Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Lock (03/06/06)
TITLE: The Beast
By Jeremy Iman
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As he sat in the musty depths of his basement, shrouded in a cloak of unwanted darkness, he examined the beast, something he had made a habit of doing from time to time. A solitary light bulb, dim and dull, hung from a small white wire above the cage and served as the only source of comfort. As for the creature, Daniel had never seen anything like it. It was large and bulky, obviously capable of destruction, but it seemed so peaceful. Many nights he regretted keeping it locked up, but whenever he worked up the courage to approach the lock, something inside of him wouldn’t allow it. Still, it looked at him with those glaring, yet gentle, eyes. It made him uneasy, but somehow he knew it was for the best.
“Well my friend,” he said in a strong whisper of a voice, “I’ve decided to feed you again. I see you’ve gotten weak, and part of me is glad, but your hunger is apparent and I can’t seem to say no to your whimpers.”
He tossed the beast a few scraps while standing back at a safe distance. This was perhaps the longest he had gone without feeding it. Starvation, he concluded, was the only way to kill it, and the successful effects of this method were beginning to show. But as much as he wanted to, he couldn’t kill it. No. He just couldn’t.
After quickly devouring the small pieces of meat, the beast licked its lips with a long pinkish tongue and looked at Daniel, obviously wanting more. It always wanted more.
“Not tonight. That’s all you’re getting.”
Its ears perked up at the sound of his voice, and it began moaning in a soft purring growl. Maybe, he thought while inching slowly toward the cage, maybe he could let it stretch its legs a little, what could it hurt. It seemed inhumane keeping it confined when it had made no signs of hostility towards him. At least none that he could remember. Just a quick little stroll around the basement and then back in the cage is all it would take. It would make him feel better.
His gut suddenly turned and demanded that he stop, but the beast looked so sad behind those iron bars. Again he moved forward, gaining a few more feet before stopping again to subdue the thoughts rushing through his brain. They warned him of his actions, telling him he was dangerously close and should retreat, but still he pressed on. Soon, he was closer to the cage than he ever remembered being. The beast glared at him, silently beckoning him onward. Its passive-aggressive strategy was working, and Daniel moved closer.
Once he was within reaching distance of the large steal door, he placed a shaking hand into his coat pocket and removed a bright golden key. He had to use both hands to move the key towards the lock, it seemed so heavy, but once there it slid in with ease.
The beast flinched and Daniel jumped back. He sensed something was wrong, but the feeling wasn’t strong enough to persuade him. Again he reached for the door, feeling the coldness of the bar on his palm as his fingers wrapped around it. Gently, so gently, he pulled it open. First a small gap, then a little larger, finally a great divide.
“There, no harm done,” he said, panting heavily with a smile.
The words had barely passed his lips when there was a roar the likes of which he had never heard before. The beast lunged towards the opening with unnatural speed. Daniel quickly reached for the door, but it was too late. The damage was done.
Outside the small house, growls and screams mingled together and escaped into the afternoon air. They echoed against the surrounding trees, reverberating through the forest before dissolving into nothingness.
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