When you wake up, the monster is still there.
She is shredding flowers, covering her lap in bright petals again. She has done this all day, every day since you arrived. When you try to think about it, you cannot remember how long it’s been.
Sometimes she has something else in her hands. You have seen a heart, a flame, a ripple of water all delicately torn apart. There is something strange about that, but you forget the specifics.
Neither of you have spoken yet. You know you had a purpose: an important and serious one. It was big enough to make you leave the village, and dangerous enough that your spear was blessed by the priests in their mourning robes.
But you’ve forgotten it. You’ve forgotten all of your questions, except one. You grasp it tightly before it slips away.
“What are you really doing?”
She finally looks at you, showing too many faces that shift like a kaleidoscope. All of her speaks at once. “What do you think?”
Think, think. It takes you a while. “Killing things. Destroying them.”
Her laughter echoes. “Is anything here alive to begin with?”
You consider it, though your head soon begins to hurt. You used to know this. You used to know what she is, how to make her tell the truth, how to avoid her tricks; that was what gave you hope. But it all drains away like water when you look at her. And you can’t stop looking at her.
She raises an eyebrow expectantly and you abruptly remember the question. “No?”
“No. They only look like they are.”
There is silence again. You don’t know for how long. You are outside time and you are becoming afraid. Unworthy of your people. How will you get back?
A thought bubbles out of you. “Am I dead?”
She has a lot of teeth. “Do you think you should be?”
You know how to do this. You know what to ask. Try again. “How did I get here?”
“You walked.” She is looking at her flower almost sadly. “You had pride and courage and stupidity. And you walked to me.”
“Can I go home now?”
All of her eyes look at you sadly. “You can try.”
Oh. Wrong question. Your fingers tingle. As you watch, they harden and sharpen, beginning to gleam.
She gives you a flower.