dragon_warrior_by_robshields-d5fgz24TO THE MONSTERS, WITH LOVE

A. Merc Rustad

I miss you.

I miss the feel of your scales, the coarseness of your fur, the tease of your claws, the scrape of your fangs against my skin.

At night, I dream we’re still together: in your castle, in your coffin, in your dark lake waters. Just us, without the world to judge. I dream you were not taken from me.

In the dreams, there is no fire to consume you, no silver bullets or machine guns on bi-planes, no stakes and no curses.

I miss you.

I want you back.


It’s cold here in my so-called happy ending. I hate this dull, monotone ever after I’m trapped in. Here I’m just another pretty face, flawless make-up, cast only to smile, or cry, or scream. Never to feel—especially not for you.

The future for me is to settle down, forsake my dreams and forget you. Fade into obscurity, because the monster is the only one who is remembered.

(I will not be content in oblivion.)

When we were together, I was your world and you were mine. You always remembered my name. You knew the inside seams of my heart, the desires unspoken. You treated me as equal.

No one knows me here.

But they remember you, and so do I.

They cry “Stockholm Syndrome!” when I say your name. They twist my story every time, turn it into a lie, because you’re a monster. Their stories can only end one way.

You didn’t take me against my will. I came looking for you, remember? We found each other in the dark, in the moonlight, under the sun, beneath the stars.

We were so happy.

I rage and grieve in silence as the credits roll.

I miss you.

Oh, God, I want you back.


They say you were invisible, but I could always see you.

They say you were a dichotomy of good and evil, man and monster, two different faces—but I know it’s you, only you. (They never said the same about me, of course, but I love you because we’re so alike.)

I know you when you wear a mask, when your music echoes beneath the opera house foundations.

They called you mad—but it’s only science. Think of the wonders we created in the laboratory, our bodies silhouetted by Bunsen burners and lightning, our scalpels agleam in the shadows. We discovered the secrets of life, and of death, and how to pass between them. We should have won acclaim for our research. We earned only torches and the cries of a mob.

I miss you.

I want you back.


My life is a fractal mirror, showing every possibility but the one I want. The glass always tells the wrong story.

But no longer.

Now the story is mine, and I will give us the ending we deserve.


So I’m building you again, my love. From memory and scraps of film discarded in sunless vaults. From coarse stitching that held your flesh together and old bandages that never aged.

I’ve sewn your scalp with lightning and daisy petals thrown in a lake. I’ve carved bones from wolf-headed walking canes and the memory of your touch. Your claws: here they are, made from jungle rock and sulfur.

I’ve riveted your skin with radiation and the devil’s name. I’ve given you eyes only I can see. Your blood I made in the laboratory through chemistry and minor chords. Teeth? Oh, I would never neglect something that important. Here they are, shaped from celluloid and magnetic tape, waveforms written on ivory shards.

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget the final piece: I could never forget your heart.

I found it wrapped safe in old newspapers with glaring headlines, with ticket stubs and cigarette paper. It was locked away in a jar, sealed in a box, buried under the crossroads.

I hid it there so it would be safe until I could break away from the cameras and the binding scripts and the spotlights that never showed me as real.

I’ll put your heart back in your chest, and you will live, you will live, you will live.

When I’m done, they will say I have created a monster.


Outside? Yes, I hear the angry voices. The firelight gleams on the laboratory windows. Lightning shears the sky. It’s like the day we first met, don’t you agree?

Your heart begins to beat.

       Live, my love.

Your eyes open.

The mob has reached our castle gates. Of course they brought a battering ram. Don’t worry. I came prepared.

Do you see those wings I made for us? Metal frames stretched with supple leather, a harness that can hold us both. An engine will propel us far away, far into the sky, into the night, where no one can ever follow. The cloaking device is one I designed when you were invisible. We will be unseen by radar or satellites.

You smile and I take your hands in mine.

When you say my name, my heart beats wildly again–I live, I live.

The mob has breached the gates; we must go now.

I help you stand. The windows slam wide open. The night gusts in and whips my lab coat like a cloak behind me. You breathe deep the rain-scented air. Your first breath. The first of many.

Footsteps on the stairs, voices echoing along spiraling stone walls. “Monster!” they scream.

Yes, my love, they speak of us both.

Make sure your harness is fastened tight. Hold my hands while I grip the yoke.

The door to the laboratory shatters.

Jump now–I won’t let us fall.

The engine roars and then we’re flying, arching up into the lightning-streaked night, cutting through rain. We’re making history, you and I, and we will always be remembered.

You laugh in exhilaration, and I howl with you. We will never be separated again.

I missed you so.

And now I have you back.


© Merc Rustad  first published in Flash Fiction Online in May, 2014

Merc Rustad is a queer non-binary writer and filmmaker who lives in the Midwest United States. Favorite things include: robots, dinosaurs, monsters, and tea–most of which are present in their work to some degree. Their stories have appeared in Lightspeed, Fireside Fiction, Daily Science Fiction, Escape Pod, Mothership Zeta, Inscription Magazine, Scigentasy, and InterGalactic Medicine Show, as well as the anthology The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015. Merc has considered making their tagline “The Robot Who Makes People Cry With Their Stories.” In addition to breaking readers’ hearts, Merc likes to play video games, watch movies, read comics, and wear awesome hats. You can find Merc on Twitter @Merc_Rustad or their website: http://amercrustad.com.

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