Colossals

Mary-Lou was scared again. Being scared was not unusual. Not here, not for her. Being a nine year-old in a world with monsters was terrifying everyday. Even if the people said that they were safe, she never believed them, especially when the weather turned. It had been quiet for several months now, Mary-Lou could not remember any ‘problems’ since her birthday in March, but now things had turned, in synchronisation with the seasons and the weather, much worse. The monsters were acceptable. They were mostly fine. The term ‘monsters’ was one used through habit and tradition rather than through a genuine conceit that these… beings were evil or out to harm the humans around whom they lived. Mary-Lou hated the word. She liked the term ‘Colossals’. It had a mystical air to it that she loved and it avoided conjuring images of fear and suffering.

Mary-Lou had always dreamed of befriending one of the Colossals. It would pluck her up with its immense forefinger and thumb (each at least the size of her house) and place her gently on its shoulder. Then it would wander across the land, redirecting their course as per the little girl’s instructions shouted into its gaping ear. The world would shake beneath them and they would be friends. This was a dream she kept to herself. Her people would not understand, least of all her parents. To them a monster was a monster and that was that.

Anna, her mother, had a vehement distaste for them which was hard to ignore and pained Mary-Lou every time she would begin a rant about the ‘beasts’ or ‘satan-spawn’. She was a nurse and had seen first-hand the pain they could cause. Mary-Lou’s parents were used to the days prior to the Colossals, and will forever be scarred, like so many of their generation, by their sudden emergence in 1951. It was possible to empathise with any negative feelings held towards them. Her father, a quiet and proud fisherman, had a more reserved view and Mary-Lou had never heard him utter a bad word about them. He seemed visibly concerned when Anna would begin to voice her concerns, as though he were worried that they would hear and stamp their house into the ground. Occasionally Mary-Lou would catch her father’s eye and there would be an understanding between them that their mother was wrong. Don’t worry, they aren’t monsters, Mary-Lou his eyes would say. They are Colossals.

But now they felt like monsters. When the storms kicked in from the North Atlantic in late August, crawling over the scattered plains and vibrant woodlands with a casual ferocity and grace, and when the Colossals began to fight and wail; they became monsters. They would wail at the cackle of the thunder and flash of lightning as the rain drenched their scaled, broken bodies. It was a terrible wail deep enough to shake the foundations on which their town had been built, but at times it would also be piercingly high; able to make glass screech in pain. The sounds merged with one another in a cacophony; it was pure rage. Or was it fear? thought Mary-Lou. Were the monsters afraid of the invisible beasts in the clouds that roared and spat?

Mary-Lou, despite her youth, knew of the routine now and found it familiar. The month and a half of waking darkness as they raged out in the distance; throwing, pushing, pulling, tearing. Mary-Lou would lay in the dark, staring at the ceiling, pondering what each syllable meant as it rumbled through her bedroom. Everybody was in the same state of flux; zombies during the day, fearful and awake during the night for several weeks. It had become a ceremony of sorts, one in which all had to partake.

Contact with monsters was rare, especially over this time of Unrest. They would escape to the plains to the west and submerge themselves in the thick woods beyond. Low ground for them was a safe distance from the screaming sky. The open coast-line Mary-Lou’s people inhabited was too exposed for them; too volatile. Perhaps that’s why we are some of the few survivors remaining in the Now, Mary-Lou thought. Despite their distance away from where she and her family lived, the agonised sounds of the Monsters would still reach them and still act as a constant reminder that they were not completely safe. They never would be safe with the beasts roaming so casually among them.

It was Mary-Lou’s birthday, the 5th March, on which the last incident occurred. It wasn’t far from where she lived, about seven miles north in a quiet farming town, but the sounds and stories made their way effortlessly to her door. Apparently a young farmer had tried to clear away some thick shrubbery at the limit of his land by setting the dried, dead brush alight. It kicked up a terrible fire and released a fat, putrid cloud of smoke. It was naive, but it was just bad luck that a monster by the name of Tyrewll was wandering a mile south from the farm as the smoke caught the wind and headed straight for him. It hit his nose and the thick, wet, smothering vapour filled him with rage. He tore a century-old tree from the ground and launched it into the air, never to be seen again. He then charged, head-down, arms flailing, a roar emanating from his chest like the thunder he despised, skin rippling as muscle shook the scaled flesh, in the direction of the smoke that sat loosely on the bare, uninhabited land. The town dispersed upon hearing the reaction of the beast and feeling his terrible approach, but it was too late. The town is now no more. One man’s mistake led to the death of 34 men, 31 women and 7 children. One monster’s rage.

Colossals.

Word gets around, even to children. The whispers, the mutterings, the worried looks. They make sense to all, including the youngest. And Mary-Lou understood what had happened. Even tentatively, it was clear. Words and phrases and pale faces paint a vivid picture and Mary-Lou felt real, adult fear for the first time in her life. Not just for herself and her people, but forthem. How would the people react? She thought, will the Colossals be in danger now? The looks of those around her weren’t just filled with fear and paranoia, but with rage. They wanted revenge on the one they call Tyrewll and they wanted it soon. There was a new feeling in the air she hadn’t yet experienced; a reactionary hatred brewed and it scared her more than any monster could. The other, the monsters, the Colossals, were an unknown that has to be quelled by the people. They, whatever you wanted to call them, did not deserve this. They were not evil, they were scared. Just like the people. Mary-Lou remembered her mother telling her not to be afraid of a spider as ‘it was more scared of her than she of it.’ They are not evil, she told herself,and neither are we. The latter of these points was harder to enforce in her young mind.

There were meetings and debates in the town hall. There was an influx of babysitters; nervous adolescents. There was an influx of alcohol in the house. Mary-Lou’s mother started to smoke again and tried her best to hide the fact from her family. There was arguments behind closed, but not soundproof, doors. There were clouds on the horizon. The monsters had fallen silent, they had not been seen traipsing over the horizon as usual and they had not been heard wailing in the night (although the weather had not been of the kind that generally caused such outbursts).

The birthday was smothered in a raw tension. Mary-Lou blew out the candles on her pink, sponge cake as a couple of her mother’s friends machinated fraughtly in the corner and her Aunt Claudia sobbed into a handkerchief. Even her mother was staring at the cake and candles; completely lost in thought. As she blew out the candles, Mary-Lou made a wish she couldn’t help making. She had been affected by the tense glances, the whispered conversations behind hands and the tears of the afraid. She had been affected by the hatred and the anger. Mary-Lou wished for the safety of the monsters. She wished for the monsters to be okay. To be Colossals. Even the cake tasted of fear.

Mary-Lou was scared again. The calm that had followed the disquiet was gone, and now, as the weather grumbled and shook, the monsters began to rage once again. Heads dropped and smiles faded and untrusting glances returned to the sky, to the horizon, to the Colossals. The memory of what had happened was brought to life with every scorching flash of lightning and every funnel of wind that caressed the sodden plains.

A meeting had been called to order for all of the townsfolk. The plan was to discuss what should be done with the beasts. The people were now tired of the fear and wanted some resolution to their uncertain safety. The meeting was on a cold evening. The sky had turned a deep grey and the winds began to bluster again as the people took their seats or stood in a circle around the town’s mayor, John Riband. He was the town’s figurehead, a slight man with a ragged beard and silvery-blue eyes, and claimed to have a magical bond with the monsters. It had been claimed, probably by the mayor himself, that the monsters chose this land in order to be close to the mayor. He had attracted them with his mind and regularly spoke with them through the medium of telepathy. Many considered this to be ridiculous but his confidence with the beasts was appealing in a leader in these dark times. He asserted an air of nonchalance that helped to soothe others’ fears.

The crowd gathered outside under a writhing purple sky, in the centre of their sprawling town. The mayor stood on a small wooden stage which was now surrounded by the pleading eyes of the nervous townsfolk. Everybody had arrived to listen and to learn and to be calmed. The people had flocked to see this man and to let him quell their ever-rising fear. His words were the antidote to their anxiety. He glared around at the crowd that spread from his feet with a look of concern and control embossed on his weathered face. His act was perfect and his audience lapped it up. The red cloak that fell from his shoulders billowed lightly in the pulsating wind to give him the magical appearance he craved.

“Ladies and gentlemen of our beautiful township of Awendaw,” He bellowed unnecessarily loudly, “Thank you for your presence and your attentive eyes and ears on this, most hallowed of September eves.” The words caressed and eased and soothed. Like magic. The mayor’s unblinking eyes found and then left the eyes of each and every one of the townsfolk. They glared back with desire and pleading half-smiles. After a handsomely political pause, he continued.

“The weather may be inclement and unsettling, but let this not reflect upon our outlook on our present situation. I hope that your nights have not been too sleepless and that your days have not been too distracted on the sky and on those who wander the horizon.” He paused again and turned his head to face the hills, passed which the monsters roamed. Monsters. Monsters. Colossals.

“The sadness of events not long passed will forever be in our minds and our hearts. I am here to protect you all. Each and every one of you. It is essential that you believe and trust in me.” The mayor dropped his gaze to his feet and there were murmurings of agreement to his speech. He opened his mouth to continue but was cut short by a rattle of thunder from the west, over the hills on the horizon. He turned to watch for several seconds, as though anticipating lightning, before returning his eyes to the crowd. “It is very import-” He was cut off mid-sentence by a terrible monster’s roar from the vicinity from which the thunder had omitted. There were gasps and the crowd naturally clenched in closer to one another. People began to mutter and a baby began to cry. The mayor raised a small hand and softened his face as best he could.

“People.” He said, softly over the clamour. “Please be still and trust in me. I am the one you need to have faith in. Do not be stirred by these noises. Our cousins do not mean to threaten and to upset you. I have spoken with them.” At this last utterance the crowd fell silent. They were calmed. They were placated. They trusted this man in the cloak. The man that speaks with the Monsters.

Monsters. Monsters. Colossals.

“Ladies and gentleman,” He continued over a softer rumble of thunder in the distance, “I have a plan which will bring an end to each of your concerns and fears.” The crowd was still now. Every man, woman and child stared up at the mayor, aghast. How could there be a plan? What could we possibly do to prevent the fear of death by these epic beasts? We are an insignificance in comparison to their vast, monstrous form. We are nothing. There was a hum of expectation as thoughts raced and pulses quickened. The crowd leant toward the magical man, who loomed before it, as one. They were on the precipice of something new, something that was not the terrible reality they all knew as everyday life.

“Tomorrow, at noon, I will stand on this very spot. I will sound the Horn of the Beasts, and I will summon them to our land.” The crowd inhaled. Mary-Lou’s mother’s grip tightened on her hand and her father’s head bowed. It was unspeakable. The Horn of the Beasts had been used once, not long after Their Dawn, in a distant land, and it’s power was only alleged. Its origins were unknown, though it was believed to have been an egg of the monsters. The size of a large watermelon, it was white and smooth with a shell-like surface. Its curvature and intricate shape resembled that of a compact Horn and it had been used as such once. The boy who found it washed ashore and drying in the sun has raised it to his lips and blown hard. As the air rumbled around the innards of the alien construct like thunder, a silence has fallen over the land. Before long, two dozen of the monsters had gathered at the source of the sound and the Horn. They then disappeared, along with the instrument’s player, and all that remained on the sand was the Horn. The belief was that the Horn offered a way of communicating with the beasts, and this was exactly the intention of John Riband. He believed that the Horn would summon them and his ability to speak with them would allow for communication and reconciliation. He would lead his people to safety and away from fear.

“The monsters will come here and I will speak with them. I will soften them and tell them of our history. I will give us a chance to live together in peace.” His words were sincere and the crowd captivated by them. Mary-Lou looked at the faces of those around her and saw hope; the rarest of commodities in this land in which she had grown. Even her mother managed a smile, of sorts. She looked at Mary-Lou and touched her cheek softly. Over a quieter, more distant rumble of thunder she heard her mother say “We will be okay.”

“Go now to your homes and rest. Sleep well. Tomorrow there will be a party when we have reconciled our differences with these monsters. You can trust me.” He disappeared behind the small stage from which he had delivered his sermon to the growing clamour of his crowd. Happiness emitted from the group of citizens as they discussed a future without the oppressive presence of the monsters who shared this land. Mary-Lou’s father squeezed her shoulder and kissed her mother with a smile before they went back to their house. On the short walk it began to rain and Mary-Lou was swung up in the air between her parents, each holding one of her raised arms. I have never been this happy, Mary-Lou thought.

The next day was beautiful. The sun roared into a boundless blue sky and the plains shimmered in a mist of heat. A finality could be felt on the air. Mary-Lou felt an excitement she could barely contain. She would witness a Colossal up close, maybe several, and would bask in their vastness. In theirbeauty. Major Riband would bring them close and keep them there. The dreams that she had had where they would be friends were suddenly a real possibility. They would become a part of her life, and not just a distant unknown. They would cease to be an unknown, a threat, a Monster.

The stage was set, the mayor arrived to the cheers and clapping of his people. The air was sweet in the late summer breeze, thick with humidity; you could breathe in the anticipation of the gathering mass. John Riband stood taller and looked wiser than he had before. His silver hair was combed atop his shiny, clean-shaven face. His crisp grey suit surrounded a blood red tie and his air was that of a powerful man, a man who demanded and had finally gained a great deal of respect. His people rushed to his side. They called out. They reached out to touch their saviour. Some embraced him without hesitation; without reservation. Others were brought to tears by the realisation of what was coming; what this man was bringing. These were no longer the tears of broken, terrified people, but of people who were being presented with their first taste of hope. Their first taste of a peaceful life.

Mayor John Riband carved a path through his people to the stage and half-skipped up the short steps. He turned and smiled a beautiful smile. The smile of a hero. The crowd immediately hushed, as though their collective breath had been snatched from them by the mayor’s endearing grin. Suddenly there was a stillness that allowed for all to reflect on the importance of that which was about to occur. This is the end, Mary-Lou thought.

“Thank you all for your kindness in being here; in gathering before me on this fine midday in the sunshine.” John Riband smiled some more and the crowd applauded his words. There was a muttering and some movement that rippled through the people as something was brought to the stage on which the mayor stood. It was a wooden box and it was carefully placed at his feet by two other suited men. The mayor prized it open with a jerk and removed The Horn of the Beasts with tentative fingers. It glittered in the vibrant sun. It’s pearlescence was shimmering beauty the likes of which the attendees had never seen. Mary-Lou wanted to run over and touch the smooth shiny surface of the object. It was an entrancing sight. She heard a lady start to weep not far from her and thought she may do the same.

Without another word he placed the slight opening at one end of the Horn to his lips and blew. The sound was immense. The crowd covered their ears as the thunderous boom ripped through the hot air. The vibrations rattled Mary-Lou’s chest and she screamed into the bottomless sound. A woman to her right fell to her knees and she could see a child, younger than herself by a couple of years, start screaming, although no other sound than that of the Horn could be heard. The sound of thunder. What have we done?

The sound trailed off after what seemed like several minutes and the gathering were left in stunned silence. The mayor began to look around, up at the sky and over at the hills, the colour completely drained from his face, the power evaporating from him in the coarse sunshine.

What have we done?

All eyes were on the hills, waiting for them to emerge, eyes darted over the plains and into the deep wood that was partially visible between the rolling mounds of earth. Nothing. There was no movement, no sound, no Monsters. Apprehension gave way to confusion. Why hadn’t the Horn worked? Why weren’t they coming? The crowd began the mutter their questions and look to their mayor for an answer. John Riband turned to face them, the rolling hills behind him, his face was solemn, his power retracting. He dropped his gaze to his feet as his mind raced to find the words that would bring his people back to their reality softly. Back to fear. As he opened his mouth there was a shudder in the earth. He looked spun around. Another shudder and the earth trembled again. His raised his hands at his sides to still the crowd.They are coming. All eyes fixed keenly on the hills; the hills from which the beasts would come.

It happened quickly, faster than expected. They could move at great speeds for Monsters so vast. So Colossal. First one tore through a spattering of woodland at the opening of the Southern Gorge, the trees burst open, torn from the ground by the beast’s power and speed. Mary-Lou knew it as The Climber for it’s love of mountain summits. It stumbled, found its feet, and then began to run. With every immense footfall the ground seemed to swell and groan. It’s mouth was gaping, a fire glowering within. It roared as it ran.

“They are coming!” John Riband screamed as he raised his arms to the sky, palms open. Tears began to course down his cheers. This was exactly what he wanted. His bond with the monsters would be complete. His purpose would be fulfilled. Two more appeared at once from behind a hill further south from where The Climber had emerged, Pyros and Ghekis. Pyros’ skin was a rich yellow and its run was more meandering gallop on all fours limbs. Ghekis struggled to keep up as it ambled behind, spitting and snarling as it went. After only a couple of seconds, Mary-Lou could barely keep count of the number of monsters that entered the plain. They jumped from hill-tops, tore through tree-lines, swung around cliff-faces, all making their way to the village. It was a mass of power and rage. The ground was a constant vibration and the air rang with the calls and screams of the onsetting monsters. Colossals, Colossals, Colossals.

Mary-Lou covered her ears and clamped shut her eyes as she fell to her knees. This is not right, we have angered them, she thought, we are going to die here. Some of the town dispersed, running for the potential safety of their homes, others huddled in with their families, unable to gather the strength to move. There were screams and people cried with all-consuming fear. The only person in the town without an apparent care was the mayor, John Riband. He grinned maniacally as the monsters grew ever closer. There was barely one hundred feet between him and the leading beast, Tyrewll. The mayor appeared to be muttering under his breath, his eyes flicking from one monster to the next with an animal intensity.

The monsters slowed their pace and sauntered towards the stage with trepidation. They stood high above the squat town, casting deep shadows in spite of the high, midday sun. As Tyrewll approached the stage he began to lean forward. The heat that poured from his mouth, which hung lazily open, was intense. His eyes were black bowling balls that swivelled and shone in the sun. His raw, scaly flesh was scarred all over and his chest pulsed in and out with a rapid, deep breathing, a crunching sound with every breath. Both jaws were lined with several rows of charred, razor-like teeth. John Riband stood his ground, his hair billowing in the hot, smoky breath of the monster, a smile still printed onto his face. Tyrewll raised a hand the size of a car and brought it forward. He curled it into a fist, releasing a curled index finger with a claw like a sword at its tip. The claw passed perilously close to John Riband’s face and the mayor watched it’s path with the beginnings of concern on his face. With a precise tap, Tyrewll’s claw found the Horn at the mayor’s feet. It rang like glass as their eyes remained locked with one another. We are all going to die here.

There were no words spoken for five minutes. The monster and the mayor’s eyes were fixed and so, it seemed, were their minds. The other monsters had formed a ring around the stage and they also seemed transfixed, as though they could hear what was being thought. Only a light breeze and some sporadic sobs from the crowd could be heard.

Tyrewll rose from his haunches and faced the sky. A mass of cloud had begun to stir from the west, over the sea. The monster stood breathing thickly, deep in thought, as John Riband stared up at his immense mass. The mayor licked his drying lips and forced a smile; a nervousness now exuding from him. There were several more moments of calm as the crowd looked on awaiting a resolution to the madness. With a rumbling groan, Tyrewll turned slightly from the mayor, raised his left arm above his head, and threw down a tightly balled fist to crush the unsuspecting saviour. The body vanished in a flash of blood and flesh and the stage exploded into the air. The people of the town were ripped from their stunned stupor and fled as a mass from the monsters. Monsters. Mary-Lou was bundled up into her father’s assured arms and carried away back towards the centre of the town as Tyrewll roared a terrible roar. The other monsters joined his yell in chorus and the ground seemed to melt with the power of their calls. We will certainly die here.

Mary-Lou could hear her mother whimpering as she ran alongside her father. She could see over his shoulder the monsters beginning to stroll, with a terrifying nonchalance, passed the stage and towards the peaceful town she had always called home. Tears slid down her cheeks as her dreams of a happy future with her friends, her Colossals, seeped away into the dirt; like the remains of their mayor.

They were back at their house and out of sight of the monsters within a minute and Mary-Lou’s father bolted the door; the redundant act was a flurry of furious and clumsy hands. As her mother clutched her head to her midriff, he plucked open the trapdoor and beckoned them inside. Mary-Lou could see that her father was crying despite his face maintaining a resolute composure and the sight of it was unbearable.

The basement was musty and dank; pungent with sea-salt and dust. For several hours they huddled together and listened as the monsters raised building after building with a terrible roar. The foundations of their house quivered with every new expression of their, seemingly tireless, rage. Mary-Lou dozed on her father’s lap; exhausted after the day’s events and the unfaltering emotional stress she had been through.

The house exploded as the sun began to set over the rolling cluster of hills from which the monsters had poured. It was a burst of flame, breathed from the mouth of a monster, which engulfed the building and tore the walls from their supports and sent the house toppling over on its side it a shattered mess. The monster crawled over the wreckage, the occupants hidden in the basement could heard the ground groan above them with its weight, sniffing rapidly for some prey. They held their collective breath until the beast got bored of the empty wreckage and wandered off; the shaking of the ground with each of its footfalls fading to nothing as it crept away.

“The house is alight, we have to leave now.” Her father’s words were the first spoken since the death of the mayor and they quivered with uncertainty. His face had aged and was wet with sadness; it broke Mary-Lou’s heart to see her proud father so broken. He rose to his feet and shoved open the hatch. Dust poured in as he had to force some debris off the wooden door and moonlight caught the specs of brick and dirt as it coursed into the dark space. They glowed in the silver light like angels; shining specs in the dark, shattered wasteland they used to call their town. Walls were crumbled into heaps like screwed up balls of paper, the metal frames that gave them structure were twisted and tangled like industrial entrails. Windows has exploded, glass glittered the ground and jutted angrily from yawning holes in brick, water poured freely from snapped, arterial mains, and the hissing of running gas could be heard all around. The ruined scape was endless in every direction. Fire muttered within the wreckage of their home, which looked as though it had been blown fifteen feet towards the open plains by a terrible gust of wind, yellow forked tongues clawing at the stone and wood as the hungry crackling loudened. There were no monsters in sight, nor sound. They seemed safe.

Mary-Lou’s father clambered out of the basement and then assisted his family in doing the same. They cowered in the mess of ex-buildings, furtively assessing the chaos before carefully, silently, moving in the shadows towards the sea. Her father’s small rowing boat sat in the pool of moon-silver water, rocking in the repetitive lapping of the waves. They would move out to sea and be away from this madness. What happened after that would be with the Gods.

Her father was untying the boat from its fastening and didn’t see the two searing eyes that stared over a broken wall which used to be the rear of the town’s library. The eyes were wet and unblinking, fixed on the family. Mary-Lou saw them first and froze, unable to speak or move. Within a second the monster was upon them, up and over the wall with a casual leap, it lunged across the open ground between them. Mary-Lou’s father stopped untying the boat and, with pure instinct, took a step to stand in front of his wife and child. The monster cut him in half with swipe of a claw and her mother screamed. The colour of the blood was beautiful in the moonlight as it seeped from parts of his broken body. In another moment her mother was gone; flattened beneath a slammed palm, and suddenly Mary-Lou was the only living human in the savaged town.

She shivered as her eyes met those of the Colossal before her. The eyes were blacker than the sky above them and deeper than the sea which sat behind her. Mary-Lou stood her ground and tried to connect with the beast; to speakwith it like John Riband had done. They stood watching each other for what seemed like a lifetime. The waves lapped softly several feet behind her, providing the only noise. Her heart pounded in her ears and her throat as a silver tear slid down her cheek. The Colossal’s mouth was fixed open showing rows and rows of razor-like teeth. Mary-Lou couldn’t help but be terrified of the size of the beast but there was more behind those eyes. She felt she could see a sadness in them a loneliness and a desire for help.

It was at that moment, when she felt a murmuring of a voice from the Colossal, that she noticed the Horn of the Beasts out of the corner of her eye. It lay amongst a pile of gathered ruins: televisions, lamps, mirrors, saucepans, car wheels, various pieces of broken homes piled haphazardly against a shattered wall. The pile was three times her height and glittered with various shiny materials, the moonlight touching each one with a metallic finger. At the foot of the pile, next to a metal toaster, was the Horn. As soon as Mary-Lou saw it she knew what it was that she had to do.

Steadily, without her eyes flinching from the Colossal’s, she began to step towards the Horn. One step at a time she moved around the beast to her right. The Colossal snorted loudly as it noticed her movement but maintained the stare. It took a step to turn itself as well, clumsily, retaining Mary-Lou’s position directly before him. Once within a couple of feet of the Horn Mary-Lou darted towards it. The beast roared with the shock of the movement and two more of the Colossals appeared in a second from behind the wreck which surrounded them. Once in her grasp, she ran for the sea.

As the beast raised its arm to bring it down on her head Mary-Lou raised the Horn to her lips and blew. The beast screamed a terrible scream and covered its ears, the newly arrived beasts did the same and roars could be heard emanating from the smouldering remains of her town. Mary-Lou leapt onto the boat and unfastened the rope which held it ashore. Paddling furiously with the short oars inside the boat she quickly drifted out into the water, beyond the reach of any Colossal. They gathered on the shore as her boat drifted away into the silvery-black water.

She rose to her feet and surveyed them, the Colossals. She kept her balance as the gentle waves licked at the sides of the boat and raised the Horn to her mouth. The noise that blasted out caused the water around her to quiver. The monsters rose their arms to the sky or to their ears and screamed and screeched and roared. Mary-Lou hated how it pained them but knew this must be done. It is what they want. They just want peace.

For a moment, she thought they wouldn’t come and panicked, but once the first had made a tentative step into the water the others followed, and very quickly the water was a bubbling chaos as they tore through it to reach her and to stop the noise which they could not bear. They had around one hundred feet of water to cross in order to reach Mary-Lou and the majority could barely manage half of that before drowning. Before her she witnessed them fall away into the mercury sea, gone forever. She cried for every one.

“I’m sorry. But now you are free.” She said aloud when only one remained. It paused about ten feet from the boat and rose its head from the water. Mary-Lou thought it was Tyrewll but she couldn’t be sure. It fixed her eye with its own and she felt its relief as it slipped away into the blackness. Mary-Lou dropped the shell and fell to her knees sobbing. It’s over. I’m sorry.

The clawed hand rose from the sea and the sword-like claws glinted in the moonlight as it bore down on the boat, shattering the wood effortlessly. Mary-Lou sank away with the Colossals and smiled as she was at peace, with them. With the Colossals.

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