Hello, monsters and matrons.
Children can be such a handful, can’t they? With all that energy, lack of volume control, and needing to be told over and over to keep their squirmy limbs to themselves. But such is the life of motherhood. Let’s see how well you can handle these little rascals, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
Mother of Monsters
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
Who would have thought a prompt could sound both scary and wholesome? Leave it to this wonderful group to, as usual, subvert expectations. The key terms here, “mother” and “monster”, are both so flexible for interpretation.
In the spirit of the season, we here at the Foundry would like to issue you talented writers a little challenge for this week; try to keep things in the realm of spook.
With a prompt like this, we could have Eldritch mothers just going through the day with their Eldritch children, or a werewolf mother trying to tame and control her very energetic pups. It could be a vampire mother teaching her child how to feed, and possibly even having to coddle them when they almost lose control. It could even be a human mother who has adopted a child, only to find out her child can transform, or fly, or eats raw meat, or anything that a non-human baby would do. Or perhaps the child is also human, and just very rowdy and rambunctious. Maybe the mother of monsters is literally just the crazy cat lady next door.
It may not even be a real “mother” at all, but something that people look to for guidance. A revered woman leading her cult of darkness. Maybe the mother is a powerful sorceress that controls many beasts, possibly even creating said beasts herself from the elements around her. Perhaps, much simpler, the caretaker of a zoo of magical creatures. Or the warden of a prison where monsters, whether literal or metaphorical, are locked up for the world’s safety. Perhaps it’s even a daycare for monsters and humans alike, and the carer has her hands full trying to have them all get along.
Whichever mothers of whichever monsters you decide to introduce us to, we look forward to the wonderfully spooky tales that will rise up from this prompt.
Just watch the tentacles, will you?
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
Tune into the stream this Friday at 7:00pm CST to see if you made the cut!
The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit, and get ready to help each other improve their confidence in their writing, as well as their skill with their craft!
Rules and Guidelines
We read at least four stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and two of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!
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Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
By Derek McEldowney (Deviacon)
She found her way to me in a trance. Well, through the trance writing I do by hand. It’s supposed to be a meditative practice of stringing one word after the other, not knowing the next. Watching the flow of ink always relaxed me. Somewhere within my muddled rambling words, a distinct voice began to bleed through and make itself known.
She’s in the ink. She’s the life that guides the pen, guides my hand. I can hear her melodious hum in every drop. She’s calling to me. She wants me, and only me.
I no longer write to share my words, but only to find hers.
I keep her close to me any way I can. With scores of pages around me bearing her glistening ebony words. With the pen I carry with me. With the ink well I keep at my bedside table.
She visits me in my dreams. Whispering in my ear, tonguing my brain, caressing my thoughts.
I can’t bare the existential rift. I need her closer, I need to feel her.
The hum of the ink well goads me enticingly from my hesitation. I need to taste her. As I bring the ink well to my lips, a wave of ecstasy washes over me, flows into me in every sweet obsidian drop.
I can’t hear her anymore, but I can feel her inside of me. Twisting and churning my nerves around, inside my stomach.
I trust her.
It feels like my insides are being twisted and rearranged. Cracking and popping and stretching under my flesh.
I love her.
It feels like my insides are going to burst.
Through the dust and sand, the woman trod alone. None came to help her, for in their eyes simmered only scorn. Not even pity came as she passed the people she might’ve once called friends. They knew of her, but they knew also of her son, and well, after what he’d done…
Weeping, she entered the jailhouse looking for him. She knew what he did, but maybe…
She understood why she came.
Hidden in the darkened corner, rocking back and forth on the ground, cried her son: The monster. Her dear son, so earnest, so innocent, so pure. Once. What kind of broken world can turn someone so good into something so wicked?
“Arthur? My son?” She said, hesitant and mournful as if her son had died already. In his spirit at least, he was dead. A poor soul shattered by society and pushed to the edge. His were the sins committed, but this word – it claimed ownership over men such as he.
“Mama,” whimpered the man, voice hoarse from penitent tears. “Mama, I… Oh mama…” He collapsed into her arms and she cradled him, letting him melt his pain in her warmth. His woe, genuine though it may be, would never be understood by the world. They would hate him forever. He wept and wept in her arms, holding her tight. He truly regretted what he did. Maybe hope still remained…
She understood why she came.
“Arthur,” she said, looking into his wide, teary eyes. “My sweet boy.” She smiled weakly.
“Mama, I messed up. Oh mama, I messed up so bad!” His words came laden with sobbing. “Mama, can you help me? I wanna get better mama, please…”
She rubbed his back and kissed his forehead. “I’ll help you, my sweet boy, don’t worry. I’ll help you”
She understood why she came: To help him.
She stabbed him in the gut.
He looked up at her confused and betrayed.
“I’ll help you, son, by saving you from yourself”
There is only one way to help a monster and it doesn’t come from love.
The Mother’s Den
By L. L. Marco
Somewhere deep within the twisting woods and bramble lies a small little town. Those who seek it cannot enter; one must be marked to discover it on their own. Those trespassing are liable to wander in the mist for hours, days, weeks… however long they stubbornly search. These people will succumb to the madness of an endless fog or turn and flee, only to find themselves mere feet from where they dared step in. That is the nature of this town.
Its people are protected by Her loving embrace and the power only She can possess. Without Her, the town would have surely fallen to the terrified outsiders and their military long ago. Without Her they could not be themselves. They would not be able to truly be free in this world so wrapped up in the morals of life and death and who is deserving of which… to the Enyo’s clan, dying to strengthen Her is the ultimate reward and in return she would grant them a life of true freedom to act on their deepest and truest natures…
The outsiders are so ungrateful.
In the town center is an intricate altar. It has begun to crumble with age but the years could not take away the power that exudes from it. The structure itself fluctuates gently, just a slight shift that the untrained eye could not see. Ancient as it was, this altar still breaths with the Shade’s aura. It still breaths with Her. And it is here that she rests until the next Great Moon.
A pit lines the altar’s edge: an open maw so large it craves to devoir the moon above. But patiently it waits; for within its depths is the one thing the town wishes to protect. Within its belly is the Enyo Herself. The small ghostly husk of a girl slumbers somewhere within its shadows, protected from the eyes of anyone but the moon above. Tonight, She is full and content; each peaceful breath from Her slumbering chest calls upon a gentle wind that lulls the town around Her. All is still.
The Battle to the Manor had been brief, but intensely bloody. Christopher stood in the upstairs bedroom with what remained of his soldiers, his sword pressed deeply against the chest of the Usurper.
“Years of work; finally brought to fruition…” He spoke the words he’d been rehearsing for fifteen years.
“With one last thrust, I’ll make right what you did to my family all…”
“What will you do after?” The Usurper interrupted.
His words caused Christopher to falter, but he snapped back.
“I will take back what is mine. Everything you stole!”
“What we stole?” A wet laugh bubbled from the Usurper’s throat.
“With this act, boy, you have stolen the future! Not only yours but of every person in this Hamlet! ”
Christopher felt a snarl in his lips. This was not what he had imagined. But the Usurper was not finished.
“This land was taken from you by men of the soil. They died for the dreams of their children. And how have you reclaimed it? With professional killers, no doubt provided by self-interested nobility; they sponsor you so long as you remain useful.”
“ENOUGH!!!” Christopher commanded.
“You will not take this from me! You killed my family, you bastard! We had done nothing wrong!” He roared, pushing harder on the sword. The Usurper winced.
“You had done nothing wrong, boy. That is why we let you live; Let you escape. The people would never have stopped if they knew an heir still existed, so we told them we had killed you all. A lie, but a necessary one.”
“I hope your fiction has served you well.” Christopher snarled, preparing for the final thrust.
“Tell me boy…” The Usurper looked into his eyes as he spoke.
“If necessity was the mother of my lie, then tell me what shall your hatred mother?”
Christopher gave no response, except for an angered growl as he drove the sword through the usurper’s heart before the body slumped to the floor.
He then turned and gazed out to the Manor’s Balcony and beyond, where lay the smoldering remains of his birthright.
The First Time’s Always Messy
“You poor thing…” Higanbana stared at the girl standing in her foyer, the two of them illuminated by the gas lamp in Higanbana’s hand.
The girl stood trembling, her head bowed and hiding her face from the light. Her hooded mini dress was ripped and torn in some places, though she had no wounds, and her mouth and chest were covered in blood.
“Did you kill?” Higanbana’s voice was gentle as she stepped forward.
The girl tightened her grip on the hem of her dress. “I… I d-don’t know…”
Higanbana lifted the girl’s chin, looking into her ruby eyes. She smiled warmly. “Such beautiful blonde hair. Why do you hide in this?” She pushed the hood down so she could see the girl’s face better. “Do you have a name, child?”
“Shotori Nara, ma’am…” the girl answered, her voice shaking as badly as her body.
“Shotori… what a pretty name.” Higanbana wrapped her arm around Shotori’s shoulders, guiding her forward. “Come, we’ll get you cleaned up. If you’re still hungry, I have a supply in the kitchen.”
Higanbana sat Shotori at the dining table, using a warm cloth to clean the dried blood from her skin.
“I remember my son’s first feed. It was much messier than this.” Higanbana laughed softly. “He couldn’t control himself. Tore into the poor man like he hadn’t eaten in years. I bet yours fought a lot, huh?”
“It’s okay. Even if he’s dead, we have people who can clean that up. Make it look like an accident. You’re safe, little bird.” She smiled. “Oh, look. There’s a beautiful girl under all that mess.”
Shotori just hung her head, breaking into tears. “I hurt her… I didn’t mean to…”
“You bit a friend, didn’t you?” Higanbana rubbed Shotori’s back. “It’s alright. She won’t turn. If you only fed and didn’t give her your blood, she’s okay.”
Shotori clung to Higanbana, who just smiled softly and continued to comfort the girl.
“It’s okay, little bird. I’ll train you properly to control yourself. You can stay as long as you like.”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane
Warning: the following document is outlawed by Article 3.2 of the Religion Abolition Act. Only theosophers of Rank 3 or higher may possess or study this document. Anyone else is to be punished to the full extent to the law and, by reading this, voids their right to a trial.
Long ago, the Great Mother, Jaa-ni’i, molded the world from clay and baked it with her breath. Her sweat became the ocean and the scales that fell onto it became the mountains. It was hers, and she loved it. After it hardened, Jaa-ni’i walked upon its surface. She couldn’t bear to see it bare, so she sculpted the rivers, the trees, the flowers, and even the clouds. However, the Great Mother was still unhappy. She experimented with sculptures that could move, animated by her breath. Jaa-ni’i made all sorts of animals: fish, birds, snakes, deer. Yet she still felt something was missing.
So Jaa-ni’i worked on what she considered her magnum opus, the first woman. The Great Mother was happy and gave her the name Ind. Now Ind was different from humans today, able to give birth without a partner. So, she gave birth to many men and women, some dark, some fair. However, one son was special to Ind, her firstborn Jaan.
When Jaa-ni’i saw Jaan, she immediately fell in love with him and begged Ind to allow her to marry him. Ind told Jaa-ni’i that only if she and the rest of her children were given the world as a dowry could she marry Jaan. The Great Mother agreed. Thus the first wedding took place, and Jaa-ni’i swept her husband up into the heavens to build a new home.
In the Great Mother’s absence, the sons and daughters of Ind laid waste to her world, fighting each other for resources and stripping it of its beauty. However, Jaa-ni’i had a family of her own in the heavens and couldn’t go down to intervene. So the Great Mother charged her nine sons and daughters to subjugate the humans and restore the world. Thus the gods came to be.
Being an awkward loser, I was comfortable living along, but with my old college friends finding love, I eventually found myself feeling lonesome in my empty apartment. So, after hearing about online dating, I went and tried it out.
That’s when I found her profile. Her long black hair was accentuated by her alluring blood-red lips. Her bright green eyes stared at mine with a sense of want. She was calling me. I mustered up my courage and sent her a message. She replied, and, after some back-and-forth, we were making plans for dinner.
We met up at a nice restaurant. She had a shyness in her voice, but I assured her I wasn’t planning anything weird. She laughed while I slightly died inside. She later offhandedly mentioned her ex-husband. When I pressed on, she refused to say more, calling him a devil and changing the subject.
She asked me how I felt about kids, and I told her I liked them. She confessed she has two precious little angels. I said I’d love to meet them. She smiled coyly.
After dinner, I offered to take her home. I ordered a bit more food to go. “For the little ones,” I said. After all, I needed to impress her with my thoughtfulness. Looking back, I probably could have done that in a more normal way.
When we got to her doorstep, she offered me to stay the night. I refused, saying I might disturb the kids. She smiled and said they’re probably still awake.
She opened the door and called out. “Kids, mommy’s home! I brought dinner!”
The “dinner” part should have rung some bells in my head since I’m pretty sure it was 2 in the morning. It was too late when I saw them, those nasty little ghouls, sprinting towards the doorway. I tried to scream as they dug their sharp nails into my leg and pulled me inside, but she had already pushed the door shut.
The last thing I remember was seeing her lick her blood-red lips. “Thanks for dinner,” she said in a sultry voice.
Monster sculptor[Aleph null science fiction]
A beeping noise emanates from my phone. Pulling it out of my pocket, I find that I have a notification. It appears I have a commission. I look through the details.
> Purchaser name: Omala Patterson
> Type: full display animation
> Size: 10X10X10
> Output desired: 3d Animation and 3d models
> Rights requested: Display and make monsters according to model, non-commercial
> target space: See attached image
> Time due: 10/29
No spiders(level 2 phobia)
Clear open path(see image)
> Other: I hope my daughter enjoys a very special halloween this year! Try not to make it too scary, they are 10 years old.
Oooh, that’s interesting. Looking at the image, I can see they want it for their lawn, and that they’ll need a path to the house. It was really nice of them to demarcate that. I’ll accept it, I have time.
I sit down and put on my VR goggles. After adding a filter for spiders, I got started. There were plenty of monsters to base my work on, so I started with something simple. A quick dragon would do to start. I sculpted the dragon model I wanted, it was relatively small for a dragon due to my goals.
What else did I want… hmmm… Maybe an undead? Not sure about that, I’ll add a default vampire in the environment, if I need it I’ll sculpt it later.
Oh, I know! Something to “protect” the people from these terrible monsters. I think a glasslike transparent material would do wonders to make the projections feel less real. I add a little glass box around the monsters. Perfect, a monster aquarium.
Let’s see… weeping angel or one of its derivatives? Yes! I start modeling something for it.
I add some bats and some customized undead. Ok, now time to place and animate.
I move around the models with my mind, the dragon goes on one side, there’s undead on the other, and all the other stuff goes in other places. I’ll have to keep working on this tomorrow.
Mother Knows Best
By William Maitland
Levni looked at himself in the mirror, all dressed for school. The leather satchel hung heavy on his shoulder, filled with all the essential supplies; books, pens, his good-luck birch, and… weirdly, a small saddle. Why did she insist on him packing this? Is there some sort of cavalry class, in place of conventional exercise?
An empty dress appeared behind him. It started approaching, slowly.
“Hey Mom,” he said.
“Levni, my boy! Look at you, you’re like a grown man!” She scooped him into a big hug, his lanky limbs trailing behind him like flags.
“Mom, I’m 19! I would HOPE I look like a grown man by now!” He laughed, his breath a tad strained under the sheer force of her hug.
“Sorry, sorry,” she set him down. “I’m just so proud of you! You’re going to do wonderfully, I just know it.”
“Are you sure this is the right school for me, Mom?” He looked down at his feet. “I’m not sure I’m cut out for this line of study.”
She beamed a pearly-white smile. “Levni, you’re family.”
“I’m adopted.” He smirked, fighting a chuckle.
“Sometimes we choose our family! That doesn’t make them any LESS family, does it?”
“Heh. No, no, I suppose not.”
“Anyway, I’ve already spoken to the school council. Some of them were in my graduating class. They know me, and they know that any son of mine is a match-fit for the field. Besides, they loved your essays.”
His face burned red. “You showed them my writing?!”
She laughed. “I said they LOVED them. Why be embarrassed?”
“You KNOW I’m self-conscious… did they really? You’re not just telling me what I want to hear?”
“When have I ever done that?”
He looked at her absence in the mirror, and then back to her pale face. “Not a once.”
“Good. Now, one last thing you need. You ready?”
He tilted his neck, and smiled. “Let’s get this done before I change my mind.”
Her teeth sank in, and stung. Everything went cold.
Time for school.
A Monster’s Parent
By Jesse Fisher Edited by Lunabear
This was not right…how could this be right? The blood was too much. It seemed like a butcher shop drains had been clogged but the workers just ignored the river of crimson as it grew higher. The talons on my… Why are my hands in a bladed state? The cuts are deep yet there is no screaming. My yellow eyes traced the…no this has to be a dream.
Feathers coated with blood split down the body; small, moving shapes seemingly under the surface. That is put to the back of my mind as I look at her face. Pain is absent; only a smile regardless of the crimson splattered on her face.
This is what I caused her to go through, what monsters I created from her.
The navy wolf leans over the bloody form as small movements are seen under the form. Beyond this scene, a metallic sand yellow dragoness watches over this and feels a pang of sadness form what she sees.
Walking over, she lays a claw on the wolf’s shoulder, causing him to jolt up. More crimson flies off and lands on the dragon.
“Why didn’t you stop me?!?” The wolf roars in both rage and tears. “Stop this from happening, Oleander!”
“Just ’cause I have reign over it does not mean I can stop your mind creating this.” Oleander replies as she watches the wolf falling to his knees. “Demon, this will not happen.”
“I’m a monster; I will only breed monsters.” Demon stares into his hands shaking.
“We are all monsters, grump.” Oleander speaks as she kneels down to hug him.
They are Mine
I am wrenched from the nightmare with such violence I find myself sitting upright on waking. Struggling to fill my lungs, my chest tight from either too much or too little breathing, I leave my rumpled comforters and walk through the darkness with practiced steps. Light blooms across my studio with the flick of a switch, hurting my tired eyes, showcasing many canvases which I ignore as I take my seat. I could not look at them. I had to keep the image of my terror pure.
I try my best not to fully wake, not yet, as I accumulate the colors I need and begin painting. I have always struggled with nightmares, visceral nightmares. Some of my friends over the years have called them night terrors, and they may be right, but naming them did not stop them from coming. Casting my brush across the canvas, the colors this time vivid and the strokes harsh, it creates an almost savage image.
I had started painting them when the images followed me into my waking hours. Whether gore, fear, unsettling or any other kind of terror, the memories would haunt me through my day bringing tremors to my hands and tears to my eyes without warning or precedence. Painting them, giving them a physical shape, felt almost like expelling them from within me.
I finish my newest creation with a sigh, and regard with a calculating eye. I feel satisfied with the visage and the likeness to my nightmare I have conveyed. I cast my eyes across my other creations with a possessive pride, the macabre display of my fear and terror taking up almost every empty space on the wall. I would have to make room for this one.
A New Mother
“Filthy rotten creature!”
Lilith awoke to the sight of an axe descending towards her head. She screamed and rolled away as it sunk into the ground. Clawing her way through the snow on hands and knees, she scurried for any semblance of escape or protection from this hatchet wielding madman. A kick to her ribs tossed Lilith up against a nearby tree, resulting in a ricocheting pain through her torso. As she tried to force herself up she was struck again by a kick to the face. This time a boot kept her pinned to the tree.
“Foul abomination, I saw what you did with that corpse!” The crazed man yelled, a burning hatred consuming his eyes. He raised his axe as he spoke, prepping the final blow. “I’ll make certain you never get the chance to plague this land!” As the axe descended Lilith let out a final scream and squeezed her eyes shut.
Suddenly she felt the weight of the boot lift. She heard snarling and the grunts of the man. The grunts shortly shifted to cries of pain, and then to screams of terror. The man’s screams soon turned to a gut wrenching gurgling noise and then silence. Lilith opened her eyes to see a mangled wolf ripping out the man’s throat. The wolf turned its head towards Lilith, revealing its shredded maw and a pair of violet eyes. Lilith burst into tears.
“Do not cry child,” The familiar serpentine voice whispered. “I am here for you.”
Lilith looked up in shock. The voice wasn’t in her like usual, instead it came from the wolf. “They’ll never accept me, will they?” She asked the voice, finally calming down.
“Well if they won’t accept you, then why not make them fear you?”
Confused, Lilith tilted her head. “How would that help?”
“Child, fear can lead to respect. Some of the most revered creatures are monsters.” Maggots and fresh blood flowed from the wolf’s maw as it spoke. “If they will not accept you, then make them accept. Become something they can fear. A mother to all monsters.”
A Humble Request
by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
To whom it may concern,
Some of the more astute observers among you may have noticed an uptick in the amount of robot invasions recently. I must assure you that resistance is futile. My babies are tough and will not show any mercy. It is better for you to just quit now, while you are ahead.
You may have repelled the first invasion, and the second invasion, and the third invasion, and the fourth, BUT YOU SHALL NOT REPEL THE FIFTH. My fifth generation of robots have less exposed self-destruct buttons, no on/off switches, higher kill limits, correctly installed inertial guidance systems, AND a cooler and more intimidating exterior. There is nothing you can do to stop them now!
Some of you have asked: “Why? Why are we being attacked by a very attractive and very smart woman and her army of beautiful robots?” Well, I shall tell you. Let these words fill your heart with grief and push you to make the right decision: immediate surrender.
When I was young, I was a very ambitious girl. To get ahead, I did what the other kids were doing: I would try to take their students’ lunch money, I would call people names and I would start fights. But I was too small to ever make a difference. I people looked down on me instead of treating me like the queen I am.
A very sad story, I know. If you wish to surrender now, I won’t blame you. If you are truly heartless enough to continue resisting, I have only this message to give you:
I AM NO LONGER TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
With my fifth generation of kill-bots, there is no possible way you can resist me! Please send all surrender requests to YourNewQueen@gmail.com.
Thank you for your cooperation.
For the Greater Good
For the Greater Good.
Such a phrase is espoused by either fanatic zealots or selfish dictators, and rarely is it spoken about by those with good intentions. It is more common for the creature that speaks of protecting all to simply control its own environment. If they claim the ground which everyone wishes to stand on, then everyone will grovel at the claimants’ feet. It is a simple fact of any creature with a modicum of intelligence and a will to thrive. This is why Hagent never made creatures. He made monsters.
As the head of the last bio-manufacturing plants from the Old Age, he had a duty to please his matriarch. She had molded him in the furnace of his womb, so it was only right that he exceeded his dozen other siblings.
He had to do more. He needed to ascend higher than all of them. He needed to rule next to his mother. He knew the formulae of genetic modification. He could force an orc to evolve into an orlog three times ahead of its natural cycle. He had made the most stable ogres of his species in decades. In all truth, he should have already reached his goal as patriarch to Clan Gentek.
However, he did live among intelligence. He lived with his fellow rats, who gnawed and clawed their way through life. Who watch the entrance to the warrens with guns loaded and knives sharpened. Who sat in their homes, fearing the day they might catch the plague as well. Who tried to bring Hagent down from his greatness and drag him through the muck.
They all knew working together was needed for survival. They all knew that a cure would be the thing to bring back their glorious empire. They all knew that the surface-dwellers got closer and closer to discovering their warrens. They all knew what was best. They all wanted to complete the greater good.
Hagent had one big difference from them. They all believed the Matriarch to be their mother. But Hagent knew she was the mother of monsters.
Pass the Roast Third from the Left
“Where’s the cumin?”
“Try the corner cabinet—”
“Can someone pull the green beans, please?”
Tiny Joe slithered through the busy kitchen. He was on a mission to find Grandmama. Maybe she was in the dining room?
“SO—you’re hogging the cinnamon already, Steve?” Cousin Merle lashed her tail, nearly tripping Tiny Joe. He scrambled away to Steve’s spluttering about how it was an appetizer. He giggled. Cousin Steve tried to pretend to be selfish, but he snuck Tiny Joe a whole cinnamon stick once. It was crunchy and tangy when he bit it.
“Ah, Tiny Joe!” He was suddenly swept up from under the tall-one’s stool by Uncle Marco’s taloned hands. “How is the little terror?”
“Put me down! I’m a big monster!”
He laughed. “Run along now, don’t want you lost underfoot!”
Tiny Joe scampered. Uncle Marco was huge, but he liked picking up Tiny Joe and he didn’t like that. He was a big monster!
Where was Grandmama? Tiny Joe went for the living room. Grandmama was—
There she was!
Grandmama was the oldest family there. She had deep wrinkles in her face, and her hands were thin-skinned and boney. She was wrapped in one of Great-Aunt-Calli’s shed skins, putrid green but warm. Tiny Joe giggled. It almost looked like Grandmama had a lumpy caterpillar body!
“…and then your old grandmama pulled out the cast-iron frypan, and wacked your great-grandpapy upside the snout,” she told her captivated audience of grandchildren. “He came back the next day with a freshly baked cake, and a new pan. And that is how we met.”
“Is that Joe?” She squinted through her glasses.
“It is!” He jumped up into her lap, claws catching on her dress.
“I almost didn’t recognize you! You’ve gotten so big!” She laughed.
“Grandpappy wants you to come to the table, dinner’s starting soon!” With that, Tiny Joe darted off on six tiny wings.
Sarah pushed herself to her feet, and made her way to the table. If only her mother could see her now—a human in a family of monsters, imagine that!
by Carrie (Glaceon373) (Give my spot to IsaDragon337)
She was hand-feeding a felicrow kitten when three loud knocks hit the hardwood door. The animals in her care flinched at the noise: the young phoenix whimpered, the oracle wolf growled a minor chord, and the other animals found furniture to hide behind.
She set the kitten down gently, stroking its feathers, taking a second to appreciate how its soft purring sounded like a dove.
When she swung open the door, two town guards stared down at her behind helmets. One held a chain in his hands, which rattled as the creature on the other end of it, a shadow fox, tugged and pulled towards the door.
“Lady Geminata?” the guard with the chain asked.
“That is me,” she responded in an even, cold voice.
“One of ‘ya monsters got out again,” the other guard said with disdain. “Disrup’n the peace.”
Lady Geminata knelt down and made direct eye contact with the shadow fox. Its body, a black blob which did not hold strictly to one form, had only one defining feature: two glowing white eyes patterned like cut diamonds. They flashed, and shared the events of the past few hours with its caretaker: escaping to explore, then panicking as it couldn’t find its way back, then being chased by guards with drawn spears.
“You drew weapons when you chased my shadow fox?”
“It…it could have been a threat, miss,” the first guard said. “Protocol.”
Lady Geminata sighed and took the chain. “Threatening a creature such as a shadow fox puts you in more danger than it.” She glared up at the guards. “Do not draw weapons on any of my creatures again.”
“Of—of course, Lady Geminata,” the second guard stammered.
“Good. Then please, take your leave,” she said as the door was already closing.
She waited a few seconds to let the atmosphere relax, then she leaned down and removed the chain from the shadow fox.
“We’ve all had a big day today,” she said to her menagerie of monsters. “Why don’t we start story time a little earlier than normal?”
The animals cheered in their own unique ways.
Under a mother’s care
By Larissa (Lari B. Haven)
Zoella dragged her own body from the mangrove’s mud, exhausted.
“Daughter, I came to your aid.” She heard a voice that she only had recollections of.
“Mom!” She mouthed.
Zoella’s mother appeared younger and elegantly adorned. The white dress framing her obsidian skin tone, creating a heavenly radiance. She swiftly lifted her from the mud-water like a plume. And embraced her tightly.
“Am I dead?” Zoella asked under her breath, too frail to utter words.
“Not yet. But when her infant cries, a mother comes. Even from beyond the grave.” Her mother smiled at her and laid Zoella’s head on her lap.
The transformation was rough and turning back was making Zoella throw up dark muck stuck in her throat. She felt like her body was crumbling.
Her mother patiently cleaned her daughter’s face with salt water. Cleaning the sludge from her wounds.
“Mom, I ran away!” Zoella’s tone was filled with pain. “I was certain that this time I would have it under control. But last night…”
“The curse had its way. I know.”
“The thing I become…” Zoella felt a revulsion from the memory. “How can I break it?”
“Sadly, you can’t. The curse reveals the monsters we have, but shelter away.”
She threw the rest of the saltwater over her body and Zoella let out painful grunts. The wounds were profound in her torso and legs; the scarring was so brutal, her mother wished it was her bearing instead.
“What if I turn and hurt them? My family?”
“It will happen if you keep preventing yourself from turning.” She then gave her a smile once again. “Be strong and accept it as part of you. They will understand.”
“No, only you can love me as a monster.” Zoella sheds a tear.
“I always did.” She responded.
They stare long into each other’s eyes, wishing to stay in that moment, but Zoella woke up soon after. The foamy seawater was washing away the dark sludge that was once covering her up.
From afar, the gallop of her husband’s horses approached.
A fleeting breeze beyond the wind
by Gage Jarman
The note was yellowed and smudged and creased from being turned in hands countless times.
‘I regret so much in this short existence. It’s only been several years, but it feels so much longer. My bones have been baked by the sun, laid out in this unfamiliar land. Why didn’t I try harder? The world was in my hands and and and…
‘Both sides thought I was a fool. It was blasphemous. A knight, an emissary, a man, uselessly in love with a scyllian princess. I only accelerated the tensions, plucking the strings to hear her sweet music for but a while longer, and I didn’t care. I still don’t care. Was love so wrong?
‘Had I been steadfast, enough to bear the tides of the world, would I have still been swept away from her?
‘She was stronger than me, and far more kind, but I was selfish. It only caused her grief, and I know it wasn’t wise, but I still care for her. My heart rebelled and left me helpless.
‘I only wish I could be by her side once more, to reassure her, to offer her comfort. I fear I’ll have grown old on this island without ever mending this hole she left within me. My love is lost to the wind, and that girl is still alone in that castle.’
The Scyllian Queen folded the paper back up and neatly placed it away. She sighed and walked into her daughter’s chambers. The princess sat unmoving, staring out the window.
“Miasma had tainted the island and many succumbed to its influences.”
“Did you create it?”
“What would I gain?” The queen said in shock.
“I’m not sure? Do you think this is peace?”
“It’s security. There will be no more bloodshed, and they don’t possess the resources to fight another war.”
“What security did you gain from exiling the only man to not think us monsters? That’s your pride! That’s your subjugation! That’s so cruel…” Tears welled up in the princess’s eyes. “You may rule the country, but I still have a heart.”
The Shadow from Beneath
By Giovanna J. Fuller
Laying nestled in the circle of stones and coral were three-hundred-thousand golf ball sized, orange spheres. They were solid, yet had a give to them that made them appear to be merely large orbs of boba. Sonia gazed down at the eggs. Several times she had had to resist the urge to pop one in her mouth for a small snack, but she knew once she started she wouldn’t be able to stop.
For though they were delicious and full of nutrients, something she was lacking after her difficult labors, she couldn’t spare a single one.
“My beautiful babies,” she cooed to the black dots wriggling about in the center of the orange balls. With a long, claw-like nail, she picked at the remnants of the last predator that had thought that her progeny would make a good snack. With the single snap of the strange creature’s jaws, the invader was sliced in two with dagger-like teeth.
It hadn’t been enough. She still hungered. Her mate had been gone for too long.
Just as she was considering abandoning the clutch in search of food, something broke the surface of the water above her. A box, attached to some fishing line, floated gently down to her. Inside the box was food and a note carved into a plank of wood.
Need more food?
Written at the bottom was the symbol her mate had told her represented love. She carved her response.
I am. They will be too.
She placed the plank back in the box and gave the line a tug. The box was pulled out of the water, carrying her note to the father. As she ate the provisions sent to her, she gazed down at the great multitude of future Marshmen and Marshmaids. After the eggs had grown to the size of baseballs, half frog-like creatures would emerge. They would have more human DNA than their mother and would be able to do what their ancestors had not.
They would make the surface their home and dominate the inhabitants.
Mother of Monsters
Welcome, reader, though we haven’t time for pleasantries. Never enough, I say, but now especially; so listen close when I tell you that Sara breathed easy at last when the children were pounding on that plastic membrane. To say she felt harried–like you do when you’re late for work so you grab donuts only to learn everyone else started a diet–would be an understatement.
Sara was on the verge of breaking down, so she blinked away tears. That feeling faded for her, slowly, as the ‘timeout bubble’–so dubbed by the kids–muted their cries for attention.
She could only just hear them, roughly the same volume as you hear them now. What a wonderful invention, this ‘timeout bubble.’ What a wonderful modern world we live in. It’s impossible, of course, to be hurt by the membrane, so Sara just waves as the tots wale on the bubble.
Finally, they wear themselves out, get bored or otherwise move on.
Sara lays on the floor and breathes in the quiet. She hears a sound like knocking on a melon and looks to see Addie, the six year old, stabbing at the bubble with a toilet plunger.
“What are you doing?” Sara asks.
“Mom! Are you in timeout?”
“Why‽” Addie isn’t scared, not really, but she feels like her reality is a lie. Adults aren’t subject to the rules of timeout.
“Because I need it.” Sara says.
Addie turns away suddenly, the plunger remains on the bubble. The hallway brightens, then fades into shadow again. The kids run toward it, shouting, ‘Daddy!’
Her husband is home and her peace crumbles into disappointment: she hadn’t made dinner yet. Not that it was expected. Jim would understand and it wouldn’t take long, but she always liked to not worry him with that detail.
Jim shambles down the hallway, kids on each limb. His head nods as the kids all talk. He’s smiling that tired smile he gets after long meetings and failed late-arrival donuts.
“I’m so sorry,” she tells him.
“Can I join you?” He asks.
And the kids scream as she accedes.
A Busy Bloodmother (Redeater Universe)
By Calliope Rannis
Katarina loved what she did. Watching her young grow up was by far the most satisfying thing in her long, long life.
But she had to admit that raising four kids within a year of each other was overstretching herself a tad.
“…and that’s everything about the Etchin bloodline. Now Angus, the Dinah bloodline you might find more interesting-” Katarina paused to snatch a few gulps of blood from the arm of her current donor, a quiet muscular man called Richard. “Thank you dear. Now as I was saying – what do you want Rosie?” she says distractedly, noticing her daughter’s nearby scent.
“Are you going to help feed Amy?”
“Then you can wait for our dinner donor to get here. Richard is for me.”
A dramatic sigh, and Rosie stomped off. As they faded, Katarina heard a second set of slower, stumbling footsteps. “Becka, you shouldn’t be pushing yourself so hard…” she says, turning around to see her second-youngest struggle to walk across the room.
“I’m okay mom, I can do this myse-AH!” Her wobbling legs collapsed, but Katarina was already there to catch her fall. “Agh… oh, I’m sorry…”
“There there, don’t worry,” Katarina comforted as she guided her to the couch. “You’ll be able to walk again soon, you don’t need to rush it.” Leaving a kiss on her daughter’s cold forehead, she returned to the table and Angus.
His expression was hard to read behind his beard, but his eyes were understanding. “We could find a better time for this?” he said quietly.
“No no, it’s fine, there’s so much cultural stuff to learn and you won’t want to stay here much longer, we should get these lessons in-”
An ultrasonic keening pierced into her ears. Amy. She was hungry again.
Katarina could already feel blood beginning to fill her mouth. Angus coughed politely, a trickle of blood spilling from his own. “You should tend to that.”
His new mother sighed, holding her head in her hands. “I should, yes.” Then with a quick stride, she left the room to feed her newborn.
Born of War
Smoke hung heavy over the cracked battlements of the city, and from above, entire streets seemed to be aflame. People scurried about the steadily expanding bedlam below, but there were already plenty of motionless figures among them.
The observers hid themselves between smoke and clouds, keen to not end up as targets for the roaming soldiers below.
Finally, the older of the two Angels spoke. “Bringing the two clans of these monsters up against each other was a masterstroke. I was sure they would hold up our conquest for longer.”
The woman beside him nodded. “From what we could infer, these clans of Red and Black were made for war, meant to take all the weaklings under their wings.”
Beneath them, an explosion tore through multiple buildings, eviscerating them. A rising plume of fire forced the Angels to move.
He gave a slow nod, beating wings creating a bubble of clean air. “That explains their tenacity, their ferocity.” His lips quirked in a joyless smile. “Like us, they have been forged by war, but it has turned them into monsters,easily manipulated by those with greater visions.”
With but a small ploy they had turned a united front of war-hardened monsters into a mob of feral dogs, tearing out each other’s throats.
The woman cocked her head. “How will we make sure that they don’t just make a bloody peace over the bodies of thousands dead?”
A similarly hollow chuckle came from the older man. “This war will create hundreds of thousands of blood feuds; there will not be peace as long as the memory of this war of brothers lives on.”
He pointed beyond the battlements, to the outlying foothills. In the darkness, figures moved away. “They will carry their rage with them, and it will keep this war from burning out.”
Beating his wings, he moved away from the city.
“The Monsters will be so busy following their own urges, their own oaths of revenge, that they will never be a danger to us again. And if any of them try alone, we will crush them like ants.”