What He’s Become

by Ava Barcelona, age 11
What He’s Become Ava is a sixth grader who has a fascination with horror (not the movies though) and science fiction. Ava loves animals, whether it's a frog or a cat. She has a huge fear of spiders and all bugs in general. She is a Star Trek nerd and her favorite past time is spending time with her family and friends. Ava's friends have been the most supportive people, and she is grateful for it.

“A cold darkness shifted throughout the room. It expanded, wrapping around the room, and for a moment, a light tucked in the corner flickered then gave way into the darkness. The room was now nearly pitch black, and you could only make out the slight outline of a bedside table idly waiting next to the bed.”

       

(Warning: This is not for the lighthearted)

 

A cold darkness shifted throughout the room. It expanded, wrapping around the room, and for a moment, a light tucked in the corner flickered then gave way into the darkness. The room was now nearly pitch black, and you could only make out the slight outline of a bedside table idly waiting next to the bed.

The darkness grew in mass and balled together into a mass of darkness and shadow. A dark gas swirled around the figure then hardened into scales. It grew and

shrank, twisted and turned, and a slight hiss echoed throughout the room. A young boy shifted in the bed, hugging the blankets closer in the newfound darkness. The mass of darkness shifted its body towards the bed, a slight creak under its weight. Another hiss, vague but cold, came from the mass. It crept closer to the bed, now staring directly down on the poor boy, unaware of the darkness looking down at him.

The mass let out another hiss, making the bedside table tremble. The boy cautiously opened his eyes, sleep tugging at his limbs. He froze in fear, goosebumps crawling up and down his back. Though he could not see, he could hear a cold, satisfied hiss from the mass behind him. The boy hesitantly rolled over and froze once again. He could make out the slight outline of a large, bulky mass of teeth and scales, and on each hand, three distinct silver claws. The boy watched as a drop of drool trickled down the monster’s scaly back and dripped down onto the hardwood floor. The monster approached him, causing a large creak from the floor. The mass reached for the boy’s arm, gripping it with a cold, scaly hand. With the other hand, the monster used the tip of one of his claws and daintily pressed it onto the boy’s skin. The claw went deeper into the boy’s skin, and small streaks of blood bubbled around the claw. The boy shrank back, trembling with pain and terror, watching powerlessly as crimson red blood sprouted from the marks. He tried jerking his arm away from the monster’s tight grip, only to receive an irritated hiss from it. The monster continued, slowly carving letter-like marks into the young boy’s blood-soaked arm. Cringing, the boy blinked open his eyes, sleep tugging at them. He glanced down at the marks, fear masking the waves of unimaginable pain. It read Conner. The boy named Conner let out a small wail, and the monster let out an irritated growl, digging its claws into Conner’s mattress, now speckled with blood.

The monster readied a red tinted claw, and Conner’s breath caught in his throat as the monster continued to shave into Conner’s arm, Conner murmuring a plea of mercy under his breath. Tears formed in Conner’s eyes, dripping down his face and resting on his bed. That night, his mother had left a gentle kiss on his forehead and flattened the wrinkles appearing in his sheets as he moved. Smiling, she had playfully reminded Conner that it was his turn to make breakfast in the morning, then she had sidestepped out of the room, humming. Now Conner might never see his mother again. As if sensing Conner’s despair, the monster reached out and used a bloody claw to gently stroke Conner’s cheek, and Conner squeezed his eyes shut, as if he was hoping to place a wall of darkness between him and the monster. The monster growled in Conner’s ear, taunting him, daring him to open his eyes just once. Though all his instincts screamed at him to not give in, he cautiously opened his eyes. Conner trembled, forcing himself to scan over the markings. An “X” was carefully carved over his name, blood trailing down from the marks. Conner stared at the monster’s face, and a plea sparked in his eyes.

“Please… ”

 

The light was unbearable, and any movement was nauseating. Pain seared through Conner’s chest, and he gasped faintly. He closed his eyes, escaping into the darkness, leaving his body behind, and looking back to the night. The image of the mass flashed from the back of his mind, taunting him, frightening him, breaking him. He rolled over, sitting himself up as he cringed in pain. Darkness enveloped Conner, who was fighting to stay awake, fighting to keep the light that he held. But the darkness fought back, stronger than he would ever be. The darkness overcame him as he closed his eyes and shrank back into his bed.

The noise, the noise was terrible. Talking, beeps of equipment, crying, it all blurred into a single, ear-splitting noise. He rolled on his side, causing a sharp pain in his chest. The pain came in waves, and the end was nowhere in sight. Conner closed his eyes and moved his hands closer to himself, slightly putting pressure on his neck. He knew it would never go away, it would never stop, unless he ended it. He knew the monster would come back to finish the job, finish his life. This was the only way, no more fear, no more grief. This was the end to the river of pain. He gazed over to his mom, knowing the pain it would cause her. She would sit for hours on end, sobbing and hugging the blankets closer, and she would feel as he did now. Lost. Conner took a short breath, then applied more pressure, squeezing his hands tighter around his throat. He closed his eyes and waited silently for the pain to end.

Conner awoke in a hospital bed. Around him, a light hanging from the ceiling flickered, and he was left with the small circles of light being emitted from the machines around him. He sat up, sleep tugging at his limbs, begging him to rest, to lay down and let everything dissolve for one night. Rubbing his eyes, he looked around himself. He sat up, his back facing the door, and a small wooden desk stood solitary in the corner.

A familiar feeling washed over Conner’s body, a cold, dark feeling of anguish and hatred. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, a small creak in the floor echoed from behind him. And another. Footsteps, louder and faster, ushered him out of bed and under the desk. Conner’s heartbeat quickened, and a bead of sweat dripped down his face.

A hiss, loud enough for only him to hear, came as a wave of shock. It had… found him. Conner whimpered, hugging his knees closer and burying his head in his hands. It was over: his life, his family, everything. The footsteps approached Conner, and a mass of darkness stopped in front of the desk. A taunting hiss echoed from it as if to say, “Where are you… ?” Conner shrank back into the wall, his breathing growing heavier. A tap on his shoulder administered a shriek of sheer terror, and Conner ducked out from under the desk and dove behind his bed, his feet slipping on the glossy floor. He pressed his back into the cold, hard surface and tried to control his breathing. The mass pointed at a clock resting on the wall, its cracked face distorting the 6. It glanced at him, drool trickling down its face and down the monster’s scaly back.

“Time,” Conner mouthed, pushing himself farther into the wall, wishing that, if he could just disappear, this would be over. The monster shuffled towards him, grabbing his arm and stabbing a claw into it. Conner howled, attempting to tear his arm away from the monster’s grasp as dark streaks of blood trailed down his arm. He glanced back at his arm and froze, the pain coming in waves of terror.

“Time is up.”

The last thing Conner saw that night was the monster’s twisted face, its long silver claws. It smiled at him… then, there was only darkness. The image of the monster appeared in his mind, its long face looking down on him. The night he was first attacked, he was helpless, alone, stranded. He swam towards the image of monster, its hiss echoing through his mind.

The night he was first attacked, his mother rushed toward him, tears blurring her vision as she dialed the hospital with shaky hands. She stroked his face, blood staining her trembling hands. She looked at him with loving eyes and pulled him closer, sobbing into his shoulder.

“Don’t go… ” she murmured. “Don’t go.”

Conner gripped his mother’s hand. He was younger then, with not a worry in the world. A crowd of people were gathered in front of a display, bright lights flashing from the monitors displayed. Conner’s mother rushed him away from the crowd, but not before he heard the muffled words being shouted from the screens.

“… There are reports of terrorist attacks all around this city. They are known for their large, quite loud explosions… ”

He looked up to his mother, who had her back straight and walked with an urgent pace. Lines of worry spread across her face, and she bent down next to Conner, delicately placing a hand on his shoulder.

“Conner,” she whispered. “Promise me something. Promise me that you will never, never become what those… monsters are. If someone… if they hurt you, remember, I will be there. If you are all alone, nothing in sight, I will be there. In here.” She moved her hand to his chest. She looked as if she were about to cry, but she held it in well. “Don’t hurt people, don’t give up, don’t give in. Promise me, Conner.” She stood up, brushing off her pants, and held out her hand for him to take. He looked into his mother’s eyes and rested his hand in hers.

Conner gasped awake, straining his eyes to adjust to the light. The beeps of hospital equipment rang in his ears as he sat up in the hospital bed. His mother was sprawled out on a large sofa, and his father on a chair. The room was surprisingly quiet: with no talking and no crying, there was nothing. Sitting himself up, he took a moment to absorb the quiet. With great effort, Conner stepped onto the cold floor and slowly walked towards his mother.

“Mom?” he whispered, moving towards her. “Mom?” He placed a hand on her shoulder and winced as sharp pain moved through his back. Her arm fell limp towards him, and he jumped back, startled. Gently, Conner rolled his mother over and gasped faintly. He placed a hand on her forehead, but there was no warmth, there was… nothing. Conner cupped her hand in his and recoiled at the sight of dark streaks of blood that stained his hand. Tracing the palm of her hand, he whispered, “Mom… ” Her head rolled towards him, and three gashes running down her face revealed themselves. “Mom, wake up,” he whispered. “Please, wake up!” He realized that tears were slowly dripping down his numb face, though he gave no notice. He tore his glance away from his mother’s lifeless body and looked towards his dad. Stepping towards him, Conner could make out faint mumbles tumbling out of his father’s mouth.

“I’m here, don’t hurt me… Please, don’t hurt him. I’m here… Don’t hurt me.” Conner spun around, only to be greeted by his own paranoia. He gasped in relief and turned back to face his dad. Startled, Conner jumped back as his father got to his feet, eyes glazed over.
“No… ” Conner whispered, stepping back as his father approached.
“Don’t hurt me… ” his father gasped. “I’m here.” His eyes shone in pain and terror. “Come here, son,” he whispered. “One last time… ” Conner took a step back, then another. “I will always be here.” His father advanced, and Conner searched his eyes for any sign of his father. “Don’t run… stay here. Come to me, my son.” His father paused. “Come, Conner.” Conner took another step back and pushed against the wall. He watched helplessly as his father put his hands on his neck, then let out one final gasp, “I will always be here, you can’t hide.” His father’s eyes rolled back into his head, destroying any trace of his father, and he collapsed backward.

Conner fell to his knees, the weight of tragedy causing his shoulders to give in.
“You can’t go!” he whispered to his father, searching his blank expression for any sign of relief. There was only pain. There was only pain. Conner stumbled out of the hospital room, then froze. The hallway was covered in oozing blood that was pooling in puddles on the floor. The blood of patients, doctors, and nurses lined the walls. Shaking his head, Conner stumbled towards the elevator. He lifted his head as the rusted elevator doors creaked open. The limp, blood-soaked bodies of the nurses, patients, and doctors were piled onto each other. Their eyes were glazed over, and tears of blood dripped from their tear ducts. Stumbling back, Conner found his way past the bodies and into his room. Leaning into his bed, Conner let his eyelids close and let the horror dissolve into darkness.

Conner blinked open his eyes as the sound of tapping streamed through the room. Sitting up, Conner adjusted his eyes to the light and moved towards a window where the sound came from. It was dark out, and you could hear the whistling of the wind from outside. Conner leaned into the window on his tip toes and scanned the outside. There was nothing, nothing that could have administered a tapping sound. Weird. Turning around, Conner shrieked as the large, scaly body, which had come to be known as the monster, shuffled towards him. Stepping back, Conner’s breath grew heavy, and he could feel a bead of sweat running down his face.
“Leave me alone!” he cried. “Go away!” Conner swatted at the monster, though it was easily dodged. The monster smiled, its teeth covered in ruby red blood. Conner’s brow furrowed as he cried words of hate; he fought to control his fear. “Why did they have to die?!” he whispered, icy tears dripping down his face. “Why did you do this to me? WHY ME?” The monster hissed in return as Conner continued, “They didn’t deserve this, I didn’t deserve this! My parents didn’t deserve to die.” He closed his eyes, all the death, all the hate. It was for nothing. It was for nothing. It was for the monster’s fun. Nothing more, nothing less. The monster felt no grief, no remorse. The monster felt no hate. It couldn’t be for nothing. Conner looked up at the monster, his cheeks flushed red, and the tears streamed down his face.

“It won’t be for nothing.”

Conner’s body shook in anger as he fought to control his emotions. Then, he snapped. Conner hurled himself at the monster, shutting his eyes and waiting for the impact. He flew into the monster, and then, despite the monster’s harsh appearance, it felt like he hit a pile of pillows. Opening his eyes, he gasped in shock as a dark void swallowed the light. The monster’s drive to kill engulfed him. With nowhere in sight, he walked, he walked till he realized one thing: He would always be lost. Looking around, he pulled his arms closer to him, and, to his surprise, a voice echoed in his head. Don’t be scared, it’s over. Conner is gone, and you were born. The monster.
“No… ” he whimpered. Yes. Now, come. Conner walked, nowhere in sight, but he walked. His mother appeared in his vision. See her? “Yes.” Kill her.
“I… I,” Conner whispered, unsure of himself. Do what I say. Stepping forward into the darkness, Conner moved towards his mother, unaware that her last few seconds of life were about to end. “Mom… ” Conner ran towards her, pulling her into a tight hug of rejoice. “I… I’m sorry.”

His mother looked at him with painful eyes and murmured, “I know.”

“Not for that.” Conner adjusted his grip on the knife that appeared in his hand. Don’t hesitate, Conner. Conner’s mother grasped her hand, dragging down his face, then fell to the ground. Good job.

The image of his lifeless mother dissolved, and he was alone again. But he wasn’t. There were all the people around the world to help… to be friends with. Their screams would fill his mind each night, and he would smile, he would laugh at what fun it would be. Their blood would line the walls of the empty void that was now his home. He would play with their bodies, and he would never be lost ever again. Conner knew who he was now. He was a monster.

 

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