Land of the Monsters
A short story on the land of the monsters
Waking from a sleep that is in its own way a lifetime, a boy is flooded with thoughts that equate to when one considers the vastness of the universe. Only when one first realizes they too shall grow old and die. Only when words like ‘sonder’ and ‘rubatosis’ integrate themselves into one’s lived experience.
Emotions bubble up like a packaged deal with these thoughts. Anger, joy, fear, pride, lust, greed, happy, sad, and most of all, confusion. It’s all there in one mouthful, but just as my mother taught me, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Because with these thoughts, these emotions, this moment, can come suffocation: an entrapment with no walls; fear with no threat; a death with no life.
Get a hold of yourself! The boy was young, and with that, his brain was silenced. For a person is a god of themselves without the devil of insecurities weighing on their decisions.
Opening his eyes, for what could be the first time, the boy finds himself lying in a field on his back. Naked, without contemplating shame, the boy takes note of his new sensations. Cold from the dampened grass gently pressed against his back, yet warm from the sun’s rays sprinkling throughout his body. Quiet from the stillness of the land, yet loud as the breeze conducts its symphony through Earth’s vegetation. Colorful with the natural wonders surrounding him, yet colorless in the brief moments his eyelids refresh the view.
Digging his fingertips through the blades of grass that rest beneath him, he finds the soft, cold soil. The edges of his fingers then begin to follow the greenery as they rise from the ground below. Gently rubbing along these thin plants, he traces their movement as they travel up to the sky.
Now, with both hands pointing at the absolute blue, the boy takes note of its brilliance. Without a cloud in the sky to ground one’s thoughts, he wonders just how far he would float until Earth grew jealous and asked for his return. Like a sailor out to sea, he wondered if he would grow tired of water and search for land, or if the land would become obsolete.
The boy then came to a conclusion that would never bend. An assumption of the world that would be true for him until his end. Earth is his home. He loves his home. Whether that be the moist soil that tops the land, the heavens illuminating the sky, or the never-ending ocean filling the in-betweens, the boy loves it all. Earth, in its many forms, is his to love forever.
Accepting his thought as fact, he feels that it is now time to move, for an assumption begins every path. First pushing with both palms of his hands against the sturdy ground below, he curls his back upward into a seated position. As he moves, his vision changes from the sky above to the land around him. He is delighted. Watching the squirrels chase one another, the birds gossip in song, and the autumn leaves fluttering to the ground in their unique shades, he knows that he is not alone in calling Earth home.
Getting to his feet, the boy begins to walk. Walk to where? Well, that’s easy, he followed the path. Existing for him, and him alone, the boy would have preferred to skip down the yellow brick road his eyes configured.
Why was the boy imagining a road? Well, in short, the boy was only human. Humans are bound to a road they set themselves yet are convinced it is set for all.
Walking the path, he encounters many different shapes and sizes that we call nature. Grinning from ear to ear, the boy feels enwrapped by wonder. A heaven that he hopes has no end. No, a nirvana that he will allow no end. He loves his home, and just as children believes that they can protect their parents, the boy knew he would not let anything hurt his beloved world.
Unfortunately, high expectations are rarely met. With every created heaven, there must lie a hell.
Skipping through the forest, on the path he knew not to question, the boy skids to a stop. He hears a noise in the distance. Happiness flutters into confusion which subsides to fear to then deflect into anger. Another boom fills the air. The racket is loud and destructive, carried with this sound is death. The boy is sure of it. The noise is infiltrating the harmony and as a third crack jolts his eardrums, the final stage is reached. The boy’s anger becomes an uncontrollable rage.
What is that? It needs to stop!
The boy flounces towards the source of the noise with his fists clenched. Does he notice the path veering with him towards the commotion? Does he recognize that his unbinding direction turned ninety degrees within a flickering second? No, of course he doesn’t.
It had only been five minutes until he knew he was close. The cracks and smashes were growing louder. Destruction was unarguable now. The boy was certain that something was meddling with nature. Something was breaking the peace.
Nearing the fight against his unknown foe, his impatience grew yet his intelligence persisted. He wanted the element of surprise on his side. Sooner however than anticipated, a dark figure suddenly lurked into his view. He jolts to the side, pressing his back against a tree. Slowing his breath, he feels certain that it didn’t see him.
After a few moments, he hears another explosion of noise from behind him. The boy nearly leaped out right then as he watched an entire tree fall to the left of him. A TREE!?! IT’S KILLING TREES!?!
Self-control now hovers at rock bottom as he risks a glance from behind his hiding place. Wiggling his head so that just his right pupil is exposed, he sees the back of an eight-foot figure. No, ten-foot. Hunched over, the thing was looking down on the ground. Right on top of the boy’s path that now swirled all around where the thing stood, it poked and pried at something on the ground.
IT’S DESECRATING THE TREE!
The boy sizes up his opponent. With large sasquatch-like feet, accompanied by hairy legs, the creature first seems to be some kind of animal. But when continuing to look up its body, the boy notices its square metallic torso. Extending from that torso were two crab-like snappers picking at whatever was on the ground in front of it.
A MONSTER!?! The boy thinks. AN EVIL MONSTER! IT MUST DIE!
The boy did not shutter as he advanced. He was not going to let evil exist in heaven. He did what he knew was best.
The boy kicks down on the monster’s calf, causing its knee to drop to the ground and lose its balance. Not missing his opportunity, the boy extends his arm and pushes as hard as he can against the front of the monster’s metal chest. Forcing the monster down, the boy is about to kick its head in when he froze.
Seeing the monster’s face for the first time, the boy was shocked to find the face of an older man. Maybe around the age of sixty, the face looked as human as they come. One chin, two cheeks, one mouth, two ears, one nose, two eyes, and one forehead. Just the average person with the body of a monster. Funny how looks can be deceiving.
In the boy’s hesitation, the man, no, the monster took action. Extending his its claws, the monster grabs a hold of the boy and throws him. Flailing through the air, the boy lands hard onto his stomach.
Getting the wind knocked out of him, the boy realizes his error. He no longer had the upper hand. Hearing snaps and cracks, the boy sees the monster advancing. Struggling to his feet, he braces for impact.
The monster kicks the boy, sending him back into a tree. Peeling away from the tree, the boy barely avoids another blow as the monster barrels through. Destroying the entire two-hundred years of photosynthesis, the monster takes a moment before continuing to pursue his its prey.
Aching all over, the boy gets back to his feet as he decides between fight or flight. Looking around, the boy knows the decision is made for him. Seeing the upturned dirt and leaves, destroyed trees, and squashed brushes, the boy knew he could never run from such cruelty.
Locking eyes, the boy screams as he rushs forward. Leaping to his feet, the monster is caught off guard by the boy’s sudden attack and fails to avoid a direct blow to the face.
Dazed, the monster stubbles a step backward. The boy sends another punch, and then another. With his right fist growing sore, he begins to alternate between right and left punches until the monster is down to his its knees.
This time, without hesitation, the boy does what he should have from the beginning. Taking the monster by the head, the boy shifts its chin as far right as it will go and then pulls up. Instantly snapping the neck in half, the monster drops to the ground.
Breathing heavily, the boy looms over his kill for a moment. Oblivious to the black ora of energy steaming off of him, he told himself that it was over. He had won and in this victory, he was not only relieved, but he was also happy. Smiling like the devil himself, his guilty grin could not be concealed even if he cared to try.
Using what strength he had left, the boy reaches down and pulls on the monster’s chest. Surprisingly easy, the boy is able to remove the metal torso from the monster onto himself. He realizes then that the metallic frame was only a form of armor. Once removed, the monster’s bare chest lay vulnerable for the world to see. And that, like its face, was as human as they come. The boy fits the armor and agrees with himself that this will protect him in a future fight.
Time to go back to heaven, the boy thought.
Before he was ready to enjoy the wonders of planet Earth again, curiosity overtook him. Tracing his steps in joyful dance, the boy walked back to where he had first found the monster. Now standing where the monster stood before the boy interfered saved the day, he looked down.
The boy saw thin strips of wood peeled from the broken-down trees. Entwined, the wood bent around itself into a ring. Extending up and out, it seemed to grow branches in obscure angels. Covered in a stickiness that the boy later identified as sap, a sprinkling of a thousand pine needles were gathered throughout. Making a glowing green, the tree on the ground seemed more alive than most of the trees around it. In short, it was art. Beautiful, art.
Looking at this creation, however, the boy saw everything but. Broken limbs, dead trees, nature destroyed. That is what he saw. With rage boiling once again, the boy looked at the evil he was witnessing and apologized to mother Earth for not stopping the massacre sooner.
He promised Earth, his home, his nirvana, that he would not stop until the land of monsters was cleansed. Not until every ounce of evil was rectified. With this purpose came fulfillment. Although he believed he failed today, he knew he would not fail tomorrow.
Stomping the art to pieces, the boy continued forward on his golden path. A swirling, beautiful walkway with no destination other than up ahead.
The boy spent the rest of his life walking the path. Laying waste to all the monsters he came across and collecting their armor and weapons as he went, the boy grew better and better at stopping his evil. Not because he wanted to. No, he dreamed every day of being able to sit back and relax. How great it would, he thought, if only there wasn’t so much evil in the world. You see, he didn’t kill monsters because he wanted to, he killed them because it was the EGOTISTICAL right thing to do.