The Beast

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Under the blanket of midnight, darkness is my safe haven. Isn't it natural for a beast to thrive in the dark?

I simply follow tradition. I lurk in the shadows, creep up in dark alleys, and sneak along abandoned roads shrouded in black. Darkness frightens people and so it is my shelter.

Children and adults equally fear me. The little ones cry and run away. The older ones halt and behold in horror, waiting for me to attack - to bare sharp fangs and claws, to rip them to shreds and devour their flesh. That horrified look in their eyes is what taught me to hide. It is what taught me how inhuman I am.

Human beings seem to have the same look every time they lay eyes upon me. The look of fear and hate.

Isn't it truly fascinating? Fear of the unknown has always been the enemy of humankind. If it’s something they do not understand, it's something they cannot change. If they cannot change it, then it is pure evil. People loathe the unknown, because it reminds them how ignorant and powerless they are.

I am the unknown… And to them, I personify evil. They cannot change me to be something that makes them feel safe. I do not blame them.

Here in the ruins of this old town, I do not need to be seen or feared. I wander for hours, bathing in darkness inside and out. There's hardly anyone living near by, except for the nocturnal creatures. The howling wolves and hooting owls are my loyal company.

As I pass by an old, decaying house, I hear a distant creak that halts my midnight trek.

“Hello,” a trembling voice says.

I quickly pull down the hooded cloak over my face.

“Help me, please.” The voice sounds as ancient and decayed as the house it came from.

I stand still.

“Please, son. It's a frigid night. I need to carry some firewood inside and I'm too old.” The voice trembles again. Thin female voice, mixed with teeth chattering

I grunt and remain immobile.

I am not here to help anyone. She doesn't know whom she's asking. The old woman's heart will fail if she caught a glimpse of my face.

She moves in the periphery of my sight. I see her stumble down the unpaved ground, nearly losing her balance.

My breath quickens. My  hands curl into fists. I consider ignoring her and treading away.

The woman limps closer and I take a stride farther.

“Wait!” she shrills, increasing her speed. She looks pitiful with her faltering steps.

I stop and turn, keeping my concealed face down. “I am in a hurry,” I say gruffly.

“It will only take a few minutes.” She stands in front of me, her hands held up in a plea.

I reckon with her request, making certain she doesn't catch a clear glance. Then I let out another grunt, and nod my agreement.

In the dim moonlight, I follow the old woman to a small shed beyond her rickety house. A stack of split firewood lies on the ground chaotically. I bend down and gather several chunks of the wood, securing them in my arms.

While I circle back to leave, my cloak clings to a rusty nail and it slides off my head. It reveals my disfigured face in the silver light.

A gasp makes me whip my face away. I stiffen on my spot. The poor woman must be terror-stricken.

Petrified, I stumble. The wood drops from my hands, and I growl as my toes throb painfully.

I must leave!  It is either I leave her to die of the cold, Or stay and give her a heart attack.

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