‘The Beast’ – A Short Story
As I suggested I might in my previous post, here is one of my short stories from back in the day. This piece was written for the Gothic part of our module in Year 10. A couple bits made me cringe a little, but as promised here it is as written originally, no changes made. Enjoy, or not, it’s up to you.
I was sitting bolt upright in my bed, having once again had the waking dream that had been haunting me for weeks now. Maybe I should stop with the studying. I like to study, especially Greek mythology. I’m a sucker for the Greek mythology. All the Gods, the creatures, the beasts. They intrigue me…but they had started appearing in my dreams. The chase. The same chase, except, somehow the creature got closer and closer to me each time. As I sat there desperately replaying the dream that had caused my unpleasant awakening, I wondered how this could have happened.
I had been running from this strange beast for what seemed like an eternity. I hadn’t once looked back for fear of seeing something I knew I didn’t want to see. Especially not here. The creature sounded like nothing I had ever heard in my life. I knew it was not an animal, or a human. But what it was still eluded me. I ran on, afraid that if I slowed the tiniest amount it would catch me. My adrenaline pushed me forward. This all seemed so real to me. I could hear its breath as it caught in its throat. I could smell the stench of rotting flesh, and something else so rancid it was indescribable. I could even sense the sharpness of those sharp fangs. I hadn’t seen them, but somehow I knew. My legs screamed out to me to stop. Give up. But I knew I couldn’t. who knew of the destruction this creature was capable of? Who knew that no matter how fast or far I ran, it would get me anyway? Kill me. Or simply rip me to tattered shreds until here was nothing left to destroy? The answer to these I did not know. What I did know however was that I must keep running. Running onward. Running…somewhere.
I forced myself on. On into the distance. I hadn’t a clue where I was going, nor did I care. Anywhere was better than here. However, there was something eerie about this place. Something vauely familiar to me. This place looked like another world. Another time. And even as I ran I was thinking how well placed it was to be in my nightmare. It suited my situation well. Almost too well. There were ruins scattered here and there. There were tombstones with indistinguishable names on them. Even if they were legible, the different language would have prevented me anyway. I saw dilapidated buildings. Homes in disrepair. Families who were left homeless, tossed out on the streets were staring up at me in horror. Mothers and children fled screaming tears streaming from their terrified faces. Some of the elderly women were chanting prayers urgently in this strange language. It may even have been Latin. My passion for Greek mythology would now be my downfall. But that wasn’t important at the moment. I would have time for regret later.
As a figure emerges, heading obviously in my direction, I almost tripped and screamed in terror as I felt the hot breath of my pursuer on my neck. I managed to somehow regain my balance and continue. As the figure drew closer, O realised he could be no more than mu own age of fifteen. Just a lad, but the bravest one in the whole village. Just from first glance I could tell he was a boy who had been lucky with his looks. Tanned skin. Rust coloured hair. Yet he seemed to be dressed much better than the rest of the village. Something about him, his presence, seemed familiar to me. “Why was this?” I wondered as he kept up the same pace as me. He shouted in urgency for me to follow. His accent was hard to place but his English was perfect.
“Hello. My name is Cyan. There is no time to explain but if you want to live, you must do what I say!” shouted this strange boy. I was astounded. I had though everyone in this village was sharing my fears, but apparently there was someone who was not afraid. Or at least if he was, he wasn’t showing it. I had also thought that having Cyan as my guide things might get a little easier. But oh was I wrong. I was completely wrong. I could see it in Cyan’s eyes. E weren’t going to make it. We were going to die. I was going to die. Cyan, the boy that has tried so desperately to save me would die. We had one last hope. One last chance for survival. If there was a bridge, there must be a river. And though I suspected it was empty, it was not. It seemed to shimmer with an eerie grace. As if at complete unawares of the danger that was heading its way to break its peace. Its tremendous serenity. But we had to.
He grasped my hand to prompt me to prepare for impact. This was going to be close. Very close. But if I wanted to keep my head, it was best to just dive headfirst into the situation. Through the confusion and rush of sound and emotions I just managed to decipher one word. One that soon would be echoing through my head like a lost leaf in the wind. The word was jump. Jump. Jump for my life. So I did. I leapt into the air feeling the comfort of the boy’s hand slip away. I stared in horror in Cyan’s direction as I realised he was fading into nothing. Was he a figment of my imagination? I looked down in time to see myself getting bigger. Suddenly, in a rush of swirling water, I was pulled beneath the surface as if now a prisoner of this river for having disturbed its sleep. In a torrent of blackness I was trapped. Black water. Black sky. Then I seemed to be engulfed by sound. Sound of water. Sound of bubbles erupting from my mouth in a desperate attempt to scream. Sound of my breathing hard as I brought myself back to reality. And in a sudden moment of clarity I understood. I finally knew what this creature was. The beast. This monster. And if it managed to get any closer to me in my dream next time, then I knew I would be left for dead.
This creature was known as the Tikbalang. Half man, half horse, this monster bore the head and feet of a horse, and the body of a fully grown man. It travelled at night to rape young female mortals. The raped women would then give birth to more Tikbalang. From what I had learnt, I found that they are also believed to cause travellers to lost their way particularly in mountainous or forest areas. Legends say that when rain falls while the sun is shining, a pair of Tikbalang are being wed. Tikbalang are very playful with people, and they usually make a person imagine things that aren’t real. Sometimes a Tikbalang will drive a person crazy. This would explain it. Cyan wasn’t real. I was going crazy, just like legend stated. I longed to be saved. I wished and I hoped for that one person, this dream boy I believed to have imagined. And he had appeared. But he wasn’t real. The Tikbalang had done what it set out to do. It made me believe.