What’s your favorite monster?
In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Alice says: “Do you know, I always thought unicorns were fabulous monsters, too? I never saw one alive before!”
Upon hearing that, the Unicorn says in return, “Well, now that we have seen each other, if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you.”
A unicorn? A monster? Hmmm… Maybe we should look at the definition of the word. <<Google, google, google…sigh.>> Well, damn. Turns out, everyone defines it differently. One source says, “Imaginary creature that has combined human and animal features.” Another says, “A strange or horrible imaginary creature.” Another: “Something that is extremely or unusually large.” Still another says, “A creature that is often hideous and may produce fear and physical harm.”
Still seems a bit of a stretch for a unicorn.
I had a great opportunity to meet and speak with Peter S. Beagle (the author of The Last Unicorn) some months ago, and he absolutely seems to agree with Lewis Carroll’s Alice. He said he never saw unicorns as they are portrayed now, farting rainbows and fairy dust. They were, he says, monsters. Those horns were serious business.
So to him, unicorns were monsters. To any eight-year-old today, they’re happy little horses with horns who dance in the clouds. Ick. That’s pretty scary in itself.
Which brings up another point…perspective.
To the frogs who live in the pond by my daughter’s apartment, I must be a monster. In a splashy panic, they leave the shallows and go for deeper water every time I walk past. To the many thousands of mosquitos I’ve swatted in my life, I suppose I’m a terribly hideous monster.
So now we’ve got two shaping criteria. How you define a monster, and your perspective. The question: what’s your favorite monster?
According to much of the popular media today, zombies are at the top of most everyone’s list. A million Walking Dead fans must mean something, but I’ve never been all that impressed with zombies, in their most common habitat. Shamble, shamble, shamble, eat a brain or two, etc. Kinda tedious. Make them do something new and meaningful, and you might find a new zombie fan sitting in my desk chair.
Zombies are really just one of the most recent steps in a dance that has gone around and around forever. In the late 80s, primarily due to Anne Rice, vampires were number one. Her vampires, in my opinion, may very well be one of the primary reasons the Twilight books and movies came about. Back in the 50s, the king of the monsters was one form or another of an irradiated beast changed from something docile and small to a huge ferocious city destroyer. Mankind had harnessed the destructive power of the atom, and everyone was scared of that.
Personally, my answer changes often. I like new monsters, and human monsters, and the old archetypal monsters pretty evenly. In my opinion, if a writer or a cinematographer gives me some new item to add to the mythos of an old monster, I’m pleased. In that sense, I do disagree with the saying, “It is the tale, not he who tells it.” Reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, and John Skipp and Craig Spector’s The Light at the End, you get three vampire stories. Vampires: archetypal blood-sucking monsters. But reading one can in NO way preclude reading the other two. Their vast differences in time, in voice, and in style overall make them completely different stories, all incredible in their own ways.
Today, I’m thinking werewolves are my favorite. The reason? I’m in the middle of writing a new werewolf story. I’m thinking that maybe I’ve got something great to add to the mythology. Hopefully, I’ll get to share it with the world soon.
So, again, what’s your favorite monster?
Whatever the answer for you might be today, it may be something totally different tomorrow. And whatever the answer, never forget what the Unicorn said to Alice: “If you believe in me, I’ll believe in you.” My take on that line is this: keep believing in your monsters, and they’ll keep coming around, doing their best to frighten you.
About the Author:
Dev Jarrett is a writer, a father, a husband, and a soldier in the US Army. He’s a “recovering redneck” who’ll probably never get all the red Georgia clay out of his pickup truck’s undercarriage. He’s a Chief Warrant Officer 4 who’s lived all over the world but is currently stationed in the heartland at Fort Riley, Kansas. During the day, he works to defeat terrorists.
At night, the other monsters come out.
He’s had many short stories published, both online and in print, and Dark Crescent, available now from Permuted Press, is his second novel. His first novel, Loveless, is available through your favorite retailer or directly from Blood Bound Books.
Dev’s next novel, Casualties, is coming in 2016 from Permuted Press.
You can find Dev online on Facebook, Twitter, and (if you want to see all the gory details) here: