This story is by Lauren Timmins and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
They make quiet noises and show their teeth when they come down from up top and make light too bright. “Hush little one, be still little one, you’re such a good little one,” they say with windy voices before they hurt me. They like to hurt me. They say it helps them.
They make it dark when they don’t hurt me. I like to think about my home and my family then. The light at home was never too bright and it was warmer, and our home was colored like the sky. This home is empty-colored. This home is cold, and very far away. I remember when they took me. I was playing outside with my brother and my sister when the ground started shaking. We looked up and saw a great big ship in the sky and my sister told me and my brother to go inside. Then the ground started to shake even more as more ships started to come down. Me and my brother started to run, but then the world started screaming. First it was loud, then it was so loud that we could feel the sound and the sound hurt. I could feel the screaming bouncing and burning in my head and it just kept hurting and hurting until I fell down and couldn’t run anymore. I started crying. I asked the world to please stop it, to stop hurting me, but it didn’t listen.
Then they came, the monsters. The big ship landed, and the monsters came out and took me and my brother and my sister. They brought me into the big ship and they took my family into the little ships. I don’t know where they are… maybe somewhere better. Maybe nice monsters were in the little ships. I hope the nice monsters took them. My monsters are mean.
I can’t think about home anymore. I hear the quiet voices and the bangs of feet as the monsters come down from up top. One looks at me and shows its teeth. They have empty-colored skin and big, far-apart eyes set behind clear bone. They are very tall and they have more arms than me. The monster looking at me shows its teeth again as it picks up a hurting thing with its metal claws.
“Hello little one, are you going to be good today?”
The monster voice tries to sound like mine in my head but it just sounds still. I understand the monsters when they speak with the still voice in my head. The windy voice is different. I ask the monster not to hurt me. I don’t want it to hurt me anymore. I have been a good little one. I don’t think it understands me – it keeps the hurting thing in its claws.
“You have to keep helping us,” the still voice says. Another monster shows its teeth and drags its claws up the side of me. Its skin folds around three holes in its head as it shows more teeth. “You offer great potential to us.”
I tell them I don’t want to help anymore, I don’t have “po-ten-shul”. I don’t know what that is. I ask them to bring me back home. I am just a little one, someone else, someone bigger could help them more. A big one could give them “po-ten-shul.”
They grab me with their metal claws and tie me down to flat metal. Something heavy goes on my head and then the monsters push sharp things deep under my skin. The sharp things are attached to stiff and colorful strings. They start to talk to one another with the windy voices and scratch things onto rectangles. They make the lights too bright and pull the heavy thing over my eyes.
I close my eyes and start to shake all over. Bad things, very bad things happen when the heavy thing is on my head. I hear their windy voices all around me and I know they’re waiting to hurt me again. I wish my mom and dad were here. I wish someone would make the monsters go away.
The heavy thing begins to hum and then I see lines everywhere. Some lines are round and some are straight. The lines make words from my home.
“What is this?”
I start to cry. I don’t know what the lines are. The monsters don’t like it when I don’t know.
“What does that mean?”
I try to tell them I don’t know, I am too small to know. I hear bangs of feet and then the pain comes. Pain all over coming from the stiff strings and it makes a zzzzz noise and I shake and shake and shake and it feels like fire inside my body and I start to scream because it hurts me so bad.
They show me the lines again but I still feel the pain all over and it makes me tired. I remember my sister looking at the lines and saying things, she would be able to save me if she were here. I think I say her name.
I hear the zzzz sound and the pain comes all over again and this time it makes my body bounce up and down and up and down and it hits the flat metal over and over and over and when it finally stops I still shake even though I don’t want to and all I can do is cry and hope they finish soon.
I breathe hard and wait for the lines to come back. I’m afraid the monsters will make the pain too much and the pain will take me away and make me nothing. I hear the monsters bang their feet to different places. Something tugs at my head and the heavy thing comes off. Most of the monsters are away from me now and are talking with the windy voices. Some turn their heads and look at me and then swing them side to side. Another waves its claws around and grasps at its head, its mouth opening wide as it speaks louder than the others. The other monsters stop speaking, and they all look at the loud monster. That monster stops and then they go to me again. One puts the heavy thing back on my head. They become very, very quiet.
This time instead of lines I see the sky, my sky. The yellow makes me happy.
The still voice asks, “What is this?”
The monsters start speaking quickly in the windy voices and I think that I said the wrong answer and I close my eyes and wait for the pain to come. The monsters stop speaking and stay quiet for a long time. Pain does not come. I hear the scratchy sounds of the rectangles.
“Who is this?”
I see myself on the flat metal thing. The stiff colored string looks bigger through my skin. I tell them my name. A windy voice says, “Good little one”. Then I don’t see me anymore, and then they show me a big one.
“Who is this?”
I don’t know who that is. I think the monsters will hurt me if I don’t answer so I just say “… big little one.”
“Say it like us,” says the still voice. One of the monsters speaks slowly in the windy voice, and then the still voice says “big little one” with my voice again. I try my best to sound like the monster.
“Big… Little… One.”
The windy voices get very loud, and then very quiet. I hear them make the scratching noises with the rectangles. They must understand me if they are happy and not hurting me. The things I say must be right. I breathe hard –- I have a question for the monsters.
“What are you called?”
There is darkness and quiet for a very long time. Then I hear a click and the heavy thing hums again.
I see the monster with empty colored skin and far apart eyes set behind clear bone with metal claws. I see the monster with too many arms and holes in its face. I see the monster that stands so high over me and speaks in the windy voice. I see the monster that fills me with hurt and bad things. I see the monster that took me from my home and took away my family. I see the monster that makes the quiet noises and bangs its feet as it comes down from up top, and the windy voice says its name.