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Man Not a Monster

by Han

IG: @hansian25


This is a short horror story with a happy ending, about a trans man and a monster who chooses to be a man instead. Content warnings for r*pe and murder.

The protagonist is just going about his daily life when he gets mistakenly kidnapped by the monster (who only kidnaps women) and taken back to his cave. The monster is being controlled by an evil scientist who wants to live out his own sick fantasies vicariously through the monster he's created. In the end, this story is about being a man, and choosing to be a man as a good, positive thing, entwining the choice to be a man with the choice to be a man who does no harm. This short story is based on an as-yet-unfinished novel I started for Nanowrimo a few years ago, but the themes of transness, masculinity (and rejecting toxic masculinity), and monstrousness are really important to me and (I hope) they come across really strongly in this short story. I'm a big fan of horror being used to explore deeper themes, (and especially the embracing the freakishness and monstrousness loves to project onto us queer people) so I hope I've achieved that here too!

I watched most of the news coverage about the monster on TV. It wasn’t like I had much else to do - my girlfriend had left me, although she came over periodically to help me with my hormone injections (and, I suspected, to check that I hadn’t died) and I had lost my job the minute my boss could find an excuse to fire me that wasn’t just “he’s trans”.

He fascinated me - the monster, that is, not my boss. The news always used ‘it’ to talk about him, a concerted attempt to dehumanise him. I knew it when I saw it. But he was definitely a man - like Frankenstein’s monster, he appeared to be made up of various men’s limbs and body parts, but unlike that creation, he was huge; the height of a three-storey house, his arms and legs as thick as tree trunks.

He also had a sort of uncanny beauty. His features, while unnaturally large and mismatching, were almost delicate, and he picked his victims up so very gently. All women.

This is what I feared most about the monster. Not being kidnapped and taken to his lair, curious as I was. Not even being killed or eaten - I almost welcomed that. But he only kidnapped women.

And I was a man, goddammit.

One evening, I went into town to get groceries. I wasn’t even thinking about the monster that day; I had spent the last few days living on tortilla chips and salsa from the petrol station down the road, and had determined to get some proper food today, get out of my depression slump. I was doing my best to pass - I’d worn my binder and packer, put on a shirt and trousers, attempted to give my unshaven face some masculine contours with the makeup my girlfriend had left behind.

All for nothing, apparently.

“Young lady,” said a worried looking guy, approaching me down the frozen aisle. My heart sank. “It’s not safe for you to be out here. Don’t you know the monster’s around?”

I glared at him. Didn’t he know that I was a man? Couldn’t he see my facial hair, my flat chest? He faltered at my glare, then shrugged and backed away.

“Your funeral,” he muttered.

I carried on my shop as best I could, grabbing things at random from the shelves while fuming to myself. What was the point, I asked myself, of trying so hard to pass, if people like him saw me the exact same way as they had before I had even come out?

I managed to remember to pay for my shopping but in my hurry to get out (seeing the guy making his way towards the self-checkout next to mine) I forgot my bags.

“Godammit,” I said when I realised, already halfway up the street. I turned back to go and get them, and found myself staring up at the monster.

He started right back down at me. He looked a little confused.

“Um, sorry,” I said, trying to edge past him. “Just gotta go and grab my groceries from the supermarket, I left my bags, you know how it is.” Should have kept my mouth shut. I’m sure it was my not-yet-deepened voice that gave me away, for the confusion cleared from his eyes, to be replaced by a glazed look as he plucked me from the pavement in his gigantic hand, his fingers wrapped all the way around my body.

I was irritated more than afraid. “This is sort of awkward,” I shouted in the vague direction of his ear, “but I need you to put me down. I’ve got to get my shopping and also, you’ve made a mistake. You only kidnap women, right?”

The monster peered at my face and nodded.

“Well, I’m a man. See the beard.” I could have given him a lecture on how it was fucked up that he was kidnapping and possibly eating women, anyway, but it didn’t seem like the time. It seemed more like the time to save my own ass.

The monster furrowed his brow, picking his way carefully around cars and buildings. When I had first seen him on the news, he had been smashing them up, destroying everything in his path - clearly he’d become a lot more conscientious. “Sound like a woman to me,” he rumbled, and continued to make his way out of town as people ran screaming in his wake.

The anger I had felt in the supermarket earlier came back tenfold. I was used to people misgendering me, but what right did this monster have to decide my gender. He wasn’t even human!

“I’m a fucking man, goddammit!” I cried, beating at his wrist with my fists. “Put me down!”

I punched and kicked and tried to peel away his fingers, but nothing would budge him, although he did let out a mild “Ow!” when I gave his arm a particularly hard kick. Eventually we found ourselves up in the hills surrounding the city, and the monster set me down gently in a cave. I got up immediately and tried to run, but the monster stood in my way, quickly rolling a stone as tall as I was across the entrance of the cave. I turned back and smelled, rather than saw, several dead bodies in various states of decay.

Then I was really scared.

“Listen,” I said, a quaver in my voice that I hated. “You can’t kill me, you just can’t. I wasn’t lying before - I am a man, and you only kill women, and look, if I die, here, they’ll say on the news that I’m a woman, just another woman who was victim to the monster, and I can’t take that, I just can’t.” I was babbling, I knew, but I couldn’t seem to stop myself.

“I’m not going to kill you,” he said, cutting me off.

I blinked at him in the low light. “You’re not?”

He shook his head, pointing to a woman I hadn't noticed yet, a woman who was still alive - she started screaming as the monster approached her, his eyes, which had been almost human a moment ago, glazing over into swirling black pits.

He ripped her clothes off, and the fabric tearing sounded like nails on a blackboard. I cringed away as he did the same thing to the loincloth wrapped around his bottom half, the movement just as violent. His cock popped out, huge and hard and throbbing. For a fleeting moment I wished I had a cock like that, but then he lined the cock up with her entrance and I swallowed bile. I tried to open my mouth, to say something, to stop this heinous thing from happening, but nothing came out. I’ve never been brave.

I closed my eyes and covered them with my hands for good measure, not wanting to watch, not wanting to see my fate play out in front of me. The woman's screaming, though, I couldn't block out.

There was a ripping sound, a tearing, not of clothes but of flesh. And then...silence.

I opened my eyes.

The woman was dead.

"You killed her!" I exclaimed, then snapped my mouth shut. Maybe if I riled him up he'd kill me all the sooner, and I had better keep quiet. Then again, maybe it wouldn't make any difference.

The monster sat down heavily on his bare ass and shrugged. "Better than the alternative," he said.

"I thought you were going to rape her," I couldn't help saying.

He shook his head, turning towards me, fury in his eyes. I shrank back against the cave wall. "That's what he wants me to do."

The fury wasn't directed at me, at least. Small relief when I knew that I was going to die, but I'd take it where I could get it. "Who does?" I asked, intrigued in spite of myself. Also I could never keep my mouth shut if my life depended on it. Just when other people’s lives depended on it, I guess.

"Him," the monster rumbled, hatred lacing his voice. "The scientist. My creator."

"Ohh," I said, nodding. "So you were created. That makes sense." I thought for a moment. "God, what a sick bastard."

"Of course I was created," he said, and I got the feeling that the loathing in his voice was now directed at himself. "How could this," he gestured at his over-large, mismatched body, "ever be natural?" He snatched up his loincloth from the floor and wrapped it around himself with a noise of disgust.

"So, you don't rape them, good for you," I said. "But do you really have to kill them instead?"

"He sort of...hypnotises me," the monster explained, peering at me strangely, like this was the first time anyone had ever asked him. Maybe it was. "It's very powerful. I have to do something."

"Punch a wall, maybe? You really don't have to kill them." You really don't have to kill me, I thought.

"Why shouldn't I? I'm a monster, aren't I? That's what I'm supposed to do." Now he did punch a wall.

"We're not bound to the things people expect of us," I said. "We can change our destinies, you know. We can choose."

The monster leaned back against the opposite wall, sighing. "How does that work, anyway?" he asked, gesturing at me. "How can you become a man?"

He's asking me, but he's also, I think, asking for himself. "You just have to decide that's what you want. Or, who you are, really."

He looked dubious. "Is that it?"

I nodded. "That's it." Then I frowned. "Well, no, that's not it, because other people will always want you to be who they expect. But for yourself? If you want to be a man and not a monster, all you have to do is choose to be it."

"Hm," said the monster, and was silent awhile. Then he said, "The only man I know is my creator. And I don't want to be like him."

"You know me now," I said gently. "And you don't have to be like him. You can be a man however you want to be. You don't have to be a man in the way society expects. Or the way your creator expects," I added. It was a lesson I knew intellectually, but was only just grasping emotionally, now, here in front of this monster who was going to kill me. Or perhaps the man who would make a choice not to.

The monster sighed, getting to his feet. "I'll take you back to where I found you," he said, picking me up. "I believe that you're a real man, even if he can't see it."

I almost fainted with relief. "Thank you," I said. He rolled away the stone and stepped outside.

After the half-light of the cave, the sun burned our eyes, and we both blinked in the eye-watering light.

I recovered first, looking up at him still trying to adjust. Neither of us looked down.

"What will you do now?" I asked conversationally. It was strange, I thought. I almost felt closer to this monster who had come to kill me than I did to any of my friends. Maybe my parents had been right, when they said I was fucked in the head.

"I don't know," he said. "I don’t want to kill women either," he said. “Now that I’ve let you go, I dunno, maybe I can break fr-” His words cut off as that glazed look came over his eyes and he looked down at me hungrily, baring his teeth.

"NO!" I screamed. "Let me go!" He shook his head like a wet dog and for a split second his eyes cleared, but then that look was back. "This isn't you!" I cried desperately. "This is your creator! You don't want to do this!"

He shook his head again and his eyes cleared for longer this time, long enough to look down at me in horror and fling me away, hard. My back hit the ground and I lay there winded, unable to move.

"Kill her, you idiot! Or can’t you even manage that now?" screamed a voice, and I looked round to see a man in a white coat. The creator.

Gathering my breath, I screamed, "YOU MONSTER!”

He sniggered. “I think you’re confused. I’m the only one here who’s not a monster.”

I shook my head stubbornly. “He doesn't want to kill me, it's you! You and your sick little experiment."

"Oh, shut up, woman," he said dismissively, kicking me. I grabbed his foot, tripping him up. He fell down next to me.

"I'm not a woman," I gritted out. "I'm a man. And so is he." I pointed up to where my friend's eyes had cleared, the connection somehow broken by the scientist's fall. "You're the only monster around here."

He opened his mouth to say something else, but luckily I never had to hear it - before the first syllable could leave his mouth, the giant man-who-wasn’t-a-monster had bent down and bitten his creator's head off. Just like he had been forced to do to all those women.

He stood up, swallowed and burped. I couldn't help but snigger. Then he bent down again, looking me in the eye. "That one I chose."

I nodded. "Quite right too," I said. I started getting to my feet gingerly.

"Are you alright?" he asked, offering me his hand. His concern was touching. I inventoried my body. Bruised but not broken, I decided.

"I'm fine," I said, leaning against his palm. "Hey, you're free!"

"I'm free," he repeated, as if he couldn't quite believe it.

"Uh huh," I said. "What are you going to do now?"

"I don't know," he said, eyes wide, overwhelmed by possibility. "Live my life, I guess."

"Yeah, me too," I said with a grin. If I could face this, I thought, I could face anything. I looked up into his face. "No more killing, though, right?" (I had to check).

"No more killing."

"Although you gotta eat. I think deer and foxes and stuff live in these hills, you could eat them?"

The monster-man smirked. "Maybe. There’s so much I don’t know about myself."

“Well, now you get to go and find out. As the man that you are.”

We were silent for a while, considering the possibilities. Life was out there, we just had to go grab it (just…not literally).

“I’ve got a lot to make up for,” he said, as if reading my thoughts. “Will you help me become a man I can be proud of?”

I nodded. “I think I can do that. And I’ll do the same.”

Life wasn’t, wouldn’t ever be perfect. Tomorrow, when I went to the shops again and got misgendered by the cashier or the homeless guy on the street, I might lose myself again, in societal expectations and self-loathing.

But hey, at least I had someone to help me find myself again. And he was, indisputably, the biggest man around.

That was something.

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