Monolith 3; Tammy’s Choice

Flash Fiction Challenge 100 – Day 79

Photo by Johannes Krupinski on UNSPLASH

The monolith sat, waiting patiently for centuries. It was sentient, but it would have blushed at such high praise. It felt no need for flattery. There was only one thing that fulfilled it, and it had been a long time since it had that treat. It ached to feel sated.

The intelligence that coursed through the enormous hunk of smooth obsidian granite knew only hunger. As an immortal, it couldn’t die, but it would grow weak if it didn’t eat. When centuries would pass by without human visitation, it would languish and become lethargic. At those times, it would cast around and draw some tiny woodland creatures to it. They would enact the grisly tableaus imagined by the monolith. It wasn’t the same as with the men, but it was better than nothing.

It thinks, ‘There are eight others like me in the world. I remember, from the time before. A time long ago. It recalls how they had traveled from a vast distance. That was a different time and a different place. The monolith doesn’t understand how it moved between the locations. But, here it sits, in a small clearing in the woods, the trees instinctually bending away from the pulsating energy that emits from the obelisk.

Tammy is so excited about her first house. Her daddy said she wouldn’t make it on her own, that she would fail and come crawling back to him. Then he would get blackout drunk and become physically abusive. The punches and kicks hurt. Sometimes, it was worse than fists and steel-toed boots.

No, she would not go back to that trailer park in Kentucky. Never. She would rather die homeless in the Vermont wilderness than see her father again.

The house was a rustic cabin, an hour from the nearest city. It was going to be a cozy, lonely existence she expected, but after their crowded, chaotic time in the double-wide, she suspects she will manage.

The icing on the cake was, according to her realtor, the maple trees. Sprinkled through the woods behind the cabin were several maple trees. Tammy had bought books and some rudimentary equipment for making and bottling syrup. She knows tourists will pay handsomely for genuine Maple syrup and, if her calculations are correct, she will live for a year on what she makes in three months bottling syrup.

Yes, she would die here. She would never return to Kentucky. In Kentucky, she was already dead.

The monolith senses a stirring. There was a human presence and activity on the property. A human again inhabited the cabin. It looks and looks, but it perceives only the single consciousness.

While the human sleeps, the monolith gently probes the consciousness, looking for memories, themes, emotions, an entrance.

After a week, the monolith has seen enough of Tammy’s memories and dreams of her abusive father. It plans. The hopefulness of seeing a meal ahead gives it some energy, but it is still ravenous. It draws more of the tiny forest animals to it. The blood and gore on the ground grow so bad it becomes nearly impossible to lure others to the clearing.

But nature is cyclical like this, the monolith reflects. The crucial part is the monolith is no longer alone.

Frank or Phil? The monolith can’t be sure which is the human’s father’s name. But the monolith let its attention sphere widen until it found the man. The monolith felt a hunger unlike any it had ever known. It must have this man. At nights, as Frank slept, the intelligence that set in a clearing in the woods on his daughter’s home would slowly seep into the man’s graying, jowled head. It spent some nights tinkering with Tammy, but Frank had to be readied as well. Frank had to become receptive.

Tammy hangs up the phone. He had sounded genuinely surprised to hear from her. But Tammy’s surprise was even more than her father’s.

She would not concede to his facile threats or criticisms. This was her choice. She had invited her father to come to visit her. He accepted her invitation.

During her second week at the cabin, she had explored the woods. She had found the clearing. If Tammy saw the strange black stone monolith in the clearing, she didn’t react to it in any overt fashion. But the following day, she had returned with a shovel and several stray cats she had coaxed into a cloth bag.

The cats sense the wrongness of the area as soon as Tammy steps into the clearing. They howled, hissed, snarled, and fought with the others.

The monolith sighs.

The sounds from the cats die down. Seeking to squeeze out every drop, Tammy bats at the limp, bloody bag with her shovel. At first, her motions are gentle, almost taps. Gradually Tammy recedes into the background, and the shovel strikes become frenetic.

The cats were only an appetizer. Frank will be the feast.

As the limp burlap bag grows wet with blood and bile, Tammy digs the hole for her father. He won’t be here for another week, but Tammy is out of shape and not very strong. She figures she should have the hole ready a few days before he arrives.

After Frank, the monolith has already found four men that all live much closer. Each one looks like Frank and has an estranged daughter. The monolith loved the poetic symmetry almost as much as it loved human suffering.


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