The Monster With the Head of Two Herons
Sean Miller ran through the maze his father started building in the basement of their house years before Sean was even born. The maze only he knew how to navigate and escape. Once the maze was complete his father made sure the map was imprinted in Sean’s mind so that it would alway be there. The maze was made out of brick and mortar and took Sean’s dad nearly half his life to complete.
Sean felt the presence of his mother and baby half-brother Stephen somewhere in the basement. He knew if he followed their aura he wold be able to find the hidden safe room his father had built for them. In the safe room they’d be protected from outside influences and be hidden from any intruders. If they knew what was going on outside the walls of their Bridgeport, Connecticut home they would be very happy to be cooped up.
Two hours earlier 14 year old Sean Miller was on his way home down East Main ST on his bike from CVS with a few items his mom had sent him to pick up. His baby half-brother was extra fussy, so she didn’t want to take him out or leave him alone with Sean. Sean was happy to take his bike out on such a sunny and cool Saturday.
On his way home with the diaper rash ointment and baby aspirin he noticed a man vomiting into the street. He thought nothing of it at first. Sometimes this area of Bridgeport attracted such vagrants as this. Then he noticed a second man coming down the front steps of his apartment building vomiting as well. Then he saw a woman collapse onto her knees and vomit into her hands. Whatever was happening to these people wasn’t effecting Sean.
This could only mean one thing. A monster had come to Bridgeport.
“Aright, Sean,” his father said. “You’re doing good. Now project your aura.”
Sean focused his will and closed his eyes. He felt the energies swirl around him like his father had showed him so many times.
“Good,” dad said. “Now make the chains and shackles. Just like I showed you.”
Sean and his father had these training sessions quite often. Sean’s father had died half his lifetime ago, but the image of him would still come to him in his dreams and continue training his mind. At first Sean would hope this meant that his father was live in some way and in some plane of existence, but eventually realized this was a psychic imprint his father had left him much like the map of the maze.
The shackles materialized from the ground in front of Sean and the shackles appeared at the end. He extended them towards the image of his father before they dissolved into nothing.
“I’m sorry,” Sean said. “I almost had it.”
“You’re sorry?” Dad said. “The day may come when you’ll have to defend our home and family from the monsters that plague our world. There are so few of us that can see and defend against them and there are fewer and fewer every year.”
This was something he heard often. The power to defend against the monsters was passed father to son. His grandfather (whom Sean had never met and apparently lived half a world away) had the power and his father before him and so on and so on. It had seemed the power was diminishing more and more recently, but Sean had been infused with a great amount of this power (if he could believe his father’s praises).
Sean’s father had died suddenly when he was only seven years old. Sean’s mother was distraught and would scream that it was the work of some monster or another. Sean had never seen one, but had never been very far from their home that was just off East Main ST. He knew his father had been called on quite a few times to defend against some threat or another, but Sean hadn’t been old enough to go on the calls with him. If he were alive now Sean would have been going on these calls with his father.
“Tell me how to destroy a monster,” Dad said.
Sean stood with his back straight. “Chain and shackle them so they can’t move,” Sean said. “Once they’re trapped bring them down towards the earth. The powers within the earth will disrupt the aura of the monster and dispel it.”
“Correct,” Dad said. “Show me your aura one more time. The time for you to wake up draws near.”
Sean raced home on his bike amid the vomiting and collapsing people on the streets. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a car drive into a utility pole. The pole fell and the wires began spitting sparks into the street. Sean ignored this and sped off towards his home.
Sean got to the front steps of his house and walked his bike up the steps and laid it on the rails. Normally he’d have to lock his bike in the back hall to keep it from being stolen, but he didn’t have time. Besides, anyone capable of stealing his bike would be busy vomiting and collapsing into the street.
“Mom!” Sean called bursting into his house. “Are you here?” Sean received no answer and closed his eyes to extend his aura. He felt the presence of his mother an baby half-brother under the house in the safe room. The safe room was designed to keep other psychic powers from finding them, but Sean had been around his mother his entire life and his baby half-brother since he was born. He was attuned to their aura through love and familiarity, so he was able to locate their aura even when they were in the protection of the safe room.
They’re safe, Sean though with a breath of relief. With the exception of his stepfather who was at work his family would be OK as long as they stayed in that room. He looked out the front window and saw people walking around confused and dazed as they vomited and collapsed around each other. This was bad. If Sean had any hope saving his family he wold have to go through the basement maze. He couldn’t risk the monster seeing him through someone else’s eyes.
“The time has come,” his father’s voice said in his head. He turned to find the image of his father standing in the den.
“Dad,” Sean said. “What happened.”
“You already know,” Dad said. “You’re ready. I’ve taught you all I can and now you’re on your own. I’ve always believed in your power. Now go make me proud.”
“Will I see you again?” Sean asked.
His father said nothing. His image simply faded.
So Sean raced through the maze of brick and motor that his father built before he was even born. He had never used the secret trapdoor entrance under the cellar stairs and set food in this maze, but he knew every inch of it as if he spent his life down here. He grabbed a battery powered lantern, but he found he didn’t need it. He ignored the psychic impulses from his mother and baby half-brother. There was no helping them until the monster either passes them by or is dealt with.
Turn after turn and hall after hall Sean ran. He felt rats brush his feet and spiderwebs hit his face, but he ignored it and headed for the exit. He made it to the end of the maze and found the stairs that let up to another trap door. He released the locking mechanism his father installed (it would lock itself again once Sean was safely outside) and pushed the door with all his muscle behind it. His lower back and thigh muscles screamed as he pushed the old rusted metal door open.
Suddenly the sun was in his face and he was back out in the cool August afternoon. He found himself in the backyard of a house on Noble AVE. A false panel of dirt and soil had him coming up behind a somebody’s shed. He clicked the panel back into place and quickly made it out of the back yard and down Noble AVE towards Beardsley Park. There was no rhyme or reason to Sean’s course. He just knew this was the way to run, and his father had always told him to follow where his instincts pointed him.
He ran across the street not looking (there wasn’t a car on the normally busy road anyway) and made his way down the entrance to Beardsley Park and the zoo. When he got to the open area where he usually had picnics with his family on nice Sunday afternoons he saw it soaring overhead. The monster with the head of two herons. It’s large wingspan shadowed from the Bunnells Pond to the park road where he now stood.
Sean stood transfixed. It was the first time he had saw a monster aside from images his father placed in his mind, and it was a humungous and disfigured one at that. This surely was the monster plaguing the city with its sickness, and he was the only person who was able to stop it before it could do anything more than making everyone in Bridgeport throw up (if that’s all it’s done so far).
Sean stood his ground. He knew he would have to face off against this monster if he were to save his family who wouldn’t last more than a few days down in that safe room if the two headed monstrosity were allowed to live. Focusing his aura like his father did in all those dreams he lashed out with it like a mental whip and made two metal posts rise from the ground. One was on the park side of Bunnells Pond, and the other was between the pond and adjacent to Route 8 with its stand-still traffic.
Two chains emerged from the post and shackled the monster around the junction where its two necks met. It screeched in a fury that nearly blew out Sean’s ear drums and thrashed to come loose. Sean stood his ground and focused his aura and will at that shackle as he felt the monster’s aura lash out at his mind.
Let me go, the horrible whisper inside his head said. These people are mine by rite of passage. I will not be denied.
Sean focused most intently and started slowly dragging the monster to the earth. It flapped its wings furiously, but to no avail. It slowly descended to the earth.
Let me go, the whisperer repeated. I shall spare you and your family, but this retched city is mine. Let me go and leave me be.
“NO!” Sean shouted as blood started to ooze from his nose. “You will be dispersed and you will leave these people alone!” With that Sean pulled the monster closer. He couldn’t have been more than a hundred feet from the earth.
I WILL NOT BE ORDERED AROUND BY A HUMAN LARVA! the monster screeched as it began to riser again. Sean felt the chains begin to give and panic struck in his mind. He felt it all the way in his stomach and as the monster began to screech in triumph as the chains began to spit and give. Then sean lost all touch with reality.
“You’re doing well, Sean,” the voice of his father said in the darkness.
Sean opened his eyes in the darkness. He saw the universe laid out before his eyes. Stars upon stars and galaxy upon galaxy was spread out. He was in awe of what he was seeing. “Where am I?” Sean asked.
“You have reached the second plane,” the voice of his father said. Sean turned to see where it was coming from, but there was no form to behold. Just the swirling stars. “The strain of your battle has brought you here and me to you. I was hoping you would have more time to train before you’d face off against your first monster.”
“I can’t stop it,” Sean said. “It’s too powerful!”
“Do you know what the monsters are, son?” the voice of his father asked. “They are plague. They are disease. They are disasters. Every disaster or widespread disease on earth could be traced back to a monster not shackled or dispersed. If you can’t stop this monster with the head of two herons its disease will spread and kill thousands.”
Sean imagined the sickness he witnessed in Bridgeport getting worse and people starting to vomit blood and their insides before dying in the most painful of ways.
“That’s it,” the voice of his father said reading the image. “You have the gift of precognition now. This future doesn’t have to be. You have the power to stop it. Now go.”
Sean’s long journey ended and he was snapped back to reality as if he never left it. He still had the two headed heron in his shackles and chains, but it was beginning to break free. With a renewed focus and steadfastness Sean focused his aura and will again and strengthened the chains.
The monster shrieked again as Sean dragged it down. The horrid whispering began once again in Sean’s head, but he forced it out like the gale of a hurricane would a rotten tree. Finally, the monster got to the ground and Sean completed his ritual by dragging the tantruming monster into the earth where he felt the power dissipate.
The earth will now use the power of the monster to heal from the damage it inflicted, the voice of his father said from within his head. Sean sat down on the warm grass in the beautiful August sun and smiled. He put his head on the grass and looked up into the blue sky and white clouds. He had done well. His father would be proud. No matter what plane he was on.