Original short story: Molten Misunderstandings

This upload is a little different from the others as I’m sharing a short story I wrote for my creative writing assignment. To give a brief introduction, it is a somewhat dystopian young adult fiction with a moral behind it. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. 


Rebecca watched from the hospital’s security room as the creature moved under the cover of darkness. At that moment she wanted to call for help, but knew it was in her journalistic interest to observe and take as many notes as she could. There were only so many missing bodies the hospital could cover up before people started asking questions. A Freedom of Information request was passed and the newspapers got involved. This was where investigative journalist Rebecca Taylor came in, tasked with uncovering the true reason the bodies were disappearing and splashing it over the front page of The Daily Molten.

The CCTV footage resembled that of a horror film. It showed a human like figure, covered in scales edging closer and closer to the terminal patient’s ward, until halted by the material presence of a door. This was no obstacle for the creature whom extended its claws and dragged it open with little to no effort.

The steady beeping of heart rate monitors and the occasional cough disguised the sound of the creature’s movements, but the carefully placed night vision cameras kept her omniscient regarding its whereabouts. After a brief walk around the ward, it took refuge beside the second to last bed containing a young man, no more than twenty in age. “Why him?” she muttered under her breath with great curiosity, still watching intently.

 

Peering through the medical notes, the creature found the chemotherapy and radiotherapy attempts had been futile, making the patient’s cancerous condition deteriorate at an alarming rate. Even still, Egan was a fighter, his resilience surprised the doctors even after his lung collapsed. However, his hope was not enough to cure him. In fact nothing could fix, nor alleviate, the symptoms of his advanced lung cancer. He lay in agony, denying the inevitable reality that he will be face to face with death in the not so distant future. The staff had given up on him. After all, hospitals fight disease, they do not waste resources and valuable medical training to look after the dying. The creature was attracted to such cases. Patients with never faltering optimism regardless of the odds made for the best targets.

The other patients looked on, too weak to intervene, call for a nurse, or even distinguish the scene as fact or fiction thanks to their high intake of pain relieving morphine. Those who eventually gathered their thoughts looked at the others for confirmation that the creature, referred to only as the taker, had taken its next victim.

It happened every full moon. The creature would enter the ward, examine the patients, before picking off the weaker victims one by one and ensuring they never returned. No-one believed them of course, hallucinations were rife for those prescribed morphine, and so the kidnapping process went on like clockwork.

Suddenly, the beeping stopped and Egan’s body began to shake violently. The creature noticed he was choking and knew this was the time to act. After placing the patient in the recovery position and waiting for him to fall back asleep, the creature took him into its arms and planned their escape. The window of the ground floor ward being the obvious choice. They vacated the room hastily as the creature was eager to leave the depressing place in a flash, and avoid any alarms being raised – not that the doctors would care about one patient’s early exit while they were already on the verge of dying.

 

 

Rebecca watched on, angered by the turn of events, thinking: “Terminal or not, they do not deserve to die before their time.” She quickly put on her night vision goggles, gathered her equipment, and slung everything else of use into rucksack over her shoulder. “I’m going after them.” The pursuit began.

Hiking through the trees behind the hospital Rebecca kept low, ensuring she was no more nor less than ten paces behind the evil being. Shadows devoured the route, as clouds covered the silvery glow of the full moon. Not a breeze stirred in the hot and still woods, but Rebecca let out an involuntary shiver. The journalist did not want to be found for the consequences did not seem appealing, nor did she want to lose track of the creature and consequently, lose her big chance at becoming editor.

As the greenery turned grey, Rebecca realised it was heading in the direction of the volcano the town of Molten derived its name from. The ash-covered landscape was the aftermath of the most recent eruption, whereby invisible CO2 had seeped from beneath the volcano into the surrounding soil. Warning signs filled the perimeter, the volcano was in a three mile radius, and although another eruption was not due for centuries, the area was unstable.

The monsters heightened senses heard every crisp yellow and brown leaf she stepped on, with each branch she broke also standing out against the ominous quiet of the trees that had since become silhouettes. It took a detour in an attempt to throw her off its track, sighing exasperatedly upon realisation that this was to no avail.

Rebecca hung back as the creature walked up to the volcanic-crater lake. The voice in her head was confused, “surely it wouldn’t walk all this way just to dispose of the patients… There must be something more to the story.”

Looking up at the sky, the creature could tell the full moon would soon be usurped by the rising of the sun. Without a second thought, it tossed the patient into the acidic lake as if he were a coin being thrown into a well for good luck. Already jaundice in colour, the green water swallowed Egan whole, taking his weakened limp body further and further into its depths. He was no match for the waters strength and sunk accordingly into the abyss heated by molten rock.

“You monster!” gasped Rebecca as she turned to leave, whispering “you’ll never get away with this.” The smell of burning flesh forced her aching muscles to contract. Her heart pounded with adrenaline rather than from the exertion of walking, as she ran in the direction she had come, camera in hand.

Once she was out of sight, the water began to ripple, and the creature dived in, using its dragon like alkali scales as a neutraliser. It did not take long for it to reach Egan, or what was left of him. Going against the current, it dragged the pair to land, setting Egan down carefully.

The acid, not usually known for its healing properties, had time to dissolve the cancerous cells, leaving only the healthy flesh. This was step one. The second step was cover him in ash and lay him to rest. The ash acted as a protective layer to shield Egan from Mother Nature’s elements and allow him time to recover and prosper. It was only a matter of time before the once terminally ill young man, would be fully healthy and free to start a new life, under a new identity.

Unsurprisingly, the photographic evidence made the front page, and unrest rose in the town. Led by Rebecca, a selection of angry locals forged together and marched onwards towards the volcano and the creature’s hideout, armed with bats, brooms, and kitchen knives amongst other domestic weapons. The police followed suit in riot gear, unable to halt the furious mob and inwardly thankful for their strength in numbers support. They reached the acidic lake as the sun disappeared behind the mountain, cowering in fear away from the consequences for a misunderstanding, and taking all aspects of light and goodness with it.

The thirty-strong mob were greeted by an eerie silence that sent shivers down the vigilante’s spines. A commanding voice broke the silence, “come out you murderer!”

“Don’t you want to throw us in the lake too, now’s your chance”

“All you have to do is come out, we know you’re here”

More voices chirped in, chanting, “Coward”

“Coward”

“The taker is a coward”

The creature continued to wait patiently, taking the verbal abuse in its stride, for it was not the Grim Reaper and they would soon see the truth.

“We’ll give you to the count of three to surrender yourself.”

“One… Two…”

“Three”

The surge of adrenaline returned, banishing Rebecca’s fear, and she led the group into the darkness in search of the being. Jolted by the flapping of a bird’s wings, she thrusted her weapon of choice, six inches of cold steel, into the air, letting go as the force became too much for her to handle. The knife propelled upwards, changing its directional flow at the opportune moment that meant it would miss the bird, but in doing so, chance injuring one of the humans crowded below. The blade cascaded downwards at speed, like an angel falling from grace, landing in a pile of ash just north of the group. A scarlet red liquid began seeping from the pile.

The absent-minded action proved that the mob were in fact the only dangers to civilisation, offering deaths touch in vain, whist the creature used is magical knowledge of the volcano to heal. Egan lay still with an unmistakeable object stuck in the cusp of his stomach. The patient, no longer terminally ill with cancer, was terminal and it was too late to undo the bad that had already been done.

The next day’s front page headline ‘Molten Misunderstandings’ echoed through the guilt ridden town.

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