An excerpt from Fur & Gold: A Variation by Craig Laurance Gidney

119 0 1

The Beast waits. 

Sometimes, he hides in the House. The trappings of humanity spark memories, some of them pleasant. The kitchen, with its pot-bellied stove, reminds him of warmth, and food. The bedroom, with its massive canopy bed, makes him feel safe, somehow. 

The House has fallen and rotted. Mold creeps along the walls, in black and green tones. The ceiling is webbed with cracks in the plaster. Dust is heavy as snowfall on the black stove. The carpets are fouled with droppings and urine.

The human within recognizes this. And when the human within is awake—this is when the Beast leaves the House, and thus, his humanity. Into the overgrown grounds, thick with bushes and thorns, full of the scent of night and his fellow animals. The Beast smothers the human within, with wildness and instinct.

One time, the Beast went to the second floor of the House. In one of the rooms, there was a mirror. The human within him woke, catching his reflection. Instead of skin and clothes, he beheld mangy, tangled fur, alien eyes, fangs, and a blunt snout. Horns protruding from his head. A lolling tongue.

The human within cried out, in fear, in horror. The cry was not a human cry. The Beast ran from the image, terrified. The Beast does not go the second floor anymore. The Mirror is evil.

The Beast waits, but does not know what he is waiting for. The waiting is instinctual, as inevitable and inexorable as the fur that covers his hide. Time has no meaning for the Beast. He just watches sunrise after sunrise, sunset after sunset. The moon rises, the moon sets. Sometimes, it rains, and others it snows. Time, like the House and the Mirror, are human concerns.

Every now and then, the thing within the Beast’s heart stirs. Certain sunsets can do that—when the sun descends in a fiery blaze of pink, orange and red. Or when blue butterflies sip from the throats of the drooping white flowers. These feelings, so set apart from the Beast’s perspective of sleep, hunt, fight and flight are pleasurable. He allows the human within time to pause, and exult in the beauty. 

One thing the Beast and human within both enjoy is the Rose. The Rose grows on a bush in the front of the house. It is the only bloom. It is a miraculous thing, this flower. The whorls of the petals are intricate and infinite. You could drown in them, fold upon fold of vegetable matter as soft as velvet. They hypnotize the Beast.  The Rose changes color everyday. It has been the red of arterial blood. Orange, like the rising sun. As cold and white as the moon. Sometimes, cerulean blue or metallic silver. One time, the Rose was transparent. Another time, it was reflective, like the evil Mirror. The Rose is never the same color twice. But in all of its hues, it glows softly. Lambent. Luminous.

To the Beast, the Rose has always been there. It, more than the House or the surrounding grounds, represents home to the Beast. Everyday, he must visit the Rose, as much as a salmon must swim upstream. In rain, even in the cold heart of winter, the Rose grows and blooms. The human within the Beast recalls a story about the Rose. Scraps of story, that the Beast can barely understand, save as images. Something about the Rose not being of this world. The Rose belongs to some impossible place, to some impossible kind of being. Neither the human within or the Beast dwell on this point for too long. It is too disturbing.

He returns now from visiting the Rose, which then was the color of clover, fresh green. He slinks back into the overgrown garden behind the fence, and curls up for a nap. Later, when the moon is high, he will hunt the woods on his grounds and feast on small game. The Beast closes his eyes, and briefly dreams of the hunt, that dance of instinct, scent and blood. Dream-rabbits and dream-pheasants flee before him. He gleefully rends their tender flesh. The satisfying crunch of bone beneath his fangs fuels his dreaming. Fur, muscle,  and wings  all dominate his mind. The hunt gives him great joy. During the hunt, the human within is totally submerged and dormant. 

You've reached the end of published parts.

⏰ Last updated: Jul 07, 2014 ⏰

Add this story to your Library to get notified about new parts!

An excerpt from Fur & Gold: A VariationWhere stories live. Discover now