Day 8: The Monster Is

Author Jenna Eatough's Flash Fiction Story from Fyrecon's Fyretober Writing Prompt 2023-10-08

During October I am bringing you extra flash fiction or poetry in celebration of the season and inspired by Fyrecon’s Fyretober!.

Enjoy my eight entry into Fyrecon’s Fyretober!

Fyrecon's Fyretober Daily Prompt List

1. New neighbors
2. It’s Alive
3. No Exit
4. Walk in the cemetery
5. Door in the wall
6. Mirror
7. Space visitors
8. The Monster Is
9. Anti-magic costumes
10. Skeleton’s battle cry
11. Djinn party
12. Space dwarves
13. Zombie fireball
14. Possessed guild house
15. Lorekeeper’s mask
16. Dragon sight
17. Alien scryers
18. Trick-or-Treating Shapeshifters
19. Disguised spellbook
20. Screaming trapdoor
21. Ghost weaponsmith
22. Jack-O’-Lantern avatars
23. Pheonix light sail
24. Sparkle castle
25. Graveyard pocket universe
26. Sentient wand
27. Haunted Skyhook
28. Pirate space elevator
29. Disguised terraforming
30. The Witches’ Laws
31. Precognizant cats

Bonus Fanged griffin

I ignored everyone’s warnings the morning I marched into the Silver Vale woods. “Don’t go into the woods,” they said. “Don’t risk angering the monster. He’ll get you.” That warning was as oft repeated as any advice I’d been given, and seemed as ridiculous as being told my face would freeze if I dared a silly expression.

No, the villagers were free with the advice regarding appeasing the monster. What they didn’t speak of well was the monster itself. The answer to that question depended on who you asked.

“The monster is a ware beast,” old widower Sanderson would say, smacking his gums. “You might think you’re in company with a man only to find yourself wrong and throat torn out.”

“The monsters are singing sprites,” Missus Derfold would say pressing her hand to her chest. “Just last year she tempted another lady to run away into the words never to be seen again.”

“The monster is a chameleon,” the priest would say, thumping his hand on the pulpit. “A beast that learned to take the form of a Unicorn to entice souls with beauty and wonder. Enticement which ends by dragging you into hell fires.”

There were more variations, of course, although the priest’s iteration proved most common. If I had to admit it, and I hated admitting things. No one ever agreed on what the monster was. Only one person never joined the gossip, the mayor.

As for me, curiosity’s an itch. An itch that grew with each year, each iteration, and each new invention of the monster. They all seemed wilder than the last and meant only to intimidate. The truth had to be somewhere, and the village had grown stifling with control the older I got. So, ignoring everyone’s advice, I packed up my satchel, slung it over my shoulder, and marched into the Silver Vale Woods before the first rooster crowed.

I’d heard as many variations on where to find the beast as about the beast’s nature. Entering the woods, I expected to do some searching, but by the end of the day I’d found nothing.

Nothing but peace. As the sun began setting, I found myself in a pretty clearing and decided to sit myself down. The birds sang, the bugs sawed their night songs, and the air held perfect. Spending the night in the woods before marching back to town seemed a pleasant notion.

The sun just touched the edge of the horizon when I saw something that didn’t quite mesh with the clearing. A bright silver filled the air stretched through the clearing. Not a fog because it didn’t obscure my vision the way a misty morning did. The surroundings remained as clear as they had the moment before.

Holding out my arm, I watched silver rest on my skin. “What are you?” I asked, running my finger over it. When I finished speaking, I sucked in a breath, and I felt the silver enter me.

I felt it trickled down my throat neither warm nor cold. Everything inside of me hummed at its passing as if the substance stretched through me. First my lungs and creeping out from there. Feeling something moving through me should have been disturbing, but I felt more comforted. Finally, the silver crept into my eyes.

The air around me changed. My vision changed and I didn’t see the clearing no more. Instead, the town nestled near the Silver Vale Woods filled my eyes. A town where the silver pooled outside of it, not touching it. A town which repulsed it with its sameness.

I knew why curiosity dug at me in that instance. The town was boring, constrained. Nothing there was allowed to change. The mayor wouldn’t have it. My heart despaired at the thought of going back there.

My vision changed again, lifting and rising away from the valley. I saw a path winding out of the valley. I’d never heard mention of a path out before, and it didn’t even stretch to the village. Instead, the dirt tapered off into grass before it rounded the woods.

Though the mayor’s tower certainly should have seen it. His residence boasted the highest point in town. Not even the chapel’s steeple could compete with it, and at least one window pointed in the right direction to see the road.

My attention turned toward the tower. I crept toward the window and saw the mayor standing at a mirror. The man had always been well kept, so him keeping one weren’t surprising, but what I saw in it certainly shocked.

I didn’t see him in his reflection. Instead, I saw a reflection of every horror the townsfolk talked about. The ware beast, shifting between man and monster. A lithe form speaking of grace but holding menace behind the smile. A form which enchanted. All of them, and none.

The monster didn’t reside in the Silver Vale Wood. The monster lived in town, and I was never going back. Picking up my pack, I didn’t spend the night in the woods. The silver mist flowed about me as I moved, and I understood why everyone spoke of not coming here, but the mayor.

He never spoke, because getting others to keep them all trapped. Only those of us with nothing left in town dared them and discovered that the woods and the silver here offered freedom and a shield from the mayor beast’s gaze. The mist is why no one came back to town. For once our vision cleared, we knew who the monster truly was. We knew to run.

Be sure to check out all the #fyretober creations.

#fyretober2023 #fyretoberflashfiction2023 #fyretoberprompts2023 #fyretober2023day8

“Fyretober is for everyone who loves to create, and this month we’re looking to see your flash fiction, poetry, and illustrations every day. We’ll be providing daily prompts for the month and want to see what new concepts and wonders you can make with them.”

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