Reminiscent of classics such as “Frankenstein,” Sam Marlinga’s “Apocrypha” places us in an unknown world full of humans and monsters, dwelling together. Through Marlinga’s careful writing style and vivid imagery, it is easy to imagine “the primordial muck” where “[c]reatures roamed endlessly.” This short story is a tale of both blood and love, putting a twist on what we’ve come to expect from traditional tales of romance. Read “Apocrypha” below.
In the beginning, the world was dark. The Creator, in His wisdom, had left the monsters to thrash and writhe in the primordial muck without any light to guide them. Eons before the age of modern time, the Universe spanned multiple realms, and beings crawled freely across the borders of existence. The angels rested in seclusion, for the devils had yet to be born.
The world was dark.
Creatures roamed endlessly, without care or purpose, in their bleak and bloody paradises. Slowly, as Man formed from the wretched clay of sin, light began to illuminate the lives of all who wished to see. Yet there were some who wished to remained blind.
There was a lonely monster that lived in one of the deepest caves in the Earth’s cradle. He hid from the light, for he knew that above all else, he was hideous beyond compare. So the creature spent his days in the darkness, longing for the company and love of another, fearful of the cries of those who despised him for his ugliness.
One day, with a spur of rebellion, the monster ventured from his cave and into the light. He witnessed a grouping of men, huddled together around a figure, yelling fit to murder. As he approached, the men grew aware of his presence, and ran from sheer terror of his horrific visage. As the cowards scattered, the monster beheld the figure which the men had surrounded. It was a monster with the appearance of a woman, whom the men had badly beaten with stones, for she too was frightfully ugly.
The monster carried her into his cave and cared for her until she awoke, and to his surprise she was not taken aback by his appearance, merely glad that he was not driven away by hers. The creatures talked for many nights, and with their shared suffering, fell with each other in the deepest and truest of love.
For a little while, it seemed that both monsters were happy together, sharing in their horrific countenances. Yet, the first creature lay awake one night, listening to the second crying softly in her sleep. She wished more than anything to live out her days with him in the open, but the shallow souls of both men and monsters believed that such ugly creatures did not deserve to breathe in the sweet light of day.
The monster’s sadness and anger slowly transformed into rage and bloodlust. With the mad desire to see his lover happy again, he climbed from the dark cave which he had called home for so long, and ran forth into the world. Soon he was surrounded by the screams of horrified and angry men, throwing stones and threatening with newly conceived weapons of bright metal. In his fit of fury, the monster slaughtered the men in the moonlight.
After the short battle, the monster sat and wept among the corpses, for he knew his lover did not wish for him to become a murderer. Yet as the sun rose sleepily into the sky, the innocent blood on the monster’s hide dried, and he felt himself change. His skin felt loose, so he pulled it tighter, and it snapped back. The monster found a pond in which to wash away the evidence of his crime and was astounded by his reflection. His visage had changed ever so slightly. His ugliness was less repulsive than he had remembered.
He appeared more human.
The monster ran as fast as he could and reached the cave as his lover awoke from her troubled dreams. She was surprised to see the excitement in his eyes and she too was mystified at the change in his appearance. He exclaimed that he had found the solution to their problems. Not wanting to tell her the cruel and violent nature of his discovery, he told her that they must drink the Wine of Ages in the moonlight and that he would quest for more.
That night, the monster traveled to a settlement of men and slaughtered quietly in the darkness and made his way back to his lover after mixing the innocent blood into wine stolen from the cellars of the victims. He and his lover drank slowly by light of the moon, reveling in the beauty of the stars, and as the sun rose she too felt the change. The monster pulled back his skin into a more human form and obliged to do the same for his lover. He took her to the edge of a great lake and she marveled at her reflection. Tears appeared in her eyes as she declared her undying love for the monster.
So for eons thenceforth, the monster waged his lonely war against those who had spurned so violently both of the creatures, and he kept the ever-growing mountain of evil growing inside his soul from his lover, for he did not wish the beauty of her soul to become tainted. As they continued to drink, they became more and more human in appearance and more and more powerful in nature, for blood is the currency of life, and they had accumulated a great wealth.
Eventually, the bloody Wine of Ages worked its awful magic and the two Beings who had once been the ugliest creatures in the known world became beautiful beyond mortal comprehension. Both man and monster yearned for recognition from the two lovers whose beauty had surpassed that of the angels. And still, the two lovers drank in the moonlight each evening and grew more and more beautiful because the murderer wished only to see his lover’s joy.
Eventually, the two lovers became so beautiful and so powerful that the eyes of the living could no longer gaze upon them. Together they walked across the ocean and over the edge of the horizon and into the next life, where they eyes of the dead could praise them for their beauty for all eternity. Into the present, man and monster alike still speak of their majesty, for her name was Heaven and his name was Hell.
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