You wake up in a hospital.
At first, you don't realize you're in a hospital; you just think the power's gone out. It's dark -- pitch black -- and you can't see a thing. You ask about him.
"Who?" they ask. "What are you talking about? There was no one with you." A nurse tells you that you were found unconscious in the woods behind the factory and that your blindness was most likely a result of head-trauma, to which you reply that your head feels fine. It was him. He stole your eyesight.
The monster with the deer-skull face.
Of course, they don't believe you. Again, the nurse blames "head-trauma" for your "delusions," but you know what you saw. Back there, in the woods behind the factory, you met a creature, and he stole your sight.
At first you were afraid of him, and then you were curious; but then you looked into his eye sockets, and now you hate him. You know he's already died once, but if you ever happened to stumble upon this creature a second time, you vow you'd kill him again.
Two months pass, and your vision slowly begins to return to you.
You are relieved, and you almost forgive the deer-skull creature for blinding you, but then you realize that something's missing. It's been a week since your vision cleared, and you still can't see colours. You vaguely remember what they're supposed to look like, but everything you look at is grey. Even most of your memories are grey, with only the most important ones still retaining their true appearances in your mind.
In a way the absence of colour is almost worse than the blindness was, and you feel the heated anger toward the skull-faced monster quickly rising in you once again. Now that you can see, you can go back to that place in the woods and perhaps find that creature and have your revenge.
Lately, you've been searching online and in books and newspaper clippings, learning about paranormal activity and things that go bump in the night. You find that others have encountered a creature remarkably similar to the one you met in the woods. A local website you find is entirely dedicated to discussing this monster, his origin, what he does, and how to deal with him.
According to what you read, he is a creation of science, an experiment gone wrong. Some accident in a genetic research lab caused three different species to be fused together and made him. They say he survives by eating colours.
Whatever he touches becomes drab and grey, and whatever brightness was in it is used to satiate his hunger. Alkalai, they call him; you assume it's a reference to the chemical compounds used in paint thinner. One very important instruction is repeated over and over, by many different users, each one claiming to have encountered the beast face to face.
"Don't look him in the eye."
You sigh. Your life would have been so much easier if you had known this sooner.
It has now been four months since your fateful encounter with the skull-faced creature called Alkalai, and it has become obvious that your vision will never again be the same. Your mind can now barely grasp the concept of colours.
Even your most special memories are fuzzy and grey, and all other memory is like static. Although your eyes see clearly, you sometimes forget for a moment what you're looking at because it is the exact same shade of grey as another thing you've seen. Your friends and family begin to become annoyed with you, because they believe your lost knowledge of colour names is a joke that's been taken a bit too far.
You thought you would've forgotten your anger by now, but in reality, your hatred for him grows a little every day.
Lately, you've taken to walking in the forest often and searching for that spot where you remember seeing the creature. Everything looks very different now that you are seeing it in black and white, but finally, after weeks of scouring the woods, you find something that definitely looks useful. There's a broken sign lying on the ground, partially covered by some dead leaves, that says "lab 3 - hybrid research." You don't remember seeing the sign before, but it does bring to mind some things you read online. Alkalai is a hybrid, created in a lab. What if this sign is a sign? What if it means you are near the point of his origin? Passion burns inside you as you press onward, deeper into the forest than you think you've gone before. You have to find that creature and make him pay for what he did to you.
You don't find the lab the first day, but you mark it on your map and come back the next day...
and the day after that, and the day after that. Finally, after four days of searching, you do find it, and you simply cannot wait to get inside and destroy something. You have no idea what the destruction of abandoned government property will accomplish for your benefit, but you know it will feel good to do it, so you do. First, you break open the door using a hatchet you've brought along with you, and once inside, you waste no time in knocking a hole in the wall with your fist.
Sure, your knuckles are now broken and bloody, and you are definitely feeling the pain, followed by a creeping numbness in your hand, but you feel somewhat emotionally satisfied knowing that you are destroying something that aided in the creation of that which destroyed you. You never once stop to consider the fact that you are entering into a cycle of ongoing brutality and animalistic behavior.
You walk a short way down the long corridor and enter another room. There, you continue to break things until you hear a voice behind you.
"Why?" You turn your head so fast, you almost give yourself whiplash. The creature is standing in the doorway, his head tilted slightly to one side, just staring at you. You couldn't quite remember what he looked like from before, but now that you've got a good look at him, he is, in a way, both more and less frightening than you expected.
He appears to be made mostly of a mix of deer and hyena, but he is also humanoid in form, standing on two legs, each one ending in a cloven hoof. He has tall, pointed ears and a mane running down the back of his neck, and the pattern on his sides is made up of a mixture of stripes and spots.
The flesh oh his face appears to have been burnt away, exposing a skull that is very cervine in appearance, excepting the long canine teeth in front. You also notice that he has long, sickle-like claws, but you can't think of any animal whose claws they might resemble, and then you realize it doesn't matter anyway, so you turn your attention back to the more important matter at hand. The creature who blinded you and stole the colour from your vision is standing in front of you... and you have a hatchet in hand.
"Why?" the creature asks again. His voice is very calming, you realize, although there is a metallic sort of quality to it. You are reminded of a science fiction film you saw once, in which a teenager encounters a mysterious skull-faced rabbit with a similar voice and the ability to time-travel. For one split moment you wonder if Alkalai is anything like the helpful rabbit and consider forgiving him, but then you remember what happens in the end of the film and tell yourself that this is the only way to keep him from hurting other people.
You rush toward the creature, swinging your hatchet, and he leans away just in time to avoid being disemboweled but not in quite enough time to escape completely unscathed. Some blood trickles out of the cut and down his creme-coloured belly fur, and, for the first time in months, you recognize the colour red.
Leaving you no time to wonder about this anomaly, the creature lets out a cry of pain and lunges at you with his claws in retaliation. You are not as lucky as he was, as his claws rake against the side of your face, leaving gashes that are sure to become permanent scars.
Now you are fully enraged, and you feel a surge of adrenaline coursing through your body, giving you the strength to stand tall and take another swing at your opponent. This time, the head of your hatchet connects solidly with the creature's skull, but you realize a split second later that you've hit him with the dull end, and the only visible damage that's been done is that you've created a fracture line just above his eye socket.
You flip the hatchet over and swing at him again, believing that you'll finally split his skull open and kill him for good, but he dodges at the last moment, and your blade is planted firmly in his shoulder instead. If you hadn't gone completely insane, the creature's tortured wail would break your heart, but by this point, you can hardly hear it. All you want is to rid yourself of him forever.
"You've ruined me, Alkalai!" you scream, though your words are unintelligible. Since you can't free your hatchet from his shoulder bone, you've begun to kick him in the ribs and bash him over the head with a broken chair leg you found lying on the floor. Blood is pouring out of him from the wounds you've inflicted, and now you start to realize why you can see the red.
It's the colour that he's absorbed from his food sources. All the energy he has stored up is leaking out of him, and he grows weaker by the moment. At the same time, the stolen colour leaking out of Alkalai is soaking into you and repairing your ruined vision. Finally, you can see colours again.
The poor hybrid creature lies on the floor, panting heavily, whimpering like an injured dog. You know he won't die -- if he did, the chemicals in his body would just bring him back to life again -- but when he looks at you and you finally stare back at him, he seems to have lost all hope.
"Why do you kill me?" he asks you.
You walk away and leave him bleeding on the floor, the hatchet still sticking in his shoulder. You've got your sight back, so you feel there's no need to torture him further, but you'll still never be the same again. You may look the same and talk the same and act the same around your friends, but there will always be something the slightest bit "off" about you; it's just that no one will notice unless I tell them.
When will you realize that you have become the monster of this story?