Thursday, June 8, 2017

Monster, by Markéta Glanzová

The short story tells a story of an unnamed hero, who is different than the others; because of his otherness, there is no place, where he would be welcomed; he is forced to wander from place to place, chased by the Creature. Now he is coming to the new place, hoping that “this time it will be different.”

He came to the city at night. Streets were completely empty, nobody could see him. He has been walking the whole night, his legs were heavy but he couldn´t stop now. "This time it will be different," he said silently to himself and continued in his pace - slowly, carefully, fearfully looking around. He had a constant feeling that he is being observed, he didn´t feel safe so he quickened his pace. And then he saw the Giant standing on the hill. He knew the Giant could see him, he sees everything happening on his territory, he is the guardian of the city and he was sure the Giant doesn´t like intruders, especially the one who come at the middle of night. Is the Giant moving towards him? No! He must calm down, no Giant, it is just a huge castle peacefully standing on the hill! He stopped for a while and looked around; everything looked so big, cold and hostile. It remained him of all the other places he has been through. For a while he could once again hear the voices of the Creature shouting at him "Monster! You are a monster! Get out of here!" And then came the stones, he could remember the noise the stones were making cutting the air just a second before they hit him. And then his legs started running, he was not controlling them, the legs started to live the life of their own, carrying him away... and he also remembered his heart, heart which beat so fast, as if it was a beast who wants to get out of his chest and free itself. He returned from his memories back to reality. “This time it will be different,” he said to himself as if the sentence would work like an incantation, the more times you say it, the bigger is the chance it becomes true. He believed that if you wish something from all your heart, it just must become true one day, it must! “This time it will be different,” he said one more time, just to give the incantation more power.
Suddenly he heart some voices coming from around the corner, he started panicking and ran to hide. He hid behind the bushes, almost not breathing. It is them - the Creatures. He has already concluded that most of the Creatures are sleeping at the night, but sometimes it happens that few of them are crawling through the streets also at night. He took a look at them, it is just two of them; he knew that when the Creatures occur in the groups, they are way more dangerous. But he still didn´t feel completely safe, the Creatures were much bigger than him anyway, if they notice him, he has no chance. Fortunately, he is pretty good at hiding, this skill is basic for his survival and he evolved it on the really high level recently. His thoughts started to wander into his past again. How many places he has already been to? He couldn´t remember the exact numbers, so many, and all of them the same. The cold started getting under his skin, was it freezing outside or were it the memories, which made his entire body shiver with cold? He couldn´t be sure. Will he ever find a place to stay?
The Creatures have already vanished. “I have to find a safer place to hide,” he said to himself. He didn´t feel comfortable in the city so he decided to go to the nature, there is safe. He got to the forest when the first sun beam started tickling him on the cheek. And soon he found it - a small cave hidden in between the trees. “That´s it,” he said. Suddenly, surrounded by the nature, he calmed down and the fear disappeared, he felt that the heavy stone, which had been sitting on his chest for a long time, rolled away, and he could breathe freely again. In the distance, he could still see the Giant, strictly observing the city. But he was sure, the Giant can´t see so far.
“I must find water,” he thought. It is strange, earlier he needed water all the time, he would not be capable of surviving even few hours without water but now for some reason, probably because of all the wandering from place to place and unceasing feel of fear, his body got accustomed to living on the dry land. But this didn´t change anything on the fact, that he loves water. After a while of wandering around, he found a lake. “How lucky I am today,” he thought. He dropped into the water and started swimming, at the beginning carefully, but the longer he has been swimming the more he allowed himself to completely yield to the water, and let the water to carry him away.
In a while he noticed that he is not alone, one Creature was in the water-swimming, getting closer to him. He was thinking about escaping for a while, but then he took all the courage he had left and thought: “The Creature enjoys swimming, so do I, after all, we have something in common. Maybe if I will show myself to it slowly, and the Creature will see that I don´t want to hurt it, everything will be alright.” He decided to give the idea a try; he started moving slowly toward the Creature, getting closer and closer with every pace. The Creature already noticed the small waves coming from behind and started slowly turning around. “Now it will come! This time it will be different,” he thought the second his eyes met with the eyes of the Creature. He tried to stay still, not to scare the Creature. Nothing was happening for a while, but this while felt like ages. And then the Creature started screaming: Monster! Help! and swimming as fast as it was capable to the shore. “Maybe, it won´t be different this time,” he thought, turned his body and started slowly swimming to the other shore. Felt with despair, he found the cave, went in, and decided never to come out again.
At the same time the swimmer ran back to the city, shouting. The news was spreading fast and soon the whole city knew about the Dragon, hiding in the forest. People started panicking and in a while whole city gathered on the main square. Everyone felt to be endangered, few children even started crying after hearing about the dreadful monster, which will kill them all if the citizens won´t act soon. But what to do? Citizens were used to their calm lives, and didn´t know how to act in such situations. But then the adrenalin started spreading through their veins and soon everyone, old-young, men-women and even children, grabbed the first thing, which they had at hand and could be used as a weapon, and started their deadly march to the forest.
He heard approaching footsteps. First it sounded just like light breeze, but with every second the sound was getting more and more intense, and soon it sounded like a merciless hurricane, which will take everything which stands in its way. He had strong feeling that his whole life is happening in cycles, rotating all the time, making it impossible for him to break free. The hurricane was coming closer and closer, he was so familiar with this sound, heard it so many times before. He felt the beating of his heart, it was beating so fast and it was getting faster and faster, as the hurricane was coming closer, and soon the heartbeats completely merged with the sound of hurricane, and he couldn´t be sure if it is the hurricane or his own heart which makes this terrible noise. Suddenly, the noise rested, the Creatures arrived. He could clearly hear their voices. "Go to search the cave, the monster has to be hiding somewhere, we are getting close, I can feel it in my bones. But be careful, the monster is extremely dangerous." A group of men aimed to the cave.
He pressed against the wall, hardly breathing. Then the sharp light blinded him and he started running along the walls out of the cave. And that was it, he was standing there, defenceless, looking into the evil eyes of hundreds of Creatures. Their eyes were sharp knives stabbing him all at once, getting deep into his skin and mussels. The sun was shining mercilessly, burning his skin. Tired of all the running and hiding, he closed his eyes, resigned to his fate, and thought: "It is time to stop dreaming, it will never be different." Time stopped and he was completely calm.
Suddenly he felt a touch on his skin, he opened his eyes and saw a Creature standing right next to him, however, this Creature was different, much smaller than the other Creatures, he never saw Creature so small before. He fearfully looked at her, there was something else different about this Creature, but what was it? And then he realized, there is neither hatred nor fear in the eyes of this Creature. But what is it then? Curiosity, maybe. But how...And then the small Creature made a strange sound, he never heard anything like that before, it sounded really relaxed and not scary at all, at first it lasted just for a second but then the sound started to resonate, the Creature couldn´t stop it. It gave him courage to look around.
The child was laughing heartily, gently petting the small crocodile. People were confused; the child's reaction surprised them. It took a while before someone exclaimed: “It´s just a baby animal! Small crocodile, not dragon at all!"
The expression of Creatures eyes changed all from a sudden, and now all of them started making this strange sound. “They don´t look so scary anymore,” he thought. He liked this new sound.
"Let's take care of him, he has to be frightened to death and hungry!" someone said while someone else already brought a wooden cart. Someone took the small crocodile and placed him on the cart, he didn´t resist and was sitting calmly.
He had no idea what was going on, but the small Creature was walking next to him all the time, so he was not frightened. The cart was rocking and soon he began sizing his eyes. When he opened the eyes, he was not sure where he was for a while, he looked around and saw the small Creature. The Creature was not alone, she was surrounded by lots of other Creatures as small as her or even smaller, all of them curiously looking at him. Small Creature came closer: “Here you will live now, she said, this is your castle, we call it Špilberk, it will be your new home." "Home" he was not quite sure what this word means, never heard it before. But he sensed that it is something amazing. At that time, all other small Creatures plucked up the courage and came closer. Soon the big Creatures shouted: “Children it is time to go home!" All the children disappeared only the small Creatures stayed a little longer. "Take some rest, crocodile, and don´t worry, tomorrow I will come again!" she whispered and ran down the hill. He felt something new, he couldn´t name it, but the feeling pervades his entire body, it was pleasant, tickling him around the belly. He lied down, completely relaxed. “"Crocodile", so I am crocodile, it doesn´t sound bad, and the small Creatures are "children" what a nice word!” he thought and fell into the realm of dreams.
Children were coming every day, bringing food, observing the crocodile. As for the adults, it took them a while to get used to the new unusual inhabitant of the castle, but then they also mustered the courage and crawled out of their shells. Soon they liked the small crocodile the same their children did and decided to make a pond for him, where he could swim, everyone pulled their weight. None of the people ever called the crocodile monster again, they were calling him just Crocodile but there were still a few that called him Dragon.
The time was passing and the crocodile started growing up. He was little bit afraid that the children won´t like him so much anymore, but it was a mistake, they were still coming every day, making him company until the dusk. During that time, he realized that the city, which the Giant is guarding is named Brno, and because he was living at the castle he took it as his personal duty and honour to help the Giant protecting the city. He also realized that the Creatures call themselves "people". He found the word much nicer than "Creatures" and was a little bit ashamed that he had ever been calling them that way. When he saw the new pond, which people made for him, he thought: “Brno people are so nice. Mám je rád.” (this was his favourite sentence in Czech language, it means “I like them”).  
Every day when crocodile woke up, the first thing he always did was, that he climbed on the castle walls looking around. “This is Brno,” he always said to himself, “Brno is beautiful, Brno mám rád.” Then he turned around and saw the monumental castle, the Giant. He remembered his first day in Brno and had to smile a little bit. How could he be so scared? It is so nice here and peaceful… It feels took him a while to find the right word...It feels like… "home". Brno is my home!

No one knows how long the crocodile had been living at the Špilberk castle. Some says for decades, some says for hundreds of years, no one can date it exactly. But what is sure (and the most important) is, that even after the crocodile died, the Brno people didn´t forget about him. To honour him, they decided to make him the symbol of the city, the protector of Brno.

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