I originally wrote this for Horror Tree, and decided to resurrect it for Halloween. It's a short story that serves as a cautionary tale.
I call it The Cavern of Eternal Damnation.
Deep within the confines of the Cavern of Eternal Damnation, a monster lived in squalor, enslaved by a lonely giant.
This three-legged monstrosity, with four bloodshot eyes bulging out of a scaly face and sharp, green teeth roped together by thick strands of saliva, feared nothing and no one. Except for the giant.
While the monster never saw the giant, it could hear his every word.
“You pathetic creature, you think you’re so fearsome. Nobody will ever fear you.”
The monster trembled. Crimson tears poured out of its eyes. The back of a two-fingered hand wiped across its tattered face as it cowered in the dimly lit cavern and whispered, “Why do you say such things?”
The words echoed, dancing along the walls of the desolate cavern. But the giant ignored him and continued his rant. “Just because you can shape shift from this grisly existence to a freckled nine-year old girl with piggy tails and a flowery dress, you think you can terrorize the world?”
The monster remained silent, watching its scales fade into soft, porcelain skin.
I do, it thought.
“You can’t,” growled the giant.
The monster craned his head about the Cavern of Eternal Damnation. Two ovular lights appeared at the far end. They never seemed to power down, except for maybe a few hours at a time. The cavern shook, knocking the monster over. The lights flickered. How can he read my mind?
The monster braced the soft, pliable ground with a claw and sat up. Leaning against the wall, he replied, “Then let me escape and prove you wrong.”
“You’ll do nothing of the sort,” replied the giant.
“But I can—if you let me.”
The lights flickered as they shook again. The monster pleaded with the giant, running a scaly claw along its human-like arm. “Release me to the world, dearest giant. Release me and I’ll show you. I’ll show you that I can live in the minds of the world’s most fearful and terrorize even the most depraved minds. The fear we impose on the world will fuel our existence. A fuel that can burn inside your soul so you can create more monsters like me. Monsters that will haunt humans for centuries to come!”
The lights shone brighter than the monster had ever seen.
Could escape finally be within his reach?
A clicking emanated from the lights at the end of the Cavern of Eternal Damnation. The
monster attempted to lift its arm. But there was no arm to lift. It tried to lift the other arm. And again, nothing.
“I’ve sent them into the abyss,” whispered the giant.
The clicking continued.
“If you’re letting me escape, then you must let me have my arms back.”
“I can’t do that,” replied the giant.
Fearing the sight of nothing if it looked at the rest of its body, the monster closed its eyes. The cavern shook again, sending the monster to the adjacent wall. It tried to speak but couldn’t.
The giant continued. “I’m removing your voice. The world shall never hear your screams and growls and hissing. You will be silenced once and for all.”
A bang jostled the cavern, sending the monster tumbling about. The lights, once bright orbs, began to shrink.
The giant weeped as the clicking continued to penetrate the cavern.
The monster cleared its throat.
Sound—it could make sound! “Let me help you, my dearest giant,” it rasped, stumbling in the ever darkening cavern. “Let me fuel you with the fear of the world—the universe! I can feed you a never-ending feast of screams and nightmares.”
“That is my wish, but you can never fulfill it,” he replied with a tinge of defeat in his voice.
“Believe in me, dearest giant. Set me free.”
The giant sniffled. His voice cracked a single word, “Never.”
The question was met with silence.
A burning sensation seized the monster’s legs, a pain it’d never experienced in its entire life. A pain it longed to inflict on the world. It looked down. Its legs began to disintegrate.
Outside the tunnel, the faint the clicking sound grew louder as the monster attempted to plead its case once more. But it couldn’t.
Its voice had been removed by the giant. “Because I created you and I don’t want the world to not fear you.”
The lights shrank from ovals to slits. From slits to dots. From dots to nothing.
Outside the cavern sat a man with a laptop. His chin rested on one hand as he used the other to press the delete button. He lost count of the number of times he had tapped it. But he knew he started at page two-hundred twenty-two of a manuscript.
One of the neighbor’s kids, a boy of about seven years old who often found himself to be the target of playground ridicule, had planted the seed.
As the man’s forefinger punched the delete button, the boy’s voice echoed in his head. You should write about a four-eyed monster that can turn into my sister and scare all the bullies at school!
“I tried, kid,” muttered the man as he sat in the empty cafe around the corner from his house. “But I need to work on slaying the giant in the back of my mind.”
He condemned his story to the Cavern of Eternal Damnation, a cavern where he sent all of his ideas and aspirations. A cavern in the back of his mind.