Monsters of the Mind’s Own Making

The man stared out at the mysterious, majestic ocean before him with a cigarette in one hand and a steel-grey flask of whisky in the other. Entering his cone of vision and scattered across the sea to the horizon, terrible ash-creatures of unfathomable horror marched towards him. They were long, slender, sloppy, simplistic things. Their form defied reason or biological categorisation, almost like something out of a bored artist’s sketchbook.

Robert took another swig of the half-empty flask and shoved it back into his trenchcoat pocket. He took another long drag from his half-burnt cigarette.

They won’t get me. They can’t get me. They aren’t real.

Their flesh appeared to move and their mouths were ill-shaped maws with jagged, chaotic sets of teeth surrounding them. Their arrival was announced by the sudden halting of the rain storm and their screeching siren-like roar reverberating throughout the shore and presumably into the city as well.

But Robert couldn’t be bothered, or at least he was trying awfully hard not to be. He casually adjusted his hat so as to hide what few grey hairs he had left, as though it would make a difference when he was all alone on an empty beach on a rainy Saturday morning.

The gargantuan creatures that crawled from the ocean floor ceased to shamble and started to sprint. But Robert could not be bothered, because he knew this was his mind testing him, trying to trick him as it had his whole life.

“You aren’t real!” he shouted. “None of this shit is real!”

He immediately imbibed the last of the whisky and tossed the fragile flask to the floor, causing it to shatter into two big pieces and many little pieces. He had dealt with these hallucinatory creatures all his life, and though his family and many doctors sought to treat him, he never could be rid of them, not when reality and unreality are so similar.

But never before were the monsters and visions and creatures and hallucinations or delusions ever so fearsome. By now they were closer to the sand and he could see they had grown in scale since he first saw them. They were one hundred times Robert’s size or maybe bigger. But he couldn’t give them the time of day. He couldn’t give in to the delusion, because that would mean they win.

He opened his fingers and let the last cigarette drop. When it did, he stomped it with total indignation. Then, when the first of the monsters reached him, it scooped him up in its unfeeling hands and tore his body in half with its dull teeth all in the span of a second, not even giving Robert time enough to scream.

This time, the monsters were real.

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