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Speculative Fantasy Urban Fantasy

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

My Uncle's Beast.

After my grandmother's death, my uncle, consumed with grief, locked himself up in his studio for weeks on end and did nothing but stare at the wall like he was staring into an abyss. Almost like he was trying to get rid of his sadness by projecting it onto the white nothingness of his studio wall. My uncle was especially angry because even on her death bed when she could no longer speak or swallow because the cancer that would eventually kill her had metastasized into a goiter in her throat, my grandmother still had a look of disappointment in her eyes when she saw my uncle for the last time because despite his immense talents, he remained an obscure, penniless artist who brought nothing but shame to our family name with his excessive drinking and street fighting. My grandmother died a few days later convinced that my uncle was an irredeemable failure who would never make anything of his immense talents because he always sabotaged himself with drink. He became even angrier because he was beginning to believe she was right and even if she wasn’t and he somehow found a way to escape the hamster wheel of drink, debt and fights he had been stuck on his entire adult life, he would never not see that look of disappointment in her eyes, so he stared into the nothingness of his studio wall, avoiding his creditors and remaining sober for the longest period in his adult life, until one afternoon when he looked outside the window and saw his future in a pile of broken bottles. Green and mesmerizing, they were shimmering under the intense sunlight like something out of a meteorite shower, like a pile of kryptonite crystals that had just fallen out of the sky.

My uncle walked up to his epiphany entranced like he had never seen that pile of STAR bottles before even though he had personally broken almost every bottle in the pile during any one of the countless drunken fights he had while trying to fend off the righteous repayment demands of his creditors. My uncle, who had become locally famous for his skills as an intoxicated pugilist, had fought his way from a few shards to the almost knee-high hill shimmering before him. He had walked past that pile of broken bottles a thousand times on his way to the studio without taking any notice of it or how much it had grown over the years but on that hot summer afternoon, beatified by the angry sun above, he saw that testament to his drunkenness in a different light. That was when he decided to create a sculpture out of broken glass.

My aunty was alarmed when she saw her husband transporting that pile of broken bottles to his studio. Everyone told her she had married a mad man not a genius like she believed and on that hot summer afternoon when she saw him shoveling what remained of that pile of STAR bottles into the metal bucket she used to fetch water, she wondered if the circumstances of his mother's death had driven him off the deep end and he was in the process of trying to commit suicide by bathing with broken bottles. She approached her perspiring husband with caution. “Ade, what are you doing?” she asked genuinely concerned. He stop shoveling looked up at her and said “I have seen the future my dear. It’s in broken bottles” he smiled, pointing before picking up the bucket and locking himself up in his studio. His actions over the next few weeks made my aunty certain her detractors were right. She had indeed married a madman whose derangement was now manifesting in self harm.

Self harm was new to him except if you consider getting into a thousand needless fights a form of self harm by proxy. Then my uncle had been self harming his entire adult life. After being thoroughly seduced throughout his childhood by Newspaper adverts and brilliant billboards depicting “The Happy life” and how much “Brighter your life would be with STAR”, my uncle finally succumbed to the Nigeria Breweries Propaganda machine and decided to celebrate turning eighteen by drinking his first bottle of their golden brew, on that very night he discovered that far from being happy, he was an angry drunk who loved to fight and break bottles after downing their content. Something about seeing those golden bubbles rising into white froth reminded him of his wasted potential and made him angry at the world. 

My grandmother always reminded him of his wasted potential and advised him to spend more time in his studio away from fights and bars but instead of heeding her advice, my uncle only heard nagging and always drowned out her voice with a few more bottles until she fell silent. 

My uncle spent weeks gluing together the shards of broken glass that brought the beast to life. The beast fought against its creation, not wanting to come to life, it wrestled against its creator, slashing him open many times during the labor, hoping the pain of his bandaged hands would make him abort the process and go back to working with wood but my uncle was a persistent god, who, although he had to take the precaution of wearing thick rubber gloves while transfiguring that pile of kryptonite, soldiered on until he finally brought that reluctant nightmare to life. Foreshadowing future pandemics, my uncle also took the precaution of wearing a face mask and a pair of goggles to protect his eyes from the caustic but lotophagic fumes of evostic glue.

My uncle was a great artist, a modern Pygmalion, his sculptures always seemed to carry life within them but that kryptonite beast was different. It was his masterpiece. It didn’t just convey a semblance of life like the others, it seemed to genuinely be alive, imbued with a breath of life so powerful, sometimes it seemed to move, startling its viewers. The razor-backed beast was sharp, green and menacing to the eye. Rabid and crouching, its glare was an assault on the senses, yet as feral as it was, there was something vaguely human about the beast, almost like it was a werewolf crouching smack dab in the middle of my uncle’s studio, underneath the fluorescent lamp he used to see at night and just a few feet away from the only window that let sunlight into his well lit but poorly ventilated studio.

The green monster reeked of anger, stale beer and dried blood mixed with the repugnant yet magnetic fumes of evostic glue. Throughout its brief existence and for many months after, its smell and presence completely dominated that room, my uncle worked on nothing else while it was alive. It was a jealous beast, demanding one’s full attention with the magnitude of its aura which rendered all the other artworks in the room invisible. Almost like it intimidated them into denying their very existence with the sheer awfulness of its presence. Beautiful sculptures who now cowered in the corners of the room hoping not to be seen by anyone especially the beast which looked like it could turn around and devour them at anytime.

My uncle's first and only piece of abstract art was disturbing to look at, it perfectly conveyed menace, possessing the demeanor of a grizzly bear with green instead of brown fur, awakened too early from hibernation, grouchy and ravenous with the hunger of many months, stalking, snarling, showing if its fangs, not hiding its desire to pounce and feast on its viewer but like many tyrants, the green monster also knew when to take off the edge and turn on the charm.

I remember the first time I met the beast I was mesmerized, it knelt down submissively beside me and looked up at me with the puppy eyes of a lonely dog that just needed its back rubbed, only after I had slashed open my fingers on its jagged back was the spell broken and I saw the beast for what it was, a rabid, insatiable glutton baying for my blood.

The green monster loved the red blood of children and adults alike. Prior to its untimely death, the beast had grown fat on the plasma supplied to it by the endless stream of blood donors that came to see it crouch in my uncle’s studio, young and old, we all fell under its spell and willingly donated our blood to that glutton. Even in the early days, my aunty was always on standby with her white first aid kit when people came visiting and even though they were forewarned by a large sign on the wall screaming in capital letters, in my uncle's angriest voice, DO NOT TOUCH THE ARTWORKS; they almost always came out bleeding, such was the power of the monster’s mesmerism.

The beast, whose fame was growing in and beyond art circles fueled by real life encounters that sounded like phantasmagoria, continued to grow throughout its life. By the time two articles titled “The Kryptonite Beast” and “The Green Monster” appeared on the Art pages of the Weekend Times and the Sunday Guardian, my uncle’s favorite newspapers, along with identical black and white photographs which didn’t properly convey the beast’s charisma; it was already a giant, about twice its initial size its jagged fur almost pressing up against the walls of my uncle's studio, threatening to scratch off the paint but for some odd reason nobody but me seemed to notice its constant increase in size and audacity. The number of people who came to see the beast doubled everyday, from the few friends my uncle invited over to christen his latest work to the thousands who lined up around the block willing to pay the ever increasing gate fee to my almost-millionaire aunty on the day the beast died. Many of them repeat customers with already bandaged hands begging to pay double to have another encounter with their torturer.

Thanks to the beast, my aunty stopped making excuses to all her husband’s creditors, paying each one in full, avoiding the drunken fights which always led to his arrests and debt-inducing fines. The beast, born out of his grief of my grandmother’s passing, though reluctantly at first, had roared into existence and completely smashed the hamster wheel of drink, debt and fines my uncle had been running on his entire adult life; bringing fame, wealth and glory to our family but my uncle remained unfulfilled, he could still see that look of disappointment in my grandmother’s eyes because she didn’t live long enough to see him succeed, to see him as something other than an irredeemable failure who was wasting his potential.

Thanks to the beast’s alchemical ability to turn its victims blood into money, my uncle, who had always been known for his generosity, buying crates of beer for his fellow merry men even if it was with borrowed money he never intended to pay back, went haywire with his proceeds from the gate, hosting lavish parties every evening and becoming a creditor himself for the first time in his life not always the borrower.

The beast didn’t like being disturbed at night. Something about being suddenly awakened by the light of the fluorescent overhead made it incandescent with rage. Shimmering and bristling with anger, it looked like a giant porcupine with quills made of kryptonite crystals. The beast never looked move alive and menacing than when sharp rays of light suddenly pierced through it glass body, you could almost how it growl looking to devour its awakener. Luckily the beast was murdered in the morning when it was at its weakest, long before any of its devotees had been let through my aunty’s gate if not my uncle would have had to smash his way through a thousand strong zombie horde, evostic fiends, willing to die while protecting their false idol.

During the height of the beast’s reign, there was an ambulance permanently stationed outside my uncle’s studio with nurses to attend to the wounded. Despite the health hazard the beast posed to its visitors, my uncle bluntly refused to close down his studio instead he kept making excuses for the beast “Why do they keep touching it?” he would ask “There is literally a sign on the wall that says DO NOT TOUCH THE ARTWORKS” he would conclude, feigning ignorance of his cash cow’s powers. 

My uncle kept making excuses for the beast until it attacked his only child, my little cousin, Omeri, who, not noticing how much the beast had grown, ran directly into its quills while playing hide and seek, almost losing any eye. The sight of his only child’s blood drove my uncle “Super Saiyan”, filling him with his final rage not fueled by alcohol but vengeance and fatherly love. For the crime of almost blinding his only son the beast had to die.

Pestle in hand, he approached it with caution and resolve, like it was alive. Circling it, he avoided its glare like it could fight back. Then suddenly my uncle raised the giant pestle and fell on the beast, striking it a thousand times with the Frankenstein fury of vengeful god destroying his own creation gone awry, like it was a rabid rottweiler that had to be put down after maiming its owner’s child. My uncle didn’t just club the beast to death; screaming, bawling, he punched and kicked it continuously until he began bleeding profusely from his slashed up fists and the soles of his feet. Still he didn’t stop until he shattered that unrepentant monster into a green sea of catharsis, into a thousand shimmering drops of kryptonite that lay on the studio floor underneath the fluorescent light looking like a field of tears.

I deliberately stepped onto those bloodstained smithereens later that day before my aunty swept them away. I have forgotten if it was guilt, curiosity or empathy that made me walk onto that glittering field. Guilt because I was the one playing hide and seek with my cousin when he ran into the beast and almost lost an eye trying to hide from me or was it curiosity entwined with empathy because I wanted to share my uncle’s pain, I wanted to know what it felt like to bleed from their soles of one’s feet while filled with anger, regret and remorse or maybe it was a combination of all three that made me walk onto that sea of catharsis, I still can’t remember. I just know I can’t blame it on the monster’s mesmerism. I did it myself. As a form of atonement for almost blinding my cousin, I felt I had to be the beast’s last victim.

The beast lived for less than a month but in that time it left an indelible mark on everyone who came to see it crouch in my uncle's studio, so long-lasting was its effect that for many months after its death, its smell still dominated that room which was like nectar to the endless stream of well wishers that poured into my uncle's studio not to admire his other sculptures, who, since witnessing the beast’s defeat at the hands of their creator, were slowly regaining confidence and retaking their pride of place in the center of the room away from the corners where they cowered throughout its month long reich, but to bask in the monster’s zombie aura, that unique blend of stale beer, anger and dried blood mixed with the sweet but fiendish fumes of evostic glue.

Like many tyrants who reigned before and after its Reich, the beast’s power seemed to grow in death, inspiring a kind of strange nostalgia in the minds of its victims. An endless stream of masochists gathering in art circles, showing off their bandaged hands while fondly reminiscing about the injuries they suffered at the hands of their tyrant. Each misremembering it's reich as “not that bad” and “unfairly maligned after its demise”. All wishing they could once again slash their palms open while stroking the monster's fur.

My aunty still collected a small gate fee from those who came to mourn the beast until they figured out the best way to satisfy their nostalgia for the monster was not by communing on the ground where it was slain but by sniffing evostic glue mixed with a few drops of their own blood while downing a pint of beer preferably from a soon-to-be-broken green bottle. Watching those golden bubbles rising into white froth, dwelling on their own wasted potentials.

After his hands healed, my uncle went back to slowly carving out the sculptures he had abandoned after birthing the beast but although they had life in them none of them could match the monster's charisma.

I’ll never forgot the day my uncle smashed that beast to smithereens, he was never the same again, he became a lot calmer and more secure in himself, almost like he stopped seeing that look of disappointment in his mother's eyes, a change reflected in the smiling self portrait he produced shortly after reopening his studio.

Many years later I would come to understand that I had just witnessed a exorcism, almost like my uncle had gotten rid of the frothing demons that made him drink until he became angry at the world by pouring them into one of his sculptures, his greatest work, which was a reflection of something deep inside him, something sharp, green and menacing, something he needed to kill.

The End.

January 12, 2024 17:32

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1 comment

David Sweet
21:11 Jan 20, 2024

An incredible story of loss and obsession! Outstanding work! Thanks for sharing this story. I don't know if this is based on a true tale, but I love the progression of the story. It's almost as if the beast tool on the sins of everyone who approached it. Welcome to Reedsy! My favorite line (awesome!): "Green and mesmerizing, they were shimmering under the intense sunlight like something out of a meteorite shower, like a pile of kryptonite crystals that had just fallen out of the sky."


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