The Monster

Eda Chaxel

© Copyright 2024 by Eda Chaxel


Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash
Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash

Soft wind blew through the gaping window whistling through the cracks between the sheets of metal that made up her home. A crinkled sigh ruffled rearranged, makeshift, recycled furniture. A coal sprinkled firepit lay in the center of the structure, white ash dotting the floor around it. Two stones sat on either side of the barren hole, chiseled bowls topping off the rock underneath. The inhabitants stirred and slowly awoke, their shivering bodies safely tucked within an odd, intricately designed blanket. It had clearly been a project from a time of great consumerism during which people had resources and time. In short, a time that no longer existed.

Taimi rose to cracks of sunlight tearing at her pupil, an alarm ringing in beams of light. Plastic bags that littered the ground in shredded colorful mosaics danced along her tired eyes. An immense yawn drew etches along her mouth and she carefully unwrapped herself from the tangle of fabric. Her younger brotherís quivering body rolled away from the lumpy mattress. He opened a slow eye, lazily taking in the morning and its reality.

The siblings stared at each other, gaining consciousness. Taimiís wood plank colored hair softened into a caramelized hue as the humidity in the air began to dissolve. Her expression of general discontent mirrored her brotherís. If it hadnít been for the four-year gaping gap between them or the terrifying onslaught of puberty, one could mistake the two for identical twins. The sister was on her two feet now, slipping on worn shoes dating from at least a decade of use. Her brother, Gizem, soon followed in her wake. They had lived in the house for twelve months, after several years of staying in the kidsí nursery.

They walked out of the shack and took a look at their surroundings. Various circles of town spiraled around them. People they had seen forever, walking about their daily lives. Yet if you paid close enough attention, fists were balled up tighter than usual and the familiar smiles were missing. The cemetery loomed in the distance and Taimiís heart sickened to think of its new inhabitants. The prayer center was packed ever since the attacks began. Whether you believed in a higher power or not, Taimi knew what everyone was thinking.

Deep down, she dreaded it too.

Though most of the elders had passed since the Event, all remembered little pieces filled in by othersí tales. Her grip tightened on her brotherís hand. It had been more than a decade. Whatever happened back then could not be happening again.

Eleven years ago, there hadnít been anyone in the valley. It had been empty and unknown. They had lived somewhere else. By the recollection of those who were old enough to remember, the living conditions had been much different. Taimi could not recall many stories, though. She had always made her brother her first priority. The past could stay where it belonged. She had bigger worries. Now she felt as though she were missing half of an already broken puzzle.

She did know that one day the attacks had started. Two sets of parents found dead on opposing ends of the city, their bodies mutilated so badly, they could barely be recognized. It happened again a week later. People, mostly middle aged, found crumpled and disfigured in their own homes. There was no pattern, only fear. Complaints had been filed to the authorities who were at a loss themselves. Then came the final day. At the crack of dawn, someone began to scream. Taimi was told it had been a bloodcurdling sound, a howl of pain and anguish. Even now, eleven years later, it was one of Taimiís only memories because it came from within her own home. Her mind had erased the image, for her own sake. She had been told her father had been the victim in the worst day of her life.

Monsters, people cried. Demonic creatures were swarming the town. The children were loaded onto carts and driven away with the elderly. Some others followed in their wake. One hundred and fifty stayed to fight off the last attack, Taimiís mother being one of them. Only one person made it out alive.

The people ran to find a new place to live. No one once looked back. Taimi remembered her brother, still a baby, staring straight ahead, his big green eyes never blinking once. The survivors had tried to rebuild a society. The orphans, for there were many, were placed in care homes with any capable adult. Others were put in the kidís nursery. There was a school, albeit with little to no resources, there was an effort to educate. There was a research program in Ring 3, where olden technology was being gradually restored. There were homes and babysitting stations, where younger kids went.

However, nothing was enforced. Law would require law enforcement, which people could not provide in effective terms yet. There were leaders, setting up new projects for a functional society. But eleven years is a short time to rebuild three millennia of progress.

Taimi shuddered with worry as she walked to the babysitter quarter. There were the children from the kidís nursery who sat in a circle yelling and screeching. Older children huddled in groups on the side, speaking in rushed hushed tones. The caretaker, Mie, stood at the back of the tent, a watchful gaze passing over all who breathed. Evie, as usual looked out of place. She was a fifty-year old woman gazing intently at the floor, her hands polled at her knees. She was the survivor of the attacks and for eleven years now she hadnít said a word. She would drink and eat when nutrition was fed to her in spoonfuls. She had shown no sign of any recognition besides slow nods from time to time and even a rare smile. She had the occasional screaming fit, where she clawed at the ground and at her face. The PTSD radiated of her in the droop of her eyes. She seemed to like Taimi though. The corners of her lip slanted upwards whenever Taimi talked to her.

For some inexplicable reason, however, she hated Gizem. Taimi, at age ten had introduced them, her brother sporting a bored scowl but said hello. Evie had howled. She kicked and screamed until Gizem went away, huddled in Mieís protective arms.

Now they were kept at a safe distance form each other.

She kissed the top of his forehead and turned to Mie, who had walked over.

ďHowíve you been doing with all of this?Ē they questioned, worry dripping from their voice.

Taimi had no answer. She was fine. Her brother was safe, she was safe. She worried for them both of course; a sickly feeling bubbling in her stomach reminded her of that. However, she hadnít lost him. Her biggest priority her entire life had been to keep her brother safe. As long as he was, she could put all anxieties aside.

Evie made a soft grunt. Taimi looked over to the hunched figure in the corner of the room. She scratched at the grime stuck on the cardboards. Taimi walked over to her. Evie said nothing but her head bobbed up and down slowly, in a greeting. Taimi stroked her hair and smiled.

Evie made a string of incomprehensible noises, then turned to look at Taimi, bulbous hazel eyes meeting Taimiís slanted green ones. The older woman, all of a sudden, with a warning, gripped Taimiís arm. The latter let out a shocked cry and tried to pull her hand away, but Evie tightened her grip. She looked dead into Taimiís pupils, through the cornea into her soul. As Taimi attempted to wrestle away, Evie opened her mouth and spoke in an ashy voice, thick and patchy from lack of use.

ďIt is back. It is here. It has found usĒ.

Then Evie went back to her silent gazing, like a boat adrift on a skeletal sea.

Taimi sucked in a harsh breath. She pinned the silent woman down with a sharp gaze, quickening breaths whistling through her clenched teeth. Her thoughts flew through her brain. Her brotherís face jumped across her retina. What did Evie mean?

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