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The Monster on the Farm
As James began to settle into bed, he decided to take this time to reflect upon his day. As with most people this process involves disappointment and bleakness but is always inevitably followed by promises for a better tomorrow. James slid into his old, beige sheets and laid his head on his weathered pillow with a sigh. His very bones creaked from the day’s labor, and with a groan James realized he would have to do it all again the next day. He began to wonder when the excitement of adulthood that he always dreamed of as a small boy would finally arrive. He had spent the last 12 years on this farm, doing the same menial chores, day after day. He looked after the hounds, the cattle and the chickens with the same gumption that he looked after his health. James was a pack of Marlboros a day man and he kindly made a nightcap for himself every evening at 9 on the dot to help him fall into a dazed, preoccupied slumber. The farm gave him something to do at the very least. Indeed, he found himself often lost in thought, milling about the garden or tending to the vast cornfield that took up a sizeable acre on their property. There was very little change in his daily routine and with this he began to become restless. James became unhappy and suddenly angry at the bleak, rural life he thought would have been enough for him. He began to sleepwalk and do outlandish things in his late night state. He would spend hours cooking a feast or cleaning the house, all the while dead asleep. He would find the results of his midnight debauch the next morning and wonder what fiend had created such a mess. He had absolutely no memory of every doing a single thing.
His days of waking up early to greet the dawn and the hens began to drain him of life. He was always good in school, he learned fast; he had a talent for taking on challenges and was very skilled with his hands. Why shouldn’t he be destined for something greater? Why must he waste his life tending to the same crops, year after year, like his father and his grandfather before him? Why must he toil away at the unforgiving dirt from which he only found a meager living and nothing more?
It seemed the only thing that gave him hope anymore was his daughter of only 7 years, Ana. Ana, even at such a young age, was a beauty. She had long hair of a dark mahogany and the deepest blue eyes James had ever seen. Whenever James thought of Ana he radiated with the same glow of pride and happiness that most people get when looking upon their most prized possession. James knew that one day Ana would run the farm that had been in their family for three generations. James wasn’t a praying sort of man but if there was one thing that needed divine intervention it would be the hope that Ana never felt the same emptiness and worthlessness that he felt. With these thoughts cutting away at him and the nightcap swimming in his head, James wearily closed his eyes in a drunken stupor to wander the unexplored regions of his life. And as James began to fall deep into unconsciousness, he hoped that when he awoke he would find a new lease, a new purpose for his sedentary life on this sedentary farm.
The night was still and the moon was a bright crimson when James awoke suddenly. He couldn’t quite put his finger on the problem, but something was dreadfully wrong with the world. James leapt from his bed with a pounding heart and silently sprinted to his daughter’s small room. Inside she was angelically snoozing with a smile on her placid face. The echo of James’ sigh of relief and the creak of the floor followed him back to his room. He looked through the single window that let in a sliver of moonlight through the curtains. There was nothing but his sleeping farm and a billion stars to watch as a lazy mist drifted over the corn. There was nothing astray, nothing out of place, absolutely nothing. James tried to recall what awoke him. Perhaps it was some mysterious noise? Maybe his own dream frightened him into an awoken state? The answer was no closer to James when he saw from between sleepy eyes a rustling on the far side of the cornfield, near the old, red tool barn. James inched his neck forward and squinted his eyes to see what could possibly be moving through the corn so noiselessly.
Very slowly from within the crop appeared a tall, blackened figure. It was like nothing James had ever seen before. He could barely make out the figure in the glow of the moon, but he could see that it appeared at least 7 foot tall with some sort of white plumage on its head. This was some monster, some beast on his farm. What was this thing, thought James. Why is it here? The suspicious figure began to clumsily tread its way towards the barn as if drunk, and enter. The monstrous thing had disappeared. Before James could think to act it had reappeared outside of the barn, brandishing an axe that reflected the red of the solitary moon on the sharp, unused blade. The monster began to stumble toward the house. It was walking very slowly and dragging the axe along with it. James could see the deep marks in the earth where the axe had sliced through the ground. James eyes widened in fear as the being came closer to the house and stopped. It looked up toward one of the windows on the second floor and James saw that its gaze landed on his daughter’s bedroom. The monster disappeared from sight as it began to enter the quiet, undisturbed house.
James turned from the window and a cold sweat dripped down his spine. He could hear in the distance of his house the axe being dragged along the wooden floor and the oblong steps of the beast as it mounted the ancient stairs. James began to press one careful step forward upon the creaky floor and peaked out from his doorframe. He could see the back of the monster clearly now. The white plumage was now graying from age and no doubt a long, sedentary life. The thing swayed to the landing and turned into Ana’s room and James followed noiselessly, all the while shaking with terror.
As James found his way into the hall he began to feel an aroused sense of reality. Nothing of which he had ever felt before. He could see himself from above, sneaking into the next room. He could see from his lofty position the entire world as if on display in a window. James saw himself, his sleeping daughter, the beast and of course the dreadful corn that supplied his living. James was nearly at the door of his daughter’s room; he looked inside and saw a most horrid sight.
The monster lifted the axe and brought it down sharply on the body of his daughter. She awoke suddenly and began to fret with horror. Again and again the axe was lifted into the air, glinting in the moist light, and brought down quickly on what was left of poor Ana. She quickly stopped moving without a single noise more. A splatter of crimson dispersed throughout the room and James’ daughter’s mangled body still had the peaceful face of an innocent sleeper. When the monster had finished its dreadful deed, it turned around to James who was now paralyzed with deep, uninhibited fear and from a faceless head whispered, “James, wake up”.
James’ eyes were brought quickly open from the horrible images it was accosted with through the night. James gasped loudly and realized that the horridness of the night was merely unreality. James breathed a sigh of relief and began to arise from his bed, shaking the night’s sleep away. He barely had two feet on the ground when he saw lying upon his bedside a blood-stained axe. A mask of pure confusion spread across his face as he whispered the name of the only thing in the world he cared about, Ana.
James jumped from his bed and from his room to Ana’s. And there, lying with the same placid face of a quiet night’s sleep rested the mangled body of his daughter. James’ lip began to quiver and he let out a cry that would break the heart of anyone who heard it. His cry was so full of sorrow and pain that it drained the life from him and he collapsed to his knees and covered his face. He looked down upon his hands and saw the caked on smears of blood from his night’s deed. How is this possible? With a shock of realization, James realized what he had done. That was no monster at all; it was merely a subconscious allusion to himself. James began to wonder how he could possibly live with himself, how he could possibly continue without the beautiful glow of his daughter in his life. James rocked silently on his daughter’s floor for a while, sobbing into his pajamas, trying to figure out how he could have dreamt such a horrid nightmare, yet it still be reality.
James, in a fit of sorrow and depression, slowly clamored his way back to his room. He fell headlong into bed without a single sound except the cries which emanated from his lips. He curled himself into his blankets and with soggy, tear-stained pillow began to fall back into a fitful sleep. All the while a single gray feather lay quietly on the floor of Ana’s room.