#2142

These days I spend most of my time fantasizing about becoming a monster. Charybdis or Medusa, banshee or werewolf, siren or harpy, I don’t really care; just give me teeth and claws and I’ll supply the rage. I’ve got so much madness bottled up inside that I’m surprised I can’t turn people to stone with a glance already. I long to shed this soft, squishy layer of human skin and unveil the armored exoskeleton beneath. Make me six-headed Scylla and I will devour fleets of ships! Make me gifted Arachne and I will weave traps strong as spiders’ silk! Make me ravenous Ammit and I will tear the hearts of the unworthy to pieces! Come, goddess or witch, reshape this flimsy mortal form so I may be daughter of monsters and mother of beasts!

Advertisements

#2141

Coins rain down amid bursts of shocked laughter and startled, delighted gasps. The crowd has long forgotten the other market vendors at this chance to flirt with danger, to see something so rare and vicious here in their tiny provincial town. Humans love to feel a little fear when they know there is no actual risk and the townsfolk have thus blindly put their faith in the greasy man who gathers up their coins with one greedy hand while the other prods through the cage with a stick.

The creature in the cage can technically speak Common and should therefore be able to plead with her captor, or at least for sympathy from the crowd, but rage clouds her mind too much for her to do anything other than howl and launch herself at the bars. No one stands close enough to grab with her long claws yet still she tries, lashing her arm back and forth in the hopes of drawing blood. Her blue-gray skin bleeds where she has rubbed herself raw on the metal.

“Yep, wrestled this little bitch right out of the sea itself!” the man brags, jabbing her side with the stick. “She almost had me, too, but I was too strong for her! Not a man alive has ever caught one of these!” His words are lies; this oaf wasn’t even the one who cursed her into a human form, only a lucky idiot who stumbled across her while she was still dazed from the transformation. A feminine creature with long black hair and shark-like skin and teeth? He’d known exactly what she was and how much people would pay to see a monster like her up close.

“A real siren, incredible!” someone cries, while another asks with obvious concern, “Can’t they put a spell on you with their singing? Are we in danger?” The man scoffs at the question and, despite not actually knowing why she no longer has that trademark ability, uses it to his advantage. Kicking the cage, he laughs, “Yeah, but she won’t try anything funny on me. She knows who’s the boss here. Besides, I’ve been starving her down, she’s no match for me.”

Amid the tumult of voices and the siren’s furious snarling, someone whispers an unlocking spell. Even through her frenzy the siren senses this burst of magic and her keen ears catch the sound of the lock slowly turning. This time when she hurls herself against the cage the door bursts open and with a predator’s speed she leaps for her oblivious captor, howling in triumph. The impact sends him crashing to the ground and by the time he lands she’s already tearing at his throat with rows of serrated teeth. The humans who just moments ago had laughed and stared at her flee in terror, not a single one brave enough to attempt to contain her again.

Hunger partially sated, the siren tears off one of the man’s arms for further snacking and climbs to her feet. While she’s still unsteady on these strange human legs, used as she is to gliding through the water with her long, sinuous tail, she’ll adapt. With a little food in her belly she can finally think clearly for the first time since the awful spell that took her from her home was cast. Her thoughts burn hard and bright in their brute simplicity: Find the wizard. Make him reverse the curse. Eat him. Go home. Chewing on a meaty finger bone, the siren picks a direction and starts walking. She has no idea who this wizard is, where to find him, or how she’ll get him to lift the curse, but she’s not a creature of any particularly deep or complex thoughts and so this doesn’t much concern her. She can hunt and she can kill, and that’s good enough for her.

#2138

Sometimes I am Scylla and sometimes I am Charybdis and sometimes I am the thin strip of safe water between them with teeth snapping on one side and vortex gaping on the other but most days I just hope I survive, it doesn’t much matter how, and I often wonder what it would be like to be a monster so hideous and fierce that everyone avoids you, so insatiable you become synonymous with certain death, and it occurs to me that I don’t think I’d mind trading my humanity for the ability to swallow down the world until either it left me alone or there was nothing left in it to eat, that’s a pretty sweet deal if you ask me, so uh do I submit an application or do I need to get myself cursed by a witch or what?

#2037

here is your trident and here is your scepter

“Miss Draye,” the captain removed his hat politely as he approached the group of women clustered on deck, “I must ask you ladies to stay below for your own safety. The deck of a ship in battle is no place for a woman.” Victoria Draye, bravest and boldest of the young women traveling on the Valiant, pursed her lips and took a step forward to place herself between the captain and the girls.

“I truly appreciate your concern, Captain,” she offered, gesturing out to the ships gathered round their own like vultures, “but it seems you are vastly outnumbered with little hope of victory. We will not sit idly by and wait for our capture; we will succeed in defending our lives in combat or take them beyond the reach of our captors. Now,” she gestured impatiently with the hand not holding her pistol, “have you firearms for my companions or not?”

here is your charm to lure the men closer

“Be brave, my friends,” Victoria handed each girl a borrowed pistol, locking eyes with each for a second of camaraderie and comfort. Some took the proffered weapon stoically, others with much hesitance. She showed them how to load and fire, then pointed out to the circling ships trading cannon fire with the Valiant. “Remember, these are not normal privateers, and if this ship is taken we shall not be freed or ransomed. The fate that awaits us is much, much worse, and it is better to die defending ourselves than to be captured. Do you understand what must be done?” One by one, the girls nodded assent and readied their guns.

here is your kingdom of water and death

“Little girl, you had better set down that pistol or you’ll bleed all over that pretty dress,” The enemy captain, just moments ago congratulating himself on an easy prize, was quickly growing irritated by the young women clustered at the side of the Valiant’s deck. Each held a pistol to ward off the pirates, though clearly only the ringleader knew how to handle one. Still, none of his men would risk a possible lucky shot when they knew the ladies were their’s already.

“If you insist, then I suppose I must obey,” Victoria feigned regret as she carefully placed her pistol on the deck between them. As she rose, she stepped quickly backward to come in line with the other girls, scooping up a small cannonball as she went. Together, as if they had rehearsed it a hundred times, the girls moved back and sat upon the railing. Victoria climbed onto the railing itself, light as a gull. “We shall not be coming with you, though” she said, and before any of the men could move the girls had shot themselves, their bodies falling back into the cold water below. Victoria lifted her chin, stared down the captain, and stepped off into nothing.

here is your vengeance in immortal myth

James struggled to row the launch on his own, though he was still grateful the captain had loaned it without question. Most of the crew knew only bits and pieces of his mad quest, but he had had to tell the entire story to the captain in order to explain why he wanted to go alone. In the distance the ship’s lanterns bobbed and swayed, a comforting presence; besides the gleam of starlight, the tiny launch sat in darkness. James took a deep breath to steady his nerves, then called out softly, “Victoria? …Tori?”

here is your trident and here is your scepter
here is your charm to lure the men closer
here is your kingdom of water and death
here is your vengeance in immortal myth

The water around the launch began to foam and roil. James grasped the sides, searching for the source of the disturbance. Something approached, something from deep in the water…

“Jamey? My little Jamey James, is that you? My, how you’ve grown!”

James spun around. His sister rested her elbows on the edge of the launch, floating as calmly and prettily in the icy water as any sea creature. She looked just as he remembered, though her skin was a pale gray and her dark hair hung in wet strands. He thought something seemed… off… about her torso, too, as if it were much longer than it should be, and her pupils took up far too much of her eyes. Her teeth, too – were they always that sharp?

“Sis…” James let out the breath he had been holding as all around the boat girls rose smiling from the water, all lovely and strange as his sister. He wiped away sudden tears and took his sister’s cold, webbed hand in his own. “How I’ve missed you!”

#1822

You haunt me, monstress! First my dreams and now in literature. What do you wish of me, why do you call to me from your prison in the dark depths? You make the saltwater in my blood rush like the tide; you stir the wreckage of ships and ocean liners buried in the silt of my stomach. Do you need your story told, perhaps? Has your tale been so twisted through the years that you crave retribution, if only in the form of the truth written somewhere, anywhere, for someone to find? There’s so little trace of you left in song or myth after all these years, so you must fill in the gaps for me. I am good at telling the monster’s story, and I will tell yours if you need. I am not afraid to be pulled down into the whirlpool if you are not afraid to show me your true form.

#1800

I wake with salt water in my throat and Charybdis curling my tongue, so thirsty I feel like I’m going crazy, I need to swallow the sea, swallow the world.

Charybdis. 

Charybdis.

Charybdissss…

I wonder – if you were changed back, returned to the fair body for which you longed, would you be happy? Or would the insatiable beast still live inside you, like the woman lived inside the beast for so many millenia?

I think you would dream of shipwrecks. I think you would wake with blood between your teeth.