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 # 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 23

Another window breaks from somewhere else in the house. Sally jumps and let a slight gasp escape her throat. She turns around and sees shards of glass lying on the floor in the kitchen. It’s obvious the men on the outside are trying to scare them out of the house.

She turns ahead of her again, staring at the back of the beast. He’s so calm, yet so menacing at the same time. She can see a human side surfacing in his appearance and, to her, that’s enough to get her to know he’s not evil. He’s not the monster everyone in town has told her about. The looks she sees are not enough to change the minds of the people standing outside the house. If anything, it could make them even angrier. They could wind up killing him all because they are too afraid to let him show them how human he truly is.

The window in the living room smashes out entirely, sending pieces of glass shooting through the room. She quickly covers her head and her hair with her arms. The beast stands strong, watching what these people are doing to his home.

“Come on out, Sally!” Anson’s voice fills the air one more time. “I don’t want to have to come in there shooting. You know we will!”

She knows he’s right. All the men in town talk about how they can’t wait for the day to hang the beast’s head over their mantel. She can’t let that happen. She doesn’t want to see that happen and if she doesn’t give them what they want, it just might.

She steps closer to him and places a hand on his shoulder, “Don’t attack them.”

“What?” he growls.

“I don’t want to see them hurt you. I’ll go with them and figure out a way to show them you’re not bad. I can get them to see you’re a good person at heart.” She replies. “Just let me do this and I promise things will be okay.”

He stares at her for a moment then, against his heart, he nods his head and lets her go.

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?!

Anson follows his father to the trail leading to the woods. It’s been two days since the beast got the best of him and revenge has made his strength return. More than revenge. That monster has the woman he’s in love with and he’s going to do whatever it takes to get her back and make sure she’s safe. He helped his father come up with the plan. They hand-picked fifteen strong men to go with them. To walk through the woods and gain back the young woman who doesn’t belong there.

A gun is clenched in his fist as he walks through the grass, catching up to his father, “Dad, you think we’ll finally kill that thing?”

Not a hesitation as his father nods his head, “I think it’s about time someone does. That girlfriend of yours just gave us a good enough excuse to go up there and kill it.”

Anson nods, “She doesn’t get hurt, by the way.”

“We’ll do our best. But you also said she wanted to find that creature. That she tried to protect it.” his father replies.

“I know, dad, but you can’t hurt her.”

His father stops walking and faces him, “We won’t hurt her. Our goal is only to kill that monster and get her back. She’ll be fine. This will be over before you know and you two can ride off into the sunset.”

Anson gives him half a smile and says, “I hope you’re right about that. I just don’t understand why she’s not in love with me yet. After all these years, you’d think she would be crazy about me.”

His father starts walking again, “Women are difficult, son. One minute they’re all over you, the next they’re swooning over a man-eating monster. You’ll just have to get her to see that she belongs with you.”

Anson nods, “Then maybe I should be the one who kills the monster that kidnapped her. Killing that thing will prove to her I’d do anything for her.”

His father places a hand on his shoulder and says, “Nothing would make me prouder, son.”

Beauty and the What?!

Installment # 16

Staying was a good choice. One Sally will never regret. She spent the day in the company of a creature the whole town fears. A creature who is a monster in the eyes of others, but a hurt soul in the eyes of Sally. She has the ability to look past his flaws, past the anger he has built up in his heart and see the good that lies beneath.

They shared the day walking through the overgrown garden surrounding the house. The weeds and flowers that have taken over most of the pathway leading to the garage. Sally told him all about herself, what she wants to do with her life and how she would love to travel the world. He hangs on her every word as though it’s the last thing he hears. She tells him about her childhood, visiting her grandmother in Shadow County, having the time of her life growing up with her friends.

The beast never opened his mouth to tell her about his own life. The abuse he felt as a child, the constant screaming and shouting amongst his parents. He’d rather not relive any of the horrible moments flowing through his mind and would rather live through Sally’s eyes as she speaks. He can feel his heart growing lighter, happier as he listens to her speak.

Even after the sun goes down and she promises to stay with him throughout the night, he can find himself never wanting her to leave his side. He finds comfort in having her around. She makes him feel like a human again and doesn’t want that feel to ever go away. He watches her sleep on the very bed he has slept on for his whole life. Her pristine figure is so peaceful as she lies there.

The mirror hanging on the wall next to the dresser catches the beast’s eyes and he glances at his reflection. He sees something isn’t right with it and moves closer. His eyes that were menacing earlier in the day, appear to calm and happy. They look human almost, even with his brown fur surrounding them.

When The Lights Go Out

The lights go out.
I cannot see
Things that lie ahead of me.

The room is dark.
I try not to fear
Every teeny, tiny noise I hear.

I try to stay quiet.
Do not make a sound
I know the monster is somewhere around.

It might be in the closet
Or under the bed.
I’m safe with the blanket pulled over my head.

I can hear it breathing.
Even its groans
Oh, those deathly, annoying tones.

The noise pierces the air.
I wish it were pretend
I wish this live nightmare would come to an end.

The monster is close now.
I feel a hand on the sheet.
The hand of the creature I’m not ready to meet.

I let out a sharp scream
I call out for help
Praying my family will hear my loud yelp.

The bedroom door opens
The light flickers on
The fear and bad feelings soon will be gone.

The monster has left.
I can let in the calm.
I lower the blanket to smile at mom.

Beauty and the What?!

Installment #13

The beast stares at her through sad eyes. Tears stain the fur around them. Sally stays frozen in her place staring at those eyes that seem to have changed. They don’t look as menacing or frightening anymore. To her, they appear to be more human.

“Why did you bring me here?” she asks.

He keeps his eyes on her and shrugs his shoulders, “I don’t know,” his voice raspy and deep.

Sally opens her eyes wide in astonishment. She didn’t think he was capable of speaking. His words might sound forced and a little slurred, but they are words nonetheless.

“Is this your home?” she asks, staring at the house.

He nods in reply. She looks past him, catching another small glimpse inside the house. There are so many memories this house holds for him. Things he would like to forget. The fighting, the screaming in the middle of the night. He hates thinking about his life, but he can’t seem to throw those thoughts from his mind.

Sally can see he’s distraught and she takes a slow step toward him. He might bring fear to the others in the town of Shadow County, but he can no longer bring fear to her heart. She can see him in a way no one else can.

“Who are you?” she asks, standing a few inches away from him.

He looks into her eyes, then backs inside the house. She follows him back inside, listening to the floor creaking under their feet. He leads her to back to the bedroom she woke up in and goes to the dresser. She can see his eyes staring at the picture of the boy and his mother. He points one of his sharp claws at the photo and lets the sadness overtake his heart.

“That boy in the picture is you?” Sally asks, trying to understand what happened to him. “How?”

He takes a deep breath and opens his mouth to say only one word, “Anger,” then points another claw to the busted window.