Beauty and the What?!

The Final Chapter

Shawn spins around, facing the corner Anson’s father pointed to. A small cloud of dust was slowly dispersing and he could see her body lying on the cold, concrete floor. He takes a breath, moving his feet along the floor to get closer to her. She’s not moving and he can’t tell if she’s breathing. He walks under the hole in the ceiling, with his eyes glued to Sally.

“Is everyone alright down there?” Anson calls from above them.

Shawn ignores the question, letting the other men answer. His only focus is the girl. He gets to her side and kneels down next to her. She still isn’t moving and he takes a hand and gently brushes the hair out of her face.

“Sally,” he whispers, gently shaking her shoulder, “please wake up.”

She lies unmoving, unresponsive to his words. He can’t tell if she’s breathing or if she’s gone completely. He shakes her shoulder once more and speaks her name a little louder. He can feel the eyes of the others staring at him and he shrugs them off. He puts his arms around her and lifts her from the floor, holding her body against his chest.

“I need you to wake up,” he whispers into her ear, “Please, Sally wake up.”

Her eyes don’t open and she doesn’t flinch when he shakes her a little harder. He feels like his whole life has wasted away as he stares at her lifeless form in his arms. He spent years waiting to gain control over his life and when he finally gets it back, the person he feels he can’t live without might be gone forever. He begs her to wake up one more time and feels a hand on his shoulder.

“I think she’s gone, son.” Anson’s father stands behind him, a solemn tone to his voice.

Shawn shakes his head back and forth, not wanting those words to be true. No part of him wants to lose the only good thing to come to him. He says her name one last time, ordering her to open her eyes for him. Still, she does nothing.
“Sally,” he speaks through tears in his eyes, “I love you.”

He leans forward and presses his lips upon her own. They are warm against his and he lets a few drops of tears fall from his eyes and onto her cheeks. He squeezes his eyes shut tight and holds her against him, never wanting to let go of the woman he came to love.

He hears footsteps of the others limping away and Anson’s father leaves him to be alone for a moment. Shawn holds her for what feels like hours, sitting on the basement floor as a cold chill runs up his spine. His eyes are closed and his hands are clenched. A gasp catches his ears and he feels a slight movement coming from the girl in his arms. He opens his eyes and looks to her face. She blinks her eyes open and takes a few, staggering breaths.

“Sally.” He exclaims. “You’re alive.”

She nods, “Like I would leave you.”

He smiles and she slowly wraps her arms around him, holding him in a tight embrace. She forces her lips onto his, letting all of her love and emotion flow through them.

She breaks away from him for a short moment to say, “I love you too, Shawn.” Then she returns her lips to his.

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Beauty and the What!?

Installment #29

Without hesitation, Shawn jumps to his feet. He squints his eyes, trying to see through the years of dust now billowing through the room. He waves his hands in front of his face in an attempt to clear the air around him.

“Sally!” he shouts her name and squints to the area where the floor used to be.

The only response he gets is the sound of pain filled grunting coming from the concrete basement under the house. A few of the men are hurt and one of them sounds like he’s in a lot of pain. The dust begins to clear and the hole in the floor comes into focus. Shawn can see Anson in the corner of his eyes. He’s still sitting in the corner of the room, astonished at what just happened. Shawn rolls his eyes and peers into the hole.

“Sally?” he calls again.

He still doesn’t get an answer from her. He crouches near the floor and sits carefully on the edge. Using all of his strength, he lowers himself down into the basement and jumps to the concrete below. None of the men are on their feet. Two are unmoving, blood spilling out of the corners of their mouths and their eyes are closed. Two more are lying in pain as they clutch their arms and legs. He scans the rest of the room, searching for the only one he cares to see.

He hears movement coming from behind him and he quickly spins around. On the floor a few feet away, is the man who just held a gun to Shawn’s head. He’s lying under a pile of wood from the floor and a bloody gash is on his forehead. His right arm is bent at an awkward angle and he is trying to get to his feet. Shawn quickly moves to the man’s side and sticks his hand out to help. Anson’s father stares at him for a long moment, questioning his next move. He reluctantly takes Shawn’s hand and gets help standing.

“You alright?” Shawn asks.

Anson’s father nods his head and says, “The girl is over there.” He points to a corner of the room, “Go, help her.”

Beauty and the What?!

Installment 28

Sally stands in the corner with Anson’s arms around her waist, holding her back. She stares at the man she barely knows and watches the men back him further against the wall. She doesn’t want to see them destroy him for doing something he had no control over. The beast isn’t a part of him anymore and she can see that.

The floor boards creak with every step they take. The sounds echo through the old house, making it seem louder than it really is. Shawn stares at their angry faces, each one of them is just as hell bent about killing him as the last. He’s not ready to die. He just met the one person who calmed his angry soul long enough for him to get his life back. He’s not ready to lose that.

“Anson please tell them not to do this.” Sally begs, struggling against his grip.

“Shut up.” He seethes. “This needs to be done. It’s the only way to keep that monster from destroying the town any further.”

“He’s not a monster.” She whispers.

The creaking of the floor seems to intensify as Anson’s father takes another step closer to Shawn. He reaches out and grabs a handful of his hair. Shawn grips his wrist, trying to ease the hold on him. Anson’s father drags him away from the wall and tosses him to the floor next to the broken sofa. Shawn scrambles to get to a sitting position, hiding whatever pain he has.

“Give me your bat, Carl.” Anson’s father orders and his friend obeys.

Sally watches the man take the bat and raise it above his head. He has a smile on his face as he looms over Shawn. Anger and fear is building in her heart as she uses every ounce of it to drive her elbow against Anson’s stomach. He grunts in pain and releases his hold on her. She runs across the wooden floor and rushes in front of Shawn. The sound from the floor only gets worse as she takes that last step to stand firmly in front of him.

Dust billows around the room, coming up from the floor as one final creak screams through the house and the floor gives way.

Beauty and the What?!

Installment 27

Anson’s father storms across the room, listening to the sounds of the floorboards creaking under his feet. He holsters the gun in his hand and cracks his knuckles. Anson is right behind him, his eyes glued to Sally. One of the men shuts the door and stands in front of it so no one can leave. Another one blocks the way into the kitchen.

Sally and Shawn stand beside each other next to the wall, “I won’t let you hurt him.” Sally says, keeping her ground between Shawn and the rest of the men.

“I’m afraid that’s not up to you, sweetheart.” Anson’s father now stands within two feet of her, his eyes staring daggers at both of them.

“C’mon, Sally,” Anson chimes in, “You know what we’re doing here is right. That thing spent the last ten years destroying our town. You can’t possibly want to protect it.”

“I do.” Sally speaks firmly. “He’s not an ‘it’. He’s a person, a human being just like the rest of us.”

“That doesn’t mean anything anymore.” Anson states.

“To me it does.” She retorts.

Anson rolls his eyes and storms up to her. She takes one step back, touching bodies with Shawn. She cannot stop Anson from grabbing her arm and ripping her away from him. She screams for him to stop, but he doesn’t listen and continues to drag her across the room. He wraps his arms around her and holds her close to him, forcing her to watch what his father is about to do.

Shawn has his eyes on Sally. His heart is pounding in his chest as he watches her being held so violently in Anson’s grip. The anger is rising inside him and he knows what will happen if he can’t control it. It will turn him into the monster he has grown to hate.

He turns his head back to the man standing before him. With his hands balled into fists, he takes his right hand and slams it into the man’s face. Anson’s father stammers back a few steps, wiping the blood from his lip. The men around him move in closer and the floor creaks even louder than before.

“Good shot, boy.” Anson’s father says, staring at Shawn. “Afraid that’s the only shot you’re going to get.”

Beauty and the What?!

Installment # 26

“Tell me where it is so we can put it out of our misery, Sally.” Anson’s father demands.

She keeps her mouth shut and shakes her head in a refusal to answer. She doesn’t even know the whereabouts of the beast and she wouldn’t tell them if she did. It’s still strange to her, but she has feelings for that creature that are hard to explain and she’s not willing to let those feelings go.

“C’mon tell us where it is.” A man in a flannel shirt says, “I’m itching to kill the damn thing already.”

“You’re not going to kill anything.” A strange voice came from the opposite corner of the room.

Sally looks past Anson’s father and stares at the stranger in the room. He’s tall and pale, with dark hair that matches his eyes. His jeans are torn and aren’t long enough and his hands are shaking as he stands.

“Who the hell are you?” Anson asks, storming up to the stranger.

“My name is Shawn and you need to let her go.” he says.

Sally stares at his face, squinting her eyes hoping to recognize him. She’s seen those eyes before, stared into them and wondered about them. He’s different now, no longer the beast he was forced to hide inside. She pushes her way around Anson and his father, moving closer to the man she’s been waiting to see.

“Is it really you?” she asks.

He nods, “It’s me.”

She keeps her eyes on him, trying not to gawk at his bare chest and good looks. His hair is a tousled mess and he seems like he can barely stand on his own. She can’t hide the smile on her face as their eyes meet.

“I’m sorry, but who the hell is this guy?” Anson sounds annoyed and angry.

“He’s the beast.” Another, deeper voice catches their ears and Sally turns her attention to him.

The man in a flannel shirt is holding an old photograph of a younger Shawn with his mother. The facial features are the same as well as the hair and eyes. Something he can’t hide.

“See,” the man holds the photo up higher for everyone to see, “he’s older now, but this is him.”

Anson’s father glances from the picture, then back to Shawn, “I guess it was human after all. That doesn’t make up for all those people you hurt and the trouble you’ve caused over the last decade.”

Beauty and the What?!

Installment #25

Sally has no time to react. The men standing before her, led by Anson’s father, shove past her and enter the house. One of them even goes so far as to push her out of the way and she falls to the creaky floor. She bangs her elbow on the hardwood flooring and winces from the pain. She clutches her arm, trying to rub the pain away. She expects Anson to help her to her feet, but he just walks by, ignoring her completely.

“Where is the damn thing?” one of the men shouts when he realizes the monster isn’t in the room with them.

Sally hears him and she searches the room for him. He’s not standing where she left him and he’s not hiding in one of the corners of the room. She could only hope that he was smart enough to run away instead of staying back, getting himself killed for her. She cared about him too much to let someone like him die for her.

Anson’s father marches over to her and stands over her. His glare meets her eyes and he quickly bends down, grabs both her arms, and forces her to her feet. Fear surges through her as she stares into his angry, hate-filled eyes.

“Where is it?” he seethes, his hot breath caressing her cheek.

Her lips quiver, “I don’t know.”

He lets go of her arms and backhands her across the face. She lets out a gasp and catches herself on the wall behind her before falling to the floor once more.

“You think that thing cares about you?” he screams at her. “Then let’s see if I can coax it out.”

Beauty and the What?!

Installment #24

Sally takes her time nervously walking to the front door of the house. Her heart is pounding in her chest as she takes the last step before the door. She reaches out and grips the cold, silver knob and turns it until the latch releases. The door squeaks open and she stares at the outside world.

Anson quickly pushes his way past the other men until he stands right in front of her. Worry and concern is written all over his face and a gun is dangling from his fingertips. Sally steps onto the porch, making sure to block the doorway so no one can get inside the house without knocking her out of the way.

“That thing didn’t hurt you , did it?” Anson asks, placing a hand on her shoulder.

She shakes her head and says, “No, he didn’t hurt me. He’s not a monster like you all think he is.”

The men standing behind Anson all laugh and shake their heads, “Clearly you are suffering from a head injury.” She hears one of them say.

“Sally, that thing is a monster. It has been terrorizing the town for the last decade. You just need to come with us and we’ll take care of it.” Anson says. “It is in the house, right?”

Sally shakes her head back and forth, “No, he’s not a monster. He was a normal human being at one point in time and I think he’s changing back into that. I think something has happened to make him himself again. I’m not going to let you hurt him.”

Anson rolls his eyes and the men behind him laugh once more, “Sally, you’re confused. We just need to get you to the doctor, then you need to get some rest. Like I said, we’ll take care of it.”

He reaches for her arm and she takes a step back, not letting him touch her, “I’m not confused and I’m not going anywhere with you if it means you’ll hurt him.”

“We’re not going to hurt him, little girl,” Anson’s father steps up and speaks, “We’re going to kill it.”

Beauty and the What?!

Installment # 22

The beast walks through his house. The same as he’s done for the last ten years. The same places in the floor creak under his feet as he walks into the living room. Things just don’t feel the same. He’s never had to stand up for something he wants. Never had to do defend his property and especially never had to fight for a woman who has feelings for him. He honestly never thought he’d have that happen in this lifetime.

There is glass on the living room floor surrounding a small brick. The tattered curtains billow in and out of the newly created hole in the window. He stares at what has been done to his home. Those men out there, they are there to destroy him. They are there to take back what they think he stole from them. He can see them standing on his grass in his yard. He might be the creature who trespasses on their properties every night, but they are on his turf now. This is where he makes the rules.

“What are you going to do?” Sally’s soft voice asks from behind him.

Without turning to face her, he simply states, “Whatever I have to in order to keep what’s happening to me.”

Beauty and the What?!

Installment #21

Sally turns away from the beast and looks toward the living room where the sound of glass shattering came from. She knows who the voice belongs to and her heart beats nervously just thinking about what he’s doing all the way out there. They were in the middle of the woods in a crumbling, old house with a terrifying monster. She didn’t think anyone would be brave or willing to come after her.

“Sally, I know you’re in there! You can come on out!” Anson shouts through the broken window.

She turns back to the creature. He’s on full alert, pushing out any amount of pain he was feeling from changing. His home is being threatened. The new life he’s being offered is threatened and he’s not going to just stand by and let those people take what belongs to him.

He stands up straight, cracking his knuckles and stretching his legs. His body still aches and he can feel his head getting a bit dizzy. He sniffed the air, smelling the strangers outside his house. There are many of them out there, all of them angry and ready for a fight. They were there to take something he cares deeply about away from him. It might be a new type of love, but it is love nonetheless. He’d rather die than let those men take it away from him.

“Sally, if you don’t come out,” Anson shouts one more time, “we’re going to come in there and things won’t be pretty after that. I just want you to come out and be safe. We can go home and forget all this ever happened.”

One more time, she turns to the beast, “What do I do?” she asks, hoping he has the answer she’s looking for, “I don’t want to go back with them.”

“You won’t have to.” The beast says, then stomps through the kitchen.

Beauty and the What?!

Installment #20

“Does it hurt?” Sally asks as the beast scratches at his skin.

He stares at her, more like glaring, as he nods his head. Every ounce of his body hurts more than anything he’s ever felt. More than when he changed into this monster in the first place. He remembers that day like it just happened.

He got so angry and was his heart was broken into million pieces. His mother walked out on him and his father was an abusive drunk. He just couldn’t take it anymore and let the anger spill out of every pore in his body. The broken window in his bedroom is a constant reminder of how far things went that day. It took the police a few days to find his father’s body and they assumed he was gone as well.

“Hey,” Sally says, calmly as she notices the look on his face, “I’m right here so you don’t have to go through this alone. I’m not going anywhere.”

He nods and tries to smile. A sharp pain stabs him in the gut and he nearly doubles over from it. He hopes whatever is happening to him is over quickly. He’s not sure how much of this he can take.

Sally places a hand on his shoulder and he looks into her sincere eyes. He’s never met someone like her and thought he’d never feel this way toward another human being. There’s love in his heart still and it is slowly making its way back to the surface.

The sound of glass breaking interrupts his thoughts and both of them turn their heads toward the sound. It came from the old living room, one of the windows had been busted out.

“Sally, are you in there?” she recognizes that voice and her heart starts to race.