There are no such things as monsters. There are terrible and cruel people in this world, but they are still people. There are horrible and terrifying animals in this world, but they are only animals. They are a variety of chilling creatures that lie between the two, but it is not for you to judge their nature. Many don’t understand the torment that such a creature undergoes, reconciling human emotion and animal instinct. If the result is mad and ruthless, blame not the beast but the burden.
How do I know? I know because I am one of them. You don’t know what it’s like when your hunger for another becomes literal hunger, when others are repulsed by the very means you survive upon. You’ve never gone into a raging frenzy, never delighted in the spray of warm blood, never watched someone die before your eyes.
Now is the moment in which you pass judgment. You might say, “Well, he can’t help it, and it’s not like he really enjoys it.” Or, you might say, “He’s a twisted murderer who should be put to death.” Neither is true. I love to hunt. It is the moment in which I am totally free of thought, bound to instinct, and you can never understand how thrilling and satisfying it is. On the other hand, I am no more a murderer than a tiger, or a wolf. I hunt to eat, not for the savage pleasure it brings me.
You might be wondering what I look like. Mostly, I look like someone you know. On a dark night, I could pass you in the street, say hello and you would never know the difference. If I were to shake your hand, however, you would see retractable claws instead of fingernails. It is the same on my feet. I also have a rather abundant amount of hair. It is lucky I’m not a girl. Furthermore, when people look in my eyes, study my face, they sense a “difference” about me. I think it has to do with the shape and placement of my cheekbones and nose. My eyes are a peculiar shade of yellow. I have an odd arrangement of musculature, although I take pride in my muscle definition. Some people actually find these features attractive. Others are disgusted. There are many other bestial aspects of me, but the most integral is not visible, rather psychological.
Animals that are prey in the wild instinctively shy away from me, but this is not usually a problem. In fact, I usually have no problem with anyone recognizing my beastliness at all, because I live far away from all society. This is to protect myself and them.
You might be wondering how I became such a grotesque being. I admit that I myself was puzzled by my transformation. Until I was about thirteen, I was a perfectly normal boy. Then, suddenly, I was a perfectly horrible monster. The court magicians suspected some sort of curse, but there was nothing they could do. After years of struggle I have come to live in solitude in my great mansion, far into the darkest corner of the known world.
You can imagine my surprise, then, when a tottering old man trespassed on my property. Like most animals, I am very territorial, and I have had my share of bad dealings with humans. It was also winter at the time, and I was very hungry. You see, when I become hungry (or enraged, for that matter) I become even more animal-like. My shoulders and arms become lankier, more massive, more powerful. My teeth and claws grow and sharpen. My senses are heightened. I have a theory that this is to help me catch food when I am starving, or defend myself in a fight, for humans are really quite useless in both hunting and killing aspects. I have far too much time to write theories.
So here comes the old man, scared out of his wits, and well he should be. I really wanted to eat him, but neither did I want others coming to look for him. I decided to see how it played out. I first demanded where he had come from, and why.
“I’m but a poor merchant, I lost everything,” he babbled, tears streaming. Really, it would have been laughable if it weren’t so pathetic. “My daughter- my daughters wanted jewels, but she wanted a rose- all she wanted- so you have so many roses- I took only one for my daughter-”
“You thought you could just steal one?” I shouted. Roared, actually.
“I didn’t know they belonged to you- I thought it was an abandoned castle!”
“Of course you didn’t know they belonged to me,” I seethed. “You had no idea who they belonged to. Do those hedges look abandoned to you?” I take pride in my impeccable gardening.
“I’ll repay you sir - however much - anything-”
I began to retort that I really had no use for money when an idea began to form. Daughters, eh? A nice, young girl would taste ever so much better than an overweight, atrophied old man. Plus, maybe I could keep her for awhile. There would be other food. I was really terribly lonely, and a girl would amuse me. As an added bonus, if she came here under a bargain, there would be no search parties, no valiant rescuers. If the old man agreed…
“Bring me a daughter.”
The old man looked up in shock. “Which one?”
“Any one.” I was growing impatient.
“As you wish, my lord. Thank you, my lord.”
His quick acquiescence surprised and disgusted me. He was ready and willing to sacrifice his own children! Granted, I was the one asking, but I had expected some fussing and pleading. “One more thing, merchant-”
He froze in his tracks.
“Take that rose, and give it to the girl you send. Then I shall know she is the girl from our bargain. And don’t think of tricking me.” I added a low growl to my voice. “I’ll find you.”
He snatched the rose and dashed out of there like an old hare.
In fact, if he hadn’t upheld the bargain, there would have been nothing I could do. I probably would have forgot about him in time. However, village folk are highly superstitious when it comes to people like me. For instance, the full-moon tale. Probably every transformation story you’ve ever heard involves some phase of the lunar cycle. It’s a load of nonsense. Were-wolves become wolves when the fancy strikes them; they are actually one of the few fey creatures who can suitably control themselves. Unfortunately, if you grow up believing that you will inevitably turn into a wolf under a full moon (as if magic takes orders from a distant celestial body!) then, by golly, you do. No use telling you that it’s been you all along and not some silly shining orb.
As it was, I ruminated on the idea later that night, after I had a very successful hunt. I caught a doe, would you believe it, at that time of winter. She was probably only four seasons old, very fresh, put up a good sprint -
But you may not be interested in that. Sometimes I forget that people are not fascinated by the same things animals are, and I digress. Did you know that cougars often have whole conversations about the hunts they’ve been on? I think that wolves would, but they hunt as a pack, so there’s not much to say.
What was I saying before? Oh, yes, I meditated on the concept of proper company that evening. By that time I was satiated, so I no longer entertained visions of eating her; no, that would not do at all. I began to realize that this girl could be very useful and pleasant, although I would have to prepare for her arrival. I would have to dress nicely, cook things, eat properly, and most importantly, clean up. My mansion had begun to look like a den. If this girl were to ever stop cowering and treat me like a human being, I would have to look and act like one. For really, at the heart of my loneliness was a longing to be acknowledged as more than an animal, a beast; a longing to be acknowledged as a person. Sometimes you forget that you are still a person. It is a terrible and depressing thing.
Of course I knew that she would cringe at first, but even then a faint flame in my heart flickered with the hope that she could befriend me in time. Or at least learn not to hate me. Another part of me knew that it was nearly impossible, for I was effectively keeping her as my prisoner in some godforsaken deserted mansion because of some petty rose. I would most definitely hate anyone who did that to me.
It then occurred to me to wonder how the old man would pick which daughter he sent. Probably the ugliest, but that didn’t bother me. I was gruesome myself. Luckily, probably not the most spoilt, because he would want to keep her the most. Maybe the oddest of his daughters, a bit of a loony that was always embarrassing him. I rather relished the thought, because crazy people are by far the most interesting type of people in the world. Besides, I was a bit mad myself. So long as she wasn’t completely off her rocker; I couldn’t handle some gibbering nutcase.
I knew it would take awhile for her to reach me. The nearest town was over a day’s ride away, and the merchant was probably traveling from afar. Not to mention, of course, all of the packing and farewells that would have to be done. Then again, maybe she wouldn’t pack at all, expecting to be eaten on the doorstep. I sighed. I would have to prepare some clothes, some of each size. More could be ordered upon her arrival. There was so much to be done.