Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Short Fiction: Slow Monsters

Authors Notes: This story may or may not have been published already. I signed a contract but they were not so even so kind as to tell me if it made the cut or not.. So I publish it myself. Again. Maybe? 


My parents named me after some princess. If you sound it out in sections it sounds like: Ann-eh-stay-gi-a. The original was from a famous family in Russia that I really do not want to know about. My family is from France; not Russia and they migrated from there when part of the population decided the other part should be killed for something-or-another. They packed their things and boarded a tall ship to avoid massacre. After the sea and the inland travel they eventually landed in this spot and have lived here for generations. I could attempt to tell you how many generations but that would just be a guess; perhaps even a lie. Ever since we contributed to building this place plank by plank. It is beautiful although I really possess no knowledge of anything to compare it with. There are villagers from other nations as well and a mix of blood from the Original tribes. The tribes showed us how to survive here and I guess during those times romances blossomed. 

We constructed gates made of forged iron at each of the entrances. They are patterned in curls and look like protective gargoyles. They are black gnarly things, mask-like with eyes hidden in their grid work. The tree line serves the best protection though. It has grown old, even during my lifetime, and stands thick and high now like an army of green soldiers with arms swaying above their heads. It is here that I tell you of what lives beyond them. 

 "... but between truth and fairytale there is existence."

Around here legends colour things, so do myths and old people who like to blend stories for amusement and greater effect; but between truth and fairytale there is existence. People tell stories of large creatures that inhabit the land just beyond our tree line. The creature’s character has been repetitiously defined by their enormous size and slow movement. Any person in the village will tell you that the creatures can be clearly heard moving across the land when the winds are quiet. 

This legend is about giant creatures that amble through the forest just beyond our sight. They walk on all fours. They have long necks and eat at their leisure. The myths say that the creatures are from a place beyond our skies that machines left here to record information. I have heard the stories my whole life but they have never bothered me any. I named them Slow Monsters. 

It is my job to tend the gardens. The food is for everybody and is set in a clearing beside the creek. I managed to set up a basic irrigation system so the plot is self-watering. As a village we are named into our jobs and it seems that I am most comfortable with turnips and green beans. I grow mustard seed for spicing the hams and pride myself on vegetables with the most colour. The weeds grow aggressively this year and the beans have invaded spaces beyond their designation. Rain fall has been good though and the garden is lush. I suspect the turnips prefer somewhat dryer conditions.

I can hear the creaky moan and deep treading vibration of the Slow Monsters. Never venture beyond the line. I know that, I answer myself. People are afraid of unnecessary things like the dark and falling in their dreams. To date the slow monsters have never entered into the village. Not in any stories I have heard anyway. 

I jerk my head up from my work suddenly. The sounds seem closer somehow. I can hear tree branches snapping and feel the warmth of eyes on my back. I fight the urge to turn around but instinct is overpowering my self-control. I wrap my cape tight around me and turn-
“Levy? Levy can you hear me?”

 “Levy? Levy can you hear me?”

“And when I count back from five you will awake Levy. Five, four, three,…two…one. And awake.”
The leather from the couch is cemented with sweat to the skin on my shoulder. Golden afternoon sun pours in from the wall length windows that have been cranked open to allow for fresh air. The room smells like rain. I can hear cars outside that drive past the ground floor of the building as they crash through puddles. I sit up and recognize my surroundings. Doctor Belcourt is fussing with the corner of her shirt. 

“Welcome back,” she tells me.

“Thank you.” I answer. “It must be two o’clock.” 

“Yes- almost two. You were screaming again.”

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