Thursday, July 22, 2010

Leona and the Monster

While organizing files on my laptop, I stumbled across this story. Originally, it was written for Vision Forum’s 2010 Catalog Essay Contest, but I lost interest in finishing it and, therefore, couldn’t submit it. It’s probably just as well since it was written in one setting and is hardly original, but I’m posting it now just for the fun of it. Here is “Leona and the Monster” in its original incomplete and unedited form:

“AGGGGHHHHHHH!!!” screamed a little peasant girl, running for the underground compound that would be her only protection from the Monster. Her name was Leona, and as she ran, the dropped the colorful wildflowers she had been picking to make a chain necklace. She did not stop to pick them up because she was running for her very life.

 The terrible creature was a large as three village huts and raided the countryside for its dinner, generally sheep, deer, and little children. It only went after the clean children as the dirty ones were not nearly as appetizing, and Leona’s grandmother had just given her a bath before supper. It had seemed like a good idea at the time, since she was all dirty from a hard day’s play. The Monster usually did not hunt in the evening, but today was an exception.

The Monster continued to gain on the peasants as they scrambled for safety. The shepherds did their best to hide their flocks, but it was too late. The sheep cried, “Baaaaa!!!” as the Monster chomped down on them. It devoured half of the sheep and let out a loud burp before toddling back to the Cave.

Leona’s older cousin, Derek, was a village scout. “The Monster is gone!” he yelled out from his secret scouting post in the tall trees. Everyone sighed with relief. Their village had survived better than others in the countryside.

Leona overheard some of the adults discussing how the Monster had been so hungry that it ate an entire village that was twenty miles away. The only person who escaped was a town elder, who had traveled to the palace to visit King Herbert. He asked King Herbert to send a knight to kill the Monster, but the king was too busy with other royal duties.

King Herbert was angry. All of the other kings in the world had pet llamas in their royal zoos, and he wanted pet llamas too. King Herbert asked another king for some llamas, but that king would not share. So King Herbert sent his knights to battle the other king’s knights. He did not have a knight to spare for something as unimportant as the Monster, who ate all the children and sheep. The elder was sad because the king only cared about his royal zoo.

This elder came to Leona’s village since everyone in his village was eaten by the Monster. He told the people how selfish the king was. “What are we going to do?” someone asked him. “The Monster has eaten all of our sheep. We will starve!”

The elder thought and thought all night. In the morning, he had an idea. “We should kill the Monster ourselves, and then eat it. The Monster is a big as three huts. If we store it properly, it will provide enough meat all winter.”

The people looked at each other as if the elder was crazy. They had eaten sheep, oxen, chicken, deer, rabbits, bugs, snakes, and sometimes even bear, but they had never ever before eaten a Monster. “Will it make us sick?” someone asked. “I heard it tastes like chicken,” someone else whispered.

Finally, everyone agreed. “How will we kill it?” asked Leona’s cousin Kira. Kira was Derek’s older sister.  Leona wished she was Kira’s age. The Monster only ate older girls when it was really, really hungry. It even preferred sickly, old men. Some people joked it was because older girls talked too much and gave the Monster indigestion. “How will we kill it?” she asked again, after no one answered her the first time.

Finally, someone got an idea. The little children were made to leave while everyone else discussed the plan. Leona ran outside with her mother calling after her, “Be careful, Leona! The Monster! It might return!”

Leona played with the other children, getting really dirty in case the Monster wanted an evening snack. When the adults’ meeting was finished, everyone went home and slept with one eye open. The next morning, Leona woke early. She wanted to find out how the village was going to kill the Monster. She went outside where the adults were talking and climbed into her father’s lap.

“It’s a good plan,” said Leona’s father. “I don’t like it,” said her aunt and uncle at the same time. They were worried because the village elders had told Derek to find and explore the Monster’s Cave while it was out searching for breakfast. He was the best scout in the whole village, so Leona was certain that he would be successful. The Cave sounded exciting. She wished she could see it, but then she remembered that she did not want to be eaten.

That afternoon, Derek returned. He drew a map that showed the location of the Cave. It was in one of the large hills surrounded by forest. He and the other scouts had climbed deep into the Cave to hide in it dry wood, leaves, and pinecones that would burn quickly and easily. Now they were organizing a hunting party. Everyone was talking, crying, hugging, and running around in circles looking for weapons.

“Stay out of the way. Play with your cousins,” Leona’s mother told her. Leona looked around. When she saw a cousin, someone would walk in front of her so she could not see where she was going. Finally, she saw Kira talking to some of the older girls and decided to join her. Leona did not want to lose Kira in the crowd, so she grabbed her cousin’s long skirt and clenched it tightly in her hands. Wherever Kira went, Leona toddled behind her.

After what seemed to be a long time, Leona noticed everything seemed quiet. There were not as many people around. Kira was walking slowly through the forest, and Leona silently kept up with her. She almost tripped over a few rocks that her little feet could not grip properly, but she managed to keep up, never letting go of Kira’s skirt. Once when Kira did stop walking, Leona peeked around her to catch a glimpse of some of the village hunters, large men who towered over her in size, carrying spears, swards, and all sorts of weapons she had never before seen. Suddenly nervous, but not scared, she would have insisted, Leona hid back behind her cousin’s skirt.

“Here’s the entrance, and this is where we put the leaves. If you light them, a good fire should get started immediately,” Derek was whispering. Leona stifled a yawn. She was tired and wanted to go home to her soft bed, but she was told to be quiet and to stay with Kira. Leona looked around. Tall dark trees covered the sky. There was hardly any light since the hunters had put out their lights soon after stopping. Her cousins continued to talk, but she hoped they would decide to return to the village soon.

Then suddenly Kira started walking away from Derek and the hunters. She began to climb some large rocks. Leona almost let out a cry as she let go of her cousin’s skirt. She did not want the Monster to hear her, since it could identify a little girl’s scream a mile away, but she feared losing her cousin in the black night. Frantically, Leona scrambled up the rocks and caught up with Kira.

Leona rushed to her cousin and threw her tiny arms around Kira’s legs. “AGGHHHHH!!!” screamed Kira, spinning around. “Leona!  What are you doing here?” she asked, her voice half yelling and half whispering.

Leona hid her face in Kira’s skirt. “Mama said to stay with you,” she whimpered, realizing that she must have done something wrong, but had no idea what it was.

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