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Fiction Horror Thriller

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

For twenty years I’ve played the beast and I would have played it for another hundred given the opportunity. I stubbed the smoldering cigarette into the ashtray and watched the lit orange embers turn cold while waiting in my dressing room.


“Do you ever wish you could play the hero?” Reporters had asked me in the far and few interviews I had been selected to do. 

“Never in a million years.” I answered. 


I’ll admit, there was a certain level of anonymity in playing a role where I had to wear a mask. No one cheered for me like they cheered for the hero. Why would they? I was a metaphor for the pieces of themselves that lacked self awareness. The instincts of fear and aggression they thought they had been conquered. The uncivilized part of themselves that rose to violence the moment their beliefs were questioned. The animal behaviors they thought they were above, but that bubbled beneath their surface, lust, anger, jealousy… After the show, they might laugh and say they weren’t truly scared, they knew it was just a show, they knew the hero would come, but with their hands pressed to their racing heart of hearts they knew, it would be me in their dreams that night. I was the one they related to, the one that lived in their psyche, not the hero…

 Night after night, I went on stage knowing the moment I set foot in the spotlight, the audience was anticipating my downfall. Yearning for the moment the hero would stick his sword through my heart, the way they wished they could stick a sword threw the parts of themselves that were prone to feral desires. With every exaggerated step, every corner I lurked behind (unbeknownst to the hero) the audience gasped and squealed in delighted horror. The theater crackled with tension and fear, electrifying my senses until I was the beast and the beast was me.


The hero may have their affections, but I was born from the shadowy parts of their heart. 


I had sympathy for the beast, and all that I represented when I put on that mask. That was the secret to my performance, on that stage, I had compassion for the monster.

The beast was everything we couldn’t control inside ourselves, the part that lashed out at loved ones because of our own egos and animal righteousness. Even though the beast’s only true crime was being an animal in a human world-


A loud sharp knock at the door broke my train of thought and the stage hand called, “You’re on in ten!” 


I took a deep breath, my heart aching with grief and sorrow.

Tonight will be my last on stage. I’d gotten too old for show business, or at least that’s what they told me. I had a good run, it was time for some new blood to take my place.


When the curtain closed tonight, all my dreams would end. Tonight I will be saying goodbye to the beast. 


Bang! Bang! Bang!


Another knock on my door jolted me, making my heart sputtered and rattled in my rib cage. It couldn’t be my stage call yet, could it? I always had a knack for knowing intuitively when it was time for me to go on. Maybe I was getting old, I mused, checking my pocket watch…but no, it was not time. Only two minutes had passed. The knock sounded again, this time with so much force it shook my mirror, delicate glass clanging against the wall. 


My ears burned hot with rage. For twenty years I served this production, how dare they bang on my door with such disrespect?! I was still essential. I was still a star. I was not a nobody until the final curtain fell. I threw the door open in outrage, ready to clobber the stage hand or reporter or director…tonight I didn’t care, tonight I had nothing left to lose. 


A man with lurid yellow eyes, eyes like stomach bile, stood outside the door waiting, and the unnatural color unnerving me, uprooting my call to violence. 

“Nice contacts you’ve got on there. Almost thought they were real.” I chuckled weakly, an attempt to hid my unease.


The man was dressed in a suit so sleek and black it was as though he had commanded the dark of night to dress him, the shadows themselves slithering and wrapping themselves lovingly to his form. Black on black on black with green envy emerald gems encrusted on his cufflinks. 


“Yes. Contacts.” He agreed flatly, and after a lengthy pause, he blinked, the blink was awkward and unnatural, like an actor who momentarily forgot their stage direction. 


“Is there a reason you were banging on my door? I play an important role here, you know. My time is valuable.” I did my best to look down on the strange man with all the dignity and self importance I could muster.


The man stared at me with an alarming level of emptiness in his expression. Not a single emotion flitted across his curdled yellow eyes, and it caused the hair on my arms to rise like goose flesh. My feet dragged my body a step backwards, muscles moving on at their own discretion. Adrenaline rushed through my body at the request of an ancient primal alarm ringing inside me, urging, ‘Run!’ It screamed, ‘Survive, run!’ 

I pinned that urge down, demanding it’s submission and refusing to be intimidated by this strange person.


The man stepped forward, filling in the gap between us, “Yes, the beast. I know your work very well. Tonight is your last performance. Tell me, are you sad to go?” His voice lingered on the s’s like a hisssss, his question lilting stiffly upwards in the worst performance of curiosity I had ever seen. 


“Yes.” I replied shakily, nervous sweat dripping on my brow, “Yes, I’m quite fond of this role.” 


“And tell me, Mr. Caitiffy, what makes you so fond of a beast? Of a villain?” He asked in that same hollow cadence of mock intrigue.


I am ashamed to say I responded with little more then a feeble, child’s voice, “The beast didn’t do anything wrong, he’s just an animal, subjected to his own nature. Any of us could become the beast in the wrong social setting.” 


“Do you often feel beastly, Mr Caitiffy?” The yellow eyed man inquired with a raised brow.


I recoiled, repulsed by such an intimate question, “I’m sorry, who did you say you were again?” 


“I’m here to give you a proposition.” The man said, taking another step closer, even though he had already stood close to feel his hot breath on my cheek, even though he already stood too close, “You have played the beast for two decades, immersing yourself in the role, and what do you get? A lackluster goodbye party and dismissal. I think you deserve more than that. Don’t you?”


 I had been alive long enough to know a sales pitch when I heard one. “Yeah…” I replied warily, “But what is there to do about it? That’s just the way these things go.” 


“I’m glad you asked, Mr Caitiffy. I would like to immortalize you.” He pulled a black executive pen and paper from his coat, “All I need is for you to sign on the dotted line, and the dream you carry in your heart will become a reality. No one will be able to upstage you or dismiss you again. The role of the beast will belong to you, uniquely, indefinitely.” 


I smirked at him, “It doesn’t exactly work that way. If it did, I would sign that document a million times over.” 


The man smiled, “Then you should have no problem signing it merely once.” 


He held up the paper for me to see and on it read a single line, ‘I, Damien Caitiffy, consent to having the dreams of my heart made into reality.’ Followed by a line for my signature. 


I laughed, “You must be some sort of performance actor. I was a bit spooked for a moment there. I’ll sign that any day of the week.”


I signed my name on the dotted line and underneath I wrote a short note thanking him for being a fan. He rolled the autograph up, tucking it back into his coat and bowing slightly, “It has been a pleasure doing business with you, Mr Caitiffy. I look forward to seeing your truly awe inspiring performance as the Beast.” 


  

 I slipped on my gloves, each finger tipped with dazzling glinting crystal cut claws, all of them two inches and large enough to sparkle in the spot life. I picked up my costume head. It was a life like piece, sown with real hair, black and downy. I took care to brush my beastly head every night after a performance, grooming it just so. It was fixed with a long snarling snout, gleaming white teeth. The artist that had created it, truly took special care to get each detail just right. I pulled the mask down over my head, adjusting it carefully, so I could see. I looked at myself for a moment in the mirror, drinking in the glory, and spoke to my reflection, “Tonight is our last night together, my old friend. Let’s give ‘em a show worth dying for.”


I opened my dressing room door, where a stage hand stood poised to knock. She was a young girl that I hadn’t seen before. She yelped jumping in surprise and dropped her clipboard, “Oh, Mr. Caitiffy! Wow. You really are a terror to see up close. How do you get your eyes to shine like that?”

Underneath my mask, I smiled, “All part of being the Beast.” 


I was the star of the first act, the audience's first glimpse of the story to unfold. A story about a monster that lived in the forest, until one day it bit the wrong hand. I rolled out my shoulders as my co-star set the scene. She played a young girl who had gotten lost in the woods while running away to escape a marriage. She was the first to be slain by the beast. I could hear the crowd laughing at her childish antics, as she wailed about the injustice of life. Injustice I felt to my core, and I wanted to wail with her, but instead I would growl and roar, an animal on the hunt.

Finally, it was my cue and I stalked onto the stage, snarling for effect. The crowd gasped at my ghastly appearance and it fuelled me. I could feel their horror in my bones, it was the blood that beat in my veins. I was the beast, I was the hunter, I was the-


Somewhere along my spine a bone snapped and I arched gasping out in pain. My shoulder crunched like broken glass and my body contorted, twisting in agony, a snarl on my lips. 


The crowd loved it. The crowd thought it was part of the act, my final farewell performance, a man gone wild. 


I wailed as my bones splintered. Howling like a wounded animal, my very skull popping, squeezing my eyeballs until I thought surely they would burst. My eyesight went red from the torment. My jaw unhinged and I clawed at my mask, my beloved mask, tearing it from my face. The actress looked upon me with a gasp, terror in her eyes and I breathed in her delicious, succulent scent. 

…I am the beast...

 I stepped towards her, my costume shoes tearing and falling away to reveal large animal paws. 

…I am the monster that lives inside all… 

My prey trembled before me. I sniffed her, my snout twitching from the excitement of the catch. I could smell this animal’s fear.

…I am the piece of you that doesn't know any better…

 The empty hole of hunger growled inside me, and I growled with it. Thump thump thump, went the pulse in this delicious creature's neck.

…I am the part of you that can’t see what it’s doing wrong…

The pale animal before me screamed, hurting my ear drums, a sound of defiance, a threat against my own self!

…I am the violence that is revealed when your beliefs are questioned…

 I lunged with snapping teeth, jaws closing around her tender neck. Juicy flavor filled my mouth and the animals that surrounded me erupted into a frenzy of panic, the smell of fear thick in the air. 

Somewhere in the audience a yellow eyed man sat calmly watching the show and I could sense him, one predator to another, while I feast on the entrails of my prize. 

I am everything that can’t be controlled inside of you and I will never be loved like the hero. 




December 08, 2021 09:48

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2 comments

01:55 Dec 20, 2021

Great story Alyissa! Your writing draws the reader in, and we get an excellent feel for the internal struggle of your POV character. The ending is satisfying and feels earned. Two things to consider. 1) Too much exposition in the opening. Work it in later. The story really starts with the line “You’re on in ten!” 2) You might tighten the dialogue b/w Caitiffy and the man at the door. Also, it's clear from the start he's bad, but as a reader of horror, I find the best villains don't present themselves as villains from the start-we learn la...

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Alyissa M. Lore
05:25 Dec 20, 2021

Awesome feedback! Thank you so much, this is exactly the type of constructive criticism I was looking for when I joined this site. I appreciate you reading it!

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