I stare at the dark liquid swirling in the cup in my hand as I drown out the sound of their mockery. I let the piercing scent of the espresso slice through my nostrils and caress my brain. This will hopefully wake me up. It had been another restless night with a lack of sleep. I took in a deep breath and closed my eyes, bringing the rim of the cup to my lips and parting them, taking in the bittersweet liquid on the tip of my tongue, enough milk to drown out the acidic taste. Before enough has the chance to slide down my throat in a wonderful, warm, blissful relief-- the rock collides with my arm, and the coffee spills down my front, scorching my skin.
The heat does not bother me, it never has. My eyes well with tears and I look at the younger boy who has thrown the stone at me. I point at him, my lip quivering. I open my mouth to speak but I choke on my words and flail on the floor in a hopeless, sniveling mess of a girl. Some people in the crowd pity me, I’m sure of it. I know they have to. I was just hit with a rock and burned. They have to be.
“We know you’re fine,” A woman called out.
“Where did the blood come from?” An old woman wails.
“Who’s next?” A man cried.
“Demon be gone!” A young boy cried, throwing water at me. Holy water. Like that would help him. I look at him and hiss, the Beast longing to take over but I hold it at bay. I feel the teeth grow in my mouth and the wings itch to break through my mortal skin once again. I roll my shoulders back and control my breathing. Scent. What’s the scent? Must. Cold air radiating off the concrete and into my nose, cooling my nostrils and forcing my mouth to salivate. My teeth return to normal and my blood pressure lowers. Finding a smell to fixate on controls the Beast.
I gaze at my hands. I am, in fact, drenched in blood from head to toe. That explains the odd looks in the Starbucks. I am so used to everyone in town staring at me like the animal they believe me to be, I didn’t think it was for anything special today. Although, come to think of it, the looks and gasps were a lot more noticeable today. The faint memory of the previous night rushes over me as the scent of metal takes over my senses so violently, I can almost taste it. I am tasting it- there is blood in my mouth. I ate him. Whoops. Not again.
I didn’t mean to eat the sweet old man. Just like I didn’t mean to eat the Jennings daughter the week prior. This whole Beast thing was out of control but why would I know how to control something they gave to me? They gave this to me and wouldn’t tell me why. Their odd scientist passed through the town without a name. I couldn’t even remember his face. They pulled me from my foster home and into the basement of some lab. Their probing felt like torture and I curled my fists beneath the weight of my body just thinking about the needles and the way they siphoned my blood like gasoline. They filled my veins with something green. Now I turn into something green with teeth larger than my current forearm, wings bigger than my front door, and talons the size of a carjack.
I felt the wings tear through my skin. It was happening again. I had no control over the Beast when it came through my human cocoon. It was just as terrifying on the inside of it when I erupted from the fleshy cage and became a scaled monster that tore children from their mothers. Somehow, the town was unafraid of me until the teeth and talons bared at night. During the day, I only extended teeth and wings but remained mostly a two-legged human. With the temper of a rabid animal, but easier kept at bay. The townspeople kept their distance from me but they threw their rocks and yelled their insults.
Ugly. Monster. Freak. Disgusting. It’s hard to penetrate impenetrable scales with such weak words but my heart pounded with each insult.
Why did this have to happen to me? Girls are made of sugar, spice, and everything nice, or so the Powerpuff Girls show tells me, but it seems they sucked the sugar and niceness out through the pipettes and needles and just added pure reptilian instead. But when the night falls, that’s when the real chaos ensues.