t let him suffer through the tortuous experience of having his body rebel against him.
Attempt after failed attempt resulted in a slow struggle against those rowdy audience members, trying to force them away from me – particularly my Wounds and my Fears, who proved to be the most persistent in keeping me in my seat – so I could at least have some hope of standing to my feet and helping this poor boy. Milliseconds stretched into minutes, seconds into hours, as the simplest of tasks – merely standing up – became arduous, tortuous even! My back screamed in anguish, it yelled, and it protested, and it begged me to just abandon the fight; begged me to forgo my reckless plan and just stay in my seat. I will say, it made a very convincing argument. Staying meant lessened pain, staying meant no more strain, staying meant rest, staying meant healing. While my back might have had a convincing argument, I had give my rebuttal and remind myself that staying also meant allowing myself to be vulnerable, staying meant relegating myself to that horrid role as a watcher, staying meant letting that boy suffer, and with these reasons, I could never let myself stay there on good conscious (as warped as mine is). So it was with these reasons, these excuses, that I forced myself into a standing position to face the boy that haunted me nightly with no plan in hand to save him from himself, but damn if I wasn’t determined to find a way as I had a will.
But by then, it was already far too late.
As I shakily stood to my feet, body screaming in protest as I tried to stand tall to face my assured death in some blind hope to help him, the star’s role surmounted in a horrific climax – that one twisted Act of Rebellion Against One’s Own Self. With living irons deep inside of his chest, hollowing him out as they went, the boy lurched forward as a white, viscous liquid exploded from his body, reminding me all too much of bile. His screaming was thoroughly silenced as he collapsed to his knees, gagging and heaving as this ethereal substance was expelled in a manner so violent it concerned me on levels beyond my initial worries. The said viscous fluid, that I wasn’t even sure I could call a fluid, never touched the ground; it never pooled, collected, or splattered, and seemed to take on a mind of its own. Centimeters from the ground, it sprung to life and raced back at the burned boy and plowed into his face, the force knocking him backwards. His screams were back and muffled this time, but distorted all the same. Disgust-driven Horror held me captive, kept me in a demented stupor as I failed to fully grasp the reality of this event. It wouldn’t let me fully comprehend or hope to understand the events playing out before me, revoking my ability to move, my ability to act as the dead child scrambled to his feet and desperately and futilely attempted to rip the white viscosity off of him. Horror wanted me to see this distressing scene to completion, wanted me to be absorbed in the morbidity of it all. It wanted my helplessness to be fully realized in those moments of confusion, and let that be one of the few things that stand out in my lack of comprehension. This is what that cruel anthropomorphism of my fears wanted, and I surely thought it would get its sick wish!-
-Were it not for the blade that sliced cleanly through his thin neck.
Life nor the afterlife favored this child, and I was forced to bear witness to this second event. That silver blade that appeared seemingly out of nowhere severed his head so suddenly I was fairly certain I suffered whiplash from the jarring scene change. The shock of it all, and the aforementioned trance, kept me watching something I didn’t want to even hear about as a secondhand account, as that boy’s head slipped from his torso and hit the ground with a dull thud, body still standing there eerily. The torso swayed back and forth slightly, as if trying to decide which way it would let gravity take it (if gravity even applied to those ethereal folk), but soon fell forward towards me as guided by his assailant’s hand – literally. The body met the ground in similar fashion to his wayward head, only for both to disappear into wisps of smoke as if he never existed in the first place.
I’ll be honest: I was terrified. Up until that point, it had never even begun to occur to me that the dead could suffer a second death; that they could be escorted to non-existence. The fact that the dead mingled about gave me some semblance of hope that there was life after death (if I was so petty to hang around as a spirit, and lucky for me I am, indeed, that petty), but this revelation shook me to the core. Now I didn’t just have to worry about my mortality, no, I had to also worry about being offed a second time in some way, shape, or form. If this boy was any point I could draw reference from, then a blade would surely be the manner of my second death – funny, I thought it would be the day my name was truly forgotten thanks to the fragility of human memory that would be my second death.
But as I looked upon the boy’s assailant, having to look up even as I stood to my full height – despite all bodily protests – I thought for half a second that I might, truly, be in over my head in this.